HOWTO - Make a BrewPi Fermentation Controller For Cheap

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gromitdj

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Yeah I plan on the install and config to be done before I move it to the brewhouse, but network access there isn't feasible unless I add a wifi dongle, which I am not planning on at this time. I may run a cable to an old crt TV for monitoring through a converter. I just wanted to make sure the old PC wasn't too much of a dinosaur.
The internet connectivity is nice though so you can view it anywhere at your house but other than that its not necessary assuming your having it hooked up to a screen with keyboard/mouse so you can change the settings and view whats happening.
And you can get the WiFi Dongle for about $10 on amazon. you can always add it later... My money is on you wanting it sooner, rather than later.

Edit: I mean, why walk to the brewhouse when you can do it on your phone, or tablet, or laptop, etc.
 

gromitdj

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Has anyone tried to set up a BrewPi with a Cool Zone from gottabrew.com? I don't see any inherent reason why the BrewPi software should not work. Essentially, there would be only 1 temperature probe (the beer), a heater, and a chiller. There is no fridge, so there is no fridge temperature probe.

Thanks,
-Matt
For the PID algorithm to work properly, you need the Beer and Fridge sensor at least. It may work with only one sensor, but I don't know how the over/undershoot will perform. As far as I know, the only non-essential sensor is the room sensor.
 

ame

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If you want only 'fridge-constant' mode then you need only one sensor, in the fridge.

'Beer-constant' mode needs a beer sensor and a fridge sensor.

The room sensor is entirely optional.
 

gromitdj

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If you want only 'fridge-constant' mode then you need only one sensor, in the fridge.

'Beer-constant' mode needs a beer sensor and a fridge sensor.

The room sensor is entirely optional.
In either case, the PID algorithm is not going to function properly without the other sensor. If you are only interested in an on-off controller and the graphs, that will be fine. If you want the precise control that the PID provides, you need both. The sensors are cheap enough that I have all three on 1 instance and two on the other 2 instances
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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Yea i cant really see a BrewPi functioning very well with a Cool Zone unfortunately. It would "work" but it would likely not be any more accurate than the +-.5F that the Cool zone advertises using their generic 2 stage controller.
 

cunnol

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FuzzeWuzze you were right it was the resistor, good thinking, would've taken me an age to figure that out. I won't be using a fridge for the moment seeing as the ambient temp is pretty cold here and well....I don't have a spare fridge. Where should I put the fridge sensor if I'm doing it this way?
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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FuzzeWuzze you were right it was the resistor, good thinking, would've taken me an age to figure that out. I won't be using a fridge for the moment seeing as the ambient temp is pretty cold here and well....I don't have a spare fridge. Where should I put the fridge sensor if I'm doing it this way?
Ha good to hear, after 2 years of this i think we've ran into pretty much every concievable problem with this setup.:mug:
 

mappler

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Yea i cant really see a BrewPi functioning very well with a Cool Zone unfortunately. It would "work" but it would likely not be any more accurate than the +-.5F that the Cool zone advertises using their generic 2 stage controller.
I'm not interested in the accuracy so much as the ability to set ramping functions, data logging, and remote operation. None of these are features of 2-stage controller with a few buttons....:) I have Arduinos, relay boards, and raspberry Pi's (electronics hobbies) so it seems like it would be a quick and easy build.
 

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I just purchased a fermenter with internal coil. I have setup my mini fridge with a water bath, exchanger,heater and pump to supply cooling water to the coil. I have my brew pi fridge sensor in the water bath. I am fairly happy with the control but I think I can do better. Any suggestions on tuning the PID loop?
Thanks
Ken
I agree with what others have said - if your 'fridge' temp probe is in your cooling water and the pump is running continuously at a decent rate, your beer will be very close to the cooling water temperature and you might get very good results in fridge constant mode.

However, the PID control would be better if you can optimize it. There's no easy way to do this - even in industrial settings much of this is done by trial and error (with skilled personnel). I would start by cutting the 'P' value in half, that might get you in the ballpark.
 

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wow. pitched Jasper Yeast JY85 (local brewery has microbiologist on staff, he sells his own yeast. JY85 is Lost Rhino Brewing Company house yeast) at 1130 yesterday morning (SN Bigfoot clone, OG = 1.077, we had serious efficiency issues, only got like 46%) and this morning i checked, temp in the beer was 1.5° above set point (weird for my brewpi, which kept my last batch ±.25° ). so i checked inside and it looked like it was at high krausen. 18 hours after pitch!

maybe ferment was so vigorous the fridge couldn't keep it at 65°? adjusted the probe, will check again in an hour, might have to turn down the fridge

if I do turn down the fridge, I'm thinking I should also reset the PID, but maybe wait until this batch is done before doing that?

brewpi 2.JPG
 

Brewski_59

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Ate you running a fermentation profile? Looks like you have it on refrigerator constant mode. My experience running a profile the PID adjusts better than that keeping the beer temp close to spot on.
 

Baja_Brewer

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wow. pitched Jasper Yeast JY85 (local brewery has microbiologist on staff, he sells his own yeast. JY85 is Lost Rhino Brewing Company house yeast) at 1130 yesterday morning (SN Bigfoot clone, OG = 1.077, we had serious efficiency issues, only got like 46%) and this morning i checked, temp in the beer was 1.5° above set point (weird for my brewpi, which kept my last batch ±.25° ). so i checked inside and it looked like it was at high krausen. 18 hours after pitch!

maybe ferment was so vigorous the fridge couldn't keep it at 65°? adjusted the probe, will check again in an hour, might have to turn down the fridge

if I do turn down the fridge, I'm thinking I should also reset the PID, but maybe wait until this batch is done before doing that?

View attachment 339380
Might sound silly, but is your fridge actually on? I had this issue before, but a wire had popped out of my relay, so the fridge socket wasn't actually being energized.
 

GrogNerd

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Ate you running a fermentation profile? Looks like you have it on refrigerator constant mode. My experience running a profile the PID adjusts better than that keeping the beer temp close to spot on.
Mode: Beer Constant (pic shows that)

Might sound silly, but is your fridge actually on? I had this issue before, but a wire had popped out of my relay, so the fridge socket wasn't actually being energized.
fridge is definitely on. light comes on when I open the door

the question isn't "what happened" it's obvious: the yeast took off like a rocket & the fridge couldn't keep it at 65°

the questions are: should I turn the fridge (not BrewPi, the actual fridge) temp setting down? (it's at default setting, but for now, that point is moot, the beer is actually back down to set temp) and when I turn it down, should I reset the PID?
 

day_trippr

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You should set the fridge compartment cold control to max cool so it won't throttle itself. I could see that frustrating the pid...

Cheers!
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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Mode: Beer Constant (pic shows that)



fridge is definitely on. light comes on when I open the door

the question isn't "what happened" it's obvious: the yeast took off like a rocket & the fridge couldn't keep it at 65°

the questions are: should I turn the fridge (not BrewPi, the actual fridge) temp setting down? (it's at default setting, but for now, that point is moot, the beer is actually back down to set temp) and when I turn it down, should I reset the PID?
I dont think it is that the fermentation took off too fast. Its just not really feasible.

This is easy enough to debug but you need to enable the two other items in the graph and post the picture here, the blue fridge temperature and orange fridge setting plots. With those its pretty simple to see whats happening, its entirely possible that your fridge **** the bed and is no longer cooling properly. This is would be apparent because the fridge setting(orange) would drop but your fridge temp(blue) would not follow it.

Also as others have said, always set your fridge to the coldest setting it can go. Otherwise you have a 3rd party(the fridge circuitry) interfering with BrewPi thinking it can turn on the fridge and have it cool, but the fridge is blocking it because it thinks the fridge is cold enough already. No need to reset the PID, it will learn pretty quickly within 1 to 2 cycles of the compressor which is how long it'd take if you reset it.
 

GrogNerd

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full picture, started the graph when I put the bucket in the fridge to bring it down to ferment temps. pitched just before noon while it was holding steady at 65°. see the spikes there

good until about midnight when it started creeping up, hitting peak 66.4° around 6am today, 18 hours after pitch. at 6am I adjusted the probe

brewpi 3.JPG


and a look inside the bucket about 10 minutes ago

I'd say that's a ferment, past full krausen 26 (correction) hours after pitch

2016-02-23 13.57.55.jpg
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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Yea im thinking it was your probe placement. You can see as soon as you moved it, the fridge temp dropped like 4F at 6am.
 

batty

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full picture, started the graph when I put the bucket in the fridge to bring it down to ferment temps. pitched just before noon while it was holding steady at 65°. see the spikes there

good until about midnight when it started creeping up, hitting peak 66.4° around 6am today, 18 hours after pitch. at 6am I adjusted the probe
Looks like you originally mentioned, fridge couldn't keep up with the heat from the ferment.

Fridge running continuously from about midnight 23feb to 6am, never meeting the fridge setting, but fridge temp plateauing at around 62F - even after 6 hours of running it couldn't get any colder.

I have this issue frequently in hot weather - ****ty insulation on my box, and my mini fridge style compressor can't keep up with the heat. I find I can only keep fridge temp about 10 degrees below ambient, even without a bunch of fermentation heat being generated..
 

GrogNerd

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it's a very good fridge, pretty new & excellent condition

test I did on a cider, set the beer constant to 40 and fridge temp oscillated between 38 & 40

think maybe it was combo of issues. fridge & beer probe placement and quick ferment. plus pitching a starter meant for a 1.100 beer into 1.077 wort
 

batty

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Yea im thinking it was your probe placement. You can see as soon as you moved it, the fridge temp dropped like 4F at 6am.
Maybe so - fridge temp probe in a weird place? Or open chamber door in a cooler room could account for the shift.

Even so, fridge on 100% all night couldn't keep the beer cool.
 

day_trippr

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Looks like you originally mentioned, fridge couldn't keep up with the heat from the ferment. [...]
Yeah, I concur, a 6 hour run should have buried the chamber temperature and brought the beer temp down a lot quicker, instead of moving the air temp by less than 5 degrees. Either that fridge is majorly under-gunned, or on its last legs, or there's an epic amount of leakage.

For the rest, moving the fridge probe caused BrewPi to actually turn off the compressor for ~3 hours which didn't help the over-all cause...

Cheers!
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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Yea is it a mini fridge? Even then a lot of people use mini fridges here and have never reported anything like that. Over 6 hours of constant running theres no way your fridge went down 3F total, short of storing radioactive material in it.

When this beer is done Grognerd i'd hook your ferm chamber directly to the wall and leave it for an hour or two with a brewpi sensor in it and see if it gets down to the 35-40 range like you'd expect a fridge to get. It should happen relatively quickly i would think with nothing in it only should take 15-30 mins i'd think?
 

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Has there been any resolution to the setting reading at 1*F higher when in F? It's driving me nuts even though I know I'm actually at 53 to see the setting at 54.
 

batty

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Yea is it a mini fridge? Even then a lot of people use mini fridges here and have never reported anything like that. Over 6 hours of constant running theres no way your fridge went down 3F total, short of storing radioactive material in it.
Consider me the first to report! Glad to know I'm special :cool:

I think I said 10F before but checking, I can generally get my chamber ~ 15-20F below ambient. Works great when my apt is at 60, not so great when it's at 85.

Glad to hear confirmation the mini should be plenty of power - I'll have to focus on my insulation.
 

GrogNerd

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mine's a full-size fridge, Kenmore model 69299, manufactured in 2010

in very good shape, clean and, like I've said, got my cider down to 40° and held it for a couple weeks
yes, that's my BrewPi bottom-left. I know, I should get it tidied up.

2016-02-24 13.25.42.jpg

maybe the chamber probe is hanging too low, it's hanging below the shelf above the heater (in between PoV and the heater in the picture), maybe should get it above that shelf

2016-02-24 13.25.59.jpg
 

Elkoe

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Has there been any resolution to the setting reading at 1*F higher when in F? It's driving me nuts even though I know I'm actually at 53 to see the setting at 54.
What makes you think this is the case?
Is there a way to confirm or reproduce the behavior?
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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Has there been any resolution to the setting reading at 1*F higher when in F? It's driving me nuts even though I know I'm actually at 53 to see the setting at 54.
Ive never heard of this, conversion from C to F is pretty straight forward obviously.

Are you sure your probe's are not just out of calibration? There are ways to calibrate your probes for BrewPi documented somewhere on the brewpi site.
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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mine's a full-size fridge, Kenmore model 69299, manufactured in 2010

in very good shape, clean and, like I've said, got my cider down to 40° and held it for a couple weeks
yes, that's my BrewPi bottom-left. I know, I should get it tidied up.

View attachment 339670

maybe the chamber probe is hanging too low, it's hanging below the shelf above the heater (in between PoV and the heater in the picture), maybe should get it above that shelf

View attachment 339669
Looks good, FWIW i would point your heater away from your fermenter. You want the ambient air to adjust the entire vessel at once, not create a possible big hot spot in one location. Probably not really going to change anything, but it couldnt hurt.:mug:

Honestly i just stick my fridge probe on top of my fermenter with the tip dangling off the side and have never had any issues.
 

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Also hot air rises, so putting your heater at the top is kinda pointless.
 

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I have everything set up and running. My Temps are reading and the Web interface works but when I set a constant either fridge or beer it doesn't do anything just sits at idle. I have searched Google and found a post on the community forum from Elco but his link sends me to a bad gateway. Please help! I'm running it on a debian laptop
 

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Is BrewPi set to the temperature format you wish to use (C v F)?
If so, when you go into Advanced Settings, are all of the parameter fields filled in or are most or all of them blank?

You could dump the log and post it here...

Cheers!
 

SBOB

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I have everything set up and running. My Temps are reading and the Web interface works but when I set a constant either fridge or beer it doesn't do anything just sits at idle. I have searched Google and found a post on the community forum from Elco but his link sends me to a bad gateway. Please help! I'm running it on a debian laptop
I had this exact issue last week setting mine up.
Have you gone through the device configuration and configured the 'Cooling' and 'Heating' devices to the applicable pins (5 and 6) which determine which pin is used for which relay output (cooling and heating)

I had not, so the device remained in 'Idle' until this was valid
 
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FuzzeWuzze

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I had this exact issue last week setting mine up.
Have you gone through the device configuration and configured the 'Cooling' and 'Heating' devices to the applicable pins (5 and 6) which determine which pin is used for which relay output (cooling and heating)

I had not, so the device remained in 'Idle' until this was valid
This should fix your problems, you either didnt assign your devices to a beer(not sure if required? but i always do) or you didnt actually set one to cooling and or heating and apply it.
 

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Ok now it says it is heating but the 2 channel relay doesn't click on. Is it a lose connection between the power cord to the outlets?
 

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Ive never heard of this, conversion from C to F is pretty straight forward obviously.

Are you sure your probe's are not just out of calibration? There are ways to calibrate your probes for BrewPi documented somewhere on the brewpi site.


This is the screen for my lager chamber. My Ale chamber is similar, 'set' to 1*F higher. Even though the reading on the profile is correct and the temp is correct.
 

Brewski_59

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Ok now it says it is heating but the 2 channel relay doesn't click on. Is it a lose connection between the power cord to the outlets?
Can you turn on the relay manually by changing it from inverted to non inverted? Personally I had bad luck with the sainsmart dual relay. After a very short period of time my cooling relay stuck. And the heat relay chatters when called to activate. I swapped it out to a real SSR.
 
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