Software progress for mashing?


#1

Hello Elco
We are part gradually bought brewpi to use it to brew in Herm setup or the like but there has been a very long time without something happens to software development, I can see there are some who sell their equipment again because they are tired of waiting, I think time has come that you owe us a road map with the expected dates when there will be news and what

undskyd the little harsh tone but I feel that we bought a pig in a poke

Yours sincerely Kjeld


Mash control with gas burners
#2

Hi Kjeld,

There has been progress in software development, but because this is not in the current version but in a rewrite from scratch, it is unclear to you guys on where we are and when things will be ready. You are absolutely right in that we need to provide better information on progress.

I will also say that it is becoming harder for me to run this company and still spend a lot of time on software development. Progress is too slow, I fully agree. While there are a few people that have contributed a lot of code, we are missing a continuous force that drives software development forward. I am too busy to do software development on many days and on other times I loose myself in software for a few weeks again and other things get not done properly (like accounting, customer support). Running an understaffed startup is hard.
There is a lot of uncerntainty in how much time I have for software work and even more uncertainty in how much time the open source contributors have.
So I have decided to hire a full time software developer and will open a position later this month for a full stack software dev to work on the new React based front-end of BrewPi.

We are still very much welcoming devs that would like to help us out, but we need a more consistent driving force behind it. Better software and a better development process will also make it easier for others to contribute.

That being said, I use BrewPi for mashing myself with great results. The current version can be used to control a mash tun and HLT. It will still say fridge temp, but it will actually be the HLT temp. The settings that are needed are a bit different than the fermentation settings, but it works fine.

What is still missing, is being able to control a second temperature. So I have my room temp sensor logging the boil temperature and the actuator is just ON/OFF, not PWM. This works fine for my setup though.

We’re having a dev meeting tomorrow and we’ll to try to get a few estimates for the road map.

Elco


Mash control with gas burners
#3

Elco,
I’m sure you see this as a Make or Break Move for BrewPi and I wish for this to take off and become the defacto Hot and Cold side solution from homebrewers and Microbrewers alike. Thank you Elco for seeing the need and making a move on it. Cheers for the years past, and cheers to the years forward!

Kind Regards,
Adiefender


#4

I chime in to @Elco and can attest to successfully using the BrewPi for my HERMS brewery, now for the fifth brew!

The mash setup works great out of the box (except of course the confusing naming of the temperature readings and the PID settings). The BrewPi works well, however the challenge is “knowing your equipment”. Heater response, HERMS exchage, heat losses, pumping volumes, all affect the control of the mash. Building your own brewing system requires some (a lot?) trial and error, experimentation and not but least; patience. So my advice is have patience and start tinkering!
I reconfigure the BrewPi for the boil and with my powerful 9kW elements setting the target temp to 99.6°C gives a good rolling boil wirh PID control.
Also, I send my kudo’s to @Elco who has spent a couple of hours in skype chat with me to get the setup straight! Thanx!
Yesterday I set up my second BrewPi to control a fermentation chamber. Still there are parameters to tune, but lets face it: the BrewPi works as initially intended (fermentation) and the brewing functionality is a bonus.

atle


#5

I’d also like to echo the fact that there has been far too little in the way of updating on the progress of software updating.

I bought a unit to control a commercial setup, believing, as you said 18 months ago that the update was around the corner. Nothing happened, and there has been no update on progress.

I’m quite annoyed, as it was an expensive solution that promised much, but in reality does little more than a fifteen dollar temperature controller does in practical terms.


#6

I am also surprised at how long it is taking for the promised software update. While I appreciate you are under pressure from selliing product as well as software development, I note that there are now other products coming onto the market that can deliver the solution that some of us seem to want. I cite the following website as an example-http://smartpid.com/smart-homebrewing-application-is-ready/#.
I do hop eyou can get this sorted out quickly as I think your product is great and would like to see it developed further. Good luck.


#7

I am sorry that I have to confirm the above statements. I hope your firm can deliver on a short term notice. Otherwise I have to switch to another supplier. Nonetheless I really do hope you can accellerate the development and wish you all the best.


#8

Elco never promised an actual release date, but I honestly have been hoping for an update too. When I read the current state above I think it is going to take quite some more time until we will see this.

I was waiting for the update mainly to get multichamber support, which I solved by having 3 BrewPis up and running. So I am no longer in a hurry :wink:

But it is much better to wait until the software is stable before releasing it. If one stresses this now this will result in an update with lots of bugs, which will leave customers even unhappier.


#9

Elco, have you considered using someone on website Fivrr for extra programming resources at low cost? Just a suggestion that might help you get to where you want to be with this.https://www.fiverr.com


#10

Maybe that could work later, but I think we need very good programmers to lay a good foundation at this point. I prefer to hire a full time dev with a degree. Bit of an investment risk, but I believe the plans that we have are sound and will turn it around.

Part of why this rewrite is so hard, is because we aim high: total flexibility. Define as many PIDs as you want, in software. Add as many sensors as you want. This rewrite is so hard because BrewPi started as a hobby project, which I didn’t intend to grow as big as it did. In the past years, I learned a lot about software architecture and we want to make sure the next version is flexible, modular and maintainable.


#11

… there is a V3 version if the hardware on the way yet the software is now 2 years behind release. Time to refocus? How is that new full time dev coming along?


#12

Could we rename this thread to Software progression or something less negative?

I had to take a two years break because of rebuilding the house, before that I used the old software to brew with and it worked as it should, yet it lacked features and a good gui.

Now that I come back to the community I can see that the progression wasn’t around the corner as the long talks/chats sugested that It would be, and yes that’s frustrating…but!

I would strongly recommend that we ask if any of the involved tech guys, have time to sum up things once a month just to give us mortals an idea about the progression. I know we are many that spend tons of cash building HERMS setups and been waiting for this update, because it was between the lines that the update was coming in near future.

I read that people find it strange that v3 is comming, even tho v2 was brand new when the software dev. was set in motion. will those controllers we have bought be outdated for the new software, will they be fine? why the need for a new controller over software progression etc.

As I write this reply I can see that this topic haven’t had any replies in 185 days… imo this thread is very important, so we have a good communication between customers, programmers and ofc Elco’s shop.

Its easier to wait a bit longer, if we keep the forum thread alive, especially if we keep it positive.

#Elco Let me know if you need anyone to help alfa test the software on a V2 controller.


#13

Thanks Kenneth. I have changed the name to “Software progress for mashing”.

The software for the V2 will be the same as the V3. The hardware update was for reliability and manufacturability of the hardware, not because anything was outdated.


#14

and how about the software development?

Please elaborate, I feel a bit stupid having been waiting for this now for 3 years.

I know one can use the old fermentation webpage for brewing, but it is far from optimal and functional, with no boil control.

So as beeing sold as a herms controller, this is rather a miss-statement as it is only a fermentation controller, and if you dirty hack it you can use it to control the temp in mashing progress. On the other hand your brewpi homepage clearly show a full herms brewing setup?? If I would be frank, this is straight out lying?

Please Elco, I know you want to cover all bases, make the best algorithms, be able to draw power to more heating elements by utilizing pulsewithmodulation and triggering the relays, and be able to not only turn on and off the valves and pumps, but be able to have flow control.

But maybe, just maybe, this is out of your leauge, maybe you should keep the boring pid algorithms you have now, and focus on making a web interface that enables the use of the system for herms brewing, as it is sold as. ensure that there are a good “recepi” function, and ensure that there are a boild controll, so that people that have bought this to do brewing, can do that. And then afterwards work on all the underlaying deeper programing to enable all the nice to have features.

I’m pretty sure, that most of the people that have bought your system, would be very happy with just a new webpage that is HERMS enabled, with the same backbone code as of today. Cause as you say, it can be used today, its just stupidily weird and hard to “rewire” that the room, is the mashing tun, and that its needed dates when making a recepi, and that there are no boil control with timers for hops. As should be very straight forward.

At the timebeeing, the herms functionallity of the BREWPI is non, you can use the fermentation homepage to mash, but this is just BS. I went all inn on your good intentions and the nice software you had for fermenting. By spending up to 1000 euros on something that promiss much but does non, I’m not only ashamed as a brewer, but also feel that I have been tricked, and sits with a big herms brewing system, that is as close to manual brew in bag, as could possibly be. Now this turned into a rant, but seriously. I have stopped brewing because of this. In retrospect, I should/could/wish I just spent my cash on a brewmeister, got a product that worked and could skip this whole ourdeal, but at the time beeing, I sit with alot of specific equipment that has totally lost its value, jumped into a full herms setup that is hard to automate any other way, alot of sensors that I basically can trow away. Please Elco, I understand, that starting a webshop and selling alot of devices and equipment takes time, and that earning money is better than ensuring that the product does what it says, but in the end, your delivering alot of equipment based on a lie. Is that a good way going about your buisniss. I have met you in person, and you are a kind soul, and I suppose you do your best, but sometime this is not good enough.

Now, Please cut the crap, all the possibilities you want to build in is nice, but first, make a Herms software setup/GUI that works, before spending more time on possibilities and capabilities that will be used by few, and possibly (I guess) hinder you from releasing something that will work for 70-90% of your buyers.

And if not, KEEP US UPDATED, you have sold a product that does not do what you have said it will do, and you have wasted ALOT of years collectively. Otherwise, this is a SCAM, and can not be seen as anything else.


#15

Hi Dan,

Let me address your concerns one by one.

On our homepage, the mashing stuff is under the header ‘Whats next?’. A lot of this stuff is still under heavy development, is somewhat already usable, but far from perfect. I know many people use BrewPi for mashing and I do too. It works well for me. It is mostly boil control that’s missing. I understand that this is a pain if you don’t boil on full power, which is what I do.

Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our control algorithms are actually quite advanced and far from boring. All the objects on the controller are modular. It is possible to create multiple PIDs, construct actuators from PWM, time limits, mutual exclusivity, etc.
We did spend a lot of time to make them modular, because we realized that ‘multichamber’ doesn’t cut it. It still doesn’t offer enough freedom and doesn’t fit all brewing setups. BrewPi needs to be a blank slate of building blocks that can be cleverly combined. We underestimated the required changes that would require.
In the current stack, many things are hard coded. The concept of a ‘beer sensor’ and ‘fridge sensor’ should be removed and it should be changed to ‘sensor 1’, ‘sensor 2’, etc. Going from a static to a dynamic implementation is a big rewrite.

Am I over my head? I don’t think I am, but I wish there were more hours in a day. I have been trying to find a developer to join our team, but without success so far. They’re hard to attract among the fierce competition and I don’t have the budget to pay 5k for a recruiter. Our freelance developers, Matthew and Guillaume couldn’t work as much on BrewPi as they planned, because of issues on their day job. It also didn’t help that Geke, who processes and ships orders, broke her neck and couldn’t for 4 months. She’s is only back for 6 hours a week now, instead of 24.
The year so far has been pretty rough. But we’ll get through it. Just with some delays.

First, to help with that time issue: you can enter “1h20m15s” in the date box too.

Second, if room temp is your mash tun, you are not using it as intended. Your HLT should be fridge and your Mash tun should beer. Then the beer temperature can be automatically controlled by varying your fridge/HLT setpoint.

Yes, the UI is weird. I agree. So why have I not invested time in changing the UI? The way that system is built is pretty rigid. It is hard to change things, it is hard to expand it and it is a dead end. All time I put into adding stuff to that UI, is wasted development time.
We had to choose to continue with the current stack and keep patching things or build a decent new stack first and stop releasing new features. We’re actually writing a lot of code, but it isn’t very visible because it is a new stack, separate from the old stack. Most of my time now is spent coding absolute core functionality, I’m not wasting it on exotic features. But it is almost a rewrite from scratch, which is why it takes long before it is released.

I absolutely did not want to ‘trick you’ and when I said that multiprocess control was coming soon, I really believed that it would. I hope that once the new stack is ready, you’ll be happy it again. I don’t think by patching the old stack, we can make you happy with the system.

About not keeping you guys up-to-date about progress, I’m totally guilty. It’s not my style to show half-finished work and a lot of the progress is very technical in nature. It’s mostly low level layers and not fancy top level features I could show off.

Your asking for some quick additions to the current UI that would make your life easier, mainly the boil element control. I’ll take some time to hack this in the old system. That’s indeed a quick win.

Apart from a boil control, are there any other quick wins that are worth delaying the new stack?

Cheers,

Elco


#16

I would say, thanks for the reply Elco, not a surprising reply, but you deliver as usual. Now, off to the main part wich I like in your response:

Quick wins:
Make an “enable Herms/brewing button” setup for the front end GUI (no need to change the back end as I suppose its good enough)
Where you have Brewery labels for the various temperature readings and so on. If its the room that is the mash, it does not matter if it is called room in the setup, but for the front end gui, please “relabel” it or at least make a legend that tells us that room is mashtun. (this is for readability and logic in a stressfull brew day, offcourse one could learn to read room as mash, but a small relabel should not be a big issue)

For boil control, timer functionality for hop additions.

And maybe change the “graph” in herms mode to be in hours as standard rather than days (minor offcourse, but still I suppose this is a quick fix)

Just make the Gui a bit more brewery suitable, and I will (as most other I think) live happely with the backbone code as is today.

No need for graphics of the kettels and so on, only label the variables in the front end.


#17

Hi Elco,

Another request from my side (including some other friends who brew with Brewpi). Could you please quickly update the documentation (http://wiki.brewpi.com) and especially the sections concerning “Setup your hardware->Configuring your devices” and “Configure the BrewPi Spark”.

  1. Device configuration
    We really mis extensive information adding/removing devices including an description on the usage of the parameters such as “Pin type” (when use inverted?), alle the different functions (differences? when and how to use? which shields apply?) and “assigned to”. Many things we have figured ou ourselves by trial-and-error as well as by roaming through many forum posts.

  2. PID parameter setup and tuning
    Your post Using BrewPi 0.4 for mashing gives a nice overview on de PID parameters, but could be upgraded I think. We would like to see a broader introduction on PID for NOOBS as well as a further more novice description on all parameters including typical input values (scenario’s?). Perhaps a FAQ could be added too.

I am happy to assist you in improving your texts/reviewing as well as providing you detailed input on which issues have to be covered (for a noob such as me).

We still believe in the progress achieved and the BrewPi project as a whole. Many enthusiastic users would undoubtedly contribute more to BrewPi. Make sure you make active use of it. Developing and supplementing documentation can be an important start in this. It is probably important that you make a far-reaching (re)start.

Regards,

Mathijs


#18

I’ve been a pretty impatient and angry brewpi purchaser for a while. I am the same as @Conect I feel a bit stupid that I spent a bunch of money in the early days when mash control and much more were ‘coming soon’. I now walk past my brew kit and ignore it, and it actually makes me feel a little embarrassed. I wish @Elco would use some minimum viable product principles or something to get this stuff working.

Anyhow. In terms of ‘quick wins’ - can we get valve control? Too be honest, I think you owe that to the users immediately. I paid heaps of cash for 3 valves and they have collected dust for over 2 years! Either that or I would like my money back and I’ll send them back?


#19

How do you want to use your valves?
I just tested and found out that there was something missing in the UI and that didn’t allow you assign a valve as heater/cooler. I just pushed a fix for that.

If you want to open and close your valve with a button, you can do that from the device list if you install it as manual actuator. You can also use the prototype of brewpi-ui (https://brewpi-ui-demo.herokuapp.com/processview/herms-automated-valves) to drive valve positions based on brewing step. This is what I use to drive my valves.

You’ll have to write a few JSON files to get a layout that matches your setup, in this directory:

I’ll prioritize MVP mash control.


#20

Elco just a thought, maby it’s not ideal, but still. what about long distance programmers, a friend of mine uses coders from India, they are according to him, great at specific tasks, and do it for very reasonably price.

Best regards

Kenneth