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Old 01-30-2011, 03:27 PM   #1
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Default Fermentation chamber multi chamber temp options

I am working on a fermentation chamber design and came up with an idea that uses 2 mini fridges as the cooling source. The reason I am thinking of going this route; using two mini fridges, is so I have better control of the temp for the two zones/chambers. The top chamber will be for Ales and the bottom will be for Lagers/cold crashing. I had thought of using fans to push cold air up to the top chamber but started thinking that the overall capacity of the chambers may be to much for a single mini fridge to work efficiently and I don't want temp variations of +/- 3 degrees that can result from just pushing/pulling a single cold air source. This is also the reason I decided not to go with the common chest freezer with a cabinet built on top route. I will save the use of a chest freezer for a future keezer build for storing/pouring brew.

There is the option of using two small A/C units instead of the mini fridges and the basic design won't change much I just need to look at cost vs effectiveness of the cooling sources. The cabinet will be in my below grade basement so there won't be a significant change in ambient temp that will make keeping the temps a challenge. Thoughts?

So the basic design will be a cabinet with a height that fits the height of carboys with blowoff tubes or airlocks. If I go with mini fridges the height can be adjusted if need be to accommodate them, if I go a/c units then it won't matter. The depth of the cabinet will be a minimum of 26 inches which allows carboys to be placed side by side if need be and the length will be somewhere between 37-48 inches.

This leads me to my main purpose for this post, what to use to control the temps in the 2 zones/chambers I will have. Is it just easer to get two 2 stage temp controllers and use them independently for the 2 different zones or is there a unit that can support 2 independent zones that need both heating and cooling? Also looking for temp controller recommendations for either direction I go.

Thanks!!

David

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I'd go with the 2". You can always stir the wort with a sanitized spoon if your worried about hot/cold spots. You will be hitting the 6+" with everything...ask Ron Jeremy!
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Old 01-30-2011, 05:36 PM   #2
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You probably only need one fridge and one heating element and 80mm or 120mm case fans to make it work. There are controllers out there that are more build it yourself, like BrewTroller/FermTroller, BCS, or Arduino. If code is not your thing, you might want to go with 2 controls, one for each side of the chamber.

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Old 01-30-2011, 05:36 PM   #3
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Some of the controllers will both heat and cool, but I've not seen any that will manage two different set points from two different sensors. You'll either need two separate controllers, or you'll need to wire up your own circuit.

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Old 01-30-2011, 06:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rudu81 View Post
You probably only need one fridge and one heating element and 80mm or 120mm case fans to make it work. There are controllers out there that are more build it yourself, like BrewTroller/FermTroller, BCS, or Arduino. If code is not your thing, you might want to go with 2 controls, one for each side of the chamber.
Looked at the BrewTroller/FermTroller projects and being a Linux sysadmin and opensource advocate I like what I see. Coding shouldn't be to much of an issue, I am sure there are plenty of bash/perl/python scripts out there I can hack/modify to get where I need to be. Thanks for the suggestion!
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Fermenting:
You Want MO Pale Ale
Secondary - Cyser & New England Hard Cider
Bottled: Nada
Kegged & OnTap: Bad Santa Stout, Jeep Trail Brown Ale, Red Skies at Night American Red, Panty Dropper Hard Cider


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammy71 View Post
I'd go with the 2". You can always stir the wort with a sanitized spoon if your worried about hot/cold spots. You will be hitting the 6+" with everything...ask Ron Jeremy!
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adurotec

Looked at the BrewTroller/FermTroller projects and being a Linux sysadmin and opensource advocate I like what I see. Coding shouldn't be to much of an issue, I am sure there are plenty of bash/perl/python scripts out there I can hack/modify to get where I need to be. Thanks for the suggestion!
FermTroller is a beast. It's hard to imagine that you'll ever outgrow it. Most of the code is in C, though (not sure if that matters to you). There is apparently a python interpreter for the ATMega chips, but you'd be writing the code from scratch for that. There are plenty of us around using custom electronics to man a fermentation chamber. An Arduino would be well suited to managing two zones and would cost about half of what the FermTroller does. Speak up if you need a hand!
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Old 01-31-2011, 12:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MalFet View Post
FermTroller is a beast. It's hard to imagine that you'll ever outgrow it. Most of the code is in C, though (not sure if that matters to you). There is apparently a python interpreter for the ATMega chips, but you'd be writing the code from scratch for that. There are plenty of us around using custom electronics to man a fermentation chamber. An Arduino would be well suited to managing two zones and would cost about half of what the FermTroller does. Speak up if you need a hand!
Ya the FermTroller does a lot of @#$%. If I had more time writing code from scratch wouldn't be an issue but I don't so stalk code would be where I'd go. I have seen the Arduino mentioned a few times in other posts, I need to spend some time understanding what it is and what it can do for me and if the cost is more to my liking its an even better benefit.

Do you have any recommended links or info on the Arduino or how you have made it work for your needs?
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________________________________________
Fermenting:
You Want MO Pale Ale
Secondary - Cyser & New England Hard Cider
Bottled: Nada
Kegged & OnTap: Bad Santa Stout, Jeep Trail Brown Ale, Red Skies at Night American Red, Panty Dropper Hard Cider


Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammy71 View Post
I'd go with the 2". You can always stir the wort with a sanitized spoon if your worried about hot/cold spots. You will be hitting the 6+" with everything...ask Ron Jeremy!
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Old 01-31-2011, 01:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adurotec

Ya the FermTroller does a lot of @#$%. If I had more time writing code from scratch wouldn't be an issue but I don't so stalk code would be where I'd go. I have seen the Arduino mentioned a few times in other posts, I need to spend some time understanding what it is and what it can do for me and if the cost is more to my liking its an even better benefit.

Do you have any recommended links or info on the Arduino or how you have made it work for your needs?
An Arduino is basically a programmable microchip tied to a bunch of input and output pins that can control other electrical devices. It comes with a nice development environment and API, so it is quite easy to write C code that will do things like read sensors and control power relays. The code itself is quite easy...I've got a hot+cold fermentation fridge (with a few bells and whistles like timers to prevent the fridge from turning on and off too quickly) and it's all less than 100 lines of code. Understanding and designing the circuits themselves can be a bit more complicated if you've never done that before, but I have enjoyed figuring it out.

I'm not sure how "out of the box" the fermtroller is. I suspect that's the real question. If it is easy to set up, that might be worth the $50 extra. The arduino is a good way to get programmers into electronics, though. It would be easy enough to hook up a couple thermometers and a couple of relays to control a fridge or two. For basic info, check out the arduino website. There are a lot of tutorials and the like. For specific schematics, you could probably get all the help you need around here.
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:54 PM   #8
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I'm reviving this old thread because I am also interested in something similar. I was thinking about using an arduino to set it up so that I could control 2 separate fermentation chambers simultaneously from a single unit. However, I have very little wiring and programming experience. But I'm excited to try to figure it out on a project like this, as it looks to be a much cheaper solution than multiple dual-stage controllers, and there doesn't even seem to be a commercial product available that can run 2 zones at once.

Any thoughts/suggestions? Has anyone done this and willing to share the plans/designs or results?

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Old 07-25-2012, 01:17 AM   #9
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Sure, this kind of thing is relatively straight forward. There are a dozen or so different arduino threads on the boards, most recently in the brewing automation forum. Adding a second zone doesn't really require anything more complicated than another probe and a couple more SSRs. If you're looking to get started, I'd recommend checking out the tutorials on arduino.cc.

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