Brew Bubbles: Web-Enabled Airlock

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LBussy

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I just did a Google search:

upload_2019-12-31_19-21-37.png


That seems to be pretty important to many homebrewers. Nobody agrees what's "right," and about all the Internet can do is help you pass the time in between trips to stare at the airlock.

Wouldn't it be great if someone made something to tell you when your airlock is bubbling? At the very least, it would cut down on your significant other asking you where you are going at 2:00 AM as you tiptoe out of the bedroom by the light of your cellphone. I mean, we're in a day and age where you can ask your television questions. You'd think someone would make something that could help. What if you don't have computers connected to your grain bin and antennas on your growlers?

Enter Brew Bubbles.

upload_2019-12-31_19-14-32.png

Brew Bubbles will happily count every bubble and report it to you on a web page served by its own web server. Not enough? Brew Bubbles optionally allows you to hook in a couple of very inexpensive and standard temperature probes to display the fermenter and room temperature.

upload_2019-12-31_19-14-54.png

Still not enough, you say?

Well, if you want to go crazy, you can connect Brew Bubbles to Brewer's Friend and integrate the readings with your recipe journal and see how it all graphs out. Already wired at home? Connect Brew Bubbles into BrewPi Remix or Fermentrack and amaze your friends!

Have I piqued your interest? Want to know how to get started? I'm glad you asked. The average garage handyman can build Brew Bubbles for around $10, and it takes all of an hour before you are up and running.

You can hit the website as a jumping-off point. I have prepared full documentation, or you can dive right into the repository if that's how you'd like to start.

This thread will serve for general support, true bugs should get logged to the issues tracker in Github.

I really hope some of you will get some use out of this. I know there's a homebrew club up in Canada who have managed to find me already, and they are planning a club build. I'm pretty excited to see how it works out.
 
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LBussy

LBussy

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@Dusan Kovacevic gave me his permission to post this picture:

upload_2020-1-3_8-24-0.png


Obviously he doesn't have Brew Bubbles there (but he should!) but it does give an interesting setup example for folks who are concerned about blowoff. I believe the combination of a CO2 Harvester and the S-Lock with Brew Bubbles is a good one!

If I were to do this, I'd probably make the hose to the secondary chamber a little smaller to prevent really big bubbles from splashing the water out of the S-Lock, but I think it has potential.
 

Dusan Kovacevic

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Not sure about splashing the water but tube connecting two chambers should definitely be shorter, if nothing else, to save some space, and make the rig easuer to handle. But you will have to use silicon tubes instead of vynil because vynil is more rigid and won't bend as good as silicon. Unfortunately silicon tubes, like a lot of other things, aren't easy to come by here in Ireland.
 

Jayjay1976

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I've got a 7 gallon batch of 1.050 brown ale fermenting now with kveik yeast. The blowoff even through a 5/16" vinyl tube amounts to a series of long farts about 2 seconds apart. If I directed that through an S-type airlock, there wouldn't be any bubbles to count. Can your device measure that?
 
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LBussy

LBussy

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I've got a 7 gallon batch of 1.050 brown ale fermenting now with kveik yeast. The blowoff even through a 5/16" vinyl tube amounts to a series of long farts about 2 seconds apart. If I directed that through an S-type airlock, there wouldn't be any bubbles to count. Can your device measure that?
Simply put, this device can measure anything that creates a pulse. The supplied configuration is only one way to do it. If you can mount an impeller behind a Rhino, you can count his farts if that's what floats your boat. :)

This is not a new idea. There's been a lot of semi-complete efforts to do this. Hell, there's a commercial product out there. The problem I often see in Homebrew DIY is that someone delivers an idea that was sort of "tested" on a breadboard with twist ties, baling wire, and bubble gum. The finished product was never shown, at least not something the average Joe Homebrewer can or would do. What I wanted to provide was a finished design, soup to nuts, which darned near everyone could make.

I sincerely hope that folks like you who have an "extreme case" come up with an excellent way to add this to your brewhouse. I hope if you do, you will share it back here. What I've shown in the physical aspect of this project is just one way it could be used. If you can hook a sensor to D1 on a Wemos D1 Mini, you can count "bubbles." It can be as large as a sensor that people put on their driveways if you wish.

What would I do if I were you? Well, I'd first figure out if a blowoff was necessary for the entire ferment. If it were I'd wonder if maybe I should not use some Fermcap S (love that stuff!) or a bigger vessel. After I got to where the fermenter was not spewing precious beverage all the time, I'd just look at a way to temper those "farts." A smaller tube might work, and if it was not so deep in the water, that would help too. An orifice of some sort would definitely temper the flow. Using something like a milk jug which can expand and contract a little, or even a balloon as a "reserve" could work.

I'm more than happy to help you figure out how to make this work for your application.
 

Jayjay1976

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I'm definitely interested, precisely because it looks like something I could handle building and of course the amazing price. After thinking about it, I probably would not start tracking bubbles until the vigorous initial fermentation ends when I switch from a blowoff tube to an airlock anyway. Thanks!
 
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LBussy

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Happy to help! Also consider the temp tracking this can add, whether or not you are actively tracking the fermentation at the beginning.

I just noticed your screen-name. This project is right up your alley. ;)
 

day_trippr

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Oh hells no. Just imagine the fight over what's on tap! :D
I'll take it as it is - even with the occasional drama (ala this evening's inexplicable antics).
But I'm good with my own brews ;)

Cheers!
 
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LBussy

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Release Announcement: v1.0.1 - Timers and Bracket

The biggest visible change for this release is to the bracket. @matridium was instrumental in getting me going on this whole project which is something I should have put in the first post. His questions in another thread inspired me to do the project to begin with, as well as providing a good deal of information related to work he did with a similar project in an academic setting. He designed the first bracket which was offered at launch. His creation sort of "backed in" to the object file. He created the first bracket in a machine shop, and subsequently put that into a 3D model.

Thanks to @matridium for the inspiration and hard work!

This change adds a few tweaks which @gromitdj was nice enough to do. The changes were all around the hole where the airlock stem passes:
  • Enlarged the hole, the original would only allow a smaller stem
  • Three different ways now to secure the bracket to the airlock
    • Added a small hole for an optional M3 set screw
    • Added a collar to secure a zip-tie around the bracket and stem
    • Added "ears" which allow for a rubber-band to wrap the device

Thanks Donnie!

All changes in this release:

 
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LBussy

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A couple of you have recently sent PM's about the availability of the sensor. It seems to be one of those things which is ubiquitous in larger projects, yet the common suppliers only seem to keep a handful at a time for individual sale. Here's twp places which have some availability:
If necessary, I'll explore a mod to use a different model, but these really are quite popular and widely available - if in small quantities. :)
 
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LBussy

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@Thorrak has recently released BrewFlasher, a small application that makes it quite a bit easier for folks to flash the firmware. It supports several ESP-8266 and ESP32 projects (including Brew Bubbles of course.) It is available on GitHub as well as (soon) BrewFlasher.com. If you have any questions about it specifically, he has posted a thread dedicated to the application here.

I'll add a section to the docs about using this soon.
 
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gromitdj

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A couple of you have recently sent PM's about the availability of the sensor. It seems to be one of those things which is ubiquitous in larger projects, yet the common suppliers only seem to keep a handful at a time for individual sale. Here's twp places which have some availability:
If necessary, I'll explore a mod to use a different model, but these really are quite popular and widely available - if in small quantities. :)
I ordered these ones (haven't yet tested): https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32315087872.html
Pretty sure I ordered the same ones from a different seller. (Available in smaller quantities.)

GP1A57HRJ00F Photointerrupters


I have not received or tested them either.
 
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LBussy

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On another forum, some of the "usual suspects" thought my post was spam and that I was selling something. Honestly, I'm not quite sure how that's happened (twice now) but whatever. If any of you can suggest new words that I can add to my posts to help prevent that confusion, please do let me know.

So anyway, they tried to take me to task, focusing on arguing that CO2 was not a reliable indicator of fermentation and fermentation rates. Don't tell the yeast that! Science makes the rules! I wrote a little article which some of you may find interesting. Despite some of my snarky statements in it, I'd love to discuss it here if it sparks any ideas.
 

wd16261

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Ok the ebay sensor works, but I can't get any readings from the tempature sensors. I tried both connections Vessel and room but still nothing. Do I need to configure these sensors somewhere?
I'm also missing some information in the docs about sending the information to my brew Pi remix. I've entered the link to my brewpi remix but what do I need to do on my brewPi remix so I can see the information of my brewbubbles?
 
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LBussy

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Ok the ebay sensor works, but I can't get any readings from the tempature sensors. I tried both connections Vessel and room but still nothing. Do I need to configure these sensors somewhere?
I'm also missing some information in the docs about sending the information to my brew Pi remix. I've entered the link to my brewpi remix but what do I need to do on my brewPi remix so I can see the information of my brewbubbles?
The sensors should just work when they are detected. Likewise, if you are on a recent copy of BPR the info should show up.

Have you checked the debug? Use a handy terminal program with the controller plugged in and the baud rate at 74880 and see what it tells you on reboot.
 

Bigdaddyale

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The sensors should just work when they are detected. Likewise, if you are on a recent copy of BPR the info should show up.

Have you checked the debug? Use a handy terminal program with the controller plugged in and the baud rate at 74880 and see what it tells you on reboot.
I wondering if he has the dreaded parasite mode DS18B20 sensors
 

wd16261

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I wondering if he has the dreaded parasite mode DS18B20 sensors
The DS18B20 was working fine with an Arduino Uno.
I've already installed the brewbubble on my next brew which is installed in my fridge so at this moment I'm unable to connect it to my PC.

I've got a second brewbubble but with no sensors nor Photo interrupter connected.
When I connect this one to my PC it looks like he is rebooting all the time. (see log file)

I also activated the logging on my brewpi Remix (apilog.txt) and nothing appears into this file except when I try the url in my browser. Then the lines "2020-02-16 12:02:35 Invalid JSON received." was written.
 

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LBussy

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That's weird ... it looks like the device is performing a timed reboot but the version in master right now is set to every 24 hours:
Code:
#ifndef REBOOTTIMER
#define REBOOTTIMER 86400
#endif
Give me a few to get some coffee in me and I'll think about it more.
 

wd16261

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Lee sorry to disappoint you but I've removed the brewbubbles because it doesn't work that well for me.
I made a movie of the first brewbubble that was installed on my airlock of my current brew. In this movie you can see that the fermenting is going well but at the same time it didn't count all the bubbles that are passing through. The highest number that I saw was 10.2 bubbles per minutes but as you can see in the movie it should be much higher. Even without the bracket and in different positions I couldn't get the correct numbers.

In a second movie I tested the brewbubbles with a pen and this time it counts correctly and the led is flashing each time the pen is passing.
Maybe putting some color in the water could help?

Further I've noticed that this brewbubbles is also rebooting very often or is it because it is connected to my PC?
In the attached logfile you can see the recordings of my pen and also the several reboots after that.
 

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wd16261

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I created an extra log file and this time I've noticed that the temperature sensor was registered but it did showed up on the website:
upload_2020-2-17_11-8-59.png
 

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LBussy

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Regarding registering every bubble: Yes, some configurations are too “clear.” A bit of green food coloring should fix that. Not too much or it will coat the sides. The sensor is IR so green should be “black” to it. I had a couple airlocks that were like that, but they were Chinese and I thought it was a fluke.

On the temp sensor part: It might be related to the rebooting. Give me a little bit, I am in the middle of re-writing the code that sends the payload. Thats likely also why it’s not showing in BPR. it all points to the same issue in my head.
 
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@wd16261 please try flashing the binaries in /firmware from the 'origin/fix_reboot' branch and see if that fixes your reboots?

ETA: I've not been anywhere near my testbench so I have not tested this. Please test accordingly. All I did was realize I failed to publish the compiled code from the last release and did so this time. In theory, this was all tested before I released but you never know. :)
 
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wd16261

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Yes this looks better! I even have the temperature readings...
upload_2020-2-17_21-58-29.png

I will try to test it a bit more tomorrow after work. Thanks again!
 

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LBussy

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It is still failing to post data to my BrewPi Remix! Is it because I'm using the multi chamber version?
When I'm using the link (http://192.168.123.55/left/brewpi-api.php) in my browser I get the message
EDIT: Deleted my questions, I reproduced the issue with that.

I opened Issue #47 in BrewPi WWW.
So, yeah, that's exactly what it was. When I wrote the API page for BPR I failed to remember the whole multi-chamber thing. I've fixed that and pushed to master. You'll have to update to the latest BPR as shown in the latest release notes in the Mega Thread. After that, the post should work and I think that resolves all your issues (pending testing with colored water.)

I've also updated the docs to indicate the potential need for a little food coloring in the water. Another possibility is StarSan in the water. It will make the water cloudy when added to most tap water and that might be enough.
 

wd16261

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I will try this later after work. I always use StarSan in my airlocks but if I can find some food coloring I will try this also.
i'll keep you posted.
 
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