A genius beer lover, kegerator engineer, and piano recycler has built one of the most interesting kegerators we’ve ever seen. After getting a busted-up, out-of-tune piano for free, Eric Townsley went to work on making something much more useful. He’s posted a whole album of photos to Google+, including photos of the build and the massive CO2 tank that fuels the whole thing. Click through for more.
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This has been around for a little while, but we felt like it was worth posting again for another Friday how-to article.
The team at SparkFun electronics has written a detailed guide on how to connect your kegerator to a Twitter account, allowing you to broadcast the status of your keg to the world.
When I was first given the duty of making sure the SparkFun kegerator had beer for the SparkFun employees I was excited about getting to choose beer for my colleagues. My excitement quickly waned when I got a knock on my door while in the middle of a panelizing session for BatchPCB. The keg was out. It turns out the SparkFun drinking habits vary and the keg never goes out at a convenient time. People never like going to the break room to grab a cold pint of beer only to get the dreaded fweessssssh of an empty keg. I needed a solution. I wanted something that I could monitor remotely that could tell me when the keg was about to run out.
The most well known method of determining the fullness of a keg is to try to pick it up. If you can pick it up and not feel the mass of the liquid swishing around inside, the keg is out. The more difficult it is to lift the keg, the more full it is. This is just not feasible when it’s carefully wedged inside the keg fridge and is not the most accurate method around, plus it shakes up the beer. Weighing the keg would work well and four 100 pound force sensors would work for weighing the whole kegerator. I replaced the casters on the kegerator with carriage bolts that rest on the force sensors that rest on leftover PCBs that rest on furniture coasters. Hot glue was added to give some support that was needed for the lateral forces of moving the keg in and out of the kegerator.
Long-time Lautering favorite Make Magazine has an article this month about how to create your own “Jockey Box,” a modified cooler designed to rapidly cool hot wort or beer from a warm keg.
A jockey box is one of those funny coolers with a built-in beer tap on the outside. Inside, it has the requisite plumbing to draw beer from a keg, and a metal coil or cooling plate. Once you fill the cooler with ice and attach a keg, the coil or plate, acting as a heat exchanger, quickly chills the beer to a proper serving temperature — even when the keg itself isn’t cold.
If you’re not already working to build your iPad-controlled kegerator, this seems like a useful, affordable weekend project for any homebrewer or keg-buyer out there.
The engineering team at Yelp has created a fantastic iPad interface for their office keg. Building off of the existing KegBot platform, they built an iPad app that allows them to check-in with an RFID keycard, track user ratings, and track the amount of beer coming out of the keg. It even tracks the temperature.
Sensors attached to the keg feed data into an Arduino microcontroller, which in turn communicates directly with the iPad via a serial connection. The iPad processes that data and displays it in a snazzy manner along with a description of the current brew. An RFID reader attached to the system allows users to ’swipe in’ to KegMate and keep track of how much beer they’ve had, as well as assign a star rating for the beer currently in the keg (this is Yelp, after all).
If you were going to starting from scratch, this definitely takes some understanding of circuitry, iPad app development, and a host of other technical skills. Forunately, the team at Yelp has released everything they’ve done — the app, schematics, even part numbers — to help you put it together. If you’ve got an extra Saturday afternoon and a little ambition, they’ve made it simple enough to be an approachable project for almost anyone.
The downside? It requires an iPad, which is $500 alone, making this a $600+ project. If you’re interested in a simpler version of this, you can eliminate the iPad and use an old computer with the KegBot software.
Alright, so maybe the keg-in-a-trashcan works just as well and probably costs several hundred dollars less, but you have to admit this thing is pretty cool.
For those of us who live in apartments but still badly want their own kegerator at home, our options have been limited. The only solutions were impractical (try explaining to your landlord why there’s a kegerator in your bedroom) or sort of gross (draft Heineken is still Heineken).
Gravity kegs are relatively easy to find, and the selection is usually pretty good when you find a retailer who sells them. But up until now, the biggest drawback to the next-best-thing have been that opening one means that you’re stuck with your choice until the 5 liters are gone or until it goes stale.
Not anymore. The Chambrer claims to work with both pressurized mini-kegs (Heineken or New Castle), or with your standard gravity keg.