Ask the Creators of BrewBit Anything!

Update: It appears BrewBit and the Model-T are now defunct.  Check out out – Temp Control Tag for current solutions.


from BrewBit:

The BrewBit team, Nick, Misha and Brian, are here to answer any questions you may have about BrewBit and the Model-T, their open-source wireless temperature controller.

BrewBit started out as a dream for getting more information about each brew to help make better beer every time. While the temperature controllers on the market are a good starting point, to take it a step further the team needed to have complete control of the process. Having data about every step of the way was the starting point for the Model-T. Being hackers and makers, the BrewBit guys put their heads down to design and manufacture a professional product that can still be customized by anyone who wanted.

The result of the labors was the Model-T. The system is built with the idea of a professional-quality tool that’s ready to go out of the box. No one needs to fiddle with wiring or programming, it just works.

The Model-T supports dual probes that can control one or both of the outputs, or passively collect temperature data. The BrewBit team has used it to manage the mash and hot liquor tanks during brewing, as well as a fermentation chamber and keezer at the same time.

Your data will always be available to you from BrewBit.com free of charge, or you can talk directly to the device using our open API. Since everything is open source, there are no secrets and nothing is hidden. You are provided with everything you will need to use the Model-T to its full potential.

Ask Them Anything: Use the comments section of this post to ask the creators of BrewBit any questions you’d like, they’re here to share their vision for BrewBit and answer anything about BrewBit, Model-T or brewing.  There is no need to sign up for an account to participate in the discussion.  Anonymous comments are allowed.

45 thoughts on “Ask the Creators of BrewBit Anything!

  1. Chris

    Also, will there be some way I could host the front end web interface on my local network rather than having to access it through a third party site? I’d prefer to use my own web server to access my device’s settings, rather than go through someone else’s, if possible.

    Reply
    1. Misha Manulis

      We’ll be providing an API for everything and the Rails server will be open-sourced, so you could run your own.

      Why do you prefer to running your own server?

      Reply
    2. Chris

      Mostly for the faster interface, I can modify the host files of my computers to reach my local nginx server over VPN, etc, giving me a quicker response time than some outside the network servers can. Running my own server also gives me the ability to modify the source on the back end, should I want to add/modify any front end features.

      Reply
  2. Chris

    Is the controller dual stage on both sources? I want to be able to run two separate fermentations at two separate temperature requirements, offering both heat and cooling to both. So essentially, being able to both heat AND cool two separate fermenters.

    Reply
    1. Misha Manulis

      Hi Chris,

      Each output can be controlled by each of the probe separately from the other probe. I think you’re asking how to control Heat & Cold for 2 separate fermentation chambers independent of each other would require you to have 4 outputs, as you need to isolate heating and cooling elements for each chamber.

      However, if you only cared about cooling or heating, then you can do that with just 2 outputs, one per fermentation chamber. An example would be:

      In cold months, the ambient temperature is such, that you only have to worry about heating, so you’d plug the heating element for each chamber in the outputs and configure each of the probes to control that output for heating, then insert the probes into the separate fermentation chambers.

      In warm months, you’d swap the heating elements for cooling and update the settings.

      If you want to control both, you need 4 outputs and 2 probes though.

      Reply
    2. Chris

      Yes, in summary, I was asking if it would be possible to both heat and cool two separate fermentation chambers from the one controller.

      Are there any plans to provide such a model in the future? If so, I’d love to get my foot in the door for one early.

      Reply
  3. EchoTony

    Local backer who wants to see the BrewBit in action, but I don’t want to wait until March of next year. Anyway that could happen?

    Reply
    1. hebnern

      Yeah, we have been thinking of putting together a local meet up. Send me an email at nick (at) brewbit (dot) com and we will make it happen.

      Reply
    1. Scott

      Looks like they answer this on their kickstarter page under the FAQ:

      ~~~~
      Does the Model-T support PID controls?
      We are planning to use a self-tuning PID algorithm which will learn the correct gains based on how your environment reacts over time.

      Reply
    2. Misha

      We’re building an automated PID control solution; we’ll provide an ability for manually adjusting it as well.

      Is there a specific set of features you’re looking for?

      Reply
    3. Jason

      I was also wondering about the bit about PID controller in the FAQ. My issue with my current set up, an ebay aquarium controller, is that either the cold or the hot side seems to be always on. My only was to reduce that is open up the tolerance around the set point. Prematurely cutting the freezer so it ramps the last few tenths on its own would be what I would assume that’s what you mean by you auto tuning PID.

      You could use the second sensor to measure ambient temperature to feed the control loop, but not sure if that would be required.

      Reply
    4. Misha

      Hey Jason,

      We’ve considered using both probes for PID, but not everyone will have dual probes. So our solution requires only one probe.

      Our approach will learn how your system functions over time and adjust as needed without having to have the output on all the time.

      Reply
    1. Misha

      Each probe can control one or both of the outputs. Some examples (check out videos posted earlier here or on our KS page) include controlling a fermentation chamber and a keeper or controlling solenoid gas valves for hot liquor and mash tun.

      Reply
  4. Michael Treml

    Great job with the design and implementing of this project. i can’t wait to get mine.

    Can you schedule a number of steps. Like 60 degrees for 4 days. Send email to transfer to secondary. 62 degrees for 7 days. and finish off with a steady incline or decline (or both) in temp to finish it off. and of coarse an email to state it is ready.

    Have you thought about talking with the folks at beersmith with the idea of having an importing function. That send the fermentation profile from beersmith to the brewbit website? not as important but it would be cool.

    Reply
    1. Misha

      Thanks for the well wishes.

      The Temperature profiles will support what you’re describing. We’re still trying to figure out how to best plug in email notifications. What you’re describing is a great idea, we’ll look into integrating that.

      We haven’t spoke to Beersmith folks. Our plan is to support BeerXML import / export. Beersmith supports exporting temperature profiles in that format, so it will be easy to use them.

      Reply
    1. Misha

      I’m not sure we can say there’s one. There are around a 100 microbreweries in San Diego and with more opening up every week. With so many choices, it’s hard to pick just one.

      As for beers, the variety gets even more mind-boggling. At this point, we’re just happy to go try all of them 🙂

      Reply
    2. hebnern

      My favorites are Stone (naturally), Societe, Mother Earth, and the couple of Modern Times beers I have had have been great. Really looking forward to the sour programs at Societe and Modern Times.

      Reply
  5. McConnell

    What is the money going to be used for in the kickstarter? That is are you already done with the prototype and just need money to build it? Or is there still development work to be done?

    Have you talked to any big homebrew shops about carrying it? Northern Brewer, MoreBeer, Homebrewing.org etc….

    Great Work and cant wait to see what you guys do.

    Reply
    1. Scott

      I’m not one of the brewbit guys but I figured I’d point you to the “Where is the money going?” section of their kickstarter page to answer your first question.

      Reply
    2. Misha

      Thanks @Scott.

      We are done with the prototyping and the money will go directly into the production run.

      We’ve reached out to them, but have not heard back. If anyone can make an introduction, we’d be very grateful 🙂

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    You show how to use the brewbit to control a Brewtus gas fired system, but I feel like it could be used to control an Electric System if the 120 outs were converted to 12V control voltage for an SSR. What do you guys think of this, and do you know of any products that will convert 120v AC to 12V SSR control (apparently it’s just an LED)?

    Reply
    1. Misha

      We’ve been researching this ourselves actually. While we haven’t found a ready-made adapter you could just plugin, we’re looking at other alternatives.

      We’ll have a video posted later this week on how to use other devices to talk to the Model-T, that should give you some ideas.

      Once we find a good solution for doing what you describe, we’ll post a video about it.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    I’m in for a brewbit! Planning to run my fermentation chamber with it and possibly kegerator as well. Love idea that it can control two things! To the question… I am a homebrewer and a bbq-er. I have a weber smokey mountain (if you’re not familiar – http://www.amazon.com/Weber-731001-Smokey-Mountain-Charcoal/dp/B001I8ZTJA/). There are a few external temp controllers that can work with my smoker that basically use fans and a temp probe to control the temperature. The brewbit is quite a bit less expensive than the high end wifi models that are designed for smoking. I know this is beyond the current stated purpose of the brewbit ,but any plans to add a smoking module??

    Reply
    1. Misha

      The Model-T can support this easily, you’ll need to either use a higher-temp probe that speaks Dallas 1-wire protocol or use an adapter. We’ll be positing a video on how to connect other devices to the Model-T later this week.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Can you speak a bit more about your progress on the digital hydrometer and future projects beyond the Model T?

    Reply
    1. hebnern

      The refractometer turned out to be extremely difficult to pull off on the budget that we had set in order to make it available to home brewers. We have since switches gears and are investigating some other approaches.

      The Model-T is a great starting point for us in terms of setting up the platform we had always envisioned which will allow you to have great insight into your brews all the time. It is a very flexible platform that will be able to have features added incrementally. For instance, it has an expansion port that will be uses to enable communications with the SG sensor when it’s available. Also, the temp sensor interface is actually a generic digital communications bus which can be used to talk to other types of sensors and systems. One idea we have had for a follow on product would be a simple IO expander box which would have a bunch more outputs and inputs bit no display/WiFi etc, so you could greatly expand your capabilities for a relatively small cost.

      Lots of fun stuff to work on!

      Reply
    2. Misha

      Right now we’re focused on getting Model-T to a successful launch. We are still working on the S.G sensor though. Beyond that, greater integration and better data for your brews.

      Reply
    1. hebnern

      We have been homebrewing for about two and a half years, so we are relatively new. We started with extract, and only made 3 or 4 batches before we decided to dive in head first and go all grain. Last year we brewed nearly twice a month and some times weekly in order to stockpile a bunch of beers for NHC. We’ve slowed down a bit this year as we have been working on BrewBit a lot, but we have to start prepping for NHC next year soon!

      Reply
    1. Maverick

      I was referring to the original fermentation monitor, not the temperature controller. Any status on that?

      Reply
    2. hebnern

      Oh, we don’t really have a timeline for that one. It is a much more difficult problem than it seems like it would be. We are hoping to have some downtime while we are waiting for parts to come in to hunker down and get some new ideas tested, but that might be wishful thinking. 🙂

      Reply

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