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Old 02-02-2013, 08:51 PM   #3311
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Originally Posted by ryanhope View Post
Over 300 posts is a long read so I am just going to ask this question and hope for an answer... Has anyone extended the length of the sensor that came with this termometer. The supplied wire is too short to make it into my keezer from where I would like the controller mounted.
Yes. Depending on the length, type of wire, and how solid your connections are, you might need to adjust the calibration. Several people have used 1/8" headphone jacks to connect the sensor wire with the controller.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:12 PM   #3312
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Originally Posted by seedubxj View Post
Just passing this along. This PDF really helped me in my build. The parts #s are all good as well.

http://nordeastbrewersalliance.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/dual_stage_temp_controller_creation_instructions.p df
I used that pdf as my guide, built it up today, worked first time I plugged it in! Modified the plans by getting the 25' 14 GA extension cord (my beer chamber will likely be in the garage or unfinished portion of the basement, both of which have limited plugs), took the power cord first to an 'always on' outlet for circulation fans, work light (for illumination, not heating), etc., and put in a 15A fuse prior to the controller.

In the spirit of paying forward my good luck with finding a steal on Craigslist for my new-to-me kegging equipment, I offer up the following stuff for this project that was packaged as 'twofers' from Radio Shack:

1 red neon light
1 green neon light
1 fuse holder
2 15A ceramic fuses

First to PM me an address gets a goodie bag via USPS 1st class mail!

Edit: Congrats to lhommedieu, first to reply! No more callers, please!
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:19 AM   #3313
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Originally Posted by cwi

There are many situations where a keezer needs to be heated, the most common being when it is kept in the garage in the winter.

The STC-1000 is now down to $20 shipped, last time I ordered anyway. So, I just spring for the extra $3 for dual stage so I can use it to control a fermenter, or even turn my keezer into one, as well. In their defense, the single stage units do have a programmable/audible over/under temperature alarm which can come in handy for things like mashing. That feature can be supplied by a cheap stand-alone device (even with separate power for an unattended setting like fermenting), whereas dual-stage functionality cannot be replicated (easily) by adding another controller.
I guess being a Central Cali boy I don't understand the concepts of the garage getting too cold for beer.

I'm intrigued by your comment about using it for mash control. I was unaware that it had the audible alarms. Are you saying you can control a mash heater of some sort with it? I thought the general consensus was that a PID was needed because it controls with tighter parameters?

I ask because I'm getting ready to put an heating element under a false bottom in my mash tun and recirculate. This would be way cheaper and easier to rig up than a PID for me.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:23 PM   #3314
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Yes. Depending on the length, type of wire, and how solid your connections are, you might need to adjust the calibration. Several people have used 1/8" headphone jacks to connect the sensor wire with the controller.
I'm a little leery of the wires connected to the sensor as they seem almost too small for the controller. How would you connect the sensor to 1/8" headphone jacks?
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:51 PM   #3315
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I'm a little leery of the wires connected to the sensor as they seem almost too small for the controller. How would you connect the sensor to 1/8" headphone jacks?
Buy panel mount headphone jack and plug, solder the probe wires to the plug, solder some short wires to the jack connecting the other ends to the controller, drill a hole in the enclosure and install the jack.


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Yuri rubs it out with 60 grit... wouldn't even feel a tenga egg. -Randar

, place entry ox dixla to suck. Fcxk fwnpoo and passed. Hel an my spupid ass. OK. - TXCrash
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:58 PM   #3316
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I'm intrigued by your comment about using it for mash control. I was unaware that it had the audible alarms.
Only the single stage version has the audible alarm. There are other dual stage controllers with actual alarm outputs for not much more money. There are also simple add on temp monitors with alarms, although that would require another probe.

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Are you saying you can control a mash heater of some sort with it? I thought the general consensus was that a PID was needed because it controls with tighter parameters?
Quit putting words in my mouth!
In case you didn't notice, I recommend buying the dual stage for their versatility. In previous posts I recommend PIDs for anything heat related, again because of their versatility. As you stated, yes, the general consensus is to use a 'PID' for heating elements. Although, it has more to do with the ability of most PIDs to vary/limit the power using PWM and SSR relays than the theoretical tighter control. The fancy PID control functionality is over-hyped for most brewing applications, and unless you get the tuning just right, is actually worse than a simple on/off controller . Even used for RIMS, it doesn't behave much differently than an on/off controller.

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I ask because I'm getting ready to put an heating element under a false bottom in my mash tun and recirculate.
I believe most people using these (correctly) as mash controllers are using them for a HERMS rig. On/off control (at full power) is generally not suitable direct heat input to the mash. A lot of folks think any direct heat input, even a PID'd RIMS with an ULWD element, is unsuitable for the mash. The liquid is where mashing occurs, more so than the grain bed, and with direct/RIMS there is localized heating well above the mash temp, especially when ramping.

If you are going to recirc/pump anyway, check out HERMS. A separate small cheap kettle for the HERMS bath can easily be controlled using almost any type of controller. Trying to use the HLT as the HERMS bath just complicates matters, a dedicated one is simpler and better. You would need to agitate the bath somehow. What can serve double duty is an immersion chiller as the HERMS coil. The stainless ones are the same price or cheaper than a copper IC, and conduct heat as good or better (much thinner walled tubing). Some use the HERMS bath filled with ice water as a chiller, but that requires a lot of extra ice and pumping, especially if you wouldn't need ice otherwise. There are better solutions if you do need an ice assist.

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Originally Posted by snaps10 View Post
This would be way cheaper and easier to rig up than a PID for me.
And now you have hit on the main reason someone would use one of these controllers for a heating element. For an HLT or HERMS bath, they will work fine, but should be used with an additional SSR so you don't fry the built in relay. The lifespan of relays declines exponentially as you increase the current.
I don't see the 'way cheaper' part, though. Doesn't Auber have a suitable PID for ~$35 and an SSR for ~$10 (or less if you just match the capacity of the ebay controller)?
As for 'way easier', the rigging is virtually identical for both. Maybe a bit more time to RTFM so you understand how the PID controller works.
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Old 02-03-2013, 04:19 PM   #3317
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I believe most people using these (correctly) as mash controllers are using them for a HERMS rig. On/off control (at full power) is generally not suitable direct heat input to the mash.
Yep, I have two of them controlling my gas fired HERMS, where on/off control works fine. I've also run it as a direct fired RIMS and it worked great with the MLT burner dialed down a bit.

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Trying to use the HLT as the HERMS bath just complicates matters, a dedicated one is simpler and better.
IMO that depends on your process and how you set your system up. For me using the HLT as the HEX bath makes things much simpler and easier. I understand that it has some limitations and a separate HEX bath would make more sense for a lot of systems, but I don't agree that it's simpler/better in general.
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, place entry ox dixla to suck. Fcxk fwnpoo and passed. Hel an my spupid ass. OK. - TXCrash
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:11 PM   #3318
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Yep, I have two of them controlling my gas fired HERMS, where on/off control works fine. I've also run it as a direct fired RIMS and it worked great with the MLT burner dialed down a bit.
I have tried the direct fired recirc MLT, but it still seemed like there was some localized heating from the heated kettle bottom, even with a clad one.

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IMO that depends on your process and how you set your system up. For me using the HLT as the HEX bath makes things much simpler and easier. I understand that it has some limitations and a separate HEX bath would make more sense for a lot of systems, but I don't agree that it's simpler/better in general.
The only benefit I see of using the HLT as a HERMS bath is less equipment by one smallish pot, which I mentioned. There is no advantage to the volume of a typical HLT for a HERMS, and it is actually a hindrance when trying to ramp temps. There is also the additional juggling required when switching from dough-in to HERMS and mash-out to sparge. That is my basis for calling it simpler and better, process wise anyway, and I would be surprised if any part of the process was simpler/better using the HLT as the HERMS bath. While equipment wise it does mean another pot in the mix, it is a similar argument as to whether a swiss army knife or a box of equivalent tools is better/simpler.

The next project I am hording parts for is a HERMS type coil directly in the mash for full volume mashes (BIAB). I don't think I am the first, but I also don't think it has a name yet- hopefully someone comes up with (very) unPC acronym for it. My main reasons are to reduce complexity, and minimize the time the product spends in the 3500 rpm blender most people call a pump- typically ~2 hours (including chilling) for HERMS/RIMS guys.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:42 PM   #3319
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The only benefit I see of using the HLT as a HERMS bath is less equipment by one smallish pot, which I mentioned.
And one less temp controller, and one less heat source..... Either that or a more complicated process with moving pots of hot water around and/or controlling the HLT manually.

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There is no advantage to the volume of a typical HLT for a HERMS, and it is actually a hindrance when trying to ramp temps.
It does make ramping temps much slower, but the larger thermal mass makes it easier to hold a steady temp, especially when using a simple on/off controller rather than a PID. I rarely do step mashes, and my HLT burner is powerful enough that ramping temps isn't painfully slow when I do.

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There is also the additional juggling required when switching from dough-in to HERMS and mash-out to sparge.
Like I said, it depends on your process. I don't do much juggling at all. To switch from dough-in to HERMS I simply add cold water. I batch sparge, and IMO there's no reason to mash out when batch sparging, so no temp juggling there. I fire the HLT burner up as soon as the MLT starts draining, and by the time the first runnings are transferred, the water is up to sparge temp. It's a very simple, fast, and easy process.

I'm not trying to convince anyone that a single vessel is the best way to do things, I just don't see how adding a second vessel would be an improvement for my particular system. I'd actually like to make some changes that allow me to reduce my rig from a 3 vessel to a 2 vessel. I may be moving out of state soon, in which case I'd likely sell my current set-up and build a single vessel system.

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The next project I am hording parts for is a HERMS type coil directly in the mash for full volume mashes (BIAB). I don't think I am the first, but I also don't think it has a name yet- hopefully someone comes up with (very) unPC acronym for it. My main reasons are to reduce complexity, and minimize the time the product spends in the 3500 rpm blender most people call a pump- typically ~2 hours (including chilling) for HERMS/RIMS guys.
My HEX coil is mounted to the underside of a lid that fits all of my kettles, allowing me to use it in many different configurations. I tried the method you're describing, but found there was too much temp variance between the areas close to the coil and further away. I think it would have worked better with a stir motor, or if my MLT were better insulated so that the HEX was only providing minimal amounts of heat. I've added a lot of insulation to my MLT since then, and might try it again.

I also like to reduce the time the wort spends being pumped. Since adding the insulation I've started leaving the pump off for the first ~30min of the mash. I'm familiar enough with my system that I can hit my temps without the aid of the HERMS, and I don't notice any difference in wort clarity between an hour of re-circulation and 15 min of re-circulation.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:41 PM   #3320
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Although, it has more to do with the ability of most PIDs to vary/limit the power using PWM and SSR relays than the theoretical tighter control. The fancy PID control functionality is over-hyped for most brewing applications, and unless you get the tuning just right, is actually worse than a simple on/off controller . Even used for RIMS, it doesn't behave much differently than an on/off controller.
QFT. In many or most brewing applications, actual PID control is either pointless or meaningless. I think a lot of people use the term PID to refer to temp controllers in general and it is kind of annoying.
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