Tag Archives: DIY

DIY STC-1000 2-Stage Temperature Controller Wiring Diagram with Indicator Lights

Time to go autonomous.

Growing tired of swamp cooling for fermentation “temperature control” I’ve decided it’s time to invest in the widely popular 2-stage STC-1000 “ebay” temperature controller.   And with a spare mini-fridge from college simply sitting in the detached garage-  why not, right?   This project in it’s entirety was inspired by the HomeBrewTalk.com community and countless user write-ups with similar projects (hey- credit where credit is due).   So let’s build this damn thing!  Here’s what you’ll need:

Parts List:

  • QTY 1 – STC-1000 Digital Temperature Controller ($19.99 Ebay)
  • QTY 1 – 120V Alpinetech 22mm Blue LED Indicator Light ($4.95 Ebay)
  • QTY 1 – 120V Alpinetech 22mm Red LED Indicator Light ($4.95 Ebay)
  • QTY 1 – 7″ x 5″ x 3″ Project Box ($7.49 RadioShack)
  • QTY 1 – 10′-0″ 14 gauge replacement power cord ($13.97 Lowe’s)
  • QTY 1 – 115V-1Phase-15A Black Receptacle ($1.99 Lowe’s)
  • QTY 1 – Bag of 6/32 Nuts ($1.18 Lowe’s)
  • QTY 1 – Bag of SAE No. 6 flat washers ($1.18 Lowe’s)
  • QTY 1 – Black Outlet cover ($0.39 Lowe’s)

Tools List:

  • Wire strippers/cutters
  • Screw driver
  • Dremel (or other cutting tool)
  • Power Drill
  • Step Bit
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Voltmeter

Total Cost $56.09

Depending what you have in your garage-  you may need to purchase additional incidentals such as wire-nuts ($2.58/bag), Dremel cutting tools ($6.18/cylinder), etc., etc.  however I’ve excluded these items from the above parts list as most DIY-ers will already have these items on hand. 

The LED indicator lights are completely optional.  The reason I (and many others) choose to include indicator lights is to have a clear visual display communicating whether the controller is calling for either cooling (blue) or heating (red).  These 120V LED lights from Alpinetech are truly a perfect fit-  small enough to fit into a project box yet big/bright enough to see from across the room, affordable (at $4.95/each), and most importantly.. the correct voltage (120V/1Phase) for this application. But it is a place to shave off $9.90 +S/H from your bottom line-  just sayin’.

Step #1  Time to get into the weeds;  the wiring diagram.

Loudmouthbrewer-stc-1000wiringdiagram

So… If you are now lost…  STOP! And- to be fair… I’m also not an electrician and electricity is extremely dangerous. Consult a certified and-or licensed electrician to check your work if in doubt.   This write up is a guide (and not the gospel). Do not risk your life to save money as there are several commercially available pre-assembled  temperature controllers in today’s marketplace.

Step #2  Break the bridge.

A very important step in the above wiring diagram is to break the bridge (-or tab) connecting the two hot terminals on the receptacle.  By doing so- it allows each outlet to be positively charged independently from one another.  -Or for this project-  it allows you to have one outlet for cooling and one outlet for heating.  I was able to remove the bridge with neelde nose plyers and a little “persuasion” as shown in the above images.  No need to remove the bridge on the neutral side as the receptacles can still share a common neutral connection thus reducing the number of wires needed.  (See- saving both time & money already!)

Step #3 Templates are amazing. 

Once you’ve figured out how you want the finished controller assembly to look create a template(s) (and make copies).  A simple template will save time and limit ones frustration while cutting out the openings in the project box.  Hey -it’s not brain surgery-  but a little precision never hurt anybody.

Step #5 Let er’ rip!

Begin cutting out the required openings.  Remember- a hole can always get larger… however making a hole smaller requires a magician.  Cut conservatively.

Step #6 Confirm opening sizes.  Repeat Step #5 as necessary.

Step #7  Drill a hole for the power cable & temperature probe.  Time to begin the wiring process.

Now that you’re an expert cutting openings in the project box using either a large drill bit or a step-bit cut a hole(s) for both the power cable & temperature probe.  No need for a template here as you are now an expert project box surgeon- remember?

Step #8 Moment of truth…

Well it looks the part… now it’s time to test out your wiring skills…  This is also a great time to confirm both outlets are truly operating independently.  When “cooling” is activated-  the receptacle wired for “cooling” should read ~120V and the “heating” receptacle should read 0V.  The reverse is true while in heating.  The below screenshots should help illustrate this test.

Step #9 Close the project box and have a victory brew.

It also helps to have a Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion table.  I found mine via our friends at homebrewtalk.com:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/fully-temperature-controlled-fermentation-chamber-about-200-a-175456/index2.html

Lessons learned?   -Of course.

1)  The screws to secure the receptacle to the exterior wall of the project box simply weren’t holding under the pressure of plugging/unplugging power cords.  A quick fix was to use #6 flat washers & #6-32 hex nuts to keep the receptacle mounted in it’s proper place.

2)  Was cooling the left -or the right receptacle?  Label them to save yourself the headache of tracing your bird nest of wires.

Now time to build the fermentation chamber 🙂

-Cheers

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DIY Wood Carboy Crate

There is no “simple” method of moving a glass carboy full of liquid.  Fact.  

Moving a glass carboy full of liquid is not only challenging but also poses numerous safety risks (check out this thread on the HomeBrewTalk Forum for extremely graphic examples:  Broken Glass Carboy Horror Stories Compendium).

Problem(s):  most of the traditional methods of transporting carboys include:

  • Nylon/Vinyl straps which can tear
  • Neck handles which add unnecessary strain to carboy necks (-and should really only be used for balancing IMHO)
  • Glass carboys are slippery when wet
  • and finally… there is no commercially available standalone carrier which also offers protections from exterior bumps and dings while transporting

Solution(s):  crates.

  • Plastic milk crates are dependent on availability and don’t fully cover/protect the carboy in it’s entirety
  • Wooden crates- a simple & an inexpensive DIY solution which fully cover/protect the carboy. We have a winner!

Now-  to be fair-  this is not an original idea.  I’ve seen many variations of wooden carboy crates and wanted try one out myself.

Supplies:  (2) 4″ x 1″ x 8′, (1) 2″ x 2″ x 8′, (1) 2″ x 4″ x 8′, 1-7/8″ Nails, 2″ Screws

Lessons learned (and relearned):

  1. Measure twice.  Cut once.
  2. Do fittings once each tier is completed.   As it turns out the carboy in the below photographs tapers slightly in width from bottom to top (who knew?).  Depending how “snug” you want the carboy to rest inside the crate will depend on the final dimensions; See Lessons learned #1 above.
  3. Leave enough space between the top of the carboy and top of crate to account for airlock protection.  This way the airlock won’t get caught on clothes, doorways, doors, beards?, etc. in transportation.
  4. Countersink and pre-drill holes for the bottom assembly. Wood can and will split.  Countersunk holes protect flooring from coming in contact with screw heads (maybe Casters next iteration?)
  5. Finally… Measure twice.  Cut once.

Conclusion

While there is no foolproof method for moving full glass carboys the wooden crate does address all of the above problems consequently minimizing transportation risks.  Remember glass is not indestructible.. regardless of thickness. The multiple tiers also double as structural reinforcements as well as handles for transportation. Overall extremely pleased.  Loudmouth Brewer tested and approved.

-cheers

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Loudmouth Brewer: DIY Mash Tun 10 Gallon Cooler Conversion

Happy New Year!  

My new year’s resolution;  all grain. And after flirting with mini mash brewing for the better part of a year it’s time to graduate to an all-grain system.  Why not-right?  This will walk you through the simple steps of converting a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler into a functioning mash tun.

Parts List:

  • QTY 1 – 10 Gallon Rubbermaid Cooler ($44.87)
  • QTY 1 – 12″ Stainless steel false bottom with 3/8″ barb ($42.99)

All below fittings purchased through  bargainfittings.com ($51.99 including freight)

  • QTY 1 – 1/2″ Stainless steel Female NPT coupling (Not Used for this setup)
  • QTY 1 – 1/2″ Stainless steel threaded nipple (1.5″ Long)
  • QTY 3 – 1/2″ Stainless steel shim washers
  • QTY 2 – Food grade high temp silicone o-rings (one is a spare)
  • QTY 1 – Valve – stainless steel – 3 way
  • QTY 1 – 1/2″ Stainless steel NPS locknut with o-ring groove
  • QTY 1 – 1/2″ NPT Female x 1/2″ Hose barb
  • QTY 1 – 1/2″ NPT Male x 3/8″ Hose barb
  • QTY 5ft – High temperature silicone tubing 3/8″ ID x 5/8″ OD

Like most I too was unable to locate all of the above fittings in stainless steel at local hardware stores.  So, turning to our friend the internet, went through bargainfittings.com as previously mentioned.  To get the parts listed above select their “Cooler Bulkhead kit” with the following options: Inside fitting Female NPT x 1/2″ Barb, Cooler Type ROUND COOLER with extra shim washer, Valve Stainless 3 piece valve, Hose barb – (For valve outlet) 3/8″ Hose – SS.

Step #1

Look over the 10 Gallon Rubbermaid Cooler  for cracks/imperfections prior to beginning and make sure the lid fits securely; it is plastic after-all.

01 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #2

Double check your inventory, yes one of the o-rings is a spare/replacement.  O-rings do not last forever.  This is also a good time to do a mock set-up to visualize how all the pieces will actually fit together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step #3

Teflon tape all threads; do not damage your stainless steel fittings!

03c Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #4

Remove existing spigot.  There will be a plastic hex nut on the inside wall of the cooler (I was able to remove the nut without tools).

Note:  for this specific installation using the above parts from baragainfittings.com there is no need to save the gasket that came with the factory spigot. There are however other variations of mash tun conversions which require saving the factory gasket to reuse later to create a liquid tight seal between the coupling and wall of the cooler.

04 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Factory spigot.

05 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Factory Spigot hex nut.

06 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Factory spigot assembly.

Step #5

Place the 1/2″ Stainless steel NPS locknut with the o-ring groove facing the o-ring onto the 1/2″ Stainless steel  threaded nipple.

Assembly

Assembly

Correct side.

Correct side.

Incorrect Side. Fail!

Incorrect Side. Fail.

Step #6

Insert the assembly from Step #5 into spigot hole.  The O-ring should be flush against the inner wall of the cooler. The other-side of the threaded nipple should now poke through the cooler wall.

09 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Internal View.

External View.

External View.

Step #7

Place all three 1/2″ Stainless steel shim washers on the threaded nipple poking through the exterior cooler wall.  These washers act as a spacer which allow the 3-way stainless steel valve to operate without hitting the exterior wall of the cooler.

11 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #8

Attach the 3-way stainless steel valve to the threaded nipple assembly poking through the exterior wall of the cooler.

12 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #9

Attach the 1/2″ NPT Male x 3/8″ Hose barb to the end of the 3-way valve.

13 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #10

Insert the 12″ Stainless steel false bottom with 3/8″ barb into the cooler positioning the barb towards the threaded nipple assembly.

14 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #11

Attach the 1/2″ NPT Female x 1/2″ Hose barb onto the threaded nipple assembly on the inner wall of the cooler.

14a Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun


Step #12

Measure and cut to length a piece of the high temperature 3/8″ ID silicone tubing long enough to connect the 1/2″ Hose barb to the 12″ Stainless steel false bottom’s 3/8″ barb. Note:  The 3/8″ ID high temp tube will fit onto the 1/2″ hose barb with a little pressure.

15 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Step #13

Boom. You have a mash tun.

16 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Don’t forget to check for leaks before brew day. And as always… clean/sanitize everything.

17 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

Holding 5 Gallons

18 Loudmouth Brewer Mash Tun

First run.

Test Run Video

– cheers

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