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Temperature Controlers

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  • mat_ace_85
    Ok guys... I am new to distilling and have no reason to be in the Advanced section but..... I have been reading up on a distiller that I wanted to build, keg
    Message 1 of 23 , Mar 2 12:37 AM
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      Ok guys... I am new to distilling and have no reason to be in the
      "Advanced" section but..... I have been reading up on a distiller that
      I wanted to build, keg w/ a 36+ Column inch nixon stone.. Bare w/ me
      here... Been drinkin apple pie ALL NIGHT.. I said you to my buddy
      "who does HVAC" you guys use temperature controlers on some of your
      stills to keep her at the right temp.. I told him that I wanted to
      install 1, mabey 2 1,300 watt water heater dealies in the keg "I
      realey wanted a 30 gallon boiler but I heard you cant make a 30 gallon
      mash due to the ferment overheatin" anyways.. So he went to his truck
      and handed me this

      http://www.houseneeds.com/shop/manuals/johnsoncontrol_a419bulletin.pdf

      and one of these

      http://item.express.ebay.com/__HVAC_MARS-50302-STEP-DOWN-CONTROL-TRANSFORMER-120-24V-40VA_W0QQitemZ7608284700QQihZ017QQptdnZHVACQQptdiZ1188QQcmdZExpressItem

      I just wanna make sure these are the right goodies..

      Also my plan is to make a 15.5 gallon or 30 gallon boiler..

      I have my hands up in the air and want you guys to look at what i
      have. because the way i see it is. I have over $150 in free good
      stuff, now I can build a bitchin still but what do you think is the
      most practical still that I can build to make 95%. thats why I like
      the nixon head, i can use it on a pot in the future..



      Ill tell you more tomorrow when im "up 2 par"
    • Harry
      ... that ... gallon ... truck ... http://www.houseneeds.com/shop/manuals/johnsoncontrol_a419bulletin.pdf ... TRANSFORMER-120-24V-
      Message 2 of 23 , Mar 2 6:47 PM
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        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "mat_ace_85"
        <Mathew_Schaefer85@...> wrote:
        >
        > Ok guys... I am new to distilling and have no reason to be in the
        > "Advanced" section but..... I have been reading up on a distiller
        that
        > I wanted to build, keg w/ a 36+ Column inch nixon stone.. Bare w/ me
        > here... Been drinkin apple pie ALL NIGHT.. I said you to my buddy
        > "who does HVAC" you guys use temperature controlers on some of your
        > stills to keep her at the right temp.. I told him that I wanted to
        > install 1, mabey 2 1,300 watt water heater dealies in the keg "I
        > realey wanted a 30 gallon boiler but I heard you cant make a 30
        gallon
        > mash due to the ferment overheatin" anyways.. So he went to his
        truck
        > and handed me this
        >
        >
        http://www.houseneeds.com/shop/manuals/johnsoncontrol_a419bulletin.pdf
        >
        > and one of these
        >
        > http://item.express.ebay.com/__HVAC_MARS-50302-STEP-DOWN-CONTROL-
        TRANSFORMER-120-24V-
        40VA_W0QQitemZ7608284700QQihZ017QQptdnZHVACQQptdiZ1188QQcmdZExpressIte
        m
        >
        > I just wanna make sure these are the right goodies..
        >
        > Also my plan is to make a 15.5 gallon or 30 gallon boiler..
        >
        > I have my hands up in the air and want you guys to look at what i
        > have. because the way i see it is. I have over $150 in free good
        > stuff, now I can build a bitchin still but what do you think is the
        > most practical still that I can build to make 95%. thats why I like
        > the nixon head, i can use it on a pot in the future..
        >
        >
        >
        > Ill tell you more tomorrow when im "up 2 par"
        >



        Taken from the controller specs bulletin...
        <extract>
        "This equipment has been tested and found to comply
        with the limits for a Class A digital device pursuant to
        Part 15 of FCC rules. These limits are designed to
        provide reasonable protection against harmful
        interference when this equipment is operated in a
        commercial environment. This equipment generates,
        uses, and can radiate radio frequency energy and, if
        not installed and used in accordance with the
        instruction manual, may cause harmful interference to
        radio communications. Operation of this equipment in
        a residential area is likely to cause harmful
        interference, in which case the user will be required to
        correct the interference at his or her own expense."
        </extract>

        Might as well hang out a sign saying..."Here I am, TTB."

        Slainte!
        regards Harry
        http://distillers.tastylime.net/library/
      • Trid
        ...
        Message 3 of 23 , Mar 3 12:32 AM
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          --- mat_ace_85 <Mathew_Schaefer85@...> wrote:
          > http://www.houseneeds.com/shop/manuals/johnsoncontrol_a419bulletin.pdf
          >
          > and one of these
          >
          http://item.express.ebay.com/__HVAC_MARS-50302-STEP-DOWN-CONTROL-TRANSFORMER-120-24V-40VA_W0QQitemZ7608284700QQihZ017QQptdnZHVACQQptdiZ1188QQcmdZExpressItem
          >
          > I just wanna make sure these are the right goodies..

          You're out of luck. Neither of those will do you any good in what you're
          looking to do. The temperature controller is a nifty looking, slick sounding
          gizmo, but even if he did remember to include the necessary temperature sensor
          (a separate item) it wouldn't do what you want. Conversely, if you're into
          home brewing, it would be ideal for your kegerator temperature control, but
          only if he gave you a 120V model (notice that there are two styles, the 24V and
          120/240V style). Since he gave you that 120-24 step down transformer, that
          would lead me to believe that it's not

          The other problem (above and beyond the voltage rating (because with a couple
          relays, that could otherwise be worked around) is that what you have is a fancy
          schmancy thermostat that turns on at a certain temperature, and turns off at
          another temperature (depending on whether you choose to use it in a cooling or
          heating application). When you're running a still, you want constant heat,
          whether it's electric or flame. You might want to turn it up or down, but
          never on-off, to regulate the heat input.

          > Also my plan is to make a 15.5 gallon or 30 gallon boiler..

          Nifty plan...there really isn't any way the new toys you have will incorporate
          into that plan, however.

          > I have my hands up in the air and want you guys to look at what i
          > have. because the way i see it is. I have over $150 in free good
          > stuff, now I can build a bitchin still but what do you think is the
          > most practical still that I can build to make 95%. thats why I like
          > the nixon head, i can use it on a pot in the future..

          My advice would be to put that controller on eBay and take the money you get
          from it and purchase the copper pipe for your still head. A simple pot still
          is the way to go to cut your teeth on this hobby. Fewer variables lead to
          fewer mysteries when something doesn't happen the way you expect. Once you
          have a good feel for that, put together your reflux rig. You'll be surprised
          how much more sense it makes based on the previous knowledge and experience you
          will then have gained.

          Crawl-walk-run...it goes in that order for a good reason.

          Trid
          -at least when you're crawling, you can't fall off the ground...but I'm still
          working on getting that one right, too.
        • Firefox
          You will need an infinitely variable power controller. It sounds like the model you quote has a relay. If this is the case this unit will not give a constant
          Message 4 of 23 , Mar 3 4:02 AM
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            You will need an infinitely variable power controller. It sounds like the model you quote has a relay. If this is the case this unit will not give a constant flow of vapour.

            Bob.

          • Caleb Dunstan
            Hi, I m a newbie, and have not actually built my still yet, but why not just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for control, and hook that
            Message 5 of 23 , Mar 3 4:54 AM
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              Hi,

               

              I'm a newbie, and have not actually built my still yet, but why not just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for control, and hook that up to an SSR which is feeding your heating element. That would give you the range and sensitivity, and most of the PID's I've seen will give you control to about 0.1 of a deg C.  That's what we put on our espresso machine, and it works a treat.

               

               

               

               



              ----- Original Message ----
              From: Firefox <foxyfoxy50@...>
              To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, March 3, 2008 11:02:52 PM
              Subject: [Distillers] Re:Temperature Controlers

              You will need an infinitely variable power controller. It sounds like the model you quote has a relay. If this is the case this unit will not give a constant flow of vapour.

              Bob.




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            • Harry
              ... just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for control, and hook that up to an SSR which is feeding your heating element. That would give
              Message 6 of 23 , Mar 3 1:34 PM
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                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Caleb Dunstan <phantompower@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Hi,
                >
                > I'm a newbie, and have not actually built my still yet, but why not
                just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for
                control, and hook that up to an SSR which is feeding your heating
                element. That would give you the range and sensitivity, and most of
                the PID's I've seen will give you control to about 0.1 of a deg C.
                That's what we put on our espresso machine, and it works a treat.



                You're missing the point. You're wasting your time using head vapour
                temperature as the trigger because you don't want it fluctuating AT
                ALL in distillation. We're not simmering coffee here. Temperature
                does NOT need to be controlled. The composition of the vapour at the
                head will automatically decide the temperature recordable there. It
                is POWER INPUT that needs to be controlled. This is done with a
                burst-fire zero-switching controller. Slow on-off-on switches like
                stove controllers will only cause surge boiling, as will your setup.
                This destroys the two-way distilling action in the column.

                Do not confuse the two terms 'temperature' and 'power'. Temperature
                is the result of work done. Power is the work units applied.

                Slainte!
                regards Harry
                http://distillers.tastylime.net/library/
              • Trid
                ... On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C tolerance. In the case of coffee, hot water boilers, ovens, and the like, it s a really
                Message 7 of 23 , Mar 3 3:25 PM
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                  > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Caleb Dunstan <phantompower@...>
                  > > I'm a newbie, and have not actually built my still yet, but why not
                  > just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for
                  > control, and hook that up to an SSR which is feeding your heating
                  > element. That would give you the range and sensitivity, and most of
                  > the PID's I've seen will give you control to about 0.1 of a deg C.
                  > That's what we put on our espresso machine, and it works a treat.

                  On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C tolerance. In
                  the case of coffee, hot water boilers, ovens, and the like, it's a really
                  precise, well controlled situation. For what we're doing, not so much.

                  Actually, the only flaw in how this operates is your solid state relay (SSR).
                  Not that it doesn't hold temperature well, but because it holds it by turning
                  the heat on and off (for people less familiar, a relay is just a switch that's
                  operated electrically instead of by hand). Even on such a small scale as
                  needed to maintain 0.1 degree stability, it's still a matter of on/off...just
                  more rapid.

                  --- Harry <gnikomson2000@...> wrote:
                  > You're missing the point. You're wasting your time using head vapour
                  > temperature as the trigger because you don't want it fluctuating AT
                  > ALL in distillation. We're not simmering coffee here. Temperature
                  > does NOT need to be controlled. The composition of the vapour at the
                  > head will automatically decide the temperature recordable there. It
                  > is POWER INPUT that needs to be controlled. This is done with a
                  > burst-fire zero-switching controller. Slow on-off-on switches like
                  > stove controllers will only cause surge boiling, as will your setup.
                  > This destroys the two-way distilling action in the column.

                  Where this is a more frequently seen application, such as stovetops and such,
                  this is still the principle that you're working against (not with) when
                  utilizing either infinite switches (such as stovetops) or SSRs (PID controlled
                  or not) or any other on/off switching device.

                  Controlling a reflux rig is actually much simpler than something that would
                  demand a PID controller, although one could make it complicated enough to apply
                  it. You need a steady input of power, or heat. It needs to be variable in the
                  sense that you can adjust the steady input up or down...but when it goes up or
                  down, it needs to be steady at the new higher or lower level. Think gas
                  stove...more or less flame, but whatever setting you give it, it stays right
                  there. This can also be done electrically, which is where you hear of
                  burst-fire controllers (also called triac controllers) or variacs. Your triac
                  clips part of the power going to your heater...you can adjust how much is
                  clipped by adjusting a variable resistor. When you set it, it stays constant
                  at the new power level. A variac is a variable transformer that lets you
                  adjust the voltage to your heater...less voltage, less heat and vice versa.

                  In a home rig, all you need to do is find the ideal heat input, set it and
                  forget it. The remaining adjustments are based upon what your product is. A
                  valve tweak here for a slower drip, a cooling adjustment there because your
                  condensing water is warmer today than it was last week, and so forth.

                  Trid
                  -I'll try to explain PID control, and how it works and may or may not apply
                  iffn's anybody is interested (in English, not engineer-ese).
                • Caleb Dunstan
                  On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C tolerance. In ... But don¢t you need to keep the mash and the gradient of the drop in temp
                  Message 8 of 23 , Mar 3 4:43 PM
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                    On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C tolerance. In

                    > the case of coffee, hot water boilers, ovens, and the like, it's a really
                    > precise, well controlled situation. For what we're doing, not so much.

                     

                    But don’t you need to keep the mash and the gradient of the drop in temp along the column fairly constant to get the best results?

                     

                    > Actually, the only flaw in how this operates is your solid state relay (SSR).
                    > Not that it doesn't hold temperature well, but because it holds it by turning
                    > the heat on and off (for people less familiar, a relay is just a switch that's
                    > operated electrically instead of by hand). Even on such a small scale as
                    > needed to maintain 0.1 degree stability, it's still a matter of on/off...just
                    > more rapid.



                    Yes, the SSR switches the current to the heating element on and off, but you can set it so it does this very fast - a couple of times a second.  This 'spikes' the element with current - but I don't think these spikes are reflected as the actual temperature fluctuation at the surface of the element - there is quite a lot of metal to heat up.

                     

                    > You're missing the point. You're wasting your time using head vapour
                    > temperature as the trigger because you don't want it fluctuating AT
                    > ALL in distillation. We're not simmering coffee here. Temperature
                    > does NOT need to be controlled.

                     

                    I’m thinking mash temp controlling power input.  I don't quite follow what you're saying about head vapour temp - you don't want it fluctuating, but don't want to control it?  I don't quite follow.

                     

                    The composition of the vapour at the

                    > head will automatically decide the temperature recordable there.

                     

                    Really?

                     

                    It

                    > is POWER INPUT that needs to be controlled. This is done with a
                    > burst-fire zero-switching controller. Slow on-off-on switches like
                    > stove controllers will only cause surge boiling, as will your setup.
                    > This destroys the two-way distilling action in the column.

                     

                    It's not slow.  Each cycle is like 250ms. I don't think it would cause surge boiling.

                     

                    Trid
                    -I'll try to explain PID control, and how it works and may or may not apply
                    iffn's anybody is interested (in English, not engineer-ese) .

                     

                    A PID is a smart little computer controller which looks at one or several input temperature probes (thermocouples) and it’s memory of what it’s done recently and controls how much heat you want to put out to bring something up to and keep at a set temperature. 


                     

                     

                    ----- Original Message ----
                    From: Trid <triddlywinks@...>
                    To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
                    Sent: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 10:25:30 AM
                    Subject: Re: [Distillers] Re:Temperature Controlers

                    > --- In Distillers@yahoogro ups.com, Caleb Dunstan <phantompower@ ...>
                    > > I'm a newbie, and have not actually built my still yet, but why not
                    > just use a simple PID controller and a K-type thermocouple for
                    > control, and hook that up to an SSR which is feeding your heating
                    > element. That would give you the range and sensitivity, and most of
                    > the PID's I've seen will give you control to about 0.1 of a deg C.
                    > That's what we put on our espresso machine, and it works a treat.

                    On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C tolerance. In
                    the case of coffee, hot water boilers, ovens, and the like, it's a really
                    precise, well controlled situation. For what we're doing, not so much.

                    Actually, the only flaw in how this operates is your solid state relay (SSR).
                    Not that it doesn't hold temperature well, but because it holds it by turning
                    the heat on and off (for people less familiar, a relay is just a switch that's
                    operated electrically instead of by hand). Even on such a small scale as
                    needed to maintain 0.1 degree stability, it's still a matter of on/off...just
                    more rapid.

                    --- Harry <gnikomson2000@ yahoo.com> wrote:
                    > You're missing the point. You're wasting your time using head vapour
                    > temperature as the trigger because you don't want it fluctuating AT
                    > ALL in distillation. We're not simmering coffee here. Temperature
                    > does NOT need to be controlled. The composition of the vapour at the
                    > head will automatically decide the temperature recordable there. It
                    > is POWER INPUT that needs to be controlled.
                    This is done with a
                    > burst-fire zero-switching controller. Slow on-off-on switches like
                    > stove controllers will only cause surge boiling, as will your setup.
                    > This destroys the two-way distilling action in the column.

                    Where this is a more frequently seen application, such as stovetops and such,
                    this is still the principle that you're working against (not with) when
                    utilizing either infinite switches (such as stovetops) or SSRs (PID controlled
                    or not) or any other on/off switching device.

                    Controlling a reflux rig is actually much simpler than something that would
                    demand a PID controller, although one could make it complicated enough to apply
                    it. You need a steady input of power, or heat. It needs to be variable in the
                    sense that you can adjust the steady input up or down...but when it goes up or
                    down, it needs to be steady at the new higher or lower level. Think gas
                    stove...more or less flame, but whatever setting you give it, it stays right
                    there. This can also be done electrically, which is where you hear of
                    burst-fire controllers (also called triac controllers) or variacs. Your triac
                    clips part of the power going to your heater...you can adjust how much is
                    clipped by adjusting a variable resistor. When you set it, it stays constant
                    at the new power level. A variac is a variable transformer that lets you
                    adjust the voltage to your heater...less voltage, less heat and vice versa.

                    In a home rig, all you need to do is find the ideal heat input, set it and
                    forget it. The remaining adjustments are based upon what your product is. A
                    valve tweak here for a slower drip, a cooling adjustment there because your
                    condensing water is warmer today than it was last week, and so forth.

                    Trid
                    -I'll try to explain PID control, and how it works and may or may not apply
                    iffn's anybody is interested (in English, not engineer-ese) .



                    Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.
                  • abbababbaccc
                    You need to keep the mash boiling in order to generate vapor that you can condense. The boiling point (i.e. temperature) increases as alcohol from the mash is
                    Message 9 of 23 , Mar 3 9:26 PM
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                      You need to keep the mash boiling in order to generate vapor that you
                      can condense. The boiling point (i.e. temperature) increases as
                      alcohol from the mash is exhausted (see the boiling point curve Harry
                      posted). It begins at around 88C and ends at 100C when all alcohol is
                      gone. This is really more of a new_distillers stuff but just so you
                      get it, YOU CAN NOT CONTROL MASH TEMPERATURE if you want to generate
                      that vapor you need to condense in order to make distillate.

                      Cheers, Riku

                      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Caleb Dunstan <phantompower@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > On the surface, this sounds good, even with keeping within 0.1 C
                      tolerance. In
                      > > the case of coffee, hot water boilers, ovens, and the like, it's a
                      really
                      > > precise, well controlled situation. For what we're doing, not so much.
                      >
                      > But don¢t you need to keep the mash and the gradient of the drop in
                      temp along the column fairly constant to get the best results?
                      >
                      >
                    • Trid
                      ... No. You have no control over the gradient, only the top end, the head. You have no control over what your boiler is doing because its composition
                      Message 10 of 23 , Mar 3 10:20 PM
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                        --- Caleb Dunstan <phantompower@...> wrote:
                        > But don¢t you need to keep the mash and the gradient of the drop in temp
                        > along the column fairly constant to get the best results?

                        No. You have no control over the gradient, only the top end, the head. You
                        have no control over what your boiler is doing because its composition controls
                        it, not you. When it's boiling, it's at the saturation temperature for the
                        combination of all liquids in it. As the concentration of ethanol is reduced,
                        the boiling temperature rises proportionately (but not linearly).

                        > Yes, the SSR switches the current to the heating element on and off, but you
                        > can set it so it does this very fast - a couple of times a second. This
                        > 'spikes' the element with current - but I don't think these spikes are
                        > reflected as the actual temperature fluctuation at the surface of the element
                        > - there is quite a lot of metal to heat up.

                        This is true...there is a lot of metal to heat up. Carry that one step further
                        to the scale of a still versus a coffee or cappuccino machine. There's a lot
                        more liquid to heat up as well (considering your boiler will be quite a bit
                        larger in volume than a coffee machine). As such, you'll suffer greater
                        temperature swings due to this. Remember also, your heating elements will draw
                        much more power in the boiler. SSRs or even mechanical relays will wear out
                        much quicker under this higher load...unless you're prepared to drop a lot of
                        money on some industrial grade relays that are rated to switch that much
                        current that frequently for that long on a regular basis.

                        > I¢m thinking mash temp controlling power input. I don't quite follow what
                        > you're saying about head vapour temp - you don't want it fluctuating, but
                        > don't want to control it? I don't quite follow.

                        Mash temp is not relevant to power input. The rate at which it boils is a
                        result of the power input (and thus vapor speed) but not temperature. The
                        temperature will always be at the saturation temperature of the liquids in the
                        mash. Any lower and you're no longer boiling...just hot.

                        > The composition of the vapour at the
                        > > head will automatically decide the temperature recordable there.
                        >
                        > Really?

                        Really.
                        The vapor temperature will be at the saturation temperature of whatever
                        combination of ethanol and water is present. If you have poor reflux, and your
                        ethanol portion is less than 96.5% of the vapor, then the temperature will show
                        this...it will be higher. More reflux will reduce your head temperature and
                        the product will show this by being higher % of ethanol.

                        > It
                        > > is POWER INPUT that needs to be controlled. This is done with a
                        > > burst-fire zero-switching controller. Slow on-off-on switches like
                        > > stove controllers will only cause surge boiling, as will your setup.
                        > > This destroys the two-way distilling action in the column.
                        >
                        > It's not slow. Each cycle is like 250ms. I don't think it would cause surge
                        > boiling.

                        On the scale you're presently working with, perhaps not, but you're also not
                        controlling boiling rate, you're controlling temperature. In the context of a
                        still, it needs to be boiling...otherwise, you're not going to get an
                        appreciable takeoff rate and you'll be waiting forever for the lower boiling
                        point volatiles (the nasty, solvent odors you're catching) to evaporate.

                        The bottom line is that one doesn't control the boiler temperature. The heat
                        input is adjusted to tweak the boiling rate and therefore the vapor speed.
                        Them's just the physics of it. Don't think you're the first to think of
                        controlling the boiler temperature to get JUST ethanol...nor was I when I
                        considered it back when I was starting out.

                        > -I'll try to explain PID control, and how it works and may or may not apply
                        > iffn's anybody is interested (in English, not engineer-ese) .
                        >
                        > A PID is a smart little computer controller which looks at one or several
                        > input temperature probes (thermocouples) and it¢s memory of what it¢s done
                        > recently and controls how much heat you want to put out to bring something up
                        > to and keep at a set temperature.

                        That's the condensed version...and you're dead on regarding temperature. I'm
                        talking about HOW it accomplishes it.
                        PID is the means by which the smart little controller works, not what it is.
                        It stands for "Proportional Integral Derivative." It compares an input (or
                        multiple like you mentioned) which is the PV (process variable). This is what
                        you have. Then there's the setpoint, what you want. It compares what you have
                        to what you want. The difference is called the "error." The "proportional"
                        component of your PID is a span...it's the magnitude of your error which will
                        cause it produce the full output of your control variable (CV). This would be
                        your SSR being on constantly, or a valve to be turned completely on (or off)
                        depending on what the desired position is. Next is the Integral (or sometimes
                        referred to as "integration"). This is a repetitive reevaluation of the error.
                        It's like the little kid in the back seat saying "are we there yet?" If after
                        a period of time (seconds, minutes, milliseconds...whatever is programmed)
                        there is still an error, the integration adds some to the output of the
                        calculation. The smaller the error, the less it adds, and vice versa. The
                        Derivative function further fine tunes this response to ensure the PV is
                        exactly on its setpoint at all costs...this translates to rapidly changing the
                        CV in order to react to the slightest variance. Derivative is actually very
                        rarely used because its rapid and constant readjustment leads to premature
                        failure of equipment and components due to fatigue.

                        Now, in the context of the SSRs that maintain temperature, the output of the
                        PID calculation then has to translate into pulses of on/off. It can be done
                        with either a predetermined value and just pulse that amount more or less
                        frequently (the output of the PID then being the frequency of the pulses) or it
                        can be adaptive where it records the rate at which the PV changes when the CV
                        is on (or off) and thus decides the length of time the CV is on in order to
                        affect that magnitude of change.

                        That being said (and I think I may have failed a bit in the English-ness of
                        it), because we're not in need of controlling heat input for the sake of
                        temperature control, that becomes irrelevant for the boiler heaters. Where it
                        becomes potentially useful is in controlling your reflux rate. The process
                        variable would be your head temperature, the control variable would be your
                        takeoff valve, and your setpoint would be that of the ethanol/water azeotrope
                        (I can never remember that exact number because it's never be relevant to
                        me...I happily pot still). However, this has already been covered by ARC
                        (automatic reflux control) which is a mechanical means of controlling your
                        reflux ratio based on the head temperature. Not quite as dead-nuts accurate as
                        PID, but plenty adequate for our little hobby.

                        Don't get me wrong, I'm not at all trying to discourage tinkering and tweaking
                        on one's rig...this *is* a hobby, after all, and we're free to futz about with
                        the mechanics of our rigs in the name of fun. But just as a back yard mechanic
                        wouldn't try to install nitrous in is his cooling system, it's about the
                        context and knowing what portion needs control, why, and how...and what
                        doesn't.

                        Trid
                        -way too late to "make a long story short"
                      • Trid
                        ... ...or you could say it that way. Geez, I need to work on my brevity. Trid -pedantic tonight
                        Message 11 of 23 , Mar 3 10:21 PM
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                          --- abbababbaccc <abbababbaccc@...> wrote:

                          > You need to keep the mash boiling in order to generate vapor that you
                          > can condense. The boiling point (i.e. temperature) increases as
                          > alcohol from the mash is exhausted (see the boiling point curve Harry
                          > posted). It begins at around 88C and ends at 100C when all alcohol is
                          > gone. This is really more of a new_distillers stuff but just so you
                          > get it, YOU CAN NOT CONTROL MASH TEMPERATURE if you want to generate
                          > that vapor you need to condense in order to make distillate.

                          ...or you could say it that way.

                          Geez, I need to work on my brevity.

                          Trid
                          -pedantic tonight
                        • Harry
                          ... Nothing wrong with the way you said it, Trid. Or you Riku. With all the variables, the complex processes and actions/reactions going on in distillation,
                          Message 12 of 23 , Mar 3 10:44 PM
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                            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Trid <triddlywinks@...> wrote:
                            > ...or you could say it that way.
                            >
                            > Geez, I need to work on my brevity.
                            >
                            > Trid
                            > -pedantic tonight
                            >


                            Nothing wrong with the way you said it, Trid. Or you Riku. With all
                            the variables, the complex processes and actions/reactions going on
                            in distillation, I'm constantly amazed that we manage to explain it
                            at all!

                            Some things can be related in a few words, some things require
                            detailed dissection before the light goes on. Where would we be
                            without the ability to communicate?
                            (I shudder at the thought of the struggle my nearly illiterate text-
                            shorthand-messaging kids will have in the future, trying to get their
                            heads around things).


                            Slainte!
                            regards Harry
                            http://distillers.tastylime.net/library/
                          • whynda
                            ... YOU CAN NOT CONTROL MASH TEMPERATURE if you want to generate ... but nothing works either :(
                            Message 13 of 23 , Mar 3 11:02 PM
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                              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "abbababbaccc" <abbababbaccc@...>
                              wrote:
                              >
                              >Snip >>>>
                              YOU CAN NOT CONTROL MASH TEMPERATURE if you want to generate
                              > that vapor you need to condense in order to make distillate.
                              >
                              > Cheers, Riku
                              >


                              >Ummmm .... I control my MASH TEMPERATURE, says he smerquing.

                              but nothing works either :(
                            • abbababbaccc
                              ... To what purpose, what do you achieve with that? If you want vapor you need to boil the mash and boiling temperature depends on mash composition which
                              Message 14 of 23 , Mar 3 11:20 PM
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                                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "whynda" <hstuiber@...> wrote:
                                >
                                > >
                                >
                                > >Ummmm .... I control my MASH TEMPERATURE, says he smerquing.
                                >
                                > but nothing works either :(
                                >

                                To what purpose, what do you achieve with that? If you want vapor you
                                need to boil the mash and boiling temperature depends on mash
                                composition which changes over time.

                                Of course if you mean mash temperature during fermentation that's
                                another thing but we were talking about distillation here.

                                Cheers, Riku
                              • whynda
                                ... you ... Sorry Riku, It was an attempt at sad humour directed at the people that will insist on trying to control mash temperature. Harry (the other one)
                                Message 15 of 23 , Mar 4 1:24 AM
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                                  --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "abbababbaccc" <abbababbaccc@...>
                                  wrote:
                                  >
                                  > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "whynda" <hstuiber@> wrote:
                                  > >
                                  > > >
                                  > >
                                  > > >Ummmm .... I control my MASH TEMPERATURE, says he smerquing.
                                  > >
                                  > > but nothing works either :(
                                  > >
                                  >
                                  > To what purpose, what do you achieve with that? If you want vapor
                                  you
                                  > need to boil the mash and boiling temperature depends on mash
                                  > composition which changes over time.
                                  >
                                  > Of course if you mean mash temperature during fermentation that's
                                  > another thing but we were talking about distillation here.
                                  >
                                  > Cheers, Riku



                                  Sorry Riku, It was an attempt at sad humour directed at the people
                                  that will insist on trying to control mash temperature.

                                  Harry (the other one)
                                  >
                                • ArnieW
                                  I was thinking an analogy might help here. If you are set for a romantic night and want to dim the light in your lounge room, then you adjust the light-dimmer
                                  Message 16 of 23 , Mar 4 12:28 PM
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                                    I was thinking an analogy might help here.

                                    If you are set for a romantic night and want to dim the light in your
                                    lounge room, then you adjust the light-dimmer control to set the
                                    ambient light. At this point all that is important is setting the
                                    right amount of light to give the desired effect. The temperature of
                                    the light globe is irrelevant - the only important thing is the
                                    lighting effect. The temperature of the globe will be higher if it is
                                    a hot night. The temperature of the globe will be lower if it is
                                    mid-winter and there is a cold breeze coming in through the window.
                                    But this does not matter as long as the light level is right.

                                    When distilling, the power in the boiler is all that matters because
                                    this determines how much vapour will evaporate. The temperature of the
                                    vapour in the head is not determined by the power in the boiler. It
                                    will be higher if reflux is poor, lower if in full reflux. Increasing
                                    the power will choke the column because of excessive vapour.

                                    I use PID control to regulate mash temperatures in my brewing system -
                                    and there it is great. The boiler requirements for distilling are so
                                    simple that a single heating element of the right power (say 1000W)
                                    will be near enough to be perfect without any fancy power control at all.

                                    cheers all
                                  • morganfield1
                                    Last I knew, Bob the Borg was the Keeper of the Secret Knowledge of controlling the boiling point temperature! I wonder how he s doing, anyway. Tip one,
                                    Message 17 of 23 , Mar 4 1:19 PM
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                                      Last I knew, Bob the Borg was the "Keeper of the Secret Knowledge" of
                                      controlling the boiling point temperature! I wonder how he's doing,
                                      anyway.

                                      Tip one, Morgan

                                      > >
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > >Ummmm .... I control my MASH TEMPERATURE, says he smerquing.
                                      >
                                      > but nothing works either :(
                                      >
                                    • mstehelin
                                      I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any. All the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the dumpster/recycling)
                                      Message 18 of 23 , Mar 4 2:53 PM
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                                        I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any. All
                                        the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the
                                        dumpster/recycling) are 1500W. Any suggestions on where to source
                                        1000 W or lower would be appreciated
                                        Cheers
                                        M


                                        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "ArnieW" <arniew@...> wrote:
                                        >
                                        > I was thinking an analogy might help here.
                                        >
                                        > If you are set for a romantic night and want to dim the light in your
                                        > lounge room, then you adjust the light-dimmer control to set the
                                        > ambient light. At this point all that is important is setting the
                                        > right amount of light to give the desired effect. The temperature of
                                        > the light globe is irrelevant - the only important thing is the
                                        > lighting effect. The temperature of the globe will be higher if it is
                                        > a hot night. The temperature of the globe will be lower if it is
                                        > mid-winter and there is a cold breeze coming in through the window.
                                        > But this does not matter as long as the light level is right.
                                        >
                                        > When distilling, the power in the boiler is all that matters because
                                        > this determines how much vapour will evaporate. The temperature of the
                                        > vapour in the head is not determined by the power in the boiler. It
                                        > will be higher if reflux is poor, lower if in full reflux. Increasing
                                        > the power will choke the column because of excessive vapour.
                                        >
                                        > I use PID control to regulate mash temperatures in my brewing system -
                                        > and there it is great. The boiler requirements for distilling are so
                                        > simple that a single heating element of the right power (say 1000W)
                                        > will be near enough to be perfect without any fancy power control at
                                        all.
                                        >
                                        > cheers all
                                        >
                                      • martin martins
                                        Mobile kettles, the type that are designed for heating a couple of cups of water in hotel rooms. If hotel kettles go missing I am not liable. Oh, they run off
                                        Message 19 of 23 , Mar 4 3:10 PM
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                                          Mobile kettles, the type that are designed for heating a couple of cups of water in hotel rooms.

                                          If hotel kettles go missing I am not liable. Oh, they run off the mains as well :) Try your pound store.

                                          ----- Original Message ----
                                          From: mstehelin <mstehelin@...>
                                          To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
                                          Sent: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 10:53:16 PM
                                          Subject: [Distillers] Re:Temperature Controlers

                                          I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any. All
                                          the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the
                                          dumpster/recycling) are 1500W. Any suggestions on where to source
                                          1000 W or lower would be appreciated
                                          Cheers
                                          M




                                          Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.
                                        • Trid
                                          ... Failing that, you can always find one that s rated for 240V and for 4 times the power that you need. Then just put 120V on it instead and you have exactly
                                          Message 20 of 23 , Mar 4 4:24 PM
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                                            --- mstehelin <mstehelin@...> wrote:

                                            > I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any. All
                                            > the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the
                                            > dumpster/recycling) are 1500W. Any suggestions on where to source
                                            > 1000 W or lower would be appreciated
                                            > Cheers
                                            > M

                                            Failing that, you can always find one that's rated for 240V and for 4 times the
                                            power that you need. Then just put 120V on it instead and you have exactly the
                                            power you were seeking.

                                            For example, if you want a 600W heater, find a 240V 2400W heating element and
                                            just apply 120V instead. Since Power = Voltage ^2 / Resistance and your
                                            resistance stays the same... if you cut the voltage in half, your power is
                                            (1/2)^2 or 1/4 the original value.

                                            Then again, I don't remember if you are in the US or not and even have this
                                            option.

                                            Trid
                                            -but the theory still holds :)
                                          • mstehelin
                                            I think that your average North American hot water tank heater would fit those requirements. Great! Now I can put Riku s spiral still to the test! Cheers M
                                            Message 21 of 23 , Mar 4 4:52 PM
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                                              I think that your average North American hot water tank heater would
                                              fit those requirements. Great! Now I can put Riku's spiral still to
                                              the test!
                                              Cheers
                                              M


                                              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, Trid <triddlywinks@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > --- mstehelin <mstehelin@...> wrote:
                                              >
                                              > > I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any. All
                                              > > the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the
                                              > > dumpster/recycling) are 1500W. Any suggestions on where to source
                                              > > 1000 W or lower would be appreciated
                                              > > Cheers
                                              > > M
                                              >
                                              > Failing that, you can always find one that's rated for 240V and for
                                              4 times the
                                              > power that you need. Then just put 120V on it instead and you have
                                              exactly the
                                              > power you were seeking.
                                              >
                                              > For example, if you want a 600W heater, find a 240V 2400W heating
                                              element and
                                              > just apply 120V instead. Since Power = Voltage ^2 / Resistance and your
                                              > resistance stays the same... if you cut the voltage in half, your
                                              power is
                                              > (1/2)^2 or 1/4 the original value.
                                              >
                                              > Then again, I don't remember if you are in the US or not and even
                                              have this
                                              > option.
                                              >
                                              > Trid
                                              > -but the theory still holds :)
                                              >
                                            • mavnkaf
                                              Hi mstehelin, I found this on the net for $50 AUD, I m not sure what a sink heat is but it might be ok? product No.90704 750w 1 BSP Sink Heater
                                              Message 22 of 23 , Mar 4 6:22 PM
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                                                Hi mstehelin, I found this on the net for $50 AUD, I'm not sure what
                                                a sink heat is but it might be ok?

                                                product No.90704 750w 1'' BSP Sink Heater

                                                http://tinyurl.com/yslbrv

                                                Cheers
                                                Marc



                                                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "mstehelin" <mstehelin@...> wrote:
                                                >
                                                > I have been looking for low power elements but have not found any.
                                                All
                                                > the elements that I pull out of the kettles (that I pull out of the
                                                > dumpster/recycling) are 1500W. Any suggestions on where to source
                                                > 1000 W or lower would be appreciated
                                                > Cheers
                                                > M
                                                >
                                              • Robert Hubble
                                                Trid, you said it just fine. That from an old broken-down retired EE who use to write theory-of-operations crap about embedded systems for a living. It s been
                                                Message 23 of 23 , Mar 4 9:07 PM
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                                                  Trid, you said it just fine. That from an old broken-down retired EE who use to write theory-of-operations crap about embedded systems for a living.
                                                   
                                                  It's been a long time since I took a control-circuit class, but I don't think we ever studied anything as sophisticated as what you describe, even with discrete components. That differentiation on the end sounds really clever. I guess I'm going to have to go to Digi-key and look up PIDs.
                                                   
                                                  For all the kibbitzing and tutorials I've done for designing embedded syatems, I've never actually started one from scratch, and a buddy of mine sent me a USB-dongle that's a development system for TI's MSP430 controller. We had talked about my need for several thermometer readouts for my new (possible water-bath) still. I found a single-wire bus digital thermometer, so you can string them all on one wire like Christmas-tree bulbs, kinda, but they have to be polled by a processor, and the 430 looks like the cheapest, easiest to develop thing I've seen.
                                                   
                                                  I'm an awful procrastinator, but I'm planning on building this sucker anyway, and maybe dump all the temps to a logfile on a PC, as well as a bank of LED displays. That would be cool.
                                                   
                                                  Anyway, thanks for the great explanation, and screw brevity.
                                                   
                                                  Man, I like this group.

                                                  Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller



                                                  To: Distillers@yahoogroups.com
                                                  From: triddlywinks@...
                                                  Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2008 22:21:49 -0800
                                                  Subject: Re: [Distillers] Re:Temperature Controlers

                                                  --- abbababbaccc <abbababbaccc@ yahoo.com> wrote:

                                                  > You need to keep the mash boiling in order to generate vapor that you
                                                  > can condense. The boiling point (i.e. temperature) increases as
                                                  > alcohol from the mash is exhausted (see the boiling point curve Harry
                                                  > posted). It begins at around 88C and ends at 100C when all alcohol is
                                                  > gone. This is really more of a new_distillers stuff but just so you
                                                  > get it, YOU CAN NOT CONTROL MASH TEMPERATURE if you want to generate
                                                  > that vapor you need to condense in order to make distillate.

                                                  ...or you could say it that way.

                                                  Geez, I need to work on my brevity.

                                                  Trid
                                                  -pedantic tonight



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