Category Archives: Homebrew Hacks

Control Your Kegerator Or Fermentation Chamber With Samsung SmartThings!

I have Samsung SmartThings installed in my home.  SmartThings requires a central hub.  That hub communicates with other… SmartThings.  Loads of compatible devices using a number of protocols are available from multiple vendors.  Search Amazon for “smartthings” to see what’s out there.  After these things are connected, you can program automations or routines that define how they operate under certain conditions.  All of this is interoperable with other platforms like Google Home and Alexa.

This post is about using SmartThings to control the temperature of your kegerator or fermentation chamber.  To do that, I use three things – A SmartThings Hub, a Multipurpose Sensor and a Kasa Smart Plug.  Labels and photos show both kegerator and fermentation chamber scenarios.  This concept should work for both applications.

The Multipurpose Sensor can do several things including monitor temperatureThe other piece to the puzzle was a smart plug to tum the kegerator/freezer/fridge off and on as needed.  I used a Kasa Smart WiFi Plug by TP-Link.  It worked like a champ.  I used this because it’s what I had, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one.  Keep reading for more on that.

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Monitoring Kegerator or Fermentation Temps With Samsung SmartThings

I have Samsung SmartThings installed in my home.  SmartThings requires a central hub.  That hub communicates with other… SmartThings.  Loads of compatible devices using a number of protocols are available from multiple vendors.  Search Amazon for “smartthings” to see what’s out there.  After these things are connected, you can program automations or routines that define how they operate under certain conditions.  All of this is interoperable with other platforms like Google Home and Alexa.

This post is about using SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor to monitor temperatures in your kegerator or fermentation chamber.  Labels and photos show both kegerator and fermentation chamber scenarios.  This concept should work for both applications.

The Multipurpose Sensor can do several things including monitor temperature.  Note that a SmartThings hub and Wi-Fi are also required.

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Protect and Monitor Your Beer Fridge With Samsung SmartThings!

I have Samsung SmartThings installed in my home.  SmartThings requires a central hub.  That hub communicates with other… SmartThings.  Loads of compatible devices using a number of protocols are available from multiple vendors.  Search Amazon for “smartthings” to see what’s out there.  After these things are connected, you can program automations or routines that define how they operate under certain conditions.  All of this is interoperable with other platforms like Google Home and Alexa.

This post is about using SmartThings to help protect and monitor your beer fridge.  To do that, I use two things – A SmartThings Hub and a Multipurpose Sensor.

The Multipurpose Sensor can do several things including monitor temperature, monitor the open and close status and sense vibrations.A look at the Multipurpose SensorInitially I had planned to use the open/close sensing feature of this sensor for this project.  However, the space between the body of my beer fridge and the door itself was too large.  Fortunately, this sensor also detects vibration.  That means my setup was as easy as placing this in the door.  Depending on your refrigerator, you may be able to use the open/close sensor.

Monitoring Beer Fridge Access

Here you can see an alert that my beer fridge was opened.  Setting that up is as easy as setting up an Automation task in SmartThings to send an alert when vibration is detected.  I found this to be a fairly reliable system although I did get some false positives.  Example, I periodically received notice when the freezer door was opened.  Playing with the sensor location and orientation could help with that.Programming this alert is straightforward.  I Just added an automation that is activated when vibration is detected.  I chose to “send notification to members” which sends a notification to users of the app.  Text message notifications are also an option.

Monitoring Beer Fridge Temperature

The Multipurpose Sensor also monitors temperatures.  Super handy to make sure your kegerator or keezer is doing it’s job.You can also take action based on temperature.  This screenshot shows an alert I received telling me my beer fridge was too warm.  I set the threshold temp to 10 to trigger this alert as you can see from the notification.  That’s just so I could get a screenshot, of course, you’d want to choose a reasonable temp.

Programming this alert is straightforward.  I Just added an automation that is activated when the Multipurpose Sensor goes above a certain set point.  In this case, 40 degrees.  You could just as easy write another automation to let you know if it gets too cold.  I chose to “send notification to members” which sends a notification to users of the app.  Text message notifications are also an option.

Conclusions

If you’re already using SmartThings, this is a fun and inexpensive application.  It’s easy to set up and gives you some good info.

Part of our “Homebrew Hacks” Series of Posts!  Full Lineup…

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | Recent Keg Finds

Our Top Draft Resources

 

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

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Using a Keg as a CO2 Source for Portable Serving!

This technique uses an economical inline secondary regulator to utilize a spare keg as a CO2 source to serve a keg.  I’m not suggesting this setup as a replacement for your kegerator CO2 tank.  You still need a standard CO2 tank.  What this setup could be very useful for is as a replacement for those expensive little regulators or injectors and expensive (considering how much CO2 you get) little CO2 cartridges.  One inexpensive purchase allows you to pressurize and serve your keg on the go for little to… nothing.  Keep reading.

The Magic Piece of Equipment

Cheap Inline Regulator – via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer | via Amazon

These inline secondary regulators have been on the scene for a little while now.  At the price I’ve seen them at, sub $10, they are a bargain.  They also add a lot of flexibility to your draft setup, allowing you to easily and cheaply serve using multiple pressures and carbonation levels.

Note that these are inline secondary regulators.  You still need a primary regulator attached to your CO2 tank.  The idea is, you set the primary to the highest pressure you will use (without exceeding specifications of any component of your system) and then use these regulators inline (one per line) to fine tune pressure and carbonation [See: Balancing Your Draft System].  As an example, you could set your primary to 25 PSI for faster force carbonation and set each line to a different pressure based on desired carbonation level.

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Setting Economy Inline Regulators with a Spunding Valve

These inline secondary regulators have been on the scene for a little while now.  At the price I’ve seen them at, sub $10, they are a bargain.  They also add a lot of flexibility to your draft setup, allowing you to easily and cheaply vend using multiple pressures and carbonation levels.


Grab One!  via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer


Note that these are inline secondary regulators.  You still need a primary regulator attached to your CO2 tank.  The idea is, you set the primary to the highest pressure you will use (without exceeding specifications of any component of your system) and then use these regulators inline (one per line) to fine tune pressure and carbonation [See: Balancing Your Draft System].  As an example, you could set your primary to 25 PSI for faster force carbonation and set each line to a different pressure based on desired carbonation level.

Since this does not have a gauge, you need some sort of a gauge to use for tuning in the pressure.  The gauge doesn’t have to stay connected, just while you’re setting the regulator.  This is a perfect application of a Spunding Valve [See: Build a Spunding Valve! – How and Why]

Thanks to Facebook Friend Rob [8 Ways to Connect with HBF] for his process for setting the Inline Secondary using a Spunding Valve and for the photo walk through!

Here’s Rob Spunding Setup.  It’s a Style 3 [See: Build a Spunding Valve! – How and Why] that features a barb, tubing and a valved QD from MoreBeerThis is the assembly hooked up to the low pressure side of his CO2 regulator.  Rob starts with the Spunding Valve set to it’s highest pressure to prevent CO2 from venting.

With everything hooked up, you have two options:

  1. Start with the inline regulator fully closed and very slowly work your way up until the Spunding Valve gauge shows reads your desired pressure.
  2. Start with the inline regulator wide open and slowly work your way down, venting the Spunding Valve as needed until you work your way back down to your desired pressure.

This is a photo of the inline regulator set to about 10 PSI, you can see the primary’s low pressure gauge is set to a higher pressure, 20 PSI.

This technique has some great benefits.  First, many homebrewers already have a Spunding Valve.  This process requires little to no extra gear for Spunding Valve owners.  Second, this process should use very little CO2. I’ve been adjusting this using a keg.  I’ve used an entire empty 2.5 gallon ball lock and also the head space of a keg.  Either way, that amounts to more CO2 compared with Rob’s procedure.

Grab The Gear:

Related Posts:

Also: Kegerator Tips & Gear | Keg Repair Part #s | Recent Keg Finds

Our Top Draft Resources

 

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

hack:setinlinereg

Convert Ball Lock and Pin Lock Kegs to Push to Connect

Push to Connect style fittings are used in plumbing, to install water filter systems. to install drink dispensers and more.  Some fittings are for liquids only and some are suitable for use in gas applications.

For whatever reason, I generally find it difficult to find the push to connect style fitting I’m looking for.  Getting the exact fitting, that actually works has been elusive to me.  There are a good number of manufacturers, the products have different applications and there are just lot of models available.

This post is about a fitting that can convert your ball or pin lock 1/4″ MFL QD to 1/4″ push to connect.

This fitting is a John Guest Female Flare to 1/4″ Tube model # MI4508F4SLFThis installs on MFL ball or pin lock QDs.  Here it is installed on my ball lock gas QD.  You could just as easily install this on a 1/4″ MFL pin lock QD.Here’s the fitting on an inline secondary regulator – via William’s Brewing | via MoreBeer – that uses 1/4″ push to connect style fittings.Here’s a setup using this fitting

If you’re interested in technical specifications – here is the product page via John Guest.  Note that that page covers all size of this fitting, not just the 1/4″ to 1/4″ variant

If you’re looking for this fitting, use the searches below and look for this exact model number and make sure the description reads 1/4″ female flare x 1/4″ tube

Also: What’s the Difference Between Ball Lock Kegs and Pin Lock Kegs?

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

hack:flaretopush2connect

Adding a Schrader Valve to a Homebrew Keg

Why would you want to add a Schrader style valve to your ball lock or pin lock keg homebrew keg?  Great question.  I’m not sure.  I was interested in doing it as part of a post I’m doing for our Homebrew Hacks series of how-tos.  More on that later.

This was really just a matter of putting the right fittings together.  Pictured: Milton (S-684-4) 1/4″ MNPT Male Tank Valve – Anderson Metals Brass Pipe Fitting, Coupling, 1/4″ x 1/4″ Female Pipe – LASCO 17-6783 1/4-Inch Female Flare by 1/4-Inch Male Pipe Thread Brass Adapter

A quick check to make sure all of this fit together

Everything tightened down with teflon tape

This assembly is a tank/Schrader style valve to a 1/4″ x 1/4″ female to female coupling to a 1/4″ NPT to 1/4″ flare fitting.  All that to say, I have this threaded onto a ball lock QD here, but it could just as easily thread into an MFL pin lock QD.

Installed and pressurized.  This may give you a hint as to what the the related post will be about, but… maybe not.

The parts and pieces I used, all via Amazon:

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Make sure the components you use are compatible and rated for your intended application.  Contact manufacturer with questions about suitability or a specific application.  Always read and follow manufacturer directions.

toppost:kegshrader

Homebrew Hack: Mimicking Dual Stage Temp Control with a Single Stage Controller

Inkbird IPB-16 15A Digital Pre-Wired PID Temperature Controller Thermostat with PT100 Probe, One SSR Output, One Relay Alarm Output, AC100V -240V

Pictured: Inkbird IPB-16 15A Digital Pre-Wired PID Temperature Controller

Overriding temperature controllers give you more control over heating and cooling devices.  They work by power cycling the device based on temperatures read.  This is extremely valuable for homebrewers for both homebrew kegerators and for controlling fermentation temperatures.  This technology allows you to operate a chest freezer at refrigerator-type temperatures.  This is even helpful if you’re using a refrigerator, because stock refrigerator thermostats generally do not have the precise controls we’re looking for as homebrewers.

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Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer Mod – Adding a Stainless Steel CIP Spray Ball

cln_img_2973

I’m a big fan of the Mark II Keg and Carboy Washer.  I use mine for lots of things including… kegs, carboys, Speidel Fermenters, buckets, tubing, draft lines [See: Mark II Keg & Carboy Cleaner… As a Recirculating Draft Line Cleaning Pump] and more.  See: Hands on Review: Mark’s Keg and Carboy Washer for a comprehensive look at this great homebrewing tool.

A while back I became aware of this Stainless CIP Spray Ball (1/2″ size) via a reader tip.  Thanks to HBF Reader Sam for the original heads up on these and HBF Reader Chris for the idea to use in conjunction with the Mark II Keg and Carboy Cleaner! [8 Ways to Connect with HBF].

CIP (Clean in Place) Spray Balls are generally used for vessels that are too large to move.  Since they’re too large to move you… clean them in place.  If you have a larger setup, you could incorporate these into your system or routine to help clean your vessels more easily.

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Using the Grainfather to Clean Draft Lines

Thanks to Twitter Follower Andy for this tip!  [Connect with HBF on Twitter]

The Grainfather

The Grainfather is an electric all grain brewing system.  Mash temperature is precisely controlled with an electric heating element.  A pump recirculates throughout the mashing process ensuring even temperatures.  At the end of the mash, The Grainfather becomes your electric brew kettle.  The Grainfather includes a counterflow chiller.  8 Gallon system for indoor or outdoor brewing.

The Grainfather + 5% back via AIH’s Rewards Program via Adventures in Homebrewing

Andy has converted this for use as a draft line cleaning pump using a few fittings from Brew Hardware including…

Check out Andy’s Youtube video detailing the project

Also Consider…

Third Party Resource: This resource is part of our selection of top Third Party homebrewing resources.  Check out the entire list of resources Third Party Homebrew Resources

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