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Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
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Goldensncoffee
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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 3:57am
Subject: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

I've been looking online a little bit at some higher end hobby roasters (sorry if this isn't correct). The Huky, Quest, and Sonofresco are the 3 I've looked at. I haven't done extensive research yet into them so bear with me here. I'm not purchasing one any time in the real near future but I do have some other hobbies that I'm no longer really into that could be liquidated to pay for one....so well see.
My main question is this; I thought one of the most important things is being able to duplicate a roast profile, however I don't see any sort of control like that on any of these units. Sonofresco has the ADR software that looks great for logging but does it control as well? I've read about people using Artisan software but how in the world does this get hooked up to your roaster ? I know little to nothing about computers. Is this something that your average non-electrical engineer, non-computer guy can figure out?

Thanks
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 12:02pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

The HotTop can be set up fairly easily to automatically follow a programmed profile.  Since the conversion has been done many times and is so well documented, it only takes "paint by numbers" expertise and not a huge amount of DIY electrical engineering sophistication.

Artisan is free software.  Although it has many features and uses, it's primary utilities are real time temperature display, real time plotting, and archiving roast information for later reference.  

Surprisingly, Artisan not well documented.  Many of its features are not discussed at all in the "manual," nor are instructions given for changing the settings to many of the most popular configurations.   Manual, shmanual.  Everyone and his brother uses Artisan, and everyone, his brother, his aunt, and the software designers themselves are all eager to help.  Documentation gets a C-. Support gets an A+.  If you keep asking, you'll get answers.

Artisan is not the only game in town.  There are other programs which offer different feature sets, different levels of sophistication, etc.  You might want to take a look at Roast Logger, Roaster Thing and Typica as well as Artisan.  

The easiest way to set up Artisan and similar programs is with common thermocouples (usually either "J" or "K" types mounted so that the ET and BT probes are appropriately located inside the drum and/or airflow; and the MET TC (if used) is appropriately located outside the drum.  The TCs must be connected to some sort of device which will convert their signal to one the software can read.  There are a variety of ways to go about this.  

With Artisan, the two most common are either a stand alone data logger with USB output (like an Amprobe TMD 56, or Omega HH 806AU), or a TC -> USB converter without a display or data logging capabilities like a Phidget or Arduino TC/4.  Parenthetically the TC/4 is (or was) the device most commonly used for Artisan automation.

Depending on the software, another way of skinning the cat is via Modbus RTC protocol, but hardware tends to be be expensive, and I suspect we're getting out of your depth.  

As far as I know -- which isn't far -- neither the Quest nor Huky is amenable to automation.  

However -- this I well know -- with adequate telemetry, real time plotting, focus, attention to sensory information, a reasonably agile roaster, and good command of the roaster's controls, a roast master can repeat profiles with fair precision.  

Hope this helps,
Rich
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germantownrob
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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

Just to add my 2cents to Rich's excellent post.

The HotTop automation on the B was best for setting up pre warming to get to drop in temps I was using, beyond that it wasn't going to duplicate a roast as good as I can manually adjusting the roast based on senses and BT readings.

Automation is very handy when running a roasting business, it will allow many other chores to get done during the roast but it has to be a good enough system to give repeatable results. From Diedrich this equipment starts around $10k, I have read that USRC has a lower cost automation. Automation is not going to be very helpful if the roast master doesn't have the skills to make roasts that are worth repeating and then there will be tweaking to adjust for new beans or even harvest of the same beans.

Now I am not in business of roasting coffee but I roast a lot of beans for friends and family so I don't need to worry about customers that want the beans they bought last week, month, year to taste exactly like they did when they last purchased. I prefer to tweak my profiles in minor ways, always looking for a better roast or just to change up the flavor profile from the last roast. For some beans or blends, for example Sweet Maria's New Classic Espresso, I have been roasting it for 4 years, the graphs of the roasts will always be very similar to the last hundreds of pounds I have roasted with the exception of extreme weather changes or a New Years blend that requires some bigger tweaks but with that I am chasing a comfort food that I want to taste a certain way.

I am not a Sonofresco fan but people that have used them report back good results for a plug and play but I have seen very little about what their new software can do.
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Goldensncoffee
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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 3:07pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

I really do appreciate the info guys. I had no idea that people were using these higher end roasters and actually using knobs and such to manually follow a profile. I kind of figured it was all automated (with plugged in parameters). I guess it makes sense as with my Poppery, a router speed controller and a kill-a-watt meter I can replicate a profile pretty darn close each time...I have a lot to learn :-). Very grateful you guys are always there to help
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JGG
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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2014, 7:33pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

First, a disclosure: I build and sell the HTRI and TC4 system boards described in this post.  The TC4 system hardware and software are both completely open source and follow the work of Bill Welch and others from the homeroasters.org forum.

It is possible to use add-on electronics to have computer-controlled repeatable roasts on a Hottop.  Both Artisan and RoastLogger programs can be configured to do this through the combined HTRI and TC4 systems.  There may be other ways to interface to the roaster's electronic controls, but I am only familiar with HTRI and TC4.  And there are probably other roasters that can be controlled similarly, but the Hottop is the one I am familiar with.  Artisan and RoastLogger are both freely downloadable and have excellent support.

For info on Hottop roaster control using RoastLogger and Artisan, try these links:

RoastLogger User Manual (PDF) by Randy Glass

HTRI User Guide by Randy Glass

Controlling a Hottop (Artisan) by Marko Luther

Controlling a Hottop Roaster with Artisan, by Barrie Fairley
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4HTX5 wS3NB2ZU43TTROYUNtbzg/edit?usp=sharing

Artisan/TC4 driver installation for Windows, by Jack Hannon
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4HTX5 wS3NB2SlRQa1ozNnZ4Uk0/edit?usp=sharing

Both RoastLogger and Artisan allow you to script your roasts based on predetermined events.  PID control is also currently available using RoastLogger, and will soon be available through Artisan with the TC4 system.

Jim
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germantownrob
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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 11:30am
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

Sorry to sound like a negative Nancy but the HT automated is not going to produce exact repetitive results by running it through automation without taking it to account it doesn't have much thermal mass. To expand on my pre-heat for drop in temps it was all about letting the HT achieve a thermal stability ( almost) at a certain temp before dropping the beans. This allowed me to then take control for a somewhat predictable result from a known bean. My Diedrich which weighs in at 130lbs takes 40 mins minimum in cold temps to achieve any stability and achieve a second roast that can be controlled very similar to the first roast. The HT has very little thermal mass but requires a cool down between roasts, I use pre programs to stabilize at a drop in temp I want to insure when I drops the beans I could do certain changes to heat and fan to nearly replicate the last roast.
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JGG
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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 4:10pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

Dear Nancy ....   ;-)

Very good point, Rob.  First roasts take a little longer to get to FC on my Hottop, even with automation.  But at least second, third, etc. roasts are very consistent.

This first roast issue can be mitigated somewhat by adding the beans at higher temperatures (I use ET = 380F for most beans).  And it can also be mitigated by setting up the automated action points in your roast in a way that depends on ET or BT, rather than on elapsed time (I have never found overall elapsed time to be very effective for me in controlling roasts on my Hottop).

But unless you want to do a "false roast" to start, there is no way to completely get around the physics of the roaster coming up to temperature during the first roast.

Jim
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boar_d_laze
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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 4:41pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

JGG Said:

But unless you want to do a "false roast" to start, there is no way to completely get around the physics of the roaster coming up to temperature during the first roast.

Posted April 24, 2014 link

True for nearly every drum roaster, I believe.  As you say, it's the "physics" of a machine which transfers heat not only from the heat source and air heated thereby, but from several thermal masses, each with its own thermal efficiency.  

God knows where a small, roaster, built largely of pot metal like a HT stores so much heat for so long.  

Given a long, gentle preheat, more massive roasters, even my little ninety-pounder, will be less goosey than a HT -- but the first roast requires different gas and air-flow settings to follow the same profile than for successive roasts.  

Not to get too Inside Baseball, but... One can minimize those differences by approaching the charge temp in the same direction every time.  I.e., if I let my roaster cool down enough between roasts, so that it doesn't reach drop temp with the door closed and the fan and gas off, the time to TP and TP temp are more consistsent with the first roast; and the interval to DE is easier to control.  

Rich
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germantownrob
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germantownrob
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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2014, 9:06pm
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

JGG Said:

Dear Nancy ....   ;-)

Very good point, Rob.  First roasts take a little longer to get to FC on my Hottop, even with automation.  But at least second, third, etc. roasts are very consistent.

This first roast issue can be mitigated somewhat by adding the beans at higher temperatures (I use ET = 380F for most beans).  And it can also be mitigated by setting up the automated action points in your roast in a way that depends on ET or BT, rather than on elapsed time (I have never found overall elapsed time to be very effective for me in controlling roasts on my Hottop).

But unless you want to do a "false roast" to start, there is no way to completely get around the physics of the roaster coming up to temperature during the first roast.

Jim

Posted April 24, 2014 link

Lol!

So much memory of so many back to back roast on the HT are coming back to me, or should I say, roast, extreme measures to cool the HT with face plate off and fans or shop vac blowing air into the machine so I could lessen the time to start the next roast. Those where the days! Honestly I loved those days, I usually roasted 4-5 lbs in a long session and I was paying attention to every detail and writing it down. Never have looked at those notes many times, lol. Paying attention to those details taught me...well not much except that I loved to roast coffee and that I had so much to learn. When I learn it all I will quit roasting, probably will need to roast well into the grave to accomplish that.  And lastly when a program can produce a better roast then me I will either sell all my equipment or be a bitter man that will argue "there is no way it can do better then me at the controls". Crap, I have become my father, not sure how I feel about that.

There is a lot to be said for thermal stability. How many of us pull shots of espresso on a machine that has not warmed up and become thermally stable? Why start a first roast until the machine is fully preheated and stable? Cleanliness is also a huge deal in my book, as a machine gets dirtier, especially the exhaust, the efficiency of air flow goes down. I have found that keeping the exhaust ducts and fans very clean is very helpful in repeatable results.
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farmroast
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Posted Tue Apr 29, 2014, 9:24am
Subject: Re: Repeating roast profiles with a real roaster
 

Been thinking a lot about Heat Transfer Dynamics (HTD) for a while now. Seemed the next step of roasting refinement after RoR.  It's importance in especially drum roasting. Isn't such an issue with my Dreamroast hybrid that was designed to homogenize heat transfer.  But after recent couple of years of connecting with top roasters around the world and their challenges of not just nailing a roast but then repeating it, realized monitoring still needs to move forward.  I now have a Quest M3 to play with modifications.

 
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