First Brew day of 2013
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    I've been recently working on a new(ish) microcontroller(MC) controlled brew rig. I mostly did this because I needed a senior project last fall. I tore apart my old system which was an auber PID unit heating a 5500W element in my BK. This was my first foray into programming and control systems and I think I have found a new career direction because of it. Lots of fun. Anyways, onto the pictures.

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    Explaining my setup a bit, the desktop you see houses the MC, a new enclosure is in the works but I had an old tower laying in the garage so I re-purposed it. Beneath it, is my BK with the same old 5500W heating element. (It's not actually right under the MC, about 3 ft out from the wall.) The corny is my HLT/HERMS unit. The previous owner had installed a SS coil inside the corny as a wine fermenting project. The insulation wrapped keg is my MLT. The MC has a bluetooth unit installed on it so I can actually run this rig from an android app but since this was my first brew, I decided to use my laptop to troubleshoot in case anything went wrong. Next time I will clean up the whole apparatus, this was a purely test brew.

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    Mash in. I will post the recipe at the end.

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    This is the HERMS coil I was talking about earlier. Also pictured is the thermoprobe and possibly the 1500W heating element on the bottom.

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    Damn, that's the clearest wort I've ever seen coming out of a mash tun.

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    Sparging.

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    Waiting for the boil. And my feet.

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    So here we have the simple GUI I made in the processing language. Processing.org In this pic, my BK heating element is on, set to 60% power. The HLT reads -196F because I had already unplugged the temp probe from the system. This is a super simpe GUI that I made just so I could start brewing again. It was killing me not to.

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    Some of us had been discussing boil strength on a previous thread and I just wanted to take a quick pic to show what is 'normal' for me. Also pictured is my hop spider (one of the best things I've made for my system).

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    Chilling. The fat short keg is a 7.5 gal that I like to ferment in.

    That's pretty much it. I am open to comments, questions, and concerns. The system is GFCI protected at my breaker panel so please don't freak out about my plugs. This is a rough first draft of what I hope it will become in the future. I can and will email out my code for the MC and processing if anyone asks me for it.
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    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    I didn't bother to put the recipe in any brewing program so this is just had written.

    Red Skies - IPA
    10 lb vienna malt
    2 lb carared
    Ramp mashed from 135-155 over 65 min (I was just playing with HERMS right here, no reason in particular I did this other than that)

    1 oz Columbus @45 min 15.4%AA pellet
    .5 oz Citra @0 min 14.0%AA pellet
    .5 oz Simcoe @0 min 13.5%AA pellet
    0 min hops were whirlpooled for 45 min @ 175F
    .5 oz Columbus dry hop @5 days into primary
    .5 oz Citra dry hop @5 days into primary
    .5 oz Simcoe dry hop @5 days into primary
    Dry hops will be left in primary for 5 days and then kegged (I'm doing this because I'm hoping that the finishing touches of primary will scrub a bit of the grassiness away.)

    45 min boil

    WLP001 Cali Ale yeast
    64F fermentation.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    It was a pretty easy brew day. I need to get a few more brews under my belt before I relearn how to brew and get adjusted to this system.

    Immediate improvements include a MLT temp probe. I'm an idiot for thinking that I didn't need one. Increased amount of dough in water needed. Having a 5 gal corny with an under powered element as an HLT has it's limitations.

    I'm looking forward to brewing again soon.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 79,348
    Off the top of my mildly intoxicated head...

    Nice slippers. I have a pair like that.
    Badass. The whole thing.
    Hop spider - off topic, but, you use pellet hops? Works well?
    What kind of plate chiller is that? Like it?
    And the last thought, really, badass. I'd like to automate at some point just for the fun of it. Not really full on automate, really just implement control software.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 107,910
    Great write up. What do you have at the bottom of your mlt?
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    C_dubbs said:

    Off the top of my mildly intoxicated head...
    Nice slippers. I have a pair like that.



    Love them.

    Badass. The whole thing.
    Hop spider - off topic, but, you use pellet hops? Works well?


    Typically I use leaf hops, but citra and simcoe are such a PITA to get this year, I had to buy pellets. It works better for leaf hops but got the job done with pellets. I have a morbid fear of clogging my plate chiller.

    What kind of plate chiller is that? Like it?

    Love it. Got it a couple of years ago from dudediesel.com for $89, 20 plate, 12 in long model. Have no idea what prices are now.


    And the last thought, really, badass. I'd like to automate at some point just for the fun of it. Not really full on automate, really just implement control software.


    I'll give you what I have man. I'm not going to build you one for free but I'll certainly help launch you.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    Lakewood said:

    Great write up. What do you have at the bottom of your mlt?



    I have a homemade false bottom. When I cut open the top of that keg I cut long slits into it with my angle grinder and ran my valve tube through the spear opening. A carboy plug fits in the spear opening perfectly. Can't remember what size.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    One more upgrade that I think is funny but will probably never do. I have a computer controlled brewery, but I still use a tupperware lid for sparging. HA! It works well.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 107,910
    BenS said:

    One more upgrade that I think is funny but will probably never do. I have a computer controlled brewery, but I still use a tupperware lid for sparging. HA! It works well.



    the tupperware was what i was seeing. i was wondering what it was for. got it.
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 107,910
    BenS said:

    Lakewood said:

    Great write up. What do you have at the bottom of your mlt?



    I have a homemade false bottom. When I cut open the top of that keg I cut long slits into it with my angle grinder and ran my valve tube through the spear opening. A carboy plug fits in the spear opening perfectly. Can't remember what size.


    that's similar to my false bottom. though i didn't cut slits, just notched the edge and i use a strainer to cover the spear opening
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    Lakewood said:

    BenS said:

    Lakewood said:

    Great write up. What do you have at the bottom of your mlt?



    I have a homemade false bottom. When I cut open the top of that keg I cut long slits into it with my angle grinder and ran my valve tube through the spear opening. A carboy plug fits in the spear opening perfectly. Can't remember what size.


    that's similar to my false bottom. though i didn't cut slits, just notched the edge and i use a strainer to cover the spear opening


    I thought about doing something similar but I worried about channeling in my grain bed to do something like what you did.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 107,910
    BenS said:

    Lakewood said:

    BenS said:

    Lakewood said:

    Great write up. What do you have at the bottom of your mlt?



    I have a homemade false bottom. When I cut open the top of that keg I cut long slits into it with my angle grinder and ran my valve tube through the spear opening. A carboy plug fits in the spear opening perfectly. Can't remember what size.


    that's similar to my false bottom. though i didn't cut slits, just notched the edge and i use a strainer to cover the spear opening


    I thought about doing something similar but I worried about channeling in my grain bed to do something like what you did.



    i don't think i have much of a channeling concern, the only real issue i see is the lack of flow around the outer "ring" of grain where the sidewall and bottom come together.
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny
  • C_BC_B
    Posts: 79,348
    BenS said:

    C_dubbs said:

    Off the top of my mildly intoxicated head...
    Nice slippers. I have a pair like that.


    Love them.
    C_dubbs said:

    Badass. The whole thing.
    Hop spider - off topic, but, you use pellet hops? Works well?


    Typically I use leaf hops, but citra and simcoe are such a PITA to get this year, I had to buy pellets. It works better for leaf hops but got the job done with pellets. I have a morbid fear of clogging my plate chiller.

    I want to switch to the plate chiller and a hop spider seems like a quick and easy way to control *most* hop gunk. I use mostly pellets or else I would go for a false bottom.

    BenS said:

    C_dubbs said:

    What kind of plate chiller is that? Like it?


    Love it. Got it a couple of years ago from dudediesel.com for $89, 20 plate, 12 in long model. Have no idea what prices are now.

    For the long 20 plate i think $99, the long 30 plate is $136. You like the 20 plate? chills fast enough for you?
    BenS said:

    C_dubbs said:


    And the last thought, really, badass. I'd like to automate at some point just for the fun of it. Not really full on automate, really just implement control software.


    I'll give you what I have man. I'm not going to build you one for free but I'll certainly help launch you.

    Sweetness. The first project will probably me an E-HLT. Easy and why not. Good practice.
    "On it. I hate software." ~Cpt Snarklepants
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    C_dubbs said:


    For the long 20 plate i think $99, the long 30 plate is $136. You like the 20 plate? chills fast enough for you?



    Oh yea. The 20 plate is plenty fast. I am more restricted on my ground water temps. Just be sure to get the long one(12"ish) and not the short chiller(8" i think)
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • BenSBenS
    Posts: 6,248
    One mistake I made last weekend that I just found today. Forgot to dump out the mash tun during the brew day. Garage was slightly stinky this morning.
    There's no starting point. It's just a massive sea of shit to wade through until you find the occasional corn kernel. -DrCurly
  • ThymThym
    Posts: 107,910
    BenS said:

    One mistake I made last weekend that I just found today. Forgot to dump out the mash tun during the brew day. Garage was slightly stinky this morning.



    I made the mistake of dumping into a trashbag and leaving the bag in my garage for a week one summer..... That was pretty vile.
    The only thing between me and a train wreck is blind luck..... - Kenny