How Did You Get Into This PID Business?


By accident. After years of telling her I thought the idea of a home espresso machine was silly, I bought my wife a Silvia as a gift. Turns out, I really love espresso. Who knew?

I didn't like the wide variation in temperatures you get with Silvia's stock thermostat. Plus, I thought the PID idea looked like fun. My day job is engineering, and I have a tough time resisting projects like this. So I installed the single ugliest Radio Shack project box you ever saw on the side of our machine, along with the Fuji PID that all the web sites said to use.

Gradually, I kept installing improvements to our Silvia's PID system (better wiring, safer terminations, improved thermocouple, better SSR placement and protection, etc). Then I spent weeks trying to find an acceptable pre-made enclosure to replace the plastic box from Radio Shack. Budd makes a few enclosures that could be used, and Mouser has some nice die cast aluminum boxes by Hammond for under $15. But the casting process requires the sides to be sloped just enough to keep the controller at a little bit of an odd angle. (I had the same problem with the Radio Shack enclosure I first tried.)

Finally, I gave up looking and built a custom enclosure out of stainless steel and acrylic, then added a really expensive Watlow PID (got a deal). It took a lot of trial designs, boxes full of bent up sheet metal, and a new custom, built-from-scratch spot welder to finally create the right system for the enclosure. (The spot welder now serves double duty as my thermocouple welder - makes absolutely perfect beads in a very bright flash).

I really like the way the resulting enclosure matches Silvia. But the biggest innovation, IMHO, is the L-bracket. Without it, any kind of double stick tape, or Velcro, will eventually start to deform and allow the box to move (been there). I analyzed the forces on the system and decided a stiffening bracket would be just the thing to relieve the stress on the attachments. It turned out to work really well - and doesn't look bad in place. Does a great job relieving the stress on the wiring, too.

I briefly considered sending my Silvia off to have the PID installed, but just didn't want the hassle of boxing, shipping, and waiting. I figured there were others like me out there, so decided to test the market with the kit. The response has been overwhelming, and my customers (rapidly closing in on the 200 mark) have been very pleased with their results.

Recently, one of our kits was reviewed on, one of the best and most popular espresso sites on the web.

In addition, several of our customers have taken the time to post information online describing their experiences with our kits. Try the links below to see what folks are saying about us.

Note: all links in the text above will open in a new browser window.


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