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My DIY PID Controller for Mashing Grains

In this thread I hope to demystify where to find the needed parts, what they are named and how to build a controller with what tools you might have all ready.

I will be adding to this new thread over the next week or two.



  • edited May 2014

    So lets start with a list of things we are going to need. When I first started searching on the net for all the different things I needed I did not know where to start looking. The first thing you need to know is what the names are of the parts you are looking for. Have you googled the word light recently.


    So the above picture that we are looking at you can see.

    1 x 15amp welding lead. I have picked that for its rating and because I have had my shed wired with 15amp plug so I can run my still on power. I have cut the female end off of it and it will be my power lead for the controller. You can fined these leads at any of your hardware stores.

    The next item on the list is.

    1 x 2 ON/OFF Twist 2 Position Selector Switch. I found mine on eBay. Where I live this is not something that I can just walk in to a shop and get of the shelf so I used eBay. One word of advice I will give about these switch's is make sure that you get the 2 position switch or the plain on and off switch.

    Moving on

    1 x green 22mm 240v power signal indicator or light. To tell me I have the power switch on. I have used green over red because I have all ready got a red light for something else. Once again on eBay.

    1 x emergency stop switch. I don't know if this is a must have thing for this build but I like having a big red button.
    Yes eBay

    1 x PID controller. I got mine from eBay. I don't know a lot about these things but what I can say is. Make sure you get the right one to suit you country's power supply. I live in Australia so the one I picked was 240 volts. I think you can get them with 110 volt. So you will need to give this so thought.

    1 x SSD which is not in the picture but you will see it later. eBay

    1 x Red LED Indicator Light & Buzzer 220V AC. eBay

    1 x Heat Sink for Solid State Relay SSR. eBay

    assorted heat shrink for my wiring joins. eBay

    assorted electrical fittings. Bunnings (yes I do shop in other places)

    I am still missing a few things from this build but as we progress with the build I will point out all the extra bits. We are going to need things like screw and rivots. A lot of you will probably already have these things at home.

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  • edited May 2014

    Continuing on.

    The next major item that we are going to need is a box to mount every thing in. I am a grate believer in not reinventing the wheel. So I took a leaf out of one of our other grate members book and I have used a first aid box that I got from Bunnings.


    I pick a pretty large box because I was thinking of the long term plan of having other PID controllers running from the same box mounted unit. It dose not need to be made of steel you could use a electrical plastic box.

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  • edited May 2014

    So I think its about time we stop talking and do some work on our new controller.

    The first thing thats got to be done is we need to mark out where we need our holes to go.


    Once you have worked out where every thing is going and it is marked I advise you to center pop them like I have done in the above picture. You can use a center pop like mine or you could op for the no frills nail. This will help keep your drill bit in the center of you making out.

    Now the next problem your going to have is. Once you have drilled you pilot holes you will need a much bigger drill bit then what your probably going to have. So what can we do I would recommend picking up a stepper drill bit.


    Well worth the few buck's that you have to pay for them. Just remember that once they are blunt you got to get a new one so don't go using them on hard steel. Grate for sheet metal. My stepper drill bit was bit to small for what I needed so once I had drilled out my holes to as large as I could go with out them being over size. I used my die grinder to get them to the right size. You could also use a dremel tool or plain old school hand file.


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  • I know your probably uploading your next posts but maybe add your ebay links and maybe state why you chose certain parts in your build?

  • edited May 2014

    This is what your new controller box should look like so far


    And on that note I am going to have to stop as this is has far as I have got for the night thanks for reading and stay tuned.

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  • @jonno the names I have used you can just copy and past do a serch and you should get a prity good hit on them. Why I have chosen what I have chosen will come in a later post not tonight.

  • Yeah i figured you'll explain it abit later on. Just thought i'd ask anyway

  • Really great @Drunkas I love builds like this. Step by step with lots of pictures, thanks!

  • @Lloyd if your any thing like me dyslexic then sometimes words are not your friend. So a few extra pictures can make all the diffrence. It si also for this same reson why I am having so many problems craking the all grain thing. I realy want to move in to making whiskeys but some where in the mix of every thing I am missing something and all the attempts I have had have been a wast of time and money.

  • really cool. Im following

  • Be careful when buying PID controllers if you aren't familiar with all the variations involved. Especially if you are hunting for a bargain online (eBay, etc). Pay close attention to the choice of inputs and outputs, as well as voltages (mentioned above). A single model from a manufacturer can come in dozens of different configurations, and most of these can't be reconfigured using the menus. The most common variants will be on the input side (thermocouple, RTD, or voltage input) and on the output side (relay, SSR, proportional - 0-10vdc/0-20ma, pulsed). To make it more complicated, some of these come with multiples, it's like ordering off a take out menu - I want ham, not turkey, no mustard, mayo, no pickles, lettuce and onion. These things are absolutely not one-size-fits-all.

    That said, if you want to get really fancy, you can use a "Ramp and Soak" PID controller to automate the full mashing process without much additional build. This would let you automate a stepped mash process as is typical with brewing. Programming a ramp and soak is a little bit more complicated, especially when dealing with those tiny buttons, but absolutely within the realm of DIY.

  • I would also look for 'manual mode'(manual PWM power setting) and also a feature that says if you are x degrees away from your set-point, you go full-on or full-off I bought two identical looking ones a few years apart for my Rancillio Silvia espresso machines, and the second did not have that feature, I found it useful.

  • Excellent thread drunkas and i will be following it closely. I agree with Johnno if you could put some links in the first post we could know what we are really looking at and also quickly check prices. Or even add a rough idea of price on each item and a rough total for the build excluding tools.

    @grim could you link to a couple of suitable pids and could you explain more about the programing? Do you have to programe it each time for each different mash schedule through the buttons or do you just do it once etc?

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • ok I know we have a sparky on the forum that is in Australia but I am wondering if we got any other people in other countrys??. Why because at some point we are going to have to look at how these things are wired up. Now I know this is a job for a qualified sparky and I will be using one :D but there will still be questions about it and I am going to need the right people to anser them as I am not comfortable with helping people. I will talk about it a bit but befor I post any thing about it I would like someone to vent my work thats on the forums just to make sure its all ok.

  • Very nice using the first aid box. \m/ Just curious, what type of temp sensor are you using? I didn't see any comment on it.

  • A build thread like this is unique and much appreciated.
    I suggest that when it's finished it gets culled, condensed and doctored up into a DIY instructible by someone with the time and talent to do it.

    Thanks @Drunkas for sharing your build with us.

  • edited May 2014

    @Wallybox said: Very nice using the first aid box. \m/ Just curious, what type of temp sensor are you using? I didn't see any comment on it.

    Ah my apology I have failed to mention what type of probe I am using. Its K thermocouple probe.


    It is the one that came with my PID

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  • edited May 2014

    OK so we still got a few things we got to cover before we can start to look at our wiring. The first thing is we need a power point so we can power our heater element and we need some sort or other power point so we can run our temp sensor to our rims or pot.

    For the heat element I have picked a 15amp power point


    Note my 15amp power lead to suit.
    Some of you might be wondering if you need 15amp or not well sorry to say but I am not the one to answer that we need someone who is a expert to comment about this please.
    I have had my shed rewired with its own feed ran straight from the front power box of my house. It has been set up with 2x 15amp power points and room for a third if I need it.



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  • 15 amps at 240v all give you 3600w

  • edited May 2014

    I am going to mount my power point on the side of the box you could mount it on the bottom I would not recommend on top.


    I have used my stepper drill and my die grinder to get the hole to the right size.
    While we are drilling holes we also need one more on the side for our temp sensor lead. The plug I am using for the sensor is a cannon 3 prong plug google it and you will get lots of hits for it.



    Drill your holes so you can screw every thing down nice and tight.

    The last hole we need to do is on the bottom of the box for our power feed in


    This is what the side of my box looks like.


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  • thanks @olddog thats some good info my sparky said that I should have no problems running 3 2400watt elements from my power bord. I have been planing this for the last year. I had the shed rewired just for this.

  • My man!
    I did the same when we moved into the new warehouse. Most important for me was getting water, a drain and power to my new stilling area. Most everything else was a lower priority :))

    I digress, please continue... we are all intensely interested in this build.

  • well we just hit a bloody dead end. We wired up the PID and she wont power on. Game over

  • PM me mate I have a cupboard full of controllers.

  • Dont give up mate! I'm sure its something that you'll may have missed or its DOA

  • Are you sure you got a 240V one and not a 24V or 12V one?

  • @Mickiboi said: Are you sure you got a 240V one and not a 24V or 12V one?

    on the side it has 220 valt 50hz I was lead to beleve that 220 volt is ok in australia. Is this still true

  • Ok just read that PM from Moonshine will now use PM

  • Yes 220 is fine

  • Good on ya micki for helping the bloke out

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