Your Email for Our Updates

No SPAM! - We'll safeguard it in the same vault as our beer recipes

Shipping Nearly Complete

05-08-2014

It has been an absolutely insane month, culminating in an even more insane weekend, but as of Sunday, the vast majority of Model-T’s have been shipped. Most of you should have already received shipping notifications, and many are already starting to receive their Model-T’s!

We have a couple of delays for the remaining units, so we wanted to give a quick update. If you don’t fall into either category below, and haven’t received a shipping notification, please let us know.

240V version

When we started the process of CE certification in January, we were told to expect about a two week investigation. We figured that was probably a bit optimistic, but we even if it took twice as long, it would still be done in plenty of time especially given the delay to redesign the case. Fast forward 4 months, and we are FINALLY getting toward the end of that process. The documentation is being generated, and we are having the labels printed. We should start shipping our 240V units within 2 weeks. We apologize for the delay.

Thermocouple adapters

We have a bunch of thermocouple adapter boards build and ready, but of course our 3D printer has broken down, so we are not able to print the cases. We have been trying to get it up and running again, but it may be a few more days. We can ship your Model-T and the bare adapter board now and then send the case later if you’d like.

Model-T’s entering the wild

As mentioned, people are starting to receive their Model-T’s. In order to make the setup process as smooth as possible, we recommend that you take a look over the Resources that we have posted. You may also want to check the forums for help with common problems. Early reactions seem to be mostly positive, but a couple of software and usability issues have already been identified.

We are also starting to put together a list of feature requests for the next software update. We are planning to issue a software update to address any critical issues after most Model-T’s are received, and then start working on the most requested features.  So come and join us to help make the Model-T even better!

Once again, we thank you for sticking with us through this process. It has been more work than we ever imagined, but we hope you will love your Model-T.

Nick, Brian, and Misha


BrewBit Model-T Production Begins!

04-30-2014

Programming and automated testing of the controller boards. 1 cracked LCD, and 4 boards that failed our automated test routine so far.

Testing of the power/relay boards. We have found 12 bad relays so far. Hopefully they will be easy to repair.

48 Model-T’s down, 552 to go! We should be able to speed up significantly over the next couple of days as we will have some help and will be able to dedicate more time to assembly.


End of April Update

04-26-2014

Activity at BrewBit HQ has been heating up in the last month, so we wanted to take a moment to share our progress. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Final Assembly Started

All plastics, electronics, probes, cables, and packing materials have been received.

Plastics and plastics and plastics and plastics...Plastics and plastics and plastics and plastics…
PCBs and PCBs and PCBs and PCBs...PCBs and PCBs and PCBs and PCBs…
Brian’s wife was thrilled when she came home to find that her parking space in the garage had been taken by a pallet of boxesBrian’s wife was thrilled when she came home to find that her parking space in the garage had been taken by a pallet of boxes

We have enlisted the help of family to start some early final assembly tasks such as screwing all of the power boards into the enclosures, and assembling the power panels. The remaining tasks are pending completion of a couple of other outstanding tasks (read on).

Wire Harness Assembly

When we were getting quotes for wire harnesses before we ever launched Kickstarter, we were a bit shocked at how expensive they would be. You would think that items like this which consist of a few pretty cheap components would be fairly inexpensive to have made. So, disappointed with the quotes that we had gotten, we uttered the stupidly naive phrase “eh, how hard could it be?” and decided we would just build them ourselves. Fast forward to today, and we now have an answer to that question: VERY. To date we (and by “we” I mean, mainly Brian) have cut 7800+ pieces of wire, stripped both ends of each, spliced, soldered and applied heat shrink to 1800+ wire harnesses, and crimped 9000+ connectors. Turns out, when you multiply by 600, the numbers add up fast! We still have a few harnesses to assemble, but the vast majority are behind us. A huge thanks is owed to Brian and his wife Meghan as well as both of their parents (Diana, Joe, Fred and Terry) who helped us crank through this monumental task in around three weeks.

Website and Forums Launched

We have been hard at work on the software for both the device and the website. Today, we are launching the new website including a streamlined look and feel, the founding backers page, discussion forums and the Model-T management dashboard. We hope that you will join us on the forums to ask any questions you might have and start getting pumped to receive your Model-T with your fellow BrewBitters!

You won’t be able to do much with the device management dashboard until you get your Model-T, but here are some preview shots to whet your appetite:

Creating a temperature profileCreating a temperature profile
The resulting temp profileThe resulting temp profile
Starting a new temp controller sessionStarting a new temp controller session
Active temperature profile session (not the one created above)Active temperature profile session (not the one created above)

Device Software

In the past month, we have squashed some pretty heinous bugs that had been plaguing us for a while. The device is now way more stable and usable than it has ever been. It is still not perfect, and we have lots of things on our wishlist that we plan to add in the future, but there are only two small features left that we consider to be show-stoppers. We plan to knock those out this weekend, and then start the arduous process of programming and testing all 600 of the controller boards.

The great thing about the Model-T is it will get better with time. Although it may not be perfect out of the gate, we look forward to getting feedback from you and constantly improving it. We expect that you will be seeing several software updates for both the device and website over the coming months as we learn more about what works and what doesn’t. Your feedback, help and understanding will be critical to making this an even better product than we already believe it to be.

Shipping

With so many companies offering free or very inexpensive shipping rates, it can be a bit of a shocker to see the cost difference when you are not shipping a million packages a month. We will be shipping around 500 units our first month, but even after negotiating better rates with UPS and FedEx it will cost us $12+ per unit to ship domestically. International is staggeringly more expensive. We had some cost overruns throughout the course of the project, and underestimated the actual cost of shipping, so we are going to end up a bit in the red on this. No fun.

So… When do I get mine?

We have a couple of days of work left on the software, and the last few wire harnesses to finish up, and then final final-assembly can commence in earnest. We plan to start shipping no later than the 30th, and hope to complete shipping in around two weeks. We will be sending out email notifications with tracking numbers when we ship your package, so look out for those in the next few weeks.

We surpassed our original timeline by a bit and apologize for that, but are thrilled to finally be in the home stretch. We are putting everything we have into this last leg of the project. For the past month or so, on top of our day jobs and family responsibilities, we have been staying up until 2, 3, and 4AM to get as much done as possible. Although we have gotten lots of things done in the past month, there is one thing that we haven’t done much of: SLEEP!

Up all night working on BrewBitUp all night working on BrewBit

 Thanks again for hanging in there with us. The wait is almost over, we promise!

<3 The BrewBit Team - Brian, Nick, and Misha


April Update:

04-09-2014

BrewBit Store:

The official BrewBit store launched last month and is open to take your orders.  We have both US and international Model-T’s, extra temperature probes, mens and womens shirts, stickers and our thermocouple adapter boards for purchase.



Make sure to get your orders in before the end of the month so that you can get all of your merchandise at that same time and save on shipping costs. If you make a purchase please let us know that you were a Kickstarter backer and we will make sure to refund your shipping.

Production Run Almost Complete:

This past week we finally received all of the plastics as well as the controller boards. There were so many that even after we stacked about 20 of the boxes in the garage you could just start to see the front door again. The wife will be really happy once we move this project out of the guest bedroom and garage and get an actual office space.


We are still waiting on the power supply boards so that we can start final assembly. We are expecting them to arrive some time next week. We will then start the final tasks of assembly and software loading and testing of the completed units.

Shipping:

It looks like we are currently on track to start shipping units by the end of April. We expect to be able to complete assembly and testing on about 100 - 200 units per week. We hope to have all units shipped by no later than the end of May.

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us. We know you will be happy with the final product and that it will be well worth the wait. We can’t wait to get a Model-T into your hands!

- The BrewBit team


March Madness Update

03-10-2014

BrewBit Store Launch:

The official BrewBit store is now open and ready to take your order.  We have both US and international Model-T’s, extra temperature probes, mens and womens shirts, stickers and our newly released thermocouple adapter boards for purchase.

The K-type thermocouple adapters will be perfect for high temperature applications, such as smoking or BBQing meats. We even created a nice 3D printed case that will come with each one.

In the next couple of weeks, we will be working on importing all the Kickstarter orders, so that you will be able to track the status of your rewards. We will email you with the details when this is complete.

Certification Testing:

The Model-T is now certified for having met FCC standards. Now that FCC testing is complete the unit will be undergoing CE safety certification testing which we hope will be completed within the next two weeks.

Full Production Run In Process:

We have pushed ahead and had both the plastics and PCB manufacturers start the full production run. We should receive them all by end of this month or early next month. We will then begin final assembly, programming and testing the Model-Ts.

International Unit:

Here are some pictures of a completed international unit along with a picture of a unit and IEC-C14 adapters connected.

The international unit will not be shipping with the adapters so if you ordered an international unit you should go ahead and purchase two IEC-C14 to your countries outlet style cables so that you will be ready to go when you receive your unit.InternationalRotatedSmall.jpg


image

It looks like we are right on track to start shipping units by the middle of April. Thanks to everyone for hanging in there with us. We know you will be happy with the final product and that it will be well worth the wait. We can’t wait to get a Model-T into your hands!

- The BrewBit team

 


FeBREWary Update

03-10-2014

Production Plastics Complete: 

After many revisions and some last minute changes to accommodate the international folks we are proud to announce that the production molds were completed and a sample run of 10 cases were injection molded.

We received the plastics last Wednesday and they look awesome!

It was a great feeling for us to finally hold the final product in ours hands after a year of hard work and a lot of stress and anxiety over whether the Model-T would ever come to market. We were so excited that we built and tested 3 production units that night and are happy to report that everything fit perfectly and it not only looks great but it works great as well.

FCC/CE Testing: 

Now that the plastics are done we will be shipping two of the full production units off to be FCC and CE certified. This process will take about two weeks. Once we get word that everything is good to go we will be having the rest of the PCBs and plastics manufactured and then start assembling the units.

New Web Store Coming: 

Over the past week we have been working on a new web store complete with shopping cart. The new store will be integrated in with BrewBit.com and will have all of our products for sale including Model-T’s, extra temperature probes, thermo-couple adapter boards and t-shirts. The new store will be easier for you to use and for us to maintain. We are hoping to roll out the new store within the next two weeks. We will keep everyone posted when it goes live.

Thermocouple Adapter Boards Complete: 

We got our production thermocouple boards assembled and tested last Tuesday night. They worked great and will be a great addition to the Model-T for high temperature applications.

We are now working on a 3D printed case that will house the adapter boards. The thermocouple adapters will be available soon through our new web store.

RTD Adapter Board: 

We have begun designing an RTD adapter board for those of you that would like to use your old RTD sensors with the Model-T. We are hoping to have this working within the next several months. It will, most likely, not be ready in time to ship with the first round of Kickstarter Model-Ts. When it is ready, will be be sure to send out an update, and it will be available through the new web store.

So, what’s next? 

We are getting closer every day, but here is what is left: 

  • Compliance testing - 2 weeks 
  • Production runs (plastics, inlet/outlet panels, PCBs, wiring harnesses) - 1 month 
  • Assembly - 2 weeks 
  • Shipping 

It still looks like we are on schedule to start shipping mid April. 

There’s Still Time

If you haven’t ordered a Model-T yet, there’s still time to get in on the first production run. If you order in the next couple of weeks, your order will be included in the first production run.

We also have extra probes available in our online store. If you order now, we will refund your shipping costs and include the probe(s) with your Model-T.

We can’t wait to get your Model-T into your hands!

<3 The BrewBit team


January Update

03-10-2014

Case Redesign

Since our last update we have gone through a number of revisions of the case design to support the new modular inlet/outlet panels and also to fix a number of issues affecting the fabrication of the molds. This is the end result of our hard work:

The US inlet/outlet panelThe US inlet/outlet panel
Installed panelInstalled panel
The new and improved BrewBit Model-TThe new and improved BrewBit Model-T

In the end, the redesign will allow for a much more flexible and future-proof product because we are not locked into using the specific inlets and outlets that we originally designed for, for the remainder of the product’s lifespan. So for instance, if the manufacturers stop making those outlets, we just switch to another one and get some new inlet/outlet panels made which are cheap and easy to have manufactured. Nice!

The other benefit of the redesign is, it greatly simplifies the injection molds themselves. The old design required a side core in order to form the inlet/outlet openings. This complicates the mold design, and increases the price. The new design uses simple straight-pull molds for both parts, and ends up saving us almost $2k. This is about what it will cost to make the inlet/outlet panels, so financially it is a wash. Also nice!

In the last couple of days, we have been working with our plastic manufacturer, and are happy to report that as of today, the final design has been sent and the order for the molds has been placed!

PCBs

This week, we received the final PCBs from the manufacturer. We are happy to report that all of the issues that we encountered with the last batch have been fully addressed. All 10 boards came in flawless condition, and the new LCDs are mounted perfectly. We built a couple of pogo pin jigs to help us speed up the initial board programming and test procedure:

Programming JigProgramming Jig

The programming procedure with this jig is super simple. Just press a board down, and its automatically programmed!

A freshly programmed Model-T controller boardA freshly programmed Model-T controller board

/begin nerd speak

When a board is connected and pressed into the pogo pins, the Arduino sends a message to the PC over the USB serial interface. The PC then tells the arduino to reboot the board into BOOT mode. This triggers the built-in STM32 system bootloader which allows firmware to be loaded over UART/USB/CAN. We are using the USB interface which exposes a standard USB DFU interface which we load with dfu-util. After the download is complete, the PC tells the Arduino to reboot the board in RUN mode to test that the firmware was loaded correctly.

/end nerd speak

The bottom line is, this will help us program and verify the 600 boards we will receive in no time.

So, what’s next?

We are getting closer every day, but here is what is left:

  • Plastic samples - 3 weeks
  • Compliance testing - 2 weeks
  • Production runs (plastics, inlet/outlet panels, PCBs, wiring harnesses) - 1 month
  • Assembly - 2 weeks
  • Shipping

So it is looking like we should start shipping mid April. We can’t wait to get your Model-T into your hands!

<3 The BrewBit team


New Years Update

03-10-2014

As we start this new year, we find ourselves looking back at how far we have come. It is strange to think that the BrewBit Model-T didn’t exist even in our minds just one year ago, and today it is nearly a fully fledged product that will be shipping in just a few short months!

Here is what we have been up to since our last update inNovember:

PCBs

We received the first batch of 10 power boards and controller boards. The power boards are very simple, so were manufactured perfectly. The controller boards had a couple of issues related to the LCDs:

  • Two of the LCDs were cracked when we received them. Both the LCD manufacturer and the PCB manufacturer said that all of the LCDs were in good shape when they shipped them, so the damage must have happened in shipping from the PCB manufacturer. The PCB place offered to let us ship the boards to them to be repaired, but we had already repaired them ourselves with some spares that we had on hand.
  • One LCD had the incorrect controller chip (we ordered LCDs with the ILI9320 controller, but received one with an SSD1298). The LCD manufacturer admitted that they made a mistake on their end and sent us some free replacements. They assured us that they will tighten their quality control for the final order.
  • The LCD was improperly placed in our design so it was a couple of millimeters off center. Additionally, the LCD itself doesn’t have any built-in alignment pins to help keep it in perfect alignment with respect to the PCB so each one has to be carefully aligned by hand when it is placed. This leads to very inconsistent positioning and makes the end product look bad. We have since changed to a different LCD that has built-in alignment pins that go into holes on the PCB to keep each one perfectly in place. The new PCBs are currently in production.

Other than these cosmetic issues, the quality of the PCBs and assembly was top notch. We have been using these boards for software development over the past few weeks and they are working extremely well!

FCC/CE Compliance Testing

This week we got all the paperwork and design artifacts in order to start the process of getting FCC and CE certification on the units. We will be shipping 3 units to the testing house next week. Unfortunately our planning for this testing was not the greatest. We should have had it lined up to start immediately when the first boards arrived. Instead we had to do a bit of scrambling to get everything in order. This will end up costing us a couple of weeks and delaying the production of the remaining PCBs. Still, we think that we have enough slack in the schedule that it will not end up pushing out the ship date.

Once that process is complete we will have the PCB manufacturer complete building 600 units for us and then final step of assembly will be done at BrewBit HQ (aka Brian’s garage) by our dedicated team of unpaid interns (aka our family and friends).

Plastics

We have 3D printed about a dozen cases and made numerous tweaks to the design over the past month. We are now very happy with it overall. It feels very solid and fits the PCBs and other components perfectly. We have selected a manufacturing partner for injection molding and are currently working with them to address some items from their DFM review. They have extremely short lead times (2 weeks) so we should have first articles for the plastics in about a month!

Software

Over the holidays, we all had some time off and are making a ton of progress with the device and website software. We have been mainly working on the device-to-website communication, which is working pretty reliably now. We have implemented some pretty cool stuff on top of this connection: temperature logging, device activation and authentication, and over-the-air updates.

Other Stuff

We received 1200 probes from our manufacturer and they are working great. We have 600 power cables being shipped this week. We also received the rest of the backordered items for our wire harnesses.

And that’s about it for now. Thanks for hanging in there with us. We are getting closer every day!

<3 The BrewBit Team - Brian, Misha, and Nick


October Update

10-27-2013

Its been about a month since our last update. We apologize for the delay. Unfortunately life finally caught up with us and sent all three of us out of town, or out of the country in Misha’s case, over the past 4 weeks. However, we were still able to work on the project and are getting super close to placing our full production run order. Over the past month several exciting things have happened.

  • We resolved the PCB antenna issues that we had previously mentioned in the last update and have tested the final prototype boards and are ready for production.

image

  • We found an issue with the TI CC3000 WiFi module that prevents it working with other devices on the same SPI bus. We updated the PCB layout to place the chip on its own SPI bus.
  • We aligned the breakout pins on the controller board to a 0.1” grid to make it easy to create arduino-style shields with protoboards for easy integration with your own sensors and systems.

image

  • We bought a 3D printer to save money and speed up the case development time.

image

  • We found an issue with the plastic case that prevented the power board from properly fitting into the case. We are currently reworking the case and will use our 3D printer to print out a new case.
  • Several people have asked about purchasing additional probes. We have put together a store page to allow you to do so. If you purchase before your order ships, we will include the additional probe with your order.

Next week we plan on ordering a small batch of PCBs fully assembled, once we receive these back and they pass test we will order the final production run. Within the next three weeks we plan on doing the same with the plastics. We will make sure to keep everyone posted on this progress.

We have slowly been sending out surveys for the various reward levels. If you have received a survey but have not responded yet, please do so so that we can get your reward to you in a timely manner.

Thanks for your continued patience and support. We can’t wait to get your Model-T to you!

The BrewBit Team - Brian, Nick, and Misha


Model-T Prototype Build

09-11-2013

We received the latest prototype boards yesterday, so we spent this evening putting a few of them together. Everything is looking good other than one silly mistake: we left some of the ground plane under the antenna area. That is going to kill our signal for these boards, so we will need to spin them one last time.

Check out some pictures from the build:

It works!


BrewBit Model-T Update

09-03-2013

In the last couple of weeks, we have been working on finalizing the PCBs for the BrewBit Model-T. This weekend, we finished up that work and ordered the next batch of boards.  We are going to build up 10 complete units so that we can start doing lots more testing to iron out any last bugs before we go to production. Here is a list of updates that we have made to the design.

image

Improved LCD Interface

The STM32F205 microcontroller used in the BrewBit Model-T includes a cool peripheral called the Flexible Static Memory Controller (FSMC). This allows the microcontroller to easily interface with various types of external memory devices like flash or SRAM. It can also be used to interface with LCDs that use the 8080 or 6800 interface like the one used on the Model-T. The only catch is this peripheral is only available on the 100-pin packages and up. Our first boards used the 64-pin package, so we did not have access to the FSMC. Instead, we had to use GPIOs to bit-bang the interface. This works well enough for simple interfaces, but fast updates like animations are out of the question. With the upgrade to the 100-pin package the graphical capabilities of the Model-T are greatly improved.

Spare I/O

Another nice thing about upgrading to a larger package, is we have lots of spare I/Os. We have broken these all out to headers so you can easily interface the control board with your own projects. In total, there are 38 I/Os including a number of UART, SPI, I2C peripherals and more.

New WiFi Module

The prototype Model-T used an Inventek Systems WiFi module. This is actually a pretty cool little device. It incorporates an STM32F205 microcontroller and a Broadcom WiFi module. The microcontroller runs the TCP/IP stack and interfaces to the hosting system (via UART or SPI). Unfortunately, the firmware that ships with the module leaves something to be desired. It is fairly difficult to do anything more complicated than a single basic socket or HTTP request at a time. We worked around this by writing our own custom firmware to run on the module and provide a more streamlined interface. We eventually got this working fairly well, but we weren’t thrilled with having to maintain two code bases for different parts of the project. Especially since, due to licensing restrictions we would not be able to share the source for the WiFi module.

Instead, we decided to switch to another WiFi module - the CC3000 from TI. We had been eyeing this module for a long time, the only issue was stock. TI seems to have ramped up production as there are lots of units available now. The interface is much nicer and supports a host of advanced features that were lacking with the other module.

Power Supply

image

Many products that require DC power simply use external AC/DC power supplies, generally in the form of “wall-warts.” This would have been our preferred route, but it really would not make sense for the Model-T.  You already have to run AC power to the device since it outputs AC power, so why require a separate DC power input too?

There are a number of PCB mount AC/DC power supplies on the market. These are basically the guts of a wall-wart with pins allowing it to be mounted to a PCB. When we started the project we were pretty surprised at the cost of these modules. For instance on Digi-Key, the cheapest AC/DC power available goes for nearly $10 even in quantities of 1000. We talked to a few companies directly, but could not find anything less than about $7.

Because of this, we decided to look at what it would take to build a power supply ourselves. The first incarnation of the Model-T used a custom built switched-mode power supply based around the Power Integrations LNK616PG switcher. Most of the parts for this power supply are available off-the-shelf. The exception was the flyback transformer. We were able to find one that worked and got the power supply up and running without too much trouble. In the end, this power supply was going to cost us around $4.50.

With that seemingly settled, we moved on to the other portions of the project. Fast-forward a few months, just before the Kickstarter launch when we started talking to the various product certification labs. One of the first things that they told us was that AC/DC power supplies are subject to heavy scrutiny. This scrutiny can cost a considerable amount - we were given a ball-park of around $12-15k. Needless to say, we were a little taken aback. Clearly our “cheap” $4.50 power supply came with some serious hidden costs - including certification this option would cost us nearly $30 per unit for the first 500 units! Those $7 power supplies were starting to sound pretty good now. In the end, we were able to find a good quality AC/DC power supply that comes with UL/CE certification for $6.50.

Power Routing

The first Model-T prototypes used the power board itself to route the AC power from the input to the outputs.  This was a clean and simple design that is easy to assemble. In total, there were 3 AC power headers on the board - the input and two outputs. The input is routed to our AC/DC power supply as well as the two outputs which are switched with relays on the same board. However, as we started to think more about safety and reliability, we started to worry about the current carrying capabilities of the PCB traces and solder joints on the board. Even though we had designed in very thick traces, we weren’t entirely comfortable with routing this power on a PCB. After reading a few horror stories about fried traces and solder joints, we were convinced that we should move this off-board.

We have since switched to relays that use PC pins for the control lines, and quick-connect terminals for the contacts. The quick connects will be connected to the inputs and outputs with 14 AWG wire which will let us carry much more current, much more safely.

Thermocouple Adapter

image

We have interfaced thermocouples to the Model-T in the past using an Arduino and a standard thermocouple amplifier.  This works great, but we wanted a sleek integrated solution, so we decided to build a board around the DS2762. This chip is actually a 1-wire lithium ion battery monitor chip, but it includes a very accurate millivolt level ADC - perfect for reading thermocouples! There are a couple of articles around the net showing how to use this chip for this purpose. Our board had two connectors: an RJ-11 connector that you can use to connect to the Model-T sensor interface using a standard phone cable, and a standard thermocouple connector allowing you to easily connect any thermocouples that you might already have.

We also just learned that Maxim recently launched a new chip that is designed specifically to adapt thermocouples to the 1-wire bus - the MAX31850. Stock is pretty limited at the moment, but we have some samples on the way and will be putting together some boards soon.


Mini-Fridge Fermentation Chamber Build with Instructions

07-19-2013

While preparing to launch our Kickstarter campaign, we decided to have some fun and build a small ferementation chamber using a small fridge.

image

Our inspiration came from Broken Glass Brewery post

The build process and the result you can see in the video below.

The chamber is designed to fit 3 carboys or 2 carboys and a small keg with a few beer bottles and brewing supplies. It’s fairly easy to adjust the dimensions to fit only 1 carboy and fit inside a small apartment.

The Build

I’d like to take you step by step through the build process and provide plans at the end.

First the parts (Details at the end):

image

Went to HomeDepot and got a bunch of things, including a floor-model 3.5 cubic feet fridge.

The fridge is a Magic Chef Stainless Look

First step was to remove all the shelves, door, legs and bend down the freezer tray to get the most space. Then we started building the bottom frame.

image

This was followed by the vertical supports to hold the fridge in place and provide space for up to 3 carboys.

image

The top frame was constructed next.

image

We ended up building it piece by piece instead of assembling it entirely and then fixing it to the frame. On reflection, this might not have been the best idea as we’re not fantastic carpenters and measuring 2x4s after a few beers does not produce the best results. We think we made up for it later though.

We sealed with silicon calk the major areas we were concerned with before starting on insulation. This was the most time-consuming and difficult task.

We put in some pieces in the bottom to provide support, followed by the “floor”

image

image

After that we started measuring and cutting pieces around the two sides. We used a very sharp knife, which cut down on the amount of insulation bits floating around.

image

At this point we stopped with insulation and started taping everything down. This allowd us easy access to all the nooks and cranies without having to contort in all kinds of painful ways. I would say this took us the longest amount of time, about 3-4 hours.

image

The most difficult portions were the corners. The trick we figured out was to work in small segments and pre-bend down the length and then peel back the first half, stick that down and then peel and stick the other half. If you stick to about 4-6 inches for each length, it’s fairly easy and doesn’t stick back on itself.

With that task complete, we cut the inside wall and inserted that in. Taping it down at this point would have been impossible, so we turned the fridge on the side and I climbed in and started taping.

image

In 85+ degree weather it’s not the best thing in the world, but we had plenty of beer on tap, so that helped.

Having finished that we stopped for the day.  The next day we started filling in all the openings with more insulation.

This went a lot faster since we could get to each part easily.  We did realize just how crooked our framing was at this point, but we made up for it.

Once we had all the insulation cut and placed, we taped it all down.

image

image

We didn’t want to leave it like that so we got some 1/8” plywood sheets and covered the frame with them.  It provides a more pleasant view than all the insulation, plus it helps protect the fragile insulation wrapping.

image

We didn’t stop there though, ugly corners are not something we want around, so we got some corner guards and attached them.

image

image

Originally, we were thinking of using the fridge door as the lid; its already insulated and has hinges, but it was too small, so we made one from a 1/2” plywood.  Attached a handle and a hinge stop and were getting to mostly done.

image

image

image

The “piece de resistance” is, of course, BrewBit Model-T!  We built a small pedestal for it, run a probe to an RJ-11 phone wall plate and inside the chamber and attached everything together.

image

image

image

image

image

image

We also added some insulation to the lid to sit inside the opening.  While we’re not in Arizona, San Diego does get hot, and we don’t want to risk ruining a batch.

image

To finish off the unit we want to stain the wood and put on a polyurethane coating.  That should help with any spills and humidity.

We also need to install some kind of flooring cover to protect the insulation.  Linoleum seems like the best option at the moment as it’s cheap and easy to clean.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our build as much as we enjoyed building it.  If you’d like to build your own, here is a list of parts and some drawings of the various dimensions (Apologies for crudeness):

image

Part List:

  • BrewBit Model-T (http://kck.st/13kN3yG)
  • Fridge (http://thd.co/1bMOoX0)
  • 2x4 studs * 6 - We went with Green Douglass Fir, it’s cheap but very very soft and splits easily
  • 2”x4’x8’ R-Max 2” Poly ISO Insulation.  We had a sheet of 1.5” lying around and used all of it and most of the 2” one. (http://thd.co/196sSx0)
  • EPDM Tape - The silver stuff to tape up all the seams
  • RJ-11 round wall plug
  • We already had silicon calk
  • 2.5” and 1 5/8” screws to assemble the frame with.  Depending on how you’re screwing everything together, some work better than others.
  • 2 x hinges (http://thd.co/13Dyp5T)
  • Door pull
  • Hinge Support - We used left-hand one (http://thd.co/1bMUZAD)
  • Corner Guard * 4

Costs

The total cost ended up just under $200, not counting the BrewBit.  We had some parts so that shaved off $50-$80 from the total build.  The fridge was a floor model, so ended up being a lot cheaper too.


BrewBit Model-T / BrewPi Comparison

07-17-2013

image

A lot of people have been comparing the BrewBit Model-T to the BrewPi, and in a lot of ways this makes sense. The two have a number of features in common: remote monitoring and control, open source hardware and software, similar temperature accuracy and precision, similar output current rating and more. Despite these similarities, there are a number of key differences that we think make the Model-T stand head and shoulders above BrewPi.

Plug-and-Play

AC power is extremely dangerous. If not handled properly, you can end up damaging your property, causing an electrical fire, or even fatally electrocuting yourself. BrewPi does not provide standard pre-wired electrical outlets. Instead you must manually wire it up using screw terminals. Mix up two wires and you can create an extremely dangerous condition just waiting to happen.

We take these risks very seriously which is why the Model-T comes pre-wired, tested, and ready to use safely from the moment you take it out of the box.

Pricing

We have seen several claims that BrewPi is cheaper than the Model-T. Our initial rough estimate of actual BrewPi pricing showed that they were very close in price, however as more people made this argument, we decided to take a closer look. Based on pricing from the BrewPi store and Amazon, here is what we found:

image

Already, the BrewPi is nearly $90 more expensive than the BrewBit Model-T. Due to the fact that the BrewPi is not plug-and-play, you will likely need to purchase additional parts in order to integrate it into your brewing/fermentation systems adding even more cost to an already costly project. In our Kickstarter comparison chart, we made a conservative estimate of $15 in additional costs to complete a BrewPi build, bringing your total to nearly $260.

Display/User Interface

BrewPi comes with a basic character LCD which displays the current temperatures and status. In order to interact with it, you use a rotary encoder. This interface works well enough, but feels a bit antiquated in the age of smart phones and tablets.

We think that the full-color touch screen display on the Model-T offer a much more natural mechanism for interacting with the device while also allowing for an extremely flexible and beautiful platform for displaying status.

Integration

BrewPi is composed of two general purpose control boards (Raspberry Pi and Arduino). We believe that this architecture has a couple of downsides:

  • Wasted resources - Do you really need a 700Mhz ARM processor, GPU capable of playing 1080p video, 512MB RAM and a Linux OS just to read a couple of temperature sensors and switch some relays?

  • Size - The Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards end up taking much more space than a purpose-built integrated solution.

The Model-T integrates an appropriately spec’d microcontroller into custom made PCBs which are designed to fit compactly into the case and reduce the cost and complexity of the final device.

Case

BrewPi uses a laser-cut acrylic case. Some people find this DIY look to be charming, inviting the user to crack it open and hack away, and indeed it can be. Others don’t care about seeing the internals and just want a polished finished enclosure. This matter is largely a matter of taste, but we wanted the best of both worlds with the Model-T. It comes in a nice, finished, injection molded case, but is easy to crack open and hack for the more technically inclined.

Setup

BrewPi is largely aimed at programmers. They have done a nice job in writing instructions to help less technical folks to get it up and running, but there is no avoiding the command line.

Model-T on the other hand is ready to rock out of the box. For those that prefer to take the less travelled path, all the source code, schematics, and tools you need are available for your hacking pleasure.

Conclusion

BrewPi offers an impressive platform for beer monitoring and control. In many ways it equals the BrewBit Model-T, however in the end BrewPi is more expensive and less user friendly. Model-T is just as hackable as BrewPi while also offering a simple route for non-programmers along with a number of features above and beyond those of BrewPi.

What do you think? Did we miss anything?

Want a Model-T of your own?


Now Offering International Shipping Rewards

07-17-2013

image

After receiving a large volume of feedback from international users we decided to go ahead and add reward levels for you. We hope you will back us and help spread the word to other international users that they too can own a BrewBit Model-T.

Thanks for your help and support!


We Are Live!

07-15-2013

Get your own BrewBit Model-T now on Kickstarter:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brewbit/brewbit-model-t-wireless-temperature-controller

- The BrewBit Team


A few hours away...

07-15-2013

Get your popcorn ready for the launch of BrewBit Model-T!


Launching Monday

07-13-2013

We got our final approval last night!

We’ll be launching Monday morning, get your carboys ready.


Another update on waiting, impatiently

07-11-2013

We submitted our updates to Kickstarter and are, impatiently, awaiting final approval.

Given that the changes requested were very minor, we’re hoping it won’t take long.

In the mean time, hope you’re enjoying your beer


Kickstarter Report

07-09-2013

We got an email today from KS on our campaign.  We have to make a couple of minor tweaks and then we’re good to go.

We’ll have those changes done tonight and resubmit to KS.  Hoping the second review won’t take very long!


While we're waiting for Kickstarter approval...

07-04-2013

Wanted to give everyone a small update on what we’re doing while waiting for KS to approve our project.

Our main focus this week has been on putting together a press release that we’ll be sending out to various news outlets.

In addition to that, we’re finalizing some of the manufacturing prep that is needed.  This includes testing devices at the factory.

 

Brewbit team - Nick, Brian & Misha