Our new store is live!

store logo

I’m happy to announce that our new store is finally open for business.

You can now order the BrewPi Spark. But be sure to check out our new stainless steel mashing parts as well.

BrewPi HERMS

We have:

  • Heating element enclosures (suitable for Camco)
  • HERMS coils
  • (Whirlpool) inlets
  • Dip tubes
  • Innovative new mash filters
  • Extra high flow camlocks
  • Silicone tubing
  • 1/2″ threaded temperature sensors
  • and more…

Most of these mashing parts have BSP thread. Because of their weight we focused on Europe. But they we are going to offer them in NPT variants in the future.

Pumps, motorized valves and OneWire control boards for them will come in about a month.

So go check it out at https://store.brewpi.com

 

New community forum

Hey Guys,

We are still preparing for the launch of the BrewPi Spark, sorry to keep you waiting but I we still have some things to sort out make things run smoothly at launch.

The enclosures are still in production: the company was closed for the holidays and I approved the last prototype yesterday.
We are also still porting our software to the new platform, you can read more about that on our new community forum.

New forum software

Spark Core has been using Discourse as their community forum and it is works really, really well. So I decided to follow their example and move to discourse as well. Moving all existing threads from the old to the new forum can’t be done, so the old forum will remain available at forum.brewpi.com

For all new discussions, please use community.brewpi.com

With discourse, it will be much easier to quickly see new content and subscribe to topics of interest. You can also very easily share photos, quote people and link to related threads.

Because the new forum has much better search functionality, we will be phasing out ask.brewpi.com as well, making community.brewpi.com the central place for all communication and questions.

 

Cheers,

 

Elco

Gift cards now available!

Still don’t have a Christmas present? We got your back. You can now order BrewPi gift cards from our new store.

I didn’t have time to add all products to the new store yet, so you’ll have to trust me that lot’s of nice goodies will be added after Christmas. We’ll have camlocks, HERMS coils, inlets, outlets, filters, pumps, ball valves, motorized ball valves, heating element enclosures and all kinds of fittings. And of course the new BrewPi Spark and Spark Cores.

Because you cannot see these products and their prices yet, the gift cards will be completely refundable. So there is no risk in ordering one. You’ll even get a 5% discount!

Introducing the BrewPi Spark

It has been a long time since we last posted an update on our blog, so this is going to be a big one. We are proud to announce a new version of our hardware, the BrewPi Spark!

The BrewPi Spark will replace the BrewPi Arduino Shield. We shipped about a 1000 BrewPi Arduino shields since we first released them. The Arduino was an excellent platform for us to grow but we are running into its limits. With the BrewPi Spark, we are leaving the Arduino platform and are switching to the much more powerful Spark Core. With on board WiFi, it really is the ideal platform for an Internet connected brewing controller. Please see the images below for a quick overview.

 

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BrewPi Spark Board overview

 

The BrewPi Spark

With this switch to a new platform, we decided to do a complete redesign of our hardware. We learned a lot from making the Arduino version of BrewPi and decided to do a major overhaul to address a few key issues:

Plug an play

The Arduino Shield came with a bag of parts, a separate display, Arduino and lots of panels to build the case. Assembling your brewing controller took a lot of steps, which where not all easy. With the new BrewPi Spark, we decided to not leave assembly to the end user. It will come inside an very pretty enclosure, ready to use. Just plug in your sensors and play!

A better display and menu

The character LCD on the Arduino version could only fit 80 characters. To display beer, fridge and room temperature, we had to alternate what was displayed on the screen. With our new 320×240 color TFT touch screen, we can fit 1500 characters in the smallest font. So there is plenty of space to display all your settings and temperatures.

The touch interface will also be a lot more intuitive to use.

Reliability

We took 3 steps to increase reliability of the system:

  • Sensors now come with RJ11 connectors
  • High quality push-fit terminal blocks for the SSRs: easier to use and more reliable than the previous screw terminal blocks.
  • An on board OneWire bus master with strong pull-up. This will increase reliability in large OneWire networks.

Local data logging

The BrewPi Spark has an SD card slot for local data logging, in case WiFi is not available.

Modular and expandable

The BrewPi Spark is designed to be a central control unit for your entire brewery. So why does it only have 3 outputs and 4 inputs? (Hint: it doesn’t).

Almost all brewing panels I have seen so far have a central control panel with a wire going to every sensor. When I started designing my mashing system, I quickly realized that this would become one big mess of wires: my HERMS has 6 temperature sensors, 12 motorized ball valves, 2 pumps and 2 heating elements. So I needed a different solution, and that was address based communication.

Each RJ12 socket on the BrewPi Spark has the same 6 signals: 

  • OneWire
  • RS-485 (2 pins)
  • 12V
  • 5V
  • GND

Both OneWire and RS-485 are address based protocols: you can connect as many devices as you like and they will be automatically discovered. You can then name the device and set it up for control. OneWire will be used for temperature sensors, valve controllers, SSR drivers and more in the future. RS-485 will be the protocol to talk to other micro-controllers for more complex sensors later.

So how does that work in a brewing setup? Here is a sneak preview of my HERMS. In a future blog post I’ll tell you everything about it. It really deserves its own post.

As I said before, my HERMS has 6 temperature sensors and 12 ball valves, controlled by 6 dual ball valve controllers. These are all on the same OneWire bus. In the photo below, you can see 6 of my ball valves, which determine to which kettle the water or wort is pumped.

 

Here is the controller in my HERMS control panel. As you can see, only a single cable comes out at the top. This cable connects to all sensors and ball valves in my setup.

Here is the controller in my HERMS control panel. As you can see, only a single cable comes out at the top. This cable connects to all sensors and ball valves in my setup.

 

My ball valve controllers, daisy chained with temperature sensors in between.

My ball valve controllers, daisy chained with temperature sensors in between.

In the photo you can see 12 RJ12 sockets and plugs (3 x 4). The leftmost cable comes from the control panel. The fourth cable in each block daisy chains to the next block. In the middle of each block, 2 temperature sensors are connected. Here you can really see the benefit of a bus protocol: wiring is a piece of cake!

Multiple fridges? Mash and fermentation control together?

The Spark Core is powerful enough to run multiple control loops at once. So you should be able to just run an RJ12 cable to your fridge on the other side of your brewery and set up another controller in the software. To make it easy to do this, we are going to sell an SSR expansion board. It is controlled by OneWire and drives 2 SSRs. It has 4 RJ12 sockets, so minus the cable coming in, you have room left to plug in 3 temperature sensors.

SSR expansion board

 

New temperature sensors

From now on, we are going to sell our OneWire temperature sensors with an RJ11 plug (RJ11 connects to middle four pins in RJ12 sockets). They will still have silicone cables and will be guaranteed water and high temperature proof. We increased the cable length to 1.5m.

Next to the standard temperature sensors, we will also offer threaded OneWire sensors that can fit into a BSP or NPT tee. The cables can be disconnected for when you need to clean your kettle.

What about the Raspberry Pi?

BrewPi will still use the Raspberry Pi for the web interface and for data logging: the Spark Core is not powerful enough to host a website. But without the need for a USB connection between the controller and the pi, it will be easier to swap out the Pi for a different web server.

With this combination of an embedded device for control and a (mini) computer to host a web interface you get the best of both worlds: The reliability of an embedded platform and a beautiful web interface.

In the future, we will also support connecting multiple Spark cores to a single web interface.

What about the Spark Photon?

The Photon is the successor of the Spark Core and will come out in March 2015. They managed to cut the price in half, while increasing the processor speed and memory space. It is pin compatible with the current Spark Core, so we decided not to wait for its release and work with the currently available hardware.

 

When can I order?

The controllers are almost ready, the enclosures are still being manufactured. Due to the Christmas holiday, I probably cannot ship the first units until January.

I have not found the the time yet to get our new web shop ready for pre-orders: making the controller, building my HERMS, testing, it was all a lot of work.

Because many people have inquired about giving BrewPi as a Christmas gift, I still wanted to announce our new controller today. Now you know why the old controller is out of stock!

 

What will they cost?

The BrewPi Spark, fully assembled with a Spark Core, inside will cost 125 euro. If you already have a Spark Core, you can buy the board, display and enclosure for 95 euro.

 

Christmas Gifts

As soon as possible (hopefully tomorrow), I will add the option to buy gift cards to our shop. That will buy me some time to properly add all the items to our store and the brewer you love can pick his own toys, so you don’t have to guess what he needs.

If you already have a pending order in our shop and want to convert it to a gift card, let me know by e-mail.

 

 

The BrewPi Spark is coming soon…

Hi Guys,

We have been working hard on the new version of BrewPi, the BrewPi Spark, powered by the awesome Spark Core. It will have WiFi, a touch screen, much more processing power and will be more plug and play.

But I’m sorry that this is not yet the update you have all been waiting for. I just want to let you know that we encountered a very small delay in production of the new enclosures. They are going to be awesome though, it’s worth it.

We will be able to release the BrewPi Spark before Christmas, but delivery in time for Christmas is not possible. For those that want to give a BrewPi Spark for Christmas, we will offer two alternatives: pre-orders and gift cards for our store. More about those during the official release.

Cheers,

Elco

 

Fridge hacking guide now online!

I recently helped Koen to convert his fridge into a BrewPi fermentation fridge. We added OneWire temperature sensors and hacked the fridge for fermentation temperature control.

BrewPi Fridge Conversion: Done!

My own fridge has seen too many experiments, it has been sawed in and I modded it before I really knew how fridges were wired. It works, but it’s not pretty.

Koen provided me with a blank slate to do a proper build. We made a lot of photo’s of our build process, explain how fridges are wired, show easier alternatives to what we built and give advice in picking a fridge and the other parts. So what are you waiting for?

To the guide!

 

BrewPi feature and review on AHA Pimp My System and in Linux Voice

2 BrewPi's controlling Chris Allen's dual conical setup. Making me jealous!

2 BrewPi’s controlling Chris Allen’s dual conical setup. Who’s jealous?

Dual conical glass door fridges controlled by BrewPi

BrewPi got featured today in the American Homebrewers Association’s ‘Pimp my System’, where Chris Allen showed off his mouthwatering dual conical setup with glass door fridges. Thanks a lot Alan for your glowing review. I hope I will one day have a setup as awesome as yours.

You can read the full article over here. One more photo on Facebook.

 

Linux Voice Issue 1, featuring BrewPi 🙂

BrewPi featured in Linux Voice

Earlier this month, BrewPi got featured in the very first issue of Linux Voice. <–Full text PDF available for free!

Linux Voice is a brand new crowd funded Linux magazine, which gives back 50% of it’s profits to Free Software and Linux Communities. They have documented their experience from receiving the kit to brewing the first beer. Definitely worth a read.

 

 

 

Find us on Facebook

BrewPi on FaceBook

I have created a Facebook page for BrewPi. You are very welcome to share your photos, brewing results, recipes, stories, etc. Don’t forget to click the Like button 🙂

BrewPi Case redesign: meet version 2.0!

Hi Brewers!

We have given the BrewPi case a major overhaul and are very pleased to present you the results: a more compact and much better looking design.

Continue Reading →

Everything back in stock!

Our debugging partner is watching over our new stock and the packages ready to ship!

Our debugging partner is watching over our new stock and the packages ready to ship!

Good news! Everything is back in stock in the shop.

After a slight delay on the delivery of new PCBs, we now have enough stock, just in time for Christmas. The BrewPi shields are still available as fully assembled or as a kit:

  • Fully assembled BrewPi Arduino shield
    All connectors, buzzer, rotary encoder are soldered. Your guide starts here. The fully assembled shields require no soldering and they are tested before shipping. You just have to plug in all wires and if you got one, assemble the case.
  • BrewPi Arduino shield kit
    Solder all connectors, buzzer and rotary encoder yourself, probably an hour of work. Your soldering guide starts here.

This time, we have also outsourced the connector assembly of the shields to our experienced Dutch production partner, which means:

  • Shields are assembled by a professional wave soldering process.
  • More time for software development and the BrewPi community.

More news soon…

Happy brewing!

New BrewPi release available! Update now!

Hi Brewers!

It has been too long since our last release, but this is a good one! We added a few scripts to help you install and update BrewPi, which should make the whole release process a lot easier in the future.

Integrated temperature profile dialog

The biggest change in this release is that we got rid of Google docs for the temperature profiles. The Google doc profile was an ugly relic from the very first version from 2012. It is now replaced by a much nicer interface, right in the web interface.

Brian Schwinn contributed most of the code for this new interface, and we worked toghether to add previews, automatic sorting by date, start/insert now buttons, and much more. Just update and give it a go.

Install script

Getting your BrewPi up and running was a cumbersome process that required you to enter lots of commands in the linux terminal. Geo van O. worked with me to create an install script that does most of the work for you: installing packages, creating user accounts, cloning the repositories from GitHub, setting up a CRON job, etc.

You can now just clone the brewpi-tools repository, run the installer and answer a few questions. After that, you can go straight to programming the Arduino and setting up devices. You can also use the installer for a clean reinstall.

New install instructions here

Update script

Updating BrewPi was also a daunting process for most users: working with command line git can be quite complex. Geo and I wrote a python script to help you do it.

The updater will check your repositories and compare them with their remotes. If an update has been found, it will ask you to apply it. It can also stash changes for you on a merge conflict. If you prefer working with your own fork on GitHub, no problem. If you have configured multiple remotes the updater will ask you which to use. So even for git veterans, this can be a handy tool.

After pulling updates, the updater will run scripts from your brewpi-scripts repo to fix file permissions, install any new dependencies and update the CRON job to the newest format.

After running the updater, don’t forget to upload a new hex file to your Arduino too.

Update instructions here

Start, stop and pause data logging

You can now click on the beer name to display a menu to:

  • Stop the current brew. This sets the active brew to None and stops data logging.
  • Start a new brew. Stops the current brew and starts a new one.
  • Pause/continue data logging. Need to fiddle with your sensors? You can now temporarily stop logging, so you graph won’t get an ugly spike.

Temperate control algorithm tweaks to reduce overshoot

A few users with fast fridges reported temperature overshoots or quick cycling between heating and cooling. I have modified the temperature algorithm and reduced the aggressiveness of the default PID paramters to reduce this. See the changelog for the full list of changes.

Full changelog

I have only listed the biggest changes here, but you can check out the full changelog here:

Full changelog for release of October 22nd 1023

Finally, here are a few screenshots…