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Update to Kal's Panel -- Recommendations

 
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:52 pm    Post subject: Update to Kal's Panel -- Recommendations Reply with quote


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It's been a while since Kal designed the original Electric Brewery panel. It's my understanding there are better components, PIDS with the ability to step mash, LCD display, etc available. Even the rail design now available is a nice feature. (Keep things nice an clean.)

What recommendations do others, and of course Kal, make to update, modernize, our panels without "ripping everything out and starting over"? In other words minimal rewriting to use the new components.

PID replacement? AMP/Volt display replacement with LCD? etc...

I welcome constructive input.

Please realize I'm not putting down our panel or the design in any way. It's just new abilities are available since the panel was initially designed and I'm curious, looking to update. Isn't this the nature of mankind? Always looking to improve.

Thanks.
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10673
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Better components are not available today. A relay or switch from 10 years ago is no different from a relay or switch today. That said, there is certainly junk out there and there always has been. You get what you pay for.

We offer kits today with both bolt mount and DIN rail mount components. Up to you. The quality of the components in all our kits is excellent, we purposely use better than average quality parts. The functionality between bolt mount and DIN mount is identical. Only difference is how parts are mounted. From the outside there's no difference as to how the panels are used. So again, up to the owner how they want to build. DIN is more complex to wrap your head around and requires special tools, so something to be considered. I talk a bit about it here: https://shop.theelectricbrewery.com/collections/din-rail-components

While everyone will have different needs, the original design was done the way it was because one of my most important considerations be that parts always be available, for the rest of my life. I purposely uses non-proprietary (off-the-shelf) industrial grade components to ensure long term serviceability.
See: https://shop.theelectricbrewery.com/pages/faq#Does_your_brewery_use_any_special_or_proprietary_parts_

One of the other main goals was to not limit the brewer in any way. If there was anything that would make better beer, I would have used it, or I would have switched to it years ago.

You mention that there PIDs available today that can step mash. Any PID can step mash. I do them all the time. I think what you mean to say is that there are some PIDs where you can pre-program your step mashes ahead of time. That is true. All this saves you is a few seconds of hitting the temperature "up" button when you want to step up as it does it for you. Most are complicated to pre-program, and since every beer is different you'd have to program the steps ahead of time and given the interfaces I've seen it's error prone. So it's not really saving any time, just deferring it from brew day to pre-brew day. But again, up to the brewer how they want to tackle this task. If you do use something that has to be pre-programmed before brew day remember that you then have to remove or change that programming before the next brew day as every beer is different. I cover this subject here in the "Level of automation" section: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=25382

Give that thread a read too as I break down a lot of the other design options/choices and why I went the way I did.

You can certainly put in an LCD screen or do anything you like, but make sure there's a reason for doing it. An LCD screen won't make better beer. Some people prefer the look. That's certainly a valid reason.

Figure out what your requirements are, then figure out what equipment you need to get there. That's what I did. My requirements are here: https://shop.theelectricbrewery.com/pages/faq#What_were_your_main_criteria_in_designing_The_Electric_Brewery_

They are:

100% electric for indoor brewing
Safe, easy, and enjoyable to use
Not limit the brewer in any way
Provide extremely repeatable and consistent results
Use industrial quality parts that last (stainless steel, limit the use of plastics)
Use standard off-the-shelf parts to ensure long term serviceability (limit the use of special / proprietary parts)

You may have different needs.

What are you looking for exactly when you say "modernize"? What new abilities are you looking for? Before changing anything, look at what you want to do from a functionality standpoint. Don't look at specific parts. Parts come after you know what you want to do. You haven't provided any requirements of what you want to do, so it's impossible to suggest anything.

Cheers!

Kal

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My basement/bar/brewery build 2.0


Last edited by kal on Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:28 pm; edited 3 times in total
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kal,
Coming across as a bit defensive. No offense by me intended.

"An LCD screen won't make better beer." can apply to lots of things. Some swear by BIAB (instead of our EB).

I understand Auber now has PIDs that can be programmed to step mash. Yes, we can easily push a button on the PID to raise the temp, but wouldn't it be nice to have the PID to it? Yes, it would. This is just one example.

I, God I hate this over used word, love my EB. I make fantastic beer with it as I've posted in prior posts. However, is there consideration for upgrading some components using newer off the shelf components.

I do absolutely detest updating things "just because". I hate websites that all appear the same. Cookie cutter sites as they were built from a wizard and then loaded with content. Please don't think I'm criticizing the EB panel, I certainly am not.

Hopefully, I've articulated my position.
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10673
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KB wrote:
I understand Auber now has PIDs that can be programmed to step mash. Yes, we can easily push a button on the PID to raise the temp, but wouldn't it be nice to have the PID to it? Yes, it would. This is just one example.

Having used those PIDs I disagree. I don't want it, and don't use it even though those PIDs are drop in replacements.

We choose to not use them as I don't feel they make any sense on a Brewing setup. They're more work to pre-program ahead of the brew day, you may pre-program it incorrectly (and you're not around to notice), and you need to change it for every beer. You may forget one day when brewing that you had a previous mash schedule pre-programmed and the temps change on you when you're not there.

To quote the article I linked to above:

Quote:
I felt that the time required to program the automated steps at the start of the brew day could or would likely take just as long as 'manually' changing certain settings when needed. For example, with today's highly modified malts, I mostly do single infusion mashes (not step mashes). The only step I have is to mashout. To do that I hit the temperature "up" button a few times on one of the PIDs once the alarm sounds to let me know that mashing is complete. It takes 3-5 seconds to do. A computer (or PID with built in step mashing) could easily be programmed ahead of brew day to automate this but what exactly is that saving or simplifying for me? Computers are also great for processes where actions must be done at very precise moments but timing is not overly critical in brewing. For example, if you mash a few minutes or even an hour longer after conversion has already taken place it won't affect the beer.


Pre-programming specific temp ramps and steps make sense in something that is done exactly the same way over and over again where the timing is very critical (such as rubber mold stamping/curing which I have some experience with). Brewing is not a good use of this feature (IMHO).

Certainly change anything you like, just make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Kal

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We ship worldwide and support our products and customers for life.
Purchasing through our affiliate links helps support our site at no extra cost to you. We thank you!
My basement/bar/brewery build 2.0


Last edited by kal on Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And these are the kinds of input I am seeking...

Others?
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Walts Malt



Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 95
Location: Farmington, MN

Drinking: Citra IIPA, Brown Ale, Brooklyn 1/2 Ale


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know it’s not exciting and maybe not the answer you are looking for, but I wouldn’t change anything. I love the simplicity and complexity of the panel. My personal view is that I want consistency, first and foremost. This system has allowed me to learn quickly how it responds, and produce consistent beer. Personally, I would rather spend the money on other areas of brewing where I think big improvements have been made (fermentation and temperature control), before I spent more on the panel or kettles.
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701pilot



Joined: 10 May 2016
Posts: 46
Location: northern california

Drinking: Bohemian Pilsner,Caribou Slobber, Munich Helles, Weissbier, Black Bute Porter, RIS, Irish Red Ale

Working on: Milk Chocolate Stout


PostLink    Posted: Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

KB.

The only thing I changed in building my panel was to eliminate the door bell transformers and the low voltage regulators for the displays. I also used different displays that use the already available power in the panel. I learned when wiring aircraft panels that every thing added that is not necessary is a possible failure point. Not just the components them self but all the wires and connections for them. Not a big deal in a brewery panel but a power problem at flight level is, you can't pull over and call a tow truck.

I would expect nothing less than Kal being defensive about his design, it is well thought out and safe. Every designer has their own past experience to draw from when designing something. It is what makes some designs more functional and safer than others. Preference of the color of the display doesn't make better beer but the electrical complexity to get the LED blue instead of the bland LCD can make no beer at all if it fails.

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Mark

I can't change the laws of physics but with enough horse power I can chase it into submission.
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please realize I'm not looking for exciting or sexy changes. When was the original design? 2012? I was only thinking there might be better components, etc available after 8 years.

I only wrote about LCD display as an example.
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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10673
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jul 18, 2020 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quality of parts available for anything will always change over time as manufacturers find better ways to build things but the parts used in our brewery (heating elements, valves, relays, PIDs, switches, etc.) are all extremely common parts. They were purposely picked because they existed for dozens and dozens of of years before the original design (from 2008) and will continue to exist for dozens more because of the tens of thousands of (non-brewery related) industrial installations around the world running today that rely on them. My design is not married to one particular part or manufacturer. That was part of the goal that I explain here: https://shop.theelectricbrewery.com/pages/faq#Does_your_brewery_use_any_special_or_proprietary_parts_

We've certainly used better parts over the years but that's just us in the parts we sell. We're on our 3rd or 4th switch manufacturer (for example). The ones we use today are 2-3 times more expensive than the originals but we think it's worth it. Switch quality varies greatly from one manufacturer to another. After more than 10 years and multiple manufacturers, we've settled on robust industrial switches with excellent quality parts that are made to last. You can feel the quality difference in use: These switches have tight, reliable make/break switching. Cheap $2 switches from ebay (like the ones I bought myself for my original design), not so much. I have a few boxes of "lesser quality" parts that didn't work out: https://shop.theelectricbrewery.com/pages/faq#Did_you_get_any_of_your_stuff_for_free_

It's important to understand that we didn't switch to different manufacturers because technology advanced over the last ~10 years however. The parts (like switches) are insanely common and it's not like technology of switches changed over the last 10 years (for example). We simply wanted better for our kits and pre-assembled panels. You can even go more expensive and robust/industrial if you like. For example, instead of $10-12 for one of our switches you could buy a $100-200 Allen Bradley switch. But that's getting kind of silly. That sort of robustness and quality isn't needed in a brewing panel. This isn't an aircraft or a nuclear power plant, and nobody wants to spend $10,000+ on parts to build their brewing panel. It’s important to understand too that that $100-200 switch isn’t new. They’ve existed for 50+ years. I’m sure there are many manufacturing plants still running that use Allen Bradley switches from the 1960-1970s.

So I wouldn't recommend swapping out parts unless you're actually having an issue. Same reason you don't go and replace all the light switches in your house every ~10 years. It's not worth / there's really no difference in what you probably have now and new light switches available at Home Depot.

Long story short, there were crappy (and good) parts available when your panel was built, and there are still crappy (and good) parts available today.

Now, without knowing what parts you're using exactly it's hard to comment on the quality of what you have. Did you buy one of our control panels pre-assembled? Or one of our control panel kits? What year? Or did you source your own parts?

Kal

_________________
Our new shop with over 150 new products: shop.TheElectricBrewery.com
We ship worldwide and support our products and customers for life.
Purchasing through our affiliate links helps support our site at no extra cost to you. We thank you!
My basement/bar/brewery build 2.0
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was a complete kit of parts including drilled panel from you. Originally purchased 2014? I need to find my receipt. Originally had a problem with dim VOLT and AMPS display. Believe it was faulty adjustable DC power supply (which was replaced without quibble. Thanks!)

I'd find it helpful having separate "How To Build" vs "Theory" instead of mixing things together. I read thru the complete manual more than once, but I know I missed theory items thinking I was still in the "How To Build" page(s).

As I've previously written, I have no problems, no qualms with my EB. Just thinking about things/technology that probably changed since 2014.
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KB



Joined: 06 Nov 2014
Posts: 255
Location: Virginia

Working on: Next brew


PostLink    Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

701pilot wrote:
KB.

The only thing I changed in building my panel was to eliminate the door bell transformers and the low voltage regulators for the displays. I also used different displays that use the already available power in the panel.


Mark,
Thanks for the input. Exactly the type of input I seek.

Kraig
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McGruber



Joined: 12 Aug 2014
Posts: 237
Location: Idaho


PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I opted to add a dedicated whirlpool pot to my Kal clone system, and I purchased a ready made panel. The only thing I changed was to add a dedicated WP pump, and I wired in the pump control for it in-line with, and just like, the other two.

Images here. http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=28523&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

The only thing I would like to change, is that it takes a long time for my mash to hit HLT set temp (pretty predictably almost twice as long, depending on grain bill). That's not a control panel issue though, and I wouldn't change anything on the panel personally.
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barney the bear



Joined: 15 Oct 2014
Posts: 43
Location: Linköping, Sweden


PostLink    Posted: Tue Oct 06, 2020 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ordinary PID:s are small and with a user unfriendly interface . Adding advanced step functions make them even more unfriendly. But another interface could be one innovation.

https://smartpid.com/store/#!/SmartPID-M5-PRO/p/219684032/category=55724536
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