I have started looking into building a automated hot liquor tank for heating mash water unattended or remotely. I have a few ideas and would welcome advise from the community.
Here is a verbal sketch of my prospective build:
I would like to fit a scrap 15.5 gallon keg with 2 ports for water in and out. One to fill and another to drain. These would be controlled by solenoid valves.
There would be an electric hot water heater element installed in the vessel to heat the water.
I would have something like these 2 sensors:
Precision Epoxy Thermistor
eTape Liquid Level Sensor
to measure the temperature and water level.
I was thinking that the whole thing could be controlled by an Aurdrino micro-controller which in turn could interface with some custom python control programs that I plan to write.
An imagined use case would look something like this:
Saturday evening I set the system to heat 4.4 (or whatever) gallons of water to 165 degrees F at 7am the next morning. At 7am the computer wakes up and tells the controller to open the fill valve. When the water level sensor reaches the designated 4.4 gallon mark, the valve is closed and the heating element is turned on. When the water is at 165 according to the temp probe the heating element turns off. The second solenoid valve opens and gravity drains the hot water into my cooler mash tun.
In the mean time I get up and pour a cup of coffee and walk out the the garage and dough in.
My main reason for doing this is to improve my programming skills and begin learning about micro-controllers. I am aware that this may be an ambitious project for a beginner but I find that learning by doing is the best way for me. I have about 2 1/2 months to work on this relatively uninterrupted and don't expect to have it finished by then. I am also tight on cash and want to do as much scavenge and scrap as I can to get to an end project.
Any advise from seasoned builders or opinionated loudmouths would be great. I am in the early planning stages.
Thanks a ton(tun?).