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Flite Keg Sensor and Controller DIY

FLITE KEG SENSOR AND CONTROLLER DIY

This DIY will walk you through the steps to build your own Flite keg sensor and controller. Before getting started, it's recommended that you have the following tools and skills:


TOOLS

SKILLS

  • Small electronics assembly
  • Drilling
  • Soldering
  • Coding in C++ or experience with Arduino-type projects

It is also recommended that you familiarize yourself with the capabilities and design considerations for the Flite sensor, controller with display, and headless controller.

FLITE KEG LID SENSOR

FliteSensor

The Flite keg lid sensor is the "sensing" component. This lid has the integrated level, temperature, and pressure sensor. This sensor requires a controller to read and handle the data.

FLITE CONTROLLER WITH DISPLAY

FliteControllerDisplay

The Flite controller with display is the "controller" component. This has the responsibility of reading the sensor and displaying the data. The display is connected to the sensor with a female-to-female 4-pin GX16 aviation socket cable. The display is powered by a micro USB cable. The touch screen display also allows for calibration of the sensor. The controller also has the WiFi capabilities that enable other functionality such as:

FLITE HEADLESS CONTROLLER

headless5

The Flite headless controller has all of the same capabilities as the Flite controller with display, minus the touchscreen display. The Flite headless controller is designed to install directly on the Flite keg lid sensor, eliminating the need to mount an external display and route the female-to-female 4-pin GX16 aviation socket cable. This does still require a micro USB cable for power.

Design Considerations

Because every brewer's kegerator/keezer setup is different, the Flite architecture supports different design models to accommodate this. Here is an overview of the Flite architecture, demonstrating different configuration options:

FliteArchitecture

HOW MANY KEG SENSORS DO I NEED?

You need 1 Flite keg sensor for EVERY keg you want to monitor.

HOW MANY CONTROLLERS DO I NEED?

You need 1 Flite display OR Flite headless controller per Flite keg sensor.

SHOULD I USE A FLITE DISPLAY OR HEADLESS CONTROLLER?

This ultimately depends on the number of kegs you have, how you would like to view your data, and how you would like to configure/calibrate your sensor when needed. If you have only a couple of kegs, the Flite display is likely the best option, as it has a local display that can be mounted near your taps. If you have more than a couple of kegs or plan to build out to more than a couple of kegs, you may want a monitor to display your data. If this is the case, a Flite display IS NOT required to connect the sensor to the monitor, and a headless option is simpler and cheaper to install. Be aware that calibrating the Flite headless controller requires you to browse the local web server, so you should be comfortable with that.

More information on calibration using the web server can be found in the Flite User's Guide here:

https://www.flitesense.com/support

OK... A MONITOR DISPLAYING MY KEG DATA SOUNDS COOL, WHAT OPTIONS ARE SUPPORTED?

Currently there are two options supported for a monitor displaying your keg data:

  • Taplist.io - A cloud-based subscription service. The Flite controller can be configured to automatically update your kegs, and you can view and display your "keg room" on any monitor with internet access.
    More integration support can be found here:

https://www.flitesense.com/taplistio-support

  • BruControl - A Windows-based software for developing custom HMI (Human Machine Interface) graphics for your brewery sensors and leveraging scripting to automate control.

  • KegScreen - A free open-source web server that reads the local Flite controllers and displays the data on a monitor connected to a Raspberry Pi. This project is in progress, more details to come soon!

Building a Flite Keg Lid Sensor

BILL OF MATERIALS (Approximate cost of materials: $65)


ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Drill a 5/8" hole in the corny keg lid using a stepper bit for stainless steel. This hold should be centered between the lid handle mounting brackets, and approximately halfway between the PRV and the lip of the lid.

IMG_6903

Install male 4-pin GX16 connector to keg lid with sensor enclosure cover.

IMG_6795

IMG_6794

Solder wires to VL53L0X sensor and HSC pressure/temperature sensor based on pinout drawings.

IMG_6796

HSC_I2C_Pinout

VL53L0X

Solder wires to 4-pin GX16 connector based on pinout drawing.

IMG_6800

Pinout_Grey_Background

Place a small bead of loctite, or some type of fast-acting glue around both sensor openings on the sensor enclosure, and install the sensors in their respective openings.

IMPORTANT! This is the most critical part of this assembly. There must be a seal between the sensors and the openings. You will pour epoxy into this enclosure in the next step, and if it's not sealed, it will leak out and make a mess (ask me how I know).

Take your time and make sure this is sealed well, and make sure there is not any glue residue over the VL53L0X sensor face or the pressure sensor nipple.

IMG_6807

IMG_6805

Coil wires into sensor enclosure, do a quick test fit to make sure you can close up the enclosure.

IMG_6810

Pour epoxy until the level is high enough for the "legs" of the enclosure lid to make contact with the epoxy. Holding the enclosure level, install the lid onto the enclosure, and wipe any residual epoxy around the enclosure.

IMG_6812

Place lids SENSOR SIDE DOWN on the edge of a surface allowing the pressure nipple to extrude over the edge. You may want to add weight above the connector to keep the lid from tipping over. I have found sockets are quite useful for this.

IMG_6813

IMG_6814

After the first stage of epoxy has fully cured, apply a bead of loctite or fast-acting glue along the edge of the sensor enclosure where the sensor meets the underside of the corny keg lid.

IMG_6830

Using something to keep the lid level (see the foam insert in picture below), pour epoxy into the underside of the corny keg lid. Pour until the sensor enclosure and lid mating surface is covered, but don't pour past the PRV.

IMG_6831

Once the second stage of epoxy has fully cured, you have finished building the Flite keg lid sensor!

IMG_6834

Building a Flite Display Controller

BILL OF MATERIALS (Approximate cost of materials: $35)


ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Note - Depending on the vendor of the Wemos D1 mini board, some may have a high rate of failure out of the box. It is recommended to comfirm that you can successfully flash the board before spending any effort to begin soldering. See flashing instructions below.

Assemble the Wemos D1 Mini, breakout board, and touchscreen display using this writeup here:

https://docs.thingpulse.com/guides/wifi-color-display-kit/

Solder wires to 4-pin GX16 connector based on pinout drawing.

IMG_6803

Pinout_Grey_Background

(RECOMMENDED) Using loctite or some type of fast-drying glue, place a bead around the 4-pin GX16 connector in the inside of the enclosure's bottom cavity, make sure this is sealed. Pour food grade epoxy into bottom cavity of enclosure. This is an optional step, but I have found that epoxy keeps the connector from rotating and provides a solid base for mounting.

IMG_6808

Thread the socket cap screws through the screw holes and through the display and breakout board. These will cut the threads into the enclosure as you screw them in. The board should be secured and flush with the enclosure face when finished.

IMG_6826

IMG_6827

Solder the wires from the connector to the header pins on the Wemos D1 Mini.

Red - 3V3
Black - G
Blue - Rx
White - Tx

IMG_6828

Snap the back cover onto the enclosure to protect the components inside.

IMG_6829

Building a Flite Headless Controller

BILL OF MATERIALS (Approximate cost of materials: $15)


ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS

Note - Depending on the vendor of the Wemos D1 mini board, some may have a high rate of failure out of the box. It is recommended to comfirm that you can successfully flash the board before spending any effort to begin soldering. See flashing instructions below.

Remove the plastic female portion of the female 4-pin GX16 connector from the connector sleeve, and solder wires to it based on pinout drawing.

IMG_6880

Pinout_Grey_Background

Firmly press female connector into the bottom of the Flite headless enclosure. This should be a tight fit!

IMG_6881

Pour a small amount of fast-acting glue into the bottom of the headless enclosure where the female connector is installed. You can also add epoxy here if desired, just make sure not to fill past the shelf. The Wemos D1 Mini will rest on this shelf.

IMG_6882

Solder the wires from the connector to the Wemos D1 Mini board.

Red - 3V3
Black - G
Blue - Rx
White - Tx

Install the board in the enclosure channel USB side up. You may need to use a small screwdriver to help move wires out of the way so the Wemos D1 Mini board sits flush on the shelf, and is flush with the top of the enclosure.

Snap the lid onto the enclosure, and plug the Flite headless controller into the Flite keg sensor lid.

IMG_6879

Programming a Flite Display or Headless Controller

Flite is supported by BrewFlasher, which is a free software for flashing the Flite firmware to your controller.

brewflasher_logo

Download the BrewFlasher desktop application for Windows or MacOS here:

https://github.com/thorrak/brewflasher/releases

Plug the Flite controller into your computer via micro USB cable.

Make sure your computer has access to the internet.

Unzip and launch the application.

Configure the selections as shown below (your COM port may be different and the firmware may be newer), and click "Download Firmware and Flash Controller":

BrewFlasherGUI

Cycle power to your Flite controller. You have succesfully built and programmed your Flite controller!

Follow instructions to calibrate and configure Flite in the User's Guide here:

https://www.flitesense.com/support

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