Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Down for the Count...

Horizontal all weekend. Not because I drank too much either.

But on the bright side... I'm attending PHILLY CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Slippery Fingers and Deep Tanks

I had my second brew day yesterday with R2-DBREW. The brew day itself went very well. It was slow to start (I think I put too much water in the HLT, and didn't turn the heat up high enough), which made for a long brew day, but once I got the pumped primed it was smooth sailing all the way through.

Not one interruption. This surprised me because I was using a tank of propane that I thought was almost empty. I had another for backup I picked up the day before. One concern I still had with R2 was that it'd suck gas like an American Hummer. I thought I killed a good amount of a tank on my last brew, but now I'm wondering how much was actually left in the tank that I traded in. There might have been more than I thought...

The kicker really comes in when I was all done cleaning. When the brewing is done, I chill the wort to 90 degrees. Then I let it sit in the lagerator for a time while I clean up my brewing system. Once I get back to it, it's a good temperature for pitching yeast. So that's what I did. Except this time, I pitched the entire vial of White Labs with it. General consensus on the 'net is that I'll be ok. Honestly there's not much I can do now! Any attempt to retrieve it would just risk contamination further. Here's to hoping. Now the beer is bubbling away just as it should. No detrimental signs yet.

... Just with brew sculptures instead.
Most importantly, there were no crippling injuries. But even with wheels, R2-DBREW is a beast to move off-road. I might just have to put a motor on the thing. We may be able to make a new sport out of this. Brew sculpture racing anyone? Or...

On a side note, photos are up!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Phase 5: Electronics

It's getting harder and harder to do those cheesy holiday posts every winter. The songs aren't coming to me as quickly. Wordsmith I am not. Beersmith I am. But as long as there are cheesy holiday v-neck sweater-vests, there will be Splobucket's cheesy holiday song. I didn't even realize how cheesy it was until I read it to my wife a few days later. Funny how something sounds completely different in your head versus when you say it out loud.

But the holidays are over! The business world is kicking back into high gear. Kids are going back to school. I can get back to brewing. But before I drink the obligatory Sunday beer again, we've got one last phase to go over. Electronics.

Some items I got from a local electronics/everything store for incredibly cheap. Some I purchased online, and some I had left over from the old box. Lets go over the key components...

1x project box
1x Auber SYL-1512A Temperature Controller
2x Auber SYL-2342 Temperature Controller
1x 24v Transformer
6x On-Off Switches
1x On-Off-On Switch
5x Rocker Switches
3x Auber K-Type Thermocouple Sensors
Crapload of wire connectors and terminals
Zip-Ties

When you pick the box you're going to use, give a moment to think about how big it should be. Then take that and double it. If you're buying in a store, take down the dimensions you need and bring it with you. In the store the box seems a lot more spacious than it actually is. If you're in between sizes, get the bigger one. Got the idea? The bigger the better. (That's what she said)

This phase is all about precision. Use a dremel to cut out the holes in the front of your box. If you got a metal box, I hope you purchased some extra cutoff wheels. You're going to burn through them quick. Mark out everything on the box first, and be precise. The Auber controls only give you 1/16" play. Better to make it too tight and grind out some corners than the alternative. Hopefully you purchased round switches. It's a lot easier to drill the hole than cut a square. After you're done with the lid, think about where your wires are coming into the box and place the terminal strips accordingly. Wire layout is very important here.

Then you start wiring. I almost used 200' of wire to wire the box up and to my system. At least 100' of that is in the box alone. Color code the wires too, which will make troubleshooting the box a lot simpler. Stick with standard colors, black is hot, white is neutral, green is ground. In addition I used 16 gauge red wire for my control (24v) voltage for the gas controller. That should be most all you need. 

Wiring the box is time consuming, but it's probably the only thing you'll do on your rig that you won't sweat a river creating. That's where the terminal strips come in handy. Wire everything together. You'll be cutting, stripping, crimping for hours. Make a wiring diagram before you start. It's your road map to success.

Finally mount your box and connect to all your components. I used wire disconnects before all my valves to I could easily replace them if need be. Then comes the step that makes me more nervous then anything.

Flipping the switch. 

This makes me nervous because there's no in-between for electricity. If you put something mechanical together, you can move it or spin it to make sure it moves correctly. Not electricity. You flip that switch and you're either good, or you have a shower of sparks and fried electronics. Now is the time to also break out your multimeter. If something isn't working as it should, a multimeter is your friend.

You're done! Zip tie bundles together and use those zip tie mounting squares to neaten everything up and make it nice and tight. You've spent months on this, don't slack on the last few hours. This is when I first drew blood on this project. After all the metal cutting, drilling, filing, welding, etc. I drew blood tightening a zip-tie.  Hand slipped and hit the expanded wire mesh. Oh well. 

Now go brew grasshopper! Brew as much as you can. There are going to be kinks that need to be worked out, but it's inevitable. Learn your system. Be one with your system. Drink beer!! I'll post a photo-gallery of detailed pictures next week. Thanks for reading about my construction!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Test Brew Crew Post

Hello 2013!

I feel like I went on one of those mid-season hiatus that seems to be all the rage with television shows these days. I can't wait for The Walking Dead to come back in February. No worries, next week we'll be back on schedule and talking about R2-DBREW again. Hopefully you can stand it until then.

Usually at this point I look back on my post from last year and comment on all the things that was supposed to happen this year. I wasn't really looking forward to talking about all the goals I missed, and how that's ok because you need to set lofty goals to achieve greatness and all that BS. Turns out...

I didn't set any goals! And I feel great! See, if you set the bar low enough, you come out on top no matter what happens. Did make two huge accomplishments this year.

One of course, is surviving the end of the world. The catastrophe never happened. We're alive! There's some people out there who are really hating themselves right now for spending all their cash and running up their credit card bills. My message to them, think about the hell of a time you had spending all that cash!

Secondly, and you probably saw this one coming, was the construction of R2-DBREW. I'm obviously very proud of this one. It was a huge undertaking for me, and it came to fruition. I learned a lot in the process. I almost crippled myself in the process. It was an exciting time.

This year? This year is a year of brewing. I need to get as many brews through R2-DBREW as I can and perfect that machine. I just need to find some people to finish all that beer I'll be making...

Volunteers?

Happy New Year! Hope you checked into Untappd to unlock your badge!