Controller Choice - BrewCommander vs Auber Cube

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ChrisfromAbby

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I posted a while ago about my plans to move to electric from propane.
I've currently got a 3v HERMS system running on manual propane with a Themopen probe in each vessel.
I usually heat my HLT to strike temp, transfer the volume to the MLT and monitor the temp there while recirculating through the HERMS coil, +/- sparge, transfer to the BK and boil, then cool to pitch temp, transfer to FV.
I built a DIY controller for my system, but never got around to plumbing the furnace valves and igniters, so it never got used. And now I'm just tired of propane and want to switch....
I've pretty much got everything I need now for a 240v/30A system (including a heating element in each of the HLT and the BK), except for the controller. I debated about building another controller myself, but I'm just not that enamoured of the process nor the time involved so am thinking of just buying my way in.

I really don't think I need one of the more $$ 3v controllers as I think some of the "smaller" ones should do the job.
I've come down to the Auber Cube 2E to perhaps the Blichmann BrewCommander.
I like how the Cube can control both my pumps from the unit, but that's not a game changer. Also, just one power input.
What would it be like, switching between probes from the HLT, to the HERMS outflow, to the BK? Maybe build a switching box for the probes?
From the videos it seems like the BBC allows you to monitor the HLT temp and the mash temp but I only see one temperature probe port. Any comment on that? The price point on the BBC is pretty good. I'd still need to move some temp probes around as I moved through various stages though.
Comments there?

Chris
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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Well, I'm leaning towards the Auber. I like the breaker switch and dual pump control and the EZBoil control unit.
I'm still trying to figure out the (RTD) temperature probes. I currently have a thermowell in my HLT and at the outflow from the HERMS coil. I just throw a bare probe wire (Therma K) into the BK normally.
It seems the RTD probes are not the kind that you can readily switch the probe out of one thermowell and into another? They appear to need to be greased and screwed into place with several small screws? So it appears that I will need to purchase three probes and discard my 2 current thermowells?
Chris
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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Fortunately Kane at Auber has been awesome at responding to my questions and helped me sort it all out. I ended up with 2 probes and one cable to swap between them. One probe at the outflow of the HERMS the other one in the boil kettle.

I ran dry (wet?) run today with a pretend mash, substituting 1.5L of cold water for 5kg of dry grain.
I kept my ThermaK thermometers in the HLT and MT to oversee what the RTD probe at the HERMS outflow was saying.
Once I figured out how to program the EZBoil DSPR320 unit properly it all came together beautifully!
I had a small overshoot on the strike water, but I put the program on HOLD for 10 minutes to let equilibrium hit before "doughing in". (There is an overshoot accommodation function that I could investigate as an alternative.)
Bang! Hit my target mash temp and stayed within a 0.2C range throughout my 15 minute pretend mash.
Also ran a mash out step and was pleased.
I didn't run a boil step, so I'll still need to figure out what level to dial back the power output once the boil is hit.
But man, it was soooo easy! Costco, you were good to me on the price of propane but I'll never go back unless the apocalypse comes and knocks out the hydro.
 

DawgPen Brewing

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“Once I figured out how to program the EZBoil DSPR320 unit properly it all came together beautifully!”

I don’t have an Auber controller but I don’t have a Grounded Brewing technologies controller that has the EZBoil DSPR320 controller that I am going to have to learn also. Any hints you can send my way for info or just begin reading manual?
 

RufusBrewer

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Other than differences in dollars, looks like to me the big differences between Brewcommander and a PID based controller is the user interface.

If a PID menu tree interface is not too daunting, they a great option.

I went with the Brewcommander. In my work, I deal with enough menu trees. The Brewcommander touch screen was the tie breaker.

Having said that, Blichmann dropped the balk with their user entered ramp up system variable is annoying and doesn't need to be in there.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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I don’t have an Auber controller but I don’t have a Grounded Brewing technologies controller that has the EZBoil DSPR320 controller that I am going to have to learn also. Any hints you can send my way for info or just begin reading manual?
The manual is a bit overwhelming, but there are only about 2 or 3 pages that cover the stuff you really need to get started. The diagrams actually are pretty detailed and show you what you should see as you go through the steps.
The EZBoilDSPR320 they now include in the Cube also has a lot of features with abilities to set & control alarms and control relays that I'm unlikely to need. Perhaps they will be useful to people with more advanced control systems and need to fine tune their system.

The gist of the main control design is that you have two types of programs - a Mash program and a Boil program. The difference is Mash is defaulted to control by temperature - you set your step temperature then the time, whereas in Boil you set the power percentage and the time. (And this is just in general - you can actually swap set temperature and power percentage if you really want...)

To start writing your mash program - just press the knob in and hold for 3 secs, then press briefly once to "select" mPRG.
The top window should say m1-S (mash step #1 set point). Turn the know clockwise to increase it to the temperature you want. Press the knob again to select that temperature and move to the next setting which will be m1-t (mash step #1 time). Turn the knob clockwise to increase the time of the mash to what you want. Turn it counterclockwise to get some other time-related features like END, STOP, HOLD,CONT(inue). Push the knob again to select the time you set. It will roll through these same options for 9 possible mash steps.
Haven't set it up just yet, but the Boil program is similar - just set the power percentage and the time for each step.
You press RUN to start the program. HOLD/STOP will pause the timer.
You can SKIP a step if you need to. You can adjust the temperature or time of a step while it is running. It's pretty slick for someone that was doing everything by hand with propane until last week!

I'd recommend playing with it, having a dry run like I did. It would be very frustrating and stressful trying to figure this out during a real brew day. It was actually pretty fun. I ran an abbreviated mash course and took some readings which allowed me to modify the program for a real brew day.

Chris
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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Small thing I've discovered;

I work in Metric being Canadian. I changed the display to C in the settings control. No problem, although the display will still only resolve to a single degree, so technically staying in Fahrenheit is more precise (1 degree F being about 1/2 of 1 degree C). Whatever, my temps were stable to within 0.1C of my target 66.7C when measured by my ThermaK thermometer in the mash.
However...... My boil program timer never initiated. Silly me, here I was thinking that the timer doesn't display during the boil program.
What gives?? Turns out that although I'd changed the display reading the btSP (boil temperature set point) was still set for 208 - it didn't get switched automatically to 98 which would be appropriate for "boil temperature" in Celcius. So as far as the controller was concerned, I had never reached (could EVER) reach boil of 208 (C)! The baST likely also need to be lowered.
 
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