Greetings

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Mick
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Greetings

Post by Mick » Mon Aug 12, 2019 02:56

Hi,

Just wanted to introduce myself to the forum.
This is something i have been interested in for a while and this forum looks like a great resource!
Also it looks like i have a lot of reading ahead of me.

Just built my first chamber and have a Pancetta Tesa hanging to test it out.
Will stick with whole muscle until i am happy with the chamber, get some more gear and i get my head around starter cultures, PH and mold coverings.

Any tips of improving my cabinet would be appreciated.
Its a 420ltr single door frost free fridge with inkbird temp/humidity controllers and a crane 3.7ltr humidifier, i also added a cheap sonoff WiFi temp/RH controller so i can monitor remotely (RH is not super accurate but gives piece of mind)

I live in a very dry climate (Outback NSW Australia) and initially thought i would have no need for a dehumidifier.
As it is winter here and the fridge is in an colorbond shed i finding the temps are dropping overnight (down to about 4c) also as the fridge is not kicking in the humidity is rising over night (95%). its fine when the fridge is regulating temps during the day and will be fine in summer/spring but i decided to buy a small dehumidifier today anyway.

Summer here is very low humidity and temps up to 47c , winter can drop to 0c overnight and 10c during the day.

Should i be looking at a heat source for cold weather/fermentation?

I currently have no fans for air circulation either, i was thinking the frost free fridge should be circulating enough air.
Should i add a small computer fan or not? guessing it would help with humidity control in cooler weather as well?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions , i am sure i will be bothering you with more questions as i get my head around this stuff.

Pics of my current setup:

Image

Image


Cheers,
Mick
Agoracritus
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Re: Greetings

Post by Agoracritus » Mon Aug 12, 2019 22:40

Greetings Mick!

It looks like you’re well on your way down the right track, and have definitely come to the right place for asking specific questions that are difficult to find the answers to anywhere else.

Just as a heads up though; sometimes it can take awhile to get your questions answered (especially questions that require actual expertise to answer)...
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Tue Aug 13, 2019 00:29

Agoracritus wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 22:40
Greetings Mick!

It looks like you’re well on your way down the right track, and have definitely come to the right place for asking specific questions that are difficult to find the answers to anywhere else.

Just as a heads up though; sometimes it can take awhile to get your questions answered (especially questions that require actual expertise to answer)...
Cheers Agoracritus, nice to meet you.
No worries mate that's fine - all good things come to those who wait!
There is plenty of lurking to do in the mean time. :D
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jcflorida
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Re: Greetings

Post by jcflorida » Tue Aug 13, 2019 03:31

Hi Mick,

I'm not an expert, but I've been through some of the same issues that you may be encountering. So I'll pass along what I've learned for what its worth.

Firstly, your temperature swings are much more extreme than we have here in the Southern US (Florida). Our temperatures mostly range between 15ºC and 35ºC, but humidity is almost always quite high. Thus my experience might not be applicable.

Secondly, we (or at least I) don't really think about how much water has to be removed from the chamber. If you start with 10Kg of product and dry to 35% weight loss, 3.5l of water has to be extracted somehow. Worse, my experience is that 12-15% must be extracted in the first couple of days. The little peltier dehumidifier that I have cannot handle anywhere near that much water. Therefore, it is necessary to force the refrigerator to cycle so that the "frost free" feature can freeze out enough water. In my case, the dehumidifier generates enough heat to warm the chamber to force the refrigerator to run. I just let the dehumidifier run continuously with the humidifier adding humidity as needed.

As to a fan, I use one, but I don't really know if its needed. It's a 100mm 12v computer fan that I power with a 3.7v power supply so it runs pretty slow.

Finally, the low cost humidity sensors used on Inkbird and similar controllers are notoriously inaccurate, particularly at high humidity. It's advisable to "calibrate" them using a simple salt slurry. The salt slurry calibration methodology is all over the web for calibrating cigar humidors.

Hope this long winded reply is somewhat useful to you.

John
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Tue Aug 13, 2019 07:49

jcflorida wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 03:31
Hi Mick,

I'm not an expert, but I've been through some of the same issues that you may be encountering. So I'll pass along what I've learned for what its worth.

Firstly, your temperature swings are much more extreme than we have here in the Southern US (Florida). Our temperatures mostly range between 15ºC and 35ºC, but humidity is almost always quite high. Thus my experience might not be applicable.

Secondly, we (or at least I) don't really think about how much water has to be removed from the chamber. If you start with 10Kg of product and dry to 35% weight loss, 3.5l of water has to be extracted somehow. Worse, my experience is that 12-15% must be extracted in the first couple of days. The little peltier dehumidifier that I have cannot handle anywhere near that much water. Therefore, it is necessary to force the refrigerator to cycle so that the "frost free" feature can freeze out enough water. In my case, the dehumidifier generates enough heat to warm the chamber to force the refrigerator to run. I just let the dehumidifier run continuously with the humidifier adding humidity as needed.

As to a fan, I use one, but I don't really know if its needed. It's a 100mm 12v computer fan that I power with a 3.7v power supply so it runs pretty slow.

Finally, the low cost humidity sensors used on Inkbird and similar controllers are notoriously inaccurate, particularly at high humidity. It's advisable to "calibrate" them using a simple salt slurry. The salt slurry calibration methodology is all over the web for calibrating cigar humidors.

Hope this long winded reply is somewhat useful to you.

John
Hi John,

Thanks for the reply , some good information to take onboard!

Its basically a desert here so High dry heat in summer and cold in winter with little rain.
Pretty much impossible to do anything without a controlled environment any time of year.

I will hold off on the fan for now, assuming opening the door every couple of days will circulate enough "fresh" air with the fridge also running unless someone suggests a good reason for it.

I never even considered the heat generated by the dehumidifier playing a part , it might even partially solve my winter temp/RH issues.
I should receive it tomorrow and will do some testing, if i set it run run when the temp has dropped (which is also when the humidly has increased) it should be able to raise the temp , remove some humidity and perhaps even kick the fridge back in to handle the rest.
Its only a small unit also (Dehumidifier, hysure 500ml Portable)

Otherwise i may be looking for a heater of some description to raise the temp in winter to kick the fridge in.

Calibration looks pretty straight forward, i will check the probe on the weekend and see how far out it is.

Thanks for the advice John!
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Bob K
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Re: Greetings

Post by Bob K » Tue Aug 13, 2019 13:11

Greetings Mick and Welcome to our Forum !
looks like you are off to a good start. Every chamber is a bit different so you will have to make changes to suit your Fridge and your environment. Go through the builds pinned to the top of the Chambers section viewforum.php?f=25
for a lot of good ideas.
For air exchange I would open the door a few times a day, not every few days. I would also consider a separate fermentation chamber which can be as simple as a cooler.
Enjoy yourself its a great hobby!
Agoracritus
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Re: Greetings

Post by Agoracritus » Wed Aug 14, 2019 01:04

As pretty much anyone with experience building curing chambers knows, there’s no such thing as a universal design. (As you are already aware of, and is a caveat with most specific/helpful recommendations)

With so many different regional climates, seasonal and even daily fluctuations, it basically comes down to a lot of personal experimentation, and trial and error.

If I could add one bit of personal advice, it would be to focus on one variable at a time.

In my experience, trying to figure out how to control or adjust both the temperature and relative humidity simultaneously, is an exercise in futility. (And can be so confusing and confounding that you’ll want to pull your hair out)

Every time I’ve tried to use one device (like a warm steam humidifier) to perform more than one function (like raising the temperature and humidity), things have gone haywire.

IMO, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches if you begin with temperature controls only.

Once you get familiar with regulating the temps, up or down, with some consistency throughout varying outside/ambient fluctuations, then you can tinker around with the relative humidity.

Basically, raising or lowering the Rh will have relatively little impact on your temperature settings, but (conversely) even slight changes in temperature can cause wide (and often confusing) fluctuations in Rh.

The best curing chamber I’ve made (fairly recently), operates within about 1% of it’s temperature settings (while closed). The Rh is controlled with a 5 min delay, 5% +/- setting, (10%+, actual fluctuation) and is basically averaged out over time. In other words, the Rh fluctuates a lot more than the temperature, especially when I open the chamber for more than a few seconds, so for the most part I kind of ignore it, except as an overall average.

Think of it this way: If your chamber is set to heating mode at 10 degrees, and cooling mode at 11 degrees, there will be a constant battle going on between heating and cooling functions.

The most important thing about regulating curing chambers, is to allow them time to equalize (with minimal manipulation, between temperatures and humidity settings, which requires a lot of small adjustments, monitoring and patience...)

Hope I’m being more helpful than discouraging, but the only times I seriously question advice is when someone claims something is “simple” or “easy”, that is anything but simple and easy. 😋
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Wed Aug 14, 2019 01:28

Bob K wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 13:11
Greetings Mick and Welcome to our Forum !
looks like you are off to a good start. Every chamber is a bit different so you will have to make changes to suit your Fridge and your environment. Go through the builds pinned to the top of the Chambers section viewforum.php?f=25
for a lot of good ideas.
For air exchange I would open the door a few times a day, not every few days. I would also consider a separate fermentation chamber which can be as simple as a cooler.
Enjoy yourself its a great hobby!
Hi Bob, nice to meet you!
thanks for the link , There are some impressive setups there.

So i assume air exchange is pretty important , even with a frost free fridge cycling?
Opening a few times a day wouldn't be practical, especially when i am out of town.
I could rig something up pretty easily (i worked in IT) i was just concerned about putting more holes in the fridge and filtering the air due to the shed not being sealed and its a very dusty environment where i live.

I'm looking in fermentation options , will most likely build something that is multi purpose and can be packed away due to space restrictions.

Thanks for the Welcome and your advice!
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Wed Aug 14, 2019 01:45

Agoracritus wrote:
Wed Aug 14, 2019 01:04
As pretty much anyone with experience building curing chambers knows, there’s no such thing as a universal design. (As you are already aware of, and is a caveat with most specific/helpful recommendations)

With so many different regional climates, seasonal and even daily fluctuations, it basically comes down to a lot of personal experimentation, and trial and error.

If I could add one bit of personal advice, it would be to focus on one variable at a time.

In my experience, trying to figure out how to control or adjust both the temperature and relative humidity simultaneously, is an exercise in futility. (And can be so confusing and confounding that you’ll want to pull your hair out)

Every time I’ve tried to use one device (like a warm steam humidifier) to perform more than one function (like raising the temperature and humidity), things have gone haywire.

IMO, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches if you begin with temperature controls only.

Once you get familiar with regulating the temps, up or down, with some consistency throughout varying outside/ambient fluctuations, then you can tinker around with the relative humidity.

Basically, raising or lowering the Rh will have relatively little impact on your temperature settings, but (conversely) even slight changes in temperature can cause wide (and often confusing) fluctuations in Rh.

The best curing chamber I’ve made (fairly recently), operates within about 1% of it’s temperature settings (while closed). The Rh is controlled with a 5 min delay, 5% +/- setting, (10%+, actual fluctuation) and is basically averaged out over time. In other words, the Rh fluctuates a lot more than the temperature, especially when I open the chamber for more than a few seconds, so for the most part I kind of ignore it, except as an overall average.

Think of it this way: If your chamber is set to heating mode at 10 degrees, and cooling mode at 11 degrees, there will be a constant battle going on between heating and cooling functions.

The most important thing about regulating curing chambers, is to allow them time to equalize (with minimal manipulation, between temperatures and humidity settings, which requires a lot of small adjustments, monitoring and patience...)

Hope I’m being more helpful than discouraging, but the only times I seriously question advice is when someone claims something is “simple” or “easy”, that is anything but simple and easy. 😋
Thanks Agoracritus sound advice.
Makes sense to focus on one variable at a time.


Very Helpful!
I am not the kind of person to do things by halves. If i am interested enough in something i follow through until i master it!
To be honest if it was easy i wouldn't be as interested.

Cheers,
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Thu Aug 15, 2019 00:29

small progress update:

Installed the dehumidifier yesterday (controlled by inkbird humidity controller) RH now seems to be holding steady overnight.
Also seems to of had an impact on temps. low overnight was 8c (usually 4).
My Pancetta is drying VERY slowly but a i assume that is due to low overnight temps and high humidity.

Ordered a couple of vents to install in the door (top and bottom) and will rig up some computer fans on low voltage to deal with the air exchange.
Thinking 5 minutes every 3 hours.
will fit the intake vent with a replaceable filter to keep the crap out.

Cheers,
Mick
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Bob K
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Re: Greetings

Post by Bob K » Thu Aug 15, 2019 00:46

Mick wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 00:29
My Pancetta is drying VERY slowly but a i assume that is due to low overnight temps and high humidity.
Pancetta will dry slowly and not lose a lot of weight due to its high fat (low moisture) content.
Mick
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Re: Greetings

Post by Mick » Thu Aug 15, 2019 06:10

Thanks Bob.
Yeah i am not expecting to get the same weight loss of a leaner muscle.
It will be pulled semi dry also as i plan to use it in cooking.
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