The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Steam powered cooking and distillation devices.

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stillness
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The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:40 pm

Hi all,
Slowly moving back into stilling after a couple years off. I want to mash with steam, ferment, swap the lid, and distill on the grain, all in one vessel. Which requires steam, bringing me to the current subject: my steam generator build.

All these ideas I've stolen off the forum, so you're sure to recognize most of it.

Here's the general idea.
Attach0_20200929_145702.jpg
The drawing has super heated steam, but for now that's not happening. The detached garage doesn't have water, thus the gravity feed supply. The 1.5 inch spool for the boil chamber might be pushing my luck on the small side. We'll see how it does, and upgrade someday if needed.

I plan to post photos as I go.

stillness
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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:55 pm

Here's early gathering of parts.
Attach0_20200929_145758.jpg
I recently got a tig welder (Amazon special - read: not miller or lincoln), and have been happily burning metal in the garage, with professor u-tube to show me the way.

Here's my first go at putting a real spool under the torch. It's not God's own stack of dimes, but it doesn't leak. And also my practice weld tool thing to sand the 1/2 inch npt ferrule.
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stillness
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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:09 pm

Here's a couple shots of gluing up the frame. My space is limited, so I'm trying to keep it narrow. It's a little over 6 feet tall and a little less than a foot wide. Those are 2x4s ripped with groves cut to accept the plywood, kinda like a cabinet door.
Attach0_20200929_150306.jpg
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Here's dry with parts laid out on top.
Attach0_20200929_150718.jpg

The copper will go through the wood to the manometer, which will be visible on this side. I forgot to add the water inlet, so I'll need to add that.
Attach0_20200929_150742.jpg

I plan to have the copper wrap around the spool to preheat the water before it goes into the boiler. This was mentioned on another thread and I thought I'd give it a go.
Attach0_20200929_160430.jpg

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by zapata » Wed Sep 30, 2020 2:03 pm

stillness wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 2:40 pm
I want to mash with steam, ferment, swap the lid, and distill on the grain, all in one vessel.
It'll change your damn life. I don't even swap the lid, just move the stirring paddle. :lol: I'm sure I got some benefit from all the siphoning, pumping, filtering, wringing, settling, crashing, cleaning, splashing and spilling (and cleaning and cleaning), but I do not miss a bit of it.

I got a steal on a steam jacketed kettle, but barring that I would be doing steam injection to solve the same problems and reap the same benefits.

One tip, degas before running. A fair bit of co2 and thus foaming is knocked out in all the transfers and straining we used to do so the all in one is a little more prone to foaming at boil up. Whatever you use to stir the mash, just use that to knock the bulk of the gas out, you can even do that while you heat up and it doesn't even take any time.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:47 am

Hey Zapata,
Thanks, degassing is a good call. Hadn't thought about that yet.

Reminds me of reading about a continuous still that used a vacuum to degass on the fly before it went into the column.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Mon Oct 05, 2020 12:11 pm

Made a little progress over the weekend. I've been debating how to hold the water jug up. I was thinking of using strapping, and sowing a backpack type thing to wrap and hold the jug. That or weld up a stainless cage. Also, should I use a plastic jug or glass. I've got both around.

In the end aesthetics are prevailing. I'm going with glass and stainless, even though straps and plastic are probably more practical.

I think this means I'll be screwing the whole thing into the wall. I wanted it to be free standing. But I'm scared of the mofo tipping over mid-run. That'd be exciting.

Here's the cage with the glass carboy.
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And here's how the cage will attach, a few of the plumbing parts, and the tube I'm going to use for the manometer. RO fittings with a 12v water valve. The small ball valve will allow me to easily shut the water off to fill and put back, as well as limit flow rate to manually find the sweet spot.

For the manometer my plan is to use this cheap polyvinyl tube, which I think will be fine. Any thoughts to the contrary on that?
Attach0_20201005_125003.jpg
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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by NineInchNails » Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:28 am

It appears as though you intend to hang that carboy upside down. Is that correct? If so, how do you intend to connect the water line to he carboy?

If you run the hose directly to the upside down carboy then it could cause water feed problems without an air vent to allow the carboy to equalize pressure/vacuum as water leaves the carboy.

If you intend to keep the carboy upright, drop a line in, and prime the hose that would work, but I'd be afraid of it losing its prime over time. Gravity feed is ideal. I've used 5 gal buckets for gravity feed before. I drilled a hole in the bucket. I used a John Guest fitting with a rubber Oring and stuck it in the hole. I then used a coupling on the interior of the bucket and that's a little homemade bulkhead fitting.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:31 am

Hi NIN,
Ya, the plan is to hang it upside down. Gonna vent it. I don't want to do upright and mess with a syphon.

Ok, had to Google john guest fittings. Been wondering what these things are called 😂 - I always look for reverse osmosis fittings and they come up.

On a side note, do you know if they need the locking tab - the blue washer disc thing. Some connectors come with them and some don't. I thought they had to have them, but haven't tried them out yet.

Anyway, I'm going to make a bung (that can handle the pressure of being upside down) that has a john guest push connector (maybe similar to your bulkhead), as well as a thin venting pipe. I'll use the venting pipe with a funnel for refilling.

At least that's the plan. Haven't got that far, so not sure exactly what the bung is going to look like, but venting for sure.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:21 pm

The controller box could probably just be a SSR with a 500k pot, with the float switch powering the water solenoid directly.

But I'm going to use a micro-controller to drive this thing. It will give me more flexibility on timing the solenoid, and allow me to do whatever else I want. Not to mention the float switch is upside down for driving the solenoid directly.

Here's the general layout.
Attach0_20201009_150123.jpg
I'm gonna use an ESP32, running on 5v, with input from the float switch and a rotary encoder / button (for the power dial), and outputs to the water solenoid (by way of another solenoid - water valve needs 12v) and a digital pot that controls the SSR.

Here's the SSR - ripped from my last controller. And the 5v & 12v power supplies, both will be fed by 220v. That feels a little crazy, but they're rated for it, so why mess with another power cord. My wall outlet is 3 pronged 220, not the 4 prong type.
Attach0_20201009_095626.jpg
I'm using a digital pot, this Analog Devices ad-5242. It's 1 Meg in 256 steps. So, 500k in 128 is what's usable. Hopefully that's enough granularity - can add a small analog pot inline someday if I need it. I think this will work, but haven't seen it done. I'm open to better ideas, but I feel good about the SSR, as it's widely used.

Here's the digital pot on a breakout board. Soldered, but not tested. Found an Arduino driver for it, so that's gonna help.
Attach0_20201009_095625.jpg
Attach0_20201009_095627.jpg

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by Yummyrum » Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:08 pm

Be aware that the pot connections are live on those SSR,s .

This means that unless you galvanically insulate your digital pot via optocouplers , all your microprocessor circuitry driving it will also be “live “ .

Although what you are trying is a cunning Idea , you might want to look at using a SSR 40 DA which is a true isolated relay and won’t “liven” your Micro ... but you will have to use PWM to drive it with a duty cycle of around 1 second . Should be easy as most micros now days have PWM output .
This will also give a more linear power control as apposed to the strange control curve that Phase controllers has

Better would be to use a Burst fire algorithm to drive it .
Look at Auberins DSPR 1 data sheet to get the idea.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by zapata » Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:34 pm

stillness wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:21 pm
And the 5v & 12v power supplies, both will be fed by 220v. That feels a little crazy, but they're rated for it, so why mess with another power cord. My wall outlet is 3 pronged 220, not the 4 prong type.
I did the same for the small 5v fan in my power controller, and felt the same. In the US using 240v for anything other than water heaters and still boilers just seems crazy. But the first 5v wall wart I pulled out of the junk drawer was clearly rated for it, and has worked perfectly fine for years. I originally had a 120v fan in there, but discovered that tapping 120v off one leg of the 240v triggered the GFCI. See what I did there? A nice roundabout way to ask if you have GFCI on this homebrewed water gadget?

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by NineInchNails » Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:21 am

stillness wrote:
Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:31 am
Hi NIN,
Ya, the plan is to hang it upside down. Gonna vent it. I don't want to do upright and mess with a syphon.

Ok, had to Google john guest fittings. Been wondering what these things are called 😂 - I always look for reverse osmosis fittings and they come up.

On a side note, do you know if they need the locking tab - the blue washer disc thing. Some connectors come with them and some don't. I thought they had to have them, but haven't tried them out yet.

Anyway, I'm going to make a bung (that can handle the pressure of being upside down) that has a john guest push connector (maybe similar to your bulkhead), as well as a thin venting pipe. I'll use the venting pipe with a funnel for refilling.

At least that's the plan. Haven't got that far, so not sure exactly what the bung is going to look like, but venting for sure.
No you don't need those locking collars. Those can be installed to make it impossible to accidentally depress & pull out a hose. Usually larger fittings come with those if I recall correctly. Press lock fittings are great, just jam in the hose and that's all there is to it. Depress the ring while you pull and the hose comes right out.

Yes, as long as the bung has a vent tube that goes all the way to the bottom of the jug, it will vent properly.

I like to use RO water for steam. No mineral buildup possible. I use RO water for my washes & mashes too.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:30 am

YRum,
First off, huge thanks for your comments.

I'm feeling a little sheepish here. I didn't do my homework quite as well as I should have. I remember glancing through the data sheet on my SSR and saw the zero crossing and opto isolators and thought I was good.
But I didn't read it very well - all the versions are in the same data sheet. I assumed the DA version worked similarly to the VA, with 3-32V input being a linear power control input. But... Looks like it's not. It's on/off like a real relay. I didn't want to use the DA because regulating voltage between 3-32 V is a pain. TTL PWM is nice.

So, the VA and DA are quite a bit different. This also means I've been using a non-zero crossing power controller for years (haha.. sad groan). I'm probably not alone in that camp.

So, I'm adjusting course on this and am going to lose the 'clever' digital pot and go with this other standard solution. I'll probably do the burst mode thing at 60 or 30 hz - will read up on it first.

Zapata,
Haha, yes, I see what you've done there. Yes, this thing will have a GFCI breaker somewhere. I'm not sure where yet. Maybe in the breaker box, maybe on the controller. Ya, I thought about stealing from one of the 220v legs, but knew it wasn't the best idea due to GFCI - nice to know it works. But having all the power supplies built to handle such a wide range of power is a lucky break.

Got me thinking about other things. One of the things I read talked about having a fuse inline with the load, cause those SSR's can potentially fail in the closed position. Would just be stuck to max power, but is something to think about.

Also, I plan to use a push (slam down) type button on the top of the controller to turn it on off and double as an emergency off. Seems to me that a DPDT switch would be safer than a single (break both the hot lines, not just one). But with GFCI in there... IDK, maybe it doesn't matter. Definitely going to look for it, but don't know what I'm doing here yet.

Anyways, moving forward. Thanks again for the input!

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Tue Oct 13, 2020 3:19 pm

I'll post more on the controller as I get it sorted.

For now, here's a quick update on a little progress. I ordered some 1.5 inch pipe hangers and didn't realize they were for 1.5 inch nominal pipe, so closer to 1.75 inch. So, they wouldn't hold the 1.5 inch SS spool. I tried messing with them to see if I could make them work and ended up breaking a couple. They're rigid and break before they bend.
IMG_20201009_205331833_BURST000_COVER_COMP_1.jpg
The plan was to use these brooklyn pipe flanges to mount the pipe hangers. Not sure exactly what to use I realized the tri-clamp's are similar. So, why not just weld a stainless bolt to one of those? It's probably going to make assembly / disassembly more of a pain, but I don't see that happening too often. Anyways, that's how the mounting is going to work now.
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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:08 pm

Alright, here's another update. Slow moving progress, but I'm going to drown this feed in photos anyways.

I went to the local scrap yard the other day to hopefully find some sort of steam punk-ish controller box. I found this thing, which had a satisfying ka-chunk when the red lever was pulled to turn it on. But it was functional and they wanted $75. So, passed on that.
IMG_20201014_122913425_1.jpg
Also saw this crazy thing there. I think it's a vacume distiller for essential essences, and whatever else you want. Lots of nice solid stainless parts. Didn't ask the cost of that one.
IMG_20201014_123118323_1.jpg
So, decided to make my own box. It's going to have a steel frame with wood panels. Here's the idea.
IMG_20201022_220818738_1.jpg
Here's gluing it up with just tape.
IMG_20201022_220704368_1.jpg
Here's the GFCI I settled on. The red switch is a 30 amp DPDT which will be the first thing inline. The SSR is of the DA variety now. Actually already had it in a box from a previous unfinished project.
IMG_20201023_214043367_1.jpg
This is the face. It's going to have an LED power display in addition to the actual amps going out. I'm using a 20 amp gauge. The element I'm using is 5.5kW, so can do 25amps. I don't care about measuring the last 5 amps, but need to double check this thing is fine for that power.
.
IMG_20201022_220541547_1.jpg
.

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Re: The Stillness Steamer (aka, just another steam build)

Post by stillness » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:13 pm

Here's the idea of the layout in the box.
IMG_20201023_220230744_BURST001_1.jpg
And this is with the lid and steel frame. You can see the water valve is going to attach to the side.
IMG_20201023_220120962_1.jpg
I've got so much on my plate right now, this is going to crawl at a glacial pace. But I'll keep posting updates as I get there.

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