Home > BrewzNET 2.0 > Pilot Run – Lessons Learned

Pilot Run – Lessons Learned

The BrewzNET 2.0 hardware had a pilot test run this past weekend on a 5 gallon batch of belgian-style strong dark ale. I wasn’t sure (right up to the hour before) whether I was going to drag the extra gear up and use it, but my enthusiasm ultimately won out. Many things worked flawlessly and others not so much… but those that didn’t were minor and easily addressed without hardware design changes.

The wireless grant performed as designed and without issue. I used it to both recirculate the wort (vourlauf) and run it into the kettle. I even have a video of it in action, although the audio quality sucks at times.

The control box did a great job keeping track of the volumes, rates, and estimating the time remaining in the sparge. During the recirculation I dialed in a good sparge rate and transfer pump rate using the feedback the control box provided, and those carried forward into the sparge cycle.

Sparge Wire KnotUnfortunately the wireless sparge arm did not work as flawlessly. For the first several gallons I had to manually top up the mash run because the float switch states were not being transmitted at all. I ultimately opened up the electronics enclosure and identified the issue – at some point the wires disconnected from the header, likely resulting from accidently pulling on them at some point. This was easily remedied by tying a knot in the wires to prevent them from pulling through the enclosure hole. Super low tech solution, I know… but highly effective.

Another issue I found is the control logic for the sparge pump doesn’t work how I want it, particularly if the added water is insufficient to toggle the float switch state value. The pump turns off, and never turns back on because there is no subsequent state change. I need to rework this to either keep the pump on for another cycle if the state hasn’t changed, or have the “overtime” begin once the pump switch state goes from down to up. There is a danger that when the HLT becomes empty that the pump will stay on permanently until it is manually turned off… but I could potentially work in a pump maximum time setting to prevent that.

In testing the hardware I also recognized some features that would improve the usability. One significant improvement would be implementation of an “auto mode” setting that progresses the control mode from Manual to Recirc/vourlauf to Sparge depending on the wireless devices being turned on or off. Currently you have to turn on the grant, go to the control box, navigate to the control mode screen and select the mode, and navigate back. Recirc mode could be engaged automatically when the grant is turned on and Manual mode could be set when it is turned off. Sparge mode could be set when the sparge arm is turned on. This could save some unnecessary fiddling with the electronics when you really want to focus on the brewing.

There are a few other minor programming tweaks I want to make, and hopefully I will have then implemented and loaded to the Netduino in time for my next brew session. I want to use that one to capture more video of the hardware in action.

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Categories: BrewzNET 2.0
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  1. June 8, 2014 at 7:48 am

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