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Fermentation monitor

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weihenstephaner

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A while ago I was looking for a way to monitor how far along my fermentation is without opening it and taking samples. I think I came up with something affordable.

Using an arduino nano and an MQ3 gas sensor I can measure the alcohol content of the gas bubbling out the airlock.

This is a photo of the gadget I came up with (being calibrated with a known alcohol solution), it reports the current reading to an android app on my phone over bluetooth. The yellow plastic thing is a 3d printed fitting that fits to a rubber stopper on the bottom and accepts a rubber stopper on the top. That way I can put it between the airlock and the bucket. Only problem is the sensor can't get wet, so I have to do it after there is any chance of foam over flowing.



I haven't tried it on an actual batch yet, but if this calibration works right I'll post the results when I do.
 

BlkWater_brewer

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Couldn't you attach your sensor in addition to a blow-off tube or airlock to channel the active fermentation away from the sensor. Just a thought - interesting concept though.
 

FowlBall

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I've been considering a similar solution...any updates on your testing? Have you been able to try this on an actual brew, and if so, how did it work out?
 

Jakor

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What would the correlation between alcohol content of the air in the vessel/fermenter be with respect to the alcohol content in solution? I'd love to try to make something like this, but isn't the alcohol concentration in air always the maximum alcohol vapor partial pressure at atmospheric pressure and whatever the temperature the chamber is?

I would love to hear back about the results of this test, but maybe it would be better to place a CO2 sensor on the blowoff bottle or after the airlock. This way you could create a time-weighted average of the CO2 output, and you could roughly calculate % attenuation from that, although it would be interesting to see how much that varies between strains of yeast.
 

Komodo

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You guys left me in the dust. I was thinking today that it would be nice to have a phone-checkable baby video monitor aiming at my Tripels airlocks right now just to see if they were exploding or not.
 

Jakor

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In reality, I think a video monitor like you describe would be the most reliable way to check on this stuff. I've just been looking to build something that hasn't really been done yet that's within my capabilities.
 

flars

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I'm not taking the time to look up some stuff, baking bread, but how does this compare to the Brew Nanny?
 

Jakor

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Wow, didn't realize that the Brew Nanny existed! The biggest difference here would be the cost. At $500, the Brew Nanny would be too expensive to be worth it in my opinion. Additionally, Brew Nanny uses a CO2 sensor, which I feel may be a bit more precise based on reading about the MQ3 sensor. If anyone knows of how to calculate the amount of alcohol in the CO2 displaced during fermentation, I would be very interested in hearing about that. Currently I am thinking CO2 would be the only substance high enough in concentration to accurately measure.
 

Abyssal

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I know it's been forever, but I'm guessing the trials didn't work out so well? I've been searching the internet to see if someone has successfully used on the of the MQ-3 alcohol sensors, but so far I've only found research papers that don't go into the coding and/or calibration of it.

I found this: https://www.tekmon.gr/rd/tIoT-Architecture-for-Monitoring-Wine-Fermentation-Process-of-Debina-Variety-Semi-Sparkling-Wine.pdf

And this: https://middlewaresensing.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/wine-monitoring/

I feel like the pro's are immense versus the cons, so I feel like someone has done this successfully! You could have multiple sensors all wired to a single Arduino or RPi with the sensors only costing around $10! On the other hand something like the Tilt ($135 from their website) or the ISpindle (diy version of the Tilt) each require a lot of hardware for EACH fermentor, so running multiple of these would get expensive really quick!
 
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