Mick’s brewery build thread

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contrarian

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So I have started piecing things together for this build and placing orders in the hope that I can do most of the build over the Christmas holidays.

At the moment he plan looks like this.

HLT 50L keg, 1 3.6kw element, pump to recirculate And thermowell for temp sensor.

Mash tun. My existing 70L kettle which I will scrub up, insulate and add a false bottom. Recirculated through the herms by a pump. Also planning on building a ghetto auto sparge.

Herms is a herm-it coil 3kw element set up. It comes with a thermowell on the output side. Mounted in PVC pipe.

Kettle 130L with 2 x 3.6kw element.

All vessels with 3 piece ball valves.

Hose connections are quick connects from online brewing supplies.

Pumps will be from kegland with stainless heads.

Controller will be a craft beer Pi set up where a raspberry pi controller takes inputs from the thermocouples and then drives SSRs to switch the pumps and elements. I’m hoping I can program this to share he available power between units as required. Eg the HLT and Herms.

Here’s a crappy photo of the kettle, it’s pretty big!

I’m thinking that for smaller batches I’ll be able to do a no sparge brew and for larger batches sparge.

Ultimately the plan is for this to be on a permanent brew stand but I haven’t got that far in the design yet.

Now doubt I will also have plenty of questions along the way! Especially for those more electrically minded!

Like what is the best way to connect elements in pots to power so they can easily be disconnected for cleaning etc?
 

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HardEight

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Now doubt I will also have plenty of questions along the way! Especially for those more electrically minded!

Like what is the best way to connect elements in pots to power so they can easily be disconnected for cleaning etc?

3 pin plugs (15A). Assuming the elements are through the wall type?
 

Fatgodzilla

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If you heed a hand, give me a hand. I am ******* useless with that shit but I am bored and need a drink.
 

contrarian

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3 pin plugs (15A). Assuming the elements are through the wall type?

In the end I've gone with elements with a tri clamp fitting so they can be easily removed for cleaning which should help but have had a look at the 3 pin plugs and they look solid.

Still haven't thought through the best way of connecting everything up so it is neat, easy to clean and components can be replaced fairly easily if necessary.

Am planning a semi permanent setup which should make it easier than something that needs to be packed away after every brew day!
 

contrarian

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Also ended up going with the Cheeky Peak false bottom. I could have picked up a kegland one for less but was a bit concerned about whether or not that would deliver the kind of flow I will need to run the HERMS in a 70L mash tun. Have also ordered a couple of kegland pumps with stainless heads, a few extra ball valves and other assorted bits and pieces.

The only hardware I think I still need are some weldless thermowells.

Have started looking at the electronics side of things. Thermocouples seem pretty cheap and easy to acquire and am thinking that 2m lengths should do the job pretty well. Is there any difference in quality or are they all basically the same? After that it is SSRs, heat sinks, cabling and a box to put it all in. I already have the raspberry pi to drive it.

From a wiring perspective can I combine the 2 15amp circuits I have to give 30amps and then split this across the brewery based on what the program determines? Not sure how to get the most out of it through a combination of wiring and programming.. any sparkies have any ideas?
 

contrarian

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Have been looking at different ways to connect thermocouples to different vessels.

Does anyone know of a good system that is also easy to remove for cleaning? For example can you use a 3 pin connector on the thermowell that then links to the controller? I guess it would need to be waterproof for cleaning.

I’m looking for the simplest way to do this so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
 

HardEight

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Have been looking at different ways to connect thermocouples to different vessels.

Does anyone know of a good system that is also easy to remove for cleaning? For example can you use a 3 pin connector on the thermowell that then links to the controller? I guess it would need to be waterproof for cleaning.

I’m looking for the simplest way to do this so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Something like this... Available on ebay and aliexpress etc. Very cheap. Made to connect Thermocouple wires...
Note you will also need "Thermocouple Compensating Cable" between the thermocouple and the controller... You can't use any old wires.
(I have plenty if you can't source any)
 

contrarian

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Something like this... Available on ebay and aliexpress etc. Very cheap. Made to connect Thermocouple wires...
Note you will also need "Thermocouple Compensating Cable" between the thermocouple and the controller... You can't use any old wires.
(I have plenty if you can't source any)

Thanks mate! I’m looking at building a raspberry pi based controller and think this means using ds18b20 thermocouples which have 3 wires but there do seem to be equally cheap connectors. Good tip on the wire too! I’ll keep that in mind.
 

Fluff

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From a wiring perspective can I combine the 2 15amp circuits I have to give 30amps and then split this across the brewery based on what the program determines? Not sure how to get the most out of it through a combination of wiring and programming.. any sparkies have any ideas?


Sounds similar to what I did.
Used 2x 2200w high density elements.in my HERM On separate incoming circuits using 2x ssrs controlled by a single sestos pid contoller..
Then switch over to a separate set of 2x2200w low density in my boil side.. ran the same way. Could of just ran a dial instead

2x leads from separate circuits in the house each running 1x element at any one time

One was 15a that ran the controller and pumps and an element one was 10a that just ran an element.

I just used the basic set up fromThe electric brewery and modified it to suit
Cheers
 

dblunn

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Hi Mick, if you use the DS18B20 devices you just use copper wires. Thermocouples need to keep the same dissimilar metals from the hot junction to the cold junction to work properly. The DS18B20 is just an IC that measures temp and talks on a particular type of data bus (Dallas Semiconductors 1 Wire) which uses a single bi-directional data line.
 

contrarian

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Does anyone here with experience building a controller want to chime in with suggestions? At this point I am looking at it being driven by a raspberry pi but haven't worked out the software side. There are 2 main options, one is CraftbeerPi that seems ok but there also seem to be problems. The other option is to set something up using NodeRed which is a modular based programming tool that looks like it might be a bit more stable and potentially have some more flexibility.

One of the key challenges from my perspective is power management given I will have 3 x 3.6kW elements and 1 x 3kW element. There isn't any need to run them all at the same time but would certainly be beneficial to able to use them concurrently with switching between them at different times.

So my question is this. with 2 15amp circuits, do I need to allocate 2 elements to each circuit and then use the software to switch between both of them or is there a way of combining all 4 elements and the 30amps to allocate between all of them without overloading an individual circuit.

So for example if I was heating up the HLT for sparge water while the HERMs was keeping the mash at temperature or step mashing, could I also be maintaining a boil in a double brew day?
 

koots

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Hey Mick, if you're suggesting combining 2 x 15amp circuits into 1 x 30 amp circuit by connecting the cables in parallel, you gotta be careful. The cable runs have to be side by side, same length, same cross sectional area etc, otherwise you'll end up with more current on one cable than the other (path of least resistance). Keep in mind I'm not a sparky, but I'll bet my nuts AS3000 has something to say about this. Last thing you want is 25A running through one cable and 5 through the other because one of the cables has a janky run through the house resulting in double the length etc. Then there's also fault currents to worry about bla bla, all in all it's not something I'd take a risk on. Hopefully a sparky can confirm/deny this in regards to the rules.

Can you just run a new circuit to the brew area instead? Can go as big as your mains allow then.
 

contrarian

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Hey Mick, if you're suggesting combining 2 x 15amp circuits into 1 x 30 amp circuit by connecting the cables in parallel, you gotta be careful. The cable runs have to be side by side, same length, same cross sectional area etc, otherwise you'll end up with more current on one cable than the other (path of least resistance). Keep in mind I'm not a sparky, but I'll bet my nuts AS3000 has something to say about this. Last thing you want is 25A running through one cable and 5 through the other because one of the cables has a janky run through the house resulting in double the length etc. Then there's also fault currents to worry about bla bla, all in all it's not something I'd take a risk on. Hopefully a sparky can confirm/deny this in regards to the rules.

Can you just run a new circuit to the brew area instead? Can go as big as your mains allow then.

Thanks mate, I'd basically reached this conclusion and then confirmed it chatting to Dave yesterday. My brew area is my shed which is on a sub board from the mains and I have the 2 15A circuits so will just work around them.

I think the solution is to have a circuit dedicated to 2/4 elements each and then use software to tell it which element to prioritise at any given step in the process. The only time it would ever really come into play is if I am doing a double brew day and want to be boiling a wort and heating the HLT at the same time so that should be fairly straight forward.

I think it would be possible to run any combination of elements at any time but my thinking is that then you would need all 4 elements connected to each circuit and then use software to prioritise which one got the juice at any moment in time. Given the potential benefits are fairly small it seems unnecessarily complicated.

Turns out the pots and pumps is by far the simplest part of this project and the wiring and software is a very steep learning curve!
 

dblunn

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Hi Mick, do you know what the feed into the shed is, i.e. the breaker rating from the main board?
 

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