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Hi everyone,

I thought I'm going to "outsource" the final touches to my kit, and let you guys to add your ideas, criticism, thoughts, in order to get an even better and more useful kit.

I greatly appreciate every single comment, as it helps to match the taste of the wide range of end-users, no mention of the valuable expert comments, which I usually learn a lot from here.

Please excuse me for the quality of photos, these are only for rough guidance. I'll upload some proper photos soon.

What is the GAGGIA BoostBox?
It is a purpose designed and built, 3D printed enclosure, accomodating a PID temperature control kit, and a liquid / glycerine filled 41mm pressure gauge tapped in to read dynamic brew pressure, pre-assembled ready for installation.
As everything is wired up it's only the matter of connecting the 8 wires (individually colour coded), replacing the thermostat to the PT100 sensor (screw out - screw in), and fitting the piggyback with the pressure gauge tapping to the boiler (task like replacing the o ring on the solenoid valve).

It is located beneath the water funnel extending the height of the machine by 50mm (2")
It is also accomodating the SSR (there is only one SSR covering both the brew and the steam function) with a dedicated heatsink.
The PID controller is identical to the well known Mrshades kit, and other common versions, with the exact same menu and parameters (XMT7100).
The pressure gauge is tapped from the boiler via a machined brass piggyback block.

Sidenote: The heatsink is sticking out from the rear plane but it aligns with the main cables IEC connector, so you not loosing any space behind the machine, it can still be located at the same position as it was prior to the installation.

When will it be available?
I work around the clock to get it finished, tested and stocked up properly for late August - September. (Not a lot left to do but the pressure gauge, and instructions)

Please care to share your thoughts.

There is also a dedicated topic for the pressure gauge itself, below:
https://coffeeforums.co.uk/topic/53171-pressure-gauge-discussion-experiment-improvement/#comments

The kit will be available
-Pre-assembled
and also as a
- Full DIY kit (empty enclosure with all parts to populate with)
to fit everyones needs.
(Partial, kit will be available upon request too.)

I'm willing to share the CAD design and the STL file too, for those whom want to modify/improve/personalize it, as well as the BOM (note that the PID controller is manufactured to order, however guidance is available for customisation of the generic model).

If someone would decide to fund the injection moulding tool costs, and CE certification, it could probably turn into a business - I believe what I've done so far, is a more than sufficient base for that.
I do have further ideas (probably some of them isn't my idea, but I took them further to a manufacturable level) to implement, for a version 2,3 and 4.

I believe an "S Class" modded Gaggia Classic model (used but rebuilt including new boiler, so I would rather call it remanufactured) shouldn't cost more than £5-600 ( the fully loaded DIY kit is estimated to £3-400), but would definitely beat anything on the market below £1k (probably even used ones) with a significantly smaller footprint than anything what matches the capabilities.

Kind regards
Peter

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Edited by FairRecycler
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Looks good Peter! I’ve had various ideas over the last few months for PID mounting also - including a ‘Batman’s Utility Belt’ like that (it’s a shame gauges aren’t smaller as my non-gauge design is only 40mm, it’s the gauge that increase the required height annoyingly).

Ive already had feedback on my version that an additional 40mm wouldn’t allow a Classic to fit under some kitchen cupboards, so 50mmmay be an issue for some.

I’m not sure if this will make it into production and be available on the website but it may be a mounting option.

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I like the box extension idea less heat and moisture there and looks integrated, about the PID and gauge this could be an Arduino based with only one display.

 

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I like the box extension idea less heat and moisture there and looks integrated, about the PID and gauge this could be an Arduino based with only one display.
 

Yeeees.... that’s another sub-project that I started some years ago! Finding the time to turn it from a box of wires and breadboards and small OLED screens into anything that might be useful in an espresso machine is taking some time.... maybe when I retire I’ll have the time!


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This looks really excellent Peter / @FairRecycler and I have enjoyed our many conversations about your designs over the last few months. I've been really impressed at your desire to perfect the components. 

The integrated gauge design will be particularly important for those people who want the same on a 2019 model, where the gauges can't be installed into the front. 

As I noted elsewhere, UK kitchens are often limited for space, and you should consider that in many kitchens, the cabinets will provide a limiting height. I have measured my own countertop-to-cabinet distance and it is about 47cm. Before my kitchen renovation, this was even lower.

10 hours ago, FairRecycler said:

I believe an "S Class" modded Gaggia Classic model (used but rebuilt including new boiler, so I would rather call it remanufactured) shouldn't cost more than £5-600 ( the fully loaded DIY kit is estimated to £3-400), but would definitely beat anything on the market below £1k (probably even used ones) with a significantly smaller footprint than anything what matches the capabilities.

Note by footprint I guess you mean horizontal footprint rather than volume.

The marketisation is an interesting aspect, and unfortunately I'm a scientist and not a businessman. Some points to consider:

  • Have you done any research on the target audience for this? Is it men or women? People at what age? People who want what kind of device? How much are they willing to pay? 
  • My understanding here is that the main audience for the 'modding' community is small. I recently talked to a friend who bought a Breville Express and he noted that his wife complained about having such a 'large' obtrusive device. These considerations are in play when you think about who the target audience is. I'm not sure about the claim that it "would definitely beat anything on the market below £1k" would fly. I suspect that if you surveyed random people who are willing to put out £1k, they would much prefer to buy a Mara-X or similar device. Most coffee enthusiasts on these forums who have modded their Classic seem to move away to double boiler machines later on. They have fond memories of their efforts on the Classic but seem to have little regrets with moving on. Cue @timmyjj21 who I talked to about this.

I think that the coffee modding community shares a lot with the PC modding community that I grew up with in the early 00s. Early in the PC modding communities, people were making water-cooling setups with aquarium pumps, milled water cooling blocks,  car radiators. Nowadays, you can buy all these things as kits jammed to the brim with LED lights. I remember how hard it was to obtain an aluminium water-cooling block 20 years ago, and now you can buy them for £5-10 from China. However, there may be intrinsic differences in these two scenarios because with the Gaggia Classic, you are looking to provide an all-in-one kit for a single machine (that is limited by a single boiler), while with the PC modding communities, these are add-ins that are universal.

Another consideration is the resell value. As we know, the Gaggia Classic is an incredibly strong re-seller. Most of the time, if you're buying a used <£200 machine, you can easily get back what you paid for the machine. However, this is not true for mods. PID mods add only a fraction onto the price (so little in fact that most people are better off selling the PID separately). People will sell a refurbished Classic for £175 but struggle to sell a PID version for £225. Someone who pays £3-400 for your Boost Box is going to lose a ton of money when they want to resell. That said, I know of people who bought a brand new 2019 machine for £400. In that light, paying £5-600 for a decked out modded version (pre-2019) is not absurd.

I have a good understanding of the margins for the PID/gauge/dimmer but not for the 3d-printed box. Ultimately in commercialising the idea, the question is whether the margins are worth it, given the niche interest.

Just to be clear, I think this is fantastic idea and I'm super excited. I'm not qualified to talk about sales and margins and I should leave this for the experts. I hope this post doesn't come out as being a Negative Nancy---I'm just critical as always with any idea.

Knowing how thorough you are though, Peter, I'm sure you would have already thought of the above.

 

Edited by phario
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13 hours ago, MrShades said:

Looks good Peter! I’ve had various ideas over the last few months for PID mounting also - including a ‘Batman’s Utility Belt’ like that (it’s a shame gauges aren’t smaller as my non-gauge design is only 40mm, it’s the gauge that increase the required height annoyingly).

Thank you.

I would love to see sketches of the Batman's utility belt version :)

Very truth, gauges come with a price, however it's only 10mm. I'll definitely make a slim version integrating the funnel to the print and shave off that 9mm from top. BTW I could go 5mm lower due to the gauge, but the SSR not letting me, that limits the height in the way it's mounted, but I really like it as it.

Are you including the SSRs in the enclosure?

13 hours ago, L&R said:

I like the box extension idea less heat and moisture there and looks integrated, about the PID and gauge this could be an Arduino based with only one display.

 

Yes I know it's shouting for that, however as @MrShades said there is hell of a lot to work on such a project. Unfortunately I have zero knowledge in that topic, so I have to skip that.

However a good friend on mine working on a microcontroller for me 😂 but that's far far away in the future...

@phario

Thank you.

Yes the height could be an issue this lead me to develop it for more than 2 months (I've started from 70mm and gone down to 50mm). As I mentioned above there will be a slim version. At this moment it raises to 16" (40.6cm) and I think with the slim version going just below 400mm it's not too bad. According to your kitchen, it is possible to fit both (MrShades and mine) on top of your machine 😂 this is impressive.

I do apologize for everyone for my uncontrolled enthusiasm according to the marketisation, especially for statements on thin air about the capabilities, and comparisons. Obviously I have not even started to work on further versions, I am also aware of limitations of this tiny boiler. I'll try to edit that section. @pharioThank you for pointing at this section for me.

1 hour ago, Valkyrie88 said:

Hmm ...would there be enough room for a shot timer LED screen to go on the right hand side of the gauge? THAT WOULD BE FRIKING AWESOME !!!!

Behind that blank area there is a massive water funnel I'm afraid. 😂

However I'm the fan of symmetry too. :)

Maybe one day.

There is a lot to do with this version still, but thank you for highlighting possibilities.

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The 2nd alternative of filament arrived yesterday. After doing some research and realising the very limited availability, due to high demand for Matt black colour, I decided to try 2 different types.

The first print of this filament came out quite well this morning. The surface isn't as smooth as the other one, neither as Matt, but I think it's a better match to the original top. Also it is a much more forgiving material, the other one was a real pain to work with I still couldn't figure out how to get rid of those marks on the right side of the pressure gauge hole.

On the photos the top and the standalone unit is the new material.

Which one do you prefer guys?

Also I wanted to ask, would you advice to close the bottom of the box or leave it open to allow airflow between the machine and the box? Why / why not?

Personally I prefer to close it, to be on the safe side in case of any leaks in the machine.

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Edited by FairRecycler
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1 hour ago, FairRecycler said:

The 2nd alternative of filament arrived yesterday. After doing some research and realising the very limited availability, due to high demand for Matt black colour, I decided to try 2 different types.

The first print of this filament came out quite well this morning. The surface isn't as smooth as the other one, neither as Matt, but I think it's a better match to the original top. Also it is a much more forgiving material, the other one was a real pain to work with I still couldn't figure out how to get rid of those marks on the right side of the pressure gauge hole.

On the photos the top and the standalone unit is the new material.

Which one do you prefer guys?

Also I wanted to ask, would you advice to close the bottom of the box or leave it open to allow airflow between the machine and the box? Why / why not?

Personally I prefer to close it, to be on the safe side in case of any leaks in the machine.

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I think the first is obviously better (smoother, it seems). 

How easy is it to drill into these ourselves? 

In terms of open vs. close, I assume that it doesn't matter much from a heat perspective. The is little convection in the machine (no fans as a PC would have). Whether it's open or close, the interior will basically tend to the ambient temperature of the interior. I assume on that basis that closed may be better since it is then 'boxed' and protected from splashes.

However, aligned with my first question, I don't really see the point of making it closed as it just causes more trouble for later modders. If a modder wants to add their own modifications, attachments, or repair, then they will end up taking out the bottom surface. I'm not sure how it works on a cost basis as well. Plus I don't know how you intend to close it (as in a hatch that can be opened or fully sealed?) and how this jives with the pressure gauge or overall wiring (will you make a hole to pass the different tubes?). 

By the way, for that gauge, why is a lower notch required?

 

 

Edited by phario
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1 hour ago, phario said:

By the way, for that gauge, why is a lower notch required?

There is a rubber cap on the side of the gauge, sealing the glycerine chamber's fill/drain/top-up hole.

1 hour ago, phario said:

How easy is it to drill into these ourselves?

You can drill the top and the bottom of this actual design, but not the sides as it would cause the layers to split. I think the best way of forming is a soldering iron. PLA starts to melt around 170°C but it's better to double check as it tends to deform from excessive heat.

Good point to add a removable bottom plate, thanks for that. Cost wise it won't make a real change, and I could either use other materials to make a bottom plate.

 

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44 minutes ago, FairRecycler said:

There is a rubber cap on the side of the gauge, sealing the glycerine chamber's fill/drain/top-up hole.

You can drill the top and the bottom of this actual design, but not the sides as it would cause the layers to split. I think the best way of forming is a soldering iron. PLA starts to melt around 170°C but it's better to double check as it tends to deform from excessive heat.

Good point to add a removable bottom plate, thanks for that. Cost wise it won't make a real change, and I could either use other materials to make a bottom plate.

 

Not being able to easily drill the sides might be a big factor so you might want to confirm how difficult it is to create new openings. 

If it's too hard to drill I guess you need to think about what might go into the sides (did you intend to put something in the right of the gauge). Like dimmer or something. 

I doubt this idea is desirable but I guess you could put tabs into the 3d design which might make it easier for people to 'punch out' slots. But that's just a silly idea. 

I really like the rear ssr slot design by the way. 

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4 hours ago, FairRecycler said:

You can drill the top and the bottom of this actual design, but not the sides as it would cause the layers to split.

I should have check it prior to assuming. You can drill it.

 

3 hours ago, phario said:

did you intend to put something in the right of the gauge). Like dimmer or something. 

I'm not aiming to add anything else to this version, I'm better to finish it off first :)

I'm hoping to take it further later on but the clearance is very limited on that side due to the water funnel. At the very top it's only 12mm and it increases to 20mm at the bottom :(

You can't fit a lot there I'm afraid.

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The main thing that bothers me about the design (now that I remember there is the funnel) is the intrinsic asymmetry due to the PID and gauge.

I guess you could put a Boost Box logo (that's mostly a joke) on the right. But design-wise it looks uneven. 

I'm just being picky I guess. I should point out that with a black pid front, it doesn't look as asymmetric and might just be a lighting aspect in your pictures. 

Maybe a dumb question, but why not recess the funnel deeper (level with the original top)? I'm not sure how/whether you're using the oem funnel but the question is whether a design can be done so that the right side is clear. 

Edited by phario
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Boom! looks great and now that I can see the internals i get how the funnel can limit options for a timer (guess I'm not an abstract thinker haha).

However if you have gone through all the effort already, could you not review the funnel design? I mean how big does it really need to be? could it not just have a smaller funnel face and a tube-y thing attached to the bottom that feeds into the reservoir?

I haven't considered all the +/- 's but from a user perspective it would just mean we would need to perform the re-fill pour action a little slower with a smaller funnel face - a trade off I guess most could live with.

If that sounds workable, maybe you could offer the timer OR dimmer as a custom option to suit user needs ;) 

For me that would be another added value / USP for BoostBox and far as I know, there is no current offering for these options that allow us newbies to simply plug & play!

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On 13/07/2020 at 02:37, FairRecycler said:

is located beneath the water funnel extending the height of the machine by 50mm (2")

Peter this is a good idea, and i can see some good suggestions like a floor up there.   

Is the original funnel is being raised, and then as Valkyrie88 suggests

7 hours ago, Valkyrie88 said:

and a tube-y thing attached to the bottom that feeds into the reservoir?

The only minor thing is i often leave a cup or two to warm on the tray, and you will lose a small amount of tray space as cups overhang the water cover now.  I cant see them fouling the PID unless you're clumsy.

I have a simple kitchen timer attached by magnet next to the front switches, i don't think i'd like it moved unless it was fully automatic.

It's certainly a mod i'd think about.  👍

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@FairRecycler

So I think at some point above, I discussed the whole open vs. closed bottom and the temperatures. 

There is an interesting article you might read here: https://callanbryant.co.uk/blog/well-integrated-pid-temperature-control-of-a-gaggia-classic-espresso-machine

about someone who puts the PID into the body itself via a custom 3D printed top that removes the funnel. Basically the author comments on the 55C operating max temperature of his PID.

Anyways, it's worth tossing a temperature probe inside the case and putting it into steam mode to see how high your temps rise. It's probably less than his given your vented design and external heat sink.

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@phario @L&R @Valkyrie88

Thank you for the brainstorming on this. I admit I'm not considering to add more features at this point, however your ideas helps me a lot on further versions. On the other hand in the case of individual needs I'm more than happy to provide the CAD design for customisation and I can still print it. I'm also happy to make minor customisation for individual orders like an extra cutout.

I'm still not sure on integrating the funnel in the design, because of the cleanability of 3d printed objects (due to the grooves between the layers and the poor temperature resistance). I'm not entirely sure I would love to pour water through such a surface into my machine.

However I have an idea to utilize that blank surface:

I would stand my phone there with a wireless camera connected ( pointing at the bottom of the filter basket ) to inspect the flow, as I'm fed up with bending to the worktop, but yet can't resist it. :)

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On 15/07/2020 at 23:02, phario said:

@FairRecycler

So I think at some point above, I discussed the whole open vs. closed bottom and the temperatures. 

There is an interesting article you might read here: https://callanbryant.co.uk/blog/well-integrated-pid-temperature-control-of-a-gaggia-classic-espresso-machine

about someone who puts the PID into the body itself via a custom 3D printed top that removes the funnel. Basically the author comments on the 55C operating max temperature of his PID.

Anyways, it's worth tossing a temperature probe inside the case and putting it into steam mode to see how high your temps rise. It's probably less than his given your vented design and external heat sink.

Thank you for this, thanks for your post I'm in the progress of tracking temperature  inside there, with the owen and hob on all the time to simulate Miami (at least it really feels like summer :)

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I'm just about to review the heatsink mount, as it's design proven to fail while upside down for installation.

It is a simple 2mm stainless rod bent 90°at the top end, homed in two holes (top and bottom).

It has to be something easily removable yet stable in normal and upside down position too.

Thank you in advance.

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5 minutes ago, FairRecycler said:

I'm just about to review the heatsink mount, as it's design proven to fail while upside down for installation.

It is a simple 2mm stainless rod bent 90°at the top end, homed in two holes (top and bottom).

It has to be something easily removable yet stable in normal and upside down position too.

Thank you in advance.

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In what way is it failing? 

I had wondered previously about your mount but no photos were close enough to examine. 

Have you examined cpu mounts for inspiration? I believe most of them will use either a tensioned clip or a spring. Presumably you do need some sort of tensioning. Perhaps putting a spring through the bolts? 

Edited by phario
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