I started brewing beer because it seemed slightly interesting, and it was cheap to try using liquid extract, a few buckets, and some kitchen utensils. I kept brewing beer because the hobby lends itself to tons of DIY projects across many genres. I find the science and mechanics absolutely fascinating. In this video series, I showcased my first microprocessor controlled homebrewery. For mash temperature stabilization, I built a steam generator out of an old Cornelius keg and a water heater heating element. Temperature and pressure were monitored and controlled via an Arduino Duemilanove, connected to a serial port enabled Java front end, shown running on a Windows XP laptop. You can read a bit more about that system in this thread.

I’ve since upgraded multiple times. The Cornelius keg had plenty of volume, but the lid didn’t seal well the way I had it configured. To replace it, I converted a full sized 1/2 bbl Sanke keg for use as the steam vessel (thread here).

I never liked the Java/Windows interface, in part due to the fact that I negated the beauty of Java by using some OS specific serial port libraries. I also discovered OWFS on Linux, which allows the use of a 1-Wire microLAN as a file system. So I changed the architecture of my brewery to use a NSLU2 Debian “Slug” as the interface for a 1-Wire network. The Slug also served up a webpage that allowed remote viewing and control. “GatorDad” at Homebrewtalk has a good writeup on OWFS.

Because I’m never satisfied, I’m looking at some combination of Raspberry Pi, Teensy, and/or Arduino as the next upgrade. I’ve ordered the parts, and my friend jimmayhugh has some great info at http://www.teensypi.com. Progress is likely to be slow, but stay tuned, as I intend to cover the project here as it unfolds.

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08 February 2014