Brasilia Espresso Machine Restoration and PID Upgrade

I’ve been working on this project on and off for a few years. It started off as a simple restoration of a second hand Italian espresso machine which quickly got out of control, as most of my projects seem to do. Here’s a video showing the finished project and then a bunch of photos showing the build. I should have done the video with the camera turned the other way, sorry about that but I couldn’t be bothered re-doing it.

The Brasilia ‘Lady’ is a very simple single-group, single boiler machine. It has a 300ml brass boiler with a 3-way solenoid valve. It has a simple bimetallic thermostat which means the temperature swings wildly (although some models do have more complex thermostats). My model had no micro controller and was purely AC driven and controlled by the buttons on the front and the thermostat. The machine is in some ways very similar to the popular Silviamachine.

When I started restoring the machine I quickly decided that I wanted to do a PID modification to maintain a constant temperature. At the time I had just started playing around with Arduino so I thought why not just take all of the AC buttons on the front down to an Arduino and control everything through software with solid state relays for the pump, boiler and solenoid. The pictures and captions below should explain each part of the build sufficiently.

TLDR: Final assembly photos are at the bottom of the post.

Machine Housing

Case01

This is how the machine started out. This isn’t actually mine but I didn’t take a photo before I started. Mine was in much worse condition.

Very simplistic internals.

Very simplistic internals.

 

Case02

Case03

case04

There’s a lot you can do with a good set of files

Top Panel

TopPanel01

Template for top panel created in SketchUp

Template printed onto toner transfer paper

Template printed onto toner transfer paper

Thanks to Katt for the great idea of using PCB transfer paper for metal work.

TopPanel03

Template pressed onto 3.5MM aluminium plate with an old sandwich press

TopPanel04

TopPanel05

TopPanel06

Milling the display aperture and a recess so that the display is very close to the surface of the panel.

This Sieg SX3 mill is proving to be very useful. It’s the same as the Grizzly G0619

TopPanel07

TopPanel08

TopPanel09

TopPanel10

Polishing compounds in various grades

The polishing compounds came in a set of 12 syringes

TopPanel11

Shiny!

 

oLED Display Module

Display02

 

Display03

Display04

Display05

Display06

Display07

Display08

Display09


Display95

This 3M Double-sided tape is super strong.

Display10

Display11

The clear acrylic lens is sealed to the display module with 3M double sided tape.

 

Display12

Display13

 

PCB and Controller

PCB design created in KICAD. Such an awesome piece of software!

PCB design created in KICAD. Such an awesome piece of software!

Controller01

12 double layered PCBs delivered for $14 USD from DirtyPCBs.com. I’m not complaining!

Controller02

Controller03

Controller04

Controller05

Controller06

Controller07

 

Power Box

PowerBox01

 

Front LED

Led01

Led02

The led holder is made from stainless steel. A piece of fiber optic plastic is glued in as a lens.

 

Water Tank

Tank01

Tank02

Tank03

Tank04

Tank05

Tank06

Tank07

 

 

Water Inlet

WaterInlet01

WaterInlet02

WaterInlet03

WaterInlet04

WaterInlet05

WaterInlet06

 

I’m not sure why I made such an elaborate nut for this considering it’s hidden inside the machine. Never mind it was fun.

WaterInlet07

WaterInlet08

 

Final Assembly

Before the final assembly I had the machine casing stripped and powder coated in flame red.

Assembly01

Group head temperature probe

The group head temperature probe is held on with High temperature Kapton tape

Assembly02

Assembly03

Assembly04

Assembly05

The tube wrapped around the boiler is a pre-heat tube that I added so that the water being drawn into the boiler is not stone cold.

Assembly06

Assembly07

Assembly08

Assembly09

Assembly10

Assembly11

Assembly12

 

Assembly13

 

Final

Parts List: (Thanks China!)

  • Top plate: 3.5mm Aluminium (from HP Server blanking panels)
  • Display module: Cut from a block for 101 x 50mm Aluminium (New, local)
    • Display: Hide.HK I2C 1602 LED display. (via eBay ~20USD)
    • Display glass: Plexiglass 1.5mm (via ebay)
    • Display Tape: 3M 300LSE 9495LE Double Sided Adhesive  (sheets via AliExpress)
  • PCB printed by DirtyPCBs.com
    • Arduino Clone: Nano 3.0 clone (via AliExpress)
    • 2x Temperature sensor chip: MAX6675ISA SPI Interface (via AliExpress)
    • Connectors (via local JayCar Electronics)
  • PCB Box (via AliExpress)
  • Power Box – Aluminium (via local JayCar Electronics)
    • Solid-State relays (Can’t remember had bunch in a parts box for years)
    • DC power supply: From a Samsung USB charger
    • Rubber grommet kit (via AliExpress)
  • LED holder: From some stainless rod I had lying around
  • Water Take outlet: Stainless M10 Bolt
    • Silicon seal for water inlet – from a kit (via AliExpress)
  • Water inlet: 22mm Aluminum rod (New, local)
  • Silicon tube: 6x9mm food grade (via AliExpress)
  • Pre-Heat tube: 6.4mm (I think) copper (New, Local)

 

Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to ask questions.

Here is the source code and PCB schematic designs if anyone is interested. I’d be happy to have critique on either.

uCespresso PCB
Version:
Updated: 2015-07-21
Download: uCespresso PCB.zip - 334.13 kB
uCespresso Arduino Code
Version:
Updated: 2015-07-21
Download: uCespresso 0.75 Code.zip - 25.2 kB

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25 Responses to Brasilia Espresso Machine Restoration and PID Upgrade

  1. Juan August 1, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Very nice renovation. Next add a flow meter and go full auto.
    Quick question, or two.
    I, just a week ago bought a Lady and am looking at doing a few of your upgrades…
    Do you have a materials/parts list?
    Also, with the water pre-warmer, that is the 4mm tube coiling around the boiler, what temperatures are you recording during peak operation. Kinda curious about pressure levels within the coil section.

    Thanks & Enjoy!

    • RhysGoodwin August 1, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

      Hi Juan,

      I’d like to add a pressure indicator either digital or analog but I had to stop somewhere! I just kept adding more and more! The pre-heat tube is 1/4″ (6.4mm) from memory. By parts list do you mean for my build or for the original machine? For the original machine you should be able to find this online. For the parts I added, I’ll make a list in the post above. Temperature measured in the boiler through a copper tube inserted at the top is 125C and the water comes out at ~98C.
      I’ll be keen to hear how you get on and see some photos.

      Cheers,
      Rhys

  2. Tin July 21, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Hi! We would like to feature this project on EEWeb.com. If you are interested, kindly drop me a message on my business e-mail: cexclamador@aspencore.com. I’ll be looking forward to your response! Thanks.

  3. dad July 7, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    I can verify that this “Lady” makes awesome coffee!

  4. Tom Hargrave July 7, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Great project. It looks like you put a lot of thought into this one!

    And BTW, I love good coffee. I’ve worn out three Keurig machines so far.

    • RhysGoodwin July 7, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

      Hi Tom, thanks for stopping by. Can’t beat a good coffee, my wife made me a cup the other day that damn near took my head off!

  5. Jon Hughett July 7, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    Brilliant work, but no one addressing the issue,

    HOW’S THE FREAKIN’ COFFEE TASTE?

    • RhysGoodwin July 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

      Hey Jon, thanks for stopping by. Coffee is superb 🙂

  6. Muxlduxl July 7, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    take the Video horizontal …. its quit difficult but its worth the effort.

  7. muet July 7, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Excellent project, excellent documentation! – The ‘Lady’ is well worth all your efforts: something still sturdy, as noticed by the casing!

  8. Dillon July 7, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    I love this project. Huge improvements in looks.. and probably functionality. Just awesome.

    • RhysGoodwin July 7, 2015 at 9:27 am #

      Cheers Dillon! Keep up the blogging and projects. You’ve done some really cool projects.

  9. George Ene July 5, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    For sure, really need to find an excuse for work to send me up for a few days. Would be good to catch up. Also quite keen to see what else you have done with it, seeing how everything has been custom machined and designed from the ground up 🙂

  10. George Ene July 4, 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    Wow, has it only been four years Rhys? Can remember you talking about the project for a fair bit longer.
    Brilliant to see it completed, loving the detail on the machining, understand the Arduino work, along with everything gone into the ‘little extras’. Definitely worthwhile and a big congrats for an awesome one-off. Not something you will find at your coffee shop, and a machine worth spending the time on..

    Be sure to enjoy every coffee!

    • RhysGoodwin July 5, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Cheers George! Yes it has been ongoing for some time! Although it has been in some state of beta testing for most of that time. Hopefully we’ll see you up here soon and I’ll make you a nice strong cup (AKA – ask Kerryn to make you a cup since I don’t really know how to use the thing!)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Brasilia Espresso Machine PID Upgrade Brews Prefect Cup of Energy | BH - July 3, 2016

    […] Coffee, making and hacking addictions are just bound to get out of control. So did [Rhys Goodwin’s] coffee maker hack. What started as a little restoration project of a second-hand coffee machine resulted in a complete upgrade to state of the art coffee brewing technology. […]

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    […] Coffee, making and hacking addictions are just bound to get out of control. So did [Rhys Goodwin’s] coffee maker hack. What started as a little restoration project of a second-hand coffee machine resulted in a complete upgrade to state of the art coffee brewing technology. […]

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