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Thread: Decent espresso

  1. #1911
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    Default Scenes from an espresso machine factory

    IMG_8917.jpg

    I've been asked to give a presentation locally about our espresso machine workshop. So...I took a bunch of photos, and plan to tell a bit of a story about the various steps that go into making the Decent Espresso Machine.

    But first: why Hong Kong?
    Almost nobody builds anything in Hong Kong anymore: it's mostly a financial/legal center now. Manufacturing has moved to mainland China. Foreigners like us are welcome to own and run companies here, which is not so much the case in mainland China.

    And... there are still a lot of talented engineers here, stranded from the not-so-distant manufacturing past. There are plenty of 40 to 60-year-olds who yearn to stay in their chosen careers. Salaries are reasonable (about USD$40k/year) for people of very high competency. There's the "free port" (no duty or taxes), so we can get parts hassle-free from all over the world (not just China). We have the world's busiest air-freight terminal, which helps with shipping costs.

    ---

    So, with that preface, let me introduce Simon.

    He knows it's completely mad, but he loves to solder, and he's crazy fast at it. He laughs at himself for liking to build the "heater boxes" so much.

    Until Simon was hired (about a month ago) the heater boxes were a major problem, because our best person could make only one in 2 1/2 hours. This was holding up our entire assembly line, as each machine needs two heaters (hot water and steam) . Simon can make 10 in an 8h day, including lunch. He's on a diet, though, so lunch is shorter for him than most. As we're making 5 machines per day, that's working for us, for now. Our best student Intern from this summer, Stanley, just started on Monday and is helping Simon on the heater boxes.

    These boxes are pieces of flat fiberglass, that are soldered together to hold the heater suspended inside. We push insulating mineral wool all around the gaps, and then before we seal it up, we put a temperature probe into a threaded hole in the heater, as well as two thermal safety fuses. Finally, a thermostat (3rd safety) gets screwed onto the top.

    We're working on a new heater design that simplifies all this, for our v1.2 machines. Until then, I'm very glad that Simon is good at this, and enjoys doing it.

    -john

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    Default brushed steel

    preview-full-639253396623702061-1.jpg

    Just received this photo from our current mirror panel maker. We asked them to make a brushed steel sample for us. Another company we also use is also making a sample, and probably next week I'll make a decision.

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    Well.....looks good, but no mirror ...... if you have to go this way, maybe a "click" on mirror on the angled part? removable, cleanable,replaceable, however: looks?? nah....

  4. #1914
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    Quote Originally Posted by decent_espresso View Post
    No, sadly not. The group head controller is now its own computer, with its own dedicated CPU, and a "animation communication protocol" between the main PCB and the group head PCB. All this requires some changes in our main PCB, including a new connector.
    You are going to change the group head internals (retro-fittable?), and now this change (not retro-fittable)l. How are these changes going to effect the ability to exchange brewing profiles between users?? Well, especially for the first 300 with the rest of the community....... ??

    I can imagine a roaster putting a QR code on his packages that could be read by the DE1+ tablet (or at least being fed into it -no camera!?) so the machine could get the roaster-suggested-brewing profile without the user having to set it up. Same question: will the changes limit this idea to same version DE1* users??

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    Quote Originally Posted by decent_espresso View Post
    preview-full-639253396623702061-1.jpg

    Just received this photo from our current mirror panel maker. We asked them to make a brushed steel sample for us. Another company we also use is also making a sample, and probably next week I'll make a decision.
    Really no mirror. No alternative to the existing one which looks very good.


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    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    Well.....looks good, but no mirror ...... if you have to go this way, maybe a "click" on mirror on the angled part? removable, cleanable,replaceable, however: looks?? nah....
    Yeah, we discussed a decal-mirror, or a snap on mirror, and it would definitely work, but as you already guessed, it wouldn't look very good.

    Quote Originally Posted by embrya View Post
    Really no mirror. No alternative to the existing one which looks very good. Gesendet von iPhone mit Tapatalk
    Embrya, sorry I don't understand what you mean here. Do you mean "the mirror is great" or "I like the brushed steel" ?

    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    You are going to change the group head internals (retro-fittable?), and now this change (not retro-fittable)l. How are these changes going to effect the ability to exchange brewing profiles between users?? Well, especially for the first 300 with the rest of the community....... ??
    The changes we're making to the brew head:
    1) put a controller on it, which doesn't change the coffee process
    2) reduces puck wetness during flush, which won't change the coffee recipe
    3) will make temperature accuracy a bit more accurate

    That's a long way of saying that "profiles will continue to be swappable among models", but it is the case that "the newer the machine, the more accurate it will be at following the profile".

    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    I can imagine a roaster putting a QR code on his packages that could be read by the DE1+ tablet (or at least being fed into it -no camera!?) so the machine could get the roaster-suggested-brewing profile without the user having to set it up. Same question: will the changes limit this idea to same version DE1* users??
    I've talked to a lot of roasters about this sort of idea, but the consensus is that a QR code is not the way to do it, instead human-readable directions are better. What I'd like to do is have the roaster's company name and roast name in our database, so that with the DE1+ you can search the db (as if you were searching amazon) and pull up the profile.

    That being said, I've generally found that roasters are not very good at making espresso machine recipes that get the best out of their beans. I personally think that a community created recipe is likely to be better.

    -john

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    Default Decent espresso

    Sorry - as I am German my English is probably wrong...

    I meant that the mirror actually looks great as it is and the stainless steel version doesn’t look like a mirror at all - thus I don’t like it.


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    Have you actually ever thought of a small camera from below (instead of a mirror) so that the picture can be projected on the tablet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by decent_espresso View Post
    The changes we're making to the brew head:
    OK. I have understood that the controller is not retro-fittable; but what about the other new grouphead parts?? Since it seems that only these are necessary for "following more accurate the swappable profile".

    About the WET PUCKS: maybe raising the temperature of the brewhead for some time after the shot might help?? Did you give this a try?


    Quote Originally Posted by decent_espresso View Post
    I've talked to a lot of roasters about this sort of idea, but the consensus is that a QR code is not the way to do it, instead human-readable directions are better. What I'd like to do is have the roaster's company name and roast name in our database, so that with the DE1+ you can search the db (as if you were searching amazon) and pull up the profile.

    That being said, I've generally found that roasters are not very good at making espresso machine recipes that get the best out of their beans. I personally think that a community created recipe is likely to be better.
    Funny. Completely counter-intuitive.... Anyway, "likely" these roasters you have talked to, haven't used a DE1 or at least can't have much experience with it... :-)) It seems to me that the analytical possibilities of the DE1 are exactly what a roaster would like to have to judge his/her results....!!

    A roaster who is roasting for espresso being not very good at making an espresso recipe is something I cannot grasp: How the hell would they know how to roast their beans if they are not able to judge the outcome??

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    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    what about the other new grouphead parts?? Since it seems that only these are necessary for "following more accurate the swappable profile".
    Yes, the v1.1 group head works on the v1.0 machines: we made sure of that, so that we don't have to stock v1.0 group heads for eternity (for future repairs). However, it's a not-too-simple replacement to change the group head, about 3h of work with the current design. The v1.1 machines have some other design changes that cut that repair work time back a lot.

    In fact, most of the v1.1 changes (there are about 70 in total) are about making life easier for us, to assemble and repair the machine, and they don't affect performance.

    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    About the WET PUCKS: maybe raising the temperature of the brewhead for some time after the shot might help?? Did you give this a try?
    People knock their pucks out a few seconds after the shot ends, so I don't see that working. Plus, I wouldn't want to risk the temperature stability of the next shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by markant View Post
    Funny. Completely counter-intuitive.... Anyway, "likely" these roasters you have talked to, haven't used a DE1 or at least can't have much experience with it... :-)) It seems to me that the analytical possibilities of the DE1 are exactly what a roaster would like to have to judge his/her results....!!

    A roaster who is roasting for espresso being not very good at making an espresso recipe is something I cannot grasp: How the hell would they know how to roast their beans if they are not able to judge the outcome??
    Oh, I completely agree.

    Now.... cafes who roast are a different story. Because they deliver to clients, they're usually obsessive about the end product, and quite good at extraction.

    In fact, it's occasionally the case that people bring cafe-roasted beans that *only* taste good at a flat-9-bar extraction profile, because they have tuned the roast to best fit the espresso machine (a traditional boiler) that they have.

    Quote Originally Posted by Higgins View Post
    Have you actually ever thought of a small camera from below (instead of a mirror) so that the picture can be projected on the tablet?
    Yes, absolutely, it's something we're playing with. It'd be useful for us, helping people make better shots at home.

    Quote Originally Posted by embrya View Post
    Sorry - as I am German my English is probably wrong...
    I meant that the mirror actually looks great as it is and the stainless steel version doesn’t look like a mirror at all - thus I don’t like
    Jetzt verstehe ich dich!

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