Brewtroller to BCS

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jcalisi

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So I've been a semi successful Brewtroller users for the past 4 years but often find I have to tinker with it a lot or always run into something during my session that gets screwed up.

I'm now at the crossroads of do I want to upgrade from 4.0 to the DX1 or look at something else. The only thing that has me leaning towards the brewtroller is the volume controller and initial investment.

I use a herms 3 vessel setup all electric with 2 pumps. I do not have valves as of yet but would like to have the option.

I'm leaning towards the bcs 462 but interested in what is trending now with pi gaining a lot of attention.

I should note I'm IT but at this point I just want something that works I have to fix enough stuff at work... Also, this is nothing towards the guys at brewtroller they have been great and always eager to help with my stupid questions.
 

pickles

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I was in the same boat recently. I ended up getting a BX1 but I'm not looking forward to hooking it up. I almost wish I had gone with PIDs, I hate that I don't understand enough about programming and code, etc. to make system changes and things. Once setup I haven't really had any issues, short of a wonky temp reading now and again.


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sennister

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Here is a review of someone that did what you are talking about and he covers some of the points.

http://www.revivalbrew.com/2013/02/brewtroller-dx1-vs-bcs-460.html

I was debating much of what you are and went with a BCS460. Is there a reason why you are looking at the 462 vs 460? It is $100 more for the 462 and while it adds more temp inputs, I don't see the point of them unless you are going to do fermentation control off the same panel as your brewing. I considered it but for the extra $100 you would throw at a 462 you could go with one of the RaspberryPi temp controllers for fermentation. The benefit is that it isolates the two systems and no chance of your brew session interrupting the fermentation chamber. Also you can just leave the brew panel totally off when not in use.

For me, I am also IT. While I could go through the work of either system. The BCS just appeared to be the easier of the two. Sure you need a computer to run it. Being IT I have all kinds of old PCs laying around the house as I typically upgrade often. It isn't like you need much more than something that can run a web browser.

Looking at your post again I see you mentioned you were considering valves. I guess that is why you are looking at the 462. There is also the expansion board that can be added to the 460 if you wanted to go down that path at some point.

Oh and in the Pi front. I looked at it for the brew controller but there seems to be more out there for fermentation control rather than brew control at this point. The 460 is much more polished that the options out there now. While the fermentation control looks good, the brewing side just isn't there and I don't have time to customize it on my own. I figure that the 460 will make a good fermentation control so if I get to the point where there is a Pi option that is the ultimate option, I can shift to that and make the BCS a fermentation controller. Or if it never gets there look at Pi for fermenting. For now the STC-1000 does the job for fermentation control just fine.
 
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jcalisi

jcalisi

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Thx for the input. I wanted the extra inputs because currently I'm taking multiple temp readings and averaging them. Not sure that justifies the extra $$$. If needed later with the valves I can expand it with the external board.

Thx for the link I ran across it the other day as I went down this rabbit hole. It's a great breakdown for anyone who can't decide.

Good time to rework my rig too.
 

psbuckland

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I'm really confused why the perception is that BT is more difficult to program than the BCS. During my research two years ago, I thought the BT was easier, since the menus and process was already preloaded. The BCS posts of the states and such made my head spin. Like all of these systems, there are pros and cons I guess. Good lick in your decision.

S-


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jcalisi

jcalisi

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I think the perception is akin to mac vs pc. Mac's are supposed to be super easy to use and pc's not so much. However, for me I feel more at home with a pc than a mac. I still struggle using a mac...

After using BT I concede its the stronger of the two but comes with a bit more complexity. BCS is more polished at least from what I can tell I haven't pulled the trigger yet.
 

sennister

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I think the perception is akin to mac vs pc. Mac's are supposed to be super easy to use and pc's not so much. However, for me I feel more at home with a pc than a mac. I still struggle using a mac...

After using BT I concede its the stronger of the two but comes with a bit more complexity. BCS is more polished at least from what I can tell I haven't pulled the trigger yet.
If you are interested I could make an arrangement for you to log into my BCS and look around. There were some out there for people to play with but they don't seem to be available. At least I couldn't connect to them when I tried a couple months ago before I pulled the trigger on one.

I should mention though that it isn't hooked up to anything and isn't configured to do much of anything really. It would let you navigate around the interface if nothing else. I got all the parts for my build and plugged it into the network to configure port forwarding and such. I am probably going to start punching holes in my enclosure this weekend, then there is painting and a lot of other work before I will be to a point where I pull down the BCS and get it mounted in the enclosure. Once I get to that point it will likely be down for a bit while I get power worked out (install a new circuit and get it GFCI protected). For the next month or so I would imagine it would be up.

Anyhow if you are interested shoot me an email. My screename on this site at gmail....

As for the difference in terms of ease of use.... Now I should preface this with the fact that I haven't used a BT. Just what I have read in research and watching videos which is also all I had to go on before getting the BCS. What moved me to the BCS over the BT is a couple areas. With the BCS I can sit down at my laptop or tablet and run the brew process. Some like this some don't. It sounded like this was kind of possible with the BT but not as clean of a process. The next area is that the BT seems to be more designed to use the wheel interface where you rotate the dial and click to load info, run brew sessions and such. For me, this is too much like a BMW I-Drive which I don't like the interface on either and was a big turn off. Maybe it works fine for many out there, just not my cup of brew. While I do agree that if you want the ultimate in automation the BT is the better of the two systems, this came down to the fact that I don't see myself going to that level of automation in the near future. Might add some valves but I can do that with the BCS and the expansion should I need it. Again, totally my situation not necessarily going to match with others wants and desires. That is why both systems exist.

The MAC vs PC is a good comparison. Like the OP I am a PC guy and am lost on MACs.
 

PLOVE

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Is there a reason why you are looking at the 462 vs 460? It is $100 more for the 462 and while it adds more temp inputs, I don't see the point of them unless you are going to do fermentation control off the same panel as your brewing.
I bought a 460 several years ago and now really wish I had forked over the extra beans for a 462. Yup - I eventually graduated to temp control and it's nice to have the extra inputs. As it is, I can just swap out temp probes when brewing or fermenting, but I can't run both operations at the same time, and swapping's a pain. If money's not a big issue, I'd spring for the 462.

Just my two cents,
pete
 

sennister

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I bought a 460 several years ago and now really wish I had forked over the extra beans for a 462. Yup - I eventually graduated to temp control and it's nice to have the extra inputs. As it is, I can just swap out temp probes when brewing or fermenting, but I can't run both operations at the same time, and swapping's a pain. If money's not a big issue, I'd spring for the 462.

Just my two cents,
pete
I guess it all comes down to how you have things built. So in your case you leave your main brew panel on 24x7? I guess you could have contactors to physically make it so elements can't fire or unplug them. Also I haven't played with the BCS enough to answer this but lets say you did have the 462, now with the additional temp inputs can you let part of it continue to do fermentation control while you are doing a brew session? Or will the two processes interfere with each other? Since you have the 460 you may not know but that concerned me a bit. From my understanding there isn't much difference in the interface between the two. In my case it isn't a big deal either way. While you can have pretty long runs with the BCS to what you are trying to control, where I ferment currently is physically too far to run the lines as they are in different buildings. It would be one thing if it was just relay control to run this far but I would also have temp sensors to extend that much. So in my case it is another one were it doesn't make sense for me to have them integrated but this isn't likely the case for others. Like I mentioned the cost difference between them is about $100. That is about the same cost of a Pi/Andrino options. So in my case it was a wash in terms of cost and I figured I would prefer to keep them isolated. Like all of this, no right answer.

Initially I was thinking that the expansion board might add the functionality of the 462 but it doesn't add the additional temp inputs. From what I saw it only adds 4 more DINs and 12 more Outputs to what your BCS has. No additional temp probe inputs. This would be fine if all you needed additional outputs for things like valves or more DINs.
 
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jcalisi

jcalisi

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I guess for me I probably would only use the 460 for brew processing and not fermentation. My dual stage love works well for that and it just works. If I want alerts and logging I have a APC unit that can do that for me or I guess I can use my BT for that too just would need to run the fermtroller software.

Thanks again all for your thoughts on this. Sennister I may take you up on that but I'm feeling pretty good about the 460 just a $100 question if I want the extra inputs now or later.

Hindsight always tells me to buy as much now as I can because expansion is always a pain in the ass later down the road.
 

PLOVE

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I guess it all comes down to how you have things built. So in your case you leave your main brew panel on 24x7? I
Yeah pretty much. The issue is really with how you wire your BCS. In my experience, unplugging the BCS from the two terminal blocks is kinda scary. I would rather leave these as is, and use jumpers (e.g. Cat5) to connect to different hardware. The way I have mine configured - it lives in a steel enclosure that has the rest of the guts of my e-brewery hooked up to 50a/240V. The wall wort is actually inside this control box. The BCS is also connected to bridge router (netgear), so it is wireless, but this means that if I wanted to move my BCS my router would have to come with it. My solution was to run a single run of cat5 ~20ft to a separate relay box located near my ferm chamber. This box houses two SSRs that fire heat and A/C, and also returns temp info from two probes (mounted with universal XLR connectors). The little box is powered from a std 110V outlet. Unfortunately, 2 inputs and 2 outputs is about all a single run of cat5 can handle, unless you're willing to bundle the grounds. For my setup this configuration works really well for one ferm chamber, but if I want to control a second chamber (I have two stacked top/bottom), I have to move my setup and use the outputs from my main brewery panel. I could solve this with another cat5 run and another box with SSR's, but it gets expensive. . .

Eventually I'll be moving out of my garage and into a more permanent housing. When I do this, I'll likely further invest in additional cat-5 hubs that will make switching from one interface (e.g. brewery vs fermentation) much easier.

Just keep in mind that if you're brewing, and I use 3 sensors + Douts for 2 pumps, 2 elements, it's virtually impossible to also manage fermentation. You also can't piggy back thermo sensors, though perhaps someone has come up with a multiplexing solution???

I like the BCS a lot. I just wish I had an additional 4 active probes.
 

sennister

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I guess for me I probably would only use the 460 for brew processing and not fermentation. My dual stage love works well for that and it just works. If I want alerts and logging I have a APC unit that can do that for me or I guess I can use my BT for that too just would need to run the fermtroller software.

Thanks again all for your thoughts on this. Sennister I may take you up on that but I'm feeling pretty good about the 460 just a $100 question if I want the extra inputs now or later.

Hindsight always tells me to buy as much now as I can because expansion is always a pain in the ass later down the road.
Like you my dual stage controller works for now. As I mentioned I have the STC-1000 which is basically the same as the love. It works great for ales thought when I do a Lager that is where I could see it being nice to be able to program in a gradual change in temp as you do the rest. Sure logging would be nice but I wouldn't look at it enough to justify. For now when doing temp changes with a Lager I just change it a degree or two every time I walk by it.

Yeah pretty much. The issue is really with how you wire your BCS. In my experience, unplugging the BCS from the two terminal blocks is kinda scary. I would rather leave these as is, and use jumpers (e.g. Cat5) to connect to different hardware. The way I have mine configured - it lives in a steel enclosure that has the rest of the guts of my e-brewery hooked up to 50a/240V. The wall wort is actually inside this control box. The BCS is also connected to bridge router (netgear), so it is wireless, but this means that if I wanted to move my BCS my router would have to come with it. My solution was to run a single run of cat5 ~20ft to a separate relay box located near my ferm chamber. This box houses two SSRs that fire heat and A/C, and also returns temp info from two probes (mounted with universal XLR connectors). The little box is powered from a std 110V outlet. Unfortunately, 2 inputs and 2 outputs is about all a single run of cat5 can handle, unless you're willing to bundle the grounds. For my setup this configuration works really well for one ferm chamber, but if I want to control a second chamber (I have two stacked top/bottom), I have to move my setup and use the outputs from my main brewery panel. I could solve this with another cat5 run and another box with SSR's, but it gets expensive. . .

Eventually I'll be moving out of my garage and into a more permanent housing. When I do this, I'll likely further invest in additional cat-5 hubs that will make switching from one interface (e.g. brewery vs fermentation) much easier.

Just keep in mind that if you're brewing, and I use 3 sensors + Douts for 2 pumps, 2 elements, it's virtually impossible to also manage fermentation. You also can't piggy back thermo sensors, though perhaps someone has come up with a multiplexing solution???

I like the BCS a lot. I just wish I had an additional 4 active probes.
I went with a big enclosure (24x20) so I have plenty of room for everything in one box. It is also a 240v 50A system as a HERMS Configuration, couple pumps and keggles. So pretty much the same as yours but everything in one enclosure.

Don't think you could piggy back but you could do a switch. Flip it one way for brewing temp reading and the other for fermentation. If you went with something like this you could stack up a bunch of contact blocks and have a single switch or two (if the stacked blocks got too tall) to flip back and forth. http://www.ebrewsupply.com/shop/indicators-switches/2-3-way-switches/2-way-1-no-contact-switch.html
additional contact blocks
http://www.ebrewsupply.com/shop/indicators-switches/add-on-contacts.html
That would save rewiring things to go back and forth.

I have seen where people run stuff over CAT5. I am fermenting in the basement now and have been brewing extract in the kitchen. I am moving out to my shop (Polebarn) with the electric system as I have power out there and the space to dedicate to brewing. I have gigabit copper run out there so I have internet but to bury addition runs would be a pain. In the shop I have a root cellar that I may use for fermentation but that is a project quite a ways off.
 

PLOVE

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How these stackable switch/blocks work? I've been trying to figure out how to switch like 12 pairs of input/output from the bcs terminal blocks


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sennister

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OK lets see if I can describe it. The switch I linked to has two positions. So on the back side of the switch you would have two contact blocks side by side. I will call this a pair. So lets say you are hooking up a D-out you run a wire off the BCS term block and connect it to both blocks. On the other side of the block one wire would go to a SSR for the boil kettle. The other block has a wire that runs to a SSR for cycling your fermentation chamber. Now with the switch in position 1 the contact is closed on the BK and opens on the fermentation chamber so you use this position on brew days. Flip to position two to open the contact on the BK block and close the one on the fermentation chamber for day to day stuff. So that takes care of one wire.

What is neat about these is that you can stack additional contact blocks together. There is a screw that goes through them to screw one block to another. Then there is a pin that pushes through the block to open or close a contact. So stack on several blocks on the wires to go to brew session together and blocks for the fermentation chamber together. Now I am sure there are limits to how many you can stack. Also each block is about 1" tall so stack 6 blocks and you need 6" of depth behind the switch. So you may need to use more than one switch to do 12 pairs. Maybe you don't need that many pairs though. Grounds should all be common so you should be able to double those up. I asked about the Ground thing as I have seen where it is recommended to tie a ground from your main panel into the BCS if you get fluctuations in your temp readings. I asked what ground to use or if they are all common as I would expect so it doesn't matter. I was told that they are all common. If you don't need as many contacts on the fermentation chamber side as the Brew side you can mix types. There are NO (Normally Open) and NC (Normally Closed) blocks. So at rest a NO is open and a NC closed. What this means is lets say you need 2 blocks on the fermentation chamber side and 4 on the brew side. You could use 3 NO blocks on the brew side. On the Ferm side do 2 NO (Ferm) and one NC (for the 4th Boil)

Like I said, kind of hard to explain. It will probably take more than one switch but it is better than disconnecting stuff all the time.
 

MrNatural

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I'm also mid-build and kicking around using single connections with 462. With 460 this could be shared by brew and ferm operations, each having their own cable. Same in/out, but changing what they do by using different process. Handles 16AWG wire -200V at 2.25 amps per signal. Would use female version on the box of course.

http://www.winfordeng.com/products/brksd25.php
Probably go with two of these. One for sensors/inputs/outputs and one for 110V pumps/valves/solenoids. Again the choice of having ferm cable connected to same in/out but changing process in BCS.



Main benefit would be going from 11 (or more) single connections for sensors, pumps, valves, gas solenoids and ignitor, to 2 going to junction box on stand. Not sure yet if I'll use outlets or hardwire at junction box.
 
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