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PC Based Temperature Control

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  • PC Based Temperature Control

    Has anyone on this board replaced their PID temperature controllers with a PC based solution?

    I am considering a move to a centralized temperature control solution for our fermentation and brite beer tanks based on PC controller software with connectivity using TCP/IP over Ethernet.

    I would be interested to hear from anyone who has done this in order to understand equipment choices and pitfalls.


  • #2
    Always wanted a set up like'd be great to be able to go online and see what the temps are on all my tanks...........from home or on the road.
    Never heard of such a program.....may have to make one.


    • #3
      The software exists already. Check out,,

      There's also I/O equipment out there to handle tempurature readings from a thermal coupler.

      For me it's a question of - what's the best practice for implementing such a beasty. My biggest concerns are accuracy, redundancy, and CIP tolerance (I don't want to worry about smacking the I/O device with water or chemicals), and COST.


      • #4
        I use wonderware

        Wonderware is the name of the software package that I use to handle both the brewhouse and the fermenters. Works great, and has a very powerful data collection program. For a few extra grand, I could mash in from home and monitor fermentation using my cable TV. Neat stuff.


        • #5
          Great post Dean. In addition:

          Although if you are looking for something simple and inexpensive, wouldn't it be easiest to use the cheap and small 1/16 or 1/32 DIN controllers and use serial RS-232 connection and the manufacturers software or the pc-pid "pCon" software to control them remotely?

          You can spend thousands on the software, and on the I/O components and still have about the same setup. Although I would like to get rid of them in my brewery and have a PC based solution.

          Please let us know what you end up with in the end.

          Can some engineers weigh in on this one? Thanks!

          Last edited by zbrew2k; 08-14-2005, 08:35 AM.


          • #6

            Several years ago I used to be an Automation Systems Engineer - PLC programming, etc. I think that in smaller installations it is difficult to justify the cost as you need to purchase:

            - a PLC and I/O cards
            - the operator interface software
            - still have (basicially) the same wiring completed
            - a PC (suggest some industrial based PC if installed out in the plant)
            - pay for the engineering/programming

            However, you don't need to purchase the standalone PID controllers, so that will be a savings.

            I have been out of it for a little while now, so there may be some fairly cost effective ways to complete a small installation. I suggest speaking to your local Rockwell Automation (Allen Bradley) office or the like (Siemens, etc) and see what they can offer. If you don't have much I/O, there may be fairly inexpensive processors/operators interfaces you can buy and the engineering may only be 16hrs or so.

            I did work at a brewery years ago and we were going to install a small PLC on our CIP set. We had a regular come by that happened to work for Allen Bradley and was willing to do the engineering work for a bit of beer - maybe this is an option? Any electrical/instrument technician mates? Bribe them as well.

            Anyway, intersted to know how you get on as I have often thought about this if installing a new fermentation cellar - it is so annoying having standalone controllers all over the place, especially when they start to fail one by one.....




            • #7
              You can often pick up a bunch of there stuff on Ebay cheap
              For example here is a deal!
              2 days left!
              (I am not affiliated with seller)


              • #8
                Panelmate configurations would be a good option. You can choose from many different models that you can tailor to suit your needs. Fairly inexpensive, especially secondhand. They have the capability for you to increase the automation of your entire system as you go. Just a thought...


                • #9
                  anoter interesting site

                  Linux and Open Source software are very popular for low level embedded and control applications. Due to it's open nature the technology optimally fulfills the needs of users from the automation industry who build systems which have to be supported over a timespan of more than 15 years.

                  One of the "building blocks" of Open Source automation technology is the Human Machine Interface. JVisu was written with the needs of field control technicans in mind - you don't need programmer's skills to write your own machine visualisation frontend.

                  JVisu Highlights:

                  Graphical Interface Builder for easy contruction of interfaces
                  Clear Separation between HMI frontend and PLC backend
                  Java applet runs in every JDK-1.4.x enabled web browser
                  High performance due to optimized communication channels
                  Easily adaptable to field devices with well known protocols

                  And, of course, JVisu is Open Source, meaning that there are no runtime licenses and the code is fully available in source code form.


                  • #10
                    Just a question. Are you really using PID control for fermentation temperature control ?

                    Simple deadband control is perfectly satisfactory for this purpose. I agree that PID (or at least P & I part of the PID control for mash and sparge temperatures, inline P & F chillers is beneficial) but speed of warming up & cooling for bulk beer tank (FV / BBTs etc) is slow enough not to need it. This would certainly save money in automation costs.



                    • #11
                      I have not move into commercial brewing yet, but have an interest to do so.

                      Pids are cheap on Ebay, Seen them for as low as $18.00 on Ebay Average $34~$50