coffee-forum.net
Promoting coffee discussion.

Main
Date: 17 Oct 2006 06:15:58
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Newbie Sylvia Questions
I'm just moving up from a pressurized portafilter machine (Saeco) to a
Sylvia/Rocky combo. I've read way too much and I think I get it mostly
and am looking forward to honing my grind / tamp and frothing technique
(temp surfing shouldn't be a problem since I'm lazy enough that I'm
getting the Sylvia with a PID from the outset). But I still have a few
probably very basic questions that I hope you'll indulge me on:

1. The conventional wisdom seems to be to pull your shots first and
then steam the milk for capps because the greater amount of milk will
warm up a couple of somewhat cooled shots better than newly pulled
shots will warm up cooled milk. I've always done the opposite, steaming
the milk first on one of the following premises - when I'm using 6 oz
of milk and heat it to 160, it's still well above 150 when the shots
are done. And when I'm just using a small dollop of milk or half &
half, the shots will bring it back up to temp better than visa versa.
Is there a practical reason for doing the shots first in terms of the
heating-cooling boiler cycles in the Sylvia - ie will it take too long
to cool from steam temp to brew temp to make this work with a good
machine and hopefully more developed taste buds?

2. How will the PID work in terms of steaming? I know the PID is
intended to keep the water in the boiler within a very narrow
temperature window to get the brew right. When the steam button is
pressed, does this bypass the PID and allow the higher steam temps? If
so, how well does the PID work to get the temp back DOWN to brew temps
before pulling your shots (per question #1, above, or if you're making
a second drink)?

3. How does the Sylvia water softener that WLL sells to stick in the
reservoir affect both the type of water you should use in the machine
(does this make tap water OK?) and on the descaling frequency?

4. What's are the tradeoffs to using a tamper with a curved bottom as
opposed to a flat bottom?

TIA for any help,

-Ray





 
Date: 20 Oct 2006 06:54:16
From: Karl
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Thanks. I do some timing this weekend and see how my Silvia compares.

Karl

jggall01 wrote:
> 2 minutes to stable control, measured from time that boiler temp
> "bottoms out" after shot.
>
> Jim
> www pidkits.com
>
> Karl wrote:
> > Using a Fuji PXR3-RCY1-4V. I need to time my shot recovery and see how
> > it compares to the 2 minutes you mention. When you say recovery, do you
> > mean a return to a stable temp at sv, or just recovery to sv (with a
> > following overshoot)?
> >
> > Karl
> >
> > jggall01 wrote:
> > > On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> > >
> > > > About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
> > > > after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short blasts
> > > > of power.
> > > >
> > >
> > > Hi, Karl -
> > >
> > > Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
> > > PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
> > > with some models than others).
> > >
> > > I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia heats
> > > quickly, but cools slowly.
> > >
> > > > Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID gets
> > > > before going to short blasts of power?
> > > >
> > >
> > > The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
> > > Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
> > > differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
> > > directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
> > > the range).
> > >
> > > The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You can
> > > see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the graph
> > > at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action starts
> > > to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
> > > heater is running at max output.
> > >
> > > What kind of controller are you using?
> > >
> > > Jim
> > > www.pidkits.com



 
Date: 19 Oct 2006 07:06:38
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
2 minutes to stable control, measured from time that boiler temp
"bottoms out" after shot.

Jim
www pidkits.com

Karl wrote:
> Using a Fuji PXR3-RCY1-4V. I need to time my shot recovery and see how
> it compares to the 2 minutes you mention. When you say recovery, do you
> mean a return to a stable temp at sv, or just recovery to sv (with a
> following overshoot)?
>
> Karl
>
> jggall01 wrote:
> > On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> > > About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
> > > after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short blasts
> > > of power.
> > >
> >
> > Hi, Karl -
> >
> > Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
> > PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
> > with some models than others).
> >
> > I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia heats
> > quickly, but cools slowly.
> >
> > > Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID gets
> > > before going to short blasts of power?
> > >
> >
> > The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
> > Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
> > differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
> > directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
> > the range).
> >
> > The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You can
> > see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the graph
> > at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action starts
> > to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
> > heater is running at max output.
> >
> > What kind of controller are you using?
> >
> > Jim
> > www.pidkits.com



 
Date: 19 Oct 2006 06:27:03
From: Karl
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Using a Fuji PXR3-RCY1-4V. I need to time my shot recovery and see how
it compares to the 2 minutes you mention. When you say recovery, do you
mean a return to a stable temp at sv, or just recovery to sv (with a
following overshoot)?

Karl

jggall01 wrote:
> On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> > About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
> > after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short blasts
> > of power.
> >
>
> Hi, Karl -
>
> Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
> PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
> with some models than others).
>
> I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia heats
> quickly, but cools slowly.
>
> > Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID gets
> > before going to short blasts of power?
> >
>
> The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
> Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
> differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
> directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
> the range).
>
> The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You can
> see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the graph
> at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action starts
> to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
> heater is running at max output.
>
> What kind of controller are you using?
>
> Jim
> www.pidkits.com



 
Date: 18 Oct 2006 17:51:57
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

Craig Andrews wrote:
>
> Yeppers! Will one of your kits work?
> Craig.

In some form, yes, but will require modifying the t/c and some wire
terminals. I have responded in more detail in a PM to you.

Jim
www.pidkits.com



  
Date: 18 Oct 2006 22:59:36
From: Craig Andrews
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

"jggall01" <jggall01@yahoo.com > wrote in message
news:1161219117.086362.157240@i3g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...
>
> Craig Andrews wrote:
>>
>> Yeppers! Will one of your kits work?
>> Craig.
>
> In some form, yes, but will require modifying the t/c and some wire
> terminals. I have responded in more detail in a PM to you.
>
> Jim
> www.pidkits.com
>

Thanks Jim! I did get your email @ 8:59pm Toronto time.
Craig.



   
Date: 18 Oct 2006 23:06:13
From: Craig Andrews
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

"Craig Andrews" <alt.coffee@deletethis.rogers.com > wrote in message
news:4po80iFjgo5mU1@individual.net...
>
> "jggall01" <jggall01@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> news:1161219117.086362.157240@i3g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...
>>
>> Craig Andrews wrote:
>>>
>>> Yeppers! Will one of your kits work?
>>> Craig.
>>
>> In some form, yes, but will require modifying the t/c and some wire
>> terminals. I have responded in more detail in a PM to you.
>>
>> Jim
>> www.pidkits.com
>>
>
> Thanks Jim! I did get your email @ 8:59pm Toronto time.
> Craig.

Correction, 8:48pm..
Craig.



 
Date: 18 Oct 2006 16:45:30
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Craig Andrews wrote:

> Hi Jim! {;-) Can you look at his post of mine here
> http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/261090#261090 & the
> later one in the thread to see if this is doable for John Kosche
> (john_k) on the CG forums?
> Thank you!
> Craig.

Hi, Craig. John and I have been in contact. Thanks.

Jim
www.pidkits.com



  
Date: 18 Oct 2006 19:56:23
From: Craig Andrews
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

"jggall01" <jggall01@yahoo.com > wrote in message
news:1161215129.956595.325710@k70g2000cwa.googlegroups.com...
> Craig Andrews wrote:
>
>> Hi Jim! {;-) Can you look at his post of mine here
>> http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/261090#261090 &
>> the
>> later one in the thread to see if this is doable for John Kosche
>> (john_k) on the CG forums?
>> Thank you!
>> Craig.
>
> Hi, Craig. John and I have been in contact. Thanks.
>
> Jim
> www.pidkits.com
>

Yeppers! Will one of your kits work?
Craig.



 
Date: 18 Oct 2006 13:45:46
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions


On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com > wrote:

> About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
> after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short blasts
> of power.
>

Hi, Karl -

Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
with some models than others).

I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia heats
quickly, but cools slowly.

> Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID gets
> before going to short blasts of power?
>

The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
the range).

The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You can
see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the graph
at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action starts
to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
heater is running at max output.

What kind of controller are you using?

Jim
www.pidkits.com



  
Date: 18 Oct 2006 17:39:59
From: Craig Andrews
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

"jggall01" <jggall01@yahoo.com > wrote in message
news:1161204346.804084.217530@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...
>
>
> On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>> About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
>> after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short
>> blasts
>> of power.
>>
>
> Hi, Karl -
>
> Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
> PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
> with some models than others).
>
> I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia
> heats
> quickly, but cools slowly.
>
>> Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID
>> gets
>> before going to short blasts of power?
>>
>
> The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
> Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
> differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
> directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
> the range).
>
> The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You
> can
> see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the
> graph
> at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action starts
> to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
> heater is running at max output.
>
> What kind of controller are you using?
>
> Jim
> www.pidkits.com
>


Hi Jim! {;-) Can you look at his post of mine here
http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/261090#261090 & the
later one in the thread to see if this is doable for John Kosche
(john_k) on the CG forums?
Thank you!
Craig.



   
Date: 18 Oct 2006 17:47:21
From: Craig Andrews
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions

"Craig Andrews" <alt.coffee@deletethis.rogers.com > wrote in message
news:4pnl9aFjf9ihU1@individual.net...
>
> "jggall01" <jggall01@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> news:1161204346.804084.217530@m73g2000cwd.googlegroups.com...
>>
>>
>> On Oct 18, 2:35 pm, "Karl" <karlmiltonr...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>>> About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
>>> after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short
>>> blasts
>>> of power.
>>>
>>
>> Hi, Karl -
>>
>> Recovery time between shots should be around 2 minutes. I think most
>> PID's can be tuned to achieve this (although I have had better luck
>> with some models than others).
>>
>> I think the key to tuning is avoiding too much overshoot. Silvia
>> heats
>> quickly, but cools slowly.
>>
>>> Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID
>>> gets
>>> before going to short blasts of power?
>>>
>>
>> The proportional band (P parameter) affects this the most directly.
>> Different controllers, though, define and use this parameter
>> differently. I think some controllers even allow you to specify
>> directly the range in which PID control is active (100% power outside
>> the range).
>>
>> The Watlow 96 controller in the graph is tuned using Pb = 12F. You
>> can
>> see on initial warmup that PID effects start to be evident on the
>> graph
>> at around 210F (on the way to 228F). In steam mode, PID action
>> starts
>> to show up at around 280F on the way to 300F. Below those temps the
>> heater is running at max output.
>>
>> What kind of controller are you using?
>>
>> Jim
>> www.pidkits.com
>>
>
>
> Hi Jim! {;-) Can you look at his post of mine here
> http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/261090#261090 &
> the later one in the thread to see if this is doable for John Kosche
> (john_k) on the CG forums?
> Thank you!
> Craig.

I've asked Jim Gallt (jggall01) to have a look at this thread to see if
this is doable. I've been reading on alt.coffee about a PID'd HX
machine.
http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/261129#261129
Craig.



 
Date: 18 Oct 2006 11:35:46
From: Karl
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Well, your graph is certainly compelling, but I think my results may
have been different. I only get to see Silvia on weekends since I
upgraded to Brewtus (she's down in the country, only working
weekends), but I'll have to check. I believe my PID only provides full
power when starting up, and starts giving 1 second blasts of power long
before reaching the set value. My impression is it takes Silvia
significantly longer to warm up on the PID than without the PID. Your
website certainly provides data to the contrary, so I'll have to check.

About my only complaint about PIDing Silvia was that recovery time
after shots was longer than before, due, I thought, to the short blasts
of power.

Are there PID settings which affect how close to set value the PID gets
before going to short blasts of power?

Karl

jggall01 wrote:
> Karl wrote:
>
> > You could PID both the brew temp and the steam, but then Silvia will
> > heat up to steam temp much slower. PIDs only give short blasts of power
> > to the heating element, which is much slower than the full blast of
> > power that goes to the heating element if you just rely on the steam
> > switch and steam thermostat.
>
> There can be almost no difference in the time it takes to get to
> steaming temperature. The PID runs the heater at 100% power until it
> gets relatively close to set point.
>
> The strategy I recommend is to use a 300F setpoint, then begin steaming
> anytime after 290F. Takes about 100 seconds to go from brew temp (228F
> or so) to 290F under PID control - virtually the same as without PID
> control.
>
> A quick look at this graph tells the story:
>
> http://www.pidkits.com/images/rf-96steam.jpg
>
> Jim



 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 15:58:15
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Karl wrote:

> You could PID both the brew temp and the steam, but then Silvia will
> heat up to steam temp much slower. PIDs only give short blasts of power
> to the heating element, which is much slower than the full blast of
> power that goes to the heating element if you just rely on the steam
> switch and steam thermostat.

There can be almost no difference in the time it takes to get to
steaming temperature. The PID runs the heater at 100% power until it
gets relatively close to set point.

The strategy I recommend is to use a 300F setpoint, then begin steaming
anytime after 290F. Takes about 100 seconds to go from brew temp (228F
or so) to 290F under PID control - virtually the same as without PID
control.

A quick look at this graph tells the story:

http://www.pidkits.com/images/rf-96steam.jpg

Jim



 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 14:54:57
From: Karl
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Always brew first; Silvia heats up a lot faster than she cools down.

Most of us PID the brew temperature only. Precision is very important
for brew temp and not nearly as important for steaming.

You could PID both the brew temp and the steam, but then Silvia will
heat up to steam temp much slower. PIDs only give short blasts of power
to the heating element, which is much slower than the full blast of
power that goes to the heating element if you just rely on the steam
switch and steam thermostat. (The short blasts of power are part of how
the PID maintains such precise temperatures.)

As Jim said, a PID which only controls the brew temp still reports the
temp when you are steaming, so you can switch the steam switch on,
watch the temp, and start steaming just before the thermostat would
kick the power off. Since Silvia's boiler is fairly small (although
bigger than some), it runs out of steam fairly quickly. Starting to
steam at the highest temperature you can helps you get enough steam to
do the job.

Karl

ramboorider@gmail.com wrote:
> I'm just moving up from a pressurized portafilter machine (Saeco) to a
> Sylvia/Rocky combo. I've read way too much and I think I get it mostly
> and am looking forward to honing my grind / tamp and frothing technique
> (temp surfing shouldn't be a problem since I'm lazy enough that I'm
> getting the Sylvia with a PID from the outset). But I still have a few
> probably very basic questions that I hope you'll indulge me on:
>
> 1. The conventional wisdom seems to be to pull your shots first and
> then steam the milk for capps because the greater amount of milk will
> warm up a couple of somewhat cooled shots better than newly pulled
> shots will warm up cooled milk. I've always done the opposite, steaming
> the milk first on one of the following premises - when I'm using 6 oz
> of milk and heat it to 160, it's still well above 150 when the shots
> are done. And when I'm just using a small dollop of milk or half &
> half, the shots will bring it back up to temp better than visa versa.
> Is there a practical reason for doing the shots first in terms of the
> heating-cooling boiler cycles in the Sylvia - ie will it take too long
> to cool from steam temp to brew temp to make this work with a good
> machine and hopefully more developed taste buds?
>
> 2. How will the PID work in terms of steaming? I know the PID is
> intended to keep the water in the boiler within a very narrow
> temperature window to get the brew right. When the steam button is
> pressed, does this bypass the PID and allow the higher steam temps? If
> so, how well does the PID work to get the temp back DOWN to brew temps
> before pulling your shots (per question #1, above, or if you're making
> a second drink)?
>
> 3. How does the Sylvia water softener that WLL sells to stick in the
> reservoir affect both the type of water you should use in the machine
> (does this make tap water OK?) and on the descaling frequency?
>
> 4. What's are the tradeoffs to using a tamper with a curved bottom as
> opposed to a flat bottom?
>
> TIA for any help,
>
> -Ray



 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 13:53:31
From: ramboorider@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
Thanks everyone. Helpful input. I guess I'll have to change my routine
and start pulling the shots before steaming the milk. They sure seem to
cool down relatively fast when they sit there though.

I was going to ask about backflushing the Silvia also, but found plenty
of information, both pro and con, on that already.

I'll no doubt be back at you with more questions once I have everything
up and running for a little while.

-Ray



  
Date: 17 Oct 2006 16:09:59
From: Lloyd Parsons
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
In article <1161118411.394950.122640@m7g2000cwm.googlegroups.com >,
"ramboorider@gmail.com" <ramboorider@gmail.com > wrote:

> Thanks everyone. Helpful input. I guess I'll have to change my routine
> and start pulling the shots before steaming the milk. They sure seem to
> cool down relatively fast when they sit there though.
>
> I was going to ask about backflushing the Silvia also, but found plenty
> of information, both pro and con, on that already.
>
> I'll no doubt be back at you with more questions once I have everything
> up and running for a little while.
>
> -Ray

Try covering the cup and placing the cup on the top of Miss Silvia until
you are ready to pour the steamed milk/froth.


 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 13:16:42
From: phreaddy
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
On question 3, I agree that softener is not needed unless you live in
an area with extremely hard water. (I once did, in Brownington, Vt.,
where there was so much calcite in the well water that it would crust
in the tea kettle EVERY time I boiled water.) But I live in New York
City now, which has the cleanest big-city water in the country, and
isn't even filtered. I use a Brita, and Cleancaf every 3-6 months (I
make 2-4 double lattes daily) without ever having a buildup problem, in
more than two years with Miss Silvia.



 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 08:49:07
From: daveb
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions


> 1. Shots first then steam -- easier to go higher than lower.

> 2. Stock thermo is just fine -- steam settings are NOT at all critical.
>
> 3. Don't bother, use a Brita pitcher and descale every 3 or 4 months with Cleancaf
>
> 4. I like my convex bottom Vivace, $40.00, but there is much debate, most of it nonsensical.


Dave
129
www.hitechespresso.com



  
Date: 17 Oct 2006 11:30:22
From: notbob
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
On 2006-10-17, daveb <davebobblane@gmail.com > wrote:

>> 4. I like my convex bottom Vivace, $40.00, but there is much
debate, most of it nonsensical.

Now, non-existent. It appears 'ol Dave has left it to Reg Barber,
with Vivace no longer keting convex tampers. Even Reg offers no
comment, leaving the debate to the buyer.

nb


 
Date: 17 Oct 2006 08:41:05
From: jggall01
Subject: Re: Newbie Sylvia Questions
ramboorider@gmail.com wrote:

> 1. The conventional wisdom seems to be to pull your shots first and
> then steam the milk for capps

I agree, especially if you have a PID installed. Bringing the boiler
up to steaming temperature is quite a shock to the system and it takes
a few minutes, even with cooling flushes, to bring the group
temperature back to "normal." Will be difficult to get consistency if
you steam first.

> 2. How will the PID work in terms of steaming?

Standard PID installation doesn't control steaming temperatures, but is
still very helpful. Watch the digital display as the temp rises while
under control of stock steam tstat. Orange light will go out at almost
the same temperature every time. Future steaming sessions should be
started a few degrees before this temp. That keeps the heater "on"
throughout, which maximizes steam. Just make sure you don't miss the
cutoff temp because it is a long cooling cycle.

Some PID controllers have either dual setpoints or another means of
switching setpoints. If you install one of these, then you rewire to
bypass the steam thermostat altogether, putting both steaming and
brewing under PID control. Two priy benefits are 1) ability to
overcome a stock tstat with a low setting (PID setpoint of 300F is
safe), and 2) freedom from watching the digital display so closely
while preparing milk pitcher.

Can't help much on your other 2 questions.

Jim