Wine cask sensor suite

As part of his Master’s dissertation [Salvador Faria] built a sensor suite for wine monitoring. He needed to develop a method of tracking data inside the wine cask during the vinification process. What he came up with eclipses the wine cellar temperature monitors we’ve seen before.

He picked up pH, temperature, carbon dioxide, alcohol, and relative humidity sensors from familiar vendors like Seeed, Parallax, and SparkFun. His original idea was to develop a floating probe that housed the entire package but he had quite a bit of trouble getting everything inside and maintaining buoyancy. The solution was a two-part probe; the stationary portion seen mounted on top of the cask houses the microcontroller, RF 433 MHz transmitter, and the gas sensors. Tethered to that is a floating probe that measures pH and temperature. Data is sent over radio frequency to an HTTP POST server every minute.

15 thoughts on “Wine cask sensor suite

  1. @Elias,

    My guess is this is a working prototype, and the final version will be milled out of 18/8 or something similar that wont add off flavors… Good point there though…

  2. Elias: The outside can be rusty and the inside may still be pristine. It all depends on the environments inside and outside the pipe. Having worked under a lot of disgusting sinks and bathroom fixtures, I can tell you from experience that the outside of a pipe is not always a good indicator of what’s inside.

  3. Those PH probes have a solution in them that leaches out into what you are testing.

    I would not want to drink any of the wine he is “monitoring”….

    Plus why monitor PH? it’s a useless measurement in winemaking as you will get stratification layers in the cask so to get an accurate measurement you need to mix the batch draw a sample and test. 99.9978% of all winemakers do not monitor PH.

    Let me monitor specific gravity…. Now you have something that is useful.

  4. “Guys, I’m not sure what water systems have to do with this, this is not a pipe with something going through the inside.”

    you forgot soaking in a mild acid for months on end

  5. @UltimateJim Actually, according to the Jack Daniels Distillery guide I had, an iron nail hammered into a cask will render it undrinkable. That’s why JD is so proud of their water supply: they pipe it from 2 miles underground and it’s iron-free. “Stainless” is more “Stain Resistant”, and doesn’t give up it’s iron easily to corrosion, or chemical recombination.

  6. @fartface: Since the specific grav is changing due to the production of co2 and alcohol, you should be able to reverse engineer the gravity from a measurement of co2 / alcohol content. I don’t remember exactly but its (OG – FG)/something = %ABV. Seems like you sub in OG and %ABV and solve for FG and monitor that throughout. Although it obviously wouldn’t be final, it would be instantaneous, but at the end of the fermentation process that instant it would be final right… lol

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