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BrewBrain.nl Float Wireless Hydrometer

Started by mick02, April 19, 2021, 06:08:33 PM

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mick02

I was recently sent a Float Wireless Hydrometer to review. The agreement was an honest review in exchange for a Float. They kept their end of the bargain so here is an honest review.

The Float came packaged in a small cardboard box with plenty of padding. In the box was a smaller box with some nice graphics on it. I took the Float out of the packaging to take a closer look. The Float is made of hard plastic and looks like a large test tube. In the container was a battery, some circuitry, a switch (to move from On, Off and Setup) and a thermometer (handy to keep track of the fermentation temp also). It weighed 153g and had a max diameter of 42.13mm (not sure if this will fit in a carboy or not. I don't have a carboy to measure the size of the opening but maybe someone can comment on this post)

The next thing I did was created an account on BrewBrain.nl. I would later associate the Float with this account. I then plugged in the float to make sure it had a full charge before I used it. Once it was charged I flicked the switch to "Setup". This created a WiFi network which I was able to join my phone to. Once joined the phone opened a webpage that allowed me to register the Float with my account. All very slick and easy to manage. The next thing I did was register the Float with my Brewfather account. This was a great feature as it helped me monitor my brew from one app.

I decided to give the Float it's maiden voyage in a NEIPA that I had planned. I had heard about some inconsistencies between these wireless hydrometers and the manual ones so I was going to try to track the progress and highlight the difference between the two. I documented my brew day on Twitter. You can see it here if you want a blow by blow account.

If you read the Twitter thread you will notice that the Float does a good job in some areas and not so good in others. I was impressed that the wireless signal was not hampered by my stainless steel fermenter that was inside a larder fridge. I was impressed by the temperature readings that the Float was giving me in comparison to my BrewPi however one of the real let downs was the actual gravity readings that the Float was giving me. At one point the Float read 1.002! It eventually evened out at 1.015 however the reading in 2 different hydrometers gave me 1.022 (and is closer to the FG that I was expecting).

I really liked the integration with the Brewfather app and I was obsessed with checking it. It also gave a great idea of when fermentation really kicked off and I was happy with the temp readings I was getting. I contacted Brewbrain about the difference in readings between the hydrometer and the Float and I received this answer ...

Quote"The Float is a hydrometer, but it the measurements it take differ somewhat from the measurements you take with a normal hydrometer:

The Float takes measurements inside your fermenter and it's measurements can be influenced by:
  • yeast activity
  • krausen
  • CO2 bubbles
  • Flow created due to temperature gradients throughout the brew
With a normal hydrometer, you take a sample fluid without krausen and let it become still outside the fermenter before you put the hydrometer in
The above can cause the Float to show different values than a normal hydrometer during fermentation. The differences are often the greatest during heavy fermentation.

We developed the Float as a device that helps users improving their brewing skills by tracking how their brew progressed during the entire brew. This as opposite to taking a few samples during the entire fermentation and basing conclusions on such little data. The measurements from the Float help track how fermentation is going and to see when your brew is ready to be bottled. We have realized that more and more users are using the tool as an absolute measurement device, as they want the Float to give accurate SG measurements at all times.

What I will say in it's defense is that the krausen on this beer was intense so I have no doubt that it interfered with the gravity reading but once everything settled I still saw about 5 gravity points in the FG between the Float and a hydrometer. Interestingly the OG between the 2 was spot on. I'll be using this as a stalwart in my brew days from now on. I'm a techy and I like seeing the different data points. While my first impressions are a bit mixed I'm still excited to use it again. You can see some more pictures here
NHC Committee member

LordEoin

Thanks for the info. It looks pretty good.
How do you find it compared to the iSpindel?

mick02

Quote from: LordEoin on April 29, 2021, 12:29:12 PMHow does this compare to the iSpindel?
I can't complare. I ordered an iSpindel and it's still sitting unsoldered on a shelf in my office. If I got access to an iSpindel then I could throw both in the same batch and get readings from both. All I can say that the setup and integration with the BrewFather app/software was very easy.
NHC Committee member

Bazza

Quote from: mick02 on April 29, 2021, 12:33:01 PM
Quote from: LordEoin on April 29, 2021, 12:29:12 PMHow does this compare to the iSpindel?
I can't complare. I ordered an iSpindel and it's still sitting unsoldered on a shelf in my office. If I got access to an iSpindel then I could throw both in the same batch and get readings from both. All I can say that the setup and integration with the BrewFather app/software was very easy.

I was tempted by the iSpindel on Amazon a while ago, but was reluctant given that it was less than a quarter the price of the Tilt and had only 7 reviews. Just seemed too good to be true, unless Tilt are just totally taking the pi$$ with their pricing.
Do you say, Mick, that there's soldering to be done with it? I discovered some time ago that, unless I happen to grow a 3rd arm, soldering ain't for me.

-Barry
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
― Groucho Marx

mick02

Quote from: Bazza on April 29, 2021, 01:49:34 PM
Quote from: mick02 on April 29, 2021, 12:33:01 PM
Quote from: LordEoin on April 29, 2021, 12:29:12 PMHow does this compare to the iSpindel?
I can't complare. I ordered an iSpindel and it's still sitting unsoldered on a shelf in my office. If I got access to an iSpindel then I could throw both in the same batch and get readings from both. All I can say that the setup and integration with the BrewFather app/software was very easy.

I was tempted by the iSpindel on Amazon a while ago, but was reluctant given that it was less than a quarter the price of the Tilt and had only 7 reviews. Just seemed too good to be true, unless Tilt are just totally taking the pi$$ with their pricing.
Do you say, Mick, that there's soldering to be done with it? I discovered some time ago that, unless I happen to grow a 3rd arm, soldering ain't for me.

-Barry
I had never soldered in my life, I organised a group buy of these units and even bought a soldering set. Never opened either. Ridiculous carry on.
NHC Committee member

phildo79

I recently bought an ispindel, fully assembled, for about £35. I had to calibrate it, of course, and set up a free account with ubidots. Takes a bit of time and can be a faff at times but it's done now. I am currently using it for the first time. I think it is working ok but I am having issues with getting a signal because I ferment in a keg. If if I move it beside my wifi hub, I get a reading. Seems to be working so far and for a lot less than a Tilt or one of these gizmos.

Bazza

Quote from: mick02 on April 29, 2021, 02:38:17 PMI had never soldered in my life, I organised a group buy of these units and even bought a soldering set. Never opened either. Ridiculous carry on.
;D

Quote from: phildo79 on April 29, 2021, 04:07:57 PMI recently bought an ispindel, fully assembled, for about £35. I had to calibrate it, of course, and set up a free account with ubidots. Takes a bit of time and can be a faff at times but it's done now. I am currently using it for the first time. I think it is working ok but I am having issues with getting a signal because I ferment in a keg. If if I move it beside my wifi hub, I get a reading. Seems to be working so far and for a lot less than a Tilt or one of these gizmos.
Yeah; that's another concern I have. I ferment in corny kegs in an insulated fermentation chamber at the back of a garage where the wifi signal, provided via an wifi extender, is already pretty weak. It's a pity Argos don't sell them; you could try it out for 3 weeks and if it doesn't work out simply wipe it dry and bring it back for a full refund - minus the box; they don't care.

-Barry
Whatever it is, I'm against it.
― Groucho Marx

TheSumOfAllBeers

The explanation of the inaccuracies of the float should actually apply to competitors products too (Tilt, iSpindel).

If they are in a heavy convection column, or are bumping up against heavy krausen, or are covered in bubbles/stuck on protein. It should be throwing the readings off across all products.

Is this the case with the Tilt and the iSpindel ? Asking the tilt/iSpindel users here.

phildo79


[/quote]
Yeah; that's another concern I have. I ferment in corny kegs in an insulated fermentation chamber at the back of a garage where the wifi signal, provided via an wifi extender, is already pretty weak. It's a pity Argos don't sell them; you could try it out for 3 weeks and if it doesn't work out simply wipe it dry and bring it back for a full refund - minus the box; they don't care.

-Barry
[/quote]
I bought a wifi extender but it did eff all. It's back in the box and might be going back to Argos. I will see if I can sync the ispindel to it. The keg is in the kitchen, the hub in the living room. I get random readings from the ispindel, usually in the early hours of the morning. That is enough for me. I only wanted it to know when the ferment was finished or if it was stuck.