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Old 12-20-2008, 03:53 PM   #1
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Default My brewery controller: iBrew

Here are some photos of the latest generation of my iBrew. I hope to have it operational (meaning actually attached )by the Jan 3rd brew day. I made some changes to the circuit board. I added an inverter to the board to power the EL back light on the LCD and I moved the temp sensor jacks onto the board instead of connecting via headers; there were just too many wires going from the board to elsewhere in the enclosure. That allowed me to move the RC signal cleaning circuits to the board too. This enclosure is temporary, I don't like it and the switches are just too big. I wanted a heavy duty looking switch but I've since changed my mind and will go with something that A) doesn't require a square f-ing hole and B) Doesn't take up so much room.

The controller is a 6-channel digital thermometer with 4 solenoids. It's basically the equivelent of 4 Ranco controllers and 2 additional digital thermometers. It's all based on an Arduino, which is under the circuit board in these photos, attached via headers like a Shield. It's been a very fun project. The burner control circuits also have a 30 second lock out to prevent the burners from firing on and off if the temp is hovering.

iBrew inside shot:


This is the new Splash Screen:


Here's the HLT screen. The setpoint has been set to 80* and the screen and LED are indicating the burner would be ON:


And the MLT screen, also indicating the MLT burner and pump are both on. If the iBrew turns on the MLT burner is turns on the pump at the same time to prevent scorching.

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Old 12-20-2008, 05:40 PM   #2
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Sweet setup! I'm jealous- If it were mine, I would SOOO get toggle switches with covers from radioshack or pepboys. Got three set at pepboys and custom fabbed into my jeep for aux lights etc (round hole and can do aux. LED).

Side note, since you're using the audrino- Think about adding the network interface? E kettle thread mentions it- would be awesome (pending safety issues) to hop online and start preheating for a brew session right before you leave from a hard day of work

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Old 12-20-2008, 06:25 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MoRoToRiUm View Post
Sweet setup! I'm jealous- If it were mine, I would SOOO get toggle switches with covers from radioshack or pepboys. Got three set at pepboys and custom fabbed into my jeep for aux lights etc (round hole and can do aux. LED).

Side note, since you're using the audrino- Think about adding the network interface? E kettle thread mentions it- would be awesome (pending safety issues) to hop online and start preheating for a brew session right before you leave from a hard day of work

Thanks! I started with a system that would be web enabled, but decided I didn't want to HAVE to have a laptop or computer around while brewing. So, I decided on a stand-alone appliance.

I'd be afraid to pre-haet when i wasn't around since I use gas and as far as starting it before I leave the office..... well. I work at home. My office is 100' from where I brew.
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:30 PM   #4
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This is the first I have read about the Arduino boards. A brief web search makes them sound perfect for automating a small brewery. Which board do you have? and how easy would it be to run it over the net?

Any and all Arduino info is welcome!

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Old 12-21-2008, 02:50 PM   #5
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Very nice Derrin, I have wanted to do this too. What gas control valves did you use? Any information would be helpful on the circuits.

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Old 12-21-2008, 03:38 PM   #6
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I'm using a Decimelia, but that isn't the current board anymore. The Duemilanove has replaced it. You can also Google Seeeduino which is a fully Arduino compliant board but isn't an "official" board. The nice thing is is has pin outs for the 2 additional analog ports the processor has. (The processor has 8 analog ports but this version Arduino only pins out 6) The Arduino is an incredible environment which unbelievable support. There are countless libraries written for common hardware like LCD screens and the line of One-Wire temperature sensors. There is an Ethernet shield available, but I don't know much about it. Most versions interface with USB standard. Check out Arduino - HomePage for more info.

I chose to use LM34 temperature sensors. They provide a linear analog output and are really easy to use. They are sensitive to noise though and do require a resistor-capacitor to clean the signal. The One-Wire DS18B20 is a better choice and several can be run from a single pin, but they require more code overhead to read and are a little more complicated if you're just learning to code like me.

For gas valves and ignition systems, I'm using Honeywell furnace valves I got off eBay for $20 each. I used something similar in my last brewery. I use them in conjunction with direct spark ignition ignitors for ignition. No pilots to have blow out all the time. A friend of mine sells HVAC equipment, so when they do a job and bring the old furnace back, he looks for valves and controls that can be used.

Oh, BTW. The typical Arduino only costs about $35. The Seeduino is only like $25 and the IDE and all the libraries are free!!!!

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Old 12-21-2008, 04:21 PM   #7
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Would LOVE to build something like that, but being programming illiterate and not knowing much about hobby electronics (I can wire remote manually-controlled switches to turn my march pumps on and off, and can follow basic instructions, but actually creating anything like this setup is way beyond my technical skills. sigh. )

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Old 12-21-2008, 11:00 PM   #8
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Maybe you could explain about the igniters and how they are triggered and safety if the burners don't light?

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Old 12-22-2008, 01:24 AM   #9
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Maybe you could explain about the igniters and how they are triggered and safety if the burners don't light?
Sure!

Direct Spark Ignition is one of the two pilot-less ignition systems that most furnaces, fireplaces, dryers and boilers use. (The other is hot surface ignition). All the Arduino does is close a relay just like a Ranco would. On my last system I used a Ranco. The closed relay supplies 24VAC to the ignitor module. The module opens the gas valve and sends a high-voltage spark to the ignitor that looks something like a spark plug with long wires. Here is a picture from my last sculpture:



Anyway, the ignitor must change resistance or do something magic in the presence of a flame, because as soon as it ignites, the sparking stops. There is no thermocouple or flame sensor and to be honest I don't know what happens if it doesn't light because it always lights instantly unless I forgot to turn on the gas valve. I might be missing a flame sensor, but there is no jack for it on the valve or module so I'd have no idea where it goes. The ignitor itself may be the flame sensor.

Here is a pict off the gas valve on my old system. The DSI controller is in the plastic box. This particular one was designed to ignite a pilot and the pilot would burn against the ignitor. I have it positioned so the ignitor is in the burner flames and it worked great. I'll be using this same one on the new sculpture with the Arduino.



All said and done I'll have one of these for the HLT and MLT. The mash temp will be controlled by direct fire and the Arduino is programmed to run the pump if the MLT burner is on.
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:24 AM   #10
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Didn't slnies (damn if I can get the name right!) post up the code for a temp controller for the Arduino?

I almost went with the Arduino - but unfortunately there aren't any temperature tables out in the open that I found, and I didn't want to have to spend lots of money and time trying to figure out the temp probe values. I went with a PID from Auberins, but someday I'd like to automate my brew system even more.
-keith

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