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Stoker/BBQ Guru

David1010David1010 Posts: 15
edited October 2011 in EggHead Forum

So I can already tell the bad influence this forum is having on me...if you had told me a few weeks ago that I would order a $100 instant read thermometer I would have told you that you were crazy, but it arrives Friday, so there you have it.

Next up is a controller. Comparing the specs on the new Stoker vs. the BBQ Guru it seems that the Stoker wins, unless you don't want telemetry, then others like the Meverick come into play. So my question is this. Since I am not a competition BBQ guy, just someone who likes to cook and thinks it would be great to be able to set something up in advance to have it be ready for dinner for my family during the week, and I don't do a lot of pulled pork, are these things overkill? Clearly they are not needed for short cooks like steaks or burgers, or for high heat like pizza. So besides butts and briskets, what do people use them for...turkey? chicken? ribs? maybe a standing rib roast? If all you really get the benefit of them on is butts and brisket, I don't cook enough of that to justify the cost.

Thanks for all of the help,

David

Comments

  • LitLit Posts: 5,915
    I use mine mainly for butts and brisket that I am cooking overnight. I don't like to have to wake up and check. Sometimes I use it for ribs if I am going somewhere but if I am going to be awake for the whole cook I like the challenge of knowing how my egg works and being able to keep it at 250 with low maintenance without my Guru. Its nice to have the option but its an expensive option. I would have gotten one eventually but luckily my fiancee surprised me with one at last years eggtober fest. I have the cyberq 2  and like it but the new Stoker has better options in my opinion. If you care at all about wirelessly monitoring your cooks go with the stoker.
  • ribmasterribmaster Posts: 209

    I got the guru. I always use it for  chicken,ribs,butts and briskets(anything under 475). I use the fan and direct connect coupler for burgers and steakes(anything over 475) I never cook "AT" 475. The Stoker looks cool...wireless sounds cool. I would buy the guru again and would consider the stoker.I think they cost more.

     

    I grill therefore I am.....not hungy.
  • ribmasterribmaster Posts: 209

    I cooked yesterday. Target temp 225. HighTemp 251...after I raised the lid. Every other time I check it was 225.

    Ambient temp was 66 and I turned it over to the guru after about 2 minutes from pulling the eletric starter.(this is as fast as I could.

    I raised the temp slowly ...125 150 175 200 and then 225. It over shot a little each time and I adjusted the daisy wheel(dfmt) down to a sliver the last time. All this took about 40 minutes and the smoke had settled down.

    This thing varies less than my kitchen oven.

    I grill therefore I am.....not hungy.
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    I'm not sure what all the differences are, but I know the Stoker has wireless monitoring and updating from anywhere you have internet access.  I did a quick search a few days ago on another thread and it appears the Stoker is approx $100 more.  I like the fact I can access my Stoker page from any device....Windows PC, Mac, iOS device....doesn't matter.  It does a great job too.  I'm sure the Guru is nice too, but I have no experience with that controller.  Good luck  
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • Thanks for responses to date. My big question though is are they really just for brisket and butts?
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    edited October 2011
    No....just anything low n slow.  I will use it for ribs, prime rib, turkey, etc....It helps me sleep at night for those overnight cooks for sure.  
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • Irish MikeIrish Mike Posts: 6
    edited October 2011

    I own both a
    Stoker and a Guru Digiq which are both great products. I mainly use the Stoker
    for my cooks since buying the new black box last month. If I am going to cook
    at a constant temperature for any length of time, I will use either of the units.
    It gives me the freedom to get things done around the house while my egg is cooking
    away. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />



    Are these
    products really needed for a backyard smoker? Probably not, but I like the fact I
    can monitor the cook with the stoker on my cell phone without going out on the
    deck to check. Main reason for the Stoker purchase, is the new wireless feature
    (Now delayed to Jan 2012) so I can use my PC to make adjustments without going
    back out to the deck during the winter.



    I think I am
    going to give my son the Guru to get him started cooking his own BBQ!



     



  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    I got mine after one overnight cook....I was up every hour checking.  Ordered the Stoker the very next day.
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 19,610
    i just use a wireless temp gage with an alarm like the maverick  et 732 for low and slows overnight, sometimes i dont even use that, butts in at 11 pm, 4am im up getting the boat ready, quick check on the egg and im gone til noon, havent lost a fire yet but have caught a few losing temps, for the few overnighters i do there isnt a need for a controller and i dont have one or need one
  • BrunDogBrunDog Posts: 27
    I have a Stoker and like it very much, but truth be told, it has a lot of "gee-whiz" features that have little to do with a final, quality product that comes off the egg. Any controller helps you maintain temp, and relax while you check it less. I think a controller is necessary for long, overnight cooks: butts etc., but otherwise just nice to have. Setting it up (powering up, programming temps, putting fan on vent, cleaning probes after cook, etc.) adds time & steps, so you have to keep these in mind when comparing overall procedure efficiency.

    As far as which controller, it comes down to if the cost is worth the extra stuff to you. There are basic controllers for ~$150 which will get the job done too. Of course, only the stoker can run multiple cookers concurrently and can be monitored remotely via the internet. This takes some technical skill in setting up your router, so this is not for the completely technochallenged.

    -BD 
  • I pondered over the same issue a while back.  In the end it came down to "is being able to check on it wirelessly really worth an extra $100?" the answer for me was no.  I can set the Guru up at 250 and HOURS later it is still at 250.  As long as the lump holds out it will maintain.  So what's the point of being able to check it on your phone?
  • MikeyWMikeyW Posts: 9
    I just purchased the Guru and really like it. The basic function of having the device control the temperature is the same with both. But the stoker has some addition cool features. Just depends on your budget and what you want.
  • I really like my Guru but it would be kind of cool to check and set it with my phone while watching football.
    Rich
    Ashland, WI  /  Large & Mini Max
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    @greenfan - Main reason is peace of mind. Also, it isn't just monitor it is the ability to make adjustments remotely. For example, I have a butt on right now and I will be away later today so as I monitor, I will make ajustments t make sure the butt doesnt need pulling until I return. Another, is that I do not think the guru software works on a Mac. Finally, what is $100 bucks 5 years down the road. :))
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • tbk420tbk420 Posts: 70
    I'm stoked (pun intended) - my Stoker should arrive today!!  =D>
  • I love my cyberQ II
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    Ok. My first Stoker fail. I boast about the Stoker so to be fair, I must report my first issue. Started my butt last night and midnight knowing I was headed to my mighty Gamecocks football game at noon. Stoker set to 225 to extend my cook. We leave for the game around 10am and all is good. I monitor throughout the game and at halftime I notice the temp dropping. My setting was now up to 250 yet my temp kept dropping. We head home during the3rd quarter and I find the fan not running. Hummm. So,I shut off the Stoker and then back on and the fan kicks on. Good news. Temp starts to rise so all good. Game on TV so no problem. 30 mins pass and I chk the temp from my iPhone and I'm at 306. My setting was 250. What gives? Head outside to check and the fan is still running. Unplug it and then back in and it stops running. Weird. Back inside and then some amount of time passes and my temp is back down to 235. No fan running. Unplug and then back on and it starts to run. And then yes, once it starts running it won't stop until I pull the plug. Then it is off and won't come back on until I pull the plug and then back in. Ditch the fan and set vents to complete my butt. Best butt of 2011 for sure. I'm calling Rock tomorrow and will send my unit in....maybe he will offer an upgrade for me. My point is, even with technology there is risk of things going south. Will report back later.
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • hawkegghawkegg Posts: 97
    On a plus note you found out using your cell phone.  With the guru you wouldn't have found it out until you were  home and potentially to late.  I have a guru but I am thinking about the stoker for this reason!
  • Hawkegg; don't forget the guru (cyberQ) can be set up to email your smartphone
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    Working with the Stoker folks now.

    Knowing my temp was falling was good....but normally having the ability to adjust remotely is very nice.
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • BrunDogBrunDog Posts: 27
    I will say that Rocks did screw the pooch on this whole WiFi firmware thing. Ordered WiFi model in mid June, received in late July, waiting until promised September for firmware, then near the end of September we are told it will be January!! Not a way to roll out a new product. At least the price is "discounted".

    I have to run a 30 ft Ethernet cable from my summer kitchen to an inside Cat 5 jack every time I want to monitor over the network!

    -BD
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    BD - I just hook the Stoker to my Airport Express and all good.  Built-in WiFi will be a nice feature though.
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • phreakingeekphreakingeek Posts: 34
    edited October 2011

    4Runner,

    I also had several temp incidents with my Stoker.  I recently bought a new pit probe and fan for my 5 year old stoker.  When i use them together, the fan will not stop or start, just like you describe.  I can get it to work for about an hour if i unplug/plug the fan.

    I was able to use the new pit probe with the old fan and it works just like new...so there's somthing weird going on with the new fan. 

    I was tempted to buy a new wireless unit, but i'm worried that it wont be as reliable as the one i got back in 2006.

  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762

    Per Rock's BBQ, you should never pull out any plug with the main unit powered on. Always, power off and then plug in or unplug as needed. Please email Stoker and go through your issue. I'm working with them now via email and might send my unit in for testing. First, we decided I should do a test cook this weekend and report back to them.  Very responsive and helpful thus far.

    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • efkefk Posts: 2
    I have the maverick 732 and am considering the DigiQ. Other than remote capability I think these two units will cover all my needs. Thoughts?
  • I believe the Stoker may be my Christmas present from my wife this year.  I have done many many cooks on my egg with no problems until this weekend.  I got called into work right after I put 5 slabs of ribs on.  It was stable at 250 when I left the house, and I had my wife checking it every 30 mins or so.  It was a windy day, so she had trouble keeping it at a constant temp.  Granted she has never had to work the egg before, so that probably had something to do with it too.  When I got home to take them off, they were scorched on the bottom end closest to the grate.  One slab was totally ruined.  Turns out that after 5 years with the egg, the dome thermometer decided that on saturday it was going to be 30 degrees off.  It had always been money before.  Even on the cook I did earlier in the week.  

    Anyway, I feel that if I had the Stoker I could have prevented those problems.  I could adjust it from work, and not have any problems.  I feel like I would let it cook more often over night and while I am at work too.
    Large BGE Decatur, AL
  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,762
    With the Stoker, no adjustment necessary. :D
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • GrannyX4GrannyX4 Posts: 1,474
    Rub it in!!!! If I had one I wouldn't know how to get it to work. That being said doesn't mean I wouldn't like the little toy.
    Every day is a bonus day and every meal is a banquet in Winter Springs, Fl !
  • HexisHexis Posts: 2
    I have a stoker and love it.  The network connectivity is awesome in many ways.  And it's very expandable.

    The connectivity offers me two major benefits: remote monitoring and data to review later.  

    The remote monitoring is pretty straight forward.  I can bring up the status on my phone from anywhere.  (If you expose the Stoker to the net, make sure to set the read-only password).

    The data for later is very interesting.  I log my cooks and I can examine the data afterwards to learn more about the process.  Combine this with a bunch of probes in the various foodstuffs in the BGE and you get some very interesting learning opportunities.  I have used the grill temperature history to be able to tweak the vents and fan input (with a baffle) to smooth out the grill temp during a long cook.  You can plainly see the temperature plateaus and where they happen at various ambiant (grill) temps.  All kinds of fun.

    The other best feature is the expandability.  It's unlikely most folks will have a need to monitor and control multiple cookers at once.  But I have 5 probes and use many on big cooks.  For T-Day I kept an eye on the thigh and breast temps separately.  On slow pork cooks I can keep an eye on a couple spots in each shoulder and leave on for the fatty (google bbq fatty if you don't know what that is, so noms).

    All that said, there are a few issues with the stoker.  Primarily it's got a very slow CPU and I suspect limited ram and storage.  The newer WiFi model uses the same internals, just adds a WiFi interface (which is still waiting on software support).  The CPU makes getting updates slow.  It also means that the system can't do historical temperature data on the box itself, you need an external piece of software.  I think the limited storage also means there are more limits on what the box can do.  As well as it does, there are no settings you can tweak (that I have found) that will help deal with issues unique to the BGE (or other Kamados).  As the fire is stoked the temperature ramps and overshoots the target temp, then slowly falls.  It would be nice to be able to adjust the fan attributes to account for the faster ramp.

    Overall I really do love the Stoker.  I think it's a very good tool, and it has worked well for me.  As anything running software, there can be issues, but Rock's supports it well and has good service (from what I have seen and dealt with).
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