StillDragon® Community Forum


Be part of our community & join our international next generation forum now!

In this Discussion

New Tool Box Control Panel

Just finished up the new still box and wanted to throw it out there for reference and input. The box is made from a steel tool box I found at Harbor Freight.
What I like about this box is that it has a lot of room for wiring and has a nice shelf above that holds all the sensors and probes when I need to store or transport it. Also, as I was trying to do this on a moderate budget, it worked quite nicely.

The basic setup is 5 PIDs, with only one (the first on the left in the picture) controlling a SSR to drive a 5500W element in on-of control mode. All of the sensors were packed up for the night, so the readings in the picture are gibberish... The panel layout is a follows from left to right:

  1. Element power control PID and Boiler liquid temperature display - HOA for switching between always on for heat up and PID proportional control cleanly and with both hot legs.
  2. Boiler vapor temperature display
  3. Reflux condenser water output display - HOA switch for future solenoid/proportional valve control
  4. Vapor temp above RC temperature display
  5. Product condenser temperature display- HOA switch again for future valve automation
  6. Timer with reset switch

For PIDs 2 and 4, the HOA switches are more just to keep the panel aesthetic even , but they do provide options for future tinkering, and once I can think of a good spot to fit in a 22mm alarm on the box Ill rig that up also.

There is a 3p nema twist lock power inlet mounted in the center on the back of the panel and all of the RTD panel connectors and power outlet are installed on the right hand side of the box. The left side has an 80mm 24v fan cooling everything down.

I will be using this box primarily to run a 15.5 gal boiler and a 4" column in an array of setups, from stripper to hybrid plate/packed to multi plate w/gin baskets etc, so I wanted to have more displays to be able to track everything and build in future upgrades.

I mostly have my sensors and hardware in, so one I get everything put together, including a nice modified 4" dephlegmator from @CothermanDistilling I will be sure to post up pics of the sensors and corresponding hardware. Thanks for looking, and if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please let me know.



800 x 600 - 68K
800 x 600 - 57K


  • Holy cow 3:-O, I've never seen something like this before. Well done! :-bd

    Your Place to be >>> <<< Home of the StillDragon® Community Forum

  • @brewsmith not bad at all, controller, temp display and storage in one. Better post a few more pics for us, inc connectors etc. What PID's did you decide to go with ?


  • Thanks gentlemen, Ill snap some shots of the sides etc. when I get home this afternoon. As for the PIDs, I am using what I had on hand, so the control PID is an auber model with ssr (12v) output. The other PIDs are Sestos d1s-2r which seem to have at least as much functionality as the Auber model, but run about $10-15 cheaper.

  • Steampunk StillDragon!!

  • tool box was probably less than a new purposed metal electrical cabinet... good play

  • Nice. I built a motor control for my new grain mill into an old plastic takle box the other week.

    The tool box is a great idea and having somewhere to keep it all is tops too. A way to lock it when connected to power would be good?

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

  • edited August 2014

    @FullySilenced, that was exactly why I chose it in the first place. I used a purpose built box for my HERMS but on ebay it is hard to find a sizeable box for a project for less that 80 even used with random holes already cut. Also, those boxes need to be mounted on something and you have to build in additional handles, so this solution had the added advantages of portability and extra storage. @punkin the built in handles already have lock mounts, so a pair of padlocks or the like would be a cheap addition, good suggestion

    This still will be broken down for storage and moved about the house regularly for cleaning etc as I do not have a purpose built room the the house that fits all my hobbies at once :), so I like the have the ability to remove the cable from both the box and leaving the actual probe connected if possible. I have a few sensors similar to this one which do just that, but the actual connectors are a bit cheap and wear out as I have mentioned before. Has anyone seen or devised any solutions like this that are more industrial?

  • Ah, nice, thinking outside the box, or maybe inside the box, or about the box... :)) either way it sure is a nice build! =D>

  • I got into electric brewing and hence distilling because of a friend bringing one of those toolboxes to a homebrew club meeting. ( passedpawn on )

  • edited August 2014

    Here are a few more pics of the other sides of the box as promised. On the output side, you can see that I also drilled a row of holes in the recessed "side handle" which serve as the vents for the fan opposite. The wiring pic is a little messy, as that was taken when it was first powered on, before I got zip ties and wire organizers in play. Thanks for the comments so far, keep em coming! Still looking for more industrial quick connects for probes if anyone has any leads...





    800 x 600 - 38K
    600 x 800 - 44K
    800 x 600 - 38K
    800 x 600 - 71K
  • i look at that and i keep thinkin large ammunition box to put it in.. cheap tough as hell.. a 20mm box would be plenty large and maybe even a 50 cal box for just 3 units or so...

    is a thought..

  • edited August 2014

    @FullySilenced said: i look at that and i keep thinkin large ammunition box to put it in.. cheap tough as hell.. a 20mm box would be plenty large and maybe even a 50 cal box for just 3 units or so...

    is a thought..

    I was thinking the same thing given how expensive a nema 4 enclosure is.

  • 21" tool box is not but 20 bucks here.. though... cheap enough.... and its red, brown or black... :D

  • @grim said: Brilliant!

    No s--t! I paid 60.00 us for a plastic BUD box...Dang!

  • Toolbox is perfect for occasional users, for a permanent setup, eBay is full of Hoffman enclosures cheap... I have 2...

    ONE, type 12 Hoffman Enclosure A-201606LP 20" x 16" x 7.25" Type 12 INV=10885 @ eBay $43.43 +$33.61

  • Yep, that's the route I went for the pilot system in the brewery, but for the still, or even a designated low voltage box that is located out of the spray zone, this is a nice cheap fix

  • wow, that is awesome,

Sign In or Register to comment.