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New Hardware Madness

I am just so damn excited… I got a bunch of new toys to play with in the mail today, and I couldn’t contain myself – I had to come here and write about them. I suppose I *should* be downstairs in the basement playing with them, but I’m holding off until tomorrow to do that. The picture has captured pretty much the gist of the new gear, all of which is going to a new “grant skid” which I have prattled on about before.

First and foremost is the 1.5 gallon SS grant vessel itself. Its not much to look at, but it will be the perfect size to function as a grant. I had them weld in an extra 1/2″ coupler so it would accomodate two horizontally mounted float switches – perfect for high and low level detection. The Madison M8700 is supposed to be good to 105 deg C, so they will be more than able to take the < 180 deg wort. The grant also came with stainless false bottom and glass top, neither of which I forsee getting much use. The grant is actually marketed as a hopback from MoreBeer.com, but since I don’t forsee doing anything requiring a hopback and a grant is going to require leaving the lid off, again – probably won’t see much use. I may ultimately punch a fourth hole and install a 1/4″ thermowell in the grant for a temperature probe, but it will probably be easier just to read the temperature in the outlet hardware (put a stainless T in where the barb fitting currently is).

I also picked up a bunch of new electronic gear to tinker with:

  • A Cosel VAA505 power supply that converts 120VAC to 5DC – perfect for powering a picaxe, some SSRs, and a 5V exchaust / cooling fan
  • A pair of 2803A Darling Driver ICs for driving the SSRs, just in case the PICAXE output current isn’t sufficient. I had read elsewhere that Crydom SSRs often need a little more controlling current that many ICs will natively support, so this is kind of a backup plan
  • The Crydom D1210 SSR – Normally open, Controls 120V 10A with a 5V control current. Should be more than ample for switching my March TE-5C-MD pump on and off. If this one works well, I will get a second one to control the HLT top up pump.
  • A 2″ x 3″ crydom aluminum heat sink – These SSRs supposedly get pretty hot. I’m betting for the kind of duty cycle I’m going to need, this smaller one should be ample, particularly when mounted near the exhaust fan.
  • A little 15CFM 5V fan – When power is going to this unit, the fan is going to be running trying to keep things cool. I’m hoping that the 15CFM will be adequate – I may put a LM34 temperature sensor in the box somewhere just to take readings and confirm. If I have to upgrade the fan to something with more flow, I’ll do it down the road.

How I am going to work the VAA505 power supply into the design has me a little baffled due to the pin configuration and post type – the pins look like they plug into breadboards. Maybe I just get some standard header connectors? As the picture indicates, there are the two AC connections on one side, a ground in the middle, and the DC output on the other. The board itself is only about 1″ x 2.5″ so it is tiny, and I am amazed that it can actually do a one-step 120VAC to 5VDC conversion… skeptical even. Tomorrow evening, my first point of attack is to see if I can get a PICAXE 08M chip running using that supply and a standard 120V plug – I’d rather sacrifice an 08M than one of my 40X1s. Hopefully this little power supply won’t turn out to be a bust.

In addition to this stuff, I’m also checking into some new software packages that Arnie Wierenga turned me on to, namely DIPTrace and PICAXE VSM for PCB prototyping and circuit simulation, respectively. I have little doubt I could make this happen without those, but I the software will certainly help ensure I have fewer iterations and mistakes along the way.

Man, this is one seriously geeky post. What the heck does this have to do with brewing beer?!?! Oh right… grant.

Categories: Brew gear, Tech geeks
  1. May 21, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Could be cool to use the false bottom in the grant with some whole hops stuffed in there, sort of like a first first wort hops. Looks like some way cool (way geeky) stuff you got going on – B

  1. March 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm

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