Author Topic: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!  (Read 21511 times)

Online ArnaudForestier

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2011, 12:15:56 PM »
OK, well, I did an assembly, using the following rough (sorry for the playlot schematic...only using Paint) schematic:



I programmed, etc.  Got a set point of whatever (I tried 84.6), but the flashing "PV" light only bounced between 9.8-10.0 - way off, somewhere, since I used water as the liquid to heat up. 

On the PID, I got AL1, AL2, and Out lights on; AT was off.  (what is the AT?).

On the roaster, the only mod I did was to hook the red power and (right side, looking down with thermostat closest to you) white heating element wires to the same tab on the roaster thermostat- effectively, closing the circuit and bypassing the roaster thermostat, as I understand from my pal, who gave me this approach. 

The thermocouple has 1 red spade terminal, 2 blue spade terminals - not the red, blue and green of the schematic on Yoav's friend's site.  I put red on PID 8, and the two blue on 9, 10. 

Any diagnosis of the above?  I used 16 gauge everywhere, and simply split an extension chord - "white" = white of the roaster, "black" = red of the roaster.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 08:33:11 PM by ArnaudForestier »
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #31 on: January 24, 2011, 01:54:47 AM »
Yes, I think I mentioned earlier it's in Celsius. 84 is kind of a lot!

Your connections are about right. I have my red wire going to SSR1 and then connected also to PID1. My white wire goes to SSR2 and then to PID2. You have it the other way around but I don't think it matters since its AC power.
SSR3 goes to PID6 and SSR4 goes to PID7.  Lastly, the thermocouple's red wire connects to PID8 and the two blue wires go to PID9 and PID10

Programming:
It seems that the following programming instructions would  give you the best results for bot sous vide and cheesemaking. It's as accurate as 0.2 of 1 degree Celsius! (Thanks for coming up with this one, Abe).  Here is the sequence:
 - Press set, enter 0036. Scroll so p is blinking
 - Press set, set the value to 000.2
 - Press set again, scroll to I
 - Press set,  use 1999
 - Press set again, scroll to d
 - Press set, change the value to 0000.
 - Press set, scroll to end.
 - Press set

Anoter about heating, overheating and PID.
The PID sends long bursts of electricity to the heating element when it knows it has a large range of temperature still to overcome (such as raising milk from 8C to 31C). This will cause milk to overheat to about 34C.  However, when the PID only needs to adjust the temp gently (say, from 29C to 31C) it will send short bursts and wait for the thermocouple reading. And so the best practice when heating milk is to do it in two stages: First set it to slightly lower temp than desired like 26C which will overheat it to about 29C. When that stabilizes adjust the PID to 31C and it will finish the temp rising in gentle short bursts. I was shocked by how quickly it worked. I pulled 4 gallons of milk from 8C to 31C (that's 43F to 88F) in 10 minutes. (stirring gently to prevent scalding)

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #32 on: January 24, 2011, 02:09:21 AM »
Yoav, many thanks!  Even before I changed the programming, for some reason, finally, AL1 remained constant, AL2 began to tick - presumably, working, and temp would ramp up.  I changed the programming, and though there was a short lag, AL2 began to tick, again.  Knock on wood, I think we're on - many thanks, to you and to Abe! 

I do see how sensitive the TC is, so will try some means to dampen it (latex glove, etc.).  Right now, it's all just exposed, but today, will likely be installing it in a steel enclosure.  Will report after it goes through its paces.

This is a fantastic idea!
- Paul

Offline iratherfly

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2011, 03:42:45 AM »
I cover the TC with a latex glove and push the air put of it, then tape the back of it shut on the TC wire. The TC will rust it you keep it in liquid (and according to Abe and Lisa if water penetrates the back of it, the reading may be affected too) - so wrap it up!

Made a few good runs with it doing sous vide last week. Here's a buffalo (bison) steak. At 140F it was tender and melted like butter, totally red; end to end! (the caramelized crust is done with a torch)




And then it was finally time for cheese: (Notice the latex on the thermocouple)

This became 5Lbs of Tommes which will be washed with German Weiss (wheat beer, perfect for this!)

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2011, 12:43:37 PM »
Sorry to bump, as opposed to editing a previous post (John, please let me know if this is verboten, and I'll amend accordingly), just hopeful someone with more electrical know-how than I have, can suggest a thought.

Well - wired according to:  (warning, pdf), page 8

Heats up very quickly - the SSR gets really hot, and I can see how one has to watch scorching along the milk.  (I set password 89, inty=PT10.0, and for some reason outy =0, so I reset to outy=2; I also tried the PID regimen described above, pass=0036, P=000.2, I=1999, and D =000; NOTE: Yoav, if you're watching, in my unit, "D" does not allow 0000, just a blank first digit, then 000...presume this is the same).  It pings and heats up fine, and kicks off if PV>SV.

However, the unit was smoking.  Bad.  I freaked, as there's nothing but hi-temp, fiberglass insulated 16 gauge wire (the gauge of the unit itself, so thought this would be a better choice, in terms of drawing heat, then 18 gauge).  Disassembled, ran again, couldn't see anything on any wire or junction. 

What I did find is that the fiberglass itself, all along the heating element band, was getting seriously fried.  Burnt.  What's up with this?  Is there something simple-stupid I'm missing here?  Is this some weird thing that can be cured, re: the fiberglass? 

I hear a short buzz concomitant with the "on" light of the PID and 3-relay light of the SSR pinging on.  Eventually, the system stops pinging, and the lights and heat just stays on. 

Is this a problem?  Is it supposed to continually "ping" on and off, so that it has a chance to cool down, or does it eventually just stay "on" until PV=SV?

Anyway, totally lost as to what's going on.  I would have thought the heat would be expected, not sure why the fiberglass would go gonzo; any thoughts on why this would be "too much" such that the fiberglass surrounding the band smokes like this? 

The only thing I could figure out is that perhaps the fiberglass isn't supposed to directly touch the metal band; there are some ceramic "spreaders" in several places, attached to the metal heating element, with a metal prod sticking out away from the element, presumably to keep the fiberglass away.  Yoav...is any of this something you ran up against?

Any help, appreciated.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2011, 05:43:56 PM by ArnaudForestier »
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Offline iratherfly

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2011, 03:12:05 AM »
It actually sounds like this is working fine.

The short buzz whenever the unit pings on is normal.

The very quick and high heating is normal too.


Did you put water or milk in it to test it?  I put a couple of cups of water in the roaster, and then put the pan in it. I then fill up the pan with a couple of gallons of water for testing purposes.

The lip of the roaster is heated and it heats the body of the roaster; really hot
this is an engineering flaw on these roasters, even if you were to use it for the turkey it was meant to roast.

HOWEVER... when you get to temperature, the PID only sends short pings and the lip and extreme heat relaxes and the lip and body cools down, as well as the SSR.  It should hold steady temp for hours, even days with nothing over heating. This is why I also suggested to heat milk in two stages.

Is it just getting hot? Or do things actually smoke?  The heat is normal - this is why I switched to these ceramic terminals and heat resistant wires (the ones with the fiberglass braiding).

If you still think that this is a programming error, disconnect, reconnect and do it again.
Also, are you using the same thermocouple I am using? If not, let me know. The PID is set in this program to recognize THIS SPECIFIC TYPE of thermocouple and work with it. If you are using a different type, you would need a different programming instructions.

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2011, 06:20:32 AM »
Thanks, Iratherfly.  As it turns out, I guess, "smoking and odor" are normal with these roasters, the first time or two they're used.  The fine print of my roaster's manual says so, and, lol...I've seen some users on the web complain of all their smoke alarms going crazy, and having to clear the house.  Didn't know that was endemic to these machines, so ascribed it to something I had done, possibly, in the Frankensteinian remake. 

I don't think there's anything wrong, except for the fact these things fry fiberglass.  As I said, no wiring was getting hot (do have two ceramic junctions on board, and the only wiring that gets remotely hot is the hot side heating element wiring - but everything is well insulated, etc.).  Will watch carefully today to make sure it's "normal" smoking per the thing and....pray.  Though I'm an atheist. ;D

« Last Edit: January 26, 2011, 07:45:57 AM by ArnaudForestier »
- Paul

Offline iratherfly

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2011, 03:06:35 AM »
How did it go?

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #38 on: January 30, 2011, 03:20:05 AM »
How did it go?


Haven't posted in a while as I've got just a couple things coming before finalizing my first serious batches (pH110, Star-San, and the heat sink you recommended.  I jury rigged a sort of heat sink, but would feel better doing a true one, esp. as I noticed the SSR site itself says the relay could get damaged without one....so thanks for that heads up). 

That said, indeed, after one serious run at about an hour holding 60C, no smoke.  Overshot, like you said, by a couple of degrees, but works fantastic.  I did see somewhere, where one could actually program the PID offset, if the temp "misreading" is off in a linear way, will look more into that.  Other than that, will just do the two-stage heating schedule like you recommend, and all systems go. 

Many thanks again, to you and your pals, Yoav!
- Paul

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Re: DYI $100 Digital Cheese Vat / Sous Vide Machine! (Photos) - A full guide!
« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2011, 10:40:51 PM »
I just ordered all the pieces, going to have my husband build me one of these!


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Offline northbynate

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Iratherfly,

I made a PID controller a while back and accidentally ran into your build.  What a great idea!  I just got an 18qt roaster to give it a shot and ran into a couple issues I was hoping you could give me advice on.  First I used 8 cups water in the inner well and around two gallons of water in the main pan for testing.  I turned the sucker on and, after the obligatory initial use smoking, noticed a rather steep gradient in temperature in the water main pan.  It turns out my roaster heats from the sides like yours but in mine this results in really uneven heating.  Finally on to my question!  I noticed you use a blubber in your set up to promote even heat distribution.  Do you use the bubbler on the inner water jacket or strait into the milk?  Also do you put the TC right into the milk or in that water jacket?  If so during initial heat up I would worry that the high heat of the roaster rim would melt the bubbler hose and throw off the temp reading from the TC.  How did you go about addressing these issues?  Thanks again for the great idea!

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We did something similar for sous vide and recently tried it with our electric chafing dish to make cheese.

I think I need a way to circulate the water in the base as the heat seems concentrated at the bottom.

I used the instructions found here:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Sous-Vide-temperature-controller-for-50-100/
...but added a green LED near the outlet so I could see when 'Suzy' was supplying juice.

I would agree with setting the temp a few degrees below target...I overshot a bit, but then I calibrated for water with a pump circulating, not milk.

Offline iratherfly

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Northbynate, Sorry for the late reply, I was out of the country for 3 weeks anf just got back to business....

Yes, it heats it from the sides but with the PID controller it needs to pulse the heat on and off and do it less often when you get to temperature and then just keep the temperature stable. This pulsing prevents scalding.

As for the bubbler - please note that I ONLY use it for sous vide function. Do not use it with for cheesemaking.  Water (used in sous vide) is not nearly as dense as milk and does not keep temperature and therefore it needs to be mixed around. Sous Vide cooking can easily take 6-8 hours so a bubbler can really help assure even heating.

Offline Susan

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I think I have this same roaster.  And I started to use it tonight.  But wondered what it was made of and if it was OK for cheese.  It looks the same as yours.  Black enamel?   A magnet sticks.  I thought magnets only stuck to stainless, but wasn't sure.

If I wanted it to be simpler ('cause I'm just not that handy, or electrically inclined), can't I just float the inner pan (which is removable) in water and use it like a double boiler? 
Susan

Offline iratherfly

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Probably the same Susan.  The problem is that it's so strong that I am afraid that it will overheat and scald the milk. You can buy an external sous vide controller which will do the trick without any technical know how.

Here's what one looks like: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200581629447#vi-content