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angus_grant

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Hey everybody,

I have been posting my updates in the "Arduino development thread" and the "Braumiser" thread, but it is probably about time to start my own thread seeing as I am not using an Arduino anymore, and Matho has enough people posting in his thread. he he

So I am not using a micro-controller to control the system. I found the NetDuino too constricting with regards to memory usage, network interface, and graphical output. And I am an IT manager with extensive experience in developing Windows applications so didn't really have the spare time to learn all these new skills.

I have purchased a USB data acquisition device. Once plugged into my little Windows laptop it creates a virtual com port. The manufacturer provides a list of constants to send through the com port to work with the 8 pins. These pins can be analogue or digital inputs or outputs. One of the constants tells the device to read the temp from a Dallas-compatible DS18B20 temp probe. The device returns the temperature in Celsius so no need to mess around 1 pin communication.

I have now wired up the rough prototype for the control box and the Windows console matches the control box in that it is rough as well. So the equipment I have purchased:

Two pots (Big W and a S/S pot from an eBay store):


The inner pot with the lifting points installed:


The two pots:


Control box with the heat sinks for 25A solid state relays:


Control box with electrical input and output plugs. If you have keen eyes, the left set of plugs is 15A for the heating element and the right-side are 10A. At this stage I think I will use a 2400W heating element which ends up being 10A. I figured I may as well wire up the control box to handle 15A in case I end up with a higher rated heating element.


Inside the control box:


And a later shot of the inside. This has the prototyping breadboard with the wiring for the temp probe and the relay hooked up to the USB device. You can just see the USB device in the left of the photo. It has the red wire going into it:


And a shot of the Windows application which controls everything:


As you can see from the application image I have a temp over-shoot problem. I have a PID library which will help with that problem. It also comes with a neat little graphing library which will help the appearance of the control application which looks a little sparse.

At the moment the relay is driving a normal kitchen kettle. I wonder whether the over-shoot would be larger if heating up the full kettle as there is a lot more thermal mass.

So things to do:
  • Install wiring board inside control box for temp probe and USB device
  • purchase heating element and install into main vessel
  • chop out bottom of inner pot and seal
  • purchase filter plates and install
  • install brown pump and all plumbing required
  • re-tune PID library for the main vessel
  • lots of swearing

Thanks,
Angus.

P.S: Here is a link to a spreadsheet I posted in the "Braumeister" thread on calculating pot sizes, water volumes, heating element height, etc.
Volume calculations

P.P.S: The name comes from an 80's cartoon called Astroboy. I did toy with Mashtroboy, but thought it sounded a bit lame. Then I remembered the fighting robot series with Brewton, the 1 million horsepower robot. I suppose I should really install a pool heating recirculating system to tie in with the million horse-power thing.. I think that is enough exposing of my nerdiness on the Internet....
 

mje1980

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To quote "jules" from pulp fiction:

"English motherfucker, DO you speak it?"

Just kidding mate, the techno stuff is a bit over my head, but looks awesome and sounds like you know your stuff. Keep us updated.
 

Toper

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"And I am an IT manager with extensive experience in developing Windows applications so didn't really have the spare time to learn all these new skills". Looks great,but aren't the 300 weekly updates and security patch fixes gonna take up a lot of time ? :lol:

ubuntu_logo.gif
 

bonj

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Angus, I have been testing my HERMS controller (arduino PID) on a 2.4KW kitchen kettle also, and have been able to get it quite well tuned considering the parameters of the system, so I think you'll be quite happy with PID.
 

angus_grant

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yeh, I think the kettle just increases the temp way too quick for my 250ms sampling so I will have to use the PID library. Don't really want to increase the sampling rate at this stage. Will have a play with PID tomorrow night young child co-operating.. :D

And my Linux comment was tongue in cheek. I am aware of Linux and we do use it on a couple of devices at work, but are generally a MS shop.
 

pk.sax

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I can actually sort of follow what you are doing for a change! The frangduinos throw my head in 720 degree spins! Great stuff mate. Will be watching with interest.
 

AlexL

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Hey Angus,

I suggest you stick with 15A cable for you 2.4kW element. I found that using regular mains on that size element tends to get quite warm after a 60min boil.

Alex
 

angus_grant

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Hey Angus,

I suggest you stick with 15A cable for you 2.4kW element. I found that using regular mains on that size element tends to get quite warm after a 60min boil.

Alex
Cheers Alex. Exactly my reasoning for using the 15A stuff in the first place. I figure the 10A wiring can handle 5 minute bursts of "kettle" activity but extended 60-90 minute boils could stress things a bit. And I think I will start with 2400 watt element as other people have used them successfully. I always have the option of using the system in a 10A plug somewhere else.

I will get a 15A plug and wiring put in at home somewhere. I am wondering whether the existing electric hot water system uses 15A wiring. Bit hard to tell as it is inside a conduit which runs into the wall. And the main electric board has amperage breakers all over the shop. <_<
 

Siborg

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Hi Angus

I've seen a few of these threads about building your own automated systems. I checked out the source code of another posters (can't remember who) and it was written in c++, which I've been studying at uni last semester.

I'm actually studying to get into software development and, seeing these threads, makes me want to learn a little more about the electronics side and learn/practice some programming on my own automated brewery. I've already got a braumeister but I'm liking the idea of learning some new skills to build my own system that suits me perfectly - and I'm loving the idea of doing it all from a windows app. Ideally, I'd like to integrate a rudimentary recipe formulation program into the automation program, so that you can do it all from one application.

I've got a fair bit to learn, especially about electronics, but I'm young and a relatively fast learner.

Thanks for posting, I'll be keeping an eye on this to see how you go.
 

angus_grant

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I did play with a NetDuino (which is based on the Arduino micro-controller platform) which uses the Microsoft Micro .Net platform. I just found the environment a little constricting. You could use Visual studio to develop and debug the app which was very nice. But it actual device was a little restrictive with regards to available memory, network interfacing and graphical display. The electronics side was the bit I was suffering a bit on with not really having much experience with micro-controllers, resistors, etc, etc.

The USB device and Windows application makes things a lot easier to work with and opens up a lot more possibilities like reading xml files, posting things to my website, local logging, and obviously the more powerful environment.

I have plans to read the recipes into the controlling programme to set up hop addition alarms, mashing schedules, etc, etc. I think this may rule BrewMate (although I haven't tried the latest version) out as they don't have an XML export, just a plain text. I can always munge through a text file I suppose, but XML would be easier.
 

Edak

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I did play with a NetDuino (which is based on the Arduino micro-controller platform) which uses the Microsoft Micro .Net platform. I just found the environment a little constricting. You could use Visual studio to develop and debug the app which was very nice. But it actual device was a little restrictive with regards to available memory, network interfacing and graphical display. The electronics side was the bit I was suffering a bit on with not really having much experience with micro-controllers, resistors, etc, etc.

The USB device and Windows application makes things a lot easier to work with and opens up a lot more possibilities like reading xml files, posting things to my website, local logging, and obviously the more powerful environment.

I have plans to read the recipes into the controlling programme to set up hop addition alarms, mashing schedules, etc, etc. I think this may rule BrewMate (although I haven't tried the latest version) out as they don't have an XML export, just a plain text. I can always munge through a text file I suppose, but XML would be easier.
I would have thought that the Netduino would have had the balls to do what you want re: webserver and such. I have a regular Arduino with Ethernet (called a EtherTen) as part of my ferm/conditioning fridge sending temperature data to my web server, where I store it in a SQL database so no need for local logging. It can also take adjustments via HTTP requests. Although the code only just fits in there, the spec on Netduino is significantly larger than Arduino in terms of memory and code-space.

I was going to do such a thing with my "Braumiser/hbBM" but I think that it's a little overkill for something that's only being used occasionally. Instead I might just connect up an XRF/Xbee link to my computer for sending serial data across.

Don't get me wrong, I am not having a dig at your project, in fact I love what you are doing as it's very similar to my set up which should be completed soon.

With respect to the recipe parsing, XML is DEFINITELY the way to go. I work with XML every day and it's just so easy.

Totally want to see the pics of the complete system with heating coils and plumbing.
 

angus_grant

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There are people who are running brewery system using the Netduino (and Arduino) so the horsepower is there. It was more the hoops I was having to jump through to get temp reading (using beta firmware to get 1-pin working) working, and then an LCD display working, and then I would have had to run a network cable to brewery system to have uploads to database. Or try getting a wireless network card working. So solving problems instead of moving forward.

I found a USB device in Jaycar which had the analogue/digital pins and temp reading, and then an even cheaper one online. Looked exactly like what I wanted and allowed a full-blown Windows application to control the system. Full MS framework, networking already done, XML parsing of recipe files, etc, etc. No worries about code-space, log file size, memory restrictions, etc, etc. It was just easier for me. And the project has advanced more in the last week than the last month as I am not solving little problems, I am solving bigger problems which results in progress.

Basically it boils down to the fact I am very comfortable in my big stinky bloated MS C# WinApp sandbox... :lol:

Now that I have a working prototype powering a heating element I can start looking at getting a heating element for my main vesel. That will be the next big step and means I can start doing the plumbing side of the system: fitting the skins, plumbing and wiring in the recirculating pump, cutting up the inner pot, sealing, etc. Once I have the pump and plumbing fitted I can start work on maintaining temps. Although that will be a bit of a dodge as there won't be any grains in the inner vessel.

I can then move forward on the filter plates and finish off the temperature control on the system. Then it would be about time to make my first AG beer!! :chug:
 

seamad

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I get lost when you fellas start talking about arduino etc, no idea what it is. Is it similiar to my auber ramp/ soak pid thatyou make yourselves or something compltetly different?
 

angus_grant

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Yes, the Arduino setups or my setup perform a similar job to your Auberin ramp/soad pid (although I don't know if you have a recirculating pump wired to the PID). The difference being that the whole process is controlled by computer software and not buttons on the front of a device. So the theory is that we can then automate other processes after mashing.

So a very future version of my system would be that when mashing process is complete, the computer software would cause a winch to raise the malt pipe out of the main vessel. During the mash process a second pot is heating up sparge water to the correct temp. Once the malt pipe is raised, the software would switch on a pump to move the sparge water into the malt pipe which would then drain into the main vessel for our pre-boil volume. Once the sparging is complete, the software would fire the heating element and commence boiling.

At its very basic, you are correct in saying that the Arduino setups (or mine) don't do much more than your Auberin PID.
 

seamad

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Sounds pretty awesome, would take a bit of setting up but then...really easy brewday. Obviously very desirable for a microbrewery as well.
Cheers
Sean
 

angus_grant

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yeh, all that stuff is way down the track. :D

My goal for the first working version is to control multi-step mashes, pump rests and then addition alarms at the correct points in the boil (for hops, adjuncts, etc), and also maintaining sparge water temp in second Big W pot. This will have a manually operated pump on it to transfer sparge water onto malt pipe. Drawing out the malt pipe will be a manual procedure.
 

angus_grant

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Well some progress has been made this week. I ended up throwing out the PID sample I had downloaded. WAY too complicated when trying to learn things. I ended up writing my own PID library using the C# sample and various online tutorials. Still dialling in the various factors, but I think I am starting to get a handle on it.

Below is a screenshot of the Windows application. You can't actually see the "setpoint value" (target temp) line in the graph as it is covered by the "process value" (current temp. And yes I have already fixed the typo). I will be doing some ramping tests tomorrow night to see how it reacts when rampaging up to the target temp as I have been currently testing small ramping from 55 to 65 or 60 to 65. I am currently providing constant power until the process value is 85% of the target temperature and then switching over to using the PID algorithm to control the intermittent shots of power on the heating element. All this "tuning" I a doing will be useless as it will all need to be done once I move into the full vessel.

I'll put up a screenshot of the ramping tests tomorrow night.



I'm also going to have to pick up a calibrated thermometer somewhere. The digital one I have reads about 4 degrees higher than the temp probe I am using in the system so not quite sure which one is correct. :rolleyes:
 
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