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Rancilio Silvia and meCoffee PID

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  • Rancilio Silvia and meCoffee PID

    After looking at PIDs for the Silvia on and off for the past few years. I finally decided that I would put in a bit more effort searching to see if there was anything that could be installed inside the machine and maintain the same functionality of the existing buttons. Came across a review of the meCoffee from August 2015: http://www.rojtberg.net/1109/mecoffe...ncilio-silvia/

    Other than the review and their website, there was little info about it, but decided to give it a try as it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for plus on ~$200. I ordered it on Sunday 17th January, received postage confirmation on Wednesday 20th January and it arrived yesterday 1st February. Not too bad considering it came from Netherlands and had been opened for Australian Customs inspection. Makes sense I guess as the Customs scanner would just show small package with a bundle of wires and electronic box.

    Attached are a couple of pictures of what was in the package and one installation was complete. I forgot to take a picture of the install prior to tucking the controller inside the unit.

    The install instructions are easy to follow with checks at the end of each step to ensure everything has been connected correctly. It is also handy having the install video to reference especially for how to tuck the controller into the Silvia. With the wife's help, we did all install steps except for the last one for the timer as don't feel too comfortable having the machine warm up by itself.

    Have only made a couple of coffees and played around a bit with the pressure (pump dimming), so only have some initial impressions. The preinfusion seems to work well, and seemed to hit a nice ~25 second double shot. The coffee seems to be less bitter from both mine and my wife's thoughts. Not sure if this is placebo as didn't have an non-PID coffee to directly compare it to. However we did run the meBarista app to watch the temperature tracking and it does return back to set temperature for the next shot very quickly. For note, the meBarista app is not required to operate the system as the boiler light indicates when it is at the right temperature.

    With the milk steaming set to 135 degrees, the steam reaches temp quickly and the boiler kicks back in quickly once steaming is commenced. Not sure if we noticed a difference in quality, but steaming was good as normal non the less.

    So far so good, but will start to play around with some of the settings and see what differences are made. I would be interested to hear thoughts from @rayuki who has also purchased one.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Javaphile; 2 February 2016, 01:40 PM. Reason: Fixed title

  • #2
    I just realised I spelt Rancilio wrong. Can the thread title be edited?

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    • #3
      I had no idea such a system existed. This would definitely be an option for me as I love the idea of it being hidden away, retaining the original aesthetics of the machine. How long did the install take you? That review you linked mentioned 45 minutes but seems excessive if it's just a matter of "connecting a few cables" like they say.

      Keen to hear your impressions over time. Shame there's no IOS app!

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      • #4
        It took us roughly that amount of time as well, but not due to it being difficult. It took us that long due to double checking everything each step, then doing the test after each step, then double checking the Silvia had been unplugged from the wall before proceeding to next step. Maybe a bit pedantic, but wanted to ensure everything was all good before closing the Silvia back up.

        In regards to iOS, apparently they are actively working on it with the aim of releasing something late February or in March. I came across this on a German forum I was reading via Google translate as was scratching for any info I could find on this thing. The person had copied an email response they received from the people who make the meCoffee. At least that's how Google translated it :P

        Also, thanks @Javaphile for fixing the title!
        Last edited by millsii; 2 February 2016, 10:58 PM.

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        • #5
          Will comment with my thoughts once I get around to installing mine. Hopefully have time this weekend

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          • #6
            Good one, I will be interested to hear your thoughts!

            I am RDO today, so had some time to play around with the settings a bit more. While leaving it in continuous mode (dimming) and playing around with the derivative values it would still cycle a degree or two either side of set point. To be fair the Silvia was still warming up, so may have impacted?

            I set it to interval where it pulses the boiler (like an Auber or other PIDs). When it overshot from pulsing the boiler very frequently I remembered the meBarista help info says a wind down interval of 1sec for continuous mode or 5secs for interval mode. After making the change to 5secs, the temperature curve really flattened out to within 0.5 degrees of set point. After running some water a couple of times to see how it recovered, I changed the interval to 4secs and found it recovered quicker, but with a bit over a 1 degree overshoot before settling out. Splitting hairs to be honest, but set it back to the recommended 5secs and rewarded my efforts with a nice double shot

            I'll try to remember to run meBarista during warm up tomorrow morning and observe how interval mode behaves during initial warmup.

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            • #7
              As a follow up to my previous post, I remembered to track warmup using interval mode. As shown in the picture, it comes up to temperature a bit after 4mins and then holds nice and steady from then on.

              In regards to pulling a shot after running water into the cup to heat them up. The temperature recovery is fairly consistent in that the boiler light will start to blink again when it is roughly within a degree coming up to set point, so gives a good indication when it is all good to pull a shot.
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                well started the install tonight but run into a problem already. up to the point of installing the sensor and starting the app and it reading room temp, however ours reads at 219degree lol. tried it on 2 phones and does the same thing. sent them an email hopefully they can help. really hope i dont have a faulty sensor. can you let me know if this looks about the same as yours did at this point? not sure if i did something wrong but we followed the instructions and this is where it was at this point.


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                • #9
                  Sure it's not in Fahrenheit instead of celsius?

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                  • #10
                    that was my first thought also lol but even then its too high. luckily the support is insanely fast they responded within 5mins, the cable on the sensor was around the wrong way. thats what you get for taking it off! (told my wife not too lol, she was helping me install it and took it off to get it into place on the boiler, and we put it back on the wrong way around!)

                    after that small hiccup install was a breeze. its a bit fiddly but mainly because some of the cables on the silvia are seriously stubborn to come off. waiting for it to heat up now to do a few test shots. i installed everything except the timer and the pressure control.

                    @
                    millsii what settings are you using for preinfusion?

                    also my power button light is blinking does yours do that? or is it supposed to stay on lol.
                    Last edited by rayuki; 9 February 2016, 03:15 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Good to hear it was a simple resolution to your issue! See attached our current preinfusion and pressure settings. We took some time on Sunday playing around with the settings. You can get lost in a sea of variables, so when we found something that had a positive impact, we locked it in so as we progressed we had less variables to work with. It meant taking a sip and pouring a lot of coffee down the sink.

                      What we ended up with was a taste that we really like, but is also repeatable whether it is myself or my wife doing the grinding/tamping.

                      The light next to the power button indicates when the boiler is on. If it is a solid light blinking on and off, then the meCoffee is set to interval under the temperature settings. If the light stays on all the time, but dims when near temperature, then it is set to continuous. We have ours set to interval as found it to be more stable at holding temperature to with 1 degree of setpoint. Which ever setting you use, the meCoffee is controlling the boiler temperature to stay as close to setpoint as possible by running the PID loop.
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Nice thanks for the settings. Yeah I didn't install the pressure option of the mecoffee, might get around to it another time. Glad to know about the light, figured it must have been that since I set mine to interval mode also. Waiting on some new beans now to play around some more lol.

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                        • #13
                          Great to see that kits like this are starting to become available, that take advantage of current technology and interfaces...

                          Still need to play very safe though, don't forget for one moment that there be dragons under the bonnet of espresso machines, that can and do occasionally kill...

                          Mal.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dimal View Post
                            Still need to play very safe though, don't forget for one moment that there be dragons under the bonnet of espresso machines, that can and do occasionally kill...
                            Mal.
                            Internal temperature is obviously the main concern, but on their final install step they mention:
                            Extensive measurements spanning multiple days have shown your meCoffee heating up to around 60 degrees Celcius in this position during normal use. This is well below the ratings of the quality components we have selected: there is no need to move the meCoffee to another position.
                            Seems fine at the moment, but this is only after one week. Increased temperature will have an effect on the electronics longevity, so I guess that impact is an unknown at the moment given that they have only been around for nearly a year.

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                            • #15
                              Not what I was referring to mate....

                              The "Dragon" I was referring to is the 240V AC open connections that exist everywhere under the bonnet of most espresso machines. I don't care about the controller, more about people who may try this Mod' without the necessary qualifications, licenses or experience....

                              Mal.

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