Prototype proposal

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Experimental Incubator (ei) - Project Proposal 20/5/2012


Experimental incubator is a device designated to control it’s internal conditions. The prototype is going to allow for a temperature regulation both at constant level and more importantly for controlled temperature oscillation. Another factor included is monitoring of it’s electricity consumption. The temperature is a crucial factor in food&beverage fermentations therefore device which is optimized for these purposes is needed. The novelty temperature oscillation function allows to optimize the growing conditions for cultures comprised from multiple microorganisms with wide range of temperature optimas. Next generations will be more sophisticated aiming for measurement and control of CO2, oxygen levels, stirring, humidity etc. The device will be build to comply with principles of low energy consumption, easy to repair and upgradeable structures, sturdiness in accordance with concept of environmentally friendliness. This project is based on an open source aiming to bring this tool to as many brewers and fermenters being as affordable as possible.

Key Words: experimental incubator; temperature regulation; temperature oscillation; measurement of electricity consumption; upgradable; environmentally friendly; open source; brewing; fermentations.

First prototype of ei. presented at Maker Fair 2-3/6/2012

  • Functions

- temperature monitoring

- temperature control - setting up a constant level and allowing for controlled temperature oscillations

- electricity power consumption

The design

The incubator will consist of two separable parts,

  • the box - respective incubator chamber composed from three layers - outer protective, middle insulational and internal protective and insulated doors
  • central unit - arduino clone based microcontroller with display and manual control, peltier heating and cooling element with adjacent heat sinks and ventilation system

The Box Construction

Dimensions and materials

  • External Protective Layer

dimensions - cube: a= 610-710 mm; thickness = 7-13 mm

material - MDF board

cost - $30-40

  • Middle Insulation Layer

dimensions - thickness a = 50-70 mm

material - polyurethane foam or extruded expanded polystyrene (XPS) high density

cost - $20 - 30

  • Internal Protective Layer

dimensions - cube - a=500 mm; material thickness = 5-10 mm

material - high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sheets or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheets.

cost - $50-60

  • Additional materials for the box construction

silicon or glue - cost = $2-4

brackets (to connect the MDF boards) - cost = $3-5

doors - door hinge - cost = $2-3; door bolt (magnetic) - cost = $5-6

ventilation duct - cost = $???

brackets for the ventilation duct - cost = ???

The Central Unit Construction

This is a part which is not clearly designed and any help is highly appreciated!

Dimensions and materials

  • External Protective Layer

dimensions - cuboid: a= 400 mm; b = 400 mm; c = 300 mm; layer thickness = 7-13 mm

material - MDF board

cost - $15-20

  • Internal layer

There is probably no need to have additional internal insulation layer because of the ventilation system requirements. Or should be the internal cooling and heating unit with the fan system insulated??? If so how and how much???

  • Electronic components

microcontroller: ATMEL 90USB1286-AU; power requirements - ??? W; cost = donated; otherwise = ???

display: LCD display; power requirements - ??? W; cost = $10-15

manual control - numeric keyboard ???; power requirements - ???; cost = $???

temperature sensor: thermistor - type ???; power requirements; cost - $1-2

combined heating and cooling unit: peltier module (12 V 60 W); power requirements - 60 W; cost = $10-20

heatsink: aluminum alloy or copper based; dimensions - cooling smaller (3x4cm), heating bigger (7x10cm), details ???; cost = $10-15 (hot) and $5-10 (cold)

fans: 2 x 60 mm; power requirements - up to 2-4 W; cost = $2-3 (price and power consumption per each fan)

power source: 120-150 W; cost = $10-15

another electronic components:breadboard; relays; resistors; diodes etc. cost = $15-30

  • Things to discuss concerning the design of the control unit and it's heating/cooling system controlled by microcontroller.

How to “close up” the ventilation duct to the chamber so the insulation is complete???

How to “switch” the warm or cold air circulation to the incubator and out???

Ways of collaboration and sharing

Click on the fallowing link to see the experimental incubator newsletter. The most up to date version of the project can be shared on this and adjacent wiki pages. For the drafts of documents we can use Google Documents or some open alternative as Pirate Pad. For discussion mailing list could be a good option for now we could temporarily use Tastebrige or Foodhacking base discuss but own discuss list would be probably better.

Please comment, suggest and create ways how to make this happen so it is as open as possible.

  • Google Doc document


Materials, literature and Interesting links

Peltier element

commercial cooler hacking - this is a video from Dave Jones where he is checking closely and hacking commercial version of peltier based incubator for reptile eggs

cooler kit test- short youtube video about how to test a cooling kit ordered from ebay based on peltier device, heatsink and fan

Links to tools for sharing and collaboration

Pirate Pad