Author Topic: Hello from London Canada  (Read 499 times)

Offline pirenzi

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Hello from London Canada
« on: February 24, 2013, 12:58:22 PM »
Greetings everyone,

My name is Piers, and I am currently living in London Ontario. About 8 months ago my girlfriend and I decided we would like to start making cheese. For her, it was an opportunity to spend time with goats, for me I was particularly interested in the cheesemaking side of things. So we started off making Chevre and Feta, some of which were complete disasters, others were incredible. We have a solid supply of goat milk fresh from the teat.

After a while I got a bit more interested in giving hard cheese a go, so built a press:

Which had some serious design issues obviously, but would have to do. Interesting what can be made out of a swiffer handle and a couple of cutting boards. Anyway, we made some OK cheeses, but we needed something that would keep the force vertical. So I went to the hardware store (realized that 2x1 is not actually 2" by 1") got some wood, bolts and screws and threw this together:

Now for some cheeses.  First up was a cabra al vino, which turned out incredibly well. We have not quite yet sorted out our cheese cave so this one was pretty young, but very tasty.

The latest (about a month ago) was a cumin and saffron gouda. We thought we might try a larger format, so we modified our hoops, found a suitable follower, and away we go:

Here is the final cheese after drying. Since it is the middle of winter and we have a crappy apartment, it turns out we must have a leak to the outside in our air ducts, so on one of the return vents we have a nice 50F ish spot to age our cheese (at least while it stays cold during the days).

In about 6 months, we will be moving to Belgium, and we hope to continue our cheesemaking there. As such, I have been investigating cheesecaves, so that we will have control over the ageing process, which we are currently lacking.

I would like to know if anyone has any thoughts on thermoelectric cooling modules, aka peltier elements. I have not found much on them in this forum, however,  they seem to be fairly popular on the home brewing circles. What I would like to do is re-purpose a wardrobe or build a cave from scratch (polystyrene insulated) rather than go the modified fridge direction. I have some thoughts about having computer control over the cave as well, which might be relatively easy with something like the Raspberry-Pi http://www.raspberrypi.org/.

Cheers

Piers
« Last Edit: February 10, 2014, 02:52:37 PM by pirenzi »


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Online smolt1

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 06:43:11 PM »
I really like your press design. The way you keep the pusher vertical(even though it moves side to side a little) has very little friction because nothing slides it only pivots. And attaching it to the wall looks like it works really well. A cheese for you!!
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 07:02:36 PM by smolt1 »

Offline pirenzi

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2013, 06:50:09 PM »
Hi smolt1,

Thanks. I spent a lot of time looking through the forum getting ideas before I arrived at this design. You have to be a bit careful to get the alignment right, otherwise the pusher will not be horizontal. I had to rebuild the wall attachment after drilling in the wrong spot. I also like the wall attachment, we don't have a great deal of space in our apartment, so this way we can just pull out the pivot bolts and pack it away.

Cheers

Piers


Offline Tiarella

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2013, 06:40:21 AM »
Hi Piers!  Welcome to the forum.   :). I can't help you with cave ideas and I assume you've looked through the forum?  Seems like I remember some very cool computerized gadgets but can't remember if they were for cheese vats or cooling.  There are some great gadget-minded guys on the forum so maybe starting a thread with an engaging title will bring them out of the woodwork cheese caves to have a great back-and-forth discussion on options.  Put that thread either under problems or the right equipment board and maybe a wonderful new source of ideas will spring forth!   ;D.

Are you in contact with forum members in Belgium?  They might help with sourcing stuff when you get over there.

VERY nice looking cheeses!  Very impressed at the clean rinds.  Mine seem to always need a lot of mold cleaning.

Offline BobE102330

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 08:32:00 AM »
I will add to the welcome chorus. 

Peltier coolers work great in theory, but friends have found them very unreliable in wine cooler service (as have people here who tried to use Peltier powered wine chillers as cheese caves).  The wine coolers with them seem to last about a year. The problem is not so much the coolers, as the control electronics.  Electronics is another hobby, to I took apart one that failed.  Heat sinking for the controls seems to assume 98% efficiency, as it is almost nonexistent. 

Since you are looking at a DIY project, if the homebrew guys can suggest a power supply for the junctions and fans, it ought to be a fairly straightforward project.  I'd build a simple linear power supply suitable for your junctions and fans with a transformer, rectifier and capacitor bank and use a PID controller to drive a couple of power transistors on a heat sink. A <$20 PID controller with a solid state relay output would be simpler and not require keeping a computer running. I use this to control a compressor powered fridge.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005NGL5AK/ref=ox_sc_sfl_title_9?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A1BREQ8I6OHSBG  Add a thermocouple for a few bucks and you're in business. 

If you want to discuss controller design, PM me and/or start a cave design thread. My concept  is pretty simple to change to overseas power.  Switchmode power supplies a not my forte, but a high power PC supply could probably power everything, too.  Have you found a source for Peltier coolers of sufficient capacity at a reasonable price?  http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/PJT-10/LARGE-THERMOELECTRIC-DEVICE/1.html  is an assembly with heat sinks and spacers for less than the cost of a new junction alone.

I like your press and will be using the ideas to rebuild my simple lever press.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2013, 08:52:44 AM by BobE102330 »


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Offline pirenzi

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 09:39:35 PM »
Hi there,

So far, I am not in contact with members in Belgium, but will try closer to when we move over.

I think I will have to start a new thread at some point on the cave design. I am still putting it together in my head so far. Bob, thanks for the info on the peltiers and the PID control. I have some experience with electronics, but I am more proficient in programming, so I feel like doing the PID control stuff in software will be an easier option for me. Plus, these Raspberry Pi microcomputers are only $35, you can hook them up to a LAN connection, they have a general purpose input output,... the opportunities might be endless, web controlled cheese cave, who knows, maybe even integrate a webcam, now that could be interesting.

I get the feeling I should just harden up and start playing around with a fridge, the mains, and solid state relays.

Cheers

Piers

Offline BobE102330

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Re: Hello from London Canada
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 12:02:30 AM »
That's the spirit!  Remember to pay a lot of attention to mains safety. Says the guy who has been bitten many times.  Although, you can probably run everything off of a pc power supply and not worry about mains at all. You may need to jumper some pins to get it to turn on but then once going you'll just connect the coolers to the 12V connections.

I didn't realize the Raspberry Pis were so cheap. My programming stopped in Basic, but I have a kid who is more current.  Hmmm.  Adam, I think I have a project for you.