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Old 03-24-2011, 12:10 AM   #1121
cwi
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Originally Posted by bootin-gluten View Post
I am in Canada so it isn't really warm enough to use that strategy I don't think... It has snowed about 8 inches in the last 24 hours. What would be involved in hard-wiring the compressor? I figure that swapping the stock controller out for the aquarium controller wouldn't be too hard as long as the wiring is right. I'm not sure how to go about hard-wiring the compressor to stay on.
If you keep your kegerator in an unheated garage, putting the factory sensor on the outside would not work to force the thermostat to keep the compressor active. You said earlier that you don't think you need the heating option. I would think you would, unless you plan to keep this inside your house. In that case putting the factory sensor outside the fridge would keep the compressor active, and would allow you to use the controller sensor to monitor the interior temp.

The difficulty of hardwiring the compressor to be always active, or retrofitting the existing thermostat, will depend on the access to the pertinent wires, and your technical understanding. I was trying to offer simpler alternatives. If you are hell bent on retrofitting, there was a previous discussion in this thread that went over it. As long as you have a multi-meter, it should be straight forward to wire and test it.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:34 AM   #1122
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Double/triple check your wire connections. Look for stray wires that are bridging gaps. Use a voltmeter to see if/where you have voltage.

Tug on the connections at the controller, make sure they are tight.

Does it power up at all after holding the power button for >5 seconds?
OK I am a COMPLETE TOOL. Mad you are my savior.

I never remember having to turn it on before but holding the on buttong for a few seconds had it flashing on the screen again. Just posting hoping this could help some poor other schmuck in the future LOL
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:39 PM   #1123
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LOL that's funny. But glad you caught your own mistake.

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OK I am a COMPLETE TOOL. Mad you are my savior.

I never remember having to turn it on before but holding the on buttong for a few seconds had it flashing on the screen again. Just posting hoping this could help some poor other schmuck in the future LOL
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:48 PM   #1124
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Thanks cwi. I keep the kegerator in the garage but it doesn't drop below freezing in the winter which is why I didn't think I needed the heating. Maybe I'll wire it to an outlet so I can plug in a small space heater just in case it gets really cold.

I wouldn't say I'm hell-bent on retrofitting, just seems like it's the best option for solving the problem. I went through a ton of posts in this thread, do you happen to know where the retrofit discussion is located? Thanks!

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Old 03-24-2011, 07:06 PM   #1125
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bootin-gluten,

The discussion about retrofitting was within the last month, but I can't remember any terms that would make it show up in a search. Two guys tried to do it, and both miswired it initially. Done incorrectly, it has the potential to do damage to many things.

About heating- If your garage is well below your serving temperature, your beer could become overcarbonated if you don't adjust your pressure to account for it. If you want to heat the inside, there are several options. Ones I recall are- light bulb, lizard lamp, heating pad, ferm wrap, etc. A space heater, unless it has a VERY low heat output setting (<50 watts), is not a good choice.

Regarding being "hell-bent"- It is just the feeling I got after having suggested many times, many seemingly easier fixes, yet you still kept asking about retrofitting. For example, in the preceding post, immediately after saying you are not "hell-bent" on it, you ask about retrofitting again, since it seems like the best option.

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Old 03-24-2011, 07:36 PM   #1126
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I found the post by shackled on page 93 of this thread, is that the one you are referring to? Looks like he is doing the same thing.

I could probably hook up a lamp inside without any trouble, one came with the fridge, probably a better solution than a space heater (which I would have used outside the fridge, not inside). Over-carbing would definitely be a problem if we get a cold winter so I guess I really should implement some sort of heating mechanism.

Some of the fixes you suggested are certainly easier, I just don't know if they would do the job. Since the temperature in the garage goes from about 38F in the winter to 80 in the summer, it just seems very hard to make it work without replacing the stock controller which will let the temperature get to 53 before it signals cooling to start. I just don't want to be serving beer at 53, the level of carbonation varies too much and the pour quality decreases. I guess I would say that I'm not hell bent on retrofitting because I'd certainly like an easier fix to the problem, I just don't think there is one that I would be satisfied with.

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Old 03-24-2011, 10:25 PM   #1127
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bootin-gluten,

What don't you like about the various methods I suggested for tricking the factory controller to think the temperature is actually much hotter than the set point?

As I said before, if the factory sensor (not the whole controller, just the actual temp sensor) is accessible and a resistive (wired) type, the solution could be as easy as cutting the wires to the sensor, and at most as complicated as wire nutting a $.05 resistor to the cut wires. If the factory sensor is a copper thermocouple (tube type), the solution is as simple as taping a tiny (~1/4 watt) heat source (~$.50 neon lamp) to the thermocouple (or the original resistive sensor if you don't want to alter the fridge in any way). I believe there is a write up here about doing these very things to the temp sensors for window A/C units to make "cold rooms".

After the original fridge controller has been fooled into thinking it always needs to be cooling, you have the equivalent of a fridge set to "max cooling" like everyone else who uses these aquarium controllers does. Then you just need to use the aquarium controller in the standard way, wired up to two outlets (heat/cool), to plug your fridge and heat source into.

Both of these seem very simple and effective, to me at least, yet you have never inquired for any further info about these solutions. Can you see why I might get the feeling you have tunnel vision on a retrofit?

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Old 03-24-2011, 11:52 PM   #1128
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I agree that these would probably work if I can get to the thermocouple. I'm not sure what the stock thermocouple looks like as I would have to deconstruct my kegerator in order to get at it which is why I haven't asked about it. At that point, I'd still have to wire up the aquarium controller like everyone else is. I guess I was weighing whether it easier to fool the stock thermocouple or just replace the stock electronics with the new controller. I thought you were referring to both of these options as "retrofitting" so I didn't see what other option would work.

How large might a resistor need to be for the former strategy and how would a heat source stuck on to the thermocouple be powered and could it potentially melt anything (for the latter type of thermocouple)? Also, how do I determine what type of thermocouple I have if I can find it?

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Old 03-25-2011, 01:06 AM   #1129
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I agree that these would probably work if I can get to the thermocouple. I'm not sure what the stock thermocouple looks like as I would have to deconstruct my kegerator in order to get at it which is why I haven't asked about it. At that point, I'd still have to wire up the aquarium controller like everyone else is. I guess I was weighing whether it easier to fool the stock thermocouple or just replace the stock electronics with the new controller. I thought you were referring to both of these options as "retrofitting" so I didn't see what other option would work.

How large might a resistor need to be for the former strategy and how would a heat source stuck on to the thermocouple be powered and could it potentially melt anything (for the latter type of thermocouple)? Also, how do I determine what type of thermocouple I have if I can find it?
If you think locating the existing temp sensor/thermocouple is difficult, or wiring up the aquarium controller in a project box is too much work, you are in for a surprise when you try to find all the wires to replace the factory controller. The temp sensor should be inside the fridge somewhere fairly obvious. If it is a wired resistive type, which is likely since the factory controller is digital, the fix will be easy.

The resistive sensor should increase its resistance as the temperature increases. Cutting the wires will create an open circuit, infinite resistance. The controller will either think the temp is hot, and your problem is solved; or throw an error, and not function. If it does not function, a resistor with a value that is the same as some arbitrarily hot temp needs to replace the cut sensor. This value can be determined by measuring the resistance of the sensor when heated to an appropriate temperature (room?). A little research could also be done to find the resistance ranges of sensors similar the the factory one. The physical size of the resistor will be tiny- smaller than a tic-tac, with a wire out each end.

For the "heating the sensor" approach, the heat source is tiny- ~1/4 watt I would think. Just enough to raise the temp to 60F or so. Search this site, or google, for how to use an A/C window unit to make a walk-in cooler. It has been done before, with how-to instructions, and various heat sources. The power for the heat source will come from the same place you power the fridge- an outlet. If you are having trouble figuring out how to tap into hot and neutral to run a couple of wires to a heat source, you may be in over your head.

Sensor/thermocouple types- I have explained more than once how to determine what type of factory sensor/thermocouple you have. It will be apparent once you find it. If not, ask again after you find it.

Just to be clear, none of my solutions attempt to "fix" the factory controller so that it functions properly. I have only suggested ways to force your fridge into a state where the compressor is perpetually on, if plugged directly into the wall. You will still have the build some version of the "aquarium controller project box", and plug the fridge into it.
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Old 03-25-2011, 11:03 PM   #1130
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I just finished mine and yes these are pretty sweet! I did however run into a problem. I used a relay from radio shack. I wired everything correctly using schematic that's been posted.(after adding two outlets and a switch for a aux outlet that always has power) the heat side turned on fine, but when it kicked to cold the relay started buzzing and both lights came on. So after messing with it, checking all the wires. I took a look at the bag the relay came in. The back showed a different diagram. So after moving the wires on the relay it works just fine. If looking at the schematic I took 1 and moved it to 6. Then had to add another wire the fan, and that went to 4. I think they may have changed there relays. Because I read else were in this thread that it worked just fine. Has anyone other than me had this problem? And thanks to the guy who started this thread. Great project

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