My BruControl UniFlex review

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h22lude

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Early this year I purchased a UniFlex V1 from Pete at BruControl. It has taken me a little while to get it all going with work and family stuff but it is all set up. I wanted to post a little bit about it for those that don’t know what it is and give my opinion about it.

Quick little background on me. I’ve been brewing for about 15 years. Started extract then quickly went to all-grain. First all-grain system was a single kettle using propane and mash tun cooler. After a few years of that, I switched to single vessel eBIAB using a non BruControl controller. I then adapted that to use two vessels. That worked ok but since the controller was built for single vessel, I had to move power cables and tubes around which got annoying fast. That is when I started looking at BruControl and the UniFlex.

Before I get into the UniFlex, I’ll quickly go over BruControl. Pete has described BruControl perfectly on the homepage of his site so I’ll just link that here (BruControl – Process Automation Made Personal). In my own words, BruControl is software to control anything and everything within your brewery. It can be as manual or automated as you want it to be. Do you want electric brewing with software that logs data but still want to hit buttons manually? You can do that with BruControl. Do you want a fully automated hands-off system? BruControl can do that as well. Do you want something to control fermentation temp and log data? BruControl does that too. And everything in between.

Prior to the UniFlex, the end user had to piece together and build a controller themselves. For me, this was a barrier to entry as I didn’t know much at all about what parts were needed or how to wire them all together. Pete does have great schematics on his site but it was still a little over my head. This is where the UniFlex comes in. It is a prebuilt controller that uses BruControl as the software to control everything. Exactly what I needed!

When ordering the UniFlex, you have a few options you can pick from to best suite your needs. With no options, you can control one heating element and one pump/accessory. You can add a second element power output and a second pump/accessory power output. You can upgrade the SSR to a proportional SSR and you can add a DIN rail for wall mounting. And the last option you can add is integrated user input/outputs (which is needed to be able to control/read valves, DC pumps, flow meters, volume sensors, pH meters, etc). For my needs, I bought all available options.

If you don’t want automation (i.e. valves, meters, sensors), you probably wouldn’t need the integrated I/O. If you don’t get the I/O, the UniFlex will be plug and play. Plug in all the power cords, plug in temp probes (up to 10 total with adapters), set up BruControl with the UniFlex on your home network and start using it.

If you add the I/O connection option, there will be some wiring that you need to do (but I promise, it is very simple). Each device needs power and you also need to wire the UniFlex I/O wires to each device. I found it was best to build an enclosure to hold all these connections. An enclosure will also make it very easy to add devices later on. Below is a picture of my enclosure. There are three block terminals. Red is for power, black is for neutral and the colored is for the I/O wires from the UniFlex. I have an external 12V 5A power supply going to the red and black terminals. This is where the devises will get their power. Positive side goes to the red terminal and negative side goes to the black terminal. The devices now have power just as if I plugged them into an outlet. Now I need the UniFlex to communicate with those devices. That is what the I/O wires are for. There are a total of 20 I/O wires. 19 of them go to the colored block terminal (the 20th wire is ground which is tied into the black terminal). From the colored terminal, those wires are then wired into the devices. Wiring of each device will depend on the device you are using. This was just to get power to the devices. No worrying about what boards or components to buy and how to wire them. That’s all done within the UniFlex.

My review of the UniFlex – The UniFlex has exceeded all of my expectations. I wanted to use BruControl for automation but didn’t want to learn how to put all the components together. UniFlex does exactly that. There was some wiring with the I/Os but as I mentioned above, it is all wiring low voltage power to give power to devices, which was very easy. The build is very high quality. Nothing feels cheap or plasticy. No matter your brewing set up, whether it is single vessel eBIAB, single e-kettle with cooler mash tun, two vessel or even 3 vessel electric setup, UniFlex can handle it all. The big standout with UniFlex is being able to use BruControl. I highly recommend the UniFlex to anyone looking to get into electric brewing or upgrade from their current controller.

If you have any questions about it, I’d gladly try to answer them but I do believe Pete is also pretty active on a few different forums. And as I mentioned, he is very quick at responding to emails (topnotch customer service).
 

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SaltNeck

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That's a great setup! Can you share the specs on the computer you are using to control the Uniflex (i.e. run BruControl) and where is it located?
 
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h22lude

h22lude

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That's a great setup! Can you share the specs on the computer you are using to control the Uniflex (i.e. run BruControl) and where is it located?
It's just an old Microsoft Surface Pro my wife had that she wasn't using anymore. Probably over 8 years old. I went with that because it has touchscreen and BruControl supports touchscreen. Right now I'm not using scripts. It is all manual so the touchscreen is nice. I'll buy a monitor once I go fully automated.

Right now I keep the Surface on my workspace. Once I get a monitor, I'll build a stand for it near my brewing setup and keep the Surface tucked away somewhere.
 

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