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Jasons Curing Chamber Build

Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 23:39
by harleykids
I wanted to share a verbal description of my curing chamber. This was my first build, although I did a bunch of research online before designing it. At this point in time there is nothing that I would change, and I have been using it 24/7 for the past 2 months.

It holds temp and RH% very well, and maintains itself within about +/-1C and +/-2%RH from what I can measure.

I started with a nice clean, used upright GE frost-free freezer. The freezer is one big cavity, so the hanging room is maximized.

I wanted to design my chamber so that I would not have to cut into the freezer body on the inside, so I designed everything to mount on the door of the freezer.

To get power into the door, I went thru the top left back of the freezer, bored a hole thru the insulation all the way to the front corner of the freezer body. Very easy as I simply used a 1/2" piece of rebar to displace the expanded foam inside the freezer body at the very edge.

This allowed me to make the power connection between the freezer power cord, and the
new power cord, in a very small junction box on the back of the freezer body.
Then I drilled a hole in the outside of the freezer body, just behind where the top hinge mounts. I made a protected spring strain relief that connects the hole in the top of the freezer body with an identical hole in the top of the freezer door, and ran the single power cord thru that into the freezer door. That gave me 110VAC inside the freezer door without cutting any holes in the freezer body inside.
On the door I mounted my STC-1000 temp controller, my WH8040 humidity controller, an exhaust fan, and my air inlet/exhaust (which I made from two pieces of 3" pvc drain and two ABS surface mount self closing/opening dryer vents)

I also mounted a Meade Scientific weather station that has a wireless transmitter that goes inside the chamber, with the LCD monitor that mounts on the outside of the door.
This gives me a "second opinion" on the accuracy of the controllers performance, as well as logs a min and max temp and min and max RH% for chamber over time. This is really nice, as you can see at a glance the current temp and RH%, plus the min/max on both temp and RH% over time to see what variance the chamber is running.

Inside the 3" inlet and exhaust ports I cut HEPA filter material to fit, so that all air entering/exiting the curing chamber goes thru these filters. I used the normal 24"x24" central air HEPA filters, one filter (pleated) has enough flat filter material for probably the next 5 years, as you only need to cut new 3" circular pieces when you change the filters.
I change the filters every 2 months.

I also designed my chamber with the air intake on the TOP of the chamber, and the exhaust/exit air on the bottom. This is because I did not want to pull air from 18" above the floor, sucking in dirt or dust. I wanted to pull in air from as far away from the floor as possible, so I reversed my chamber to exhaust on the bottom and suck clean air from the top of the chamber
I mounted my ultrasonic humidifier on the door, making a shelf for it to sit on from a 1/2" thick white foodservice cutting board that is screwed onto the bottom shelf of the door with stainless steel screws. All screws used on the inside of the chamber are stainless so they won't rust.

To cover the back side of the controllers that stick thru the door, I used a Rubbermaid tupperware, cuting a hole in the lid, securing the lid to the back of the door with ss screws, then popping the tupperware bowl on to the lid, over the controllers. This fully seals the back of the controllers from the humidity.

I mounted an LED under counter light fixture about middle way up the door, and it is wired to come on with the humidifier. This allows my Dlink wireless camera to have enough light to switch over to daylight mode (from infrared/darkness mode) every time the humidifier comes on.

My wireless camera is mounted in the top of the chamber, and allows me to view the inside of the chamber wirelessly, from my phone or anywhere in the world that has internet or wireless LAN. This is so I can monitor the level of the water in my humidifier, see any bad mold, and generally monitor what is happening inside my chamber 24/7.

My wife thought I was crazy for having this wireless camera in the chamber, but it actually saved my chorizo once already. It was around 11pm at night, about 4 hours after I made a new batch of chorizo and hung it in the chamber to ferment. Apparently one of the long links had a thin spot/weak spot in the casing, and it split, causing half the chorizo link to fall onto the floor of the chamber. I happened to have the microphone on the camera on, and I heard the crash. Looked at my phone and saw half my chorizo link on the floor! Retied the casing, removed the weak link and all has been good since. I wouldnt have found this out until the next day, when the chorizo would have been lying in a puddle of its own juice for 12 hours.
So the camera saved the day for sure! Plus I can monitor my humidifier water level when out of town, so I can have one of my friends refill if needed, etc. Camera was $69 at BestBuy. Definitely cool!

I keep my chamber inside my home, in the corner of my office on a metal under car drip pan ($10 at NAPA). This keep any spills or leaks off my floor and contained, should the humidifier leak or something catastrophic should happen liquid-wise.

Since my chamber always stays cooler than my home, I never have a need for a dehumidifier, heat lamp/bulb, etc!

I do empty the condensation bowl that is underneath the freezer, as it does fill up every week with about 6 cups of water. That is the only real maintenance that is required. I may add a drain tube so that it self drains, or a small electric bilge pump that empties this bowl automatically, but for now I simply slide the freezer out once a week and empty with a turkey baster. Easy and I can do it by myself.

Hope that helps describe my chamber. If anyone wants pics I will be happy to take them!

Thanks and good curing!

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 00:02
by Bob K
Please post some pics Harley. The visual adds a lot of detail to your great description.

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 03:11
by redzed
Yes, I second Bob's motion! Please post lots of pics and we will pin the thread. The info will be definitely useful to others planning to construct a chamber.

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 05:34
Don't copy and paste in the reply box. That would just show a link. On the right side of the reply box is an "IMG" button. Click that and another popup box will come up. Copy and paste the link into that box instead.

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 05:34
by redzed
Best to use Open account and create album for the WD photos. Upload your pics, then copy the IMG file for that picture and paste into the form page. You can upload multiple pictures into PB and no need to downsize.

Good luck!

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 20:21
by harleykids

Guys, I still cant get the pics to show up.

I did what you said, clicked the Img button, pasted the http://xxxxx image location on, but pics dont' show up, as above.

I copied the following format into the Img area that pops up:
For example:

Posted: Fri Jan 15, 2016 22:52
by harleykids
Bob K, you are the MAN!! Thank you so much!


Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 15:17
by Bob K
That really is a nice build Jason!
What controls the exhaust fan?

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2016 17:15
by harleykids
Exhaust fan comes on when the humidifier comes on, wired into that circuit.
Exhaust fan is hidden inside the bottom exhaust port, next to the humidifier.
You may be able to see the small black wire running into the bottom exhaust port.
It is a 12VDC computer style fan.

Curing Chamber Video Screenshots

Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 03:41
by harleykids
Here are some screenshots from inside my chamber. These are from the $69 Dlink live feed video camera. Sorry about the blurry photos but Photobucket seems to compress the pics.

These pics are from 0-5 seconds after the humidifier comes on, which happens approx. every 35 mins or so. The camera is on all the time, and switches from infrared mode (nighttime mode) to daytime mode when the LED under cabinet light comes on.

As you can imagine, this is 5 seconds into the humidifier being on, and it stays on for about 2 mins. So after about 30 seconds there is ZERO visibility, all humidity. Thats when you can see the air circulation the best, from top intake of fresh air, to bottom exhaust of chamber air.

Where my humidifier sits, the output of it is directly up into the top of the chamber area. And the exhaust is on the very bottom, so the humidity circulates constantly from high to low.

This LED light is tied to the same circuit as the humidifier. So when the humidifier comes on (triggered by the WH8040 humidity sensor), the light comes on and switches to daytime mode (color)

When the humidifier turns off, the LED light turns off, and the camera automatically switches to nighttime mode.

The chamber can be viewed all the time, in either nighttime (infrared mode) or daytime mode (when the LED light and humidifier are on)

Pics are of both modes.

I am having trouble getting a clear video uploaded of the circular motion of the humifier, but suffice to say that on live video you can see the air movement clear as day.

The camera can be viewed from any phone (iPhone or Android) or on any computer, anywhere in the world.

Added a pic of my coppa and bresoala, just for fun. Coppa is starting to show signs of white mold now after 5 days in the chamber. I didnt use any M600 on either of them, just hung them as is. Figured they would pick up mold from the chamber, and it looks like they will.

Hope this help inspire your builds!