First full brew - some interface feedback

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BrunDog
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First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by BrunDog » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:08 am

Got my first full brew done yesterday. All in all, very happy with the BCS's performance. Running 4.0 beta 3, here are a couple of interface feedback items I would love to see. I understand that all the code is in the BCS so space is limited, but nonetheless:

1. The output buttons are too small. I think these should be much larger so they are more easily accessed. They could just be taller which would not take up much space. I used a laptop but would expect a touchscreen/iPad to be a bit tricky.
2. It would be very nice to know what the exit of that state will be. Is the state waiting for a timer to expire, or a temperature to be achieved?
3. It would be good to have a link to edit the current state/process. When you want to make adjustments on the fly, it requires going to the Process Editor, selecting the Process, then the State, then editing, then going back to Main Control. If there were an "edit" link there, you could go straight to the state to edit it.
4. It would be good to be able to change the scale on the dial gauges. I found them essentially useless because the setpoint is covered by the present value. As a result I needed to switch to LED style, which I imagine is what everybody does. If the scale could be adjusted, it would expose the needles better.
5. Temperature Setpoints should be adjustable on the main control screen. In my opinion, there is no good reason to need go to another screen, "Temp Setpoint Adjust" to do this.
6. When using Duty Cycle for an output, it would be good for this to be displayed on the screen. For example, when boiling, you have no idea what the current DC is unless you go to the Process Editor. And just like 5 above, it would also be good to be able to edit this on the main control screen.

That is what comes to mind right now... feedback/thoughts appreciated.

-BD

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JonW
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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by JonW » Sun Jun 21, 2015 11:55 am

A lot of people do use the dial displays as they are very clean and easily readable. If your setpoint and present value indicators overlap, then you likely have some font scaling or something going on with your display settings. The analog dials should not have any text overlap. I would be curious to see a screen shot of your display. This is possibly the issue with the output buttons as well. Do you have everything scaled real small?

You will likely get to a point after a couple of brew sessions where you are rarely editing your processes. Making on-the-fly adjustments during a brew day should not happen often, which is why the editing controls are only on the menu and not on each process. We want to keep the brew day display of processes/states very clean without a lot of extra controls or clutter. This makes it very easy for the display to function as a touchscreen control from monitors, tablets & even phones.

Adding temp adjustments to the individual displays is something that we've talked about doing. Not sure that it will happen for the 4.0 release though.

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by bbrally » Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:03 pm

+1 to Brundog's second point.

I was showing a buddy the BCS a few weeks back who's looking at one for his nano brewery. His complaint was that since in his situation, a person may be brewing from a recipe that didn't necessarily program it, they wouldn't know what the exit points for a state were.

Even for me who programmed my own recipe, I'd like to see the reason for exit. I may have programmed the recipe months ago, and may no longer remember the exits.
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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by BrunDog » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:40 pm

JonW wrote:A lot of people do use the dial displays as they are very clean and easily readable. If your setpoint and present value indicators overlap, then you likely have some font scaling or something going on with your display settings. The analog dials should not have any text overlap. I would be curious to see a screen shot of your display. This is possibly the issue with the output buttons as well. Do you have everything scaled real small?

You will likely get to a point after a couple of brew sessions where you are rarely editing your processes. Making on-the-fly adjustments during a brew day should not happen often, which is why the editing controls are only on the menu and not on each process. We want to keep the brew day display of processes/states very clean without a lot of extra controls or clutter. This makes it very easy for the display to function as a touchscreen control from monitors, tablets & even phones.

Adding temp adjustments to the individual displays is something that we've talked about doing. Not sure that it will happen for the 4.0 release though.
I don't have font scaling or any scaling or anything going on other than a high resolution display (1080P 14" laptop). I agree that the need to edit will drop after the processes are tuned, but I still see the value in being able to directly link. Like editing duty cycle... I had mine too high and by the time I could navigate to it through multiple clicks, I almost had a boil-over... and that was ~7 gallons in a 15 gallon pot.

Whether the screen is high resolution or not should not matter. The bottom line is there is a lot of empty space on the Main Control screen - this is real estate that could be used for something useful. You see "very clean" and I see vast expanses of unused space. I don't think a screenshot is needed to document this.

Sounds like you don't like my suggestions - which is fine. I offered them to provide my experience and to possibly make the product better.

-BD

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JonW
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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by JonW » Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:58 pm

You said your setpoint was covered by the present value on the display. This is not normal. A screen shot would help us to see what is going on.

We do look at all suggestions as that is where improvement comes from. At this point though the 4.0 release is feature complete and any new additions will be in 4.1.

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by oakbarn » Mon Jun 22, 2015 6:01 am

I would agree that being able to change the Setpoint on the Main Control Panel would be a nice addtion as I find I make a slight adjustment during a brew sessison. Also adding something like a Widget of a Clock next to a Timer or a Thermometer next to a Temp Guage when it is an Exit Condition would be nice, Since I use the Next State Numerically in Order, I generally know that State 5 follows State 4. It would however be nice if the Next State Border was blue. That way, if you has a loop where State 4 exits to State 4, you would have a Green Oblong State Button with a Blue Border followed by itself. You cold also change the Text Color of an Exit Item without taking up any space. For Example, if Timer 2 was an Exit Contion, The "Timer 2"" (what it was set to) would be Blue when it was an Exit Condition.

I think the suggestions were in line with making the interface cleaner and easier to use, similar to the fact that the Interactive Oblong State Buttons replaced the VIrtual Web Buttons, which are not needed. Replacing the Temperature Setpoint Page with an Interactive Gauge would be nice in 4.1 and while the State Displays are so much better in 4.0, I do miss knowing what my "Exit Conditions" are.

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by BrunDog » Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:47 am

I apologize... I wrote the order backwards... the present value covered the setpoint, not the other way around. Anyway, I *think* they were covered, which meant I didn't really know if there was a setpoint even being used (vs. a duty cycle). I don't really remember as it was my first full brew and there was a lot going on. I cannot grab a screen shot until next time I brew. What is really my point anyway is the ability to adjust the scale - this would give the user better resolution to see variations. For example, I would set my mash dials to display temps between 140 and 170. I would imagine the control has this ability.

I understand version controls and was not suggesting anything needed to be changed in 4.0. Again, just offered my points to possibly help the product be better and appeal to more people. This would help you sell more to buyers who are considering/comparing other controllers. Your responses seem defensive, as if I called your baby ugly. Believe me - not intended that way and I apologize if I came across that way.

-BD

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by brahn » Mon Jun 22, 2015 11:00 am

Are you saying that the needles on the temp gauge were overlapping? That would make sense if you've hit your setpoint. I'm not sure how else to implement that and I don't think scaling would help. Both the setpoint and current temp are also displayed in text on the dial, and those should never overlap. We've tested this on high and low resolution screens and on multiple browsers/operating systems. So if the text is overlapping, please post a screenshot. This is not normal. Personally I use the LED style displays just because I think it's easier to quickly tell what temperature you're at, but I know quite a few people use the dial.

I like the idea of having some way to tell what exit conditions are attached to the current state. I'll have to give this some thought. Like Jon said, it won't be for 4.0. I expect 4.1 to be a much quicker development cycle. 4.0 has been nearly a complete rewrite of the code and the documentation (still underway).

We've discussed adding setpoint adjustment to the main control page, but it's not as simple as it may seem due to the fact that the setpoint is not tied to the temperature probe but to the process(es)/state(s). We decided that the simpler solution of the temp setpoint adjust page made the most sense for 4.0. We may look at this going forward.

We discussed putting the duty cycle in the setpoint position when using duty cycle, but were concerned it would be confusing to have the duty cycle there sometimes and temp at other times.

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by oakbarn » Tue Jun 30, 2015 2:52 pm

Some things I noticed on my second Brew Session with 4.0

I have my screen set at 1600 x 900 which is reasonable for someone of my age with reading glasses (and also the max that I can get off my computer).
I use the BCS 462 and cannot see the bottom of the Processes with the timers when I show all 8 temp probes in LED Style. In Analog “Dial Style” it works fine. If I kill the side bar and one of the Temps I can see the entire Process and Timers, even in LED Style.
I know that resolution of a computer is not what you can control, but what is the resolution that the BCS 462 Interface is “designed for”optimal non scrolling viewing? It has to be higher than 1600x 900. If all the white space was removed between gauges in LED Style; I think that all 8 probes would fit on one line at that resolution for LED Style.

The Compact Style would also work if the Temp was in Red and the Setpoint in Green like on the LED Style. The “Setpoint” label would then be redundant.
I am not sure if this is a real issue or not, but if you change the Temp Probe associated with an Output that is under PID Control or Hysterias Control and is ASSERTED, the Setpoint shows up on the new selected Probe, but also on the Deselected Probe. The Setpoint remains on the Deselected Probe even after a State Change. I was trying to get my Processes “tuned”, but I do change “Probes” for control sometimes as I really have 4 choices for the MASH:
1. MLT HERMS OUT
2. MLT HERMS IN
3. MLT BODY
4. Radiator (The Hot Water Bath).
I used to “average” the HERMS IN and OUT but that is no longer available in 4.0.

I was having an issue with the Temp Probes fluctuating before but I may have created a ground loop.

I rewired each Probe with a Shielded Twisted Pair 18 awg . All wires were installed to a Metal Box that had nothing but the M12 disconnects in it. The wires were run in a single ¾ “Metal Conduit. Each Temp Probe was grounded on a Common Ground bar in the BCS Box and no other grounds were made. The BCS Power Source Ground was connected to the Ground Bar as well as the 3 GNDs on the BCS. The conduit and the metal box were not grounded and the drain wire was not grounded. The M12 disconnects are isolated out of the box from the metal enclosure. The Probes were Rock Solid. Maybe overkill, but much better than before where I was getting EMI.

The PID worked very well to control my Mash.

I think that if the Target for a Timer On Exit could be displayed in next to the Timer, that would be a nice addition. Also maybe a color like Blue for a Temp Target Setpoint rather than Green, if it was an exit condition. I do miss that the exit conditions are not displayed in 4.0. As far as the Next State on Exit, I almost always use the next state numerically so the “Next State” on Exit is just below my current state.

Even with these comments, the 4.0 is much “cleaner” and more intuitive that 3.0.xx

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Re: First full brew - some interface feedback

Post by brahn » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:02 pm

Thanks for the feedback. We did not specify an optimal resolution for non scrolling viewing.

There are some good suggestions here that I'll keep in mind. It's unlikely that any will get incorporated into 4.0 except maybe the setpoint displaying after changing associated probe, but certainly for post 4.0. I do expect the development cycle to be shorter post-4.0 given the major changes involved in this version.

I'm glad to hear the feeback on the PID since that's an area where we did have a known issue. Also glad that the wiring seems to have resolved the temp probe fluctuations.

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