Old Fridge Turned Computer Controlled Fermentation Chamber

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jcdillin

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So as if I didn't have enough projects around the house :)

In the spare few minutes I have here and there i've been working on converting an old side by side fridge into a fermentation chamber.

My plan is to keep the sides separated so that I can run two different temperatures. I am going to have a computer fan in the duct that connects the two chambers that will cycle on and off to blow cold air from the freezer to the fridge side.

Here is the fridge as I started out. I first removed the ice maker since I needed the space and it ended up being the perfect place to mount the controller and LCD. I'm going to paint a piece of plexiglass black and mount the LCD and encoder to it. I should also be able to fit the control relays to turn the compressor on and off.



Here you can see the inside of the freezer door, i'm going to be replacing the panel that went here with a simple sheet of thin plexi. The original door cover had all the pockets for the freezer and the ice maker which make it very deep.



Here is the inside of the fridge compartment, I still have to build the wooden shelves for the carboys/kegs. It has enough room to stack 2 sanke kegs on top of one another with room to spare. I am going to be fermenting in the kegs now.



This is a picture of the duct that runs from the top of the freezer section to the top of the fridge section. I'm going to be putting a computer fan into this hole to pull the cold air over from the freezer. I don't have a picture here but I removed the duct that goes from the cooling unit to this hole so that when the fridge is running it no longer blows cold air into the chamber on it's own. I'm hoping since cold air falls that it will allow me to accurately control the chamber temp. If not I may have to figure out some sort of valve that will close when the fan is off.

 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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And finally you can see the freezer section which holds one corny on the bottom and 2 on the top. I still have to replace that metal basket with a wood shelf. I'm not sure if I want to use it for conditioning or just make a 2nd kegerator for the brewshed :)

 

MMW

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What are you using for the controller? Arduino?

Arduino with the little wireless shields (xbee, I think) would kick butt. Check/change temps from the office/road/living room :rockin:
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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What are you using for the controller? Arduino?

Arduino with the little wireless shields (xbee, I think) would kick butt. Check/change temps from the office/road/living room :rockin:
Very close to it, we are using the sanguino.

Since i'm the hardware developer for the BrewTroller, we've been working on new firmware that you can upload to a BrewTroller that will turn it into a fermentation controller. That way you can use the same hardware for either purpose.

It allows for full logging output so if you attach it to a computer you could log to a file to keep tabs on everything. One of our users is currently working on a remote control software that will allow you see values and make changes to settings from a web interface. I know he is working on it for the brewing side, hopefully he will extend it to the fermenting side as well. :)
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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That is an awesome little board, if I didn't already have all the hardware I would be considering that one. The only thing I would hate is not being able to see the current temps on the display of the unit.
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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Ok so I got a bit more done on it last night.

I went to lowes and bought a piece of acrylic that is .220 thick. I cut the holes out for the LCD, Encoder, Three LED's and the all important power switch. One LED is for power and the other two are to show heat/cool status of each side.

Here is the piece before I painted it.



I painted the backside to make it a nice glossy color and to have the front of the control panel perfectly smooth.

First coat of paint, not really dry yet.



The end result, damn thing is really reflective. Hard to get a picture without being in it :)



And finally here it is mocked up on the fridge in the door water/ice location.



Now I just have to mount the LCD to the back of the panel and screw it into the door. I still have to mount the plate on the back of the door to cover that hole up.
 

illnastyimpreza

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awsome ! I want one of those someday ! Right now I'm getting by with a small mini fridge kegerator that holds 2 cornies. But I would LOVE to have a sweet side by side seetup like that one ! kegerator on one side, and fermentation chamber on the other ! :D
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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They can be had cheap on craigslist. I've seen them for free many times.
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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So I was able to get some more work done on the ferm chamber.

I didn't get a picture of it but I mounted a thin wood panel to the back of the freezer door to replace the plastic tub I took out. I rerouted some of the wires that come into the old ice dispenser in the door. That way I could have power and have the lines to turn the fridge off and on. I also ran a wire to the fridge chamber for the temp probe.

Here you can see everything hooked up, I still have to mount the encoder and LCD onto the control panel but this was to be sure everything is working.
The main screen here shows the temp of each zone and will display a C for cooling or H for heating the zone.


Here you can see the Zone 1 status, which is the old freezer section, this will now be the kegerator section.



This is the Zone 2 status which is the old fridge section and will be the fermentation chamber.

 

bendavanza

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That's a sweet setup, and you would have the option of doing lager and ale temps simultaneously, or serving temps with ferm temps. Nice!
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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Yup, I was originally going to cut the middle out and make it one big chamber, but I can fit 2 15 gal kegs in the fridge section which is more than enough for me for now.

I can fit 3 cornie kegs into the old freezer section so I think will be putting 3 taps on the freezer door.
 

pickles

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How did the Dryer vent louver work out? Does it seal in the cold well enough?
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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Never needed it, since the old vent was at the top of the fridge, the cold air naturally falls to the bottom so unless the fan sucks it through the fridge side stays at the set temp.
 

ArtVandelay

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I had to bump this since I've been looking around on this site forever for someone trying to do a similar thing. I have the almost identical fridge and am doing a kegerator on freezer side and ferm chamber on the fridge side. Adding a computer fan to blow cold air over as well.

Mine is a little less fancy though as I'm just using a love controller.

Have any pics of your completed kegerator? Looks like you have an awesome plan



I added a shelf about 6 inches off the ground to clear the hump on the freezer side so I can fit two kegs deep. Then above I just have shelves for other storage.
 
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jcdillin

jcdillin

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Looks great! That is a great idea for the freezer side. I currently just use mine for keg storage, I have 1 keg on the bottom and 2 sitting on a shelf above that.

I'm currently in the process of redoing mine now that i'm happy the way it works. I'll post some pictures later this week.
 

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