Homebrew Fermentation Temperature Control

I was planning to build out a BrewPi but decided to go with a DIY BlackBox Brew. The BlackBox is more than capable of handling what I need and it only cost ~$42 CAD all in.

The main parts for the project were:

  • Wine Fridge – $50 Used (Excellent price!)
    • I slightly cut down one of the wire shelves so it fit just above the compressor hump.
      • Liquid Electrician’s Tape sealed up the cut ends nicely.
    • A short length of ABS pipe was added to help support things.
  • VIVOSUN Waterproof Seedling Warming Heat Mat – $21.95
    • Using an aquarium heater in a mason jar while I wait on the mat to arrive
  • STC-1000 A-400P version – $25.36
    • Note you _must_ use this seller to ensure the A-400P version
  • HomeDepot Junction Box – $13.16
  • HomeDepot Grey Outlet – $3.80

I also needed an extension cord which I cut down to run power to the BlackBox, an outlet face-plate (as a template and for its included screw) and an Arduino to do the programming.

I started by opening the STC-1000 and soldering in a programming header. I attached cables so I can route out the header allowing for easy updates in future.



I had to cut off the receptacle’s tabs so it would fit the enclosure. I used a horizontal metal cutting bandsaw but a hacksaw would be fine too. You also want to break off the tab from the ‘hot’ side of the outlet (narrow slot side) to separate the outlet into heating/cooling sides.



I located the center of the box and drilled an undersized hole for the screw. Using that, I screwed the receptacle cover to the box and traced the shape with a sharpie. Following that template I simply plunge milled a wallop of 1/8 holes using my mill. The resulting cutout was a surprisingly accurate snap fit. For the STC-1000 I measured and traced a template then similarly plug milled a bunch of holes; followed up with a pass on the mill to smooth the lines.

controller-plug-installed controller-dryfit


Ultimately, the fit was very very tight! The STC-1000 has a little wiring cover which I had to leave off. Further, it had a little nub to receive the screw for this cover, I had to cut that off to make it all fit.



You end up needing two neutral wires (one to power the STC-1000, one for the outlet) and three hot wires (one for the STC-1000, one for the Heating relay, one for the Cooling relay) and a single ground for the outlet. Merretting all those connections would consume too much space so I soldered and used heat shrink instead. I tinned the ends that will go into the STC-1000 as I find that prevents stray wires and tends to grab better. I drilled a tight fitting hole for the power cord and split/knotted the insulation to act as a stress relief. A tight fitting hole for the temp sensor was added on the other side.

controller-wiring-prepped controller-wired

Once it was all together, I connected it to the configured Arduino and programmed it. Note the STC-1000 will emit a disconcerting buzzing sound during programming, apparently that’s normal/expected.



For the header I installed the connections were:

  • ICSPCLK – Pin 9 – Blue
  • ICSPDAT – Pin 8 – Purple
  • GND – GND – Grey
  • VDD – 5V – White
  • nMCLR – Pin 3 – Black


The ultimate plan is to strap the temperature sensor to the side of the carboy with a sponge/insulation over it. This won’t be as accurate as a thermowell but it’s simple, cheap and ought to be sufficient.

Beerdiful Oatmeal Stout

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The Oatmeal should be spread out in a dish and placed in the over at 350*C for around 20-30 minutes. Stir around every 5 minutes. I’ve found it works best to do this the night before so it can cool back down to room temperature.

I’d advise throwing in some rice hulls if fly sparging, I didn’t and very nearly had a stuck sparge.

Brew Pump

I added a small cheap pump to automate whirl-pooling while I run my immersion chiller. I start to run it during the last 10 minutes of the boil to sterilize the pump/tubing/etc. It seems to get the wort down to mid 20’s C in around 15 minutes.

In future I’m looking at automating sparging with it as well. I plan to add a high/low level sensor around 1″ apart. When the level hits the low sensor it would pump till its back to high. This seemed simpler than trying to match flow rates exactly on input/output.

DC 12V Electric Centrifugal Water Pump 109 GPH (P-38E) $22 USD shipped

AC to DC 12V 1A Power Supply $2.49 USD shipped

Pump and Kettle

Quanum DIY FPV – Fully Integrated Receiver

The Hobby King Quanum DIY FPV Goggle Set with Monitor is a cheap FPV headset but if you use the provided wiring with an external video receiver it ends up a bit cumbersome.

To make it easier to use, I embedded a RX5800 video receiver right in the screen leaching power from an existing regulator.

Leaching power seemed to work fine for a bit but the receiver started to work intermittently. I think it was drawing too much current for the existing regulator. I threw in a LM7805 with a 10uF cap on the input side and 0.1uF cap on the output side. Given the internally mounted receiver and regulator I may need to add more venting but I’ll give it a try as is for a bit longer first.

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Quanum Screen with VRX Glued
I insulated the screens pcb using some electricians tape and hot glued the video receiver into position.

Quanum All Assembled
I velcro and strap the battery onto the headstrap (not shown) when in use.

Bonsai Maiden Flights/Crashes

Brought the new wing out to a field and gave it a go; seems to fly well! I moved the servo arms back one notch from neutral as the flaps seemed too low and I couldn’t trim enough to eliminate the problem. I also adjusted to 30% D/R on the remote which helped a lot in the later flights.

Wing took the crashes amazingly well on the whole though the final crash resulted in the battery pulling out the piece of wood its glued too. I imagine I can just switch to strapping all the way through the wing to fix it though.

Hobbyking Bonsai – Assembly

Assembling the Bonsai with the parts I selected required a few tweaks.



First off, I had to enlarge the servo holes. I left the outside and forward edges of the stock holes alone, taking material off the other two sides to make room. I left the holes ~1/8″ undersized to ensure a snug fit which seemed to work well. I used the third hole from the inside on the servo and the top hole on the flap. According to flite test you want 15mm of flap movement for high rates and 8mm for low rates; the positions I used provide ~25mm at full range so I will have to program the controller down to achieve the targets. Using closer hole son the servo looked like it would start to interfere mechanically.

I did have to slightly enlarge both the holes with a small drill bit to get the pusher rods in.

When using the heatshrink to connect the carbonfiber rod to the Z bends, I added a little superglue as otherwise they seemed apt to come apart.


Motor Mount HolesEnlarging for Motor

The stock pre-drilled holes for the motor mount were not spaced appropriately for my motor. I used the motor’s mounting plate as a template and, using a very small drill bit, drilled new holes. The nut securing the motor shaft seemed to poke a bit too far back; to provide it some clearance I drilled a hole from the top then enlarged it slightly with a file.

Also, the bullet connectors I purchased were the correct diameter but not deep enough to fully seat the motor’s connectors. I simply resoldered the new connectors onto the motor so everything mated well.


Glueing Winglets

My patience is pretty short and the super glue pretty slow to set so I propped the wing up on 2×4’s and used some weights to hold the winglets in place while the glue sets. Given the slight texture on the foam I’m not sure superglue will hold that well (doesn’t like to bridge gaps) but I started with it and will use the same setup to gorilla glue it should they break off.


The 8 channel receiver I purchased is notably too large for the application. I stripped the case off of it which seems to get a decent fit. As it filled the compartment out I did have to cut a small notch to provide clearance to actually plugin the servo’s and ESC.

Looking at the back of the plane, the left servo is connect to Channel 1, the right servo to Channel 2 and the ESC/throttle to Channel 3. I followed this youtube video for setting up Elevon Mixing:

RC Flying Wing

I decided to add an RC plane to my flying collection. After a bit of research I settled on the Hobbyking Bonsai.

Based on others success/recommendations I went with a slightly larger motor, battery and servos than the hobbyking recommendations.

Installing the servos actually required enlarging the stock holes. I used an exacto knife to enlarge the holes but kept them ~1/8″ narrower and shorter than the actual servo to ensure a snug fit. I kept the outside and forward edges in the stock location removing material on the inside and back edge.

Installing the motor similarly required drilling fresh holes as the stock ones were not correctly spaced.

Flite test recommends smearing shoe glue onto the leading edge to make it a bit more robust which I have done. I went with a pretty thin layer that extends back ~1/2″ to 3/4″.

The full list of parts purchased was:


Mini/Micro Quad Options

I did some more research on mini/microquads as I worked on building my ~$18 version and actually found some very strong prebuilt options:

$39 WLtoys V939 Beetle 2.4G 4CH Quadcopter Dexterous Mini UFO BNF

This one is ‘Bind and Fly’ you can bind it to the Turnigy 9x remote. Its a micro quad so flyable inside and, in light wind, outside. Very similar to the $18 quad I’m building; but already built!

I purchased a V939 and have played with it a bit. Its fun but compared to other models it certainly isn’t my favourite. Still, given its small size it is likely the best choice if you plan to do mainly indoor flight.

$39 Syma X1 Series 2.4G 4CH 4-Aixs RC BumbleBee UFO Micro Quadcopter

A mini-quad, a bit big for indoor use but actually quite usable outdoors. We purchased a few of these at work and they are surprisingly robust (though given our abuse not indestructible). If you do break something spare parts are quite reasonably priced which is nice.

Includes a remote but can, apparently, also be bound to the Turnigy 9x if one desires.

Having now tried additional models; I’d say the X1 is a good introductory quad but you are likely to outgrow it pretty quick. The cost still makes it appealing but if you can spare the extra $10 I’d get the v949 listed next.

$52 WLtoys V949 Upgraded V212 2.4G 6 Axis RC Quadcopter RTF Mode 2

Again a mini-quad, the general design/parts is extremely similar to a pepped up X1 but this unit comes more highly recommended as the flight controller board is apparently notably better as is the included remote.

Unfortunately, you cannot bind this quad to the 9x as it isn’t a compatible protocol. Otherwise looks like a great choice. You can upgrade the propellors to GWS EP 5443 for front and back to notably improve the performance.

Having played with this one a bit I’d say its the clear winner if you’re looking to just purchase something with a remote. The only nock I’d give it is the lack of 9x remote compatibility.

$32 WLtoys V949 Beetle RC Quadcopter Mini UFO BNF

This appears to be a previous generation V949 and will bind to the 9x remote. Being bind and fly it doesn’t include its own controller. It seems like this one is getting difficult to find; I’d probably pass on it given the difficulty in being certain you’ll receive a 9x compatible unit.

$33 V929 Beetle 4-Axis Dexterous Mini UFO BNF

This appears to be a two generations older V949, largely parts compatible but the older electronics will talk to a 9x transmitter. If you have a 9x transmitter I’d recommend this quad as its definitely compatible. I’d upgrade the props as per the v949 with GWS EP 5443 for front and back.

Overall its quite fun to fly but the auto-flip is a bit annoying. I’m going to adjust the rates down a touch to try and avoid auto-flipping but I’ve also ordered a replacement brushed MultiWii controller to try out which aught to enliven it even further.