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Thread: Ultimate DIY Roaster

  1. #1
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Ultimate DIY Roaster

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi Coffee Snobs,

    I've been meaning to start a thread to share with you my roaster I built for a while now, so here it is...

    I built it at work in my spare time, which took a while because spare time is hard to come by these days. I'm an Engineering Fabrication tradesperson, so building this sort of thing comes second nature to me. I started off with a colander that I got at a super market for $10, which was to become the drum, and I built everything around that. For quite some time that is all I spent on it, as I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could utilise scrap steel as my materials. I also had access to a machine shop where I could have some machined items made along side official jobs, and there was a range of machined parts surplus to the companies needs that I repurposed. So the majority of the build cost me nothing but time.

    So towards the end of the build it became time to fit out the shell with the essentials to making this thing work, the initial $10 cost started to grow. I put in 2 DC gear motors for the drum rotation and cooling bin agitators $30 each, 1 DC direct motor for the fan $80, the fan was $30, and 3 PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) speed controllers $50 each. All of which run off a 24v circuit powered by an AC to DC unit I had lying around the house. Then came the heating element, gas was my choice of heat source. I picked up 4 burners from the hardware store $20 each, along with 4 gate valves $5 each, 1/2 inch copper tubing $30, and some fittings $40. I then made a 5th burner out of some stainless tube left over from a previous project, and robbed my BBQ for a valve to supply it. This was to become a booster burner to ramp up the heat when needed.

    Once it was all wired up and plumbed in, the trials began. Ran it with beans cold and had some issues with beans getting jammed between the drum and face plate. I got some cork gasket material to act as a bush which solved the problem $15. I also changed the drive pulley to a smaller diameter to give it more torque. Then it was time to run the burners, robbed some more parts from my BBQ, igniters and bottle regulator, and it was on. Got up to about 420 degrees C before turning up the fan, then down it came to about 240. Which brings me to the final expense, the temperature measuring device. A TC4C arduino $130 with 2 K type thermocouples $5 each. I was satisfied the contraption was going to do the job, it was time to roast some beans.

    Have you done the maths? Total build cost came to around $625, if I've added that correctly, and about 8 months worth of spare time. I've done 6 roasts in it so far with varied durations ranging from 15 mins to 25 mins, I'm sure it will become more consistent as the drum becomes seasoned. The batches have been 500g and I have had 1kg in it cold. So over all I'm extremely pleased with it. Heres some pics, and I'll be sure to keep you up to date as I go. Tell me what you think...
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by MartyMac; 26th September 2014 at 10:22 PM.
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  2. #2
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Fantastic work Marty...

    A terrific achievement; will look forward to many more posts (and piccies) of roasting efforts as you gain experience with your beaut roaster.

    Mal.
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  3. #3
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    Super impressive...
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  4. #4
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    That's an amazing looking machine!! Great work!
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  5. #5
    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    Very nice,
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  6. #6
    Coffee+carbon=heaven Mono's Avatar
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    Luv it, i'm handy................but not in this league, great work.

    Steve
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  7. #7

  8. #8
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    Excellent! Envious of your mechanical aptitude and skills!
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  9. #9
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    What an awesome DIY !!

    Cheers
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  10. #10
    Coffee Nut fg1972's Avatar
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    You using the TC4 to do any control or is it just reading temps?

  11. #11
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fg1972 View Post
    You using the TC4 to do any control or is it just reading temps?
    At this stage it is reading only the temps, but I intend on hooking up the PID side of it once I get my hands on a LPG solenoid valve. Then I will hook it up to the fan control and the booster burner.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    Wow that is totally amazing, well done Marty!!
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  13. #13
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Very nice DIY indeed!


    Java "Love the lines!" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  14. #14
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    Wow that's awesome
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  15. #15
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    If your not careful u might need to quit your day time job and start taking orders.

    Was the concrete mixer next to it much help
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  16. #16
    Senior Member noonar's Avatar
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    That's one hot roaster MM. Great job.
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  17. #17
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    mate thats awesome...where can i get one
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  18. #18
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Awesome! ! !
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  19. #19
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmmcoffee View Post
    Was the concrete mixer next to it much help
    Yeah mate the mixer is for doing blends...hahahah nah that's just where it lives, for now anyway. Might have to build a shed next...

  20. #20
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Brilliant. I'm sure if you just posted this as "My new roaster" people would be asking where you bought it, what brand is it, how much did you pay? No one would have guessed it was a self-built job.
    I see you have 4 separate gas cocks.
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  21. #21
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flynnaus View Post
    Brilliant. I'm sure if you just posted this as "My new roaster" people would be asking where you bought it, what brand is it, how much did you pay? No one would have guessed it was a self-built job.
    I see you have 4 separate gas cocks.
    Thanks that's quite a compliment.

    Yes the 4 valves are for the primary burners in the back, so they can be isolated independently. The idea was that if it gets too hot I can turn 1 or 2 burners off to achieve a suitable temp range, then control the temp using the fan and booster burner. So far all burners have been required as I've only roasted in winter, but it may come into play in summer.

  22. #22
    Member thewpguy's Avatar
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    Looks so much like a commercial one, mind blowing fabrication, engineering and plumbing skills!
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  23. #23
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Nice work Marty
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Very impressive Marty, great effort.
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  25. #25
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Hi again CSrs,

    Just a bit of an update on my roaster. I've been installing some upgrades/mods, and I took them for a spin last night.

    I got 2 tachometers for the drum and fan speed. Drum works well but haven't got the fan working yet. Just a little something to reference the settings.

    Also put in a computer fan to keep the electronics temp down. Had to put in a step down voltage regulator in too, as it has a 12v rating. This gave me an idea.

    I've been having trouble with the power supply when the fan is cranked up. The fan soaks up the voltage and drops it to 18-20v which intern slows the drum. So you have to adjust the drum when you adjust the fan. My idea was to put 3 more step down regulators in for the motors and juice up the supply. It did make a difference but I could only get 27.2v out of it which is not quite enough. So I've ordered a step up module. We'll see how that goes when it arrives.

    I also decided to go through my receipts to see how much this thing has actually cost. Turns out I wasn't far off the money in my initial post, but I missed a few expenses. The clear ceramic $120, the temp gauge $10, and some electrics stuff $20. So the initial build cost was more like $775. Then the mods, tachometers $17 each, computer fan $7, voltage regulators $5 each, and the step up module $2. Which brings the grand total (so far!) to $838, not bad I recon.

    So I roasted 500g of Columbia Tierra Blanca which roasted nicely. Will be tasting the results in the next couple of days, it was about a CS7-8. Here's some pics of my session...

    ImageUploadedByCoffeeSnobs1412767759.657654.jpg
    ImageUploadedByCoffeeSnobs1412767818.117661.jpg
    ImageUploadedByCoffeeSnobs1412767867.393782.jpg
    ImageUploadedByCoffeeSnobs1412767931.541866.jpg
    ImageUploadedByCoffeeSnobs1412767949.430413.jpg
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  26. #26
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Looking good there MartyMac! Heck, with a few panels and paint you could turn it into the engine room and we'd all be calling you Scotty!


    Java "Gotta love it as a project comes together!" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  27. #27
    Senior Member flynnaus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    ...you could turn it into the engine room and we'd all be calling you Scotty!
    Bean me up, Marty!
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  28. #28
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Javaphile View Post
    Looking good there MartyMac! Heck, with a few panels and paint you could turn it into the engine room and we'd all be calling you Scotty!


    Java "Gotta love it as a project comes together!" phile
    Hahah yeah it is a bit flashy with all the LEDs...

  29. #29
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    I saw your machine in another post....

    But nice sexy machine...

    Bit flashy with those LEDs but one question...

    Perforated drum or not?

    Heat source?

  30. #30
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    That's two questions?
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  31. #31
    Senior Member saoye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLudicrousBean View Post
    I saw your machine in another post....

    But nice sexy machine...

    Bit flashy with those LEDs but one question...

    Perforated drum or not?

    Heat source?
    I believe OP mentioned the entire roaster was built around a supermarket colander so that would be perforated. Heat retention in a colander would be minimal in comparison with commercial drum roasters that have very thick gauges so the roast would rely very heavily on the heat source. Still the result shows very even roast. Looks great!
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  32. #32
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    Very very very cool dude!!!!
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  33. #33
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    Nice work on the roaster man!

    Quick question, did you figure out a way to control the dc fan speed with the tc4c with roast logger?

    Scott
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  34. #34
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    So impressive. Good to see people that have a passion; spend their time and ingenuity on achieving thier goals. That is an impressive looking coffee roaster.
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  35. #35
    Junior Member MartyMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keebler144 View Post
    Nice work on the roaster man!

    Quick question, did you figure out a way to control the dc fan speed with the tc4c with roast logger?

    Scott
    Hi Scott,

    Thanks, I haven't connected the fan yet. But the TC4C and Roast Logger are already equipped to control the fan, it would be just a matter of hooking up the fan and increasing the voltage after the TC4C as it only puts out 5v. The tricky bit for me would be using the heater control, as it is designed to control an electric heater not gas.

    My plan is to install a solenoid valve for the gas, which should work as Roast Logger controls the heat by turning it On or Off. This should translate to Open or Closed. I've found the valve I would need, now I've just got to find the time to install it.

    Cheers
    Marty

  36. #36
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    Very impressed, do you have any pictures of the inside of the roasting chamber and the heat source?

    I'd also like to know how you ratio the size of the chamber vs. the amount of beans.

    Reasoning is simple, i'm already looking at doing something simular, maybe not as grandios... I have access to some Stainless tubing and know a man who can turn them into drums etc.

    Some really nice features... the glass window especially, and love the idea of the arduino - I have about 2 dozen of them sitting around doing nothing

  37. #37
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    Behmor Coffee Roaster
    When I read the thread title i was expecting photos of some hybrid bread machine-heat gun macgyvered into one solid unit.....this blew my mind!



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