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Old 12-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #1
wolverinebrewer
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Default My DIY Son of Fermentation Chiller

I have been tired of not being able to brew during the summer months because my basement stays about 70*, After researching the SofFC pdf write-up and watching a few you tube vids, I decided to build my own. It took me awhile to put the plan together because I was unsure of how to find and put together the electronics portion of this project. After seeing a YT video on using temperature control items used for cooling entertainment cabinets to control fermentation temps, I decide I was now easily able to do this. I have a little over $100 dollars into this because the electronics were about 75% of the cost. Obviously, you could do this cheaper if you needed to.
The source for the electronics were from The Cooler Guys. Check out the YT video for a better explanation.
The 3 items were:
4 Pin Molex 2A power adapter $14.95
120 mm. low speed 3 pin fan $10.95
Programmable Thermal Fan Control. w/ LED Display $34.95
These items all have connections to plug in together. You are up and running in 30 seconds. No searching for all of the parts and no cutting or soldering needed.

For the most part, I followed the pdf. version but one change I made was to cut the top into 2 pieces in order to not disturb the fermentation area when changing out the ice.
The grommets are nice but I used 3/8" dowels and needed to sand them since they were a little too tight. You might not even need to add this step as it seems the chamber is still very airtight from just the addition of the weather stripping.

The temp control is mounted into the back wall. I took a razor blade and cut out the foam in order to recess the unit into the foam. All of the wiring is run through the two ice chambers and the power cord is run through a hole at the bottom.

One item that makes this so much easier to build is a table saw. This helps in making perfect cuts especially for the top and front pieces where air can leak.
Hopefully I didn't leave anything out. This is an easy project for any member on this site but if there are any questions let me know.

I haven't tried to push the temps really low yet so I'm not sure how low this will chill. I've stayed at about 62* for my ales. One guy on YT showed his temp. at 45* with 2 one gallon jugs.

ferm-chamber.jpg

cut-away-view.jpg

ice-cham..jpg

grommets.jpg

fan-wire.jpg  
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:11 PM   #2
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Same design that I used and it works great. Throw a couple paper towels under the bottles and your little puddles are kaput. Well done.

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Old 12-06-2012, 03:36 PM   #3
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I can keep mine at about 50 with thermostat on auto. I use bleach jugs as they are stronger so you can stack them no worry of them breaking. I used it all summer in the n carolina heat and it works great

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Old 12-06-2012, 04:19 PM   #4
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Great! I plan on dropping this Cali. Common down in the 50's after a couple of weeks so it will get the test. I currently use empty vinegar jugs but I'm hesitant of stacking them on each other. I have been thinking of making some kind of rack to fit over the lower one while also keeping the air flowing.

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Old 04-10-2013, 08:40 PM   #5
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Now that some time has passed, can you think of anything that you would change or add to this?

Also, after using it a few times do you notice any foam degradation from moisture or any issues with moisture affecting the electrical components?

Also also, any reason why you mounted the thermostat inside the chamber and not outside the chamber?

Thanks!

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Old 04-11-2013, 12:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglazer View Post
Now that some time has passed, can you think of anything that you would change or add to this?

Also, after using it a few times do you notice any foam degradation from moisture or any issues with moisture affecting the electrical components?

Also also, any reason why you mounted the thermostat inside the chamber and not outside the chamber?

Thanks!
I do not see anything that I need to change because it works good as is. The biggest issue I have is that it is foam and the foam is soft. You need to really be careful when lifting out the front and top so as not to damage the edges and corners by denting them. The key to good cooling is the tight fit and you don't want to nick the edges which may allow the air to escape. The weather stripping makes all the difference and is necessary but I still take great care when removing the top or front.
A big problem I have is that one of my cats, even when declawed wanted to use the top corner as a scratch post and also lay on top of it. I wanted to beat the hell out of that thing. So now I cover the corners with towels and put some object on top of it to discourage interest.
I have tossed around the idea of encasing the whole thing in plywood or some other material but I've already got over $100 into this. I could have a found a fridge and used that for the same amount.

Moisture is not an issue at all. You will get a puddle at the bottom as the jug melts but it's not a big deal.

And there is no reason I put the thermostat inside as opposed to outside. I see no reason it wouldn't work that way.

The dowels are a PIA to put in and take out and sometimes I don't use them or only use a couple. It still holds the desired temps without them.
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:43 PM   #7
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Awesome thanks!

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Old 04-11-2013, 04:22 PM   #8
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The temp sensor for the thermostat is inside it. If you want to put the thermostat outside you need to remove the sensor attach it to a wire to extend it. I do not own a soldering gun so i did not do it.

Steeljan has a video demonstrating it on youtube if you want to see it done.

Also, i bought cheap velcro strips from walmart and glued them to the panels instead of the dowels. I read that the dowel holes can get larger over time. There is also a piece of plywood on the bottom so as to distribute weight of bucket. Last thing is i rotate dish towels in the ice chamber. 1 folded in half put on bottom catches the condensation and i swap it when i change jugs. The eva-dry doesnt even touch the water i get of the jugs in nc humidity.

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Old 04-11-2013, 07:49 PM   #9
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Yea I am also in NC and not looking forward to the heat/humidity this summer which is why I am making one of these (apartment living as well).

With the thermostat he used, I believe it comes standard with a 24" Thermal Probe that you can see in his picture. I just purchased those exact electronics he listed above and also got a 4ft extension for the thermal probe. I was going to go with a basic thermostat but I really wanted to be able to mount it outside of the chamber without having to go in and solder and what not bc my electrical skills are limited to plugging in and unplugging...

I am actually going with this design:http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/3...tation-Chiller but I am using the electrical setup listed here. This setup already has a wood base, and I may just get those plastic shoe containers for freezing ice in and it looks like you can just put the lid of them under the container when in the chamber and it will catch all the water (hopefully).

I am planning on doing the dowels with grommets method because I wont have a wood exterior, have you tried the grommets with the dowels? Do they still come loose after a while?

Thanks for the feedback!

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Old 04-11-2013, 08:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jglazer View Post
.

With the thermostat he used, I believe it comes standard with a 24" Thermal Probe that you can see in his picture. I just purchased those exact electronics he listed above and also got a 4ft extension for the thermal probe. I was going to go with a basic thermostat but I really wanted to be able to mount it outside of the chamber without having to go in and solder and what not bc my electrical skills are limited to plugging in and unplugging...



I am planning on doing the dowels with grommets method because I wont have a wood exterior, have you tried the grommets with the dowels? Do they still come loose after a while?

Thanks for the feedback!
You should be able to mount the thermostat outside the chamber close to where your primary will be and run the thermistor through the side and just tape it to the side of your primary. As long as it isn't more than 24" away, you shouldn't have to solder anything.

Looking at this other design you linked, depending on where you place the thermostat, you may need some 3 pin extension cables for your fan but you can buy however many you need from The Coolerguys and hook them together to get the length you need.

As far as grommets go, if you glue them in they shouldn't come loose. I had one break free once but it was because the dowel was still too tight and didn't hold the grommet with one hand while pulling the dowel with the other. If you noticed, I haven't finished putting the grommets on the inside of the walls nor to the holes in the top pieces. I've been lazy.

Good luck with your build.
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