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Switching from BCS to Brucontrol


(@jcc4507fly)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 5
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Hey Brundog,

I have watched the intro video, and also your brew day with this in action. Great work! It seems like the learning curve operating this once programmed isn't that bad. The programming portion seems fairly straight forward but also intimidating. Looks as though that may take a bit of time to "map" everything out. I am interested in what your serving fridge and fermentor code looks like.

I would like to migrate away from the BCS and this looks very promising. I know that you are a former BCS user and I am curious if you could do a short write-up of what someone may need to make the jump from BCS to BruControl. I know most everyone has custom setups, i.e. different from one another, but it might shed some light on what is necessary. From my understanding some components would be an arduino, ethernet shield, screw terminal shield, and a board for temp probes.  I know the BCS is 5V for outputs, I think I read somewhere that Arduino is much lower. How would I go about switching SSRs, would I be able to switch them directly from the Arduino? 

I personally have a 50amp 2 element panel from ebrewsupply consisting of the following components:

  1. (2) 40 amp SSRs that switch the 5500W elements
  2. (1) 5V 2amp 4 channel SSR board that switches 2 chugger pumps & Alarm buzzer, one channel unused

I also have a sub panel across the garage that manages Keezer and glycol chiller with (2) fermentors. It currently consists of the following components:

  1. (4) SSRs that switch keezer compressor, keezer fan, two solenoid ball valves for fermentor cooling. 
  2. The glycol chiller is not currently controlled by anything other than its factory thermostat. This I would like to change.

I would like to reconfigure the subpanel while transitioning to include (2) 20 or 40amp SSRs to switch the Keezer compressor and the Glycol chiller compressor. Then add a 4 channel SSR relay board that could handle the (2) solenoid valves for fermentors also the keezer fan, and glycol pump. This would allow me to house everything in my subpanel and add the glycol chiller to the managed software.

I know that many have panels from ebrewsupply or a Kal build. I am sure this information would prove helpful for many.

 

 


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(@pbruno3)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 318
 

Hi  jcc4507fly,

Thank you for reaching out - and I think making an official first post on this forum (beyond mine)! I think you will find the setup on the software side to be easy once you get the hang of it. That's creating devices, etc. The manual takes you through it all, but somehow its over 70 pages already... so that might be a bit much - I suppose a "Quick Start" is in order?!? Devices, like a Hysteresis control to keep a refrigerator working, does not require any scripting. If you want that device to change on its own however, you would need to write a script. For example, you can have the temperature go up or down over time to adhere to a fermentation schedule. Scripts are where the automation magic happens, and can be overwhelming at first, but with manual in hand, you'll pick it up quickly. I am happy to share my code - I will post it in the Script section of this forum. Right now it is really only checking to make sure the communication is working and the temperatures are within a window - else alert me (via sound and email).

I have contemplated publishing a conversion guide but felt that might be presumptuous without an official inquiry. Having used BCS for a while and done the conversion myself, I am confident I can walk you through it.

The first decision is connection type between the interface (micro-controller) and the computer running BruControl. That can be either USB (serial) for installations where they are within a few feet of each other, or can be via network via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Ethernet is solid and fast, and I see no concerns using it for a brewery. Wi-Fi is good but I cannot honestly say it should be used for anything other than fermentation/refrigeration. I have a Wi-Fi controller which works well, but on a rare occasion, despite reasonable proximity to the router, the connection drops. When this happens, it is only for 10-30 seconds, but that might be critical time if running an automation sequence via a script. The next decision is the interface type. For BCS conversion, I suggest the Arduino MEGA (see the video here in the Hardware section for an overview). You will need to decide if you want to have 2 interfaces or one. Since you are currently successful with one BCS, you can do one. But if you want to separate them, no problem. Obviously that would affect the need to connect one or both via network instead of USB.

The first change is the power supply. The BCS uses a 6V power supply. While you can get away with it, I suggest switching to a 12V power supply and using that to run ancillary devices later. The MEGA has an on-board regulator to run itself on 5V. But the 12V gives it some headroom to work.

With respect to SSRs, it is a direct wire. The MEGA has 5V outputs like I said, so no concerns there. If you had any mechanical relays, they would be a direct swap too. The BCS requires 5V active-high relays. With BruControl you can use either active-high or low.

You can use the existing thermistor probes that BCS uses. To do so, you will need some supporting components (see the Thermistor Schematics in the Build section of the website). I have made a 4-pack board (and in the process of building some 6-packs too), which has screw terminals, so they are easy to wire in and require no soldering, etc. (See below)

Finally, one optional item I recommend is a screw-shield to support wiring easily. There are a few different models. I am publishing a list soon, but I think the Electronics Salon models are the best by far.

Anyway, hopefully this sheds some light. As I said, I will be posting a decision tree/shopping list in the next few days. That will help you understand what you need. I see the total cost running you around $50-80, depending on choices above.

Here is the 4-pack thermistor board I made: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/showpost.php?p=7961827&postcount=37


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(@jcc4507fly)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

Thats great news! I look forward to the decision tree!

Just from what I already know and what you responded with above, I think I will run off one MEGA w/ethernet. I will spring for the MEGA screw shield for convenience. I'll start browsing for a 12Vdc power supply. I'll also head over and check out the videos on the different Arduinos and also the thermistor board because I haven't yet seen those.

My plan is to build and test this on my desk without the stresses of my brewery being out of commission. Then I can learn and play with the interface accomplish the necessary coding and by the time its ready to "drop" into my old panel it should be a nice smooth transition.


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(@jcc4507fly)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

How much for that thermistor board from above hbt link? I will most likely need 2. Unless you have plans to make one with 8 channels. 🙂


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(@pbruno3)
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For now, you would just need to cover my costs... about $20 each.


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(@jcc4507fly)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 5
Topic starter  

I have started a parts list. You better run and hide, for swmbo will be hunting you down!!


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(@pbruno3)
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Joined: 5 years ago
Posts: 318
 

I know the feeling...

SWMBO: "Hey, that looks high tech... how much did you spend on that [nonsense]"?

Me: "This old junk? Nah, got it off ebay[/craiglist/an old friend]. No biggie [that I am totally lying]"


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