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Engineering the Perfect Pint with IoT Innovation

After a long week (or day… or hour… Taoglas doesn’t judge), who doesn’t love to have a drink? Fermenting plants to produce tasty, intoxicating beverages has been a staple of society for over 8000 years! The processes have continued evolving from early pottery in a properly temperate cave to massive brewing operations that can produce millions of cans daily. The ability to monitor your product through the many phases of a brew has become commonplace at all levels, from massive corporations to home brewers. Many brewers have opted to track these systems remotely with IoT functionality as a part of their construction. One company designing solutions to help is Tilt, which allows home brewers and breweries to monitor the fermentation process easily.

Tilt Module:

The Tilt hydrometer is a small, floating device that is placed directly into the fermenting vessel to measure specific gravity. Specific gravity is a measure of the density of a liquid compared to the density of water and is a critical parameter in brewing to track the progress of fermentation.

The module includes sensors to capture the temperature of the liquid, the angle of the device for specific gravity, and a Bluetooth transmitter to wirelessly send that data to a device, or in the case of Thief River Falls Brewery, Rivers & Rails, combined with a Raspberry Pi and a monitor to track in real-time while in the brewhouse.

Fermenter issues with RF:

The fermentation vessel is not the ideal environment for RF signal strength and transmission. It is a large, sealed metal container filled with beer. RF signals struggle in metal containers due to the high conductivity of metal, which causes significant signal attenuation and reflection, effectively blocking or weakening the transmission of electromagnetic (EM) waves. To obtain specific gravity and temperature measurements, the device must be in the fermenting beer. Liquid is also not ideal for wireless applications because it can absorb, scatter, and attenuate EM waves, interfering with the transmission and reception of RF signals.

Taoglas and u-blox as the answer:

To work through these issues, Tilt elected to choose the Taoglas Flexible Antenna and a u-blox BMD-301. The Taoglas FXP73 Blue Diamond works with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and general ISM bands at 2.4 GHz. This antenna provides reliable connectivity and adhesive mounting for easy integration and a U.FL connector. The BMD-301 is a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Transceiver with a 9 dBm output power EIRP, also supporting a U.FL connector. Utilizing a module in the fermentation vessel to collect and initially send BLE signals, and a repeater to push that weakened signal to the final device for collection and visualization, these two devices combine for an output powerful enough to navigate the complexities of wireless communications in an industrious brewing environment.

Interested in learning more? Check out our u-blox antenna reference page by clicking the button below. It’s designed to make it easier to filter and choose the most suitable antenna for your u-blox module.

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