About this project
220/240V Now Available!
Great News! The Fermostat has been modified to run on either 120V or 240V systems. There will be a place to specify which configuration you would like to have delivered on the survey following the completion of this campaign!
Note: please disregard any other notes about the Fermostat only working on 120V systems.
Stretch Goal #1 – Upgraded LCD Screen
At $15,000, the Fermostat will include an upgraded graphic LCD screen. Not only will this improve aesthetics, it will also allow for visual representations that are not currently possible with character-only display.
Stretch Goal #2 – Removable Storage/Data Logging
At $20,000, the Fermostat will be upgraded to include removable media in the form of a micro SD Card! This improvement will allow uploading and downloading of programs to your Fermostat as well as creating and editing programs from a web tool. A web tool is currently under development and will be available for the first production deliveries.
Removable media will also allow data logging capabilities. Historical data can now be downloaded from your Fermostat to your computer for viewing and data analysis.
Yeast can be a temperamental creature at times. For starters, it cannot handle drastic temperature changes without some overall health degradation. To combat this yeasty flaw, temperatures of fermenting beer must be shifted at a gradual pace. This requires constant supervision of a manual thermostat to achieve the desired temperature changes.
Additionally, the temperatures required during fermentation of a lager beer require a more complex temperature profile than an ale. Not getting the correct temperatures during fermentation can cause the addition of undesirable flavors to your beers. Currently, there are no commercial fermentation thermostats available that can address the gradual temperature shifts required. The only option is to manually adjust a static temperature. So a complex lager fermentation schedule requires a great deal of constant supervision of the manual thermostat to get the desired result. And who enjoys constant supervision?? Exactly!
The solution I chose was to incorporate automation into the fermentation process. I achieved this by designing and building a programmable thermostat. Then I named it, the Fermostat™. The Fermostat™ allows the user to create different programs for each beer brewed by programming a series of stages throughout the process. Each stage has a start temperature, a stop temperature and a duration. For example, if the desired program requires fermenting at 72 degrees for 14 days, a stage can be programmed that has a start temperature of 72 degrees, a stop temperature of 72 degrees, and has a duration of 14 days. The user also has the ability to label each stage of the program, as well as name the program itself. For this example, the stage would be labeled 'Ferment'. To lower your beer from 72 degrees to 45 degrees over a 2 day period, simply add a second stage that starts at 72 degrees, ends at 45 degrees and has a duration of 2 days.
Here is an example of a lager program:
Stage 1: Shift
Start Temperature: 76°F
Stop Temperature: 52°F
Duration: 2 Day
Stage 2: Ferment
Start Temperature: 52°F
Stop Temperature: 52°F
Duration: 14 Days
Stage 3: Diacetyl Rest
Start Temperature: 52°F
Stop Temperature: 68°F
Duration: 2 Days
Stage 4: Shift
Start Temperature: 68°F
Stop Temperature: 36°F
Duration: 3 Days
Stage 5: Lager
Start Temperature: 36°F
Stop Temperature: 36°F
Duration: 45 Days
By using a microcontroller to regulate temperature, the Fermostat™ allows for more precise control. As the Fermostat™ is used for temperature control, it “learns” the characteristics of the system and predicts how the heating and cooling systems affect the temperature. This allows the Fermostat™ to predict where the temperature is going to be and can switch the sources ahead of time to prevent temperature oscillations and overshoots. This creates a much more precise temperature for beer.
What Else Do You Need?
The Fermostat™ is a programmable thermostat that controls power to two AC outlets. The owner of the Fermostat™ must still provide some sort of temperature manipulating devices.
Cooling elements can include a fridge, freezer, or even a home-made cooling chamber/device.
Heating elements can include an ambient temperature heating device, such as a heat-bulb or space-heater, or can be a heat source in direct contact with your beer such as a heating blanket or heat tape.
Why I Need Your Help
The design phase of this project is almost complete, however, additional funding is required to transition the Fermostat™ into production. Your donations will help offset some of the initial funds required to make this happen.
One stretch goal for the Fermostat is the incorporation of a 128x64 pixel graphic LCD as the display instead of the current 20x4 character LCD. This is not expected to affect the funtionality of the Fermostat™, but would be an improvement to the aesthetics of the overall product.
A second funding stretch goal is to conduct an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Listing investigation. Design guidelines have been followed and completed to allow for a successful investigation. However, additional funds are required to contract the investigation and receive the official Listing.
Status of Design
The Fermostat™ is currently in the final stages of completion. I am on my third prototype version with over a dozen total units created. Many of these units are currently being beta tested by other home brewers, creating their own unique lagers and providing feedback.
One final prototype, currently in-work, will contain a few minor PCB and layout changes to improve retail production. The majority of the changes are meant to minimize assembly time and effort. This version will be available for test as one of the reward levels of this Kickstarter project.
The majority of the finalization efforts will be geared toward software tweaks and bug fixes to ensure a reliable product. The basic functionality of the device will not change.
More Info and Contacts
Risks and challenges
Risks and Challenges
The biggest risk in creating the Fermostat™ will be taking an electronic device into production.
I have had a small scale production run with the case machining vendor. They have the stock and capabilities to handle the number of units we can expect in the time frame we are requesting. I also have a PCB fab/assembly company selected and have had them build multiple prototypes for me. I have obtained price and timeline estimates from them and I feel confident about getting the PCBs fulfilled. I have also selected and coordinated with a backup PCB fab/assembly company that will meet all requirements. I am confident in the companies that Ohmbrew Automations will be partnering with, and believe they will align well with the quality and value standards required for production of the Fermostat™.
We are currently preparing to conduct final assembly and test in-house.
Troubleshooting and resolving software bugs create another challenge when delivering a hardware device such as the Fermostat™. Not having the option to update software once hardware is delivered creates a unique challenge. However, several beta testers have been testing and reviewing the Fermostat™ for over 6 months now to clear up bugs and ensure quality and overall functionality. Ohmbrew Automations is listening closely to the feedback and ideas of the early-version beta testers to continually improve quality and ease of use of the Fermostat.
If we meet all stretch goals and go through with the investigation for UL approval, more challenges may arise. I have been in contact with UL laboratories throughout the design phase and I have obtained a quote and a preliminary investigation schedule. Potentially, The final investigation could be conducted as early as this fall.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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