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Micro malt house DIY for home malting automation

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mysobry

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Hi
I’m an Italian homebrewer and after experimenting brewing and DIY and automation of my equipments in different direction I have started a new project that I would like to share

The idea is not new…producing a batch of beer from A to Z from the ground to the glass. I have alredy an hop garden and late autumn this year I have planted a small ground with 2 row barley that now is growing.

What I would like to share in order to get your comment and support is my idea of micro malt house: a small all in one drum malting system that could produce 5-6 kg of base malt.

I would like to perform steeping, germination and kilning in one single box with a good level of automation (via arduino microcontroller that I'’ using successfully for brewing and fermentation)

Here is the cad design of the structure

One square box with a rotating drum inside and a removable cover, a fan heater from one side and 2 fans on the top in order to create a heating flow. Two solenoid valve for water inlet and outlet and a gear motor for drum rotation.
The drum should be removable in order to load easily and clean the box

I’m a little bit warried about the max temperature I can achieve with this single box during kilning phase since all the component are not insulated like in a oven but I think that for base malt should be enough




The drum has been refurbished from a top loading washing machine







here is the fan with the 2Kw heating element





and the two way 12V solenoid valve and the level switch





about the motor I would like to use a stepper motor that I easier to control in term of rotation and steps but I don’t know if the torque is enough



I have provided the design and the specification to a local company specialized in stainless steel precision lase cut and that is the result for the mechanical part and structure









the drum can be completely and easily removed



the motor flange can be regulated in order to stretch the belt




the hot air inlet an outlet






water port to be connected to the solenoid valve




Teflon shaft support



shaft adapter



air fin



now I’m trying to design a workflow in term of steps and action on the motor/valve/fun/heater in order to start to define the skeleton of the software program


any suggestion and comment is appreciated
Davide
 

plasmator

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Wow, that drum looks like it was made for this job! I'm guessing that top-loading washing machines in Europe are different than those here in the US. Our drums sit 'vertical' with an open top. It looks like yours sit 'horizontal' and have a door in the round wall?

Fantastic idea and repurposing of materials. If my assumptions are correct, I'm disappointed that your project won't be very easy to replicate here in the US but here's to hoping I'm wrong on that :)
 

Jim_Holmes

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looks good ill be keeping an eye on this one. for replication here in the US with our drums maybe tack a plate over our open end and cut a side door with a piano hinge and hook clasp to lock it. didnt see the inside of the drum but maybe have a plate welded inside as a conveyer to lift the barley out of the water for a bit to allow air to it. as it comes around the malt would just fall off the shelf back into the water to be picked up again as it rotates. otherwise the grain would just sit in the bottom where the water is
 

pickles

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Wow, that drum looks like it was made for this job! I'm guessing that top-loading washing machines in Europe are different than those here in the US. Our drums sit 'vertical' with an open top. It looks like yours sit 'horizontal' and have a door in the round wall?

Fantastic idea and repurposing of materials. If my assumptions are correct, I'm disappointed that your project won't be very easy to replicate here in the US but here's to hoping I'm wrong on that :)
Staber makes the same style of washing machine in Columbus, Oh. So it's possible to make it in the states.
 

dlaramie08

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What's to keep the grain from falling through the little holes in your drum?
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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Thank you for your enthusiasm for the project !
Italian homebrewer community is quite active and I enjoy a lot to share with them my project..but as you can imagine for me going overseas and be guest in your forum where DIY homebrewing approach is so spread give me great stimulus and inspiration :mug:

Coming to some question raised
I was not aware about the different apporach of the washing machine between EU and US…also here top loading model are not so spread but looking but lloking in the junkyards is not difficult to find one…unfortunately I can’t ship one to US ;)

Inside the drum there are 3 sectors / blades axially oriented , they are 3-4 cm high . I’m not sure about the level of water that is needed in the steeping phase ..I expect that the axial blade could collect some grains during drum rotation and lift the barley out of the water. Any suggestion on this ? I will provide some more picture asap

About the hole size I have a concern since are 2mm that is a little bit to big for the dry barley. There are also some little gap near the door My idea is to insert internally a very thin stainless steel woven to prevent grain exit.

Yesterday I have tested the heating fan ..just connecting to the inlet port and set the cover on top…even without 2 outlet fan there is a very good hot air air flow so I expect that I can extract easily humidity during the kilning phase

Now I will focus on the motor…do some empirical test with some step motor I have to understand if the torque is enough or I have to switch to a gear motor (the one used for rotisserie)

Stay tuned
Davide
 

dlaramie08

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You may want to make sure that your motor can turn relatively fast as this ability to tumble quickly will help get rid of the rootlets after kilning.
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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You may want to make sure that your motor can turn relatively fast as this ability to tumble quickly will help get rid of the rootlets after kilning.
to be honest I have not thought about this final phase...I was more oriented to a manual removal of the rootles with a sieve

But I got the suggestion and the more I can automate the best is !

Davide
 

biertourist

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When you're steeping are you going to drain the tank multiple times to perform air rests or are you aerating / oxygenating your steep water? (I didn't see any aeration stone, so I'm assuming you'll drain the tank and do an air rest.)

Agreed, this is super, SUPER interesting. Fully in the "nano" malting house realm, though.
Relfectix-type insulation would certainly help you reach higher temps and get your efficiency way up...

I've long wondered about using a series of highly modified stacked round animal water troughs for micro malting myself as a way to mimick a modern tower malt house at a micro malt house scale.

Think these guys stacked on top of one another: http://cliftonfeed.com/catalog/product/28707/round-galvanized-water-trough#.UulyQBBdWks

And a look at one layer of one of the big guys' tower malt houses: http://www.buhlergroup.com/global/images/News_HOLLAND_MALT_project_Superlative_malthouse.jpg

The rotating washer drum setup still seems like the best way to go for roasted malts and / or coffee beans, though.
Adam
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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When you're steeping are you going to drain the tank multiple times to perform air rests or are you aerating / oxygenating your steep water? (I didn't see any aeration stone, so I'm assuming you'll drain the tank and do an air rest.)


Adam
Hi adam than you for suggestion

for steeping I would use the first option simulating tidal cycle trugh the two ball valve controlled by my microcontroller. Areation should be performed by the drum rotation even during the water phase

Davide
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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Some little progress on the project

I have ordered two fans slim line 12 cm (PC fan ) to insert in the top ..on the opposite side of the heating element.





They are used to extract hot air flow from the box generating a constant flow (they are rated 41 m³/h ) inside supporting the inlet fan
In order to avoid over heating of the plastic chassis I have used dedicated silicon “screw” the keep the fans in place without contact with metal case



Tested with heating element on and I’m able to reach easily 80C measuring hot hair exiting the fan



now I have to work on drum rotation..not so easy to find proper belt and pulley

stay tuned
Davide
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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The project is a little bit slowing down and I'm working to traction control waiting for new pulley and belt

In the meanwhile I'm doing some experiment with manual malting process according to BYO recent article with locally produced barley.

now steeping



stay tuned
Davide
 

morticaixavier

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very slick!

I've been experimenting with homemalting but nothing like that. just some mason jars and a food dehydrator. I like your's better
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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I'm continuing my manual experiment at home

After 3 cycle of water-air rest of 12 hours at 15C the germination has started regularly and after 24 hours first rootlets appear







I have left the barley in a fresh room mixing sometimes and after one week of germination I have tried to understand acrospire development



Is not so clear to me what to observe but I have dissected some grains and to me seems that the length is below 50% of the total so I still wait for drying

stay tuned
Davide
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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I have progressed a little bit also on the malthouse equipment

I have bought two timing belts 1,5cm wide with 2,5mm step and a proper pulley to insert on the stepper motor shaft



Than I have used one of the belts in order to make the wash machine pulley that is originally smooth a sort of coghwheel. I cut the belt and I stuck on the wheel





Than I have tested the assembly connecting the stepper motor to a H-bridge driver based on LM298 and an Arduino Uno controller where I have loaded a basic stepper motor sketch



This is the result.. it seems to work!

[ame=http://youtu.be/awmj4AM9UFo]http://youtu.be/awmj4AM9UFo[/ame]

Unfortunately the bipolar motor absorption exceeds the 2A of the driver so after a while the heating protection starts
Next step source a more powerful driver

Davide
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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Bought a new stepper motor driver and now the drum rotation is ok (even much lower noise)

http://forum.hobbycomponents.com/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=1371
is tipically used for high torque high current CNC stepper motor, lot of feature and simple to interface to arduino

short video of the rotation
[ame="http://youtu.be/IW_C9lQ7NW8"]http://youtu.be/IW_C9lQ7NW8[/ame]

So the transmission issue has been fixed, heating and fans seem ok, I have to test water and solenoid valve / level sensor

stay tuned
Davide
 

makokiller

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How much have you spent on this? Grain is pretty cheap, looks nice though. How many pounds can you get in there?
 
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mysobry

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Unless the malt house project is proceeding slowly due to time contains and other project priority the barley is growing well



hope to have some spare time to complete the malt house automation before the barley harvest !

Davide
 
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mysobry

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Harvesting time is quite close and my barley field has changed greatly in the last months
Unlikely lot of Zizania (wild rice?) started to grow and in some area overhang the barley

two weeks ago






Yesterday









Like in the bible I have to find a way to separate the “good form the bad” ..if someone has an idea how to perform this is welcome

The harvesting will be manual and I keep you posted about my labors :)

Davide
 

nosnhojm20

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Excellent! Where in Italy are you? I have family in Treviso that I should be visiting this Summer. I hope you're close!


Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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You are welcome and more than happy to drink a beer with you but I live in Turin area on north west of Italy while Treviso is in north east...in case drop me a pm
Ciao and have a nice stay in Italy
 

Bucky_Brewer

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Wow, Mysobry, that's a brilliant bit of fabrication. :rockin:

And I think that's a good idea that you are doing some manual malting. You will probably learn of few things doing things manually that will make your automated malter even better.
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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Wow, Mysobry, that's a brilliant bit of fabrication. :rockin:

And I think that's a good idea that you are doing some manual malting. You will probably learn of few things doing things manually that will make your automated malter even better.
Thank you very appreciated !

About manual approach I think I have also to make barley harvest manually..my little field is too little for big machine and moreover some "zizzania" has overrun my poor barley



This week end i can enjoy with hard manual work..with 34c degree

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mysobry

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Today I have tried to harvest barley regardless the huge amount of "zizzania"
I have used the manual method with sickle ...it has been quite hard and I'm not so satisfied with the result and due to the amount of wild grass I have collected all together



Now I distributed over a tarpaulin In order to dry and the idea is to trash beating with a wood clapper

I'm little bit demoralized but determined to collect some kg of row barley to malt for at least a batch of beer

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day_trippr

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Don't be discouraged, you're like lightyears ahead of us in the peanut gallery that wouldn't even consider working so hard for grain!

Looking forward to your inaugural home grown brew :)

Cheers!
 
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mysobry

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This we I have continued with the manual approach trying to get some grain from the harvested barley

Going back to the ancient method I have built a special tool in order to beat the barley on the ground

After a couple of hour of work I was able to get some seeds and strow..and using a DIY sieve I did a first selection

I hope after next selection process to get at least enough grain for a batch

Davide

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mysobry

mysobry

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I have collected the minimum amount of grains after the manual thrashing and I try to separate the good from the bad using a sieve and a 12v fan
The result is not so bed after 2-3 cycle even if the small seeds of zizzagna are still present. I think I can eliminate them during the soaking phase since I expect they will float.

My estimation is to produce 5-6 kg of base malt for at least one batch

Davide

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Spellman

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Impressive doesn't even come close to describing what you have done! As for next season I think building a thresher will be at the top of your list. On youtube there are tons of videos of people using small cobbled together ones that I'm sure you could easily fabricate yourself (and seeing what you have done already, improve upon!) The hours spent building one will save you probably equal hours using the flail in the first season alone, and probably increase your harvested yield. Plus you can sip on a beer while building it! Cutting the barley by hand is probably going to be the best you could hope for without getting larger tractor operated equipment. I would recommend trying to keep the cuttings in bundles or at least with the seeds all at one end in stacks. That will give you much less headache later trying to separate them. As for the weeds, short of pulling them by hand, you will need to find a small grain herbicide that would not kill the barley, not sure what they have in Italy. I hope to see the final product for the ultimate grain to glass!
 
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mysobry

mysobry

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Thank you spellman for support and encouragement, very appreciated!
My starting point as DIY and technology enthusiast was little bit different: build an all in one fully automated micro malt house (see the initial part of the post)
Then in order to experiment the manual malting process I was looking for some row barley and I realize that is almost impossible to find few kg of 2row virgin barley... So I decide to produce by myself..even more challenging and exiting.

I have studied a lot the basic of barley growing and I got some good suggestion from local professional farmers but nevertheless the harvest result is poor..very poor and I'm frustrated by this and not sure next year I will try again.
For sure I have done some mistakes in growing and doing everything manually complicate the story but there is something I still don't know how to fix. I'm referring to herbicide usage...it seems mandatory if you don't want your barley destroyed by zizzania but I want to be organic as much as possible

Does anyone have experience in organic barley growth ?
Any natural treatment to prevent such a huge amount of grass?

Now I try to get at the end of this adventure than I go back to the initial project scope: the micro map house

Stay tuned
Davide
 

Tsultan

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Did you ever manufacture your steeping, germination and kilning machine? If the results were successful, I would be interested in buying one from you.
 

dbaltus

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Dear Davide, I do not know how far you could get with this project but I am extremely interested in it . Would you give me some update ? Grazzie mille
 
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mysobry

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Hi
Project still in stand by due to other priorities
Davide
 

harryhekker

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A very sympathetic project.

Process temperature of steeping and germination is around 12-14ºC or 53.6-57.2ºF. That temperature should somehow be attained and held. Otherwise sprouting will be to fast, uncontrolled and/or uneven. I didn’t see or missed any temperature control.

Next is moisture, there should be some kind of moisture measurement and control, because moisture will slowly evaporate in the process of germination.

Details that should be addressed. I hope it will, if not by Davide, maybe by someone else. Because a low cost nano-malting is not only good for home brewing, but also for research into terroir and possible promising alternative grain-types. That last purpose is my point of interest. Problem is always the same: R&D is a slow, time and money consuming affair that doesn’t bring any revenues.

Hopefully we can turn the concept into a global crowd-design project.
 

brieuxster

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One organic method of weed control is to chop off the seed head of the wild grass when it is not mature and leave the plant as mulch for the barley. In one of your photos you can see the wild grass is taller than the barley crop.

If you have a longer growing season than the barley requires you may be able to fit in some extra cultivation to allow the weed seeds to sprout and the fledgling plants worked into the ground.
 

kshuler

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Beautiful project! I might have to try this. Have access to a farm where Barley is grown, but I think it is feed barley... hopefully it will work, as well.
 
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mysobry

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Thank you for your interest

still in design phase hope to complete in autumn this year

stay tuned
Davide
 

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