A couple years ago I put together a kegerator and while draft beer at home is great, the project never felt complete. The system performed well but there were a couple of issues that would crop up from time to time. Mainly, figuring out how much beer was left in the fridge consisted of opening the door and pawing at the keg. Besides this being unscientific, the act of opening the door would let all the cold air out and the compressor would have to crank to keep up. And speaking of temperature, it would be nice to have a good idea of how cold the keg is getting.
|Scale for Fuel Gauge Measurement|
I thought the temp sensor was a no-brainer but it turned out to be a little tricky. Idealy, I'd like to know the actual temp of the beer but since the keg is a sealed container, that is impossible. The next best thing would have been to simulate the keg with an approximate thermal mass and sense the temperature of that but I didn't have the space. That and I had already decided to be lazy and use a board mounted digital temperature sensor instead. Couple drawbacks with that idea though. Since it is soldered to the sensor control board, thermal coupling to said board is an issue and placement in the fridge cavity is somewhat limited. And to get a reading that actually means something, placement is critical. Turns out that placing the board right under the fridge chill plate gave me some pretty accurate results when compared to a mercury thermometer. And it was a good indication of what the fridge's themocouple was reading since the compressor cycle and my temperature readings tracked almost exactly in phase. That's important because one day I may want to take over control of that cycle for tighter temperature regulation.
So now I want to display all the good data I'm getting. I used cast iron pipe for my keg riser so I felt it was necessary to stick to that theme and go a little industrial with my display options. After an exhaustive search online, I finally came across the perfect meter housing from an early model Chevy. On ebay of course. It was pretty beat up when I first got it with splotchy paint and some pretty rough edges. I was originally going to sand and paint the thing but ended up trying my hand at paint stripping instead. Peep the before and after.
|Meter Housing Before and After|
|Modified 0-5 Volt Analog Meter|
I never thought my kegerator was stupid before but it sure is smart now. If only if would help me brew beer too. I guess that's the next step.