Automated brewing

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WBC

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Hello to everyone who loves to brew.
I just joined the many happy people who want to make brewing more consistent and easier to brew by participating in the open source development and by purchasing a control board kit that is part of the control system I am building. This board and available freeware is only $60.00 as a kit and $70.00 as a completely soldered PC Board. There are other items you will need depending on things like gas or electric heating and how many pumps and valves you will have. You can use as much or as little features this board provides. It has built in programing for temperature control with or without PID programing and it's settings are fully adjustable through a liquid crystal screen which displays all temperatures and where it is while the program is running. The controller also has auto reset to the point you were at if the power fails during brewing as well as manual mode. You can step mash under PID control for the ultimate brew. Recirculation is a must so temperatures stay even in the vessel(s). I consider this the best brewing controller at this time due to it's commitment to quality and performance. Their forum will help you fix any problems which is rare these days and this makes it a real bargain in today's economy.

Board and software link: BrewTroller

Brewtroller splash.jpg
 

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lamarguy

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I'm very interested in this package. I've been looking for an automation solution and yours is certainly cheaper than purchasing a Ranco to control the MLT/HLT and a PID to control the kettle.

Have you tested the board/software with any PIDs? If so, how accurate can this controller be for a given temperature or load?
 
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WBC

WBC

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Hmmm very interesting what did the entire system cost you? What are you controlling?
I am controlling everything I can.

Temperatures of the brewing process. HLT, MASH, BOIL/With PID control.
Mashing sequence, standard or step mash (recirculating during the mash).
I will have indicator LED's for all pumps or valves indication open or closed.

Right now I manually control all fluid transfers but in the future it will all be automated stainless valves with pressure transducers to control liquid levels.
This is all programmable and once calibrated is fully automatic.

Alarms for hop additions and for dumping in the grain will be in the program. You could automate that too but it would be another set of hoppers with solenoids or motors to fabricate. It all depends on how fancy you want to get and how much money you can spend.

The completed board with everything on it is about $100.00 which includes everything you see in the picture and the LCD screen too. The PID temperature control is worth that alone.

Bill C
aka-WBC
 
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WBC

WBC

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I'm very interested in this package. I've been looking for an automation solution and yours is certainly cheaper than purchasing a Ranco to control the MLT/HLT and a PID to control the kettle.

Have you tested the board/software with any PIDs? If so, how accurate can this controller be for a given temperature or load?
The PID program is integrated in the firmware, it is included. As far as accuracy goes the sensors are very accurate (+- 0.5 C over the entire range, which is about 1/2 degree F.

Look up this sensor (DS18B20) for details. You can have up to 6 of them.

link: http://datasheets.maxim-ic.com/en/ds/DS18B20.pdf

Bill C
aka-WBC
 

Sawdustguy

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The PID program is integrated in the firmware, it is included. As far as accuracy goes the sensors are very accurate (+- 0.5 C over the entire range which is 1/2 degree F.

Look up this sensor (DS18B20) for details. You can have up to 6 of them.

link: http://datasheets.maxim-ic.com/en/ds/DS18B20.pdf

Bill C
aka-WBC
How would one utilize the temperature sensors in a probe configuration? For example in my system I will be utilizing a K thermocouple which has a 1/2" NPT thread screwed into the Keggle thermometer port and connected to a PID to control the HLT temperature. Also, are there relay drivers built into the board or are you going to design a relay driver board? If they are already on the board, how much current can they handle? The last question is what type of power supply is needed? BTW, very good idea and nice design.
 

lamarguy

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What makes this better than a BCS-460?
Based on my reading, it is

  1. completely standalone (no iPhone or Laptop necessary)
  2. provides realtime sensor feedback (doesn't rely on HTTP Get/Post)
  3. has more inputs/outputs
  4. directly supports 1-Wire sensor networks (endless expansion)

Personally, I love the 1-Wire support because I built a fermentation control device using a laptop and 1-Wire network a while back and the process was very easy - all I had to do was write the software! :)
 
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WBC

WBC

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How would one utilize the temperature sensors in a probe configuration? For example in my system I will be utilizing a K thermocouple which has a 1/2" NPT thread screwed into the Keggle thermometer port and connected to a PID to control the HLT temperature.
You could use your PID just for the HLT and the Brewtroller PID (integrated) to control the rest of your vessels.

Also, are there relay drivers built into the board or are you going to design a relay driver board?
Yes the drivers are on the controller board(0.5A @ 50vdc)I believe. The actual relay board is being manufactured now as I write this. Ask Jeremiah about the delivery date. It will have direct connection to a relay board header on the control board.

If they are already on the board, how much current can they handle?
I believe the Spec's for the supplied relays(120VAC @ 30 amps max). This is enough to run motors, solenoids and pumps that we homebrewers now use. Larger relays could be used for bigger equipment.

The last question is what type of power supply is needed? BTW, very good idea and nice design.
1 amp regulated or larger @ 12VDC. A wall adapter is commonly used but better quality power supply's could be used.

If you are really into computers and electronics this project is fun and a complete operational system once assembled. There is plenty of help so ask Jeremiah at BrewTroller about anything you don't see covered at the website. He has been very busy lately trying to get the documentation up to date for the latest version 2.0 Brewtroller board. He now has them in stock.

Bill C
aka-WBC
 

np0x

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There are a couple of others that should be put out there:

Brew Droid: BrewDroid
Brew Master: Product List
Brew Magic: Brew-Magic by Sabco

I won't weigh in as I feel that I will be deemed impartial, but I will clear up one point about the bcs, there is no iphone or laptop dependency for it. Those are just methods of looking at the state, it runs on 1 watt of power with no connected computer indefinitely. You simply use http as means of seeing/controlling it. The bcs responds to the temperature controls without any connection to an external device and independently running control algorithms as a result of the various inputs available to the device such as temperature, time or switches.

It's really hard to resist comparing them, but I will show my resolve. For now.
 

camiller

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What makes this better than a BCS-460?
Based on my reading, it is

  1. completely standalone (no iPhone or Laptop necessary)
  2. provides realtime sensor feedback (doesn't rely on HTTP Get/Post)
  3. has more inputs/outputs
  4. directly supports 1-Wire sensor networks (endless expansion)

Personally, I love the 1-Wire support because I built a fermentation control device using a laptop and 1-Wire network a while back and the process was very easy - all I had to do was write the software! :)
I see 117 ways the brewtroller is better... 127 ways if you handy with a soldering iron.
 

missing link

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I have the BCS and I like the laptop interface as it takes much of the required programming knowledge out of the equation. It is also easier to trouble shoot any programming or performance problems when you hook the laptop up.

Though I am interested to learn more about these other systems.

Linc
 

np0x

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Just a guess... But I think that's the $$ you could save w/ this system over another. Like I said just a guess.
Cheers
JJ
Hopefully this doesn't constitute an opinion, but this is exactly why I only build my brew systems out of lead laden brass, cheap plastic hoses that leach weird carcinogenic chemicals and NEVER EVER clean any of my primary fermentors. Think of the savings!

:rockin:

(this is of course ignorning the fact that a simple $$ comparison is omitting many details like difference in software, functionality, things included...yada yada)
 

pompeiisneaks

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Hopefully this doesn't constitute an opinion, but this is exactly why I only build my brew systems out of lead laden brass, cheap plastic hoses that leach weird carcinogenic chemicals and NEVER EVER clean any of my primary fermentors. Think of the savings!

:rockin:

(this is of course ignorning the fact that a simple $$ comparison is omitting many details like difference in software, functionality, things included...yada yada)
yes this is a perfect comparison, cost of software to run an automated system vs cleanliness of your brewing gear... that being said, i have the brewtroller running now and its great, I just did my first batch w/ it sunday and got my best eff ever 80% YES!
 

bull8042

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Well, just to interject a much needed opinion here... ;)
I didn't go with any system mentioned, but rather wrote my own code in DAQFactory, used a LabJack DAQ module, and all discrete components. I think it is GREAT to have so many options of doing more or less the same thing that many find a need to bitch about it.
You know, we could be stuck with one and only one option that we had to pay through the nose for to do automated stuff. 6 grand for a PLC, $1500 for a PanelView, then another $3000 for software to program it.... We should really be thankful for the options instead of taking up arms on either side of the river... Just my opinion of course.

Carry on. :mug:
 

camiller

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Ok, I'll bite. How do you come up with 117 ways?
Just a guess... But I think that's the $$ you could save w/ this system over another. Like I said just a guess.
Cheers
JJ
Exactly. Personally I'm on a very tight budget so dollars do matter and from my point of view these are two products that provide nearly the same functionality at wildly different costs. In fact a really creative type could even etch his own circuit board and scavenge many of the parts for the brewtroller if he really wanted to save some dough. I would rather spend my money on ingredients.
 

camiller

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Hopefully this doesn't constitute an opinion, but this is exactly why I only build my brew systems out of lead laden brass, cheap plastic hoses that leach weird carcinogenic chemicals and NEVER EVER clean any of my primary fermentors. Think of the savings!

:rockin:

(this is of course ignorning the fact that a simple $$ comparison is omitting many details like difference in software, functionality, things included...yada yada)
yes this is a perfect comparison, cost of software to run an automated system vs cleanliness of your brewing gear... that being said, i have the brewtroller running now and its great, I just did my first batch w/ it sunday and got my best eff ever 80% YES!
Of course you need sanitation and safe equipment to make good beer. You don't need either of these systems for that. as far as comparing features the brewtroller seems much more expandable than the bcs for about 40% of the cost.
 

camiller

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Well, just to interject a much needed opinion here... ;)
I didn't go with any system mentioned, but rather wrote my own code in DAQFactory, used a LabJack DAQ module, and all discrete components. I think it is GREAT to have so many options of doing more or less the same thing that many find a need to bitch about it.
You know, we could be stuck with one and only one option that we had to pay through the nose for to do automated stuff. 6 grand for a PLC, $1500 for a PanelView, then another $3000 for software to program it.... We should really be thankful for the options instead of taking up arms on either side of the river... Just my opinion of course.

Carry on. :mug:
Oh you and your voice of reason! :p :mug:
 

np0x

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So i have to say, are we really comparing the various systems or has everyone just made up their minds? (btw, if anyone missed my sarcasm in my previous posting, i like stainless steel, high quality brewing equipment, and sanitation is next to fermentation temp in order of import to me, long walks on the beach not so much.)

Cheers?

I guess what I am really asking is I own a bcs, Of the folks espousing other systems do you own them?
 

pompeiisneaks

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I do, I own a brewtroller, and the system works flawlessly, and yes I got your sarcasm and replied w/ my own, but I think its hard to read sometimes in text... :) Anyway, the DIY community as a whole has jumped onto the arduino platform like gangbusters for its low cost/flexibility/simplicity. the Brewtroller is based on the sanguino which is fully arduino compatible, just on steroids... even more capabilities. The system can use 6 temperature sensors, pressure sensors for volume, and can control many other relays etc. The software has a PID algorithm already built in and you can adjust it depending on how things seem to be working for you. The site has tons of great info on how to build the parts needed etc. I highly recommend it, and I've been very heavy in the forums there asking for help and helping others figure out how to make it work. The rest of my HERMS gear was pretty pricey, mostly stainless, etc, but the hardware for the control system in the brewtroller is only around 100$ if I add up all the extra wire, switches project box etc. Not bad at all for a computer controlled system you can update at any time. There's already talk of multipurposing it to use the temp sensors and relay connections to be a Fermtroller as well.
 
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WBC

WBC

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Is the learning capability of the Brewmaster a benefit worthy of the cost?
That is somewhat a silly question. The Brewtroller is a controller, therefore it only learns what we program it to do. This unfortunately is not "Hal".

edit:
OOps, I did not read that correctly....... never mind.
Bill C :eek:
 
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Kinda quick to jump on weren't ya. :D

I've read that the Brewmaster has some amount or type of "Artificial Intelligence" built into it's programing. Which actually makes it a "Learning" program. Able to make changes on the fly based on variable conditions. Therefore giving better, more accurate control on the process it controls.

My "Silly" question was weather or not this capability is important enough in the real world. To outweigh the cost difference.

If memory serves me. The Brewmaster is limited to 4 inputs which is probably enough, but could be a limiting factor. Just one more thing to consider.
 

lamarguy

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I've read that the Brewmaster has some amount or type of "Artificial Intelligence" built into it's programing. Which actually makes it a "Learning" program.
Ha...Does the Brewmaster call itself John Henry? :D



In all seriousness, numerous embedded controllers support fuzzy logic, 'learning' optimal parameters in a unique environment. But, fuzzy logic does not AI make. :eek:
 

eccsynd

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We should really be thankful for the options instead of taking up arms on either side of the river...
+1. The BrewTroller is a great project, I've been following it since the beginning. jcdillin and mattreba (and all other contributors) have done an excellent job. I also think there is more than enough room for multiple control systems. I'm sure the ones listed so far, including the BCS and BrewTroller, won't be the last to make it onto the Homebrew scene. Homebrewing is a hobby for innovators, so new and unique solutions will undoubtedly arise.

I don't think that this is meant to be the thread to compare the two systems feature-for-feature penny-for-penny, but I will try to respond to some of the questions. The BCS is slightly more expensive, but offers a different set of features. Out of the box it can heat/cool, has built in data logging and interactive charts, and offers remote access capability, configuration files, just to name a few. It is fully programmable (read flexible) via a web-based interface. Conversely, the BrewTroller offers flexibility in the form of open source, which is great for programmers who like to tweak.

One of the great things about having multiple options is that competition will thrive. Personally, I'm very excited to see what new and innovative capabilities that we (collectively) can bring to the community.

Cheers !!!
 
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WBC

WBC

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I'm glad to see that averyones responses have been so informative and un biased. I like the ECS control panel on a computer screen because you can see more things at one time. For brewers who like to get fancy this is a very impressive and can be what sways the end users choice to that system. I do like the idea of logging temperatures and time when brewing but I also like a self contained system that has the least hardware overhead which make it very inexpensive for those who do not have an extra dedicated brewing computer. I think the Brewtroller will be the "Geeks" system because you have total control over everything and a group to help with hardware interfacing and software development. Some of the best ideas come from people from all walks of life with a common desire.
 

pompeiisneaks

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I personally am hoping that the brewtroller will soon have some method of writing to either a disk or a serial port so you can log the brew session, and see your mash temps over time etc... I agree that competition is the best thing for any environment, I just love the brewtroller because I use it and have been helping jcdillin and mattreba w/ my input on making it an even better tool. Flat out its perfect for me, and I can't rave more about it... So I'm totally biased :)
 

vballdrummer

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Dang :drunk:, I got all worked up just reading this thread, but no closer to purchasing either .... but I will purchase one soon; I just don't know which :confused:
 

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Can any of these systems set up the brew schedule based on an imported recipe from one of the programs like Beersmith?
 
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