I'm slowly but surely getting the planning done for the HERMS update for my brewing rig. (I've decided, somewhat arbitrarily, that the update, when it comes, will make this Version 3.0 of the rig; I hope not to go much past about 5.0 in future.)
"Why," you may ask, "do you want to improve on a functional system?" The answer comes in several parts, most of which have been covered in other websites and blogs about HERMS systems:
1) Greater consistency between brews (greater repeatability);
2) Greater control over mash temps and steps;
3) Increased brew efficiency (arguable);
4) Increased clarity;
5) To satisfy my fondness for tinkering.
Of these, I'm claiming that #1 and #5 are the most important (in no particular order), with #2 coming a very close second. I'll believe #3 when I see it, and #4 hasn't really been a problem, for the most part--I've been thinking about filtering some of my brews post-fermentation, anyway.
So I'm still looking at going with the PICAXE--it seems most suited to my abilities (or lack thereof). I'm mildly frustrated (as I have been in the past) with the electronics side of things. The Venerable Guild of Electrical Engineers has kept their secrets well and truly hidden from the non-initiate; I'm picking up a thing or two here and there, and may even be able to explain some of it to the layman, when I'm done. And I'm gathering parts, one by one: a heating element has been acquired, and other parts are being negotiated for.
To bring the blog back around to "touch" the SCA, which I've been meaning to do for some time, a brewing contest has been announced for Sapphire Joust, here in Atlantia. I'm not sure that I'll be here for it, nor that I'm even going, but I'm contemplating entering something, just for the heck of it. Perhaps the French Pale Ale? Granted, it's almost completely undocumentable. But even getting just the feedback can be helpful, sometimes.