Test run with home made Brew controller (Braumeister clone?)

For those with a soldering iron perhaps? :)
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Test run with home made Brew controller (Braumeister clone?)

Post by Tytonegro » 3 years ago

Hello to all,

I love brewing and electronics, but most of all I like things to be good and simple :thumbs:

Currently I'm using a small Biab setup to do my brewings. Recently I've done some brews that required multi-step mashing (I made a very good Duvel-like Belgium strong ale!).
Since I have a temperature controller, I could do this, but of course I needed to lift the bag to prevent burning or scorching the bag or grain on the bottom of my pan.

So I started thinking and designing an automated brewing system.

My list of wishes and requirements were:

* Suited for a one-pot system, inspired by machines like the Speidel Braumeister.

* A self-contained unit. Everything in one box. I don't like the idea of having to drag a pc or laptop to my brewing place, not to mention the risk of spilling beer or wort over it...

* Input for a temperature sensor(s?)

* Outputs for:
a heater (10 - 16 Amp, (in Europe that would be 2300 to over 3000 Watt)
a pump, 230 AC and/or 12 Vdc

* LCD display (I choose a 2 line 16 char display)

* Build-in PID controller for temperature control

* Simply programmable for multi-step mashing (temp. / time )

* Audible alarms to notify the user to fill malt, add hops etc.


I think I've already come quite far with my design, but I appreciate input of likeminded people, like you guys ;-)
BnB_2_1.jpg
My prototype is now also coming together and recently I did a test run. I made a 10 liter batch of beer with a multi-step mashing scheme. At this stage my controller is basically a temperature controller (PID controller) with pump control, but the final version will be programmable so you can use it/adapt it for verious recipes or applications.
BnB_2_0.jpg

The total outline of the controller is now being converted from paper to a C-program for the controller. The hardware works fine and sofar everything looks good I think.

Have a look for yourself on my blog or on YouTube where I posted a 16 minute video on this test brew.
If you don't have time to watch that, my blog summarizes it mostly.

My blog lives here: http://www.merlinmakes.cato-projects.or ... 912-140325

And my video report on YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks4rXn1Ay84

Curious to hear you comments/ideas.
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Last edited by Tytonegro on 13 Sep 2014, 01:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Tomas aka Tytonegro

My blog on all my projectshttp://www.merlinmakes.cato-projects.org/

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Post by BobBrews » 3 years ago

Tomas,

Great video. As you get things working better and more complete you will have a very special system. Keep us up to date on how it is coming along. We are here with our BIABacus spreadsheet if you need the proper brewing information. It is the most accurate and honest brewing helper there is!
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Fully automated brew with my home made Brew controller

Post by Tytonegro » 3 years ago

The program is evolving quickly and a few weeks ago I did a completely automated brew. I made 15 litres of Belgian Golden Strong Ale. For this brew I used a multi-step mashing scheme and a boil with 3 hop additions. All mashing temperature steps and timings were under program control, as well as the boiling and the timing of the hop additions.

The controller worked almost flawlessly. But I need to do some more work on the brewing hardware. I'm still not completely satisfied with the pump/spray head and I definitely need to install the thermowell that recently arrived.

As far as circulating the wort is concerned, I was wondering if the wort might take up too much oxygen that might cause the wort/beer to turn out darker then expected.

Any thoughts on that?

Have a look for yourself on my blog or on YouTube where I posted a video on this test brew.
If you don't have time to watch that, my blog summarizes it mostly.

My blog post is here: http://www.merlinmakes.cato-projects.or ... 010-152440

and this is the video report:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZN2sfx9rMA

Let me know what you think,
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My blog on all my projectshttp://www.merlinmakes.cato-projects.org/


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Hi there Tyto,

Sorry you didn't get more replies to your earlier post. Sometimes things slip through the cracks :sad:. Looks like you have done a lot of hard work there, good on you :peace:. I can't help you much on the automation side of things but might be able to help with a few other things from watching the video...

1. You had a fair bit of headspace left in the mash so use more water. In fact, if you can fit all your water into the mash, then do it as there is no advantage in sparging if you can fit all your water in the mash. The quoted section within this post explains why.

2. Don't boil with the lid on as a major purpose of the boil is to drive off some things we don't want staying in the wort. (See link in 3 below).

3. I think you are going to need more energy going into the boil as even with the lid on (which we don't want) the boil did not look anywhere vigorous enough to me. (This article explains the importance of a vigorous boil.

As for the exposure of the sweet liquor to air, I don't think this would cause darkening. I think but don't know for sure, that the darkening occurs with exposure to oxygen after fermentation.

Looks like you are having fun. Good stuff :thumbs:,
PP

P.S. The other day I wrote in the second half of this post about some of the pitfalls of high tech so also make sure you are aware of those so you don't get caught in a tech trap that is not serving you :)!
Last edited by PistolPatch on 11 Oct 2014, 18:00, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Tytonegro » 3 years ago

PistolPatch wrote:Hi there Tyto,

1. You had a fair bit of headspace left in the mash so use more water. In fact, if you can fit all your water into the mash, then do it as there is no advantage in sparging if you can fit all your water in the mash. The quoted section within this post explains why.

2. Don't boil with the lid on as a major purpose of the boil is to drive off some things we don't want staying in the wort. (See link in 3 below).

3. I think you are going to need more energy going into the boil as even with the lid on (which we don't want) the boil did not look anywhere vigorous enough to me. (This article explains the importance of a vigorous boil.

As for the exposure of the sweet liquor to air, I don't think this would cause darkening. I think but don't know for sure, that the darkening occurs with exposure to oxygen after fermentation.

Looks like you are having fun. Good stuff :thumbs:,
PP

P.S. The other day I wrote in the second half of this post about some of the pitfalls of high tech so also make sure you are aware of those so you don't get caught in a tech trap that is not serving you :)!
1. I'm not a very experienced (Biab) brewer... so advise is always welcome. I started with 15 ltr of water for making of 15 ltr of beer. Of course you lose in grain, hop and boil, but that gives me room to sparge. Not necessary they say?! OK, ehhh, but how much water should I use to start with to end with 15 ltr of beer? (Biabacus looked quite daunting to me, to be honest ;-) Squeze the grain hard instead? or use much more water so SG will be lower anyway at the end of the mashing?

2. Hmm, yes here again lots of confusion. Apparently devices like the Picobrew heat to 98C instead of boiling. Definitely not a rolling boil. If I don't need to boil off excess liquid, do I still need to boil so vigorously to get rid off bad components in the wort?

3. The problem with the boiling program as it is now, is that it reacts too slowly. So when you take the lid off, it takes too long to get it up temperature again. Needs more work ... At the end I had the lid half on.

4. Colour: I'll check how this batch comes out....

Thank for your advise. I'll check the posts you mentioned.
Last edited by Tytonegro on 11 Oct 2014, 22:40, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by BobBrews » 3 years ago

Tytonegro,

It's acceptable to keep the lid on until you reach just above your mash temp. Once your grain is stabilized at mash temp the cover can go back on with the exception of occasional stirring and mixing. It's hard to stir with the cover on! (if you do?) Once the bag is pulled (and squeezed like hell) You should keep the cover off (all the way) and never use it during the 90 minute boil. The DMS precursors are driven off with the steam. Any steam condensation off a lid will drop back into the wort and make it taste like canned corn.
tap 1 Raspberry wine
tap 2 Bourbon Barrel Porter
tap 3 Czech Pilsner
tap 4 Triple IPA 11% ABV

Pipeline: Mulled Cider 10% ABV

http://cheesestradamus.com/ Brewers challenge!


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Tyto, I really think you may need to purchase a higher wattage element or a second one as the vigorous boil is very important. (Make sure you read that link in point 3 of my last post).

The BIABacus is daunting as everything you need is on a single page. This has a lot of advantages but the disadvantage is the immediate visual assault. It's actually not that hard though once you know where to look...

To work out how much water you need, open the file below, In Section B, change the diameter and height to that of your kettle and you are now set up. Easy!

The top line of Section K tells you how much water to use - 'Total Water Needed (TWN)'. However...

Change the 15 L in Section B and/or the 1.050 at the top of Section C and you will see the 'Total Water Needed - (TWN)' vary as well as the amount of grain you will use on the right hand side of Section C. It's the only software that does this for you. It actually makes things very easy once you get used to it.

:peace:
PP
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Post by Tytonegro » 3 years ago

PP: I had a further look at BIABacus, and indeed it's mainly the first shock that you have to overcome ;-)

Played around a bit. Could not find the defaults that it uses though. Saw how you can change some of the defaults in section X, but for example the default kettle efficiency (65% by default??) is not visible.
I admit that it has a couple of features that are very handy and missing in for example Brewmate. (can't say anything about Beersmith, it looks very extensive but in some areas over the top I think)


I used Brewmate a couple of times. I had (Kettle) efficiency set at 75% and reached that every time spot-on so far.

Concerning power: Kettle power is sufficient. Control mechanism might need tuning.

Btw: I hate canned corn, never had a taste like that neither any sulphur/rotten egg. The Duvel clones I made so far were received very well among the Belgian people that live around me here. ;-)
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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Whoops! Forgot to add the file in my last post :headhit:. Have attached now.

There is no default kettle efficiency figure in the BIABacus as it works it out for you (no other program can do this). Change your OG in the file below and you will see the efficiencies in Section P change. The reason for this is that high gravity brew are harder to 'clean' than low gravity brews and therefore you will get lower kettle efficiency.

Also realise that there is a difference between a kettle efficiency and a fermentor efficiency (see Section P again). The problem with a lot of software is that you can't even tell which one they are using.

Have to race now sorry,
PP
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Post by Tytonegro » 3 years ago

Thanks Pat, no problems here, I already had version K some time. Will have another look at version T

I will definitely come back on the issue.... Heared the interviews with James Spencer as well....
Saúde,
Tomas aka Tytonegro

My blog on all my projectshttp://www.merlinmakes.cato-projects.org/

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