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Old 05-27-2007, 11:46 AM   #1
Cede's Avatar
May 2007
Thetford Mines, QC, Canada
Posts: 66

My setup:

- HLT: converted keg with 55,000 btu propane burner
- Boiler: converted keg with 55,000 btu propane burner
- Mash Tun : Igloo 10 gal with SS false bottom
- Iwaki pump
- 15 plates heat exchanger
- a bunch of valves, copper tubing and so on...
- thermometers

The burners are ref H205 and the false bottom is AG405 12" from morebeer.

My setup is quite basic, lots of manual checks for temperatures, everything is done by hand.
It's working flawlessly, but I must put stay hours to stir, check temps and so on ( basic brewing)

My brewery is almost in parts due to moving across the ocean next month. That why I want to change the setup.

My dream setup:

- MT steam heating
- MT automated temerature control
- MT electric stirrer
- HLT automated temerature control
- solenoid valves instead of mechanical valves
- what more ?

I still don't know how I will build the steam generator.
Will I use a keg... may be to big to start with.
It will surely be electrical heating, gas heating will be a pain for almost no gain here.

I saw 2 gals steam generators for wallpaper removing, all stainless steel and with all safety thingies fitted, like low water level, 45 psi relief pressure...
I should be able to get an used one for 50$.

Too bad, a few months ago I thrown to the bin an old steam generator for professional iron my wife was using.
Even if it was about 1 + 1/2 quart, it shoud have been sufficient for first tries.
It has every safety fitted, but the pressure switch was leaking one more time and she decided to upgrade to a bigger one.

After reading a lot, there and there , this is a draft of what I'd like to setup.

I think I'll use a Pic Micro 18F2550 or 4550 for controlling all the stuff.
It's easy to burn through usb, so it has USB and RS232 connectivity, plenty of ram, and enough eprom to store a few parameters.
It has also enough ports to hook up switches and buttons, temp sensors lm34/lm35 or pt100, and a LCD screen.

I'd like to implement a modular concept on the controller.
I mean, the brewing process would not have to be frozen and could be suited to do anything with any setup.
This means each task will be a sub routine and can be ordered in any way.
The brewing process could be sent to the controller by usb/rs232 and then no need for a computer in the brewery.
I already did a thing like this for another project that used a memory kinda like an usb stick that was used to transfer data between a computer and a controller.
Or the computer could still be plugged with the controller to monitor the brewing process or modify it on the fly.

At any time, it should be able to be switched to manual.

What I have tought so far to be programmed:
- tasks for HLT water heating: water in control, (level sense), temp sense, heating control, out valve control
- tasks for MT: stirring control, temp sense, heating control, level sense for sparging, recirculating pump control, valve in control, valve out control, water in volume sense
- tasks for boiler: heating control, valve in control, ...

Am I crazy ? maybe ;o)

Any comment or idea will be appreciated.

I'm not planing to sell this kind of thing.
It's just for fun and will be shared under artistic licence.

As always, the things that will be easier to use and versatile, will be awfully complicated to program, but without headaches, no joy

Some might tell this is just a dream, but who knows ?

I'll try to update as I'm going further into planing.

PS: sorry for mistakes and/or mispelling, my mother tongue is not english
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Old 05-27-2007, 01:41 PM   #2
FlyingHorse's Avatar
Mar 2007
Evanston IL
Posts: 1,856
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Originally Posted by Cede
I still don't know how I will build the steam generator.

Here are a couple threads to get you started on the steam piece:

And this article

The rest of it is beyond my analog-thermometer & wooden-spoon capabilities. Some of the members here have pretty elaborate rigs incorporating many of the concepts you listed. They're also insanely helpful, so you'll get some good guidance.
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Old 05-27-2007, 04:49 PM   #3
Cede's Avatar
May 2007
Thetford Mines, QC, Canada
Posts: 66

Thanks, I read those threads and learned a lot.

Now I got to plan and draw the boiler
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Old 05-27-2007, 04:54 PM   #4

I know about long, continuous, manual brew days. I have given it much thought, about making this a more automated process. Then I think that I won't have as much pride and the feeling of actually brewing my own beer. I built my own HERMS and continually think of ways to improve it.

I believe that I would really enjoy designing, building, & perfecting the automated process. Once I had it working, I think I would not be as proud of my beer.

For now, I'll just try and get the little bugs out of my process, but I will continue to think about improving & automating.
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Old 05-27-2007, 09:07 PM   #5
Cede's Avatar
May 2007
Thetford Mines, QC, Canada
Posts: 66

Of course, "sanitizing" the process would lead to a "dead beer".

I don't want to automate the brewing process for just having to put grain and water at one end and getting wold wort at the other after a certain time.

I just want to try to fully program the brew process but by small parts.
(selfish)It's maybe a bit to be proud of myself seeing I did it(/selfish), but its mainly to help me brewing may be better, but time will tell.
The base I want to do, is an automated process of temperature control, because I've got some trouble with that, and maybe it's a bit because of my setup. The other automated thingies are just for fun.

[email protected], I do agree with you. A real good beer is one you can be proud of because you made it yourself, with your feelings and your heart

It's kinda like cooking. Fast food is fully automated process, and real home meals are way better. But I use food processors to help me cutting vegetable, mixing meat and so on !

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Old 05-28-2007, 01:11 PM   #6
Feb 2006
San Antonio, Texas
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With temp controls and some automation you should get better repeatability. That and the possibility of reducing the brew day hours would peak my interest in this.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:18 PM   #7
Cede's Avatar
May 2007
Thetford Mines, QC, Canada
Posts: 66

I chatted a bit with some brewers pals, and the first thing coming to every mouth is: temperature control.

Looks like the stepped mash infusion is the thing most would like to be under control, and done easily.

Today I began writing down the logic. This week I'll try to do a bit of code and then I'll test it on a prototype as my brewery is now in parts for moving.

I found a nice thingie to do a steam generator base:

It's called: Turbo Vapeur 2300 w.

Heating time : 30 minutes for 9 liters of cold water
Steam output: 54.5 g /mn.
Heating element 2300 watts/11 A/230V
Stainless steel (18/8) 10/10e tested 3 bars 43,53 psi

Sorry about the IS units that I didn't converted.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:46 PM   #8
david_42's Avatar
Oct 2005
Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
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Several people have used pressure cookers as steam generators. They have several advantages, including the built-in pressure relief valve and high-temperature shut offs for the electric ones. Little more than drilling & tapping a hole for a pipe fitting is required.
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