Digital refractometer problems

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guypettigrew
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Digital refractometer problems

Post by guypettigrew » Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:24 am

A couple of weeks ago I bought a Milwaukee MA884 digital refractometer.

It seems straightforward to use and matched my refractometer when I used it for the first time during a brewday on Sunday.

Today I tried using it to check the gravity of the beer 36 hours into fermentation as I was collecting the yeast. It read 9.4, then I pressed 'read again, and 8.8 showed, then 9.2, then ELT, an abbreviation for excessive light, then AIR, even though the sample was still I the well. The refractometer showed 9.2.

Does anyone on here who has an MA884 know what's going on? I can contact the supplier, but I'd like to get any views first.

Thanks.

Guy

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LeeH
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Digital refractometer problems

Post by LeeH » Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:21 am

Are you not supposed to cover it with your hand while testing?


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wally
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by wally » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:50 am

LeeH wrote:Are you not supposed to cover it with you hand while testing?


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The instructions for my Hanna refract.
state what LeeH has just said.

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IPA
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by IPA » Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:11 am

Don't know about digital refractometers but optical ones are not really intended for use once fermentation has started.
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by guypettigrew » Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:48 am

Thanks for the replies.

In a departure from my normal procedures I have just read the instruction booklet!

To my surprise I discovered the refractometer uses an internal LED to direct light through a prism to the sample. Then back through the prism and a lens to a sensor. No need to use external light at all. Very clever!

So, with this in mind, I'll make a cover for the refractometer to completely block any external light out and see how I get on.

As to not using a refractometer during fermentation, my understanding is it's fine as long as one of the online calculators is used to get current SG by relating current Brix to original Brix.

Guy

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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by IPA » Wed Oct 02, 2019 4:50 pm

guypettigrew wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:48 am
As to not using a refractometer during fermentation, my understanding is it's fine as long as one of the online calculators is used to get current SG by relating current Brix to original Brix.

Guy
I find refractometers very handy on brewdays,in fact I use nothing else, but I have never succeeded with those online calculators during fermentation.
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by thepatchworkdoll » Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:22 pm

Totally concur with IPA on this one.
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LeeH
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Digital refractometer problems

Post by LeeH » Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:37 pm

I only use mine on brew day. Then use a hydrometer on keg day.

But I’ll try a calculator next time just to see if it’s anywhere close.

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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by wezzel01 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:51 am

I found the scale on my hydrometer quite difficult to read so bought a refractometer for brew day and a finishing hydrometer for the end of fermentation.


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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by FUBAR » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:52 am

I use mine all the way through from brew day to FG and it is always as accurate as a standard homebrew hydrometer.I did when I first got the refractometer and was sceptical of it's accuracy use it with the hydrometer,but as the readings where in a point of each other.I put the hydrometer into retirement .
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Kev888
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by Kev888 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:32 am

It'll be interesting to hear how it goes now the instruction book has been read. I've found the chinese optical types very useful but my two have been awful for accuracy in almost every aspect, so I won't be trying yet another, hopefully the digital ones might be more consistent.
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by Dave S » Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:06 pm

I've got a cheap optical refractometer but have never got round to using it. I find a hydrometer perfectly adequate. In defense of the refractometer, it is a lot less wasteful of wort, but otherwise, how accurate do you want to be?
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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by guypettigrew » Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:13 pm

Dave S wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 12:06 pm
I've got a cheap optical refractometer but have never got round to using it. I find a hydrometer perfectly adequate. In defense of the refractometer, it is a lot less wasteful of wort, but otherwise, how accurate do you want to be?
The other advantage of a refractometer, apart from using less wort, is you can get readings from hot wort very easily. If using a hydrometer you need to cool the wort down to 20°C first. A few drops of very hot wort cools down really fast on a hydrometer reading plate.

Guy

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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by LeeH » Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:41 pm

My Amazon bought optical read exactly the same as my Milwaukee digital so I sold it.


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Re: Digital refractometer problems

Post by guypettigrew » Fri Oct 04, 2019 10:15 am

Having read the instruction booklet (useful things, instructions!) I've contacted the supplier. The refractometer still gives a reading of excess light even when the well is completely covered in a piece of black sorbothane.

The supplier had no quick answer so has contacted Milwaukee for advice.

Lee: yes, it reads the same as my hydrometer, when it reads at all. But requires no squinting through a lens or looking at a sometimes slightly blurry line on the scale.

Plus, very importantly, it's got buttons and is a nice new toy! Or would be, if it worked.

Guy

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