Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

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Namako
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Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by Namako » Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:35 pm

I'm tossing around the idea of building a self-contained control panel (16" x 24" enclosure) that incorporates my BCS-462 with a Gigabyte Z77N-WiFi motherboard (M/B) (http://www.gigabyte.com/products/produc ... id=4337#ov), with the M/B's onboard I/O used to drive a free-standing (VESA-mounted) 23" Viewsonic (TD2220) touchscreen (USB, DVI-I, 120V power). OK, I guess maybe I'm really building a customized computer case that will also house a BCS-462 and all the various I/O that it needs or controls (e.g., seven temperature & one pH probe inputs, two 24VAC outputs to control the Honeywell VR8200 gas valve-controlled Blichmann floor standing burners sitting under the HLT & BK, 120VAC electrical outputs to control the three March 809-HS pumps (HLT, MT, BK) and a 2000W/120V RIMS, and 12VDC outputs to control seven 3-way electric water valves). Anyway, everything but the monitor would be housed in one box - call it a computer, call it a control box.

I'm planning on mounting the M/B to the backplane using standoffs, along with two 8-channel 5V relay boards (for the 7 water valves, 2 gas valves for the burners, 3 pumps). Also on the backplane will be the BCS and DIN rail(s) for the terminal blocks and the SSR (RIMS today, but I may go all-electric when I get back to the states next year, so room for four more SSRs). While I could control the BCS without a LAN, since the computer is already onboard and directly connected to the BCS, this Gigabyte M/B also functions as a Wireless Access Point (WAP), so I'd still have wireless access to the BCS from any other computer on my LAN (and beyond).

I'm going for 3 modes of redundant control; 1) Mostly Manual, 2) Semi-Automated, and 3) Almost-Fully-Automated (but not yet 1-touch).

In the Manual Mode (no BCS), the control panel will have several 2- and 3-way contactor switches on the front that will allow me to run the system manually. In this mode, I would still need electricity, but the switches would only be used to turn on/off the pumps and the gas valves, but the water valves would have to operated manually. I would not be able to run the RIMS in this mode, but I can always throw my immersion chiller into the HLT and suffice with a make-do HERMS).

In the Semi-Automated Mode (no BCS), I could turn the system over to three Omega CN9000A (CN9221A) PID temperature controllers (http://www.omega.com/pptst/CN9000A.html) that I already have sitting in a box (from my Pre-BCS control panel following Kal's design). These would respectively drive the two gas valves (via 3-wire RTDs in the HLT and BK) and the RIMS (also 3-wire RTD monitored). In this mode, there is no logic driving the process - still somewhat hands on, telling the Omegas what to do and when to do it.

In the Almost-Fully-Automated Mode, I would turn over full control to the BCS-462, and just run (watch?) the system with the touchscreen, letting the BCS run through all of it's logic and just tickle me when it gets lonely, or needs a little brawn (adding grain, adding hops).

Yeah, maybe this is all a little overkill... but it starts to satisfy my need for full redundancy - a weakness that I attest to my deep-seated paranoia of something electrical going wrong on brew day... which of course NEVER happens, right?!!!

Anyway, I wonder, I've searched for other integrated BCS/motherboard combinations here and on homebrewtalk.com, but I couldn't find any. I'm often told that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I'm wondering... am I overlooking a major disadvantage to automating my brewery in this way??

Go ahead... throw stones! I can take it!! :lol:
Indecision may or may not be my problem...

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JonW
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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by JonW » Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:58 pm

I use a large touchscreen to contol my brew day and love it. I had thought about a mini-itx system, but couldn't justify the cost. Plus, using my laptop, I have dual screens. One is touchscreen for control and the built-in laptop screen for Beersmith and other things. Is doing a dedicated Mini-ITX overkill, sure, but it'd bee cool!

I had always planned on adding manual switches for overriding things, but never got around to it since I really rarely find the need to do something outside of my processes. If I do need to do something to intervene, I pause the process and manually control the output I need. If you want to add manual switches, I highly suggest wiring them to do simple 5V switching. You can use On/Off/Auto switches to feed either the BCS power or 5V power to trigger your relays & SSR's. This way, you keep your high voltage wiring in one place and don't need to wire it to multiple switches on the panel.

My personal opinion - you should drop the Omega PID's. Once you start using the BCS, you'll quickly see that you'd never use the PID's. Maybe do a bench setup and brew with it a few times before setting up the new control panel.

Namako
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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by Namako » Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:27 am

I guess my desire to use the Omegas stems from 1) I have a dozen of them in a box, 2) they were part of my original design and I hate admitting defeat, and 3 I'm comfortable in using them. Combine that with my lack of experience with the BCS, and you might see my attachment. I haven't developed the trust with my BCS yet, but I can tell from everyone else's comments, I need to just trust the force!

I have about made the decision to drop the PIDs... They're proving to be a pain to design the schematic around ;)
Indecision may or may not be my problem...

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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by Namako » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:56 pm

Just to add to my last post... I'm likely going to pull the plug on keeping the Omegas integrated into the system because I started having difficulties in getting the temperature probes wired in. The BCS-462 uses 10K thermistors, while the Omegas use 3-wire RTDs. The original intent was to have the Omegas as a backup should I ever lose connectivity with the BCS, but I couldn't figure a way to have the probes hot-swappable. In others words, how do I quickly switch to the Omegas - and RTD control - in the middle of a session if the kettles are full? I'd have to have both probes inserted into each kettle (and the RIMS exit), and so I was looking a lot of wires.

So, while I was going for redundancy, others more experienced than I with the BCS aren't even bothering with switches as a backup, and are happy with their decision... Clearly the paranoia is mine, and mine alone ;)

Now, the question is, can I take away my other safety net - the switches??? Oh, the dilemma
Indecision may or may not be my problem...

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JonW
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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by JonW » Wed Apr 10, 2013 3:16 pm

Like I said before, maybe do a test setup with no control panel and brew with just the BCS a few times.

Namako
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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by Namako » Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:58 pm

Good idea... However I'm rebuilding my breast and based on what I learned from the first one, and space for a control panel is a consideration, vice space for a monitor only. But I am leaning towards dispensing with many of the switches as well.

I would still like to be able to run the pumps and the water valves without a monitor - cleaning would be easier without having to worry about splashing the monitor.
Indecision may or may not be my problem...

clearwaterbrewer
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Re: Mini-ITX MB incorporated into BCS Control Panel

Post by clearwaterbrewer » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:06 am

not exactly 100% on-topic, however I am happy with iPad after using it for 10 or so brew sessions...
clearwater brewery 20130612s.jpg
clearwater brewery 20130612s.jpg (24.95 KiB) Viewed 14368 times
here is yesterday's brew... had the office PC running the graph while we were outside brewing
brew day 2013 06 18.png
brew day 2013 06 18.png (101.86 KiB) Viewed 14368 times

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