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Modifications to a second hand v5


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Hi, I recently got a second hand Silvia v5e (if you happen to see this then thanks Paul) and was wondering if people have any suggestions for general upgrades I should make.

I'm currently thinking of:

-PID to get better temperature stability

-Changing to a flatter screw in the grouphead

-Buying a bottomless portafilter & bigger basket (I believe mine might be the 15g)

I like the idea of the mecoffee PID as it's out the way when it needs to be but appears to be able to give lots of data when you want it. I can't seem to see the mecoffee app in the play store anymore so I guess I'm wondering if anyone on here has it and it's still operational / if there is a work around to download it?

Alternatively if anyone has had problems with the mecoffee PID and changed to the Auber, could you explain what made you change?

Thanks

 

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On 12/01/2021 at 16:00, HarriEspresso said:

I'm currently thinking of:

-PID to get better temperature stability

-Changing to a flatter screw in the grouphead

-Buying a bottomless portafilter & bigger basket (I believe mine might be the 15g)

You pretty much covered the main points. 
PID is probably the most significant improvement you can make to a Silvia by far. Without it you will need to temp surf, and if you don't - performance will be completely random with no hope for any consistency. Simplest way to temp surf is to pull water from the group until the heating element kicks in (orange light turns on). While the machine is heating - prepare your shot. Once the light goes off again, flush the group again until you stop getting steam out of it (so just below 100C), and then lock the PF and brew.

mecoffee PID you mentions sound like a great idea (everything is internal and you control it via an app). However, if you read the mecoffee thread here and do some research you will learn that this company is actually one person in the Netherland who is unresponsive. Some people got the PID and are happy with it, while others bought and didn't get anything, or got something and had problems - contacted mecoffee and had no response. I wouldn't risk buying this PID based on what I have read.
This leaves you with an option to either buy the components cheaply and do it yourself, or buy an Auber PID, which is the easiest and safest way, has the best reputation, but unfortunately is expensive (especially if you are not in the U.S. and have to add shipping and VAT/import duties.

A flatter screw is very cheap and easy to do, so no reason not to, but don't expect miracles. I have found it makes no difference to the coffee, so basically nicer to look at and maybe easier to remove the screw, but not much else. While you are at it, you can get an IMS shower screen for the Silvia. It might be easier to clean and nice to look at, but again - I haven't found much benefit in the cup.

A bottomless PF will help you diagnose faults and channeling. It's nice if you are into this sort of thing, but not essential.

A bigger basket can be handy if you want to make bigger shots. I would say if you invest in a basket, it's probably best to get a precision one (like IMS or VST). 15g is a classic (and my preferred choice), but many people prefer 18g baskets. It's personal.

If you just got the machine, my advice would be to use it for a while as it is, do temp surfing, learn how things work. After a while you might know better what you want to change or add. Good luck and have fun with it!

Edited by Doram
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5 hours ago, Doram said:

mecoffee PID you mentions sound like a great idea (everything is internal and you control it via an app). However, if you read the mecoffee thread here and do some research you will learn that this company is actually one person in the Netherland who is unresponsive. Some people got the PID and are happy with it, while others bought and didn't get anything, or got something and had problems - contacted mecoffee and had no response. I wouldn't risk buying this PID based on what I have read.
This leaves you with an option to either buy the components cheaply and do it yourself, or buy an Auber PID, which is the easiest and safest way, has the best reputation, but unfortunately is expensive (especially if you are not in the U.S. and have to add shipping and VAT/import duties.

Thank you so much for you reply, i have been attempting to temp surf for the last few days with varied success (but mostly positive).

It's a shame about that mecoffee pid and thank you for letting me know, I guess i need to work out whether i care enough about the looks/data to go and build it myself😅.

You wouldn't happen to know of a thread on here that might delve into DIY PID's deeper would you? (My apologies if this is obvious, im pretty new to this forum). I'm definitely not apposed to the challenge, i just need to focus on uni work first and delve into that rabbit hole at a later date!

Thanks once again

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15 hours ago, HarriEspresso said:

You wouldn't happen to know of a thread on here that might delve into DIY PID's deeper would you? (My apologies if this is obvious, im pretty new to this forum). I'm definitely not apposed to the challenge, i just need to focus on uni work first and delve into that rabbit hole at a later date!

There is a lot of information about DIY PID, and it can get a little confusing, but I think this one looks clear: http://www.sisand.dk/?p=205

Another that seems good is in German, but maybe you speak it or can use Google translate: http://rancilio-pid.de/

If you do it yourself, once you install the hardware (doesn't seem too complicated if you are handy) you need to find and set the correct values. You need to tame overshooting when cold water enters the boiler and the PID tries to recover the set temp, and you might also need different things when you turn th e machine from cold and want to heat it fast, and when machine has hit the target and wants to keep it (and recover from usage). Auber is easier because you get all the components in a kit with instructions and pre-set values, but for a high price.

As a student on a budget, you might be interested in installing a cheap thermocouple to the boiler (you can get one for under £6, see for example Here and a pic below). You open the top cover, loosen one of the screws that hold one of the two thermostats to the boiler and insert the end of the prove between the boiler and the screw head before tightening the screw back. The thermometer now gives you an instant read of the temperature at the boiler, and this takes a lot of the guesswork out of temp surfing. There is a difference of ~10C degrees between the temperature at the boiler and the temp at the group, so when for instance the temp at the boiler is 107C, the group might be at 97C. With that information you can find at what boiler temp you get the best shots, and start your brew when you have this temperature at the boiler to get more consistent results. 

Note that the PID will also read the temperature at the boiler, not at the group. The PID will use that info to keep the boiler at your set temp automatically. The thermocouple will not do anything to control the temperature, but it will help you to manually start the brew at the temperature you want, instead of having to blindly guess the temperature in the dark. It is a great learning tool that gives you important information and helps you understand how the machine works without breaking the bank. 

707967915_cheapthermocouple.JPG.b0299768120aa449b3ecb03bbd78deae.JPG

Edited by Doram
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2 hours ago, Doram said:

As a student on a budget, you might be interested in installing a cheap thermocouple to the boiler (you can get one for under £6, see for example Here and a pic below).

Thank you, that looks perfect for what I want a second. I'm almost certainly going to build something a little more techy for myself at a later date. But this should suffice until I can dedicate the time!

 

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