Wireless Temperature Control for a Microbrewery

Wireless Temperature Control

When brewing your own beer, temperature control is important. If the temperature isn’t regulated correctly, the yeast will be killed when it’s added to the wort. It’s best to cool the wort from boiling down to about 25 C quickly before adding yeast.

To do this, [Kalle] came up with a wireless temperature controller for his home brewing setup. The device uses a heat exchanger to cool the wort. An ATmega88 connected to a H-bridge controls a valve that regulates flow through the heat exchanger. It reads the current temperature from a LM35 temperature sensor and actuates the valve to bring the wort to a set point.

A neat addition to the build is a wireless radio. The nRF24L01 module provides a wireless link to a computer. There’s an Android application which communicates with the computer, providing monitoring of the temperatures and control over the set point from anywhere [Kalle] can get an internet connection.

Comments

  1. Janez D. says:

    *fum*

    I received TODAY two nRF24L01 modules only to realise they are way too small for my board – what I did or am trying to do is a temperature / AC output / wireless module that can double as thermostat or switch or just temperature gauge. I planned it all around ATtiny24 utilizing all the pins and using Arduino-compatible 24L01 library with some hacks/workarounds of my own to not use Arduino code. It would be connected to central box that would do some logging, logic etc.

    What impresses me – someone has gone ahead and did that :) Not 100% the same but still. To my next question – anyone interested in the project? It would cut the board cost..

  2. hpux735 says:

    It’s probably more useful to run the heat exchanger full-blast until you reach your setpoint. It’s more of a get this wort down to temp ASAP than a precision thing. I like the idea, though.

    • benk says:

      my thoughts exactly. I’ve always run my chillers at max rate until the wort was cool. having temperature control for fermentation would be more useful brewing some specialty lagers. it is good to have the extra assurance you are safe to add the yeast though.

    • Ian says:

      The only reason I can think of, on a micro-brewery scale, is water consumption. If you pump water through too fast, you’re not being very efficient. You’d like the water coming out of the exchanger to be at close to the wort inlet temp to make sure you’re pulling all the heat out without wasting water. You also don’t want to pump so slow that it saturates too soon either, so I could see some controls being of benefit here. Don’t know if that’s what this setup is accomplishing, though. As for the home brewing scale, I know we don’t brew enough at my house to be too concerned with huge water bills. We crank the water on full blast, too!

    • The thing is that in our brewery we pump the 100°C wort from the boiler, through the heat exchanger and straight into fermentation tanks using a circulation pump. The pump is working at a constant speed but the liquid level in the boiler is not, which reduces the flow during the emptying process. This is why we decided to regulate the flow on the cool side of the heat exchanger.
      We found out the hard way it is critical to maintain a certain flow through the heat exchanger (on both sides) because if the flow turns laminar, the heat exchange reduces significantly.
      if you are interested in our brew setup we have a blog that shows the build (starting from the bottom): http://translate.google.se/translate?sl=sv&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=sv&ie=UTF-8&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fvartlillabryggeri.blogspot.se%2F

      /Kalle

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