Quantcast

Dedicated Grainfather Guide, Problems and Solutions Thread

Aussie Home Brewer

Help Support Aussie Home Brewer:

peteru

Here, taste this!
Joined
13/10/13
Messages
1,154
Reaction score
517
Location
Sydney
1. I have not looked inside, so can not tell you for sure. However, I would suspect that it is most likely that the design would handle 10A at 240V. The control box does not seem to get hot due to operation with the 2000W element, so it does not appear to run near it's thermal limit.

2. Yes, the upgrade controller comes with a probe that is hardwired. It's hard to tell what probe they use. Superficially it looks like a DS18B20, but it could be anything.

You should know that the controller will regulate the heating output to a max of 99C. If you set the temp to 100C, it just translates to heating on at 100% power. You can not select anything higher than 100C.

During the first clean today, the GF Connect controller consistently indicated temperatures about 1-2C higher than my other instruments. It showed 100C about 5 minutes before the water actually came to boil. I have not found a way to calibrate the controller or set an offset.

The controller firmware seems to be buggy, or at least my controller exhibits odd behaviour. Pressing the HEAT button causes the pump to temporarily stop and then start again. Every few minutes the controller turns off the pump and heater for less than a second, then turns them back on again. This seems to be pretty random. Hopefully the controller firmware can be updated in the field.

Because the Android app is not available yet, I've only been able to test the controller operation using the front panel. No idea how it behaves with the app.

The GF Connect controller does not seem to fit into the cradle as well as the old control box does. It has no recess on the bottom and the shape of the controller does not quite match the metal bracket, so it kind of just sits on top, slightly off center.
 

peteru

Here, taste this!
Joined
13/10/13
Messages
1,154
Reaction score
517
Location
Sydney
Thanks for all the tips. I kind of got most of them by reading the previous 76 pages of this thread, but it's nice to have it summarised.

Killer Brew said:
5) Think about where the process water from the counter flow chiller is going to go before you start it up. You will be surprised how much is used and how quickly containers overflow.
I should be OK in this department. I have 2 kegs and 2 fermenters to collect the chiller water. I am brewing outside, in a covered area and can either redirect the water into the garden, or if it's too hot I can send it down the storm water pipe. The plan is to collect the chiller water and use it for cleanup and of there is too much, throw the rest in the bath for the kids.

Killer Brew said:
6) Check all of your connections on your counter flow chiller before using for the first time (and periodically after that).
This is a big one. They really need to pay the Chinese workers a few more cents per hour to manufacture chillers that are not safety hazards. As soon as I got the chiller out of the box, I could see that the red hot water out hose was not attached properly. The compression fitting was tight (required an 18mm wrench to get it off), but the hose was not inserted properly. Once I undid the fitting, I could see that the hose was not even cut square, so it never had a chance to fit properly. I cut off about 7mm, pushed it on all the way and applied some pressure on the hose as I tightened it. That fixed it, but the barbs on those fittings are tiny. I hope it stays on. The hot wort in hose had exactly the same issue and required the same fix. The cold side looked fine, so I did not bother doing anything there. Maybe I should.

The other end of the blue hose attaches to an adaptor to connect to your cold water source. This connection uses a barb, but the fit is not very tight and there is no hose clamp to secure the blue hose. When I had my garden hose set to a trickle it was fine, but as soon as I tried to increase the pressure, the blue hose flew off the barb and water from the garden hose sprayed everywhere. Even worse, hot water came back from the chiller and from the blue hose. GF really need to step up their game with the safety of the chillers.

I'm also not very impressed with the recirculation arm. It's too low to swing it sideways and get the lid off. The sparge silicon tube is likely to be too short for smaller grain bills, so micro pipework is not going to be enough a longer hose will be required.

How the F do you get the recirculation arm off without getting wort (or water) all over the place? It just leaks back down the arm and spills all over the ball valve and the pump. At boiling temperatures, this mess will dry on in moments. Can't they just design it so you don't have to unscrew the arm to get the lid off or attach the chiller?
 

rick1111082

Active Member
Joined
21/12/12
Messages
37
Reaction score
7
peteru said:
How the F do you get the recirculation arm off without getting wort (or water) all over the place? It just leaks back down the arm and spills all over the ball valve and the pump. At boiling temperatures, this mess will dry on in moments. Can't they just design it so you don't have to unscrew the arm to get the lid off or attach the chiller?

Never had this problem but I have the very first model of the gf that has the fine thread that screws into pipework.
 

paulyman

Well-Known Member
Joined
11/7/14
Messages
953
Reaction score
389
peteru said:
How the F do you get the recirculation arm off without getting wort (or water) all over the place? It just leaks back down the arm and spills all over the ball valve and the pump. At boiling temperatures, this mess will dry on in moments. Can't they just design it so you don't have to unscrew the arm to get the lid off or attach the chiller?
Yeah that is a pain. For me, I've found if I turn the pump off while the ball valve is still open, wait a moment and then carefully unscrew it while the valve is still open it all drains away and I have no dramas. Just remember to close the valve again after that or you could have all sorts of dramas if you turn the pump back on accidentally!
 

kaiserben

Well-Known Member
Joined
2/9/14
Messages
976
Reaction score
309
Location
Sydney
peteru said:
How the F do you get the recirculation arm off without getting wort (or water) all over the place? It just leaks back down the arm and spills all over the ball valve and the pump. At boiling temperatures, this mess will dry on in moments. Can't they just design it so you don't have to unscrew the arm to get the lid off or attach the chiller?
You switch the pump off. You wait. The wort will retreat back and eventually find equilibrium with the liquid level in the kettle. It happens fairly quickly. You can see it retreating in any of the clear/white silicon hose parts to get an idea of how fast this happens. On the chiller (where most of the tubing/piping is obscured) the first bit of hose after the discharge pipe is clear silicon, so you wait until you see the wort retreat past there before you start disconnecting things.

Occasionally it doesn't retreat because it's being held in place by differences in air pressure. When that happens I just start to disconnect the recirc arm but don't yank it right off, just holding it in place and maybe wiggling it if absolutely necessary; you'll hear air rushing into the discharge pipe while the liquid falls to that equilibrium level. Once the air stops rushing you're safe to take the recirc arm off without spilling anything.
 

Killer Brew

Well-Known Member
Joined
25/12/14
Messages
705
Reaction score
235
peteru said:
The plan is to collect the chiller water and use it for cleanup and of there is too much, throw the rest in the bath for the kids.
Gather around kids, brew day is bath day remember! Junior, stop hitting your sister with the mash paddle!

Love it!
 

Killer Brew

Well-Known Member
Joined
25/12/14
Messages
705
Reaction score
235
peteru said:
I'm also not very impressed with the recirculation arm. It's too low to swing it sideways and get the lid off. The sparge silicon tube is likely to be too short for smaller grain bills, so micro pipework is not going to be enough a longer hose will be required.

How the F do you get the recirculation arm off without getting wort (or water) all over the place? It just leaks back down the arm and spills all over the ball valve and the pump. At boiling temperatures, this mess will dry on in moments. Can't they just design it so you don't have to unscrew the arm to get the lid off or attach the chiller?
You can push the lid backwards along the recirc arm and it rests there vertically with run off going back into the kettle. Also I find when removing the recirc arm or chiller if I give the knob a quarter turn and leave a few seconds the pressure release makes all of the wort flow back into the kettle through the pump and can then remove relatively mess free.

Does the micro kit not come with a recirc tube extension (perhaps not, I don't have one)?

Edit: or exactly as the guys above suggested (should really read right through before replying)
 

peteru

Here, taste this!
Joined
13/10/13
Messages
1,154
Reaction score
517
Location
Sydney
Thanks for all the tips. I'm off to Bunnings to buy a hose clamp or three and thick rubber gloves to prevent burns, then the first brew day starts. I already have 20L of 90C water waiting to split off into sparge bucket and dilute down to 65C for the mash in.

I'll have to play around a bit with disconnecting the arm. When I was cleaning yesterday, just turning off the pump and waiting did not work. The silicon tube is under the liquid level so the entire loop is a closed system. If you don't have any leaks in that loop, then it can't drain. I guess lifting the end of the silicon tube up above the arm should allow it to drain, but that's going to be a challenge with boiling wort and the hot glass lid threaded through it.

As far as loosening the knob, again I'll have to experiment a bit. I noticed that the pipework seals pretty well. As you loosen the knob, the arm still seals and just slides up. Then the spring and ball shuts off and only after that the sealing stops and I get the leakage. I'll play around here, maybe the trick is to loosen, then wiggle a bit to only suck in enough air for the wort to drain out the silicone end back into the kettle.

Anyway, it sounds like that with enough practice it is possible to make it less messy than what I have been doing. If anyone can point me to YouTube videos that show how it's done with the ball and spring version of the GF, that would be great.
 

kaiserben

Well-Known Member
Joined
2/9/14
Messages
976
Reaction score
309
Location
Sydney
peteru said:
I'll have to play around a bit with disconnecting the arm. When I was cleaning yesterday, just turning off the pump and waiting did not work. The silicon tube is under the liquid level so the entire loop is a closed system. If you don't have any leaks in that loop, then it can't drain. I guess lifting the end of the silicon tube up above the arm should allow it to drain, but that's going to be a challenge with boiling wort and the hot glass lid threaded through it.
Yep. Exactly right.

You don't need to worry about this at boiling temps though. You'll be removing the recirc arm before your sparge (so the temp here will be ~75C. Still very bloody hot!). So you'll need to break that loop somehow. Either the method I mentioned above (getting air in the discharge pipe), or lift the lid up over the recirc arm (and rest it on the top bracket that holds the discharge pipe in place) so you have easy access to the tube.

I've never needed rubber gloves.
 

Killer Brew

Well-Known Member
Joined
25/12/14
Messages
705
Reaction score
235
I wear gloves when scraping the element after the mash paddle slipped once and my hand went in. F%$*ing ouch.
 

peteru

Here, taste this!
Joined
13/10/13
Messages
1,154
Reaction score
517
Location
Sydney
Back from Bunnings and they had no suitable thick gloves. They only seem to stock one kind and there were none left on the shelf. I'll just have to be extra careful.

I've got a hose clamp on the blue chiller hose now. At $1.08 from Bunnings, it could have easily been included with the GF as standard.
 

peteru

Here, taste this!
Joined
13/10/13
Messages
1,154
Reaction score
517
Location
Sydney
The new Grainfather Connect controller is buggy, even when used standalone without an app. (I have Android only, so no app is available at this stage)

1. Intermittently, the controller will turn the heat and pump off for less than a second and back on. When this happens a relay clicks.
2. When in direct heater power control mode, any time you change the heater power level to 100%, the pump stops and starts. Changing between other power levels, such as 75% -> 80% does not show this problem.
3. The temperature readout can get stuck in some cases. For example, I set the target temp to 65C. The read out started at 22C, but then it remained on 29C for a long time. I checked the temp with another thermometer and it was already up to 48C. Turning the controller off and on fixed the issue and the readout then correctly showed 48C. This has happened twice now.
4. If you start the step mash mode using the control panel menu, there appears to be no apparent way of getting out and going back to manual control. The only way seems to turn off and on.

I'll have to shoot an email to the manufacturer.
 

Coldspace

Well-Known Member
Joined
11/12/13
Messages
518
Reaction score
330
That's no good, hopefully it was just a lemon you got...
They should have these tested properly for market release.

I'm just sticking with my standard system for now..
I will watch with interest, but something's pulling me towards a bigger system soon .
 

nfragol

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/6/15
Messages
49
Reaction score
8
Location
Greece
Just wondering, can these new controllers be updated with firmware fixes or updated with new features ?
 

paulyman

Well-Known Member
Joined
11/7/14
Messages
953
Reaction score
389
nfragol said:
Just wondering, can these new controllers be updated with firmware fixes or updated with new features ?
I'm assuming (hoping) that firmware updates can be pushed through to the unit via the app.
 

Reedy

Well-Known Member
Joined
28/6/15
Messages
212
Reaction score
42
Location
Brisbane
Was at a GF demo in Brisbane yesterday, Nick (GF rep) mentioned that future updates will be via the app (not the controller itself)
 

Bridgey23

Well-Known Member
Joined
28/8/15
Messages
89
Reaction score
40
Just finished a brew day with the new controller. Uploaded my recipe to the controller and used my iPhone to start the show. Worked flawlessly and I couldn't be happier with my upgrade. It reminds you of everything along the way with alarms,even to start heating your sparge water. Awesome addition to the Grainfather.
 

amarks6

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/11/11
Messages
113
Reaction score
12
Location
Safety Beach, NSW
Sorry if I'm off topic...but does anyone know what happened to the Grainbrother?

I thought it was a good idea, but it seems to have disappeared altogether from the GF family!
 

amarks6

Well-Known Member
Joined
5/11/11
Messages
113
Reaction score
12
Location
Safety Beach, NSW
Killer Brew said:
7) Don't counter flow the wort back into the GF to cool before exiting to FV. Only run the hot wort through it long enough to sanitise and then start the water and exit to FV.
Why not? I thought it was designed to do this - and leave cold break in the boiler.
 

paulyman

Well-Known Member
Joined
11/7/14
Messages
953
Reaction score
389
Dr Rummy said:
Why not? I thought it was designed to do this - and leave cold break in the boiler.
It is horribly inefficient to do it that way, the GF guys came out and said it was designed to be run straight from the kettle to the fermenter.
 

Latest posts

Top