Automating my brewery (Part 1)

As an avid home-brewer I own a setup that I use for testing out recipes and recreating my favorite beers with my own twist. Over the last years, my gear has improved a bit and one of my main projects is automating my own brewery. I wanted to document this, so maybe other people could use this as well.

My brewing system consists of a Brew in a Bag (BIAB) system, build on a modified Weck-kettle. I’m able to brew a batch of around 20L depending on how well filtration and mashing goes. I’ve been driving the mashing schedule based on a temperature meter just in the middle of the kettle and eye-balling it on how well it keeps the temperature. (insulation helps keeping it more stable of longer periods time!)

After a few years with this setup I made some improvements, with bigger valves and the idea started to create a controller based on a microcontroller that could work well with a PID algorithm to keep it even more stable (or even automatically progress through your schedule!).

Ofcourse this controller needed a box where it could fit in and I wanted some other things as well, for example digital temperature sensors, a pump for circulating the mash and maybe even more… So I needed an enclosure for all the things. My brother has been tinkering for a while with Makerbeam. And with a few sketches I had an idea on what I wanted to build.

My enclosure consists of mainly Makerbeams, which make a 30 by 30 cm square as the bottom and top plate. They are connected trough vertical beams of 15cm. The sides are made with black HDPE that is cut manually & with a laser cutter. The top plate is made out of waterjet cut aluminium, to have a solid base on which my kettle can stand. Here’s a quick mockup in Fusion:

Mockup for the controller enclosure

After I ordered most of my materials from Makerbeam I set out to build it. I also designed and laser-cut some panels with support for LCD-displays, buttons (more on that later!). And I manually drilled holes in the back-panel for in and output voltage.

In part 2 I will show the final build of the enclosure itself and in part 3 I hope to dive into the electronics and the wiring!

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