Well it has arrived and it only took a week from the US. I'm still waiting on my ebay pressure gauge from the UK...
As you can see it consists of the PID, a relay, a bag of stuff (including wires and funky coloured cable ties) and a CD of instructions. The instructions come as a set of PDF's and seem to be very comprehensive. Fitting the thermocouple look like it's going to be nearly impossible as it's at the bottom of the boiler...
I also think it will be possible to put the machine back to an unmodified state, as there seems to be no splicing of wires or anything.
Anyway, if I can resist the temptation to crack open the Gaggia tonight, I'll definitely fit it tomorrow night when the other half is at college. And I'll make sure to get pictures up.
I was wondering when it would arrive alright. The post from the UK can be a disaster sometimes.
Well now I'm pissed off... the install was pretty straightforward, but the results were a little disappointing to say the least...
(Disclaimer - these are not instructions - do not do this if you have no electronics training. Electricity + water = death. You're on your own. Don't come running to me if you kill yourself)
Anyway, first thing to do is read the instructions, then read them again. They are pretty good, with a couple of exceptions which I'll cover below.
First, wire up the relay as described in the instructions...
Anyone who's ever built a PC will be familiar with this...
Apply thermal paste to relay..
Mount on back of machine
Now the fun part - replacing the thermostat. This is mounted at the bottom of the boiler. Easy to remove - nearly impossible to replace...
It's that little black thing. Remove the connectors. Use a 17mm spanner - it's not that tight - once it's loose, you can ease it off with your fingers. When it falls on the bottom of the machine, fish it out with a long nose pliers, magnet on a string or a trained mouse.
Replacing with the temperature sensor is the hardest part of the install. You need to thread it into a hole that you can't see. I used a little of the thermal compound in it even though it wasn't in the instructions. The original thermostat had some on so I figured it's probably a good idea.
Try it a few times. Swear. Try it again. Swear like a docker. Apologise to your girlfriend. Agree it's not the kind of language that an unborn should hear in the womb. Hug. Tell her you love her. Take a deep breath.
BRAINWAVE! use and elastic band to wrap around wire loom and attach other end to the steam wand. Now you have room to work!
With a great deal of patience and care, thread sensor into hole you can't see, turning half a turn at a time. Make sure to keep sensor leads tied up, and keep wire bundle turning too - it's really delicate and I'm sure it's easy to break off wires.
Slowly slowly catchy monkey!
Tighten this hand tight. Breath a sigh of relief. Hard part is now over. Yay!
Now - Wiring
Groovy piggyback connectors so you don't have to splice anything. One goes on to the middle connector of the power switch (forgot to take photo). Notice how the 2 thick red wires from the relay are now connected to the thermostat connectors?? Yes - I forgot a step.
Other one goes to brown wire on power socket on back of machine.
Max just can't stay awake without espresso. He turns his nose up at instant (good boy!)
Wire up PID as per instructions
Smoke test. Behold! It lives!!
Tidy up cables and and use cable ties for strain relief.
IMPORTANT Reconnect earth connection to chassis. This is NOT in the instructions and is SUPER important.
Mounted with supplied 3M pad
Now for the down side...
I swich it on. The temp rises, hits 100 degrees. Keeps rising. Weird - soem kind of self test??? Temp hits 150 degrees and thermostat kicks in, light goes off. Temp drops to 125, light turns on. Temp hits 150 again. Not good.
Swearing starts again, but by this time girlfriend is in bed and can't hear.
I double check wiring. All seems fine.
I check the resistance on the sensor - fine.
I check voltages on the PID. As temperature passes 100, voltage to relay drops from 6.5 V to 5.5 V. Surely that not enough to close the realy... So I do some digging and find a data sheet for the relay, and sure enough it need voltage to drop past 1.5V to turn off. PID is FUBAR...
Now auberins.com want me to return PID at my own cost before they will replace, and I can't return my machine to original without replacing the thermostat (noooooooo!!!!)
So I had to dig out my old school stove top espresso pot this morning. Considering it cost me €10 on a trip to rome a couple of years ago, and allowign for the lack of crema, it makes really tasty coffee. Dare I say it, better than an unmodded Gaggia.
Have I been wastiing my money??
In fairness great write up, that's a pain in the hole all right, if it's any consolation you'll probably be able to drop the replacement one in place in a fraction of the time.
stoopid question time - What exactly are the benefits of the PID upgrade, you set a specific temp set point? So the boiler never goes above a certain point, thus never burning the coffee? is the stock thermostat not up to the job? Or does the PID do something else?
As far as I understand it, the PID does pretty much what the thermostat does, but with much more accuracy, stability and control. The idea is that you can set a temperature point, and the PID will effectively "learn" the temperature response of your machine and adjust the element accordingly to provide a much more stable temperature with minimal variation. Stability is the key.
Clicky here for more info.
Edit: Good summary of espresso temperature control.
I'm not sure it does any learning. As I understand it, it has been programmed specifically for the thermal characteristics of the Gaggia grouphead.
It is for temp stability though. The standard thermostat has a gap of about 20-30 degrees between on and off, so it's in or around the correct temp. The Sensor with the PID kit can measure temperatures to 0.1 of a degree.
The PID is essentially a computer programmed to monitor the sensor and turn the heater on and off at just the right time to accurately ensure a consistent temp.
It also has a a red seven segment display, so it's got that 80's retro chic, which in itself is worth the money
This thread is giving me the PID bug. Not sure it's worth it though. Normally, I love to mod stuff, but as I only have a Coffee Deluxe, I never bothered beyond a couple of simple repairs. I wonder how well that PID could be adapted to any future machine upgrade? Actually, maybe I should just keep an eye out for a good 2nd hand Classic and mod the life out of it...
If it's the same as the US Gaggia Coffee then the internals are exactly the same, and the instructions provided have photos of the Coffee. In fact the page on their website has a picture of a Coffee Deluxe:
Pop the top off it and compare to the photo's in this thread. If you can see the thermostat down the side of the boiler then you're in business.
You could do worse than have a look here - (factory reconditioned)
Yeah, It'll work fine on my current machine. My only concern is that it wouldn't be worth the cost/effort because I'm not planning to keep this machine any longer than I can afford (that could be forever though ). I never considered a Classic as a worthwhile upgrade from a Coffee before, but now that I consider the OPV mod & the ability to backflush on top of the PID mod & a Silvia steam wand (both of which will work on the Coffee too), it seems like a better proposition.
Suffice to say this thread has given me much food for thought...
Of course it's worth the effort!
OPV is a no-cost, no brainer. Even doing a blind 3/4 turn gives an improvement.
Silvia wand is an excellent mod if you like the odd cappuccino.
Wait and see what the PID holds in store. I believe it will make a big difference (it better or I will be very angry!)
I've been warned against backflushing a domestic Gaggia - not sure why, but it's not recommended by some people.
I do want a bottomless filter, so if you're thinking of buying a Silvia wand, I'd be happy to split postage from happydonkey with you.
Same here actually, if anyone is ordering from Happydonkey I'll gladly split shipping too on a the Silvia upgrade kit (live in Castleknock work in Leixlip if that's near any of you lads by any chance)
I have a pressure gauge on order from Ebay once I get it up and running if anyone needs a lend to calibrate they will be welcome to it.
My replacement PID arrived this morning. Fair play to auberins.com - it was postmarked 3/10/08 so he didn't wait to receive the faulty one. Will fit it tonight- watch this space!
Well I finally got my PID fitted this weekend and it works perfectly. Looks like it was just an incorrectly programmed controller. Wired it up, flicked the switch and it hit 102 degrees and it switched off the element. I let it warm up for about 15 minutes and pulled a shot. It only dropped by an indicated 3 degrees during the shot and had settled back to shot temperature within a minute.
It's obviously far more accurate than the original setup as it flicks the element on and off for less than a second at a time when it's around the brew temp. Temperature surfing while steaming is much easier as you can see the temp. I find that if I start steaming at about 147 degrees it keeps the heat on and you can steam enough for 2 cappuccinos in one go (when steaming, the steam thermostat is still doing it's job but the temp display still works).
All the coffee made over the weekend was tamped with the crappy plastic tamper as my steel one has been packed away (I have builders in...). Nevertheless, there is a noticeable difference in taste - espresso is far less acidic, much smoother - a little sweet even. I'll have to wait until I get into my new kitchen in a couple of weeks before I can give it a proper workout, but so far I'm really impressed - looks like it was worth the wait.
Well done on the mod. Do you know what value is was at before you programmed the 102? That seems a lot more stable than I would have expected. The coffee from my classic is always too hot too drink straight after pouring which may mean that the brew temp is also too high?