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Tilt hydrometer for temperature control

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happyduke

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I'm not sure if someone else has already done this so I decided to share this idea with you.
So once I bought a Tilt hydrometer which I'm very pleased with I started thinking of how else I can use it so that those 135 bucks are paid off. I came up with this idea of a fully wireless fermenter-agnostic temperature controller.

So what I did is I bought a Raspberry Pi 3 which has Bluetooth so that it can read a Tilt temperature readings. I also needed some kind of relay to switch on/off the heating/cooling device so I decided to make things simpler and bought a TP-Link HS 100 smart plug, this guy connects to your Wifi so that you can switch it on or off and since the Raspberry also connects to the same Wifi network it can control the plug as well. So I've written a small app that runs on Raspberry Pi and here's how it works – every 1 minute it reads the Tilt's current temperature and turns the plug on or off based on the setting I provided to it.

I've been using this thing for about 8 months for both summer and winter fermentation and to control my kegerator temperature. Overall I'm very pleased with the results.
According to Tilt FAQs it has up to 1F error so it's pretty accurate. You also get the readings from the inside of the fermenter/keg which is really nice since even commercial kegerators can't do that and you also don't need to mess up with those thermowells or duct tapes outside of the fermenters. And more importantly, it works with any vessel.

Here's the picture of my recently brewed batch (Raspberry is glued on the fridge door), I ferment in a keg so it's still in primary.




Anyways, if you guys are interested I can provide more details and photos. Cheers.
 
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jeremy2027

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Great idea, thinking outside the box for sure. Im on the fence with this raspberry pi thing trying to decide if I want to start learning about it. This is probably going to push me over into figuring it out.
 
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happyduke

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Yeah, I probably wouldn't get into learning raspberry pi if I didn't work as a software engineer in the first place, anyway, it's not too hard (it's just linux) and everything else can be shared and installed as a package. I think even Tilt's guys have something like a webpage based dashboard for raspberry.
 
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bmd2k1

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Looking at acquiring 1st tilt...

Can you set up SG targets & have it (or cloud data collection) alert u when those are reached? Is this easy to accomplish?

Thx in advance [emoji111]
 
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happyduke

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Looking at acquiring 1st tilt...

Can you set up SG targets & have it (or cloud data collection) alert u when those are reached? Is this easy to accomplish?

Thx in advance [emoji111]
It's definitely easier to do than temperature control and I've actually done it. If you don't have coding skills the Tilt guys actually provide a complete Raspberry image which might be enough for your needs. Here's it.

I honestly don't find it particularly useful since I check my SG every day in any case. Also, Tilt tends to fluctuate at the active fermentation stage and the krausen might stick to it and you will get inaccurate readings. But once fermentation is over you get pretty accurate results.
 
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happyduke

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Any concern that turning the compressor off and on too frequently will shorten its life?
Hmm, actually I didn't think about it but I can hear my regular fridge turning on/off regularly so I think it shouldn't be an issue in my case either. I've done 5 batches using that fridge so far, each batch is ~2 weeks of fermenting and 1-2 weeks of serving.
 

WestMichBrewer

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Hmm, actually I didn't think about it but I can hear my regular fridge turning on/off regularly so I think it shouldn't be an issue in my case either. I've done 5 batches using that fridge so far, each batch is ~2 weeks of fermenting and 1-2 weeks of serving.
I keep flirting with the idea of doing this myself (tilt/pi) but haven't pulled the trigger.

If I were coding it, I think I might have it only switch the fridge on or off after multiple consecutive readings over/under the target. This should prevent stressing the compressor with too many on/off cycles.
 
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happyduke

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Hi guys, I have an update on the topic.
So recently I was asked to share the code and I realized that it would be nearly impossible to set everything up for a person with no software engineering background and I came up with the solution that should be available for everyone. I used a Google spreadsheet provided by Tilt and modified it – here it is.
The original Tilt's solution just allows you to publish readings to Google Spreadsheets by either your smartphone or Tilt PI every 15 mins. So I extended that functionality to allow you to control the fermentation temperature using a smart plug.

Here's all you'll need to do:

1. Using my spreadsheet instead of Tilt's one follow their guide on how to post data to Google Spreadsheets. Once done you should see a new tab created with your latest readings. Tab name is the same as the beer name in the Tilt app.

upload_2020-1-17_13-52-9.png
2. Get a smart plug that has the possibility to be switched through the internet. This is the hardest part since different smart plugs manufacturers do it differently. But if you get an HS100 smart plug there's a great article on getting all the information needed. I tested it and it works well so I can guide you if needed.
Once you know how to control your smart plug through the internet fill in the corresponding values under `Thermostat Configuration` sheet.

upload_2020-1-17_14-4-13.png
3. Make sure that the plug is turning on/off by clicking TURN ON/TURN OFF buttons.
Screen Shot 2020-01-17 at 2.05.35 PM.png
4. Using `Thermostat Configuration` sheet put your desired temperature and mode.
`Turn off if disaster` config means that in case there was no data from Tilt for more than 30 mins the plug will be turned off.
5. The readings are published through Bluetooth so you need to either leave a dedicated device (smartphone or tablet) near the fermenter or get a Raspberry Pi and install Tilt PI on it.

And that should be it. If you need more help I'd be glad to help.
Cheers.
 
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happyduke

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Found a small issue, it turns out that the triggers are not copied with the spreadsheet so for `Turn off if disaster` you need to follow the next steps:
 

itsmedoofer

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@happyduke

Hi,

Sorry to trouble you, I've just got a Tilt and was scouring the internet on how to link it with the TP-Link smart plugs and came across this thread, exactly what I wanted, many thanks !!!

However it would seem the images in your last post here are missing, is there way you could possibly re-share these or even post, your original instructions ?

Again apologies and many thanks !

Me.
 
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happyduke

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Hi,

I'm happy to help! Looks like the images do open when you click on them but anyway I'll reattach them so they won't get lost.
Let me know if you got it to work.
 

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itsmedoofer

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Hiya,
You are the MAN !! :ban: Thanks for that REALLY appreciated, I've got a brew going at the moment, when thats finished I'm going to have a play...

Going to do some trials on a bucket of water to see what kind of control I'll be able to achieve, I've not got the luxury of the space required for a fridge so will just be looking at using a heat mat. May look and see if I can get / make some form or jacket to help stabilise things...

Again, thanks for posting your work and responding to the plea for help :)

I'll keep you posted..

Regards.
me.
 
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happyduke

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I'm glad somebody uses it :)

If you're interested I can add support for temperature range to avoid switching on and off too frequently.
 
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