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Ulka Pump Control
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Senior Member

Joined: 2 Oct 2009
Posts: 73
Location: Glendale
Expertise: Professional

Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 1:02pm
Subject: Ulka Pump Control

Hi, I am interested in proven methods of controlling ulka pump pressure such as electronic.  IMHO, the inability of ulka pump pressure to be controlled other than primitive OPV valves is a significant detriment to better espresso making.  This really is a big problem and it is WAY more significant that retrofitted PID controllers which I consider to be a complete waste.  These pumps just suck huge without any effective means of controlling output pressure.  I am surprised that none of the home espresso machine mfg offer more sophisticated pump control.    Does anybody out there have a pre-built ulka control I can buy?   What is out there.
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Senior Member

Joined: 25 Jun 2013
Posts: 260
Location: Americas
Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 2:28pm
Subject: Re: Ulka Pump Control

I use microcontroller to vary voltage to the pump.  Others have used dimmers and variacs for manual control.

My experience has been that temperature profiles are more important than non-flat pressure.  But both have an effect.  Pre-infusion is another benefit of pump control.
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Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 453
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 9:04pm
Subject: Re: Ulka Pump Control

Assuming you already know that the brew pressure is controlled by the grist more than anything else, and limited by the relief valve, I suspect that your intent is to have a low-pressure pre-infusion flow for a set time before ramping up to a 9.5-10 bar brew.
This might be more easily done (And certainly more accurately) by using a second relief valve set to the 3.5-4.0 Bar false-line pressure and a solenoid valve to close when the higher brew pressure is desired.
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Senior Member

Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Posts: 116
Location: Seattle, Washington
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: CC1 - GS - GS3 - GB5
Grinder: Baratza - Mazzer-Marzocco
Drip: My own Creation
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 8:21am
Subject: Re: Ulka Pump Control

Depends if you would like to manually control or have a pressure profile stored in the machine.  Light dimmers have proven very effective.  You must however get the "Phase Controlled" version of the dimmer.  Link to explanation below.  These are usually the more expensive ones (more than $18).


There is one product from a man in Korea that is the Ulka pump distributor but nor readily available in the USA.
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

This has become more mainstream now and 50% of the super auto manufacturers now use this in their machines.  There are a few traditional machines that use this also.  

The reason you don't see this more is cost.  If a machine does not already have an electronics board for some control then it is cost prohibitive to add a complete board for just this control.  If there is an existing board already (not just a temperature controller), then it is a bit more cost to add this functionality.  Usually however, just adding the electronic control is such an increase in cost and the manufacturer is at their cost limit already.  

I have just finished a new prototype that has a manually controlled pump.  I have experimented a bunch with pressure profiles but it is difficult without a pressure sensor.  And of course the pressure sensor adds cost (bla bla bla).

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