Tilt hydrometer review

The forum for discussing all kinds of brewing paraphernalia.
User avatar
PeeBee
Hollow Legs
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:50 pm
Location: North Wales

Tilt hydrometer review

Post by PeeBee » Sun Jun 02, 2019 1:34 pm

In another thread I was fortunate enough to come across Guy who was willing to lend me a Tilt hydrometer (v2) to play with:
guypettigrew wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 3:29 pm
PeeBee wrote:
Sun May 12, 2019 12:44 pm

If you've got a "Tilt" that's good enough evidence of someone farting about for me! I haven't a Tilt (yet?) so take manual readings with a refractometer (what I do wouldn't suit a hydrometer).
No Tilt? Want to borrow mine? I don't find it at all helpful!

PM me if you'd like to try it out.

Guy
The "conditions" were I made an offer if I want to keep it, and to record how I get on with it. The latter might be of interest to others, so here's how the testing has started out:
Zeitgeist.jpg
The hardest bit was getting Excel to draw that graph! I'm a bit of a nonk when it comes to some of Excel's smarter features.

The brew was a 21L batch of DIYDog Zeitgueit, a dark lager, actually the first "lager" I've ever attempted (in 45 years of brewing!). It's been brewed in a Grainfather ("no sparge") and is being fermented in a Grainfather Conical employing a shelf cooler to keep the temperature down to 12C. I'm running in parallel with my old method of thieving samples to test with a refractometer (along with using the temperatures displayed by the GF Conical).

Firstly temperature: This is the dotted lines on the graph, blue indicates the manual readings and red the Tilt readings. At first sight the readings seem to agree, except there is a bit of a lag with the Tilt registering the initial fall in temperature (I kept the wort warm for the first four hours before dropping the temperature to lager ferment temperatures). The Tilt is probably correct because it is reading in the middle at the surface, not at the bottom on the side like the GF (which cools with a jacket on the sides, and cooled wort will initially circulate downwards). But thereafter all the Tilt reading except one are 11.7C. This suggest something dodgy, probable in the Tilt's software. But even at a "fixed" 11.7C reading it is still within 0.5C of the GF, and perhaps the GF can maintain the temperature within 0.1C? Yeah, like heck it can. Still, not much of an issue. The Tilt software would not allow calibration, although instructions suggest it will - but calibration wasn't needed so didn't matter.

Next, gravity: The Tilt had been calibrated in plain water and again to match OG (the Tilt initially registered 1.040 which was adjusted so it read 1.048 as measured). The first big concern here was the delay before the Tilt registered a fall. The refractometer was registering a fall, the airlock was bubbling, but it was 12-24 hours later before the Tilt budged. And the discrepancy continued yet if it was calibration I'd expect the two sets of readings to converge at least. When taking readings it was not possible to take a snap reading; you needed to wait for a reading that made sense (displayed more than once) as the readings would skip about, possibly as CO2 clung to the Tilt for a moment skewing the readings by 3-5 point. Searching the Internet suggests I'm not the only one experiencing reading that wont stay still, or else seem to "stick".

My review of a Tilt hasn't gone too well for starters! But this is only the first try.

(EDIT 09/06/2019: I didn't know when I first started writing this, but the Tilt I had appeared to be faulty! See later for details and I'll start this review again with a replacement unit).
Last edited by PeeBee on Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Jim
Site Admin
Posts: 9857
Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: Washington, UK

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Jim » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:42 pm

Interesting. Thanks for posting this PeeBee.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away" - Philip K. Dick

JBK on Facebook
JBK on Twitter

User avatar
orlando
It's definitely Lock In Time
Posts: 6739
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:22 pm
Location: North Norfolk: Nearest breweries All Day Brewery, Salle. Panther, Reepham. Yetman's, Holt

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by orlando » Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:20 am

A solution looking for a problem?
I am "The Little Red Brooster"

Fermenting: Summer Sunshine
Conditioning:
Drinking: From Russia With Love (RIS), Sweet Mild O'Mine (Reprise), All About That Bass

Up Next: Peaches, Reasons To Be Beerful
Planning: Summer drinking Beer.

User avatar
PeeBee
Hollow Legs
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:50 pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by PeeBee » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:17 am

orlando wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 7:20 am
A solution looking for a problem?
Erm, I've got the problem (how to avoid getting on me knees to reach the sample valve), but this solution is not cheap and does have it's "glitches".

The calibrating isn't working as I'd expected (not at all for temperature): Perhaps I expected too much? I'd calibrated it at OG (+0.008) and thought this would be integrated into existing calibrations (i.e. water at 0.000); it is creating a list of calibration points which I took to be the replacement for multi-point calibration (in earlier software, I think), and perhaps this is correct but at nearing FG the Tilt is still reading +0.008 and certainly not converging with the manual measurements. The jumping about of readings when fermentation active is annoying, but bearable (probably due to CO2 bubbles?). But the biggest issue was the delay recording the start of fermentation (possibly due to yeast sticking to it and dampening reaction?).

And the other glitch, temperature appearing to stagnate on one value, is possibly due to software trying to smooth out noise? But makes a mockery of the claim to be precise to 0.1C. Precision and display resolution are entirely different.

But perhaps some of the glitches have their solutions? I'll keep working at it.

User avatar
Kev888
So far gone I'm on the way back again!
Posts: 7515
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Kev888 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:20 am

I guess if you're the sort of person that takes frequent gravity readings then this would be very useful, but if one just takes a few around the end of fermentation it would seem a bit of an extravagance unless there is a particular need (as of course you may have).

Looks like it worked fairly well in terms of the trends, although the time to the first sample probably wants addressing if you're going to judge overall attenuation or apparent attenuation from it.

The offset between manual and tilt gravity is vaguely consistent, at least. But I can't tell if it is mostly a gravity disagreement, or if the tilt's samples are being reported late (or else were subsequently attributed to the wrong times). From the graph it could be either: the former might indicate a calibration disagreement (either the tilt or the manual readings or both being out), the latter might also be feasible given that it 'appeared' to have a delayed start.

I don't actually have a tilt, hopefully someone who has can be more useful. But I'm sure we would have heard if they were routinely this far out so hopefully it can be corrected.
Kev

User avatar
Cobnut
Steady Drinker
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:23 pm
Location: Ipswich
Contact:

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Cobnut » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:05 pm

I have a Tilt v2 and have used it on every batch since I got on Christmas day (7th batch in the fermenter now).

It certainly has its' foibles, but then don't all means of measuring gravity?

I have a budget glass hydrometer (not v. precise and it appears to have a 3-4 point offset in water which I assume is consistent across its' range) and a budget refractometer which I've never really had that much confidence in (I really must get involved in one of these "compare your kit" sessions to see how my various devices compare).

I must say I do really like the Tilt. It makes for a very "hands off" approach to fermenting. I use a Tilt Pi to log to Brewfather which allows me to check progress without having to even go into the brewshed (although I do like to go and see with my own eyes how it's getting on). I use a fermentasaurus, so can "see" how active the fermentation is (rocky head on top and fermentation driven currents up and down the fermenter).

It allows me to see when the fermentation has slowed and is nearing terminal gravity, which I find really useful.

I have taken to calibrating all my three devices in water before starting and trusting (perhaps foolishly!) that this will work through the range.

Is it accurate? Maybe. Maybe more - or less - so than my other means of measuring gravity.

One thing I have noticed is the apparent difference in temperature reading between the Tilt in the wort/beer and the probe of my STC-1000 taped under some bubblewrap on the outside of the fermenter. This was particularly evident on a beer which I brewed under excess pressure (pressure lid on the fermentasaurus) when the Tilt was showing a few degrees HIGHER than the STC-1000 - usually the Tilt reports c. 1C lower.

You pays your (wife's) money, you take your choice :-)
Fermenting: Nothing atm
Conditioning: Voss Kveik 19th century style mild ale (what??!!), Party bitter (Challenger/Goldings), Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel
Drinking: Hoppy Kolsch, 19th century mild ale, Kilmister blonde (strong Belgian blond), Single hopped Sussex bitter, ...
Planning: Hazelweiss (7th edition), Keyworth mid-season SMaSH, Brut IPA

User avatar
Cobnut
Steady Drinker
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:23 pm
Location: Ipswich
Contact:

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Cobnut » Mon Jun 03, 2019 12:33 pm

This is the record of one of my brews FYI:

https://web.brewfather.app/#/share/PpxUaEFCqa5xTx
Fermenting: Nothing atm
Conditioning: Voss Kveik 19th century style mild ale (what??!!), Party bitter (Challenger/Goldings), Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel
Drinking: Hoppy Kolsch, 19th century mild ale, Kilmister blonde (strong Belgian blond), Single hopped Sussex bitter, ...
Planning: Hazelweiss (7th edition), Keyworth mid-season SMaSH, Brut IPA

User avatar
PeeBee
Hollow Legs
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:50 pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by PeeBee » Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:26 pm

Kev888 wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:20 am

I don't actually have a tilt, hopefully someone who has can be more useful. But I'm sure we would have heard if they were routinely this far out so hopefully it can be corrected.
I think you might be wrong there. I'm impartial 'cos Guy has kindly lent me the Tilt and doesn't mind me giving a negative report 'cos he doesn't get on with it. If I'd forked out a quite ludicrous amount of cash for it I might, like many other owners, be more disinclined to have negative thoughts about it.
Kev888 wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 10:20 am
… Looks like it worked fairly well in terms of the trends, although the time to the first sample probably wants addressing if you're going to judge overall attenuation or apparent attenuation from it.

The offset between manual and tilt gravity is vaguely consistent, at least. But I can't tell if it is mostly a gravity disagreement, or if the tilt's samples are being reported late (or else were subsequently attributed to the wrong times). From the graph it could be either: the former might indicate a calibration disagreement (either the tilt or the manual readings or both being out), the latter might also be feasible given that it 'appeared' to have a delayed start. …
Yes it was rather good on "trend". Although this first report was with a bottom-fermenting lager yeast, next time it will be an ale yeast and I'll see if the amount of "krausen" surrounding the device will have an impact. And the delay before the Tilt registers that fermentation has started is my major grouse about it (and I don't have a "smart ar**d" reason for it either).

The readings are in pairs, taken about the same time (the blobs on the graph represent actual readings - there's a few points missing, and a blob is also absent in these cases).

f00b4r
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 706
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:54 pm
Location: Berlin

Tilt hydrometer review

Post by f00b4r » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:07 pm

I would post in the tilt Facebook group, my experience with multiple Tilts isn't consistent with yours so it might be faulty. They are pretty quick to send out replacements if they think it is.
Pressure fermenting does affect it but then you can account for this.
Oh, also there are a few versions, from different casings to different circuit boards so maybe slightly different issue are seen.

User avatar
Cobnut
Steady Drinker
Posts: 88
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:23 pm
Location: Ipswich
Contact:

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Cobnut » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:29 pm

f00b4r wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:07 pm
<snip>
Pressure fermenting does affect it but then you can account for this.
<snip>
I've started doing some fermenting under pressure, so interested in what further you have to say on this.
Fermenting: Nothing atm
Conditioning: Voss Kveik 19th century style mild ale (what??!!), Party bitter (Challenger/Goldings), Cherry Chocolate Dubbel Trubbel
Drinking: Hoppy Kolsch, 19th century mild ale, Kilmister blonde (strong Belgian blond), Single hopped Sussex bitter, ...
Planning: Hazelweiss (7th edition), Keyworth mid-season SMaSH, Brut IPA

User avatar
Kev888
So far gone I'm on the way back again!
Posts: 7515
Joined: Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:22 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by Kev888 » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:38 pm

PeeBee wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 3:26 pm
I think you might be wrong there. I'm impartial 'cos Guy has kindly lent me the Tilt and doesn't mind me giving a negative report 'cos he doesn't get on with it. If I'd forked out a quite ludicrous amount of cash for it I might, like many other owners, be more disinclined to have negative thoughts about it.
Possibly, that kind of thing certainly does happen. But to accept a roughly 5-point inaccuracy, particularly at Final Gravity, would need some unusually heavy rose tinting.. Certainly now that f00b4r has commented, with rather more experience of these devices, I'd be much more inclined to look for faults or calibration errors.
Kev

User avatar
PeeBee
Hollow Legs
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:50 pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by PeeBee » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:47 pm

Kev888 wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:38 pm
Possibly, that kind of thing certainly does happen. But to accept a roughly 5-point inaccuracy, particularly at Final Gravity, would need some unusually heavy rose tinting.. Certainly now that f00b4r has commented, with rather more experience of these devices, I'd be much more inclined to look for faults or calibration errors.
Thanks Kev. The temperature has been ramped up to 17C (which the Tilt followed perfectly) ahead of kegging, conditioning and lagering starting in the next day or so. The error that's followed the Tilt's gravity readings remained at FG (but shifted from a delay in time moving off OG to an over-read at FG; even my screwy head can't come up with an answer to that). There is clearly something awry with calibration; just calibrating in water then calibrating again at a known OG clearly wasn't enough.

I'll post an update with any findings, plus plan out actions for another brew.

(EDIT: There was an 7-8 point difference at FG, coincidentally the same error, but under reading, that was corrected at OG. That is probably significant. Remarkable how active the fermentation lock is as the beer warms a few degrees and degasses.)

f00b4r
Lost in an Alcoholic Haze
Posts: 706
Joined: Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:54 pm
Location: Berlin

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by f00b4r » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:05 pm

Cobnut wrote:
f00b4r wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:07 pm
<snip>
Pressure fermenting does affect it but then you can account for this.
<snip>
I've started doing some fermenting under pressure, so interested in what further you have to say on this.
I would take a look at the FB group for more specifics as my experience is limited to batches where I have closed the spunding valve to 10 PSI for the last couple of gravity points to get it to or near the right carbonation level (I then use the set and forget method at serving pressure which will fine tune it if needed). The lift of gravity points measured by the Tilt (2? - sorry moving house ATM so I don't have my notes on it handy) each time tallied with others experiences; there seems to be so reasonable data on various pressures if you do a search there.

guypettigrew
Under the Table
Posts: 1555
Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:10 pm
Location: Christchurch, Dorset

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by guypettigrew » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:42 am

My thanks to PeeBee for the work done so far on the Tilt he's borrowed from me.

My disillusionment with the Tilt was mainly down to two problems.
  • It had to be calibrated against a hydrometer or refractometer reading of the final wort every time. It calibrated to 1.000 in water but never matched the gravity of the unfermented wort until calibrated. It was usually about 6-8 points off.
  • As fermentation progressed it got further and further away from the refractometer readings. Possibly due to the amount of yeast which sat on top of it causing it to tip
After many attempts with it I gave up and went back to watching the bubbles coming through the blow off tube and taking a refractometer reading when it looked as though the fermentation was lowing down.

I look forward to further reports from PeeBee and, I suspect, getting the Tilt back again in due course!

Guy

User avatar
PeeBee
Hollow Legs
Posts: 482
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:50 pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Tilt hydrometer review

Post by PeeBee » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:20 am

f00b4r wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:07 pm
I would post in the tilt Facebook group, my experience with multiple Tilts isn't consistent with yours so it might be faulty. They are pretty quick to send out replacements if they think it is.
Pressure fermenting does affect it but then you can account for this.
Oh, also there are a few versions, from different casings to different circuit boards so maybe slightly different issue are seen.
I'm in touch with the manufacturers ("Baron Brew") now. They do appear helpful.

I have no Facebook account (nor will I). Pressure is restricted to 1PSI in a Grainfather conical, so I've not been "pressure fermenting" for this exercise. I do pressure ferment my low-alcohol beers, but in the dispensing keg and it would be entirely useless using a Tilt in this situation.

Cheers.

Post Reply