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  • Silvia + PID ramblings

    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.

  • #2
    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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    • #3
      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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      • #4
        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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        • #5
          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            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?

            Comment


            • #7
              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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              • #8
                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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                • #9
                  Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

                  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...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

                    the ems pre-infuse and that cant be turned off

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Silvia + PID ramblings

                        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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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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