Installing the Kegbot Hardware

In this section, we’ll walk through installing the Kegbot Flow Sensor in a standard system.

Tip

Since some steps here are difficult to reverse (such as cutting your beer line), we recommend reading the whole section thoroughly before proceeding.

Verify beer line dimensions

Remeber the fitting discussion from the hardware overview? Now is a good time to verify your system matches the supported fittings. If it doesn’t, visit Connectors and Fittings to determine extra parts.

Verify the Kegboard Pro Mini

Before connecting anything, let’s verify that the Kegboard Pro Mini and your flow sensor are in good working order.

There are four LEDs on the left side of the board. From top to bottom, they are:

  • POWER: Board-level power indicator, just about the USB connector.
  • RX: Serial data receive LED.
  • TX: Serial data transmit LED.
  • CHIP: General-purpose board LED.

Connect the board to any USB power source. The POWER LED should light up.

Shortly after power-up, the CHIP LED should flash and decay on a 5-second cycle. This means the Kegboard firmware is listening.

Now connect the flow sensor to the KegJack. Run a small amount of water through the sensor; you can also blow on it, gently. Either should cause the flow sensor’s turbine to spin, and one or both of the RX and TX LEDs should blink.

If these both succeed, you’re ready to move on! If not, see Troubleshooting.

Build the flow meter assembly

Connect the quick disconnect fittings to the flow sensor by twisting them by hand. Hand tighten, but do not overtighten.

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You may apply a small bit of teflon thread tape to the threads prior to assembly, but take special care not to get any inside the flow chamber: small strands of thread tape can wreak havoc upon the delicate meter paddle.

(If you plan on using barb connectors, hold off on inserting them for now; it’s much easier to insert the barb side first, after the beer line is spliced.)

This step should give you a good feel for the size and weight of the meter, which you’ll use in the next step.

Determine meter and cable placement

Before you cut any beverage line, you need to determine where you will place the sensor, and just as importantly, how you will route its signal cable out of your kegerator. Because many setups are unique, there is no standard answer.

We strongly discourage placing the controller board inside the refrigerator, as the moisture inside can damage the board. With respect to the keg itself, try to place the sensor closer to the tap than to the keg.

Common configurations are listed below.

Option 1: Through CO2 outlet

Kegerators with an external CO2 tank typically have a small pre-drilled hole in the fridge, which is used for routing the CO2 line itself. With a little effort, the signal cable can be squeezed through here as well.

Option 2: Through beer tower

Beer towers make a fine location for the flow sensor: It’s naturally quite close to where you’ll be placing and using the tablet and controller board.

On many beer towers, the top can be removed. Drilling or mechanically modifying the beer tower to add passage for the wire, while labor intensive, can result in a very “clean looking” build.

Option 3: Through the door gasket

As a last or temporary resort, the cable can be passed through the “front door” of the fridge, between the rubber door gasket and door frame.

This option is not optimal: slipping underneath the rubber gasket can impair its seal, decreasing efficiency of the fridge and potentically increasing frost build up (due to air leakage).

Disconnect and cut beverage line

Now that you’ve determined where to place the meter, it’s now time to cut the beer line in this spot so it can be spliced in.

Be sure to disconnect your keg coupler before cutting!

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Using a sharp, non-serrated knife, make a clean vertical cut in the beer line. If using the quick disconnect fittings directly, it’s vital that this cut be clean and “square”.

Tip

For a very detailed look at making a good connection, see the John Guest Speedfit instructions.

Connect the beverage line

It’s time to connect the flow sensor assembly to the beverage line.

Insert barb connectors (optional)

Note

If you’re using 3/8” OD tubing, chances are it will mate directly with the quick disconnect connectors and you can skip this section.

Push your beer tubing onto the barb connector. You can optionally add hose clamps to make the connection extra secure, though the connectors are designed to work without them.

../_images/stem-barb-inline.jpg

When used with 3/16” line, the barb connector can take a lot of force to insert. Try heating the end of the line, gently, with a hair dryer or by dipping the line in hot water. This should make it more flexible. Twisting the line slightly while pushing can also help.

For best connection, a mininum of 3 barbs must be pushed completely into the tubing.

Connect meter to tubing

Important: Before you connect the meter, look closely at its housing: you should see a small arrow imprinted on it. The meter must be installed with this arrow pointing in the direction of flow.

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Next push the beer line (or flat side of the barb connectors) directly into the quick disconnect jacks. Push all the way in, until the tube/connector stops. Tug slightly to confirm it is secure.

Verify liquid flow

Your meter is now spliced into your beverage line; it’s time to give it a test! Reconnect your keg coupler and closely monitor all joints for drips or leaks.

Warning

It is your responsibility to ensure your connectors are correctly installed. Take special care to ensure there are no leaks in your setup.

We recommend new builders monitor their connections judiciously until satisifed all connections are secure. When in doubt, disconnect your keg coupler when not in use.

Once satisfied, try a pour or two, then recheck all lines.

This is also a good time to check the quality of your pours. The most common cause of foamy pours is improper pressure, either due to a high CO2 setting or an improperly balanced line. Line balancing is a subject unto itself; for a good overview, see this external guide.

While you are pouring, reivist the steps in Verify the Kegboard Pro Mini, ensuring that the RX and TX lights flash.


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