2 tier, 2 zone fermentation chamber build (AKA Racer X) - Home Brew Forums
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Old 12-30-2012, 04:37 AM   #1
Mtn_Brewer
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Oct 2012
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OK, time to post up. I got the idea for this build from Zacc's build:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/2-zo...-build-344775/

I've used a chest freezer and fan heater controlled with a Ranco temp controller for awhile. It works OK but I brew a lot of lagers and it was kind of a pain to have to coordinate all of my brews Having a fermenter with 2 zones was the obvious answer. I used Zacc's idea for the basic design and then came up with some innovations. I decided that I wanted everything to be as internalized as possible, including the heating and cooling elements. I also wanted it to be large enough that I wouldn't feel the need to upgrade in the forseeable future. I spent a lot of time designing it in a spiral notebook, who needs sketch-up? I configured it so that I can fit 6 carboys into each chamber and still be able to panel it with 4 x 8 sheets of plywood.

OK, so here's the build...


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Old 12-30-2012, 04:50 AM   #2
de3isit
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Murrieta, CA
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Nice looking build.

Can you give some details on the changes you made to your design? Maybe some inside pics?


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Old 12-30-2012, 04:57 AM   #3
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I first built the base from 3/4 inch plywood and a 2 x 4 frame. The top layer of plywood sticks out 2 inches on all sides. I insulted it with 3 1/2 inch batt insulation with an R value of 13. I built the sides and top in sections and then attached them. The dividing section was then added and insulted with some foam board insulation and batt insulation. The AC hole took some time to figure out. I wanted it to be at the right height to fit in next to my work bench and also to allow the AC unit to be removed and serviced/replaced if needed in the future.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:02 AM   #4
signpost
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Jan 2012
Berkley, Michigan
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That thing is awesome! I'd still love to see some inside pics of the final product.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:03 AM   #5
Mtn_Brewer
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The cooling system for the top chamber uses a fan to drawn air from the lower (lager) chamber and spit it out on top. Zacc and other used pipes inside the chamber and computer fans but I wanted to internalize the circulation system. I worked out this pan to use the bathroom fan in the wall and built the ducts using PVC piping. The recirculation system on the opposite side spits the air out over the top of the AC unit. The PVC pipes were connected together and secured in place with epoxy and metalic duct tape. I paneled the inside with 1/2 inch plywood, trying to get as tight a fit as possible.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:15 AM   #6
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Once the inside structure was done and the venting was installed, I sealed the seams with some industrial strength caulking and painted it. For the heat sources, I spent a lot of time researching wall heater units. I decided on the Broan 120 heater. It can be rewired to 500 watts at 120volts in about 5 minutes by following the instructions. I found them on-line for $60 each. I installed them in the vertical position because the air intake is on the bottom and the output is on top. I mounted them high enough that they will not blow directly on the carboys. I used a sheet of flooring from Home Depot, that I glued directly to the plywood and then sealed with caulking and re-painted.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:23 AM   #7
Mtn_Brewer
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The control panel was built out of a steel junction box I got at the local recycling facility. I put painter's tape down to cover it and drew out the design. I cut the holes with a dremel tool, drill and file. I built an external fuse box using a metal outdoor outlet box. It is lockable to prevent curious kids from electrocuting themselves but allows fuse changes without having to remove the front panel.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:32 AM   #8
Mtn_Brewer
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I wired all the components to the side and insulated the whole thing in 3 1/2 inch batt insulation, trying to get as good a seal as possible with the vapor barrier. I closed it in with 1/2 inch plywood and then painted it with Behr Premium Plus Ultra, which is water based but extremtly durable and mildew resistant (if you believe the packaging). Before pulling through the wires, I put the control panel over the spot it would be and drilled the holes. Once the paint was dry, I pulled the wires through and secured the box with lag screws. I installed the buses and ground bar and got to work on the wiring.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:44 AM   #9
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I wired up the positive bus and then pulled the wires through to the fuse box. I used AGC fuse holders I got from the local electronics store. The AC, cooling fan and heaters are controlled with single pole contactors. Despite my best efforts, wiring got messy fast.
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Old 12-30-2012, 05:59 AM   #10
Mtn_Brewer
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The control panel has 2 Auber 1/4 DIN PID's as the main controllers. The toggle switches next to the PID's power each one up individually and also the respective heater and cooling source. The heaters can be switched on or off individually by the middle switches, which interrupt the output to the coils on the relays. Although this isn't necessary, I figured there would be times when I would want to have the heaters off when I have the door open and it avoids having to go through several steps to turn it off on the PID. Interrupting the coil output seemed to be the easiest way to do this. For general air circulation in the chambers, I installed some door mountable fans from home depot. They have individual switches and are controlled by a cycle timer from Rammeter.com and a 1.5 amp fan controller. I also installed a fan controller to the upper chamber cooling fan to allow more fine tuning of the system. The covered switch on the left side of the panel is the main power switch. I covered the vents with 240 volt outlet plates and some heavy duty screen I got from home depot.


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