Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

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gwizard
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Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by gwizard » Sun Sep 06, 2020 7:10 am

I've built a DIY element controller that I was meaning to use with a new boiler, but sadly, my welder buddy stuffed it up and now its all full of rust.
So, had to get inventive. I own Brewzilla 35L for making beer and cook my grain for whisky. As it is computer controller, you can't use it with a voltage regulator, that would cook the electronics. But, no one said that you can't make it stupid.

So, turn it upside down, unscrew the 3 long screws, that lifts the bottom. Be careful about the board, 3 more short screws to open. On that board, disconnect wires marked as AC-N, AC-IN, L1, L2 and the blue one. Connect AC-IN, L1 and L2 together, connect AC-N and the blue one together. That's it, you have successfully bypassed all electronics. Screw everything back together and enjoy your new "stupid" kettle. :D

Think next mod would be to install a 3 pos switch, so I can choose whether to use "distillation" mode or "cooking" mode.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Yummyrum » Sun Sep 06, 2020 10:53 pm

:thumbup: Great post gwizard . There are more and more folk showing up here with those Brewzillas.
Any chance you can take some photos of your modification . I think this will be a good topic to steer Brewzilla owners to

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by gwizard » Thu Sep 10, 2020 6:57 am

Well, it was so simple mod that honestly its gonna be just a pic of a few wires connected together. Makes it a really boring picture.
Once I install a 0-1-2 switch and connect properly, then I'll post some pics. But any person with even a little bit understanding of electrical can make this based on instructions I posted. Please note this is for 220V system. American mileage will vary.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by iamkeiran » Sat Sep 26, 2020 4:21 pm

So I have the digiboil which is similar to the brewzilla. I unscrewed the base to check out the wiring to see if it matches the same description as above and I think it is slightly different. Would love some advice on turning this into a glorified kettle. Pictures attached.
20200926_155740.jpg
20200926_155738.jpg
20200926_155734.jpg

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Yummyrum » Sun Sep 27, 2020 12:15 am

iamkeiran ,yours appears to be labelled differently to gwizards but this would be my suggestion from your Photos .

Link the ACN ( incoming AC Neutral) to the N
Link the ACL ( incoming AC Live ) to the ACL1

Notice how there appears to be two terminated terminals under the ACL and ACL1 screws . Make sure when you undo them that you keep them taped together as a pair and preferably label them so you know where they come from if or when you need to reconnect them to the Digiboil controller again
4E0175F3-149F-482E-A3F6-FF29A5268FDF.jpeg
Some sort of terminal block like this should work well .
D5A6B696-4081-4A33-A19C-13E18E0CCAC8.jpeg

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:42 pm

Are the pics of shown for the 240V versions or 120V? I have a 120V DigiBoil that I would like to dumb down to use a PID controller.

Image

TIA

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Yummyrum » Sun Oct 04, 2020 4:35 am

If you can show us the labelling on the terminals
, might be able to make a better call .

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by silverbean » Sun Oct 04, 2020 5:16 am

Dockem81 wrote:
Sat Oct 03, 2020 5:42 pm
Are the pics of shown for the 240V versions or 120V? I have a 120V DigiBoil that I would like to dumb down to use a PID controller.
The photos by iamkieran are of the 240 volt version but yours look much the same but not enough detail in your photo to be sure. The black cable in the bottom of your photo is the power in, brown is active, blue is neutral, they need to be connected to the element without going through the smarts. But seriously if you don't know what your doing with power, leave it alone. Even 120 volts can kill or even start a fire. For safety the thermal cutouts need to be left in the circuit. It can be done but it needs to be done safely.
Edit - Unit has 2 elements which gives options but something screwy with the colours of wires, looks like blue connected to red. Brown or Red are generally active, White is switched active and Blue or Black are generally neutral. I'm guessing it was made in china.Yhe more I look at it I think the method Yummyrum described would work but cannot be 100% sure.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Mon Oct 05, 2020 4:39 am

I am currently out of town, but when I get back, I will take a better picture with more detail. (I "borrowed" this one from another source.)
After I posted the pic, I realized it didn't have enough detail of up close.

Thanks for your input!

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Mon Oct 05, 2020 7:38 am

I did find this pic of a Brewzilla control board (realizing my Digiboil could be different though).

Image

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by zapata » Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:11 am

Kinda off topic, but anybody is shopping for a similar toy, the Anvil Foundry has a linear power setting to control boiler power, no hacking needed. You can use the temp features for mashing, and the power setting for boil. Switchable between 1600w on 120v and 2800w on 240v is a pretty handy trick too.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Sat Oct 24, 2020 8:51 am

finished wiring the 35l brewzilla today.
it was simpler than i originally thought, just installed a 240v 10A on/off/on switch.
re-route some of the wiring and add some of my own.
all extra wiring 10A and covered in high temperature Basalt Fibre Sleeving (ok up to 650°C)
basically took the 1900W elements terminals to the switch, the PID to the switch and my new 240v cable to the switch.
i just have to toggle between the two.
one toggle position is 'normal', the other position disconnects the pid and allows me to connect my voltage controller direct to the 1900w element.
brewzilla rewire 2.jpg
brewzilla rewire 1.jpg

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:31 pm

I was able to finally get home from my travels and take some pics of my Digiboil 35L, 120v. I'd like to "dumb it down" so that I can use a PID controller, instead of the built in one. (i.e. just run this as a kettle and let the PID do the temp. control.) This appears to be the same as the pictures that iamkeiran posted above.

On the Rt side of the control block, there are the 4 main electrical connections:

ACN: Only has Red wire and goes to On/Off switch

N: Black wire from Main Power Cord
Red to going to On/Off Power switch
Thick Blue wire to both Elements

ACL: White wire from Main Power Cord
Thick Blue wire to On/Off switch

OUT ACL1: Thick White wire to element selector switches

Selector switches: Blue to elements, White from Out ACL1, White to Elements

Right side Green Block: 2 thin wires to thermal cutoff???
Left side Green Block: 2 thin Black wires to temp sensor???

Image

Image

Image

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Yummyrum » Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:05 pm

Dockem81 wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:31 pm
I'd like to "dumb it down" so that I can use a PID controller, instead of the built in one. (i.e. just run this as a kettle and let the PID do the temp. control.)
The whole purpose of this topic is to bypass the temperature controller so an external Power controller can be used .

What possible reason do you think replacing the internal temperature controller with an external one will improve things ?

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:28 pm

Yummyrum wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 9:05 pm
Dockem81 wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:31 pm
I'd like to "dumb it down" so that I can use a PID controller, instead of the built in one. (i.e. just run this as a kettle and let the PID do the temp. control.)
The whole purpose of this topic is to bypass the temperature controller so an external Power controller can be used .

What possible reason do you think replacing the internal temperature controller with an external one will improve things ?
i agree with yummy, unless dockem has some devilish piece of equipment he wants to connect to, the whole point is to have the element(s) connected to a voltage controller. you already have a built-in PID as such.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:01 am

I am wanting to make the Digiboil into a simple brew pot and use a PID controller with it's thermocouple located just before the condenser.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Yummyrum » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:12 am

Dockem81 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:01 am
I am wanting to make the Digiboil into a simple brew pot and use a PID controller with it's thermocouple located just before the condenser.
Good luck .Once you have tried it and found out the hard way that its a pain in the arse to run , you may revisit this topic and Realise why folk wanted to use a Power controller instead of a PID Temperature Controller .

By the way , have you been watching Georges videos .

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:28 am

I would be eager to read up on power controllers vs PID controllers, if I have the time.

Yes, I have watched some of his videos and he peaked my interest in a few recipes, etc. But his rambling on started to drive me nuts. I've caught some of Still It and "Beard" videos also. Take everything with a grain of salt.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:34 am

Dockem81 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:28 am
But his rambling on started to drive me nuts.
You and a lot of other people, We can almost always tell when a George viewer turns up on the forum ,you will find that a PID is exactly what you don't want when you are distilling.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:07 am

Dockem81 wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:28 am
I would be eager to read up on power controllers vs PID controllers, if I have the time.

Yes, I have watched some of his videos and he peaked my interest in a few recipes, etc. But his rambling on started to drive me nuts. I've caught some of Still It and "Beard" videos also. Take everything with a grain of salt.
if you are just using the digi as a boiler, there is a very simple mod, which would connect the live from the on/off switch to the element switches.
this would also keep the screen, temp sensor and overload sections working.
then you could get a voltage controller and plug the digi into that.
i used mine today for the first time on a strip run, both elements on full to reach boil, turn voltage down to about 90v for slow fores take-off, then full blast after that.
the volt controller will be particularly useful on spirit runs (reflex & pot) when the boil has to be controlled to keep the vapour speed at a consistent rate, which can only be achieved by controlling the voltage.
i joined about the same time as you and it took me a while for the penny to drop lol
you do not ,and cannot control the boil temp, and the temperature gauges are just for additional casual reference during the run.
ie if the mash you are heating ( a mixture of water/ethanol/etc) has a boiling point of 83.65c, that's what it will boil at. no more, no less.
as the vapour leaves the mash, the remaining liquid will have a different ratio of water/ethanol/etc and the boiling point will change slowly.
think of heating pure water with whatever size element you can get, it will always boil at 100C (altitude dependant obv), whether you have a 500w or 5000w element, the only difference will be the amount of vapour.
then you have to marry up the vapour speed with whatever method of cooling management/takeoff arrangement your still has.
so i think the only way to control the rate of vapour, and therefore obtain reflux and/or consistent separation, is by altering the voltage.

that is my theory anyway :crazy:
PS dockem, please don't mess with the electrical wiring if you don't know what you're doing, get a sparky mate

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:45 am

howie wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:07 am
that is my theory anyway
You got it Howie :thumbup:

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Tue Oct 27, 2020 5:57 pm

howie wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 8:07 am

if you are just using the digi as a boiler, there is a very simple mod, which would connect the live from the on/off switch to the element switches.
this would also keep the screen, temp sensor and overload sections working.
then you could get a voltage controller and plug the digi into that.

PS dockem, please don't mess with the electrical wiring if you don't know what you're doing, get a sparky mate
Howie,
Voltage (power) controller sounds definitely better after reading up on it, makes a lot more sense. I have seen the light, time to get the band back together. :wink:

I am not an electronics circuit designer or technician. That being said, I have assembled many electrical kits and know my way around soldering irons and wire connectors. I am pretty good at following directions, haven't had anything blow a breaker or go up in smoke.
If it is a simple mod, please elaborate further. I could live without the display, but not having the overload sections would be bothersome to say the least. There are builds of voltage controllers / kits available for me to check out. TIA

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Tue Oct 27, 2020 9:23 pm

1)connecting both the element switches directly to the on/off switch, and the -ve from the power lead directly to the elements -ve (under the insulation). but this would bypass all the electronics
2) if it were mine, i would only be looking at connecting to the 1000w element to a new power lead, which in turn would be plugged into a voltage controller. that way, all the electronics would still work side by side with the 500w and your 1000w would be variable.
the extra power lead to my boiler is a kettle plug type so it can't be mixed up with the original.
the blue wires on the on/off and element switches usually control the LED lights.
the -ve ends of the elements (under the insulation) will be bridged, this will have to be removed.
all extra wiring would have to covered with high temperature Basalt Fibre Sleeving (local electronics shop) 3mm diameter/1m long will be enough.
you could take the new power lead to a connection box first or directly to the 1000w element switch +ve and the element -ve.
the voltage controller usually has an on/off switch as well, making sure the earth is ok all the way through (some cheap controllers are dodgy)
making sure your earth is joined with the existing earth on the body of the boiler.
the power lead should have a waterproof grommet as it enters the boiler (electronic store)
no soldering required, just various crimp plugs and crimpers.
shrinkdown for the ends, the basalt sleeving likes to unraven very easily.(did i mention heatgun?)
multimeter to test everything.
oh, and for the power lead grommet, a good 4mm drill bit bit to get through the S/S base (read up on drilling S/S) and a step drill bit to get it to around 14mm.
disclaimer - all this work should be carried out by a licenced electrician, i am uncertain of your skill level, knowledge of electricty and the digi is not in front of me to check the existing wiring.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Thu Oct 29, 2020 2:28 am

Howie,
I like the idea of separating the 1000w element and making it an independant with it's own variable voltage controller. Brilliant.
I'll let you know how this turns out. And I'll get it checked out by someone licenced (daughter is office manager for an electrical contractor).

Thanks!

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by Dockem81 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:05 am

Thanks Howie

I removed the connector between the elements, brought in the new power lead and connected up the Live, Neutral, Ground to the 1K element, switch, ground connectors. Checked it all with a multimeter and had an electrician friend check it over.
I did a test run last night and everything worked great. Now I'm ready for a run using the voltage regulator.
Cheers.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:09 pm

Dockem81 wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:05 am
Thanks Howie

I removed the connector between the elements, brought in the new power lead and connected up the Live, Neutral, Ground to the 1K element, switch, ground connectors. Checked it all with a multimeter and had an electrician friend check it over.
I did a test run last night and everything worked great. Now I'm ready for a run using the voltage regulator.
Cheers.
good job.
it's nice to be in control.

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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by rubberduck71 » Sun Nov 08, 2020 6:34 am

howie wrote:
Wed Nov 04, 2020 5:09 pm
Dockem81 wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:05 am
Thanks Howie

I removed the connector between the elements, brought in the new power lead and connected up the Live, Neutral, Ground to the 1K element, switch, ground connectors. Checked it all with a multimeter and had an electrician friend check it over.
I did a test run last night and everything worked great. Now I'm ready for a run using the voltage regulator.
Cheers.
good job.
it's nice to be in control.
I read in the last few days a response from Kegland Australia on this topic that you could plug the entire unit into a voltage controller. As long as you don't take it below 50% the power to the control board/display screen not affected. Also saw Little Johns Brewing on YouTube (yeah, yeah, I know - don't trust YouTube) using a voltage controller on his Brewzilla.

Anyone have any real-world experience with this? I was very interested in purchasing this unit to use for both grain mashing and distilling hoping to not have to mess with the internal wiring that may void the 3 year warranty.

Thanks,
Duck
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Re: Brewzilla/Robobrew with DIY controller

Post by howie » Sun Nov 08, 2020 8:08 am

saw the Little John video, unfortunately his digital display wasn't working. would have liked to see how many volts he was using.
(from my experience the % thing on the dial doesn't correlate to volts/240)
keglands quoted as saying it'll be fine above 50%, i use mine at 90v. (is that less than 50%?)
although kegland do say that the only thing that will happen is the display and elements will turn off if you go under 50%.
i will try that if they give me that in writing.
probably true that the controller will work the boiler at 100%, why wouldn't it.
i am trying to work out in my head the other bad aspect, would the elements still be cycling on & off trying to maintain temp.
but my blueberry cider is preventing any more thought processes lol

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