Anton Parr Easy Dens. Is it worth it?

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Brooothru

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Always love new toys. I've been using refractometers for about 5 years now as a hydrometer replacement, but would like to get rid of the middleman (refractive index to S.G. computations). The Easy Dens is pricey but affordable. Is it worth the $$$.?

I like to take numerous measurements throughout the process from post mash to boil to fermentation to Final Gravity. How difficult is it to chill a sample from the boil for measuring, then cleaning for the next sample?

Since the device measures density, does turbidity throw off accuracy? Do I need clear samples free of suspended solids to get a reasonably accurate S.G.?

Looking for justification before SWMBO will grant Seal of Approval.
 

The_Antikveik

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I wouldn't describe it as a toy. It's more like a lab-grade instrument. Definitely worth the money, if you want one. Samples need to be filtered, which they should be anyway, regardless of method, strictly speaking. It's not an issue with small sample volumes of a few ml. I use #1 coffee filters and a shot glass. I collect hot wort in a chilled shot glass before filtering. Once familiarised you'll find it easier than a standard hydrometer. It seems to be very accurate when challenged with prepped sugar solutions. And there's no fooling it, readings are 100% repeatable. Compared with my trusty standard hydrometer, which has served me well for several years, I can now record odd numbered gravity readings with confidence, which makes me feel a little bit smug.
 
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Brooothru

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Cool!

How about cleaning between samples? My current process (during boil) is to use a clean wine thief to get a shot glass sized sample, deposit it in said shot glass, and then put it in the freezer section of the beer fridge to bring down the temperature to around 60F to put on the platten of the refractometer. Usually takes about :10 minutes for it to chill, but clean up is just a quick rinse and dry with a micro cloth. I'm looking to reduce the time from drawing a sample to measuring the specific gravity, but not extend the cleanup time for the instrument.

I wouldn't be seriously looking at getting the Anton Parr unit, but I've got a lead on saving more than $100 on the purchase.
 

micraftbeer

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I'm not trying to detract from the EasyDens if you're interested in that. But if your main reason is to get away from your 10 minute sample cooling, you can achieve that and still use a refractometer.

If you're using a regular refractometer you hold up to the light and peer into, you're using such a small amount of wort, it will cool quickly anyway, and especially when you squeeze it out flat with the cover glass. I wouldn't bother any coming process with that.

I've moved to an electronic/digital refractometer, and that used a larger sample volume. I collect my wort sample in a shallow stainless steel dish (don't tell the wife where the cat's water dish went to...), then stir the sample briefly to make sure it's homogenized as I draw it up with my eye dropper, and then put it on the sample saucer. It has ATC, but you still need to make sure the temperature has stabilized, so I watch the temperature readout and wait ~10 seconds until the temp stops dropping so rapidly, then take my reading.
 

The_Antikveik

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Cleaning is as simple as pushing a syringe or two of distilled water through the device. If you pre chill shot glasses in a freezer even boiling wort's ready to filter then measure in under a minute. A digital refractometer is probably slightly quicker, but not so great once fermentation starts. It's good practice to use the same instrument throughout the process, I think.
 

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These questions are better answered from AntonPaar directly:

Sample Preparation:

The temperature of the filled sample or the cleaning liquid must be in the range 0 to 80 °C (32 to 176 °F). If you fill liquids with higher temperatures, plastic parts might soften and connections become leaky. Consider also that the automatic temperature compensation only works for sample temperatures in the range 5 to 30 °C (41 to 86 °F).

Filtering the sample is not imperative. However, consider that large particles (> 1 mm) can clog the inlet and the outlet of EasyDens. If your sample contains such large particles, filter it through a customary coffee filter. With follow-up measurements of samples from the same batch (e.g. fermentation curve measurements), remember to always subject all these samples to the same treatment.

It is not necessary to clean and dry the measuring cell between single measurements. Sample residues in the measuring cell will be fully replaced by the subsequent sample. EasyDens comes with a 10 mL syringe. We recommend using a syringe of this size because 10 mL are sufficient to fully replace the previous sample and fill the measuring cell with the new sample. Even if the measuring cell has been filled with water, 10 mL of the new sample are sufficient to prevent a dilution of your sample. So you do not risk producing wrong measuring results due to the mixing of the current sample with the previous one or with water in the measuring cell.

We recommend rinsing the measuring cell after measurements with at least 10 mL of warm distilled or deionized water to prevent contamination or deposits. After rinsing the measuring cell with distilled or deionized water, it is not necessary to dry the cell because the water will evaporate without residues.
 
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Brooothru

Brooothru

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Cleaning is as simple as pushing a syringe or two of distilled water through the device. If you pre chill shot glasses in a freezer even boiling wort's ready to filter then measure in under a minute. A digital refractometer is probably slightly quicker, but not so great once fermentation starts. It good practice to use the same instrument throughout the process, I think.

Yeah, I got the Milwaukee digital refractometer last year after I dropped my handheld. The main reason I chill for ten minutes in the pre-chilled shot glass is to settle suspended solids in the sample. The ATC in the unit is enough to handle the temperature delta +/- about 10F of desired standard temp, at least close enough for the degree of accuracy I'm looking for at that point in the brew day. I'm assuming that the ATC in the Easy Dens performs as least as well. From your remarks it looks like cleaning between sample is pretty simple with a syringe or two of distilled water.

I really like the idea of getting a readout directly (and accurately) of specific gravity without having to jump thru the math-in-public hoops. I assume it can display units in Plato as well as SG?
 
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Brooothru

Brooothru

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These questions are better answered from AntonPaar directly:

Sample reparation:

The temperature of the filled sample or the cleaning liquid must be in the range 0 to 80 °C (32 to 176 °F). If you fill liquids with higher temperatures, plastic parts might soften and connections become leaky. Consider also that the automatic temperature compensation only works for sample temperatures in the range 5 to 30 °C (41 to 86 °F).

Filtering the sample is not imperative. However, consider that large particles (> 1 mm) can clog the inlet and the outlet of EasyDens. If your sample contains such large particles, filter it through a customary coffee filter. With follow-up measurements of samples from the same batch (e.g. fermentation curve measurements), remember to always subject all these samples to the same treatment.

It is not necessary to clean and dry the measuring cell between single measurements. Sample residues in the measuring cell will be fully replaced by the subsequent sample. EasyDens comes with a 10 mL syringe. We recommend using a syringe of this size because 10 mL are sufficient to fully replace the previous sample and fill the measuring cell with the new sample. Even if the measuring cell has been filled with water, 10 mL of the new sample are sufficient to prevent a dilution of your sample. So you do not risk producing wrong measuring results due to the mixing of the current sample with the previous one or with water in the measuring cell.

We recommend rinsing the measuring cell after measurements with at least 10 mL of warm distilled or deionized water to prevent contamination or deposits. After rinsing the measuring cell with distilled or deionized water, it is not necessary to dry the cell because the water will evaporate without residues.

Excellent. Just what I was looking for.
 

eric19312

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I'm with @micraftbeer ... a standard refractometer is hard to beat.

Most brews I don't bother much with cooling the samples, just grab a 1/4 tsp from the kettle/mash tun, put it on the glass and close it quick. let the refractometer sit about a minute before taking the reading to temperature stabilize.

On days where I am taking a lot of measurements...usually this will be pH related and I do need cooled samples for pH...I use a stainless cocktail shaker sitting in bowl of ice. Chills enough wort for pH test and refractometer sample in 30 seconds.

Still that Anton Parr looks awesome and I've contemplated getting one myself before. If you do be sure to let us know how it works for you.

Also if the cat dish / cocktail shaker is a bit too rustic for you there is always this option that looks like it will chill a full hydrometer sample in almost no time at all:
 

Qhrumphf

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I haven't used the EasyDens but I'm very familiar with it's more robust (and more expensive) sibling the DMA35. As far as I'm aware the operation is more or less the same, but the DMA is more precise with a wider array of functions. A lot of smaller craft brewers use the EasyDens since it's good enough and a lot cheaper.

It works well for hot side stuff (after cooling it), though I still prefer refractometer for that. Where it really shines is cold side, since the presence of alcohol doesn't disrupt it like a refractometer. Note that the presence of CO2 will very much throw it off, even a small amount present during fermentation (you'll watch the reading drop dramatically). Easily solved by fully degassing the sample. Sonic cleaner the high tech and fun way. A stir plate also works (and is how I've degassed hydrometer samples of carbonated beer). Quick and easy and low tech to put in a nalgene bottle and shake/burp/shake/burp/repeat.

I give several flushes between samples to guarantee complete replacement. Doesn't take much.

Cleaning it is pretty simple. Flush well with distilled water between samples during a day (though if you're taking em immediately in succession that's not necessary until after the last reading). IIRC Anton Paar recommends storing it packed with high proof neutral spirit (like Everclear). If you're only periodically using at home, that's what I would do. With multiple uses every day commercially I've had little issue storing packed with distilled water overnight, but giving it a weekly thorough cleaning with lab detergent (we use Alconox) followed by isopropyl followed by distilled water.

Again, that's going by the DMA35, not the EasyDens, so when in doubt RTFM.
 

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Note that the presence of CO2 will very much throw it off, even a small amount present during fermentation (you'll watch the reading drop dramatically). Easily solved by fully degassing the sample. Sonic cleaner the high tech and fun way. A stir plate also works (and is how I've degassed hydrometer samples of carbonated beer). Quick and easy and low tech to put in a nalgene bottle and shake/burp/shake/burp/repeat.

Vacuum degassing ED samples is stupid simple and quick using the 10ml sample syringe.
 

The_Antikveik

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All valid points. Just wanted to add that I degas carbonated samples using the simplest method recommended by Anton Parr; by using a thumb to cover the tip of the sample syringe to briefly (seconds) create a vacuum a few times. Several times for a highly carbonated lager sample. I don’t see much point in degassing any other way as this simple method works fine.
 

matt_m

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I love mine so far. Both on brew day and during fermentation the tiny sample size is great. On brew day I can cool a sample in a stainless ramekin in a cold water bath in a minute or two.

I posted a link that’ll get you a discount and me a refund after I think 4 people use it in the deals forum a while back.
 

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The EasyDens was one of those purchases that I was pretty sure I would later consider frivolous but three years later it's one of my prized possessions. This is not a device that should preempt more important upgrades such as yeast starter equipment, temp controlled fermentation, or closed transfer/kegging gear. It's more like a tool meant for a brewer that has everything.
 
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Brooothru

Brooothru

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The EasyDens was one of those purchases that I was pretty sure I would later consider frivolous but three years later it's one of my prized possessions. This is not a device that should preempt more important upgrades such as yeast starter equipment, temp controlled fermentation, or closed transfer/kegging gear. It's more like a tool meant for a brewer that has everything.
Yeah, that pretty much describes me, I guess. Especially now, since I finally pulled the trigger on this purchase last night. Should arrive by Thursday.

Before I get to play with it, however, we've got to finish a basement spa bathroom renovation, reclaim my brew space, sort out all the other 'brew improvement' toys Santa brought, and get down to the task of making even better beer in 2022.

Check back in a week or two. I've got big plans for this year.
 

The_Antikveik

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It's more like a tool meant for a brewer that has everything.
Out of everything I've accumulated home-brew wise, or not, the EasyDens now ranks as one of the last things I'd get rid of. The kids are teenagers now. I'm sure they can fend for themselves. I taught them the 3 golden rules to a successful life. The first one being get yourself an EasyDens, of course 😁
 

cyberbackpacker

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...IIRC Anton Paar recommends storing it packed with high proof neutral spirit (like Everclear)...

Just want to add this info here for anyone who might come across it in the future. In short, if cleaning the coriolis in an Easy Dens or DMA 35 used for brewing, you do NOT want to use alcohol (such as Everclear or Isopropyl).

This is directly from Anton Paar:

"Samples containing protein (e.g. beer, milk) should never be brought into contact with alcohol, because this can cause denaturation of the protein and precipitation on the glass wall. Protein residues can build up when samples like beer wort or grape juice are measured for a long time. Enzymatic lab cleaners are usually best suited for removing these contaminants. Recommended cleaning agents: "Winepress Cleaner PM Membrane Presses" , Cat. No. 409004, from Wigol®; "TM Desana" from Thonhauser. Refer to the instructions of the manufacturer concerning the concentration of the cleaning agent. It is also typically better to store the instruments dry if leaving them untouched for more than a day as this will prevent unnecessary build up on the cell glass
 

Qhrumphf

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Just want to add this info here for anyone who might come across it in the future. In short, if cleaning the coriolis in an Easy Dens or DMA 35 used for brewing, you do NOT want to use alcohol (such as Everclear or Isopropyl).

This is directly from Anton Paar:

"Samples containing protein (e.g. beer, milk) should never be brought into contact with alcohol, because this can cause denaturation of the protein and precipitation on the glass wall. Protein residues can build up when samples like beer wort or grape juice are measured for a long time. Enzymatic lab cleaners are usually best suited for removing these contaminants. Recommended cleaning agents: "Winepress Cleaner PM Membrane Presses" , Cat. No. 409004, from Wigol®; "TM Desana" from Thonhauser. Refer to the instructions of the manufacturer concerning the concentration of the cleaning agent. It is also typically better to store the instruments dry if leaving them untouched for more than a day as this will prevent unnecessary build up on the cell glass

Thanks for that. Clearly I don't recall correctly. I must be confusing it with a different piece of equipment.

(Though it does have me wondering where I read that because I'm certain I read that in an Anton Paar manual and that's the one I read most recently, but sure enough it says the above)
 
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Thought I would throw this out there. I have a lab where we have to maintain a lot of equipment that could be fouled by precipitating proteins (e.g. by attempting to clean with alcohols). The recommended approaches to cleaning are either a) horrible acids, b) expensive and mysterious proprietary cleaning agents, c) expensive enzymatic treatments, or d) a combo of b and c. We have found that even our most sensitive equipment is quite effectively defouled by warm MrClean.. .. yes, warm MrClean. We use this on extremely sensitive equipment that uses optically sensitive windows. It may work very well on the EasyDens, though I suggest someone check up on compatibility before doing so.. ..but I suspect it would be totally fine.
 

enkamania

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Thought I would throw this out there. I have a lab where we have to maintain a lot of equipment that could be fouled by precipitating proteins (e.g. by attempting to clean with alcohols). The recommended approaches to cleaning are either a) horrible acids, b) expensive and mysterious proprietary cleaning agents, c) expensive enzymatic treatments, or d) a combo of b and c. We have found that even our most sensitive equipment is quite effectively defouled by warm MrClean.. .. yes, warm MrClean. We use this on extremely sensitive equipment that uses optically sensitive windows. It may work very well on the EasyDens, though I suggest someone check up on compatibility before doing so.. ..but I suspect it would be totally fine.
I've using Liquinox, but good to know when that runs out I can use MrClean.
 

The_Antikveik

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My understanding was alcohol (e.g. an effective concentration of ethanol) is recommended to sterilise a cleaned EasyDens prior to long-term storage, not cleaning. So far I've only used warm distilled water to clean at the end of a daily session. No issues to report, to date, but I'll source a recommended/suitable cleaner at some point for a weekly or monthly cleaning schedule, I think :mug:
 

Bilsch

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This is Anton Paar's advice for cleaning:


Regular Cleaning
When a measurement series is completed, extensively rinse the U-Tube with warm ultra-pure, bi-destilled or de-ionized water using your syringe. Use at least 10 mL. Make sure that no sample residues stay behind. Remove water by filling air into the U-Tube again by using your syringe. It is not necessary to completely dry the measurement cell. Your EasyDens doesn’t like tap water. Limescale in the measurement cell can falsify your measurement results. Do not fill the measurement cell with tap water.

If you do not use the instrument for a longer period, it is advisable to sanitize the measuring cell with high-proof ethanol after rinsing it with warm distilled or de-ionized water.


Additional Cleaning
You can also use different laboratory cleaners to remove residues from your EasyDens (e.g. Mucasol, Desana, Alconox, Tergazyme or similar cleaners). Please make sure to prepare the cleaning solution of your choice as described by your supplier. The cleaner should not remain within the cell for longer than 5 minutes. Never fill warm laboratory cleaner into your EasyDens as this can cause glass corrosion.
Attend to the product's application instruction with special regard to the concentration of the cleaner. Follow the directions in the EasyDens instruction manual.
After using a laboratory cleaner, rinse the measurement cell with ultra-pure water and finally empty the cell by filling with air.


Note: Liquinox is not chemically the same as Alconox so I'd be wary of that as a direct replacement. You are going to want to be careful cleaning this instrument since small changes in mass of the glass tube cused by leaching or alkaline attack will render it inaccurate.
 
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matt_m

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If shipping wasn't so nuts I'd suggest several of us split a container of Alconox. $40 for 4lb carton at Amazon. That's many, many lifetimes of EasyDens cleaning. Makes 52 gallons!
 

Qhrumphf

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This is Anton Paar's advice for cleaning:


Regular Cleaning
When a measurement series is completed, extensively rinse the U-Tube with warm ultra-pure, bi-destilled or de-ionized water using your syringe. Use at least 10 mL. Make sure that no sample residues stay behind. Remove water by filling air into the U-Tube again by using your syringe. It is not necessary to completely dry the measurement cell. Your EasyDens doesn’t like tap water. Limescale in the measurement cell can falsify your measurement results. Do not fill the measurement cell with tap water.

If you do not use the instrument for a longer period, it is advisable to sanitize the measuring cell with high-proof ethanol after rinsing it with warm distilled or de-ionized water.


Additional Cleaning
You can also use different laboratory cleaners to remove residues from your EasyDens (e.g. Mucasol, Desana, Alconox, Tergazyme or similar cleaners). Please make sure to prepare the cleaning solution of your choice as described by your supplier. The cleaner should not remain within the cell for longer than 5 minutes. Never fill warm laboratory cleaner into your EasyDens as this can cause glass corrosion.
Attend to the product's application instruction with special regard to the concentration of the cleaner. Follow the directions in the EasyDens instruction manual.
After using a laboratory cleaner, rinse the measurement cell with ultra-pure water and finally empty the cell by filling with air.


Note: Liquinox is not chemically the same as Alconox so I'd be wary of that as a direct replacement. You are going to want to be careful cleaning this instrument since small changes in mass of the glass tube cused by leaching or alkaline attack will render it inaccurate.

See that is what I remember reading. I feel much less foolish.

Cheers
 

hopjuice_71

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Mea culpa. Bilsch to the rescue. I should have checked on how the EasyDens worked before suggesting a cleaning agent. Turns out it is extremely sensitive to the properties - dependent on in fact - of the borosilicate glass inside. ANYTHING that messes with this will changes its operation. The sodium hydroxide in Mr Clean could have a enough of an effect on the glass (leaching, etching) to alter its role in the response of the instrument. I would avoid it. After some reading, it is pretty clear that this little device requires some very careful and regular maintenance to keep that little bit of glass inside very clean and in its original state :)
 

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WARNING! As of a few days ago, following the EasyDens Brew Meister app update, you must buy a $20/yr subscription in order to store batch information. This means that within the app, without the "upgrade" subscription, you cannot calculate apparent attenuation nor ABV because you cannot store the OG required to calculate it within the app. Of course, you can calculate these values using separate tools, but it royally pisses me off that I paid over $300 and now they tell me 10 months later that the deal has changed and now I have to pay them for a basic feature. There is NOTHING on their website suggesting that any subscription is required.

I am hoping that this is some sort of bug in the new app not identifying my meter version properly and not really a policy change. The prior version of the meter did have some upgrade fees for certain features, like if you wanted values in both SG and Plato, but the elimination of those fees was one of the reasons I waited for the New EasyDens.

Is there a Really Small Claims Court? I am feeling robbed. It's hardly the end of the world, but this is neither right nor fair.
 

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WARNING! As of a few days ago, following the EasyDens Brew Meister app update, you must buy a $20/yr subscription in order to store batch information. This means that within the app, without the "upgrade" subscription, you cannot calculate apparent attenuation nor ABV because you cannot store the OG required to calculate it within the app. Of course, you can calculate these values using separate tools, but it royally pisses me off that I paid over $300 and now they tell me 10 months later that the deal has changed and now I have to pay them for a basic feature. There is NOTHING on their website suggesting that any subscription is required.

I am hoping that this is some sort of bug in the new app not identifying my meter version properly and not really a policy change. The prior version of the meter did have some upgrade fees for certain features, like if you wanted values in both SG and Plato, but the elimination of those fees was one of the reasons I waited for the New EasyDens.

Is there a Really Small Claims Court? I am feeling robbed. It's hardly the end of the world, but this is neither right nor fair.

That seems incredibly mean for such a basic function. An absolutely terrible business model that deserves a kick in the proverbials. I haven't updated the app and mine's running on an offline device. Is there any way you can undo the update and revert to the previous version?
 

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I still love my Easy Dens, but I've been logging everything to Brewfather. The idea of taking away a product feature after the fact and charging for it doesn’t sit well with me. Probably worth trying a bad review in the app store and an email to them.

I recently ordered a box of Alconox but haven't been able to try it yet.
 
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It's pretty much a dick move to delete a part of the basic functionality of a device after the sale, and then hold the end user hostage with a $20/year 'subscription'. I haven't read all the fine print in the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA), but I wonder if there's a codicil A-P may be violating with this unilateral money grabbing move?

Whatever angst we as users of the device feel (yes, I love mine!), the simple 'hack' around this ransomware is simple and obvious: paper and pencil brew day records, transcribed into BeerSmith or any other favorite brewing software. Don't most of us do that anyway, or am I the only OCD/anal retentive brewer on this forum?
 
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Brooothru

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Drifting back to the O.P., does anyone know if there's a calibration mechanism for the EasyDens? I was cleaning mine a few days ago after use and happened to tap the 'Measure' prompt on my cell phone with distilled water in the tube. It displayed a value of 0.998 SG @ 67F. Not sure what the baseline calibration temperature of the device is for calculations (15C?), but shouldn't the ATC function correct for T delta within +/- 10F? Is their a temperature calibration function that I'm not aware of, or do I just accept a built-in 0.002 SG error which may or may not be linear?
 

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Perhaps I should have been clearer, but when I wrote "Of course, you can calculate these values using separate tools", I was thinking in my head about Brewfather or BeerSmith. It is not difficult to enter these values into Brewfather. It's the principle of the thing.

It's a great thought about downgrading. I have an old phone with the prior version installed. I can create an APK with it. I just realized that I failed to mention that I use a Google Pixel phone, so it's Android I'm referring to. I can only assume that the problem also exists on iOS.
 

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Drifting back to the O.P., does anyone know if there's a calibration mechanism for the EasyDens? I was cleaning mine a few days ago after use and happened to tap the 'Measure' prompt on my cell phone with distilled water in the tube. It displayed a value of 0.998 SG @ 67F. Not sure what the baseline calibration temperature of the device is for calculations (15C?), but shouldn't the ATC function correct for T delta within +/- 10F? Is their a temperature calibration function that I'm not aware of, or do I just accept a built-in 0.002 SG error which may or may not be linear?
I got that. I think I altered the settings by mistake. I was measuring density instead of SG with temperature during cleaning with warm water 😉

Edit: Just checked and the density reading is supposed to be adjusted for temperature too. So not sure what's going on there I'm using DI water.
 
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I heard back from Anton Paar support"
Thank you for your request. I can assure you that nothing has changed in this regard in the new app. You can still create 10 batches in the free version too. If you want to delete batches proceed as follows:
-Navigate to "Batches"
-Open the Batch you want to delete
-Tap on the three dots on the right corner
-Select "Delete"

I'll just say that when this pop-up started after the app update, I already had 18 batches. I guessed that perhaps there was a free threshold that I had crossed and tried deleting a couple, but it didn't work. I can now confirm that after getting under ten batches, I was able to create a new one. How cheesy, though? Come on. Anyway, her assurance that nothing has changed is absolutely untrue. The maximum number of batches has either been added or lowered.
 

stealthfixr

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The EasyDens was one of those purchases that I was pretty sure I would later consider frivolous but three years later it's one of my prized possessions. This is not a device that should preempt more important upgrades such as yeast starter equipment, temp controlled fermentation, or closed transfer/kegging gear. It's more like a tool meant for a brewer that has everything.
Same. I thought I was crazy spending that money on a fancy hydrometer, but the David Heath review was compelling. In use, I love the darned thing, and have found significant 'error' in my other gravity reading devices (floating hydro, refractometer & TILT). I use it three times per batch: once after the mash, after the boil and in the fermenter at batch size, just before kegging. The consistency is perfect--I can take a reading five times and get the exact same reading each time. Easy, quick, uber accurate. I am very glad I bought it.
 
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