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This weekend my friend Brian and I brewed 20 gallons of an Imperial Amber made mostly with homegrown Zeus, Nugget and Magnum hops. The brew day went pretty well, and presented a good opportunity to test the grant and pump skid control box I’ve been working on. I wish I could say the grant was a smashing success – far from it…. but I did learn a few things from the experience.

After fighting the grant for about 15 minutes, Brian and I made the (smart) decision to abandon my new toy and go to a backup plan, namely collecting the wort in my 10 gallon kettle and manually pumping it over to the 26 gallon kettle when necessary. The rest of the brew day went well, except for coming up a gallon short (19 gallons) in the carboys. The specific gravity reading instantly told us where that extra gallon went – we hit 1.077 instead of 1.070. Rather than fretting over the carboys being a little light, we simply pitched into our stronger wort and called it a day.

After some investigation tonight, I nailed the issue down to the PICAXE to PICAXE serial communications (no huge suprise there), and hanging during a SERIN command despite a supposed “timeout”, which apparently does not do everything I thought it did… Things work OK when the grant is connected, but the PICAXE completely locks up when it is unplugged. I may have to post a question on the PICAXE forum to see if a 4k7 or 10k pulldown resistor could fix that…. Otherwise I’ve got some major code rewrites that could circumvent the issue. I also significantly improved the communication by slowing down to 1200 baud instead of 2400, which to me indicates that I might need to tweak the clockspeed in the 28X1 with a CALIBFREQ command, or use an external 4Mhz resonator. Not much I can do on the 08M side of things if the grant PICAXE controller is a little off.

Although the maiden voyage of the grant ended with an iceberg, I am trying to remain positive. The next will hopefully make it to port… And based on everything I know, it should (and will) work.

This week I’ve got lots of beer-related stuff I need to do… Transfer my porter from last weekend to secondaries, Keg the Amarillo Pale from the HDYB all-grain demonstration on Sept 28, and put away my brew gear from yesterday, bottle & cork the second 5 gallons of Abbey Brown… Only some of that is bound to get done, though.

Categories: Uncategorized
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  1. October 23, 2008 at 12:34 am
  2. November 16, 2008 at 1:00 am

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