So this is my upgrade to my first sous vide machine and I learned a lot about this and electricity in my first attempt. My first one was good but it had a few issues and I would like to share what I learned here and hope that with all my mistakes you can learn from what I did and end up with a great product that you are proud of like I am.
If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or look at my food blog at butteredbayman.com.
Have fun with this and hope you enjoy what I have made.
Step 1: It All Starts With the Parts!!
I was lucky to be able to reuse all the parts from my original Sous Vide except the project box. It was only $8 so no big deal. I have a list of all the parts here and you can get all the parts online and at your local hardware store.
I purchased all my parts on Amazon.ca, Ikea, and Ebay because I live in rural Newfoundland, so all of those that live below the 49th Parallel will get this a lot cheaper!!
So lets begin:
Project Box Amazon.ca
Digital Thermostat Amazon.ca
Hot water tank element Amazon.ca
12 Screw Terminal Blocks Amazon.ca
Fish Tank Pump Amazon.ca
Toggle Switch Amazon.ca
Solid State Relay Ebay.ca
J.B. Weld Amazon.ca or Canadian Tire
Spade Terminals Amazon.ca or Canadian Tire
1 1/2" galvanized threaded pipe
1 piece of Aluminum that is 1/4" thick by 2" wide and 18" long
3' outdoor extension cord, this will give us enough wiring for the entire project and only $2!!
Hot glue gun
Dremel or other rotary tool
Wire strippers and crimping tool, optional
Cord from old computer or another outdoor extension cord, your choice
Various drill bits
Hole Bit, same size as your galvanized pipe
Step 2: Prepare the Element
In my first project I didn't like how the element was half out the water. I wanted it submersed for better heat transfer. As well, this would help any heat transfer into the project box.
First thing you will need is to prepare the wiring. Take apart the extension cord and prepare a 1 foot section of black and white wire. Attach these wire to the terminals of the element. This is to give you enough room inside the project box.
Take a piece of JB Weld epoxy about the size of a large marble. Start working it to mix the two compounds and activate the resin. It stays very pliable and easy to work with during this time. When mixed roll it into a sausage shape to fit on the lip of the galvanized pipe. Then take the element, placed the wires in the pipe and then press the element into the JB Weld. With the excess of the epoxy that presses out, use your thumb and press it around the outside of the pipe and element to create a water proof seal. This will take 1 hour to set and 8 hours to cure. Put this aside and we can start the cutting of the project box and wiring.
Step 3: Cutting and Prepping
Take your whole saw and cut into the bottom of the Ikea Cutlery Holder. This will be protect the sous vide bags from touching the hot element.
Lets prepare the project box. We need a few holes of various sizes. This depends on the parts you use.
Measure the hole for the digital thermometer then take the cutting blade on the Dremel to cut it out.
Take the hole saw and decide where you want the element to go. Cut that hole with the hole saw.
Pick the placement for the switch and using a drill bit of the same size make your hole and mount your switch, go ahead and mount your switch.
Take the 12 pin terminal and using gorilla glue mount this to the lid. Use a clamp and this will take up to and hour for a strong bond.
Now time for the SSR, take more JB Weld Epoxy, about the size of a golf ball, and start to mix the epoxy to activate. Divide the mixed Epoxy into 3 pieces and make these into a cigar shape. Place these pieces on the bottom of the SSR, this will mount the SSR to the project box and provide insulation to the project box from the heat created by the SSR. Mount the SSR with a clamp and let set for at least 4 hours. Sorry for the late pics, I realized I didn't take it until after the wires were run.
Now, time to prep the wires. You don't need spade terminals but it does make it easier on wiring.
You will need 6 black wires, two 6" wires, two, 4" wires, two 2" wires. You will also need 4 white wires, one 6", two 4", and one 2". Then take two 4" green wires. Strip all these wires and attach all the spade terminals. You will need to crimp the ends of the spade terminals of the wires that go into the ends of the thermostat so there it looks like a point and not a spade. The thermostat only takes a single prong terminal and not the spade. You can just use the bare wire if you wish.
Take the Aluminum and bend it into a J shape. make it 12" x 3" x 5". This will be bolted to the bottom of the junction box and will act as the support for the entire rig. Try to make the angles as square as possible. Decide where you wish to mount it and drill two holes through the aluminum and project box. Mount this with two bolts and nuts. Tighten and glue with hot glue for a water proof seal.
Take the water pump and cut the cord. Using gorilla glue, glue it to the long end of the aluminum bar that will go in the water. Clamp this and let dry completely. Drill a hole in the project box at the base of the aluminum so that the cord for the pump can go through and thermostat from the digital thermometer can go through.
Step 4: Lets Start Assembly
Now that all the hard work is done it is time to put it together.
Take the pipe and element assembly and screw it into the Ikea holder as shown.
Take that and then screw it into the hole in the bottom of the project box. If it is to snug then use the Dremel to remove just enough so that it is a tight fit.
Insert the digital thermostat and using the orange clips lock it into place. Where the wiring for the pump is put the thermostat wire down there and mount it next to the pump.
I used a 4" x 1/4" bolt with a wing nut for the locking system to tighten against my selected sous vide container. I put the wing nut on backwards and placed it at the end and glued it in place. This gives me a grip when I tighten it.
Now comes the fun part the wiring!!
Step 5: Electrical!!!
This is where I learned the most!!
Last time it worked great but my load was too much for my thermostat. It was rated at 10 Amps but by load was 12.5 Amps.
1500W ÷ 120V = 12.5 Amps
I solved this problem with a Solid State Relay, SSR. They have no moving parts and only activate when a current is passed though it. So, when my thermostat turns on it completes the circuit and then the SSR turns on and activates the element.
Depending on how your thermostat works you might have to wire it differently. Mine does not supply power out, it nearly connects the circuit. So when it turns on its switch it competes the circuit. Others have direct power out. Please look at the circuit diagram for your thermostat.
You can see what a jumbled mess it looks like in the pictures but with the diagram it makes sense.
With my thermostat I had to treat the electrical as two separate circuits.
One supplies the power to the thermostat, pump and SSR.
The other is just completed and supplies the power to the Element when the SSR is on.
You will Notice that the SSR has a positive and negative terminal. this is only important when using DC, we are using AC so we don't have to worry at all.
I would explain all the wiring but the diagram does a much better job then I could and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.
If you are lucky to have a thermostat or PID that supplies direct power then just simplify the wiring by hooking up the power the AC Terminals and then the outputs to the SSR.
Step 6: Put It to the Test!!
Simply put the lid on it and put it in your preferred container for sous vide.
Make sure that the element is submersed in the water. Don't place the water up to the level of the JB Weld just in case you don't have a perfect seal. Don't want a short on the first try.
Plug it and throw the switch!!!
If something doesn't turn on please unplug and check the connections for a loose one.
Set it to a selected temperature and let it run for awhile to see if it will cycle on and off. I let mine run for about 3 hrs to test it and no issues. Then I let it run overnight in my garage for the final test!!
Runs great and now to sous vide an egg!!
Please let me know what you think and share with others!!