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Old 12-11-2010, 01:50 PM   #1
Hbrew
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Default Fermentation Temperature controller build

I've started working on a project that I thought y'all might be interested in, and would like some feedback on. The idea is that I'm designing and building (from the ground up) a temperature controller for fermentation chambers. It will be able to control both heating and cooling, with standard AC connectors on the back for both. Right now I'm looking at using a NTC thermistor as the sensor, and dropping it into a thin stainless steel tube (so it can be put straight into the wort/beer). The interesting part about this is that I am designing it to run temperature profiles, as well as hold a single value. The idea is that you could punch in a set temps and times that you want the fermentation to occur at, then just let it run and it would step through the profile. At the same time, it will log the data, so you can go back and see what the beer was really doing.

Like I said, I wanted to see what people thought of the idea. I know it's a little lite on the technical details (some of those I've figured out, others not so much), I've started but am only maybe 50% done on a first run at the coding. I also wanted to see what y'all thought about a few things.

First off is the accuracy of the sensor. My plan was to make sure it would read correctly to within about a degree. I assume this will be accurate enough, because from what I understand the variation in temp in the static bulk of the fermenter could easily vary by more than a degree between any two points, so a finer measurement doesn't really mean much. I'm not sure about this, though, and I'm also interested in agitating the wort/beer to keep yeast in suspension and maintain better control, but that's a conversation for a different topic and forum.

The second thing is a little more practical. I've been trying to find a connector I'm happy with for the temp probe. I'm thinking of using an M8 connector, as it's a sensor connector and is fairly standardized. But they're a bit on the pricey side (somewhere around $20 for a mating pair). I was wondering if anyone had some good suggestions on where to get M8 connectors for less, or perhaps a different option.

Thanks, and I hope that this build proves to be interesting for everyone.

Neal

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Old 12-12-2010, 12:26 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hbrew View Post
The idea is that I'm designing and building (from the ground up) a temperature controller for fermentation chambers. It will be able to control both heating and cooling, with standard AC connectors on the back for both.
Your idea will work very well, I am doing exactly the same thing with my fermentation set-up.
My temperature controllers are not designed from the ground up, all off the shelve items integrated into the system.
No heating required in my part of the world.
Quote:
Right now I'm looking at using a NTC thermistor as the sensor, and dropping it into a thin stainless steel tube (so it can be put straight into the wort/beer).
I am using 24"-30" SS thermocouples measuring the liquid temp.
Quote:
The interesting part about this is that I am designing it to run temperature profiles, as well as hold a single value. The idea is that you could punch in a set temps and times that you want the fermentation to occur at, then just let it run and it would step through the profile.
The temperature controllers I use can do the same thing and I do have different profiles programmed which I select by entering a program number.
Quote:
At the same time, it will log the data, so you can go back and see what the beer was really doing.
I have never logged the data but the controllers do retransmit the temperature for logging or other control applications.
Quote:
I'm also interested in agitating the wort/beer to keep yeast in suspension and maintain better control, but that's a conversation for a different topic and forum.
My fermenters are all conicals and produce constant motion during fermentation.
Quote:
I've been trying to find a connector I'm happy with for the temp probe. I'm thinking of using an M8 connector, as it's a sensor connector and is fairly standardized. But they're a bit on the pricey side (somewhere around $20 for a mating pair). I was wondering if anyone had some good suggestions on where to get M8 connectors for less, or perhaps a different option.
No
I am currently working on my automated grain processing systems which requires M12 connectors and I use $9.50 pre-made cables which come with both connectors (M/F) on each end.
I just cut the cables and designed them into the system.

Cheers,
ClaudiusB
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Old 01-03-2011, 06:34 AM   #3
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I just started a thread over here (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/diy-temp-probes-ds18b20-215148/) on temp probes as I've spent some time the last week futzing around with monitoring fermentation temps. I got it working, but now need to move from breadboards to some actual hardware.

I'm using a Netduino which is currently sending UDP packets of the temp (ambient, thermowell and taped-to-the-primary) around my house every minute

I too am trying to find a decent source for M8 cables.

What are you using for your controller?

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Old 01-03-2011, 03:51 PM   #4
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The BCS uses thermistor based probes as well. You could use the probes from Brewers Hardware which also are available with M8 cables.

Good luck on your project!
http://www.brewershardware.com/4-Temperature-Sensor-for-BCS-460-with-M8-Disconnect-Cable.html

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