Over Engineered Kegerator is Glorious

keger

When [Joey] decided to build a kegerator, he didn’t skimp. No commercial unit or simple kit would do. [Joey] wanted complete temperature monitoring, with a tap on the kegerator itself and a cooled tap remotely mounted at his bar. He started with a box freezer, which was a bit short for his purposes. Not a problem, as [Joey] cut an extended collar for the freezer from HDPE on his shopbot. The new collar gives mounting points for the beer lines, gas lines, as well as all the electronics.

Temperature control is handled by a commercial controller, however temperature monitoring is another thing altogether. An Arduino sits in a custom aluminum case on the outside of the kegerator. The Arduino reports temperature, beer type and also controls the cooling system for the beer lines. The cooling system alone is incredible. [Joey] designed everything in CAD and cut the parts out on his shopbot. Two fans sit in an aluminum air box. One fan is used to push cold air out from the freezer around the beer line. A second fan pulls air back in, keeping the kegerator/line/tap air system a (relatively) closed loop. The entire line set is insulated with 2″ fiberglass flex duct.

Temperature data and trend graphs can be monitored on the web, and [Joey] is using a Raspberry Pi to create a wall mounted status screen for his bar room. We love this build! [Joey] we’d buy you a beer, but it seems like you’ve got that covered already!

Kitchen island monitors and distributes home brew beer

This piece of furniture actually resides in [Matt Pratt's] livingroom but we think it would make a perfect kitchen island. The base is a chest freezer modified to keep the beer inside at just the right temperature. But this doesn’t just dispense the beer, the system is designed to tell you how many pints are left in each keg.

The freezer offers enough room for four five-gallon Cornelius kegs. [Matt] salvaged the weight sensors from some cheap bathroom scales and rigged them up with some plywood discs to serve as the base for each keg. After working out the electronics to reliably read from the sensors (which was no small job) he hooked them up to a microcontroller and a touch screen. As you can see in the video after the break, the system calculates the number of pints left in each keg based on its weight. This can be easily calibrated using the touch screen.

He didn’t talk all that much about the control hardware, but having see his post about ARM LCD dev boards we’d bet that’s what he’s using here.

[Read more...]

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.

Doomsday Keg of Radness helps ring in the New Year

doomsday-keg

Lots of people buy noise makers for New Year’s eve, others opt to sing Auld Lang Syne – then there’s these guys.

The crew at Stone Brewing Company throw an annual bash at their brewery in celebration of New Years, and while [Dino’s] countdown timer is great for intimate settings, they needed something bigger to wow the crowd. A busted half barrel was all the inspiration they needed to build the “Doomsday Keg of Radness”.

[Mike Palmer], the Creative Director at Stone handed the keg off to the maintenance crew for some remodeling, and got ready to fit it with all sorts of lights and other goodies. Holes drilled in the keg were fitted with bright pulsing LEDs, while additional LED light strips were laid out around the perimeter. The bottom was cut out to accommodate a Moonflower LED module, and a 24” monitor was strapped to the side in order to display a countdown timer. An old Macbook jammed inside the keg runs the video display, while the rest of the lighting is remotely controlled with an RF transmitter.

Now mind you this all went down last year, but since the display was such a hit, they will be busting it out again for the 2011 celebration.

Check out the short demo video below to get a look at the Doomsday Keg in action.

[Read more...]

Keep all eyes on your kegerator with this light up gauge cluster

kegerator_gauge_cluster

A few years back [Evan] built a kegerator from a mini fridge and was quite happy with his new beer chiller. Like many of us do, he started thinking up ways in which he could improve the project as soon as it was completed. While it took a couple of years, he recently got around to adding the temperature and capacity gauges he always wanted.

He added a temperature probe to the refrigerator, and then constructed a pair of tools that he could use to measure how much beer was left in the keg. The volume monitors include a scale built using a pair of pressure sensors from SparkFun, and a flow sensor installed in the beer line.

[Evan] scored an old Chevy gauge cluster and cleaned it up before installing a pair of analog meters which he used to show the keg’s temperature and “fuel” level. Since he feels no project is complete without some LED love, he added a few of them to the display without hesitation. The LEDs calmly pulsate when the keg sits idle, but spring to life and begin flashing when the flow sensor is activated.

As evidenced by this pair of keg monitoring systems, we think that you can never have enough information when it comes to your beer stash, so we really like how this project came together.

Be sure to check out his kegerator’s gauge cluster in the video below.

[Read more...]

Keeping beer chilled from keg to tap

beer_chiller

[Stan] was putting together his nano-brewery, and while waiting for his beer to finish fermenting, he decided to work on the storage portion of his project. He built a kegerator to store his forthcoming brews but realized that since it was about 10 feet away from his tap tower, the beer was becoming unacceptably warm and frothy in transit.

In commercial tap systems, a separate line of chilled propylene glycol is bundled with the beer lines, keeping it cool as it travels from keg to tap. [Stan] decided to replicate this setup, and after three different iterations, he nailed it.

His first two attempts involved keeping the cooling solution inside of the kegerator, but he found that either the pumps added too much heat to the solution, or that the kegerator was running at nearly a 100% duty cycle. Scrapping any sort of kegerator-based cooling, he decided to build a separate cooling unit with a dehumidifier he had sitting around. After fitting the unit into a cooler and filling it with solution, he found it to cool so well it turned the propylene glycol solution to slush!

Check out his site for more details on his cooling setup – if you are in the business of homebrew, you will be glad you did.

Monitor Keg volume, CO2, and temp

[Jean-Michel] tipped us off about his beer keg monitoring setup. It can tell you how much beer is left in each keg, how much carbon dioxide remains in the canister, and it can monitor and regulate temperature.

An Arduino mega is the brain of the system. A shield was built to interface force sensors, measuring the weight of the keg to estimate how much beer remains. Analog temperature sensors allow for temperature monitoring and control of the compressor for regulation. Information can be displayed on a graphic LCD or a computer via XBee wireless communications.

This is along the lines of the SparkFun kegerator but we like the added functionality. Does this need to Twitter? Probably not but if you want that, it’s only a bit of a software hack away.