Author Topic: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?  (Read 6206 times)

Offline acedriale

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
"BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« on: November 15, 2011, 10:54:08 AM »
We have developed a device that will measure specific gravity and temperature in-situ, and transmit the data wirelessly to provide brew batch trends from these measurements. We call it the "BeerBug":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skkETyF0v7k

One of our founders is an avid hobbyist and noticed that the craft brewers tend to only have one cost effective specific gravity option in the old-fashioned hydrometer.  It has been a significant (but fun) development to be able to measure s.g. precisely using non-hydrometer means.

We are still learning the marketplace and would enjoy your comments on this type of device as it relates to the craft brewers amongst us.  For example, would you want to have a specific gravity and alcohol content trend throughout a batch without having to take hydrometer readings?  Is datalogging sufficient near the brew, or would you also want to expand it to your mobile device and/or iPAD?  We're thinking this may be valuable to home brewers, but are also looking into usefulness at microbrewer sites.

http://hamptonroads.com/2011/11/small-tech-helpful-bug-home-brewers

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11660
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 11:01:31 AM »
I applaud your creativity, but I'd have no use for it other than gadget curiosity.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline dak0415

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 488
  • Winston-Salem, NC
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 11:16:29 AM »
Pay no attention to him.  He's old school.  For those of us with pumps and PID controllers and control panels (Oh My!) Its the next best thing.  How does it work in a carboy from inside a freezer?  Or yet a SS conical in a freezer?  Does the metal shield the signal?  Check your SG with your iPhone while taking a crap in the morning.
Dave Koenig
Anything worth doing - is worth overdoing!

Offline Slowbrew

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1657
  • The Slowly Losing IT Brewery in Urbandale, IA
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 11:43:56 AM »
Its an interesting idea.  If you're like me and don't really take very many gravity readings it would give you a much better idea of when the batch is done.  I typically am very short on time at home so by the time I finally get around to checking in on my batches they are done but you never know, I might make time to check if I had geeky toy.   :D

It really would come down to cost.  If the cost is fairly low, quite a few geeks would pick one (or 5) up.  If it is expensive than it becomes one of those things like a conical.  It might be nice but those pesky kids seem to think they need food and school supplies, like every month!

The guys who are trying to build the completely automated brewery will demand you release an API with it so they can program it into the cyborg-brewer they are making.

All in all it could be a nice addition to the brewery.

Paul
Where the heck are we going?  And what's with this hand basket?

Offline acedriale

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 12:54:18 PM »
Great, this is the type of info we are excited to have!  Appreciate all of your comments. 

Carboy in a freezer is one scenario we hadn't thought of.  BUT the device would work in this type of environment and be able to get its signal outside the freezer for viewing/trending/etc...the biggest question is with the stainless conical.  Everyone we've heard from thus far uses plastic pails or carboys.  If there is a sight hole or non-stainless membrane/opening/valve anywhere on the conical, we would be in good shape.  If not, there would be an extra development step - very doable, just not there yet.  We'll check into the available SS conicals and do some testing to see what's required there.

API to tie into an existing system is also a good comment - we can provide a serial interface for the "cyborg-brewer" setup who's beyond using a local datalogger+display or mobile device.  This is a definite feature set option for the micro-brewers, but we hadn't considered it for the home brewers...

As for cost, we are targeting $179 for the in-situ sensor plus the receiver/display/datalogger.  If someone wanted more than one, they wouldn't need multiple receivers, they'd just need multiple sensor units.

Thanks again - we now have some more relevant info to chew on!

Alex


Offline weithman5

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1668
  • naperville, il
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 01:13:18 PM »
?  Does the metal shield the signal?  Check your SG with your iPhone while taking a crap in the morning.

i could check my crap with my iphone and send that out electronically...

i actually think that would be an interesting tool more so the temperature part than the sg. i actually only check my fermentation sg when i think it is done and then a few days after to confirm.  (plus i like to taste it)  i may switch to a refractometer and that would eleminate the taste.

if this could just upload in to brewsmith the temps and sgs that could be interesting.
Don AHA member

Offline bo

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1141
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 02:03:28 PM »
I'd certainly consider one.

Online tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 02:08:08 PM »
I think it's a really neat idea and it would be a cool gadget to have.  Temperature monitoring would be nice and it would be nice to know how close my lagers are to terminal gravity without taking samples.

But it might be a long time before I'd get around to paying $180+ for one.  There's a lot of other equipment I would buy first for that kind of money.
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1097
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 03:26:50 PM »
I like the potential.  I too have a stainless conical and there are ports in the lid that could allow an antenna or maybe allow some signal to escape the Faraday cage that the vessel represents.  Considering this is a modestly costly device, you would have to consider that the brewer that is interested in this unit is likely to have this sort of vessel.  And almost any brewer strives for a temperature controlled fermenting environment, so a chest freezer or refrigerator is almost a given.

I'm also curious how the unit is sterilized and if there is any need for it to stand up or be oriented in the vessel?  A conical obviously does not have a flat bottom.  I'd be interested in understanding how it is obtaining the gravity readings. 
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Online morticaixavier

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 5688
  • Davis, CA
    • View Profile
    • The Best Artist in the WORLD!!!!!
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 03:33:30 PM »
I like the potential.  I too have a stainless conical and there are ports in the lid that could allow an antenna or maybe allow some signal to escape the Faraday cage that the vessel represents.  Considering this is a modestly costly device, you would have to consider that the brewer that is interested in this unit is likely to have this sort of vessel.  And almost any brewer strives for a temperature controlled fermenting environment, so a chest freezer or refrigerator is almost a given.

I'm also curious how the unit is sterilized and if there is any need for it to stand up or be oriented in the vessel?  A conical obviously does not have a flat bottom.  I'd be interested in understanding how it is obtaining the gravity readings.  


just like the name suggests, there is a little bug in there with a mic and transmitter. It takes a little sample. tastes it and says 'Too Sweet!' into the mic. similarly for temp readings it sticks a little thermo out the tiny window and says into the mic 'Do you believe this heat?'  ;D
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

Jonathan I Fuller

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1097
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 03:37:19 PM »
Oh and since you have a unit in there, it should measure and report temperature too.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Offline bigchicken

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 211
  • Lincoln, NE
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2011, 04:16:18 PM »
I'd purchase something like this, but would like to see a more inexpensive option. Create a lesser version that does nothing but report temperature and gravity only when I request it. No fancy graphs or fancy graphics. Sell it for around $50 - $70 and I think you'd be selling a bunch of them. Get a deal worked out with one of the bigger online homebrew stores to include them in the starter equipment kits they sell.
TJ Cook
Proud paying member of the AHA since 2013.

Fermenting: NOTHING!
In bottles: One Fruit Fly Saison, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ale, Snow Eater Winter Warmer

Offline acedriale

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2011, 07:54:37 PM »
Once again, awesome feedback!   

The device's form is similar to that of the glass hydrometer and it floats within the vessel as a buoy.  The s.g. sensing mechanism is the innovation above and beyond the other features (i.e., wireless, temperature, buoy geometry, etc.) and accounts for the majority of the assembly cost.  Temperature is the "easy" part - and this of course is reported as the fluid temperature rather than jacket temperature (although they may not significantly vary, especially if the vessel itself is inside a controlled chamber).

Great comments on pricing and the target user -- as you probably can surmise, these are big questions for us.  We could do a "temp only" wirelessly for $50, but the SG measurement device for initial introduction will still be ~$179 as there is some complexity to it.  If the prevailing desire is to eschew datalogging/trending, we could remove some functionality on the receiver/display end to create a "budget line SG" model.

A port in the lid of the conical SS fermenter does wonders for getting the wireless signal out - we're surveying to see if there are any configurations that don't have such a feature.  Question is whether the slopes on the conical vessels are steep to the point where the buoy might touch the bottom surface if it floats near the perimeter...we'll be doing some focused testing here.

The housing is made of food grade plastic, so the sterilization is fairly straightforward.  Still has to be done, no "auto-clean" feature yet...

Sincerely appreciate all of your thoughts & ideas  ;D

Offline punatic

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4582
  • Puna District, Hawaii Island (UTC -10)
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2011, 08:29:19 PM »
How do you address the buoyancy applied to the sensor element by carbon dioxide bubbles?
There is only one success: to be able to spend your life in your own way.


AHA Life Member #33907

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: "BeerBug" Wireless Specific Gravity - applicability?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2011, 12:00:44 AM »
So if you were doing temp only it would be $50 with a receiver, but temp and SG is $179?  So additional sensors would be something more than $100?

At that price point you might get more interest from the pros, I don't need to know that badly.  Now if each one was $20 and the receiver could be any bluetooth enabled device with the right app (I don't really know the technology), I could see buying a bunch of them.  I tend to have a lot of things going at once, and rarely take any readings.
Tom Schmidlin