Brew Controller: Update

Brew Controller | Brewing No Comments

This last year has been busy. I married my longtime girlfriend and we bought a house together. As with all things home-owner, there are projects, so my home-brewing has taken a back-seat while we made some improvements. We had some plumbing redone that required us to do a little remodeling in our bathroom. That is nearing completion and I’ve started focusing back on my brew controller.

I got the Receptacles and inlets all mounted and screwed down, but I’ve had difficulty in fitting everything I want into my controller. The Watlow MicroDIN PID controllers I originally got are pretty large, and so is the power meter. The rest is pretty small and fits easily. I don’t want things on top of each-other and wires running everywhere like a rats nest. I started looking at some options for alternate PID controllers and found some Eurotherm PID controllers for $22 or best offer on Ebay. I made the guy an offer on 8 (4 for this and 4 extra for other projects). They’re about half the width of my Watlow MicroDIN controllers.

The great thing about these, is that I can bypass the controller and toggle on and off the 3 alarm outputs, which allows me to turn on and off my pump SSRs. Another cool thing, is that they have a bus that connects all of the power and communication. The really handy part, is they have an input for a current sensor. This allows me to look at the current while the SSR for the boil coil is on, and alarm if it gets out of range (shorted coil, or open circuit), and when the SSR is off, it will detect leakage current, which means a failed SSR. I can read the value and at least tell roughly how much current is flowing.

I also worked more on the HMI and think this version is fairly clean and gives me most of what I’ll need to see while brewing. There’s an Aux temperature readout, but I haven’t figured where I want that to be.

I also need to do some electrical work in our garage. Since we moved, I no longer have a 30A 240V receptacle. Since I’m going to have 2 fermentation chambers and my brewing equipment possibly running at the same time, I’m going to run a 50-60A service over across the garage from my main panel to a panel that is meant for temporary power for RV’s. It has a 50A GFCI/50A outlet and 20A breaker/GFCI duplex. I’ve ordered it and should be able to install in the next few weeks, and finish my control panel.