Brewtroller vs BCS

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Ewalk02

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I'm getting started on an automated brewery and was wondering the pros and cons of Brewtroller and BCS. Which one would you rather have and why. For some background I'm making a three Keggle HERMS setup with two pumps. For right now I just want to be able to control temps with the controller but shortly I'm going to be automating things more and more with valves and what not.
 
OP
Ewalk02

Ewalk02

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Thanks, I probably missed that one because the title didn't jump out to me.
 

gnatp2

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That thread is over a year old and there have been plenty of updates to both systems since then. I can speak for brewtroller and am in the middle of building a controller based around it. I can say that it is extremely powerful and has tons of great features. The downside is that there is a HUGE learning curve (at least for me) and has taken more time than I expected to get it all put together. Their support has been top notch as well.

Nate
 

Squeeky

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+1 for Brewtroller

Still building out my system, but I highly recommend the IRC channel. Everyone has been more then helpful on there.
 

RTL

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I'm in the same boat as the OP. I have been leaning toward the BCS because of the GUI but now that brewtroller has one it seems like it would be better for future expansion. Does anyone know how many processes the brewtroller supports at one time? I think the BCS claims 8. I am wondering because I want to be able to control a heated/cooled ferm chamber, my keezer, and brew all at the same time. Also does the analog input module for brewtroller mean you can attach as many temp inputs as you want?

Not trying to thread jack just snowballing. :)
 

RTL

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Bumping this thread because I did some reading.

Looks like Brewtroller supports 9 processes, and BCS462 supports 8.

Does anyone know what is classified as a process?

If I have a heated/cooled ferm chamber is that one process or two?

Thanks.
 

JonW

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Bumping this thread because I did some reading.

Looks like Brewtroller supports 9 processes, and BCS462 supports 8.

Does anyone know what is classified as a process?

If I have a heated/cooled ferm chamber is that one process or two?

Thanks.
Your heated/cooled ferm chamber would be one process. I previously ran my two kegerators (each w/ a temp probe & set point) plus my ferm chamber (heated & cooled) as one process. Just recently I switched it out to be two processes, only because I mess with the ferm process a bit, but never touch the kegerator temp process.

For a brew day, I use 5 processes. In the BCS, one process can start and stop other processes, so my system flows from one process to the other and sometimes with processes running concurrently.

I start the MLT process, but when I mash in, the BCS then kicks off the HLT processes. When it's time to sparge, the Fly Sparge process is kicked off. After sparging for a bit, the Boil Process is kicked off to start heating wort before sparging is done. Once at a boil, the hop addition process is kicked off to signal when each hop addition should be added - that runs simultaneously with the boil process.

Here are my processes:

- MLT Heat/Hold
- HLT Heat/Hold
- Fly Sparge
- Boil Process
- Hop Additions

There are links in my signature for info on my BCS gui screen where you can see the processes.
 

sicabeer

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I looked at both and went with a BCS. I'm still working on setting up my system. Setting up my BCS took about an hour and made a sample process to try out when I'm ready.

I went on the brewtroller irc channel and they said basically the brewtroller is more diy, BCS more cookie cutter. (I agree)
I just want to brew beer, so the BCS works for that.
 

psbuckland

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The Brewtroller is going through some major changes to make it more user friendly. The hardware is DIN rail friendly, making for a clean install and the new software is going to take alot of the DIY feel out of it.
I chose the BT because it is more versatile and offers more advanced features. Brewtroller supports volume measurement...so it fills your hlt and mlt to the correct levels. Very cool....
 

Darkness

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Can we get pic's of some of these rigs

I have the main components for twin BT systems cause one wont Handel 2- two vessel systems
 

RTL

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Thank you, has has all been helpful. I don't think I'd use it for auto fill because I simply wouldn't trust it. Failure of a valve or switch could be disastrous so if I did it I would be standing over it watching and it would just be to say that my system can fill itself. That's just me personally though, I don't trust the machine.

I think as of now I'm leaning toward BCS462 but it will be a long time before I buy anything.
 

MaxOut

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Thank you, has has all been helpful. I don't think I'd use it for auto fill because I simply wouldn't trust it. Failure of a valve or switch could be disastrous so if I did it I would be standing over it watching and it would just be to say that my system can fill itself. That's just me personally though, I don't trust the machine.

I think as of now I'm leaning toward BCS462 but it will be a long time before I buy anything.
I agree auto fill with volume sensors adds a whole new level of complication, things to go wrong and gadgets to clean. I like the KISS in automation and also like to be involved with the brew process. To achieve full automation with one touch is of no interest to me. Although you can use the BCS to fill to desired volume by manually setting a float switch in the vessel to be filled or use a moveable sensor on your sight glass. The main functional difference between BCS and Brewtroller would be manually setting a level sensing device verses programming it. Unless you are going to have automatic hop additions that pre measure your hops, a grain mill and chute with measuring capability etc…where does it end? There is a "Cool" factor about it but it is overkill for most.

I look at the automation as a tool to help me be consistent and create repeatable brews. I can fill my kettles to a desired volume as accurately as any automation so there is no benefit for me to automate it. I have my processes set up to sound a buzzer when my intervention is needed. Important things like Mash temps, mash timers, hop additions, boil timers are 100% repeatable using basic timers, automated heat and automated pump control.
 

JonW

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I look at the automation as a tool to help me be consistent and create repeatable brews. I can fill my kettles to a desired volume as accurately as any automation so there is no benefit for me to automate it. I have my processes set up to sound a buzzer when my intervention is needed. Important things like Mash temps, mash timers, hop additions, boil timers are 100% repeatable using basic timers, automated heat and automated pump control.
I agree 100% with the statements above. The BCS can get you there quick and easy.
 

psbuckland

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To each his own. You need to have trust in all of your equipment. Why do you trust PIDs? They could easily have a thermocouple fail and go full heat until ur brew is destroyed. But if you want to be that involved in the brew, you would be right there to catch it. With your goals, the BCS or BT can get you there. I feel the new BT products are easier to use than BCS. No major programming to do, as everything is loaded on the LCD and manipulated via the encoder. The least advanced BT can get you there cheaper too.
 

brewmastercontrols

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We have recently added an offering to the market in this segment. Please have a look at www.brewmastercontrols.com. This project started out as my eBrew build and turned into a system we now offer to home brewers and microbreweries.

Our offering is very different in the fact that it is ready to run out of the box with no assembly. Further the system controls both the hot and cold side processes using a windows based graphical user interface that is easy to learn and use.

Please have a look at the feature list here and the user guides here.

Cheers
 

MaxOut

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brewmastercontrols said:
We have recently added an offering to the market in this segment. Please have a look at www.brewmastercontrols.com. This project started out as my eBrew build and turned into a system we now offer to home brewers and microbreweries.

Our offering is very different in the fact that it is ready to run out of the box with no assembly. Further the system controls both the hot and cold side processes using a windows based graphical user interface that is easy to learn and use.

Please have a look at the feature list here and the user guides here.

Cheers
Cool set up! Nice GUI.
 

brewmastercontrols

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Thank you for the kind words. We tried to make the GUI as simple yet elegant as possible while still keeping some of the functions like a multi-step mash, hop addition timer, or fermentation schedule control very powerful.

We are seeking input for additional features and or ways to get better! If you have any input let us know!

Planed in the near future are tank level sensing modules and electric valve control modules. These will add on to the base system in the same modular way that is used with the base system and fermentation control.

Cheers
 

RTL

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I like the GUI and the concept of a fully built plug and play panel. Having said that I have a lot of questions and concerns that I didn't see on the website. Please do not take offense to these they are just questions/things to think about as you progress. It would be nice to have a plug and play control panel built for brewers by brewers, and this is a very big first step. Great job so far.

A few questions:
1. With the way it is laid out it looks like the panel is very tight making expandability by the end user nearly impossible, especially without a complete system schematic. Will you include a schematic with a shipped system? Would you consider putting it in a bigger enclosure for someone considering running 3 or more elements?

2. From the "system schematic" it looks like 3 probes can only be used for heating and 3 probes can only be used for cooling. Is that a correct assumption? If so how do you propose someone controls a heated/cooled fermentation chamber?

3. My design right now includes HOA switches so I can override automatic control anytime with a simple flip of a switch; without slamming my E-stop. This comes in handy when trying to get every last drop out of the HLT or the BK and waiting to shut the pump off at the last second. Without an HOA switch I would be concerned about fumbling around for a mouse to shut off my pumps.

4. I only have a Mac.

5. The overview mentions that the system can be configured to reduce power if you are running on 30A service. Does that mean it will run both elements at once while simultaneously keeping the current draw below 30A?

6. Would you consider selling partial systems with the controller, software, and a schematic, so that the end user could finish the system to their own design?

Thanks, for posting about this, please keep us updated with your progress.:mug:
 

brewmastercontrols

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RTL thanks for the response. We are always looking for input as to features and design elements to incorporate or make better.

1. With the way it is laid out it looks like the panel is very tight making expandability by the end user nearly impossible, especially without a complete system schematic. Will you include a schematic with a shipped system? Would you consider putting it in a bigger enclosure for someone considering running 3 or more elements?
Basic schematics are included for buyers. Currently we are working with a microbrewery to run six elements, three pumps, and a fermentation system. This is done via modules added to the main control system, this works easier than routing all the power through the main unit, a home brewer could do the same. Custom expansion is possible but we built the current design to cover the majority of the HERMS and RIMS brewers out there today. The hot side user interface can be seen below.



2. From the "system schematic" it looks like 3 probes can only be used for heating and 3 probes can only be used for cooling. Is that a correct assumption? If so how do you propose someone controls a heated/cooled fermentation chamber?
Yes this is how the base system is designed. It is our goal to provide a system that is ready to brew out of the box and we decided upon this configuration to cover the largest possible segment of brewers. Adding a heating option for fermentation control will be taken on as a design consideration.

3. My design right now includes HOA switches so I can override automatic control anytime with a simple flip of a switch; without slamming my E-stop. This comes in handy when trying to get every last drop out of the HLT or the BK and waiting to shut the pump off at the last second. Without an HOA switch I would be concerned about fumbling around for a mouse to shut off my pumps.
I use a wireless mouse and keyboard in my brew house. I was also worried about not having physical switches but actually I find it easier than reaching for switches and controls as you have total control from anywhere in the room.

4. I only have a Mac.
We only support Windows at the moment, although we are planning to test upon linux and offer an embedded control option at some point.

5. The overview mentions that the system can be configured to reduce power if you are running on 30A service. Does that mean it will run both elements at once while simultaneously keeping the current draw below 30A?
Currently we simply shut one element off on the production systems, although on my test rig I have been working with a setup where the brewer inputs the element sizes and maximum amperage to use then based on these the system throttles the PWM to one element to keep below the maximum amperage. I expect to release this in the near future.

6. Would you consider selling partial systems with the controller, software, and a schematic, so that the end user could finish the system to their own design?
We will work with anyone on custom design. As I mentioned above we are working currently with a microbrewery on a specific design. It is very easy for us to do this as the logic is all reusable, really just a few controls in the GUI get changed or duplicated.

Thank you for your input. Again, we welcome any feedback on features you would like to see implemented!
 

RTL

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Thanks for the detailed response. Maybe when I have some money I'll hit you up about a custom system. :eek:
 

JonW

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The flexablity of the system are what made up my mind.
That's funny, this is why I chose the BCS! I think it really comes down to what you want out of a system. The BCS was designed from the beginning as a web based interface. The BT was designed as a hardware (LCD & rotary knob) interface. Both systems continue to mature and are adding features to allow alternate methods of control. It's really a user preference as to what direction to go.
 

psbuckland

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You're right. It comes down to user preference and the level of automation you desire. There is no question the BT offers more advanced features and is far more flexible than the bcS. The rotary knob also makes it an autonomous system, not relying on a computer to brew.
 

JonW

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LOL - you guys kill me. Saying the BT is more advanced and far more flexible is not accurate. Part of the power of the BCS is it's ability be be configured for any brewing system and style. It's funny that you tout the feature of the rotary knob and being an autonomous system, but yet I see tons of BT people asking for a computer interface!

My BCS runs my kegerator, fermenter (cooling & heating), smoker and brewing system all at the same time. My smoker is a Bradley system that has an automated puck feeder. I ripped the control box out and wired it all up to the BCS for controlling wood feeding, temperature and times. Show me a BT controller that can do all that.
 

psbuckland

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You're pretty funny. It is very accurate that the BT is more advanced (volume sensing, smart herms) and I'm not sorry you are so personally involved. The menus also make it more user friendly.

Wow...the job of 4 auber PID's in one package. Impressive. Not a big selling point in my book.

We do want some sort of web based monitoring for the BT...but we also enjoy the stand alone aspect when we go brew with the club. Wait..do you take a laptop and router?
 

JonW

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Wow...the job of 4 auber PID's in one package. Impressive. Not a big selling point in my book.
See now, right there you're showing that you really know nothing about the BCS system. You can make comparisons of actual differences if you wish, but you need to know what you're comparing it to. Just making blanket statements that the BT is more advanced doesn't make it so.
 

MaxOut

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psbuckland said:
You're pretty funny. It is very accurate that the BT is more advanced (volume sensing, smart herms) and I'm not sorry you are so personally involved. The menus also make it more user friendly.

Wow...the job of 4 auber PID's in one package. Impressive. Not a big selling point in my book.

We do want some sort of web based monitoring for the BT...but we also enjoy the stand alone aspect when we go brew with the club. Wait..do you take a laptop and router?
Serious.. Your making it sound like taking a laptop is inconvenient you don't use brew software? Considering everything else you would need to brew mobile I think a laptop is the least of my worries. A router is not required unless you want to control/monitor your BCS via WiFi anywhere with just about any mobile computing device including using a custom iPhone interface. :) To me this make the BCS more advanced and way more user friendly.

The BCS is allot more than four PID's and that statement alone shows your lack of knowledge of the BCS.
 

unclebobby

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Finally after months of watching this thread, we are getting down to business. Keep it coming! I have a decision to make in the near future. Should the difference in temperature sensors be a factor?
 
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Sounds like the BCS Fanboys can shout the loudest. If you look at what the 2 systems can do the Brewtroller is far more capable. It can do volume sensing, PWM fly sparging, Smart Herms, it is stand alone hardware, pretty much can run your brew day with a push of a button if you are so inclined.
 

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I have a fully automated direct fired HLT and Kettle RIMS system controlled by the BT. Anyone who has invested in either of these systems will obviously be passionate about the system they chose. I honestly don't know too much about the BCS as I made the decision to go with the BT very early in the design and didn't look back. I will share some of the reasons why I chose the BT over the BCS.

1. Volume sensing - This was very important to me. I have volume sensing set up in my HLT and Kettle. I love being able to upload my recipe directly into the BT and based on the settings I have already programed into the BT (boil off rate, vessel capacity, volume loss, grain absorbtion, etc), it automatically calculates how much volume is required for the brew session and fills the HLT to this volume and then heats to strike temp. I have my system set up so that once I start the brew session, no action is required until grain in. Volume sensing also allows to auto fly sparge where it monitors the volume added to the brew kettle from the mash and matches by transfering the same volume from the HLT to the Mash.

2. Being able to control processes locally. I love having a control panel that I can control everything from locally. The encoder can be cumbersome at times, but is nice to be able to control all processes locally. I also have switches for all my valves, pumps, and heat sources on my control panel so I can use those as well. This is extremely helpful when doing a cleaning or sanitation cycle.

3. Remote monitoring - The web interface of the BCS is very nice and was the big reason why I was considering it at first, but the BT can also support remote monitoring through live.brewtroller.com. I use this feature during every brew session so I don't have to stay in the garage the whole time. There are already user developed android apps and hopefully will be an iOS app soon too. The live.brewtroller.com is still in its infancy and will be upgraded significantly (I'm told) once BT Firmware 3.0 is released.

Some other comments I've read is that BT is not DIY friendly, which in my opinion is not true. I built my entire system myself with very little experience with electrical systems and no software programming knowledge. There are a ton of resources online particularly the BT website (www.oscsys.com), BT forums, and the blackheart brewery build threads and website. The customer service at BT has also been extremely helpful.

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MaxOut

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crazyirishman34 said:
Sounds like the BCS Fanboys can shout the loudest. If you look at what the 2 systems can do the Brewtroller is far more capable. It can do volume sensing, PWM fly sparging, Smart Herms, it is stand alone hardware, pretty much can run your brew day with a push of a button if you are so inclined.
I'm not knocking the Brewtroller. I'm just pointing out features the matter to me and how they are applied to my brewing style. I use gas so PWM has no benefit to me, volume sensing can be achieved with the BCS but I have no need for it, and I prefer a computer interface with a logical and customizable GUI. I have my system stationary and have manual switches to override all automation. Even with the Brewtroller if it malfunctions you still need manual override. Both options depend on computer logic so the fact that you need a computer to control a BCS isn't a comparable drawback. I consider it an advantage because I have multiple interfaces including remote wireless options all with intuitive customizable GUI's verses a cheesy dial and a LCD. Just saying.
 

jdub44

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The front panel was made by Ponoko.com. I modified Blackheart Brewery's original design using adobe illustrator.
 

unclebobby

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jdub44 said:
The front panel was made by Ponoko.com. I modified Blackheart Brewery's original design using adobe illustrator.
That an overwhelmingly awesome control panel. I have my Brutus 10 almost completed. I'm thinking a direct fired mash tun with intermittent pilot by Honeywell. I am just a little concerned with how the igniter will affect both of these control units. I've mostly researched the brewtroller.
 

MaxOut

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unclebobby said:
That an overwhelmingly awesome control panel. I have my Brutus 10 almost completed. I'm thinking a direct fired mash tun with intermittent pilot by Honeywell. I am just a little concerned with how the igniter will affect both of these control units. I've mostly researched the brewtroller.
I use the Honeywell SmartValves with the intermittent hot surface ignition that do not need an external pilot control and have no problems using the BCS. I don't think you would have any problems with either controller. I've read of people having issues with the direct spark ignition due to the stray high voltage but none with the IHSI.
 

JonW

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I use the Honeywell SmartValves with the intermittent hot surface ignition that do not need an external pilot control and have no problems using the BCS. I don't think you would have any problems with either controller. I've read of people having issues with the direct spark ignition due to the stray high voltage but none with the IHSI.
I just changed out my spark igniters for HSI's. I'm using the inexpensive Valves4Projects solenoid valves to control gas flow and the Honeywell Glowfly HSI's. The BCS has a feature to drive igniters where it will pre-fire the igniter for a specified time prior to valve opening and then hold it for a specified time after valve opening. They're working flawlessly, but because I'm not using the Honeywell valves with flame detection and all the safety interlocks, I would not suggest these for unattended brewing.
 
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