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Thread: Silvia + PID ramblings

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    Silvia + PID ramblings

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    My PID kit arrived from Jim, yesterday, so I thought Ill share my experiance of 24 hrs with you lot.

    What is it?: A PID is a microprocessor temperature controller, which replaces your ordinary thermostatic control.

    Why use it?: With a PID the boilers temperature is kept at the target value with very little variation - while the machine is "idling". I have measured the boiler with the standard Silvia and its temperature swings between around 80 deg to 115 deg C, as the heaters thermostat switches in and out. With the PID fitted, the temperature is kept within +/- 1 deg C. This means that I can start proceedings at any time on a fully warmed up machine, and know that I am at the set temp. It also means that both recovering from pulling a shot, and switching on from cold, will result in reaching the set temp with virtually no overshoot.

    Why not to buy one?: Firstly price. They are not cheap. Price varies depending on which controller, which kit and from what source. I bought mine for about $250 Aus, from the US. I think it was well worth it, but everyone needs to make up their own mind.

    Secondly fitting. The instructions that came with my kit were simply brilliant! However, fitting a PID will invariably void the Silvias warranty (although, you could un-install it and then make a warranty claim); and it does take between 2 - 3 hours of work with some basic tools like a long Philips screwdriver and a 7mm deep-socket wrench. It is also electrical work with mains voltage equipment, so the safety is your responsibility.

    Third, it addresses some features only and does not turn a bad machine (+ operator) into a perfect one. You must set your expectations right.

    Well, I think I said enough for starters. If there are any questions I am more than happy to share, but I dont want to just repeat what many others have already said much better than I.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Thanks for the info Paul.

    Ive long been thinking about a PID as a possible short-term remedy for upgradeitis. Temp stability or perceived lack thereof is the only issue I have with the Silvia. Plus the ability to alter temp would be an interesting feature to have.

    Does it speed up the time taken to get up to steam temp i.e can you steam faster after the pour?

    Matt

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Hi Matt,

    The PID doesnt alter the heating capacity of the heater element. To get to steaming, the element is switched 100% ON. There is no way therefore to make that go any quicker!

    What IS quicker is to reach a brewing temp without overshooting. The other advantage is that you have a continuous and accurate display of the boilers temp. So if you notice that when set to steaming, the heater is switched off at say 145 deg C, then you start pulling steam at 140 deg C (as shown on the PID). This way the heater stays ON, giving you the best possible steam.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Good precis, Pszillard. Incidently, at what temperature does your steam light go off, and then come back on again.

    -Robusto

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Well folks, Ive just successfully modified my PID Watlow 935a programming to provide a timed brew control using Output #2.

    When set, you would just leave the Silvias Brew switch permanently on the ON position and instead start and stop brewing with the PIDs buttons, except it would TIME the duration and switch off at the end of the set time. The operator can also end the brewing prematurely at any time. This would make Miss Silvia semi-automatic!

    I am very pleased with this little mode hehehe.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Ive had a suggestion to time delay the pump to implement pre infusion. Do people think this is a worth while addition? How many seconds of delay would be recommended?

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    My PID came with the machine- second hand! So I am spoiled. When it comes to steaming- If I am doing a milk based drink rather than a short black, I will ususally switch the steam switch on midway through the pour- that means- if I have my PID set at 95oC, midway its probably down to about 92oC, by switching the steam switch on midway, it finishes the pour closer to 95oC. I switch off the pour, bang the grounds out, bleed the steam a bit and wait. If its a small jug of milk I will start at about 108oC and thats enough to do it, medium- about 112oC and a large jug I allow it to go through to 124oC.
    I normally try and switch off the steam switch as the jug begins to get hot so that its down around the low hundreds when it finishes. I continue to bleed the steam till its below 100oC then flick the water switch to refill the boiler; by with time Im ready to rinse out the jug!
    Beautiful 8-)
    RH

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Timed extractions sounds like a neat thing to do -- although I go by volume rather than time. But sounds like fun anyway.

    Theres been a lot of debate about whether pre-infusion is practical with a vibe pump. Some, who have done the necessary hard yards of metering, *say it is possible, that the pump can take the required time to get up to speed instead of instantly blasting the puck with full-on pressure.

    One geek calculated the amount of water it would take to saturate it at certain pressure and came up with impressive-looking data whose details I cant recall.

    Obviously, you would have to stop the pre-infusion before extracted coffee emerges from the spouts (um, even the residual amount between the basket and spout was calculated by this enthusiast).

    Try about 1.5 seconds. Wait for about 3 seconds, and go again.

    * * * --* BUT --

    if you think that produces successful pre-infusion, do a taste test, and then decide if its all worth it.

    -Robustp

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by pszilard link=1168394800/0#5 date=1168419511
    Ive had a suggestion to time delay the pump to implement pre infusion. Do people think this is a worth while addition? How many seconds of delay would be recommended?
    The Solis SL90 which I used to have had pre infusion. It turned the vibe pump on for about 3 seconds.... then off for about 5 seconds before turning on for the pre determined volume. (times going from memory..... so could be a bit out..... basically it put enough water into the puck so that it started to pour as soon as the main extraction began)

    It did make a fuller bodied espresso than when the pre infusion was not used...

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    the ems pre-infuse and that cant be turned off

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Its not just a matter of wetting the puck ahead of the extraction.... *:(

    The whole idea is to GENTLY soak the puck so that it does not break up or *allow channelling when the main stream hits. *To do that, water has to emit from the pump at a lower pressure or volume than the 9-bar extraction pressure allows.

    Because the vibe pump gets up to speed very quickly -- it is a matter of debate if that fractional moment of ramping up is long enough to be classified as functional pre-infusion.

    --Robusto


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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by robusto link=1168394800/0#10 date=1168427540
    Its not just a matter of wetting the puck ahead of the extraction.... :(

    The whole idea is to GENTLY soak the puck so that it does not break up or allow channelling when the main stream hits. To do that, water has to emit from the pump at a lower pressure or volume than the 9-bar extraction pressure allows.

    Because the vibe pump gets up to speed very quickly -- it is a matter of debate if that fractional moment of ramping up is long enough to be classified as functional pre-infusion.

    --Robusto

    Would simply opening the solenoid a few seconds ahead of the pump be effective? There is a little pressure in the system even without the pump. You can see this by opening the steam wand at brew temp.

    Jim

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Ive just started to run the Silvias pump for 3 sec and then stop for about 10 sec before pulling a regular (double) shot. The results are good, but they were so good to start with that I cant perceive any stellar improvements.

    I am thinking about installing a non-latching push button on the Silvia, which would just activate the brewhead solenoid without running the pump. otherwise just do the manual priming as mentioned. With the push button idea, I would just depress that for 3 to 4 seconds to let the water onto the puck before activating the pump after a short delay.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Well, I am very pleased with my Silvia! I am not good enough for late art, and there is no espresso art, so I thought Ill show you guys my last shot of decaf here instead:



    I took a sequence of 33 photos, which I reduced in size for a quick web view and placed them here:

    http://remektek.com.au/albums/shot/

    This is after I just got the Rocky to go with Silvia. I think I could get to like this stuff... *;D

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Its looking very blonde there. I think you should have ended the shot a fair bit earlier than when you took the photo. The pour looks a bit like a gusher too. Try tamping harder, grinding finer or grinder a touch coarser and overdosing to slow down the pour.

    David

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Very nice picture Paul and a great looking pour.

    ...I can nearly smell it.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    This was the end result:



    I thought "Blondes have more fun" No?

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Touche Paul...touche....as long as youre having fun!

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by pszilard link=1168394800/15#16 date=1169293449
    This was the end result:
    Youre definitely on your way there PZ..... not too shabby at all 8-)

    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Looks like a good pour to me --- starts off very good, thin lines and the colour is dark.

    To stop at the point Wushoes suggested would be premature unles a ristretto was being aimed for. Most of that crema dissipates and only a few drops of brew would have been left.

    --Robusto

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Back to PIDs. I have now received a 2nd SSR from Jim and started looking at the Silvias circuit diagram. (http://home.surewest.net/frcn/Coffee...lviaWorks.html)

    The PID timer control (Output #2) is a single control switch. The brew switch is however a double pole single throw switch; one for the pump and the other for the solenoid.

    This presents me with a choice:

    METHOD 1
    Use the PID and 2nd SSR to only control the pump wiring. The operation is

    1. first switch the rocker to brew which starts the pre-infusion,
    2. press the timing start on the PID, which performs a timed pump
    3. when PID finished timing OR if flow is too fast, switch brew rocker to OFF

    OR

    METHOD 2
    Get another reed relay to control the solenoid and use the 2nd SSR to control the pump.
    Operation is

    1. brew switch is normally in ON position, but nothing happens until PID is triggered
    2. trigger both solenoid and pump with PID
    3. early switch off can be done by turning OFF the brew rocker switch, or cancel timing on the PID

    I favour the first method, but I would like to hear your comments.

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    Senior Member robusto's Avatar
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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    It sounds like a lot of "fun with electronics". But are you sure it is all necessary or worthwhile?

    Seems to me its rather much ado about nothing for the effort involved.

    Why not dispense with all the wires, wiring et al, and simply press the Silvia brew switch, have a cheap $5 battery clock nearby, and stop brewing at 25-30 seconds?

    Let the PID do its heating thing with the precision neither yourself or Silvia can achieve.... and leave the timing to your finger (and clock)!!!

    --Robusto


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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Of course, you are totally right about it being unnecessary, but it is for fun! Kinda, my version of climbing a mountain. After all, why do that? Just because you can.

    It IS just for fun, but then that is part of the enjoyment with all the fiddling about. If I just wanted a cup of coffee, I could just go to a cafe and get one for $4 bucks. ;)

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Very nice series of photos there, Paul, you could print them off, staple them together in order and have a flick pad of an espresso pour to impress your nearest and dearest. :P

    Great looking pour as well. :)

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by pszilard link=1168394800/15#22 date=1169378061
    Of course, you are totally right about it being unnecessary, but it is for fun! Kinda, my version of climbing a mountain. After all, why do that? Just because you can.

    It IS just for fun, but then that is part of the enjoyment with all the fiddling about. If I just wanted a cup of coffee, I could just go to a cafe and get one for $4 bucks. *;)
    As a fiddler myself, I know where youre coming from! *Enjoy it.
    But $4 for a coffee --- must be mighty good at that price. I think the most Ive paid is $3.70, but *the usual price is $2 with a staff discount, $3 otherwise.

    -Robusto

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    But $4 for a coffee --- must be mighty good at that price. I think the most Ive paid is $3.70, but *the usual price is $2 with a staff discount, $3 otherwise.
    Hi Robusto,
    I had a laugh. I was being generous and included a tip on a large cino! ;D

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by Viviane link=1168394800/15#23 date=1169387445
    Very nice series of photos there, Paul, you could print them off, staple them together in order and have a flick pad of an espresso pour to impress your nearest and dearest. :P

    Great looking pour as well. :)
    get one made from flipclips http://www.flipclips.com/

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    is it possible to have a timed pre-infusion? Ie could the pid open the soleniod for 3-5 seconds then start the pump automatically leaving you to turn it all off when done? I would see more value in this (if this method of pre-infusion has any value) then timeing your pour to thirty seconds. if it goes blonde sooner your going to want to stop anyhow.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Well, personally I am not upset by early blonding, however I think some of my experienced fellow forumites may well differ. To me blonde = crema and IMHO it just does the guinness thing - unless of course the drip looses it concentration. You can see from my photo sequence what I mean, how the guinness effect converted to a nice end result.

    Regarding timing. The PID has one set of connections (Output #2) that can be connected for a timed period. How you use this is up to you (or me). If you are into electronics, then you could build in a 555 timer or similar to time a second function, such as pre-infusion and use the PID for pumping or vica versa.

    What I am going to do is to have a manual pre-infusion and a timed pump. The pump can be switched off before the time period expires, should the need arise. As mentioned before, all this is really just a bit of tinkering, as you can do everything manually if you wanted.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by pszilard link=1168394800/15#28 date=1169444564
    Well, personally I am not upset by early blonding, however I think some of my experienced fellow forumites may well differ. To me blonde = crema and IMHO it just does the guinness thing - unless of course the drip looses it concentration. You can see from my photo sequence what I mean, how the guinness effect converted to a nice end result.
    When the crema starts to blonde you are getting far more bitter elements in the espresso (and far more caffeine)...

    Try this test (which we did at professional machine course)...

    Extract your shot into thirds (10ml, 10ml, 10ml) and taste each in turn...

    The first will be sweet and great flavour
    The second will be OK but not as good
    The third will be bitter and not very nice at all

    If you test before and after the start of blonding.... you will find the taste deteriorates heaps.... might look good but tastes like cr@p.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Hi Paul,

    how long did the PID take to arrive after you ordered it from Jim.

    Terry

    Rancilio Silvia, Rocky, Pullman Tamper, "Corretto" roaster

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Seems to me pszilard that you might have been better off with a small PID capable PLC unit... Then you could have created what ever level of control your heart so desired ;) 8-)

    Mal.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by terrym link=1168394800/30#30 date=1169511872
    Hi Paul,

    how long did the PID take to arrive after you ordered it from Jim.

    Terry

    Rancilio Silvia, Rocky, Pullman Tamper, "Corretto" roaster
    About 6 days, from day of dispatch. Jim uses Global Express, which seems very good. I also found Jim to be very responsive and helpful. Lastly the product is first class with very clear instructions.

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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal link=1168394800/30#31 date=1169565523
    Seems to me pszilard that you might have been better off with a small PID capable PLC unit... Then you could have created what ever level of control your heart so desired ;) 8-)

    Mal.
    Whats a "PLC"? The primary target of my upgrade-itis is an Expobar Minore/Brewtus 2, however I have reached the financial limits of what I am prepared to spend for the sake of a cup of coffee, especially as I think that my current setup produces as good a result (to my taste) as anything else that is made from coffee beans. To me the lust factor is really down to enjoying the convenience of a double boiler item, but as I never have to make more than 2 shots at a time, I can live with the Silvia.

  35. #35
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    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

    Quote Originally Posted by pszilard link=1168394800/30#33 date=1169676005
    Whats a "PLC"?
    Gday again pszilard,

    PLC stands for "Programmable Logic Controller" although these days they are much more functional than just being able to manage logical processes. Most are referred to these days as "Programmable Controllers" or PCs.... A bit confusing though when one could also be referring to personal computers. Even quite small PLCs are capable of PID control to a level that is much more refined than standard intrinsic units such as most of us use for espresso machine boilers and the like. As the "Programmable" part of the nomenclature implies, PLCs are configured through software, often loaded into a PC for design and testing prior to uploading into the PLC itself.

    Essentially, PLCs are manufactured according to how many external I/O can be controlled, both digital and analogue. A small PLC with 24-48 I/O would probably cost in the neighbourhood of $300-$500 and include a couple of PID I/O in that package. These are industrial devices though and probably can only be purchased through manufacturers channels. However, for the sort of tinkering youre talking about, your imagination would be the only limiting factor as to what is possible.

    Cheaper alternatives are available as add-on I/O cards for a PC and usually include the software package as well. Its been a long time since Ive been involved with this sort of hardware though so Im not sure what might be available in the market these days. Anyway, thats the long and the short of it mate... If youd like to know more about it, Im sure theres lots of good info to be found on the Net about PLCs and various similar devices. All the best with your project,

    Mal.



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