Malting kiln controller for preparing beer brewing grains

A quick primer is in order: when it comes to hobby brewing there’s two main types, extract brewing and all-grain brewing. The former uses a syrup that has been extracted from the grains at a factory while the latter adds the steps to do this yourself. But in both cases the brewing grains have already been malted. This is a careful process of soaking the grains and then kiln drying them. [Richard Oliver] built his own malt kiln controller to add the preliminary step to his home brewing ritual. Now the only thing he’s not doing himself is growing the grains (and perhaps culturing the yeast).

His original design used a food dehydrator for the drying step, but this didn’t work because the temperature wasn’t at the correct level. The new build uses the ceramic heating element from a 300W hot air gun. A blower directs air through the element and into the wooden box that serves as the kiln. An Arduino monitors the heated air to keep it right in the sweet spot. He’s included a graphing GUI for easy monitoring, which is shown in the video after the break.

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BrewPi is a Raspberry Pi in charge of beer fermentation

Take a look at BrewPi, a fermentation controller made with a Raspberry Pi. The project hacks control of a refrigerator and a light bulb into the pervue of a Raspberry Pi board. The RPi itself brings network connectivity to the mix. What you end up with is an already highly configurable fermentation system which is perched to receive even more features moving forward.

The man behind the system is [Elco Jacobs]. You may remember his name from the UberFridge project. That was a router-based fermentation controller. This keeps the same great hardware as well as online graphing and control features such as setting plot points for ramping temperature up and down. For now there’s also an Arduino being used which takes care of the hardware switching via json packets received from the RPi. But now that he’s worked out most of the bugs it should be fairly painless to dump the Arduino and build a proper RPi shield for this purpose.

Fancy beer pong table cleans your balls

Beer Pong seems to have been around for some time but it only recently exploded in to a universally known game. But one thing has always bothered us. Who wants to drink the beer into which that grimy little ball has fallen? Leave it to the frat boys at MIT to come up with a solution. Their beer pong table automatically cleans your balls.

Of course the table looks great. It’s outfitted with laser cut felt lettering on the apron, and the top features EL wire highlights. But the two features that really set it apart aren’t hard to spot either. First, there are rain gutters along either side to help catch the spillage. Secondly, that blue ring is actually the input nozzle for the ball cleaner. By pushing the ball through the vinyl sleeve it enters a recirculating liquid cleanser, popping out of the portal on the left a second later. That’s about all the details we have on the system, but you can get a closer look at the inner workings in the clip after the break.

The thing to remember is that these guys NEVER run out of ping-pong balls. They’ve got thousands on hand ever since they built this launcher.

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Automated home brewing system has an insanely professional controller

So you know how on Breaking Bad, the chemist [Gale Boetticher] sets up an impressive rig to brew the best cup of coffee? Well what do you think of a group of engineers taking on beer as their side project? This rig, which we do think is pretty insane, is the result of embedded system engineers developing an automated brewing system.

[Ben_B] started from humble beginnings. He built a PID controlled smoker much like the one we saw last Monday. From there he ground out several iterations of brewing hardware, adding a bit of automation at each step along the way. But things really took off when the events department at his company, National Instruments, took notice. They put the team on the task of assembling professional grade control hardware for the unit. And of course while we’re spending the company dime why not chrome those boiling vessels at the same time. The finished project was shown off at a trade show to help promote the company.

The post thread linked at the top has shots of the complicated mounting and wiring that went into the controller. We’re not sure how much intervention is actually necessary during a session. But with all the sensors, pumps, valves, filters, and whatnot we wouldn’t be surprised if all you need to do is pitch some yeast into what comes out of it.

Building a Recirculating Infusion Mash System for your brewing pleasure

If you’re into all-grain brewing a little automation goes a long way. [Tom Hargrave] had his eye on a Recirculating Infusion Mash System (RIMS) but the price tag kept him from pulling the trigger. Recently he bit the bullet and built his own small and inexpensive RIMS for use with the 10 gallon cooler he uses as a mash tun.

Mashing is the part of brewing process that collects sugars from the milled grains. Water needs to move through the grain mash and should be kept within a narrow temperature window. This RIMS hardware does that automatically by combining a pump, the heating element from an electric water heater, and a temperature sensor. The wooden disc fits on the top of the mash tun and tubing lets the pump move the liquids as needed. The one thing missing from this build is the PID controller to automate the process. After the break we’ve embedded a video from a separate project that shows off how the PID control would work with a system like this one.

If you’re into automated home brewing you’ll also like this mini-batch brewing setup.

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Electronic beer pong removes beer from the equation

You can take the guy out of the frat house, but you can’t take the frat house out of the guy. [Evan Flint] proves this with his incessant need to have a beer pong game at all of his parties. But now that he’s growing up, and living in nicer places, he doesn’t necessarily want to have the oft-messy game in his home. So he found an electronic solution to his problem. Electropong is like an electronic dart board for playing beer pong. You won’t find beer in the cups, but you’ll still find plenty of fun.

The game includes the triangle of cups that makes up a traditional playing area. In the bottom of each cup is an RGB LED that will keep track of each player’s hits by lighting the cup in that team’s color. Illuminated buttons provide a way to control the game, with an LED marquee to read out the score.

[Evan] mentions some difficulty in recreating the physics of a cup full of beer. He says he overcame the challenge, but alas, there are no details on how. We’ve asked him to update his post so check back for more info.

5-keg tap system treats your home brew right

One of the biggest expenses when moving to a kegging system for your homebrew beer is finding a way to keep it cold. [Sanchmo] took a traditional route of using a chest freezer, but a bit of extra effort made the ordinary looking appliance into a 5 tap showpiece in his livingroom.

Home brewing is most often done in five gallon batches, so Cornelius kegs (for soda) work perfectly. The chest freezer used here has plenty of room for five of them and a canister of carbon dioxide.  A temperature controller (something along these lines) turns the freezer into a refrigerator. But to make it beautiful [Sanchmo] hit the wood shop pretty hard. He screwed a sheet of plywood to the lid and then trimmed it out, along with a tower to hold the taps. This was further accented with the inclusion of some LEDs for effect.

We did find one word of warning in the Reddit discussion. It’s possible that the original metal housing of the freezer is used as a heat sink which is now covered in wood paneling. We’re not sure if this is true of this particular model or not, but some investigation is warranted if you’re thinking of building your own.

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