ViaVenezia, final upgrade

Equipment doesn't work? Troubleshooting? If you're handy, members can help.

#1: Post by coyote-1 »

Think I've done everything that can reasonably work & fit, and done it all very inexpensively. My total investment remains somewhere under $160, for a machine with PID and flow control and deck lights and fancy unpressurized portafilters etc.

So here's the final item. The unit remains relatively in-place when you lock in a portafilter, but moves ever so slightly. Or used to. I added a 6+ pound steel plate underneath. Now it does not budge at all, so there's no need whatsoever for using my right hand to keep the machine from moving.


#2: Post by WWWired »

Hi coyote-1 :) Fantastic post!

The Saeco Via Venezia is a brilliant espresso machine that is nearly bullet proof and produces top quality espresso when operated well :)

Some of the incredible journey coyote-1 has invited us all to tag along on and enjoy for this brilliant Via Venezia mod includes:
  1. Manometer PID Deck Light Flow Control
  2. Repair of an OPV in the Project Via Venezia
  3. Installation of an Auber PID on the Via Venezia
  4. Internal Fittings Threads and upgrades to pipes etc.
  5. Dimmer and OPV mods on the Via Venezia


#3: Post by marteccino »

Great machine, and it moving while locking portafilter would be least of a concern.
Did you do temp measurement profile before your mods vs now by any chance?
Do you get better results with pid than temp surfing on thermostats?
My results, even despite I follow similar procedure,seem not repeatable and I am still learning, and today made again exceptionally good coffee, but yesterday was slightly bitter but am on stock machine still.
How big is the boiler in your machine?
According some reports mine has 180ml but I haven't opened it yet.
And just today had feedback from relative that none of the espressos he drank outside tastes as good as from this machine. Ok might be biased but I have the same impression despite I stopped drinking coffee outside.

coyote-1 (original poster)

#4: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) replying to marteccino »

1. But it IS a concern. Not of output, but of pleasurable interaction. It is such 'little' items that add up to a big difference. I've seen it written/said many times that one of the displeasures of using plastic "kitchen appliance" espresso makers is exactly this; it feels like a toy, you have to hold it steady in order to make use of it. While ViaVenezia does not really have that issue too much, I've eliminated any possibility of it.
2. No.
3. There still is some surfing involved. But it's far easier.
4. The boiler is stock, whatever that is. It's small.
5. Yeah, once you get a groove going it will be difficult to find 'vendor' espresso as good as what you're making on this machine.

As for repeatability issues, IMO that's often because folks get impatient with the process or something. This is not rocket surgery. If you are thinking your way through the process, it becomes repeatable and predictable. I was getting good repeatability before, now it's gotten even better.

Best wishes on your journey!

coyote-1 (original poster)

#5: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

I think I have one more trick up my sleeve. The PID has an alarm mode, and it outputs line voltage (up to 220v) at 3 amps.

It occurs to me that, while I rarely steam milk, it would be good to do it at the right time. Which is before the thermostat light goes on, because by that point the steam thermostat is shutting off the heat until it cools down enough to re-trigger.

So I'm imagining one (or two, or three) of those little 120v indicators that I'm using as "deck lights". Set the PID alarm temp at 235, and when the PID's RTD sensor hits that temperature the lights go on. I would then begin steaming milk. This will get it while steam temperature is rising, and it should therefore continue to rise while I'm steaming.

I can test it without modifying anything, and if it works out then install it.

EDIT: one annoying thing about the Auber PID is that when you are setting it, it loses control. So you have to do it from a 'cold' state, else the boiler ratchets up over temperature quickly.

EDIT 2: the indicator light bit works perfectly. But I set it to 218F, not far above boiling. With this small boiler, it's producing steam almost immediately. Given how rarely I do milk drinks, I might just set the alarm to 70F and have more deck lights... or perhaps light up the water tank or something.

coyote-1 (original poster)

#6: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

New idea for adding indicator lights. As I rarely do steam, there's no need to bother with that.

What would be interesting, however, is a water tank that starts one color - and changes color when the machine is generally within brewing range. And the general path to do this is RGB. I'm imagining starting with Blue indicator lights, powered from the same AC input that powers the PID itself. Then when the unit reaches say 190F, have the Alarm function of the PID turn on Green and Red indicators... which would have the effect of making White(ish) light in the tank.

I still have to work out the details. There are two separate Alarms to play with.


#7: Post by WWWired »

coyote-1 wrote:I think I have one more trick up my sleeve. The PID has an alarm mode, and it outputs line voltage (up to 220v) at 3 amps.
. . . Given how rarely I do milk drinks, I might just set the alarm to 70F and have more deck lights... or perhaps light up the water tank or something.
Absolutely brilliant!! haha! Can't wait to see developments as your progress thus far genius! I would love to see some photo's of the LED light connections internally (both the one you have beside the Group currently and future additions).

Re: "rarely do milk drinks . . ." a fun thing to try is ¼ to ½ teaspoon Fry's unsweetened Cocoa Powder, two or three packets of Stevia to taste (Sobey's Compliments brand stevia is good as not all stevia's are good quality for sure!) and a pinch of Kosher Salt (no iodine) to taste in a long coffee. Less Stevia, cocoa and salt needed for an espresso shot or shorter coffees (or to taste variation). I didn't think it was possible to replace milk or cream in a coffee until I read about the Cocoa/Kosher salt trick and I found it pretty amazing (every bit equal in the right variations of ingredients to taste to milk/creams). Saw it on a Keto discussion that I didn't know anything about but wanted to try some and when they said espresso, well, you know . . . haha!

coyote-1 (original poster)

#8: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

Pics of wire connections are tedious. Diagrams are better, or even just descriptions.

But I have this second ViaV sitting in my basement. And I'm beginning to have thoughts of doing a similar set of mods, but also changing out the OPV and installing one with a screwdriver adjustment.... and installing it such that the OPV adjustment is accessible without opening the unit. Do that along with a pressure gauge, deck lights, PID and the (already installed) flow control dimmer. A price list for those mods:

OPV: $40
PID: $55
Deck lights: $5
dimmer: $10
Pressure gauge: 30
BSP Tee: $10

So as you can see, the total for the mods is around $150. Get a machine for $100 or less, and for less than $250 you've got a near-competitor for, say, the $1000 Profitec Go. Boiler capacity and steam would of course not be quite as good, but since steam is not my top priority that would be fine.

coyote-1 (original poster)

#9: Post by coyote-1 (original poster) »

A followup: if you are reading this and follow down the same path, do bigger/brighter deck lights.

My new-ish process of emulating spring lever machines is working, but it hinges on halting the shot the moment 'blonding' begins. So far I've not missed, but this would be far easier for my 60 year old eyes to see if there were more light going into the cup.

I may likely, in the future, make this change on this unit. Won't do it now as I'm recovering from surgery.


#10: Post by bgnome »

I just completed a Gaggiuino install in a basic machine, similar to these Saecos. If you are starting again from the ground up, it might be worth considering. One issue I seem to be running in to is that the mod was designed specifically to control the solenoid for brew cutoff and pressure release, which my machine does not have.