PCs

Raspberry Pi and Beer: A match made in heaven

Two of the world's greatest things, the Raspberry Pi and Beer, have come together in a project that is the definition of homebrew.

The aptly-named Beer Church group, part of the Chicago-based Pumping Station: One modding collective, have been using the $40 Linux board to help brew Irish Stout.

During fermentation beer must be kept at fairly precisely controlled temperatures. The required temperature varies according to the stage of fermentation, as well as other factors, and the Pi-based brewing aid helps keep the temperature within acceptable limits.

Photo: Eric Stein

About

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

6 comments
HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

That by exposing this device to the Net they are leaving the possibility of it being tampered with and waste beer. However on a more serious note the Pi would be ideal as the controller for things like this and make so many peoples lives so much easier. When the Pi gets much more available I can see entire Cottage Industries popping up all around the place making Plug in Accessories for it to do very specific jobs like this. Doesn't require much power, easy to manage and just set and forget after you have what you need. ;) Col

mjd
mjd

Ask any student of engineering, the answser is all in the metrics. If you cannot 'nail it' to a number, then you're just doing a magic show. Lots of idioms are made up about this: 'experience', 'the quality process', ... This presentation opens with a fabulous title, illustrates their process openly, and prescribes a wonderful future. Great publication for a top quality (and reproduceable) home-brewing future! The future begins now.

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

From a Hardware view, that is what is missing from this presentation. What temperature sensor was used, and how was it interfaced to the PI? What other sensors were there? Was the room temperature as well as the brew temperature monitored?

SiO2
SiO2

There's Beagle and Gumstix that I can think of immediately that were designed for a job like that specifically. Both run Linux, and Python, and have been around for a few years now. And the Arduino has a 'Ethernet Shield', which is a plug-in card to handle the physical connection so you can stream data over its IP address as well as control its ports. Granted this needs programming in C+, but the hard work is done for you with its community libraries and example code. Pi's are great, I've got one. But its a bit trendy, and only uptake in education will tell if its more than that. Arduino is more capable, but is a pig to program for. However enough kids learning python might tip the balance yet in Pi's favour, although it doesnt have a lot of hobby IO potential. Its all in the graphics on that one.

SiO2
SiO2

LM35 temperature sensor, reads from freezing to above boiling point. That can handle mash and boil temperatures as well as fermenting and conditioning in a single device. It wont interface directly to a Pi's GPIO so theres a microcontroller doing the conversion on the breadboard by the looks of it. Cant tell if its a PIC or an Atmel but both have analogue inputs that can read sensors and digital ports that will talk to Pi's GPIO, and all three have community contributed code libraries to do these things. The hardware as shown would read the temperature of the outside of the kettle, but its easy to put it into a bit of copper pipe to make a liquid probe. Thats all you'd need, with the software turning on the burner and chiller mentioned on their page they can keep the brew at the exact temperatures needed regardless of room temperature - its a proper microcontroller brewery... I brew my own beer too, and theres a lot to be said for electronic measurement. Cant say I'd thought of automating it to this level though, I'm happy with digital timing, measures and temperature readouts to help my eye.