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Old 06-01-2010, 01:08 AM   #1
TriangleIL
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Default My Single Tier DITCHES Build

All,

I need some advice as I begin my adventure into the AG brewing. I've decided to dive head first into brewing, and I will be building a single tier AG automated setup based on others I've seen on HBT. Special thanks to everyone who has shared their knowledge up to this point in helping me learn as much as I can to get to this point.

First, I wanted to share my goals in this project.

1. Have a 100% automated system, which can be started, I can walk away, and hours later I would have beer in my fermenter. My current plan will require me to hook up the water source, remove the water source, and place the hose into the fermenter. Everything else should be automated.

2. The ability to brew 20 gallon mid gravity batches is important. I plan to accomplish this by repurposing the HLT into a BK during a "20 gallon batch" method.

3. The majority of the batches will be 5g until I start narrowing my focus on specific recipes. The system should be flexible enough that the batch size is independent of the functionality.

4. Where applicable, I need to save as much as possible. I.e. keep the system as cheap as possible, without sparing functionality.

5. All electric, with the ability to one day convert to NG. This is due to circumstances of being in a smaller space with no ventilation (currently).


From these guidelines, I mocked up an image similiar to the original DITCHES. This is based on my own specific needs, but perhaps I am missing something? Any advice would be appreciated.




So far I have acquired 3 kegs, 15 1/2" NPT bulkheads (weldless), 1 temperature sensor, 1 touch screen "brain". I will be posting an excel spreadsheet within a few days with proposed items and locations (again for more advice).

I'm currently in the process of gathering the required tools to begin tearing apart the kegs and installing the weldless bulkheads.

Thanks for any comments/suggestions and advice.

Edited: Changed the graphic based on the suggestion to have a dedicated H20 in.

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Old 06-01-2010, 01:34 AM   #2
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I'm having a difficult time figuring out how you'll be able to walk away for a few hours and have wort in your fermenter with a 20 gal batch. I understand what you are doing in the diagrams, but you don't have a dedicated water source and dedicated hose to the fermenter. Where will your system get the extra 11-12 gallons if you aren't there to add it?

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Old 06-01-2010, 03:13 AM   #3
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100% automation will be very difficult because of the priming issues face with the pumps we use and your desire to keep it cheap. What automation controller will you be using? Your desire for 100% automation will require you to measure volume for sparging and strike water or use expensive metering pumps. Will you be writing the software yourself?

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Old 06-01-2010, 03:40 AM   #4
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Sadly, I only found out about the priming issues with the pumps this morning... that's something I haven't figured out quite yet. I do plan on having flow meters inline leaving the outputs on each of the keggles. I will probably draw up something more elaborate with parts and locations next.

I plan on writing the software myself. The initial plan is to hook all of the solenoid valves (shown in grey in the drawing) up to switches. The pumps will also be hooked up to switches. Since the programming and automation will take a lot longer than getting the plumbing setup, I plan to gradually implement the automation (6-9 months?).

I will be using c# to write the interface of a WinCE 6.0 device. My career is in software engineering, so this is where I'm most familiar. Everything else here is foreign.

As for keeping this on the cheap, my plan is to spend less than 2k if possible. I realize that may be hard, and that I might be spending more over time, but thats the initial goal.

Thanks!

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Old 06-01-2010, 04:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriangleIL View Post
Sadly, I only found out about the priming issues with the pumps this morning... that's something I haven't figured out quite yet. I do plan on having flow meters inline leaving the outputs on each of the keggles. I will probably draw up something more elaborate with parts and locations next.

I plan on writing the software myself. The initial plan is to hook all of the solenoid valves (shown in grey in the drawing) up to switches. The pumps will also be hooked up to switches. Since the programming and automation will take a lot longer than getting the plumbing setup, I plan to gradually implement the automation (6-9 months?).

I will be using c# to write the interface of a WinCE 6.0 device. My career is in software engineering, so this is where I'm most familiar. Everything else here is foreign.

As for keeping this on the cheap, my plan is to spend less than 2k if possible. I realize that may be hard, and that I might be spending more over time, but thats the initial goal.

Thanks!
I have a feeling it will cost more than that but don't get discouraged. Nothing happens overnight. I think you are doing the right thing by using manual-off-auto switches. It will allow you to learn your brewery before you tackle the automation. It should help you when writing the software. The two most difficult issues you will face in automating 100% are the priming issue, and the measurement of volume. I suggest you have a look at measuring pressure to measure volume. It's much less expensive in the long run. Kladue and Coderage are both process control experts and will be the most helpful with this kind of stuff. I am a novice and just learning from these two guys. They both seem keen on an ARM9 SBC that has embedded linux and can run WinCE. I am an analog engineer who is code dumb. Best of luck and remember there is always a solution, some are just a little more elusive than others.
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Old 06-04-2010, 03:48 AM   #6
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Quick update,

Build a rig to cut out the keggles tonight. Ran into some problems where 2 of the top rings were 'stuck'. Then I had the brilliant idea of just cutting them out with the dremel. Waste of time. Finally popped them out with a tiny screwdriver, but broke the tip in the process.

I build up a rig based on the plans here, Simple Keggle Rig. The rig worked AWESOME! Pics to come here as well.

I was able to cut 2 of the tops off tonight before it got too late. I plan to cut the last top off tomorrow and then sand, drill holes and polish the keggles this weekend. Pics to come.

I also plan to finish my spreadsheet identifying all the parts I *think* I will need. I have a feeling I could use some advice in this area. I have been keeping my eye out for good deals on LG pumps and ball valves. I've also been trying to find a good 'flow regulated solenoid' valve. I think the correct item I am looking for is a proportional valve?

Anyways, things are starting to come along. Thanks to everyone on these forums who've helped directly (PM) and indirectly (posting all this information).

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Old 06-09-2010, 12:06 PM   #7
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I'm getting closer... drilled 4 of my fittings so far. Have placed my 1/2" couplings in for the drains and the thermometers on the HLT/BK. Ordered 2 sight glass kits from Bobby, hoping they arrive early next week. Received my first thermocouple in which I will need to drill my coupling 1/4" in place to put that into one of the keggles. Still not sure where I should put all my temperature sensors or where I should get flow sensors from (and where I should place them).

Now I am in the process of looking for a heating element for both the BK and the HLT. Can anyone comment on the following?

Camco-02933-Screw-Heater-Element

versus

Camco-02963-5500W-240V-Element.

I would prefer the first one, unless someone has a reason the 2nd is better?

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Old 06-09-2010, 12:41 PM   #8
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They will both work equally well... there is no real difference there.

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Old 06-09-2010, 05:51 PM   #9
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Thanks for the reply. I pulled the trigger on the two heating elements.

I also purchased my SS Tee's, nipples and 4-ways today.

Now I am on to my HX coils. Is 50' in the BK overkill? I'm assuming 25' is more than enough? Based on another thread, I was going to grab the tubing here. Look good?

Gathering pieces is fun.

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Old 06-09-2010, 06:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TriangleIL View Post
Thanks for the reply. I pulled the trigger on the two heating elements.

I also purchased my SS Tee's, nipples and 4-ways today.

Now I am on to my HX coils. Is 50' in the BK overkill? I'm assuming 25' is more than enough? Based on another thread, I was going to grab the tubing here. Look good?

Gathering pieces is fun.
25' is fine for a HERMS coil
50' is great for 10 gallon immersion chilling
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