Now that I have an all-grain brewing system that I’m very happy with (see the eHERMS build), I am cranking out some great and consistent batches of beer. This is all well and good, but it is causing me to feel an itch to build something new.
A while back, Billy Broas of Homebrew Academy did a guest post on the different personalities of homebrewers. One of them was the “Tim the tool man Taylor” DIY-type. I am finding myself falling more in that category as I always have a need for a new DIY project.
Below is the list of projects we have either started on, am planning on starting, or am debating starting. Maybe one of these will give you some inspiration to build something yourself. Also, if you have built any of these items, or other cool brewing DIY items, please let me know – I would love to feature you in our DIY Showcase!
This is a big project. It is going to be expensive and time-consuming. However, I am very excited about it because I will learn some new skill sets, from electrical wiring, to soldering, to programming an Arduino microcontroller.
KegBot is “robot” that can tell when you’re pouring beer, and how much you’re pouring. It allows you to track your pours, check you in on Untappd and Twitter, keep track of how much beer is left in each of your kegs, know the temperature of your beer fridge, and see who else is drinking your beer. You can even have it read ID badges to secure your beer so that only approved drinkers can access the kegs! In other words, it’s a lot of work and totally unnecessary, but totally awesome!
If that sounds like fun to you, then I would encourage you to check out the open source KegBot project. You can get all of the code, build instructions, circuit boards, parts lists, etc. all from their website. It is so helpful that it has convinced me that even I, with my very little electrical and programming knowledge, can build this thing.
My guess is that it’s going to take me a while, but I have gathered up a lot of the parts and plan to get started soon.
I was taking out the trash the other day and found an old computer power supply laying by the dumpster. So of course I grabbed it, brought it inside and took it apart. It has 2 large fans that I have salvaged and plan to use one to spin my stir plate.
A stir plate allows you to get the most out of your yeast starter. New ones cost $80-100+, so it’s much easier to build your own. All you need is some sort of box (I see cigar boxes a lot), a computer fan, 5-12v power supply (phone chargers work great), and some optional add-ons like a power switch or knob to control the speed of the spinning.
While I do have a small converted chest freezer to ferment in, it can only hold two 5-gallon batches, or a single 10-gallon batch, at a time. It’s time to upgrade.
I was inspired by a friend who built an insulated addition onto a mini fridge with an easy access door. With the addition of a heat source (lite bulb) and a small computer fan (did I mention I found some free fans by the dumpster?) to move the air throughout the added square footage, he was able to use the cooling power of a mini fridge to hold five or six 5-gallon batches at a time.
I am planning to building something similar to this when we move later this year and have either a garage or a shed with space for something like this. For now, the little apartment just doesn’t have room for this sort of fermentation space.
Custom Tap Handles
I’ve been using the $2 black plastic tap handles for a while. I also have a handful of commercial handles a friendly bar owner gave me in exchange for some homebrew. However, I don’t have any that are truly mine.
I just activated a Groupon I bought for a 2-month membership and 6 hours of classes at TechShop RDU. They have a ton of great equipment that you can use for all sorts of projects, from welding to woodworking to computers to sowing! Oh, and they’re right next to Roth Brewing.
The plan is to take the woodworking and wood lathe classes and learn to turn tap handles from a block of wood. Once I take the class, I can use the equipment as much as I want. So if anyone has any prime pieces of hardwood that they would like to see turned into a tap handle, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
Here’s a video to give you an idea of what I’m talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcVK1ukhcbA
I will take lots of photos as we work through each of these projects and post a full write-up on each once they are completed.
What DIY projects do other folks have going on at the moment? Have you built anything like these three things? I would love to hear if anyone else has tried to build a kegbot!