Magic Chef (mcbc580dbt) wine/beverage fridge to fermenter conversion

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misin4mati0n

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I joined Home Brew Talk back in 2010 to learn about brewing. Well 4+ years I finally made my first batch on 1/1/2015.

It seems that I have opened Pandora's box and couldn't be more excited. After racking my first brew into my carboy I couldn't figure out where to store it during fermentation. A few hours went by and I finally decided on re-purposing my unused wine fridge, much to my delight the carboy fit perfectly and without refrigeration or heating my temps were almost perfect. Then I had to go and look at all the awesome fermentation chamber builds on here and next thing you know I placed an Amazon order for an STC-1000, a heater and a few other little parts. I am really happy with how my build turned out so I figured why not share it with you all.

I forgot to take a before shot so here is one I found online. I have used the STC-1000 controller before and it seemed to be very close in size to the factory display.


First thing I did was remove the 2 screws that held up the temp controller housing and remove it from the fridge.



Removed the display and light bulb.




After taking out the 4 gold screws and factory temperature controller I decided to test fit the STC-1000. It fit with no modifications to the factory housing.




I decided to add standard outlets to the sides of the housing. One will be for the heater and the other is turned on and off with the fridge's compressor(eventually I would like to install a fan to circulate the cold air).



Marked my layout with a grease pencil, drilled starter holes and then made my cuts.




Installed the outlets.





I drilled a hole towards the back of the housing to run my temperature probe out.



Wired everything up. Black being neutral, Brown is Hot and Red to the compressor wire. (pardon the mediocre soldering job, I left my good iron at work)



This is the factory connector inside of the fridge. the blue wire is neutral, brown is hot, and red is the compressor line. If you were to short the brown and red wires it will turn on the compressor. The smaller connector with the white and black wires run to the factory temperature probe and deicing sensor.



I cut off the connector. and connected up my new temp controller.





Once I tested everything with the controller hanging there I screwed it back onto the fridge and retested using a cup of hot water and a cup of ice water.





I am more than pleased with the way it came out. I plan on getting a thermowell in the near future so I can have more accurate liquid temp readings. Until then tape will do.



You can even see the display from the outside of the fridge (not sure why the 9 in 19.5 is missing)



Cheers, and thanks for looking
 
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misin4mati0n

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Thanks, Im really happy with how it turned out.

I did make one more modification last night. I installed a mono headphone jack into the hole where the temperature probe exited the housing. Wired the jack to the STC-1000 and wired the probe to the plug. So now I am able to remove the temperature probe for cleaning or swap it out with different length probes.
 
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misin4mati0n

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Had a few more ideas for the ferm chamber on my way to work this morning. I am going to see if I can tap into the on board 12v power system of the STC-1000 to power a few more accessories. I'm thinking a DIY stir plate and a strip of LEDs so I can see into the chamber better without having to open the door. Ill will take some more pictures as I go.
 
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misin4mati0n

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I put in some work last night and I am really happy with how it turned out. Sorry for the cellphone pics, didnt feel like dragging out the big camera.

My goal with this was to tap into the 12v rail of the STC-1000 so I could power a stir plate and set of LED lights.

First off, if you power on the stc-1000 with out a temperature probe attached the on board buzzer screeches, so to get around having a giant wire attached to the device while I tested voltages I used an old resistor I had laying around.



Next stem was to find 12v somewhere on the board. I ended up using the ground pad and a +side of one of the relays. It seems that the relays have a switched ground.



Added some hot glue just to be safe.



Ran the wire out the back and added a connector.





Wired in a barrel connector for the stir plate and ran wires out the back for the LEDs. The headphone jack at the back is for the temp probe.





Added a barrel plug to my stir plate (fan, hard drive magnet and a pot)



And here is the finished product. For now, LEDs are on their way.





Now its time to make some more beer!
 

orangehero

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Looks great! I did an almost identical conversion to mine, except I used heat tape velcroed to the wall and small cable glands since I figure I would never be disconnecting anything.

The newer model of this wine fridge already comes with a small fan in the back. I wonder if you could rewire the space heater so you can just turn the fan on by itself.

Are you running STC-1000+?

Why do you need a stir plate in there?
 
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misin4mati0n

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I just got a new STC1000 in and flashed it with the + firmware, I just haven't installed it yet.

There is another outlet on the opposite side of the heater outlet, I was thinking about installing a 110v fan on that outlet so it circulates the air when the fridge is cooling. If I find one at the right price I'll pick it up but I'm in no rush.

I put the connector for the stir plate in there so I can do starters in the garage where the girlfriend can't hear it. She is not a fan of the sound the stir bar makes. The wire is long enough that I can run it in the fridge or on top depending on the tempature in the garage.
 
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misin4mati0n

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Started my cold crash last night. In about 7 hours the fridge only went down about 10°c. I didn't want to leave it on today when I was at work so I moved the carboy over to the kegerator. I am going to see if the fridge can get down to around 1°c this weekend when I can keep an eye on the compressor. I don't want to kill it after doing all this work.
 
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misin4mati0n

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Mine can reach 1°C with a 1-2°C per hour temp drop (probe covered with insulation against carboy).
Thanks for the info. Sounds like I just didn't give it enough time. I am just paranoid about leaving things like this running for the first time when I'm not home. For the first 3 days I had the stc-1000 installed I only ran the fermenter when I was home. Then I let it run for the weekend and decided it was safe.
 

progmac

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i have this fridge too. i bought mine for $10, broken, and fixed it easily...this model has a really terrible relay that is really easy to fix.

right now i'm controlling temps by modifying the internal therm but i'd love to set up a legit controller like you did

mine does not have the fan in the back. it was imperative to add a fan. the temperature stratification was terrible otherwise.
 
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misin4mati0n

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i have this fridge too. i bought mine for $10, broken, and fixed it easily...this model has a really terrible relay that is really easy to fix.

right now i'm controlling temps by modifying the internal therm but i'd love to set up a legit controller like you did

mine does not have the fan in the back. it was imperative to add a fan. the temperature stratification was terrible otherwise.
I got mine from a buddy for 20, he had already fixed the relay, and there was a fan in the back.:ban:
 

augiedoggy

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Impressive!
I use the same fridge as a fermenter with a stc1000 clone however I just bought an adruino to reflash one of my real stc 1000 s to a 1000+... I thought about mounting mine in that spot as well since right now everything goes through holes drilled into the side..
 

FatDragon

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I opened this thread hoping to get some ideas for messing with my wine fridge so I can control the compressor directly with the STC-1000 and bypass the pesky 12C minimum of the fridge's thermostat for lagering and cold crashing.

What I got was a sense of inadequacy. Looks like it's time to order some of those pills from my spam folder...

But really, this is incredible. Like finishing a great novel, I want to go out and do this now. Great work!
 

dordelli

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Great thread, been wanting to try and convert my Magic Chef Wine Fridge to a kegerator and just this morning was comparing my spare stc 1000 to the current thermo and had the thought that it might just fit inside the same housing, I am excited to make this mod to mine. My goal in adding the STC is to get the fridge down below the 39 degree cutoff, can anyone comment on results to get these things to maintain temps below the 39 degree limit? And I get that random EEF error on my fridge, I should prob address that relay issue while I am into it, can someone steer me to the fix?
 
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misin4mati0n

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Great thread, been wanting to try and convert my Magic Chef Wine Fridge to a kegerator and just this morning was comparing my spare stc 1000 to the current thermo and had the thought that it might just fit inside the same housing, I am excited to make this mod to mine. My goal in adding the STC is to get the fridge down below the 39 degree cutoff, can anyone comment on results to get these things to maintain temps below the 39 degree limit? And I get that random EEF error on my fridge, I should prob address that relay issue while I am into it, can someone steer me to the fix?

I have 2 of these now. Both the older model as pictured in this thread, and the newer one wit ha 12v fan in the back. Both of them are able to hit the low 30s(F) using the stc1000. I regularly use them for cold crashing and keg storage. As for how well they hold that temp im not sure, but every time I check them they are within .5 degrees of my target temp.

When I first did the conversion I was having some issues with the factory temp controller, it would pop very loudly every hour or so, I have not had an issue after converting to the stc1000. Not sure what the EEF error on the factory controller is but swapping it out will probably do the trick.
 

dordelli

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I have 2 of these now. Both the older model as pictured in this thread, and the newer one wit ha 12v fan in the back. Both of them are able to hit the low 30s(F) using the stc1000. I regularly use them for cold crashing and keg storage. As for how well they hold that temp im not sure, but every time I check them they are within .5 degrees of my target temp.
I actually have two of them as well but the wine cooler versions, I think they are same exact as the beverage model except different shelving. I get that EEF error pretty regularly on both fridges and seems it could be caused by condensation on the wiring? My fridges gotta be 6-7 yrs old by now, so based on the reviews I feel pretty lucky they've lasted as long as they have, knock on wood.

Now that you have overridden the stock thermo, do u get any frosting issues?
 

dordelli

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One other question, I found a conversation on a different forum, where they discuss shorting the two pins that sit next to the speaker and then using the up/down arrows on the stock unit u can change the calibration of the thermo, so even though the unit thinks its cooling to 39, u can actually get it to cool to say 35. Can anyone confirm this works or not?
 
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misin4mati0n

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I actually have two of them as well but the wine cooler versions, I think they are same exact as the beverage model except different shelving. I get that EEF error pretty regularly on both fridges and seems it could be caused by condensation on the wiring? My fridges gotta be 6-7 yrs old by now, so based on the reviews I feel pretty lucky they've lasted as long as they have, knock on wood.

Now that you have overridden the stock thermo, do u get any frosting issues?
I do get a decent layer of ice on the back wall of the fridge when I cold crash. The longest I have had the temp blow 50 is about 3 weeks. The STC1000 does not have any defrost ability. You will have to do that manually if you are going to keep low temps for extended periods of time. I wonder if EEF is the defrost mode on that factory temp controller.

One other question, I found a conversation on a different forum, where they discuss shorting the two pins that sit next to the speaker and then using the up/down arrows on the stock unit u can change the calibration of the thermo, so even though the unit thinks its cooling to 39, u can actually get it to cool to say 35. Can anyone confirm this works or not?
STC1000s are so cheap that I didnt even bother messing around with the stock controller.
 

MisterShah

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Sorry for digging up such an old thread, but I was wondering if you had to adjust the probe due to the speaker jack mod. I was contemplating doing the same thing, but thought it might increase resistance throwing off the reading.
 

dordelli

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Sorry for digging up such an old thread, but I was wondering if you had to adjust the probe due to the speaker jack mod. I was contemplating doing the same thing, but thought it might increase resistance throwing off the reading.
I ended up just removing the stock controller and replaced with an stc controller, been working great! Fits in the exact same opening and was really easy!
 
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misin4mati0n

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Sorry for digging up such an old thread, but I was wondering if you had to adjust the probe due to the speaker jack mod. I was contemplating doing the same thing, but thought it might increase resistance throwing off the reading.
There was no noticeable increase in resistance. I have tested the accuracy of the probe in hot and cold water and it is still spot on.
 

MisterShah

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Thanks! I actually just got the exact same fridge over the weekend on CL, this guide is going to come in quite handy. It seems this fridge is absolutely perfect for homebrew fermentation!
 
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misin4mati0n

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It is the perfect size and depth for buckets and carboys. I have 2 of them now. I am also constantly looking for conical fermenters that will fit in the fridges. So far most of them are too tall.
 

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