The Doghouse Brew Rig Build – Part Three “The Control Panel” (Updated 2014-03-16))
|May 30, 2012||Posted by 2nobledogs under Equipment, The Doghouse|
In part three of The Doghouse Brew Rig Build I’m going to discuss the components of the control box. The control box is what automates your system. The components of the box send signals back and forth to your furnace valves (described in Part Two), which in turn open and close to fire the burners. This keeps the strike water and mash at the desired temperature. Keep in mind that if you are going to a direct fire type of mash tun you must recirculate your mash to keep it from scorching.
As with the gas system, there are probably many ways to put the control panel together. For this post I’m going to focus on what I used to build mine.
To build the control box you will need:
• 1 – 10”x6” Electrical Enclosure (my was much larger than 10”x6” but I was fortunate enough to get it as a gift from my good friend over at 17 Apart)
• 2 – PID Temperature Controllers – Auber SYL-2362
• 2 – Panel mount RTD connectors
• 2 – RTD Sensors
• 3 – Switches (Single pole single throw) Main Power, and Pumps
• 2 – Switches (Single pole double throw) Furnace Valves
• 1 – 120v-24v Transformer (Link updated June 9, 2013)
• 2 – Terminal Strips
• 2 – Jumpers
• 1 – Standards 110v power receptacle
• 1 – 15’ Extension cord
• Various wire connectors
• Electrical wire
Once you’ve collected all of the components you are ready to get started with the assembly. Start by determining how you want your box to look. Then layout the component locations and cut the openings. This is easily done with a jig saw and a metal cutting blade. Inside the control box you have a few things happening. First you have a 110v supply line coming into the box. That line then gets split into a 110v side and a 24v side through the use of the transformer. The 110v side powers the pumps and the PIDs, while the 24v side sends power to your furnace valves. Also inside the box, the PIDs receive a signal from the RTD temperature sensors and then send a signal back to the furnace valves telling them to open or close.
Trying to explain how this all goes together is quite difficult. Instead, I’m going to show you with a few diagrams. They say a picture is worth 1000 words right? Also, keep in mind I’m no electrical guru so I have no idea how to draw up a real electrical schematic. I had to enlist my awesome wife to put these images/video together. If you find this information helpful make sure you let her know in the comments below . I know she would appreciate it.
Below is a wiring diagram for the panel. Again, I’m not an electrician so I apologize for not using the appropriate terminology and symbols. It should be pretty self explanatory but feel free to ask questions. Also, you can click on the image to enlarge it.
Once I completed the panel I had to find a way to mount it on the frame. Seems simple right? But, remember I need everything to stow away neatly so I could not have anything permanently protruding from the frame. My solution was to build a frame and then bolt it to one of the removable handles. By doing this the handle still acts as a “wheel barrow” handle, then acts as a panel mount, and then stores away neatly at the end of the brew day.
Finally, you will need to set your PID settings. You can follow the instructions that came with the PID but I found them somewhat confusing. Mine are set as follows:
inty – P100
outy – 4
HY – 2
psb – 0
rd – 0
corf – 1
This should get you going on your control panel, but, keep in mind that this is a broad overview. Make sure you follow the instructions of your specific components. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.
Good luck with your build and remember the hardest part is STARTING!
UPDATE: I have run many many brews through this system and I am very happy with the performance. Everything has worked pretty much exactly as planned. Well, two brew session ago I started to have trouble with the electronics and was at a loss as to how to fix it. The problem was the furnace valves would randomly turn off. So, I invited a friend over and we started to troubleshoot. We determined the culprit was a bad connection between the furnace valve and the control box. These connectors are the ones I picked up at Radio Shack and have been a problem in the past.
The friend that was helping me who knows infinitely more about electronics than I do brought his control panel over just in case we needed to compare. His was a work of art and had higher end components than what I used on mine. So, I got him to send me the links to his furnace connector and I ordered them that day.
Several days later I had them in hand and today I installed them. They work great and the connection problems are a thing of the past. I have posted several pictures and links below. The lesson learned: Don’t let a $1.00 part ruin your brew day. Pay the extra money and buy quality components.