Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Initial Build of MKIV

After a lot of convincing, I have finally started my own blog.
This blog is about the design, build and running of an automated brewery at my home. It has been a bit of a journey with much of the credit to be given to a friend of mine, Zizzle, who helped me embark on my very first automated brewery about 7 years ago. Things have changed since then. There has been many hurdles as well as a large amount of learning by making mistakes. I admit this openly and Im proud to say that I have learned more by making those mistakes.

So here's how this version started: After some lengthy discussions and a couple of hand-drawn pictures on some beer coasters (not really), a friend of mine, Warrick, created a 3D model of the frame along with all necessary components, and then whipped it together.
Model showing basic design and location of main components - Warrick Velt

Yep, the garage is a mess, but things change
Layout drawings were made of the main cabinet components. I was lucky to have been given 2 cabinets which I used to house the wiring for the machine. Not ideal, but beggars cant be choosers when its a self funded project. The top cabinet housed most of the power circuitry including the heating SCR's and a variable speed drive. The bottom panel houses the micro-controller and interface circuitry.
Upper (power) panel
Both panels before wiring

One of the major changes that I made in this version of the machine was to have all field wiring connect with plugs and sockets. This was a time consuming and expensive exercise, but the convenience that it created was worth my while. The following images show some components added to the frame. You can also see the big red emergency stop button. I wired a Pilz Safety relay which disconnects all of the power circuits in case of emergency. This proved very handy during testing.

The lid on the mash tun (the only vessel on the lower level) is raised and lowered by a 24V motor/gearbox. There is also a motor mounted on the lid that drives the stirring mechanism to stir the mash. 

After some testing and discussions surrounding the vessels, Warrick and I decided to go with stainless vessels, so we outlayed yet more money. The plus is that the liquid only ever flows through silicon hose or is stored in stainless vessels. This is much easier to clean and withstands the harshness of the wort.

Stainless + insulation.

Additions that came later in the piece were:

  1.  Ceramic inlet water filter - to filter as much chlorine and other impurities out of the town-supply water 
  2. Heat exchange style chiller - to chill the boiling wort down to prevent loss in hop flavour and added bitterness
  3.  A pump to assist the extraction of boiling wort from the Boiler - to ensure consistent flow through chiller for repeatability.  

Mash tun with pump, recirculation valves, and camlok hose connections
allow for easy removal and cleaning

This shows an actual mash in the "recirculation" step.  
Duct Covers on.

DC power supplies, interface boards and plug/socket connections

This is the current Mash-Pump and valve set-up. The valve combination will  be replaced by a motorised ball-valve. 

Latest image showing the major components

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