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Linux is an Obvious Choice for Automating the Beer-Brewing Process (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year ago | from the beer-beer-beer-for-my-loyal-men-and-women! dept.

Beer 112

Linus Torvalds, Jon 'maddog' Hall, and many other names closely associated with Linux are also closely associated with beer. (Ed. note: I have personally watched them associate with beer, and may have even joined them.) It comes as no surprise, therefore, when Linux advocate and founder Kurt Forsberg talks about using Linux to control his beer brewing. Kurt is a strong believer in Linux Automation who talks about home thermostats, sprinklers, and many other application, "anything you can automate..." but, he adds, "we spend all our time brewing beer so we haven't explored many of those yet." He says this with a big smile, of course. And if you want to keep up with Linux Automation on Faceboook, go ahead; like everyone + dog they have a Facebook page.

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good (3, Informative)

andjeng (2799457) | about a year ago | (#43743463)

because we love beer.

Re:good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744113)

I prefer wine, you insensitive clod!

Re:good (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43747583)

We do as well, that's why we started this project and spend so much time brewing :)

The Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743475)

The problem Microsoft has with Google, is that they got on this market first.

I love Beer! (1)

fishbonz (246374) | about a year ago | (#43743495)

Yes I really do!

Re:I love Beer! (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43747601)

Amen Brotha!

Not really (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743545)

Arduino is a better choice. This guy is trying to put a 350 into a Vespa.

Re:Not really (3, Informative)

Rhacman (1528815) | about a year ago | (#43743651)

Or one of many microcontroller eval boards from Microchip. They have some great library support for doing simple web interfaces too.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744893)

Forget it, Microchip is yesterday's "hip" uC. It's all about Atmel these days.

I find that funny when you check the first letters of the company names.
Microsoft, Microchip.
Apple, Atmel.

Re:Not really (1)

spongman (182339) | about a year ago | (#43749591)

... Motorola ... ARM

I'm liking the stellaris launchpad right now. You get a whole bunch of toys for your $15... The tools (eclipse) pretty much suck, though.

Re:Not really (0)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | about a year ago | (#43743969)

Mention arduino and industrial automation in same context and you will be lauged at, for a good reason. Arduino is great for blinking leds, but thats about it

Re:Not really (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43744919)

Arduino bad, ATmega328 good?

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43749259)

AVR-s as controller for entire system, not very good, but given a single task like simple IO block, it can work. But first you better forget the entire Arduino toolchain

Re:Not really (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43744315)

Does it matter? If it takes less time to hammer out "a series of batch scripts" that work, then Linux is the right choice. What would he get out of buying an arduino and learning wiring when he has a working solution today? And how are you going to provide a web interface and GUI with an arduino?

Re:Not really (1)

chuckinator (2409512) | about a year ago | (#43745759)

A serial over USB or some other USB device class interface to a host computer running in the microcontroller firmware. You're also not limited to just a single microcontroller and can chain them together through various bus interfaces and interrupt event signalling to get better concurrency from the system on a hardware level. Aside, there's nothing at all wrong with using larger systems to prototype out an idea before committing to the additional engineering time necessary to trim something down for a lower cost before going into mass production. You'll never now if you want to scale something out or keep it as a one off oddity. The part you already have on your workbench is -ALWAYS- better than the one you have to go out to buy if you're hashing out wild ideas.

Re:Not really (2)

Rhacman (1528815) | about a year ago | (#43746283)

If batch scripts are what you know, then that's a fine solution. I'm not familiar with Arduino but it is actually quite easy to create a system with a pretty web interface with the Microchip microcontroller eval boards and libraries. For me personally I'd probably select a microcontroller for other things as well like watchdog timers so that if my control logic goes off in the weeds I can detect the issue and potentially invoke a safe shutdown routine to turn off pumps, heaters, etc. The other thing I like about microcontrollers is that it becomes very easy to add any sensor or actuator to your project that has a simple serial interface like I2C, SPI, etc.

For more advanced control systems an added advantage of microcontroller based designs is that you can get very tight control over the responsiveness of the system. Obviously for a home-beer making system you probably don't need sub-millisecond control but if you start with a microcontroller and decide to play with more demanding control systems in the future you already have a head start.

Re:Not really (2)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | about a year ago | (#43744459)

Yep, it's exactly like that. Fun in the doing and pretty awesome when done.

Re:Yes really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744805)

Arduino is far more restrictive than Linux is in that you're forced to write the automation code in the arduino language but if you don't already know that language you have to take time to learn it. By using off the shelf or even hardware you already have lying around collecting dust you can automate just about anything in virtually any language supported by linux. Arduino is also a lot more expensive by the time you buy all the necessary shields it takes to be able to interface with the hardware like the burners flame detector, solenoid valves and sparker ignition.

Re:Yes really (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43744961)

Your comment about needing shields to interface to the external world makes no sense, you'll need the same kinds of interfaces for the PC too.

Re:Yes really (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43745007)

Exactly but we can make those interfaces far less expensive and require far fewer parts on the interface PCB so it makes it a lot easier to build yourself saving time and money.

Re:Yes really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43745227)

How can you make it far less expensive and fewer parts than an Arduino shield? No additional IO chips are needed, so you only need the actual hardware you want to control plus a few cents worth of male headers. The only way to make it cheaper would be if you were sending them out for free already made.

Re:Yes really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747201)

Arduino is also a lot more expensive by the time you buy all the necessary shields it takes to be able to interface with the hardware like the burners flame detector, solenoid valves and sparker ignition.

A couple dollars worth of logic level drivable relays, or some cheaper ones and a transistor? Of course if you don't want to wire it yourself and want something you just plug in, it will be more expensive, about the same price as something similar for a PC...

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747731)

And what about that doesn't sound fun?

Re:Not really (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43748123)

Putting a 350 into a Vespa would be awesome! The point of our project is to be able to be able to use that old PII 200Mhz PC collecting dust in your closet and turn that into the host for an automation system. We also will be working on developing an interface that will make it so anyone can build automation sequences through a web interface so they won't be required to know any programming at all. Of course we will have an advanced interface that would allow someone with programming knowledge to build much more complex automation sequences. The point is that we want to make the project as simple and accessible by making the hardware as simple an inexpensive as posible. By removing the complexity out of hardware and putting that into software it will be easy to rapidly make changes to the system without having to redesign hardware. We will be posting more information about our philosophies and how we plan to accomplish them very soon. Stay tuned to our facebook page and website.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748827)

"640K ought to be enough for anybody"

Re:Not really (1)

spongman (182339) | about a year ago | (#43749573)

Yeah, but you can't run bash scripts on an arduino...

Why 'Ed. Note' in summary? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743577)

Is this not really a summary, but a plagiarism of an article?

Alcohol is useless (0, Troll)

tftp (111690) | about a year ago | (#43743603)

I don't drink any form of alcohol, and I don't understand why that would be necessary. Life is too short to waste on liquid drugs. Do something useful instead! Clear head is your friend.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743655)

You're right. It's not necessary. But some people may find it enjoyable.

A fine steak is not necessary. Neither is spending a day at the beach. Catching up with old friends isn't necessary. More than 15 horsepower isn't necessary. Almost nothing is necessary. Some of them are downright dangerous. But we do them anyway, because it's what makes us human. I feel sorry for you not because you don't drink alcohol, but because your justification for it.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

vswee (2040690) | about a year ago | (#43743705)

You're right. It's not necessary. But some people may find it enjoyable. Almost nothing is necessary. Some of them are downright dangerous.

Suffering some existential depression there?

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744011)

Not at all. It was suggested that doing something that is enjoyable by someone is a "waste". Well then are the things you enjoy that aren't enjoyed by others also a waste?

I drink beer. I drink beer quite often in fact. However I haven't been drunk or even buzzed in years. It is perfectly acceptable to enjoy beer without having to drink too many and become inebriated. It has relaxing qualities and tastes very good. I also like single malt scotch. I enjoy it for the complexity and depth. It is a magnificent creation.

I learned early in life that no matter how hard I try not to, I am gonna die, so I better take some time and enjoy it while I have it. No one knows what lies beyond...

Re:Alcohol is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743819)

consider this:

just because you don't drink alcohol doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't, thus this device is necessary... unless it jacks up my brew, then it would become unnecessary.

Re:Alcohol is useless (3, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year ago | (#43744141)

You know what else is useless....your post.

Re:Alcohol is useless (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43744255)

The funny thing about those who don't drink is that they're usually the kind of people you don't want to drink with anyway.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

tftp (111690) | about a year ago | (#43744479)

It's not funny, it's logical. Why would a sober man sit and look at a man who is out of his mind? Why would a drunken man want to sit with a man who does not understand his funny jokes? Those are different universes, behavior-wise. I don't drink, and I never set foot into any drinking establishment. It's better for everyone this way.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year ago | (#43744701)

And good on you for that. All I ask is that you leave us drinking folk alone. Moralizing is a far worse vice than drinking.

Re:Alcohol is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43745049)

I'm a libertarian, and I support people's right to imbibe. People should have the right to get intoxicated, as long as they keep the ill effects to themselves.

As a libertarian, however, I do not take drugs that remove my own control unless I have to, as IMO libertarianism is about people having control over themselves.

Re:Alcohol is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43745393)

as IMO libertarianism is about people having control over themselves.

Well, control over themselves... not counting control over their fears apparently. If you weren't ceding your control and options of what to enjoy over to your fears, you might realize that, except for a few people with medical or behavioral issues, a beer is going to remove far less of your control than most other diet and activity choices that would make your drowsy and tired.

Re:Alcohol is useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744727)

I hate being around drunk people and avoid it whenever possible. Yet I still drink, and go out with friends to drink. Maybe you haven't noticed, but there are quite a few people who like to drink, but know how to not drink so much as to get drunk. It is usually pretty easy to find other such people, and places to go, such that you don't deal with drunk people, but still have a choice in what you want to drink (usually a quarter to half of our group isn't drinking anyways).

I don't think I agree with Hatta in general, but have seen something more specific where usually it is not fun to be around people who don't drink and must repetitively tell people about it. Although we've never had problems with several of the friends that don't drink, when one guy came along that insisted on reminding us he doesn't drink every time something vaguely involving alcohol got mentioned, and couldn't pick up the hints that people didn't really want to hear it 20 times and have their discussions derailed by it yet again, things were a lot less enjoyable (although maybe not for him... maybe he just liked talking about not drinking all the time).

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

spongman (182339) | about a year ago | (#43749551)

It's logical if you have a limited understanding of the world. Not everyone who drinks is 'out of their mind' (whatever that means). Please continue to separate yourself from the rest of us in this way, were not interested in having to deal with your narrow-mindedness.

Re:Alcohol is useless (2)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year ago | (#43744443)

There exists a widespread culture of beer lovers (and brewers) who are not alcoholic. I consider myself to be among them. I enjoy a quality-crafted beer with a meal and I find the process of brewing to be an interesting and rewarding hobby. This is far from being useless or wasted time.

Granted, there is an unfortunate number of people who cannot regulate their intake, but they drink for different reasons.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

tftp (111690) | about a year ago | (#43744607)

Granted, there is an unfortunate number of people who cannot regulate their intake, but they drink for different reasons.

Unfortunately, it's them, not you, who are the visible face of the drinking community.

When I was young I saw too many drunks around. This gave me a life-long immunity aganst alcohol. That's how I explain it, at least.

Re:Alcohol is useless (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year ago | (#43744871)

Power to you, friend.

Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43743673)

The traditional Unix approach to computing, having a lot of small programs that do simple thing, combined with "Everything as a file" makes these systems very good at automating stuff. While systems like VMS or Windows was designed to run larger programs, and access libraries.

This makes Linux/Unix very good at automation, as it makes it easy to combine a lot of simple steps and get them scheduled and run in order without having to do a lot of extra programming. To automate using other OS's it usually means you will need to write a program to do the work.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43743743)

windows designed to run larger programs??!! I can tell you about large projects that have been put on windows servers and what they do. they fail and fall down, is what.

what a joke, a GNU/Linux or BSD or Unix system can stay up for years......a windows server, not so long

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43744305)

When I say Large programs, I am talking in an early 1990's mind set. I don't mean things like SAS or Oracle. But things like FoxPro form programs, and VB programs, meant for a particular use.

not a program that takes your text and filters line that contains that text.

Having all these small self contained parts is part of Unix/Linux stability as there are less big parts to fail.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about a year ago | (#43746023)

Funny, I can crash our CentOS servers by making some minor changes to our firewall...

The point being that I've seen Windows servers that were up for years (especially back in the Windows 2000 days) and *nix boxes that crash all the time. I've also seen the reverse.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43746715)

Centos is just the Red Shat, there's your problem right there.

Having worked with hundreds of systems, I've found Windows is by far the shakiest OS out there. IBM and Burroughs mainframes, NonStop and openvms clusters the most stable.

If your Unix boxes "crash all the time", unless it's in-house code that's very bad that's abnormal and somebody isn't doing their job either with compatibility matrixes for drivers & OS, or patch levels. just not the way things are.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about a year ago | (#43747297)

Well, you haven't used Irix, SunOS/Solaris, HP-Unix/UX, or several other distros of Linux - as these also exhibit various levels of instability from crashing several times a day to just daily.
  Have an OSX box that has crashed several times in the past few months, an OpenSUSE box where the window managers (more than one) crash periodically, and a Windows 7 box that has never crashed.

I also have boxes that exhibit strengths the other way. I have CentOS boxes in the QA cloud thathave never been down, and WS 2003 boxes that fragment memory when they shouldn't (only crashing a process, but I count that when the cause is memory fragmentation and the process is carefully and strictly engineered to account for this.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748031)

Most of those operating systems are not even Linux systems, but Unix systems. The Linux crashing example you gave is a desktop problem, most likely related to GPU drivers, and I assume it only crashes the GUI. I don't think I have ever managed to crash Ubuntu so that it is unresponsive to SSH access; X might have stolen keyboard, mouse and display control, but killing it with SSH resets the situation. Those are not server problems.

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43748499)

I most certainly have used and been sysadmin on all of those plus AIX and SCO Unix, I'm older than Unix.

funny you mention OSX crashing, that I'll agree with as I have a Macbook Pro at work. NeXTStep was so much more stable. But if you were having trouble with your SunOS or Solaris, or HP/UX or IRIX, maybe the trouble was you for that is not normal

Re:Linux/Unix are just good at automating. (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about a year ago | (#43750369)

You've got to be joking. Irix is the Windows ME of *nix operating systems. It was a running joke with everyone I ever met that was using an SGI box. We used to get os/tool distributions every couple of weeks, ostensibly 'updates to increase the productivity of the system' - but in fact emergency crash patches.

Ignoring the fact that I've seen SunOS/Solaris core dump its own utilities and X windows implementation HUNDREDS of times, Irix 5.x and 6.x crashed all the time during the whole of the 90's (I haven't used it since 1999.)

I'm sorry, but if you didn't experience an Irix crash daily in the 90's then you weren't using your IR/IR2/Indy/O2/Octane for much more than running a single tool.

It is impossible for you to have ever used an Irix 5.0 machine and not experience routine crashing.

Everything is a file (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#43745073)

#cat /dev/beer/tap > /dev/mouth

Re:Everything is a file (1)

Spykk (823586) | about a year ago | (#43747679)

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/mem

Not profitable (3, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43743711)

Using to produce it an operating system that have tatooed "Free as in beer" at the chest?

Re:Not profitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748295)

Using to produce it an operating system that have tatooed "Free as in beer" at the chest?

This sentence gave me cancer.

For most of the mentioned applications (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743739)

even running Linux is a bit heavy handed. To be honest, a microkernel OS, like QNX or similar, would probably be a better choice. It's a lot more streamlined and lightweight and is more than capable of doing everything required in home brewing.

Re:For most of the mentioned applications (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#43744049)

Except that they'd have to buy it from QNX/RIM. As opposed to just taking Linux for free. But if one wants a microkernel OS that's free, Minix 3.x would have done this job just as well.

linux ladder logic (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743771)

as a controls engineer, l would love to try some linux automation, is there a IDE for ladder logic?.... I just couldnt bear writing so many case statements.

everyone + dog (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743845)

Please, not everyone is a dumb animal, nor will they continue to love you even when you abuse them in such a manner as putting them on such idiotic things as or into other forms of privacy destroying gossip. Nor is everyone masochistic enough to sign up for such abuse. Not everyone is mentally ill enough to willingly volunteer to participate in such nonsense, so please stop the insults, put your damn cell phone away and pass the beer.

Re:everyone + dog (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43744173)

But how else will they sell off the generated slashvertisement leads to Acxiom?

I brewed beer for a couple of years (2)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#43743907)

and can't for the life of me figure out how a computer would have helped.

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43744053)

You just aren't creative enough: Why not take that really overheating machine that you're using to mine Bitcoins and have it act as an electric heater for your boiling?

But seriously, I'd think this would matter most for people who are trying to move from homebrewing for friends and family to opening up a small-scale commercial brewery or a small commercial brewery trying to scale up to a larger commercial brewery. In those kind of cases, the right computer-controlled equipment could reduce the workload.

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (2)

Rhacman (1528815) | about a year ago | (#43746457)

I went to a homebrew teaching event one time that was held behind a small brewery. A homebrewer was showing off his incredibly advanced brewing system he had built from scavenged parts. It was a thing of beauty; had its own electric and plumbing system, small outrigger-like feet to stabilize it on un-level ground, etc. It even had a timer and thermostat based system where you could start warming up the hot liquor tank before you even woke up so it would be ready by morning. As I was wishing that I'd charged the battery for my camera someone mentioned to someone who worked at the brewery "You guys must have some type of control system like this as well!". The reply was a bit surprising to me. "No, we just have the last guy who leaves the night before turn on the burners. It takes a long time to heat up that much water."

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (5, Informative)

nblender (741424) | about a year ago | (#43744057)

Consistancy is really the hard part of brewing beer. It's pretty easy to brew a great beer. It's hard to brew the same great beer a second time and have it wind up the same as the first time.

over 10 years ago, I was doing full-grain brewing using NetBSD (because it's what I had, along with a re-purposed ISA gpio card)... Controlling temperature during the mash and sparge was critical... If you keep your temperatures constant, you can stay within the optimal range for whatever amylase you're going for... I've always been able to brew a good beer... It wasn't until I was able to brew the same good beer a second time that I felt I had achieved my goal...

When you go to a brew pub and order the bitter, you expect it to taste the same as the last time you ordered a bitter...

there's nothing special about Linux specifically about doing this. It's just process control. The process here is fairly simple you could do just as well with an AVR or a 6502...

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (2)

trout007 (975317) | about a year ago | (#43744369)

I guess doing the mash in a cooler and sparging with a shower head isn't going to be consistent?

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (5, Interesting)

nblender (741424) | about a year ago | (#43744455)

I was in a beer club at the time. We did tours where you'd bring the club into your brewing setup and brew some beer... One guys' garage we went to, he used a tiger torch to boil the wort... He used styrofoam fish-packaging coolers for the sparge, draining into a bucket and pouring back over top ... Lots of window screen and garden hose... Plus it was february and there was snow on the ground outside... It reminded me of Blade Runner... "I just do eyes!" ... We were after a bitter, but we got to drinking a bit much and during the initial mash, he'd sort of burned the grain with the tiger torch so it was like a bitter with a charcoal after taste... He called it a "RauchBier"... It was damn good but we knew we'd never drink it anything exactly like it ever again...

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1)

denvergeek (1184943) | about a year ago | (#43751063)

Some of the best beers I've ever brewed, or sampled from others, have come from fuck ups during the process. Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew!

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1)

denvergeek (1184943) | about a year ago | (#43750989)

Sure it is. So long as you keep your temperatures consistent, use identical grain bills, identical mash times and processes etc.

Or you're the type of brewer that says "fuck it", because usually great beer comes out of the process, even if it's not identical to the last time you made that recipe.

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1)

BetterSense (1398915) | about a year ago | (#43744467)

I have a fairly universal AVR firmware that I use for electric brewing. It's not fully automatic, just a way to do simple temperature and boil control. My brew setup is very KISS and this is the sweet spot for me.

GPL of course

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744911)

It's hard to brew the same great beer a second time and have it wind up the same as the first time.

I understand why many would desire this. Although for me, I don't think I've ever wanted to brew the same exact brew twice. It is not that they were bad, but that I had more ideas for tweaking and changing the recipe than I had time to tryout with different batches. Unless someone has a stronger interest in the hardware hacking than the beer brewing, most people can do pretty well with just a stove and thermometer, or take up a step with a cheap regulated heater that can keep it within a degree of desired temperature. If the top priority is brewing, I don't think computer control and reproducibility like that wouldn't enter it unless I was doing larger batches to be given away or trying to get into actually selling beer. (And for the sake of hardware hacking, a rather simple circuit gets pretty good temperature regulation without need for a computer... )

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43748223)

For the brew we did today the automation simply held the temperature of the mash at a constant by turning on the burner and circulation pump any time the temp dropped below the set point. We don't have to worry about the temp of the mash as the system takes care of that for us. We're able to sit back and drink beer or more accurately, clean more equipment while drinking. The real beauty of the automation system is for doing step a step mash. We plug in a mash profile and let it do it's thing without having to constantly check on the temperatur and adjust the flame which used to be a pain in the ass before we automated it.

Re:I brewed beer for a couple of years (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about a year ago | (#43750851)

Fermentation temperature control, get an old fridge put a thermometer probe inside your bucket so you know the internal temp of your wort and have the computer adjust the fridge temp to keep your wort at the proper temp.

Been Done (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43743923)

This got me into brewing, in the first place:

Re:Been Done (1)

Tommy Orndorff (2925193) | about a year ago | (#43744469)

From a Slashdot link [] in that article, it seems FreeBSD is the obvious choice for automated homebrewing!

Indoor gardens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744061)

I've seen an indoor garden monitored and controlled by Linux on a Raspberry Pi.
One advantage over microcontrollers is that the system is powerful enough to also visualize the data and even drive a web interface.
With an Arduino you would need a second computer for that anyway.

Re:Indoor gardens (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year ago | (#43747769)

Yeah but separating the control from the visualisation is a a good idea and generally considered best practice. Keep your control code small, fast and bug free; move the complex visualisations somewhere else.

Raspberry Pi (and other SoC Platforms) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744239)

I have to say, I brew beer at home (using convenient methods and frugal recipes) and have been wonderfully surprised at how creative the homebrew + Raspberry Pi beer automation community has become. For example, BrewPi (using Arduino + Raspberry Pi I believe :, an easy dashboard for taps (

I should bookmark more...

Fp Trrolkore (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43744421)

and that the floor *BSD hast steadily of programming case you want to declined in market

Better buy a beer brewing automate (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about a year ago | (#43744731)

As valid as the question is, it does not really make so much sense.

Beer brewing is pretty simple. There is no real challange in the programming of a computer to comtrol the process.

However building a brewing device IS. The point is: you need a pot with heater and theromstat, the pot should be hygenic. Stainless steel is likely the choice. You need a way to measure the fill level (to replace evaporing water), you need to stirr the liquid. Finally you want to be able to seperate the waste from the beer.

All this is a mechanical and engineering challange. So first I would look how home beer brewing machines are constructed and how they work. Then I would ask my self how I can use a program running on linux to controll such a thing.

The point is: cleaning that brewing pot is pretty hard and awfull. So you want one which is easy to clean. Easy to clean means: the construction is thought out.

Running a heater for 55 minutes to keep the brew on 65 degrees centigrade is a joke for a programmer.

Re:Better buy a beer brewing automate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43745325)

You need a way to measure the fill level (to replace evaporing water)

Is that even necessary? We just always topped off the water when transferring it to a fermenter. There was no need to make the amount in the pot exact, and even after an hour of heating it was not that much lower anyways.

Re:Better buy a beer brewing automate (1)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | about a year ago | (#43752411)

Running a heater for 55 minutes to keep the brew on 65 degrees centigrade is a joke for a programmer.

I don't know much about beer brewing but I'm starting to get into sous vide cooking. It turns out keeping a body of water at 65C is a lot more complicated than you'd expect!

I'm not sure what the tolerances are in beer brewing, but in sous vide cooking it depends. For meat, you can be off by about 1 degree C and never be the wiser. But if you're cooking eggs soft-cooked, you really want to be accurate to the tenth of a degree (63.5C) for consistent results. Also, there is another complication: uniformity. Any idiot can keep the water that is in contact with the thermometer at 63.5C. But what about the rest of the water? It's no good if half of your eggs are undercooked*!

In practice, that means circulating the water and insulating the container, which includes covering it (evaporation will cool the water toward the surface). Also, temperature is controlled with a PID temperature controller which takes care of overshooting the temperature and ensuring that the temperature remains within tolerance, and the average temperature is as close to target as possible. For that 63.5C +/-0.1 degree tolerance, you obviously want to fluctuate between 63.40-63.60, not 63.30-63.50 or even 63.40-63.50 (or some other range).

*Food safety is not a huge concern in this case, by the way. Pasteurization occurs at 57C for 75 minutes. Even if your egg is a underdone and looks like it should make you sick, it won't unless your thermometer is off by a country mile (and even then, your egg would appear to be completely raw, so you'd know something went wrong)! "Founder"??? (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | about a year ago | (#43745403)


...Linux advocate and founder Kurt Forsberg...

Working as an engineer in automation, I thought, "Hey, maybe I'll check out this site!"

The entire website consists of a few paragraphs about how great it is to use open source for automation, plus it has a few links to, a link to their Facebook page, and an email link.

That's it.

What exactly did he 'found'? "Founder"??? (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43747217)

Unfortunately we haven't had a lot of time to devote to building a web page and other necessary documentation because we spend the majority of our time brewing beer and working on starting a commercial brewery. In fact, as I am typing this Kurt is starting to mash in on another batch of beer. We are recruiting technical writers and developers to help us with the website and GUI for the automation. Have a little patients and things will come around on the site.

PLC better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43746009)

Why use a small PLC with a few IO points

Flash Only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43746791)

Why does video on Slashdot require Flash? If Wired can achieve HTML5 video with WebM support ( [] ), why can't Slashdot?

Beer (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about a year ago | (#43747305)

Because it's free, as in beer?

microbreweries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747327)

will obviously use microsoft.

Re:microbreweries (2) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43747559)

On the contrary, we already have a couple microbreweries interested in our automation and we will be using our automation when we go commercial hopefully this year.

Thank you Roblimo! (2) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43747553)

Thank you Roblimo for posting this video! It has shot our facebook likes up a lot today and generated a lot of interest. We have been very slow in writing documentation and building the website because we spend so much time brewing beer in preparation in launching a commercial brewery hopefully this year. We also spent a lot of time brewing batches of beer that were served at after party for LinuxFest Northwest where the interview took place. If we didn't spend so much time brewing and working on starting a commercial brewery we would have far more time to devote to this project. If there is anyone in the Seattle area that would like to help create documentation for this project we would love to have you over and demonstrate the automation system and it's electronics. We can't pay you any money but we do brew a lot of test batches of beer in trying to profect them for our commercial launch and we do often need to offload beer to free up kegs :). Contact us either on Facebook, or our mailing lists: [] - or - []

I still remember. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43747689)

Nice post, roblimo.

It still doesn't make up for the terrible Plantronics plug from over a year ago.

I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from that.

Obvious? Really??? (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year ago | (#43747711)

If you want to hack together some automation around a linux PC then go nuts..... but to then make a website and video about how awesome it is? Really??

PLC's have a been around for years and many are dirt cheap - $100 CPU's and less than $10 per I/O. You wont hit memory limits in them (not in a brewery anyway) and they will run all day everyday doing one thing only, but doing it really well. The modules are easily replaceable which minimises downtime, and most of them use a standardised language (ladder logic) so that the next guy that comes along can understand it too. Now that is obvious.

If you want to fiddle more than that - and most poeple do - PLC's integrate with PC's just fine via Modbus (serial or ethernet) so that you can read or write data from them. Common packages to integrate with them are supervisory control systems (SCADA) or a data historians. There are plenty of commercial packages out there - Wonderware, Citect, InSQL, PI etc, and even some open source ones - [] and []

Beyond PLC's/SCADA is the world of DCS (Distributed Control Systems), but you'd better have a spare million dollars and tens of thousands of I/O to justify putting one in.

It's great to tell your mates about how Linux is awesome but don't get too carried away.

Re:Obvious? Really??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748521)

PLC's have a been around for years and many are dirt cheap - $100 CPU's and less than $10 per I/O.

PLCs are great for at work where $100 is cheap, especially compared to the time it would take to put together something or send someone out to repair something that is broken. But for home use, dirty cheap would be more like a $1-2 microcontroller and some $1-2 relays. At least those seem to all be programemd in C now, and if all you are going to do is some temperature controller, you can probably get all the documentation you need from one of their "hello world"-esque example programs that reads button pushes and lights leds.

Re:Obvious? Really??? (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about a year ago | (#43749253)

Agreed, but the article isn't about "home use", its about a brewery. Even with a microbrewery, just about anything else will cost way more than $100 (stainless vessels and fittings arent cheap), so in context a cheap PLC is quite resonable. If you have a larger brewery, then an expensive PLC is even more justified.

For the record, I'll be using a $12 arduino clone for my home brewery to do temperature/mash control. I struggle to see how you'd do it using a PC - linux or otherwise - without paying as much or more for an I/O interface.

Still struggling to see the "Obvious" part.

Re:Obvious? Really??? (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43749405)

We are in the process of starting a microbrewery and we fully intend to use our automation system within the brewery controlling every aspect we control now and much much more. We also have a couple of other microbreweries in the area interested in our automation and that is partially why we are seeking developers to make the interface more user friendly than bash scrips. We will have to substitute some of our current components for switching AC with commercially made solid-state relays but the rest of our automation will easily be adaptable to commercial microbrewery scale. We also intend to build the system so that it is fully redundant in the event any hardware failures happen, there is a secondary system ready to take over until the failure is repaired or replaced.

Drinking alcohol is sinful! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43748239)

Don't drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol is forbidden by God. Repent and save yourselves from Hellfire!

Lazy (1)

earthwormgaz (2623209) | about a year ago | (#43749375)

Put your back into it and do it by hand you lazy sods. It will taste better knowing you actually worked for something.

Re:Lazy (1) (2925235) | about a year ago | (#43749437)

Are you able to reproduce consistant tasting batches time and time again? We can with our automation. It's more than just the brewing process we're automating. We have glycol jacketed fermenters, glycol tank, brite tank in a commercial refrigerator and a lot more all being controlled and alerting us if there are any problems. It's not about being lazy, it's about making consistently great beer without all the worry to make sure everything is at the optimal temperature or if something goes wrong.

Re:Lazy (1)

denvergeek (1184943) | about a year ago | (#43751033)

Near as I can tell, it doesn't do the cleaning for you. That's always the most labor intensive part! Well, that and the drinking...

Of course it is, but... (1)

Mondor (704672) | about a year ago | (#43750005)

Just for your information, the Guinness, Carlsberg, Budweiser and a few others (all belong to the same owner) automation is controlled using Windows.
Actually, I am posting this from Guinness factory in Dublin.

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