Electric/Automated Brewery Dilemma

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shayes2791

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Hi All,

I have been scouring this forum as well as others trying to figure out what I want for a brewery. Many here have been through many iterations of their breweries. I want to avoid that for the most part as I tend to do that with every hobby (and started to do with this) and my wife gets mad because of money spent and storage of multiple brewing equipment not used or no longer used. Plus I will have spent more time building it than brewing. I don’t mind putting the time in to build it, I just don’t want to keep rebuilding it like the Winchester Mansion:).

I have pretty much everything covered from fermentation on. I have also bought grain mill, kettles, coolers, etc in preparation when I thought I knew how I was going to build. I originally was going to do biab or a 2 vessel recirculation with building an electric controller, but keep changing my mind. I like Brundogs setup minus his cooling method as that appears even more complicated. I would like to use the Brucontrol with Arduino, but haven’t really seen how to build an Arduino based controller (just pictures of what they built) so I’m a little apprehensive. I'm more apprehensive on the hardware than the software as I work in IT. I know Brian at Short Circuited Brewers is planning on doing an Arduino based controller build on his channel, but not quite sure when. I did like Brian’s build of ebrewsupply controller which I was one of my first considerations, but like the potential automation features of Arduino and software especially for repeatability. I don’t need it fully automated, but would be nice to grow it if necessary.

I think I have my options narrowed down to what I want and not sure if anybody has any information that would help? I doubt I would need to brew more than 5 gallon batches. I like almost all styles and gravity beers.

1. Brucontrol/Arduino- Would love to build this but not sure if too difficult

2. Hosehead – I think this and Brewboss are very similar. I like that this one can control two pumps and non-proprietary software interface. Feel it’s more limited in automation if I would want to add like control valves etc

3. Brewboss - I think this and Hosehead are very similar. Proprietary software interface. Feel it’s more limited in automation if I would want to add like control valves etc

4. Grainfather Connect – Could brew immediately with limited automation and accessories. Not sure if the 110 is strong enough. Hearing others say this is just a glorified coffee urn etc. Is it worth the price? Will it suit needs long term or would I end up building something more flexible later anyway?

Thanks,

Scott
 
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Admittedly I am a biased so take my feedback with a shaker of salt...

I think you are thinking along the right path with respect to building an automated solution. The upgrade path is virtually endless and you are rarely locked in a box. Just keep in mind there is a time component, and if you don’t want to spend much time building, then look for something off the shelf but I don’t think it will have a high degree of automation.

Automated solutions are great because you can build a basic control box, with “universal” inputs/outputs, then add as needed. Avoid dedicated controls like switches, lights, etc. and put everything on a virtual / digital control panel. When you upgrade, you won’t need to drill holes and drastically re-wire stuff. Honestly, with all very due respect to Kal as the rightful pioneer of electric brewing, I cannot understand why anyone would use dedicated PIDs, timers etc. anymore. Reliable and documented yes - but so is the yellow Dead End sign indicating its road ahead.

With respect to BruControl, the design philosophy is flexibility. We have some universal schematics on the website that you can model your build off, whether you do RIMs or HERMs. You can add fermentation control, etc. as you grow with the system. Obviously this runs on off-the-shelf micro-controller hardware, so the hardware is non-proprietary and there is a DIY element. I don’t think it’s tough to put these hardware “interfaces” together and we now offer them pre-built, but other users can weigh in on their experiences and opinions. The scripting engine gives you ultimate flexibility to automate as you see fit. Since this software has a cost, we provide personal support if needed.

A very popular and community supported option is CraftBeerPi. Many brewers have had lots of success with this no-cost application. This gives you a good upgrade path as well. The automation is more restricted but definitely suits most brewing applications, such as valve control, etc. It supports fermentation control as well. Obviously this runs on RPi hardware, which is very inexpensive and easy to source, and can run on the Hosehead.

I can’t speak to Brewboss as I have no experience but I don’t believe it has any I/O for generic automation control. The interface seems very approachable.

The GF Connect is very nice but 110V can be limiting if you aren’t patient. Automation is limited to step temperatures AFAIK.
 

Inspire

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I don't have any input on the type of build, BUT I have input on your planning.
- You need to stop changing your mind. What you should do is plan it out first, then just build it. Don't do any changes (even if you change your mind). Once you've finished your build, do some brews and get some drinks out of it! THEN if you want you can do your next version.

You can't get it perfect from the start, so just build something and get it working, then if you change your mind do it for the next version upgrade...and make sure you brew something your wife likes so she loves you and support you on your next upgrade!
 
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shayes2791

shayes2791

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I think I will be building the Brucontrol/Arduino system. In the interim, I will be getting gf so I can brew now while I build what I want. I know it will take me some time to build and this way I can hopefully become a better brewer. I don't like spending the$1000 on gf when that money could be used for the build, but seems the way to go. Gives me time.
I am glad I changed my mind. Otherwise, I would have probably spent even more money on stuff I didn't really need or a process I didn't really care to do.
 
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One idea is to buy an Arduino or use one laying around if you have one and test it with the software. You will get a sense of how easy/difficult it is and won’t cost you more than a few dollars. We don’t have a demo version but email us and we can set you up for a trial.
 

brewslinger

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Would a Mash&Boil not be a better choice for an interim fill in the gap system monetarily?
It sounds like they are pretty comparable to a GF.
 
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shayes2791

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One idea is to buy an Arduino or use one laying around if you have one and test it with the software. You will get a sense of how easy/difficult it is and won’t cost you more than a few dollars. We don’t have a demo version but email us and we can set you up for a trial.
I was thinking the same thing. Would you suggest getting an arduino kit to understand how the components work together?
 

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I vote #4.

I was in a similar position last month. I wanted to go electric, I wanted simplicity in design without sacrificing functionality, and I wanted to end the upgrade cycle. I enjoyed the DIY aspect of the hobby, but I felt like I reached a point where I wanted to focus on the beer, not the equipment. So I needed a system that was solid, repeatable, and complete.

I planned out a kal clone. After pricing everything out it looked like it would cost me about $1k. I was excited to build it.

Then I started looking at the grainfather again. It heats the water, keeps the mash temp, recirculates, boils, cools and seemed to do it all well. NB had a 20% off sale and I jumped on it. $799 delivered to my door. In one piece. I've done 3 brews and love it so far.

The think what really impresses me the most is its simplicity. Its more or less self-contained in one pot. There are other parts of course--the mash pipe, the recirculation arm, and the CFC--but they're all so well designed and quick and easy to connect. It eliminates so much equipment. Its easy to clean. I don't need 3 enormous pots. I don't need hoses or worm clamps. I don't need to lug out garden hoses, cords, pumps, etc. I don't need ventilation. I find myself standing around on brew day feeling like I should be doing something but nothing needs to be done.

I do think 110v is enough. I don't get the raging boil that I could get on my propane setup, but I've read a lot lately--mostly from Martin Brungard--that its better to boil with less vigor and target 7-8% boil off, which is what I get with the GF. I've done a step mash too and that worked great. I would still describe my boil as "rolling". The downside is that it takes me over an hour to heat up my water (I heat strike and sparge together, so about 9 gallons), but that's not much of a concern because with the connect I can do that before I wake up.

The question is whether it holds up long term. It comes with a 2 year warranty and the feedback I've seen suggests the company is quick to replace anything that breaks. But of course, I'd change my tune if it crapped out in year 3.
 

day_trippr

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Someone needs to get a grip on what he really wants because the gamut from 1 through 4 is crazy wide...

Cheers!
 
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shayes2791

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I don't think so. All have a degree of automaton capability and hosehead in comparison to brewboss are very similar and are partial builds if only getting controller with software. The other 2 are either a total diy build or ready to use. And like I said, I really want the brucontrol/Arduino but not sure of the learning curve. Like anything, there are pros and cons to everything and these were the last 4 options left from everything I've seen that had anything I was interested in.
 

GParkins

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I started by planning a Kal clone. It wasn't too long before I went with option 1. I'm almost done building it, and I haven't been looking over the fence and seeing greener grass. In other words, I'm happy I made the choice I did.
 
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shayes2791

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I started by planning a Kal clone. It wasn't too long before I went with option 1. I'm almost done building it, and I haven't been looking over the fence and seeing greener grass. In other words, I'm happy I made the choice I did.
It really isn't that I'm looking for greener grass now. It was mostly can I do number 1 without totally hosing it up (never built anything that did automation). All my experience has been on the software side, not mechanical using electronics. The others were more do I want something that needs some building vs turnkey. I will be attempting to build something similar to Brundog, but have purchased something to get me through till I get er built. This should also help me determine what I really need in my build. I am sure I will gleening stuff from your build. :yes:
 

mirthfuldragon

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Automated solutions are great because you can build a basic control box, with “universal” inputs/outputs, then add as needed. Avoid dedicated controls like switches, lights, etc. and put everything on a virtual / digital control panel. When you upgrade, you won’t need to drill holes and drastically re-wire stuff. Honestly, with all very due respect to Kal as the rightful pioneer of electric brewing, I cannot understand why anyone would use dedicated PIDs, timers etc. anymore. Reliable and documented yes - but so is the yellow Dead End sign indicating its road ahead.
I get your point, and it makes sense, but every time I have sat down and tried to read through the documentation on BruControl (or BCS-462), my eyes glaze over and I have no real idea what the heck I am looking at. Whether actual or imagined, there seems to be a real barrier to entry there.

The OP here is apprehensive and works in IT, and seems to be running into the same issue as I am. As for me, I know enough coding/scripting to be dangerous (mostly Excel-based vbscript and application inter-op for dashboards and data reporting in mortgage servicing) (and know that I really don't know anything practical), but also know that I can probably get through anything if I set my mind to it. I am comfortable with wiring, electricity, working on cars, woodworking, I have built my last three computers from the ground up, and I like doing things once, the right way, even if it costs more. In short, if you are aiming for any consumer-level buyer, I think I am probably it.

My next big brewing purchase is an EZ-Boil and related paraphernalia for recirculating BIAB in a keggle-based system on a 5500w element using a GFCI breaker @ 50A (after I get my garage wiring upgraded from single circuit 20A ...).

From what I can tell, you have built something really cool here, and with a lot of capability, that would probably be everything I want and more, but I do not have the specific knowledge necessary to do anything with it. I wish you the best with it, and I hope you could do something to change my mind, but after spending an hour or so reading through your documentation, I am no closer to building anything.
 
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Blazinlow86

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Full disclosure I have a exact Kal clone and not trying to start a pissing match. To me it seems building a automated system seems the most complicated way to brew hardwarewise and I don't really see how it's any better? I guess I can see the idea if your system is truely COMPLETELY automated but most I've seen still needs alot or things done manually like milling grains, adding grains, adding hops etc. I thought the Kal clone was a nice compromise to allow indoor large batches consistently. What would the automated system improve?
 
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I get your point, and it makes sense, but every time I have sat down and tried to read through the documentation on BruControl (or BCS-462), my eyes glaze over and I have no real idea what the heck I am looking at. Whether actual or imagined, there seems to be a real barrier to entry there.

The OP here is apprehensive and works in IT, and seems to be running into the same issue as I am. As for me, I know enough coding/scripting to be dangerous (mostly Excel-based vbscript and application inter-op for dashboards and data reporting in mortgage servicing) (and know that I really don't know anything practical), but also know that I can probably get through anything if I set my mind to it. I am comfortable with wiring, electricity, working on cars, woodworking, I have built my last three computers from the ground up, and I like doing things once, the right way, even if it costs more. In short, if you are aiming for any consumer-level buyer, I think I am probably it.

My next big brewing purchase is an EZ-Boil and related paraphernalia for recirculating BIAB in a keggle-based system on a 5500w element using a GFCI breaker @ 50A (after I get my garage wiring upgraded from single circuit 20A ...).

From what I can tell, you have built something really cool here, and with a lot of capability, that would probably be everything I want and more, but I do not have the specific knowledge necessary to do anything with it. I wish you the best with it, and I hope you could do something to change my mind, but after spending an hour or so reading through your documentation, I am no closer to building anything.
I think this is excellent feedback, and we appreciate it. When you sit down to write an information sharing resource, it’s always from the perspective of the informed, independent how hard you try to pretend to be uninformed and anticipate how the uninformed will get informed form the effort. The manual is undoubtedly detailed - we tried to do that to answer all the questions but perhaps it often serves to be confusing.

One of the challenges we have is some users would like the simplicity of square pegs and square holes. Unfortunately this works against our goal of being highly flexible - which requires a user to mentally bridge the gap between the building blocks and the end vision. Some people like doing this or are willing to put in time to do it, others are not.

Would it be helpful if we put together:

1. Tech notes on how to build a complete brewery controller?
2. Video of the above?
3. A “quick start” guide beyond the one in the manual?
4. Anything else?

Again, appreciate the feedback - it’s honest so it’s good!
 
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Full disclosure I have a exact Kal clone and not trying to start a pissing match. To me it seems building a automated system seems the most complicated way to brew hardwarewise and I don't really see how it's any better? I guess I can see the idea if your system is truely COMPLETELY automated but most I've seen still needs alot or things done manually like milling grains, adding grains, adding hops etc. I thought the Kal clone was a nice compromise to allow indoor large batches consistently. What would the automated system improve?
This is conflicting - you requested no debate yet you asked why automation is better. One probably can’t be done without the other!
 

Blazinlow86

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Sorry not saying not to debate just not wanting to come off argumentive/negative. I'm just trying to think what would be different better by going automated. Admittedly I haven't looked into it very far. Are people building systems that just require the grain added and come back later to it in the fermenter without supervision? Cheers
 

Blazinlow86

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So after doing a quick search I see people are building exactly that. Pretty neat. Are the people using the full automated systems confident that they won't have hiccups when the system is unattended. Is that the main draw to a system like that? You can start a brew remotely and have it ready when you get home? Cheers
 

pickles

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Automation can be achieved at so many levels. Take any step in the brewing process that you find tedious and it can be automated to make the day a bit easier and worry free. Most people don’t fully automate their breweries, but plenty have automated temp control of strike water, mashing, boil and fermentation. Brucontrol is a tool that allows you to start small and add more automation as you see fit. I began with another platform a few years ago and it proved to be to rigid and complicated. I’m excited to see Brucontrol enter this space.

Brundog - I do think that any additional documentation, videos, etc would be beneficial. Scripting seems nearly impossible to me.
 

swimIan

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I think this is excellent feedback, and we appreciate it. When you sit down to write an information sharing resource, it’s always from the perspective of the informed, independent how hard you try to pretend to be uninformed and anticipate how the uninformed will get informed form the effort. The manual is undoubtedly detailed - we tried to do that to answer all the questions but perhaps it often serves to be confusing.

One of the challenges we have is some users would like the simplicity of square pegs and square holes. Unfortunately this works against our goal of being highly flexible - which requires a user to mentally bridge the gap between the building blocks and the end vision. Some people like doing this or are willing to put in time to do it, others are not.

Would it be helpful if we put together:

1. Tech notes on how to build a complete brewery controller?
2. Video of the above?
3. A “quick start” guide beyond the one in the manual?
4. Anything else?

Again, appreciate the feedback - it’s honest so it’s good!
I would like to see 1, 2, and 3 but especially 2.
 

madscientist451

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I want to avoid that for the most part as I tend to do that with every hobby (and started to do with this) and my wife gets mad because of money spent and storage of multiple brewing equipment not used or no longer used. Plus I will have spent more time building it than brewing.

Scott
I think you need to ask yourself do you really need an expensive, complicated, automated "system" to make wort?
 
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Needs and wants are certainly two different states! One of the most amazing aspects of our hobby is you can do it with very basic tools, equipment, technique, and skills. Then if interested, grow into something very advanced. This growth can be rapid or gradual depending on however you want it. Realistically, if we *needed* beer... we would just go buy it!

I like personally automation but understand it’s not for everyone. There are many levels from basic temp control to full material, liquid, and testing management. One aspect of automation in our hobby that I think is cool is you can build and add as you go and gain experience. At some point you might decide “that’s enough” or say “next I want...”.

I think at the end of the day, automation adds a level of consistency. Taking humans, with our mistakes and distractions out of the loop for mundane tasks will likely produce repeatable (I didn’t say better - though this would be an eventual expectation) beer. In terms of time savings, I don’t personally leave my brewery unattended while brewing, but I am not restricted to standing there on the breweries schedule either.

One area where I LOVE automation is cleaning. I have a CIP and cleaning cycle which save me a bunch of headache.
 

Kmo4040

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I think this is excellent feedback, and we appreciate it. When you sit down to write an information sharing resource, it’s always from the perspective of the informed, independent how hard you try to pretend to be uninformed and anticipate how the uninformed will get informed form the effort. The manual is undoubtedly detailed - we tried to do that to answer all the questions but perhaps it often serves to be confusing.

One of the challenges we have is some users would like the simplicity of square pegs and square holes. Unfortunately this works against our goal of being highly flexible - which requires a user to mentally bridge the gap between the building blocks and the end vision. Some people like doing this or are willing to put in time to do it, others are not.

Would it be helpful if we put together:

1. Tech notes on how to build a complete brewery controller?
2. Video of the above?
3. A “quick start” guide beyond the one in the manual?
4. Anything else?

Again, appreciate the feedback - it’s honest so it’s good!
I think short videos of your Schematics would be great! I think one of the biggest hurdles that I had was, like many others, I am completely self taught. So, in many of the diagrams, I would have to look up many of the symbols. And looking up something when you don't know what it's called can be challenging. I think with short videos 5-15 minutes would allow you to cover most of the schematics that you have on your website: http://brucontrol.com/build/schematics/ and not so long that viewers are not forced to watch concepts they already know about. And would allow you to add more videos over time that are not repeating information that has already been covered. The main reason why I switched from Brewtroller to Brucontrol was how active you are with your product and the excellent customer service. Thanks
 

bdogg171

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The only thing that worries me is the scripting, I know others have stated they have no experience with scripting and picked it up easy, but from what I’ve read, it doesn’t seem like I can, maybe more details concerning the syntax for us dummies? “BruControl Scripting for Dumbasses Part 1”?
 
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First, remember you don't need to script anything. If you want to run it as a digital control panel - no script code required.

But if you want to do some things automatically, my best suggestion is just to play around... Just learn by doing, writing small simple steps and go from there. You won't break anything!
 

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1. Tech notes on how to build a complete brewery controller?
2. Video of the above?
3. A “quick start” guide beyond the one in the manual?
4. Anything else?
Again, appreciate the feedback - it’s honest so it’s good!
I watch some more of the videos and read through the documentation some more. Still grasping, but I understand the concept a little better. It goes back to the barriers to entry idea. I had to google what a "shield" was in terms of Ardunio. Then there is what seems to be two kinds of temp probes (RTD and "10K NTC"?).

Your lists provide lots of options, which adds to my confusion, plus the jaron/nomenclature hurdles. Honestly, what I would love would be a build sheet and schematic for a recirculating BIAB system. (Again, if I understand correctly), where the automation controls shine is the capability to add on - so if I wanted to add another temperature probe and element for a HLT, I could do so without buying another controller.

As a side note, with anything introductory: just tell me what to buy. Your video on controllers recommends the Ardunio Mega, and then you spend another ~10 minutes going over other (inferior?) controllers. If I had the knowledge base to understand the pros and cons of the different microcontroller boards, I don't think I would need the comparison or separate schematics - I could just crib off the Ardunio Mega plans (I think anyway - still struggling a bit to fully understand).

Again, once I figure out exactly how to use it, your product seems really cool.
 
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Thank you for the guidance. I think I hear you in saying what is needed is “start here, do this” guidance. We will look to do something like this. Thank you for the direction.

I want to be fully transparent and say there is a currently a strong element of DIY required with this offering. We can provide written and personal guidance about basic interface micro-controller selection, capabilities, port/pin wiring, BruControl setup, troubleshooting, scripting, etc. but system design, component integration, etc. starts to slip outside the scope of what we can provide. We try to respond to every inquiry and help but for those who don’t have any experience with electronics design/selection/building, this may not YET be the system for you. We may someday have a turnkey control panel available or have one created by a partner, but we are dedicating time towards getting the software to be really good, so that isn’t an immediate priority. We have reached out to vendors like EBS but they are slow to respond and don’t seem interested.
 
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shayes2791

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I get your point, and it makes sense, but every time I have sat down and tried to read through the documentation on BruControl (or BCS-462), my eyes glaze over and I have no real idea what the heck I am looking at. Whether actual or imagined, there seems to be a real barrier to entry there.

The OP here is apprehensive and works in IT, and seems to be running into the same issue as I am. As for me, I know enough coding/scripting to be dangerous (mostly Excel-based vbscript and application inter-op for dashboards and data reporting in mortgage servicing) (and know that I really don't know anything practical), but also know that I can probably get through anything if I set my mind to it. I am comfortable with wiring, electricity, working on cars, woodworking, I have built my last three computers from the ground up, and I like doing things once, the right way, even if it costs more. In short, if you are aiming for any consumer-level buyer, I think I am probably it.

My next big brewing purchase is an EZ-Boil and related paraphernalia for recirculating BIAB in a keggle-based system on a 5500w element using a GFCI breaker @ 50A (after I get my garage wiring upgraded from single circuit 20A ...).

From what I can tell, you have built something really cool here, and with a lot of capability, that would probably be everything I want and more, but I do not have the specific knowledge necessary to do anything with it. I wish you the best with it, and I hope you could do something to change my mind, but after spending an hour or so reading through your documentation, I am no closer to building anything.
You are in the exact same boat as me in every aspect as me including building my own computers, vb, woodworking etc. I don't feel so stupid now :no:
 

mirthfuldragon

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I want to be fully transparent and say there is a currently a strong element of DIY required with this offering. [...] for those who don’t have any experience with electronics design/selection/building, this may not YET be the system for you.
I get it. The more I dig in, the more it seems the barriers are perceived rather than actual, and more due to jargon and a lack of knowledge base on my part than any actual difficulty. It is just a matter of me taking the time to unpack it all, draw out some plans/schematics, and go from there. Another future project.
 
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shayes2791

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I don't think it is overcomplicated either but I was hoping it could be a little easier just seeing somebody do theirs. You can see a few examples of other non arduino type controllers in video and documentation. I think this gives everybody a base to go from and then change for their needs. I am not concerned or intimidated by diy as I do diy for most things. I will be attempting this at some point soon, but sure I'll have questions.
 

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Would it be helpful if we put together:

1. Tech notes on how to build a complete brewery controller?
2. Video of the above?
3. A “quick start” guide beyond the one in the manual?
4. Anything else?

Again, appreciate the feedback - it’s honest so it’s good!
Hey BrunDog,

In a word.... yup.

As you know, I'm starting my learning curve with BruControl. The information on brucontrol.com is pretty good, but for me there is quite a large jump from, "Here it is and you can build it." to, "Hey, look at my BruControl system. I built it myself!" The software is documented quite well in the user manual. I can see how a touchscreen user interface replaces the front door of a Kal-style panel. I like the fact that it doesn't just interface with the brewing equipment, but can control the fermentation equipment and even the serving fridges... kind of a mashup of BrewPi-Fermentrack-Ranco-iTaps, maybe. But the hardware side (as far as what you need and how to mount it in a panel), isn't..

So, yup to the tech notes and the video. Yup to the quickstart. A step-by-step of the initial install would be helpful. Currently, the manual has the initial install and setup in two different places - at least I was flipping (sorry... scrolling) back and forth.

And you can expect an email from me regarding a trial licence.... soon as I get the damned ethernet shield to be recognized by my router. :)

Cheers!

Chris
 

GParkins

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@mirthfuldragon and @shayes2791, I was recently at the same point on the BruControl learning curve that you seem to be right now. I'm just now putting the finishing touches on my system, and so far, everything seems as anticipated. My background is a little more electrical in nature, so I can't offer much scripting help. That said, I was able to muddle through a simple 10-line script and have it work correctly.

If either of you want a little extra explanation, or don't feel like you're "getting it," please feel free to use me as a resource as well. I can definitely help with power distribution and the safety side of design and assembly. I've gotten a lot of help from @BrunDog during the development of my system, so I'm happy to pass along whatever I can.
 
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@mirthfuldragon and @shayes2791, I was recently at the same point on the BruControl learning curve that you seem to be right now. I'm just now putting the finishing touches on my system, and so far, everything seems as anticipated. My background is a little more electrical in nature, so I can't offer much scripting help. That said, I was able to muddle through a simple 10-line script and have it work correctly.

If either of you want a little extra explanation, or don't feel like you're "getting it," please feel free to use me as a resource as well. I can definitely help with power distribution and the safety side of design and assembly. I've gotten a lot of help from @BrunDog during the development of my system, so I'm happy to pass along whatever I can.
I am sure we will definitely ask questions. I am not concerned about the scripting piece in my instance. I work with code a good bit although not like years ago.

I see many talking about using 1 wire but don't see how that works or many using it. The temp controls in concept doesn't sound difficult, but it does in practice and especially in picking components. Also, in brundogs doc it shows single ssr vs multiples in an array on a board. When do you use one over the other?
Thanks
 
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GParkins

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Also, in brundogs doc it shows single ssr vs multiples in an array on a board.
I think the "multiples in an array" in the @BrunDog examples are low-current dry contact relays, while the "single SSR" is for high-speed, high-volume switching of a higher current load. Typically, SSRs are used for heating elements, and are mounted on aluminum heat sinks, as they generate a lot of heat. Electromechanical dry contact relays can certainly be scaled to match the amperage of a heating element, but under PID and Duty Cycle control, they wind up switching many hundreds of times during a brew cycle. The solid state switching in an SSR can handle the constant switching in a way that electromechanical relays can't.
 
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Agreed with @GParkins post above.

To take it further... The whole relay (and transistors and FETs for that matter) world can be very confoosing for sure. SSR’s (Solid State Relay), transistors, and FETs (Field Effect Transistors) have no moving parts and use electronics to perform switching. The upside is speed and very long term wear. The downside is heat generation as some of the current pass-through is hindered and these are typically one side switching only. These require very little current to switch and are therefore good for direct control from low power signals like those from computers or micro-controllers (e.g. Arduino).

Electromechanical or dry-contact relays are very efficient in their current pass-through but slow to switch and have a limited life due to contact wear. These can be easily found in multi-pole and dual-throw versions (both normally open and normally closed contacts). These typically use coils that generate some heat but not enough that requires cooling. These coils require more current than micros can provide but the “board” versions typically have front-end solid-state circuitry to reduce the current requirement and allow direct control from micros.

A SSR does not have to be a single puck style that we commonly use and they do come in multi-channel board versions such as https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XH4RG5B/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

When selecting you need to evaluate both the relay’s switching requirements (voltage and current to make it switch) and it’s switching capacity (voltage and current that is getting switched) . The other items above also need be considered: speed, heat, #poles, etc.
 
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Agreed with @GParkins post above.

To take it further... The whole relay (and transistors and FETs for that matter) world can be very confoosing for sure. SSR’s (Solid State Relay), transistors, and FETs (Field Effect Transistors) have no moving parts and use electronics to perform switching. The upside is speed and very long term wear. The downside is heat generation as some of the current pass-through is hindered and these are typically one side switching only. These require very little current to switch and are therefore good for direct control from low power signals like those from computers or micro-controllers (e.g. Arduino).

Electromechanical or dry-contact relays are very efficient in their current pass-through but slow to switch and have a limited life due to contact wear. These can be easily found in multi-pole and dual-throw versions (both normally open and normally closed contacts). These typically use coils that generate some heat but not enough that requires cooling. These coils require more current than micros can provide but the “board” versions typically have front-end solid-state circuitry to reduce the current requirement and allow direct control from micros.

A SSR does not have to be a single puck style that we commonly use and they do come in multi-channel board versions such as https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XH4RG5B/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

When selecting you need to evaluate both the relay’s switching requirements (voltage and current to make it switch) and it’s switching capacity (voltage and current that is getting switched) . The other items above also need be considered: speed, heat, #poles, etc.
There must be something that makes the singe puck type better since most use them? What is wrong with the multiple channel type?
 
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The single puck units typically handle high current. 5500W elements require ~25A. They are single because switching that much current generates a lot of heat. These SSRs entire baseplate has a large surface area to pull that heat out. The modular SSR board I listed above can only switch 2A per channel. They don’t require cooling so are very small.
 
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