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The gist of Brewery Automation Software

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sixhotdogneck

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Just trying to understand the gist of brewery automation software:

1.) I purchase micro-controllers Arduinos, LattePandas, PIC Controllers etc... and hook them up to temperature sensors, solenoid valves, SSR's, etc...
2.) The micro-controllers run TCP or HTTP servers or perhaps USB, etc...
3.) I purchase brewery automation software which then communicates with the micro-controllers and controls the devices connected to them.

What does the brewery automation software provide? How does it make things easy? What does it provide over user a PID?
 
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You first two statements are correct. I giggle at how simple you are able to make them sound, but they are 100% correct...

I would highly suggest that you read/crawl the top 3 threads in this 'Automated Brewing Forum', starting with the CraftBeerPi and BruControl.

  • Manual - no PID, switches for pumps, but manual variable control with a SSVR (potentiometer controlled SSR)
  • Discrete PID's control one thing, maybe two or three if you use relay contacts, but still only a single vessel. The best source of information on this, hands down is TheElectricBrewery.com
  • The next level up is PID's with smarts and a bit of programming for step mashes, etc, such as the Auber and their DSPR series ( I suggest the DSPR320)
  • The next level is where real 'automation' starts, and includes a webserver and even smarter software that runs on, and/or controls a single micro-controller, such as CraftBeerPi or BCS
  • The final level is software that controls multiple micro-controllers, this is where BruControl sits.
I am an electrical engineer and have personally done Manual, PID, DSPR, BCS, CBP3, and am implementing BruControl. Here are some observations:
  • Read, read, read, and find your dream system and build a system that uses as many components what will not have to be replaced as possible
  • do not heavily invest in expensive examples of one sensor type right away.. they all work fine for brewing, some are better than others, but changing from one level of automation to another usually requires a change and if you have 3-4 $30 sensors, it hurts..
  • Power supplies and relay control voltages... 5v,12v, 24v, 24vac all exist and you may need to use 2 or 3 if you get really automated..
  • buy a panel 2-4x the size you need... if you are going PID, get the biggest box Auber has with the square cutouts pre-done. $145 for a 16x16x8 includes a HUGE heatsink for SSRs, this will save time, have a professional look, and if you don't hack it up, has great resale value as a hand-me-down..
  • find someone local on here (fill out the location on your profile) and brew with them on their automated system.. an hour drive will yield a ton of knowledge and possibly group buys, hand-me-downs, and spares availability...
  • pre-made systems such as bcs and the cbp3 add-on boards are simple, but restrict you ( you will be hard pressed to get 4-20ma and RTD on a CBP3, and it ain't happening on a BCS )
  • relay boards come in active-high and active low... understand exactly what you want before buying
Finally, IMHO, from my experience the best system to start out on for a 3-vessel brewer would be the CBP3, laptop or modern tablet, build your own 1-wire temp probes, an 8ch relay board, with either with direct wiring(use good wire and dupont connectors and buy good crimpers) and using 5V PS and relays OR a CBP3 board (I used terragady 3.1 ) and 12v PS and relay boards.

and finally, RDWHAHB!
 
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Wizard_of_Frobozz

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What does the brewery automation software provide? How does it make things easy? What does it provide over user a PID?
The software is a human to machine interface. Another way of looking at it is that it creates a virtual control panel on a screen so you can change around your interface just by changing the parameters in the software. To me, that's a big advantage: I've changed my system so many times, and each time I've had to change the physical layout of my panel (or replace it altogether!) and the cost of that adds up.

Another huge benefit is the ability to program complex sequences. You can set up a mash schedule to do multiple temperature rests for different times, whirlpool at the end of the boil and automatically turn on the water to your chiller after a set period of time, automatically transfer to your fermenter once you've reached your pitching temperature, etc.
 
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sixhotdogneck

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So it provides a dynamic user interface bound to these microcontrollers that you setup/configure to do certain tasks in a certain order.

So if I have an Arduino connected to a PT100 and an SSR the software provides an interface element labeled "Mash" that can be selected and configured to do the mash but then it must also provide the control algorithms for such things like PID, simple on/off, etc...

That's pretty lofty stuff. Seems it would require a very complex system to provide value unless you like to tinker.
 
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well, a $10 PiZeroW with another $10 in things like microsd and case replace the HLT thermostat/PID, the mash PID, and the boil power controller... yes, you still need the SSR's and such, but the actual discrete PIDs do not have to be bought, and square holes do not need to be cut..

FYI - programming the PID on a CBP3 or similar is easier than a discrete PID... yes, you have to program a discrete PID too, if you try to run a RIMS on one with the default or autotune, and you will likely have a scorched element... at a minimum, copy others PID values from here on HBT or someplace like theelectricbrewery

Nothing wrong with a complete manual setup, not one bit... Yes automation is for those that like to tinker, and also those seeking repeatability... if you want to make the same beer twice, a few degrees off mash temp and a few minutes off of a mash or hop time will change a beer...

either way, crawling the CBP and BC threads will give you a wealth of information on automation..
 
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