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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2004 * April 13, 2004 * Electronic Temp Controller Construction Questions < Previous Next >

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Peter Roman (129.21.227.180)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 05:49 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Greetings,
I have seen many of you hardcore brewers with your own electronic temp controllers. Particularly ones you fellas use to control a heat stick. I am interested in constructing one. From what I understand, all i need is a controller off ebay, and a SSR. I am thinking 120V because I don't have room for any more breakers in my box, and I only do 5-6 gal batches. Does anyone know of a comprehensive guide to building them? How much money am I likly to save over the B3 version?

Thanks,
Peter Roman
 

Tom Gardner (162.119.240.100)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:06 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I like the RANCO ETC temperature controller. That's the one Morebeer sells. You can pick them up wholesale from www.controlsdepot.com for $38.90 each unwired. The directions that come with it are pretty clear. They can be programmed for heating (heatstick) or cooling and they always display the temperature. The probe isn't supposed to get wet, so if you're using it in water put it into a baggy or use a thermowell.

Go to www.controlsdepot.com. Click on "New User", then click on "new user", then search on "ETC" and select RANETC-111000-000 unless you want a two stage or 24 V.
 

Jared Cook (147.136.228.54)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:09 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I guess I don't understand what you are trying to control. Are you tring to build a HERMS? You'll need a lot more than just a controller and a SSR.

I seem to rember that you are an extract brewer. If you're getting into all grain, forget the electronics. Get the basics down first. I brewed great all grain beer for years before I ever thought about controllers. Electronics don't make better beer, although I plan to brew a batch in my brand new HERMS this weekend or the next ;)
 

Peter Roman (129.21.227.180)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:17 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I use propane right now, which is great for getting the wort up to boil, but i'd like to have a heat sick to keep it there. Also, I grow many plants as a side project and would like to use the controller to control terrarium temps. I could go on and on for reasons for wanting one... The ranco doesn't seem like a bad deal. I'll go check out their site right now. If I try all grain this summer this thing wil also come in handy im sure...

Thanks fellas,
Peter Roman
 

Jared Cook (147.136.228.54)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 06:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I see. You don't need a temp controller or a ssr for this. Wort boils at 212º, you dont need fancy electronics to tell you that. What you need with the heat stick is a dimmer switch to control the voltage. That way you can controll the vigor of the boil, which will always be the same temp, 212º. Although, I wonder if you wouldn't want to run a single element full blast if you only have 120v...
 

Richard Shaffer (64.35.155.194)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jared, I live at 4300' above sea level and water boils here at about 204 deg. Plus, wort boiling temp will increase with a increase in wort density. Richard.
 

Tom Gardner (162.119.240.100)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 07:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hmm, it boils at 201 here. I use mine to control the heatstick in the HLT so it heats the mash water overnight to the right temperature and is ready to go in the am. Tom
 

Jared Cook (147.136.228.54)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Richard, a temperature controller won't change that either. You are missing the point. Boiling is boiling whether or not you have an electronic readout to tell you the exact temperature. It's going to hit the temp it's going to hit, obviously depending on your altitude, and the only thing you can change is the vigor of the boil.
 

craig white (205.188.116.20)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 08:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

what Jared is trying to say is, you dont need a temp controler for boiling wort, just mash water and sparge water. but you could use a heat stick to boil the wort.
 

Richard Shaffer (64.35.155.194)
Posted on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 09:52 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Your right, boiling is boiling but not necessarily 212 deg. F. Brew on Jared. Richard.
 

Paul Tackmann (12.2.142.7)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 05:51 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

In a rims system would one gravity feed the water through the heating chamber then pump it back in to the HLT or place the pump before the heating chamber and pump it through the chamber?
 

Ric Heinz (64.154.26.251)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 06:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Paul -

Since heated fluid rises naturally, I would recommend pumping up through your heating chamber. Why buck mother nature?

Ric
Houston, TX
 

Paul Tackmann (12.2.142.7)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 07:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I Just figured it would be like a counter flow against the element towards the base.
so then gravity feed to the pump then into the chamber at the base of the element then out?
 

Ric Heinz (64.154.26.251)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 08:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yes, that' how I do it. Put the pump at the lowest point in the system to maximize your suction head.

I have mounted my element vertically, pointing up. Make sure there are no air pockets in the heating chamber. You want the element completely immersed. Also the heating element should be below your mash tun fluid level so it will stay immersed when the pump is shut down. I also have my element interlocked with the pump so that when the pump is off, the heating element can't be turned on.

BTW, my heating chamber is PVC. I haven't had any problems with it yet. My heating element is rated at 3800 watts at 240 VAC. I am using it on 120 VAC giving an actual wattage of 950 watts. It is one of those wrap-around (low watt density?) elements.

Ric
Houston,TX
 

Brewzz (65.88.98.1)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:43 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I know this has been gone over alot of times, but,where can I look to find out how to set up a temp controller with a pid to control a vessel that I want to keep @ a constant of 80C.I would probably be using a couple of hot water heater elements in a 15 gal boiler.This would make my err...Purification Apperatus much more user friendly than flammable propane.I know I have seen a whole article about this before,but, can't remember where.TIA Brewzz
P.S. I usually heat 12 gal. batches and COULD use propane to get it up to heat if necessary.
 

Brewzz (65.88.98.1)
Posted on Friday, April 02, 2004 - 10:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

BTW...I would be heating 12 gal. batches at a time.I have a 220 outlet in my garage, but could use propane to get it close to temp and then use 120 volt heaters to keep it at temp if that would be cheaper.Any suggestions?
Brewzz
 

Ric Heinz (64.219.77.11)
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 01:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Bruzz -

I have a PID controller on my electric RIMS and am controlling the outlet temperature of my heating chamber. I do 5 gallon batches so usually about 4 gallons of mash water. I circulate at about 1 gal/min. I use my controller in the "on-off" mode. The mash water temperature (measured at the chamber inlet) will rise to the setpoint at about 1 F/min. Once the setpoint is reached, the temperature in the mash tun stablizes within 4 minutes. The controller maintains the fluid temp within a degree at the chamber outlet. I doubt that the mash temperature is fluctuating even half of that. All of my lines are insulated and I am using a 10 gallon Igloo (Houston) cooler to mash in, so not much temperature loss.

I tried to use the PID control in this configuration and quickly realized it was dumb because what you are really trying to control is the mash temperature not the heater outlet fluid temperature.

If you are controlling the mash temperature with a thermocouple in the mash vessel the PID function of these controllers probably makes sense and will work well.

I'll have to admit, I'm a little dissapointed that I can't brag about how I'm using gain, derivitave and integral control during my mash sessions. However, with the setup I have, the "on-off" control performs perfectly.

Somehow I have stumbled on to the simpler is better principal. Why do I have to keep relearning this?

Ric
Houston, TX
 

Richard Shaffer (64.35.155.194)
Posted on Saturday, April 03, 2004 - 03:04 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey Rick,
It's better to brag about your beer. So many of us get hooked on the process when it's all about the beer. Your not going to get better than +- 1 deg. with pid control anyway. Sounds like you have a winner with your on-off scheme. Consistently well made beer, it's all good. Richard
 

Ric Heinz (64.219.212.220)
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 12:58 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Richard. You're right. It's about the beer. But as a mechanical engineer freek, I really like the equipment end of this hobby. Very rewarding.

My friends say the beers are good. I want them to be better. There is so much knowledge here on this board that I'm learning every day...so I enjoiy reading everybodys posts. All of them.

Sucking down some of my brew now, excellent (I think anyway)...especially since I spent the day welding up a 45 gallon diesel fuel tank for a friend's sail boat. Hey, we're going to Vericruz, Mexico in thjis boat in early June. I really believe the taste of beer is always situational.

Woooooooow! Having trouble typing correctly. Too high a gravety. Need to vbe brewing lkower garvity beers for the weekend!!!!!

Ric
Houston, TX
 

Brewzz (65.88.98.1)
Posted on Sunday, April 04, 2004 - 01:24 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Anyone have a link to a site that shows how to convert a sanky,install the heater elements and wire it all up???
Brewzz
 

Marlon Lang (65.0.99.242)
Posted on Monday, April 05, 2004 - 12:17 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ric
FWIW, off-on control is PID with infinite gain, no integral, no derivative. But you have also discovered that in a system with no load changes, off-on is also the best. Congrats. You just aced Control 101.

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