At my visit to Slayer yesterday, I was lucky enough to get an up-close look at the near-complete first single group Slayer. I got to see for myself many of the things I've been wondering about. What a treat. You can see my full photo set on Flickr. The remainder of this post is a summary of the new information I've gleaned from talking to the guys at Slayer and examining the parts, etc. in the machine firsthand.
Instead of using a cross beam (which would have been extremely overkill in this form factor), Slayer opted for what appears to be 1/2" slabs of aluminum. These are strikingly thick and impressive in person.
Note: the tech, Devon, made it clear that the electrical tape you see here was only temporary for testing, and would be replaced with heat-shrink tubing in the final assembly.
The new Slayer has dedicated boiler drain valves plumbed right into a drain manifold. Thoroughly draining this machine will take seconds: No hooking up the drain valve to a hose, no draining through the OPV or having to recalibrate it after every drain.
This drain box connects the boiler drains, OPV, and 3-way valve exhaust. It will connect to the drain tray.
Some of the earliest prototypes I saw appeared to show the brain board of the machine on the bottom, which seemed like an iffy call. I'm pleased to see that Slayer has put the brains of the machine about as far from harm's way as they could reasonably be.
Above, you can see the 24VDC power supply on the left and the brain board on the right. The pump inlet is a braided hose (intended to minimize vibration noise), and the pump is mounted on a pair of rubber isolation mounts. Devon ran this pump against a blind filter, and it was remarkably quiet-much quieter than my own gear pump at home. Slayer says they worked very hard on the problem of noise with this pump, including getting a custom gear size, and it seems to have paid off well.
Note also on the right, the brain box is shielded from the pump by a stainless steel sheet. Devon informed me that there's another one on the left to shield the power supply, but it isn't installed yet.
Note the miniature 15A Crydom SSRs. Nice choice for a component that usually wastes a lot of space.
Here we are checking out the pump by sticking a magnet on the sensors for the group actuator.
I finally got a chance at the show and in the studio to get a sense of how you program the Slayer 1-group, which I've hardly seen anything about wherever I've read. So it was pretty cool to finally get to check it out.
Activating a special mode to disable the screen for a few seconds to clean it.
The touch screen has 3 main touch areas:
- Underneath the screen, there is an area that has what looks like 3 separate touch sensors that can detect a left-right swipe and also a selection like the YES/NO above.
- To the right of the screen is a button that appears to act like a mode/select button. You use this to enter program mode, where you can swipe left-to-right through menu items, tap to select them for editing, etc.
- To the right of the mode/select button, you have up/down buttons for tuning values like clock time, pump pressure, etc.
Finally, I just want to itemize a few programming features that the machine has that don't seem to be documented online yet.
- The pre-brew timer is indeed standard on this machine. If you activate automatic pre-brew, the shot will not begin until you move the actuator to the far left. Then it will activate the prebrew (low-flow) for however long you program it to, and after that progress to full flow rate for the rest of the shot. You can bring it back to pre-brew flow later in the shot if you desire.
- You can operate the machine with either, one, or both of the elements on or off, enabling you to run the machine with the steam boiler off if you don't need the steam.
- The machine has a low-power mode that you can enter, where the steam boiler is set at 0.1bars (the minimum needed to hold pressure and prevent the vacuum breaker from closing) and the brew boiler is held at about 120F. This allows you to keep the machine warm while consuming considerably less energy. Coupled with insulation of the steam boiler (which this machine doesn't have, unfortunately), this should allow you to run the machine 24/7 with a much smaller energy footprint without the negatives associated with turning it completely off, which includes at least waiting for the machine to warm up.
- When the machine is in low-power mode, moving the actuator will take it out of that mode. It will begin warming up immediately and become ready to use in a few minutes.
- The machine has a 5/2 operational schedule, allowing you to program in settings for weekday and weekend on/off/low-power times.