It's summer time and what better time for a nice cold homebrewed Netduino monitored, VB.NET Pale Ale?
I finished the second generation of technology aids for when I brew my own beer. It uses XBee wireless modems in End-Device mode to detect level switch states, which allow the Netduino to turn the pumps on and off.
Additional details are available on my blog:
The VB.NET Code, Eagle files, and other stuff is available:
This past weekend I brewed a 20 gallon batch of American Pale Ale with a friend. The BeerSmith 2.0 recipe can be found here. We used my 20 gallon kettle setup with the pumps & control box, and things went reasonably well – we hit all of our targets for volume and gravity, and the electronics did what they were supposed to with one exception – during our vorlauf / recirculation step the high level switch didn’t turn on the pump one cycle. We caught it before it became an overflow situation, but there was no obvious reason why this hiccup occurred. My belief is that the XBee Coordinator modem had one of its problematic data floods and missed the communication from the grant. Unforuntately that issue persists and I am no closer to resolving it. I think it is a Digi firmware problem, and there is very little I can do about that other than wait for a new version to be released.
With my brewing activities approaching a summer hiatus, I am unsure what new brewing-related mayhem I will perpetrate this summer. One possibility is resurrecting the control box to PC data stream to capture and display session data, but that’s not really terribly exciting to me. Another (much stronger) possibility is implementing an Arduino mini & Bluetooth-based temperature monitoring system for my fermenters. This latter idea was inspired by a friend, Mike Castagno. It would be really cool (and useful) to design a system that collected the fermenter temperatures and sent the data wirelessly to the PC, and use a VB.NET Windows service to collect and log that information to a database. If the database were hosted online, you could even display that data on a webpage and remote monitor what is going on. We shall see if I can bring that particular vision to reality.