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Rancilio Silvia Mega Mod by Avi

Index of pages:

Home | Introduction | Disassembly | Pressure gauge | Brew+Steam control | Brew Timer | Pre-Infusion
Water Level | Light | Boiler insulation | Grouphead Shower | Drip Tray | Pump Drain | Power Timer | Acknowledgments
Appendix: Insulated steam wand


Silvia has its drawbacks, thing that makes a user spend time with the learning curve of using it correctly and with the consistency quality of its coffee shots.
All those drawbacks would not be present if the manufacturer, Rancilio from Italy, had added means to view and control the boiler temperature and pressure, which unfortunately was not made.
During the time since Silvia was introduced in 1997 and until today (2012), Rancilio made some improvements in the Silvia design and released 3 versions known as V1, V2 and V3.
All versions kept most of the external design and none has temperature / pressure reading or means of accurate controlling it.

Over the years, users developed a method of using Silvia in order to produce best espresso shot.
This method is known as 'temperature surf' combined with 'cooling flush' and you'll find many articles on it.
If you have a Silvia, you probably use both methods to reach correct brew temperature. Temperature surf involves few steps preparing the machine for brewing at best temperature and pressure, all those steps are done without any means of measuring nor displaying temperature and pressure.

Some users over the world took these methods further, a variety of mods appeared and you can find over the internet many modifications that can be added to Silvia which makes it more easy and simple to control.
Instead of guessing, you get a precise and advanced control of temperature and other parameters that seems to be missing in Silvia. Some dealers also offer Silvia with a controller as a standard machine add-on.
Silvia's relatively basic construction and the ease of altering it helped a lot for this modifications trend.
You can find modification from a simple float meter that tells if the drip tray is full to fully computerized controlled machine.

When I have decided to mod my Silvia, I chose to combine few mods and this is why I call it Mega-Mod.
My target of doing this project was to start and end it in one session, I hate doing a job slice by slice

Avi's Mega-Mod consists of the following modifications:
1. Pressure gauge
2. Brew temperature control
3. Steam temperature control
4. Brew timer
5. Pre-infusion
6. Water tank level
7. Light
8. Boiler insulation
9. Group head shower screen
10. Dip tray
11. Pump safety drain
12. Power timer

In the following pages, you'll find some information and thoughts based on my experience with modding Silvia V3.


1. Silvia runs on high voltage.
Any modification made to your Silvia may cause damage to your equipment and harm to yourself or to others.
It will void manufacturer warranty.
None of the following mods is recommended by me nor by the manufacturer, Rancilio.
These pages show only my personal experience and know-how.

If you follow any of the mods, you do it on your own risk and responsibility.

. Copyright © 2011 Avi. All rights reserved.
Content including all text and images in part or in whole may not be reproduced, retransmitted, stored, distributed, disseminated, sold, published, broadcast or circulated in any medium without written consent of the author.

Before I begin, I wish to thank my dear friend Asher who is a gifted model maker and owner of Yisum-Modeling
that helped me a lot with transforming my ideas into real working solutions.
Without his support this project didn't have a chance. Thank you Asher.

And now, to the bolts and nuts of this project.
It took me few months to understand what I'm about to do, planning it and gather all needed components.
The advantage of doing it over a long period of time gave me enough time to read, study the subject and better understand and plan my steps.

Some major considerations, questions and decisions I asked and took before I started:
First: 'What do I want to achieve, what's the target ?'
My main target was brew + steam temperature control + brew timer + pressure reading. The rest of the mods were added as add-ons.

Second: 'How do I make the above?, What method / technique should I take ?'
a. I decided to use a PID controller (Proportional Integral Derivative) to control temperature in order to get precise, efficient and energy saving control. I decided to go with on-the-shelf controllers rather than starting a computer based hardware and software project such as using Arduino system. I knew I might be missing some great options going that way, but seeing my requirements I came to a conclusion that using a PID is more than enough for my needs. I really didn't see a need for me to communicate and control my Silvia over the internet nor with a laptop or iPhone.
b. I decided not to use mechanical relays to drive the heat element because of relays lifetime and noise.
Using SSRs (Solid State Relays) seemed more reliable for this job.
c. I decided to preserve Silvia's brew switch functionality and allow using it parallel to the controller (to allow rinsing, backflush, cooling flush etc.).

Third : 'Where do I place all the components ?'
This can be internal, external or a combination of both. In my case, I decided to place the controllers in an external box and the pressure gauge and the rest of components inside Silvia that has some free room for it.

OK, let's begin...



Index of pages:

Home | Introduction | Disassembly | Pressure gauge | Brew+Steam control | Brew Timer | Pre-Infusion
Water Level | Light | Boiler insulation | Grouphead Shower | Drip Tray | Pump Drain | Power Timer | Acknowledgments
Appendix: Insulated steam wand

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Copyright © 2011 all rights reserved. Do not copy without written approval.