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Old 01-25-2009, 08:21 PM   #1
Jan 2009
New York
Posts: 3

I justed browsed some of the great automation projects here and thought I would post my own. Maybe provide some inspiration. You don't need that much money to do it.

It all started when I had to run out during a boil and left a friend in charge of the last hop addition and turning the boiler off. Well he only switched one element off so the boil ran 30mins over and I ended up with one very bitter Schwarzbier.

So the brewbot was conceived. The idea was:
* Night before: crack the grain & put it in brewbot's mash tun.
* Weigh hop additions and add to brew bot
* Punch in desired final volume and mash/boil times.
* Punch in start time
* Wake up in the morning to a finished brew and run it into a cube for no chill.

Some other requirements:
* reasonably portable (I don't own the house)
* self contained & reliable: no PC hardware
* all electric (i.e. not LPG for heat)
* tight budget - recycle old junk

So what did I end up with?

Initially something like this:

But eventually I wanted to move to all stainless fittings so worked out I could save at least one valve if I went to gravity fed from the HLT:

The HLT level probes:

Initial software is quite rudimentary:

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Old 01-25-2009, 08:22 PM   #2
Jan 2009
New York
Posts: 3

The brains:

Contains and AVR Atmega-128 board for the CPU. Some signal conditioning hardware, some TRIACs and relays.
DS1820s for temp probes.

The automated valves were interesting. I decided to use some windscreen wiper motors that I had on hand from another project (restoring a 1963 Morris Mini Panel Van) to actuate some gate valves:

The interesting part of course is how to know when the valve has reached the end of its travel. Quite simple, the CPU monitors the current drain of the windscreen wiper motor. When it hits the stopper the motor stalls and the current draw goes up.

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Old 01-25-2009, 08:24 PM   #3
Jan 2009
New York
Posts: 3

The hop dropper was pretty straight forward. Just another windscreen wiper motor and a microswitch:

Small plastic cups with the bottoms removed sit in the holes and slide around pushing whatever hops with them.
Also since it sits over the boiler and cops a heap of steam, it all sits in a plastic case that is pressurised with a computer fan to stop steam getting in and making the hops swell up.

I actually haven't touched the brewbot for a year. But when I get back to it the TODO list is:

* move to a Stainless Steel mash tun
* add a mash mixer
* mount the mill
* better automated cleaning
* better HLT level sensing
* a HLT stirrer

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Old 01-25-2009, 08:29 PM   #4
ScubaSteve's Avatar
May 2007
New Bern, NC
Posts: 3,677
Liked 83 Times on 57 Posts

I like that hopdropper. Good stuff!

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Old 01-26-2009, 12:10 AM   #5
bendavanza's Avatar
Aug 2008
Oak CLiff, TX
Posts: 2,218
Liked 19 Times on 17 Posts

I've seen automated fish feeders, with a design kind of like your hop dropper. Great ideas, please continue to post.

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Old 01-26-2009, 06:01 AM   #6
Jun 2008
Posts: 1,389
Liked 5 Times on 4 Posts

Keep up the good work!

I'd love to do something like this, but I don't own a house either and my apartment is freaking tiny... Are you using heating coils/heat sticks?
Broken Face Brewery
Est. 2008

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Old 01-26-2009, 07:04 AM   #7
Nov 2008
Memphis (Mud Island)
Posts: 266

will some of the hops be lost? I mean when it turns?
Originally Posted by neuron555 View Post
Homebrewing combines the best of gourmet cooking, beer drinking and chemistry lab.

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