Kegerator: Mycodo

So I’ve spent a few weekends the last couple months trying to get the control system on the Conviron kegerator worked out. I wanted to use some of the PID controllers I bought, but they seem limited in they don’t have a on-time delay and off-time delay, no ramp/soak and limited output options. I don’t want to short cycle the compressor, so controlling the on and off times and delay between is a must.

When I was first planning the build, I looked into some other software that does controls for homebrewers. There’s Craftbeerpi, Brewpi and a few others. I stumbled upon another software that runs on the Raspberry pi, that was geared more towards plant and mushroom growth, called MyCodo, by Kyle Gabriel. I was hesitant at first because I don’t have experience with the DS18B20 temperature sensors.

So after months of tinkering, I decided to give it a shot and I’m really glad I did. Not only did it eliminate my problems, but it has some features that I really wanted to have. It turns the kegerator into a full temperature controlled chamber, with a receptacle inside I can control on and off if needed. I can control the heating and cooling solenoids on the heat pump, the compressor and fan, and display humidity, temperature etc. depending on sensors used.

One really awesome thing it can do, is use methods to change the PID setpoint over time, i.e. ramp/soak profiles for lagering and cold crashing.

I wired it to drive some SSR’s directly to control the compressor/fan at the same time, and heating/cooling solenoids independently as needed. I know the kegerator won’t need heating, but it’s just another cheap SSR, so I’ll wire it in and if I need it, it’s there. Once I prove it out, I’ll gut the controls on my other Conviron chamber, and overhaul it. Chamber 2 already has Temp, humidity and light control which I want to keep. The thought is, I can use it for fermenting as well as growing mushrooms, growing plants, etc.

Here’s a picture of the MyCodo interface showing some of the outputs, temperature and the graphing abilities:


Kegerator: Update

It’s been a pretty busy summer, so some of my projects were put on hold a while. A few weeks ago, I got new taps and drip-tray and installed into the temperature chambers. I spent a little while since then removing any unnecessary electrical components on the chamber that were left over from the broken controls. I also worked a bunch on the new control system using the Raspberry Pi.

New chamber fits roughly 9 corny kegs in the bottom, and has room up top for cheap beer, bottles and beer glasses. The chamber has a hole in the top that will house a 7″ touchscreen LCD that will eventually show a tap-list running on the Raspberry Pi. Also running on the RPi, is an HMI that I created (using the same software for my brew control system) that will allow me to set the temperature and view alarms. I can even set it to email or sms message me if an alarm threshold is reached.

Next up is wiring the SSR into the existing components and getting just the cooling working. I’m hoping to have this finished in the next couple weeks. I’m running out of space in our fridge for beer, and need somewhere cool to store everything.

New Fermentation chambers

I’ve come to realize that my conical and carboys scattered throughout my house was not only getting annoying, but it isn’t very consistent when it comes to fermentation temperatures. I had been looking on Craigslist the past few months and ended up getting a non-working Rock Star fridge with clear doors. A friend of mine said he could re-fill it and I picked it up.

Shortly after, I came across an add for some lab-grade temperature/humidity/light controlled chambers. They’re made by a company Conviron who specializes in these chambers. I messaged the seller and inquired a little, but the Ad ended. After tracking them down through another ad, it ended up they were right down the street. She sent me the manuals and specs and I realized how great they’d be for not only fermentation, but also another hobby I had tried before, Growing Shiitake mushrooms. They were asking $600 and I got her down to $300 each.

I went by to make arrangements to pick one up and these things were indeed gigantic. They’re over 6′ tall, 36″ deep and 30″ wide. There’s a touchscreen control that allows you to program to turn on and off lights, adjust humidity and temperature according to a schedule. They were in good shape and came with all their racks. Initially I only wanted one, but after going over there, it seemed that one of them didn’t run right. I took a gamble and offered $400 for both a working one and the non-working one thinking I could fix it.

They’ll fit 5 carboys in each, and if I put in shelving (would be a bit heavy for the shelf though), maybe even 10 carboys. I figure the second one would be for cheese, meet and growing mushrooms.

I got them home and tried working on the non-working one first. The motherboard had shorted and blown several chips off the board. It wasn’t likely salvagable and it was over 10 years old. There was no chance for getting it back to it’s previous condition. I figure I’ll slowly work on this one and install a Raspberry pi, PID controller and a couple SSR’s to control the cooling and heating system.

The other one works great and regulates temperature and light perfectly. These will be put to good use and hopefully end up saving room in the house!




Kegerator #2

After the first kegerator project stopped working, I started looking for another fridge. I decided to go with a mini fridge and ended up buying one from my friend Gordy. They were moving and didn’t want it. The great thing about this, is that it doesn’t have internal coils/Freezer. It had a shelf that comes out. It fits 2 5-gallon or 1 5-gallon/1 3-gallon kegs along with a CO2 tank. I re-used my tap tower, removed the top and figured out where the cooling lines were and drilled and mounted the tap. I used a metal plate to strengthen the top so the plastic wouldn’t break. I used my ITC-1000 temperature controller and wired the fridge to run when plugged in. It will always be used with the temperature controller.

Below are pictures of the build and final product. It works quite well.

Kegerator #1

A while back I built a pretty cool kegerator using a Redbull display fridge. Its a round fridge with space inside to fit a 5 or 3 gallon corny keg + CO2 tank.

I got my woodworking friend to build a nice butcher block top for it. He routed the edges along the top edge with a molding bit, and routed an inside groove on the bottom to fit along the lop of the fridge top. I epoxied the top to a bar-coat finish and installed a single tap tower.

Unfortunately it worked for 3 months before it stopped cooling.