HERMS Coil

Posted: April 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

I re-purposed my old immersion chiller to make a HERMS coil.  This is used to recirculate the mash to control temperature.  The coil sits in the kettle.  The kettle is filled with water that is controlled to the desired mash temp with an electric element.  The mash water is pumped through the coil and fed back to the mash tun.  This recirculation loop warms the mash water.  At the same time, the sparge water is being heated to the mash temp.  At the end of the mash, the sparge water is raised to the mashout temp.  This effectively denatures the enzymes in the mash, and in theory locks in the sugar profile of the mash.  It is extremely useful for when you miss your mash temp (typically happens when I do a decoction mash).  I can simply start the recirculation and get the mash up to the target temp fairly quickly.

Tavern Sign

Posted: October 26, 2011 in General

tavern sign

My sister made this for me this year for my birthday.  The image is burned into the wood.  I think it looks great on the wall of my home brewery!

Welcome to LudwigBrau Homebrewing Blog! I will occasionally post some things related to what’s going on in my home brewery. This is mostly just a place for me to share with my brew-buddies.

Brewery Control Panel

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Equipment

This system is designed primarily to control an electric heating element in the kettle.  I will use that for raising temp for the sparge water as well as controlling the boil rate.  Eventually it will also control a recirculated mash.  The planning has been in the works for a long time (> 1yr).  The inspiration came from the electric brewing forum on Homebrewtalk.com and especially the system built by Kal from TheElectricBrewery.com.  I modified the system to suit my needs and now I am finally building it.  The process is kind of slow going due to the cost of the components.

My goal is to have this system running by the end of 2011.  In order to achieve that goal I will forgo brewing for the rest of the year and focus on getting the remaining parts needed.

Panel as I received it from ebay seller:

About midway through construction.  Paint is done and many parts are installed but it still needs a lot of wiring and a few more parts:

Front panel - still need some switches and a timer.

Getting so close!  I have all of the parts and I applied the labels.  Still a lot of wiring to go.

I still need to install the outlets for the pump and auxiliary (second pump some day?).  After that, the rest is internal wiring.  I can’t wait to get this thing fired up (figuratively, I hope).

Update: 12/8/2011
I completed the wiring and turned on the power for the first time today.  This is how it went…
Whirrrrr….Hummm… Pop! Pop! Bang!  Silence…

The good news was no one was hurt and no major damage was done to the panel components.  We can call this a functional test of the GFI panel.  It passed the test.  The main power indicator LED housing was labelled 100 – 600v AC.  So I connected it up to the 240v main.  Unfortunately, the LED bulb that was in the socket was only rated for 28v.  Whoops!  The bang noise was the LED bulb exploding.  I never actually checked the bulb (it was a used component).  The socket was replaced with a 120v socket and rewired to L1 and Neutral.  All is good now.

Update: 12/13/2011
Today I completed the panel and ran it’s first test with water.  Everything went great.  Here are the updated pictures:

GFI Spa Panel installed next to the main house panel:

GFI Panel with outlet exposed:

GFI Panel Inside:

I ran a 10/3 romex from the main panel to the GFI panel, then split off (non-GFI) to the dryer outlet.  The GFI output goes to the receptacle installed in the GFI panel.

Brewery Panel Overview:

It’s kind of hard to see in the above images, but I built a  hinged frame that connects the panel to the cart it is on.  That way I can lower the panel to a horizontal position for storing and moving around.

Inside the panel:

Here is a sketch of the wiring diagram:

I used 24v contactors to control the main power and heater power (since I had these on hand).  I used 120v ice cube relays for the pump and aux power.  I built the pulse width modulator (PWM) from Walker’s post on homebrew talk forum.  Instead of the solid-state relay (SSR) in the diagram above, I used a solid-state power controller since I had access to one.  Since it basically works the same I didn’t bother to change the diagram.  The PID temp controllers are Watlow model 96.  The 24v power supply output is routed through the first contactor so essentially once the momentary ON switch is closed the system will keep itself on until the EMO is pressed.

Here is a pic of the system during the test run:

I also did my first temperature ramp test today.  I took 10 gallons of water from 56F to boil in 50 minutes.  That’s an average of just over 3 degrees/min.  Typically that is not how the system will operate though.  Under normal conditions it will go from 56F (well water temp) to 160F for strike water, then basically the same for sparge water.  The result from the sparge to the kettle will usually be around 145-155F which will then be taken to boil.

Overall I am very happy with the project results.  The system has plenty of power to do 10 gallon batches.  The panel has room to grow if I decide to enable the recirculation heater in the future.  The Aux control can be used for a second pump or a stir motor down the road.  And best of all, I no longer need to burn propane in the brew room.  My brew buddies will appreciate that.  On a typical brew day, the ambient temp of the brew room was around 85 degrees F.  After an hour of boiling for my test run, the ambient temp went from 66F to 70F.  Much more comfortable.

Keep on Brewing!

 

Update: 2/20/2012

I made a couple modifications based on the first brew session with the control panel:

1. Added an auto/manual temp control switch.  This switches the control signal to the element power controller from the watlow PID controller to the PWM manual controller.  So both controllers will always be active but only one will send a signal to the power controller, turning on the heater power.  The PWM (pulse width modulator) is great during the boil because the temp will always be ~212F anyway, but with a fine manual control we can adjust how vigorous the boil is.  The PID control is great for hitting a strike or sparge water temp and holding it there until I am ready to use it.  I need to put a label on the switch still.

2. Added a flashing buzzer to sound when the process timer gets to zero.  During the first brew session I missed the fact that the timer completed because I was distracted by other brew day operations.  No more missing the timer.  I had to do some creative wiring though because the controller doesn’t have a “silence” option built in.  It only has a “reset” which automatically starts the timer again.  So I put in a mechanical relay with an external “silence” momentary switch.  When you press the silence button, the coil activates and cuts off the alarm output signal from the timer.  When you eventually reset the timer, it drops out the alarm signal which returns the relay back to normal state, basically resetting it for the next alarm cycle.  It works great.

 

Here is the overview picture of the panel currently.  I don’t have any more improvements in the plans so hopefully it will stay this way for a while.

Kettle

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Equipment

I got this key from ebay for $80 incl shipping.  I cut the top open with an angle grinder.  After I did this, I found a suggestion online to fill it with water to absorb the sound.  Man I wish I found that a day or two earlier.  It was crazy loud while cutting.  My brain was itchy when I was done.  The sight glass is from Brewhardware.com and the weldless valve was from NorthernBrewer.

I had to make a little heat shield for the sight glass due to the heat of the propane burner.  I just took a piece of thin sheet metal and bent it into a shallow box, then screwed it into the skirt at the bottom of the keg. It makes a huge difference.  With my handheld temp probe I measured ~400F next to the shield during boil and under the stainless elbow for the sight glass measured ~250F.  Pretty significant.  However, this is essentially at the limit of the polycarbonate sight glass.  Too much exposure and this thing will start warping big time.  I have brewed a few times with it and so far no warping.  I am in the process of converting to electric which will eliminate this risk.  I used the leftover sheet metal to make a splash shield for the pump (you can see it in my brewstand pic).

Nov2011:
Installed the electric heating element and RTD temp probe.  Also made the probe cable using the wire and connectors from Auber instruments.

Leak tested overnight with not even one drop.  I have been putting this off because the thought of punching a 1-1/4″ hole in the side of my keg terrified me.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  I am very happy now.  Once the control panel is finished I can finally light this up and start brewing again!

Brew Stand

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Equipment, Uncategorized

brew stand

I built this little 2×4 brewstand to hold the HLT, Mash Tun and pump.  The kettle sits on the propane burner.  I pump sparge water up from the HLT to the mash tun, then gravity drain to the kettle.