Author Topic: The Beer Bug  (Read 2336 times)

Offline robb

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The Beer Bug
« on: August 08, 2014, 01:40:08 AM »
Just came across this.  Does anyone have any experience with it?  At $250 it's a bit of an investment but looks pretty nice.
www.thebeerbug.com

Thanks.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2014, 01:49:22 AM »
Definitely looks like a major effort and something not in my wheelhouse.  But if it makes you feel alright,go for it!
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Offline 69franx

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 02:02:53 AM »
Did they have a kick starter or 2? I think it failed first time and they re-tooled it. If I remember correctly it looks pretty cool and techy, but you can do most it a work cheaper just without the reports and data logging. Also, I think it only works on one batch at a time so if you ever get 2 batches fermenting g at the same time, or split a batch, it will only work on one. This is all said without really being able to open the link on tapatalk very well, but the name sounds familiar
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Offline majorvices

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 10:02:15 AM »
Saw these in action out at NHC. Very cool. Big time over kill.

Offline theDarkSide

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2014, 12:58:48 PM »
The Brewing Network did a Brewmaster's challenge with a couple of these and it looked cool at NHC.

But definitely a little pricey.
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Offline denny

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2014, 02:54:59 PM »
It's snazzy, all right, but I just can't see the limited usefulness being worth that much money.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2014, 03:15:46 PM »
When I went through some of the sample records displayed on their site the majority of them just didn't seem to make any sense. Gravities seemed way off for the style, or went up, or jumped all over the place. I'm sure some if it is user error, but it just doesn't look like the majority of them seemed to be returning valid results.

I think it's a great idea, but it needs to work rock solid, and in a bucket, and at a more reasonable price point for me to consider it.
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Offline The Professor

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2014, 05:43:59 PM »
It's snazzy, all right, but I just can't see the limited usefulness being worth that much money.

I tend to agree..."limited usefulness" is an understatement.
Like so many gadgets out there these days, it's an interesting bit of engineering, but I can't see how it's in any way a necessary item especially on the homebrew level.
Seems more like something  for folks who want to win with "the most toys".
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Offline denny

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2014, 05:58:41 PM »
I tend to agree..."limited usefulness" is an understatement.
Like so many gadgets out there these days, it's an interesting bit of engineering, but I can't see how it's in any way a necessary item especially on the homebrew level.
Seems more like something  for folks who want to win with "the most toys".

I was trying to be kind....
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2014, 07:25:44 PM »
Listening to mcdole and jp talk about it, they seem problematic. Sounds like krausen gets caught and causes faulty readings. I'll be saving my money I think. Besides I don't have WiFi so pointless. I do see a new law coming though, in addition to texting, you can't check your temp and sg while driving

Offline dkfick

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2014, 01:36:28 PM »
I have one of these. I've only used it the once.  I got it for my meads since I regularly take hydrometer readings of my meads to know when to add nutrients and degas etc... It was no good for that.  Because I have to do some much stirring of the meads to degas I had to keep taking the lid off and thus the 'torpedo' as they call it.  This caused it to be mis calibrated each time.
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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2014, 02:33:47 PM »
The Beer Bug is one of the products that I saw at NHC that made me say, "Now, here's a product that is looking for a market."

If I were a gambling man, I would say that a Raspberry Pi board with an 802.11 dongle is at the heart of this design (or at least was used to prototype the design).  Raspberry Pi is the logical choice because it supports embedded Linux distributions that give a developer easy low-cost access to the Internet Protocol Stack.  Three pin digital temperature sensors are available off-the-shelf today that only require a single I/O pin on the microcontroller; hence, that part of the design involves little more than integration of off-the-shelf components (i.e., it is mostly a software engineering task).

The gravity sensor is the only thing that is interesting in the design.  To the best of the my knowledge, there is no low-cost off-the-shelf component for reading specific gravity, which means that this part of the design is where almost all of the original engineering resides.  Once again, if I were a gambling man, I would bet that the designer used a load cell in the design of the gravity sensor.  A load cell is an electronic device that measures pressure.  A load cell converts a mechanical force into an electrical signal, which makes it a transducer.  A transducer converts one form of energy into another form of energy (microphones, speakers, and electric guitar pickups are examples of every day products that are also transducers).  Load cells are bit of a pain in the butt to use because they can oscillate ("ring") when abrupt transitions occur, which requires damping circuitry to filter out the ringing much in the same way that a keyboard debounce circuit filters out the ringing that occurs during make (switch closing) and break (switch opening) transitions. 

I am curious as to how the designer is compensating for temperature.   Designing a sensor that works over a range of temperatures is difficult due to drift.   In engineering terms, this drift is known as "gain and offset drift."  If the designer is using a load cell, he also has to account for dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) gas. Unlike water in liquid form, CO2 is compressible; hence, the designer needs to factor dissolved CO2 into the equation.   In a nutshell, the accuracy of this product will be insufficient for precision process control unless the designer is an engineer with significant experience in this area.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 02:35:30 PM by S. cerevisiae »

Offline wingnut

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2014, 12:38:54 PM »
I bought one of these back in May, and have two brews in with it.

I bought it as a "toy"... something to keep the fun in brewing.  I really liked the idea of being able to see how my beer was doing, without sampling every day.  (especially since I am often out of town for a week or so hence the only two brews)

I found it very easy to setup, and pretty accurate in indicating how the brew was fermenting.  Cleaning has not been a problem between batches either.

Now, while I said I bought it as a toy, I have found it to be a pretty good tool as well.  My last batch I was brewing... had some issues in the process:

1.) I had pitched three vials into a lager (first time not doing a starter)... and waited and waited.... 5 days later while out on a fishing trip, I opened up my phone and looked at the readings and I announced that it was actively fermenting!... ( I never have lag times that long and was preparing myself for dumping my first batch ever... me thinks I will always do a starter from now on...)

2.) I was able to track the drop in gravity and properly allow the temperature of the fermentation to rise to help the yeast finish out.

3.) A week into lagering, where i usually drop the temps a degree or two each day... I saw a temperature spike on my phone about three days in... (my son had unplugged the fridge accidently)  I caught the issue within 3 hours of it happening... so no real harm done.

4) Most of all, I really like being able to call up the graph a couple times a day during a hecktic work week and have a few moments of zen.

In my experience, you do see a spike in OG just as fermentation kicks off.  (I like it actually because it is a great indicator... it falls back to normal within a few hours)  The final gravity is not lab precise... My lager finished 1.008, and the bug was measuring 1.012... but that is not really an issue to me.  The big thing is the ability to monitor the fermenetation activity from anywhere, and the trend data really comes in useful in deciding when to allow the fermentation temps to rise up.

All in all, there are more important things to spend your money on... kettles, yeast starter equipment, fermentation chamber... but I would recommend this long before the digital refractometer, PID temp controlled burner, and conical fermenter.

Personally, I found it money well spent and would recommend it to someone like me who is a bit OCD with their fermentation.  (I failed  "pragmatic brewing 101" years ago  ;D  )



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Offline erockrph

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2014, 02:20:25 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, Wingnut! Those are the kinds of things I was expecting it to be useful for. Not necessarily for lab-grade precision, but a good tool to monitor for trends and unexpected results (i.e., temperature spikes). To me, it would be a cool toy if it were in the right price point. It would also be nice if it had an added temp probe to record ambient temps separately - this way you can potentially catch temp swings in your ferm chamber before the beer starts to change temps.

It's also a bummer about the mead thing (i.e., that it doesn't play nice with degassing/SNA and the like). That would probably be my top use for it.
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Offline wingnut

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Re: The Beer Bug
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2014, 03:09:48 PM »
FYI,  you can purchase an external probe style temperature sensor to plug into the bug and get direct temperature readings.  (I had the same worry when I bought the bug)   However, the onboard sensor was correct to within .1 to .3 deg F of my lab thermometer the 6 times I compared the two (reading taken before and during active fermentation) ... so I do not think I am going to spring for the added probe, and in talking with the beerbug people at NHC, that is why they do not include it as part of the base package. 

It really is a neat little device... and for me... the ability to discretely check in on my fermentations while in the middle of a work day, or better yet a meeting (just be carful not to let them see you smile)...  that is a huge gain in brewing enjoyment!





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