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Homemade Sous Vide unit

I have been thinking of tossing my hat into the sous vide ring... Taking a close look at a temp controller that power cycles a crockpot or a roaster...looking at this unit on Amazon..

Any experience or opinions with these units or this setup would be welcome...Thanks

Making the neighbors jealous in Pleasant Hill, Ia one cook at a time...

Comments

  • Z_EggineerZ_Eggineer Posts: 534
    We looked at it and decided true DIY or Anova was best option (unless rich)
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 4,533
    No personal experience with it but I've seen posts about it elsewhere.  You need an older non-digital crock pot for it to work. 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • Thanks...looks like you can still get non digital models and they are usually cheaper..the potential multifunction aspects
    Making the neighbors jealous in Pleasant Hill, Ia one cook at a time...
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,267
    edited January 10
    I rigged a true DIY sous vide with mostly donated and spare parts. If I have to spend $99 for that Amazon controller then I'd rather get the $199 Anova.  By the time you factored in the cooker, circulation pump etc you're not saving much and it's still a compromise.

    I have old non digital rice cooker, fryer, aquarium pumps lying around ... also bought a thrift store coffee urn (maximum temp is 172'ish, so it's okay for meat but can't do vege at 180+)

    image

    image

    image
    Vaughan, ON, Canada
  • ProserProser Posts: 73
    I bought one and used it a few times. It preformed well for temperatures under 160f. I had a 6 qt crock pot and found I was running out of room in the bath. Bought a Anova unit and haven't looked back. .
    Arlington, TX
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 4,079
    edited January 10
    I just got a dorkfood with some Amazon gift cards I received.  I have used it a couple of times and it does a fine job of holding the temperature.  It does exactly what it is supposed to do.  Like @Caliking said you need a manual crock pot (but they sell them new).   I picked up this one:


    On a side note- not sure I could recommend that pot.  It gets really hot considering the relatively low temp.  It is also really slow to heat up and slow to recover when you drop in cold meat.  (see note on roaster oven below). 

    There are some downsides to this set up.  The main one is dealing with the temp probe. It shouldn't touch the sides, bottom, or the meat.  The only way to "suspend" it is by using the top of the crock pot and you can imagine this is not very precise.  Another downside is just dealing with the extra little box and wires on the kitchen counter.   

    There are definitely some advantages.  The price is obviously one big plus.  Another is if you already have a crock pot or roaster oven, it requires very little extra storage space. 

    Based on some reviews on Amazon I think I am going consider getting around a 12-13 quart roaster oven to use with it.  Roaster ovens have better heating elements, so it would heat up faster.  Also, the additional space would be nice for more food and also make it easier to deal with the temp probe.    However, a roaster oven might run $50 or so, thus now it is $150 for the set up.   For $50 more you could get the Anova, and then you just need some type of vessel to cook in. 

    So, to summarize this rambling...if you happen to already have a roaster oven with a manual dial, then this would be perfect.   Otherwise, I would consider something else. 


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 
  • Thanks for all the great feedback...I didnt know that a Anova could be had for the $200 dollar range...the quick research I did looked like they were closer to $400...

     

    All the crockpots I currently own are the digital type and probably smaller then what I would want anyway, so if I went the dorkfood route, I would probalby be looking at the manual roaster... I have been thinking for a while that one of those wouldnt be such a bad thing to have around anyway for making other stuff.

    Plus for some reason I relate to the term dorkfood...

    Making the neighbors jealous in Pleasant Hill, Ia one cook at a time...
  • rtt121rtt121 Posts: 420
    edited January 10
    I too have a DIY sous vide.  Ill post some pics when I am home but it is basically a 10 gallon pot (yea 10 gallong) with a hole drilled out and a fitting welded in to accept an electric water heating element.

    The element is controlled by PID or Ranco controller and works very well.  I don't worry about circulating, you can hear the element turn on and off and I figure it is often enough to keep water circulating via the heat loss.

    I have been a beer brewer for almost a decade now and when I learned of sous vide I realized I had about 3 different ways of rigging one up myself.  It gets used SV more often than a brew kettle these days.
  • What about y'alls she that must be obeyed? Will she actually be down with all this mad scientist stuff in her kitchen?  :D

  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,267
    What about y'alls she that must be obeyed? Will she actually be down with all this mad scientist stuff in her kitchen?  :D
    haha, you want to see mad stuff? ... before I packaged mine into recycled APC box  :D

    image
    Vaughan, ON, Canada
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 4,533
    @Canugghead - that's just brilliant! What kind of probe did you use and where did you buy it? I've been thinking about building a HeaterMeter temp controller for some time, but don't have any particular electronic skills to speak of. I'm going to buy all the parts and just send them with the schematics to you! :)


    What about y'alls she that must be obeyed? Will she actually be down with all this mad scientist stuff in her kitchen?  :D
    Mine is amazingly tolerant of all my madness. She is a real sweetheart - when we lived in a condo in Chicago, she let me buy a (small) table saw and keep it in the living room. I just had to promise that I would take care of the sawdust. Would fire it up on the weekends for projects. Neighbors loved me (not).  I did take care of the sawdust though.  She knows that she stands to benefit from any culinary adventures/forays, so she is pretty supportive. 

    @rtt121 - would love to see pics of your setup.

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,267
    edited January 10
    @caliking, someone donated the PID, bought the old APC box on CL, aquarium air pump and submersible pump from my fish keeping days.  Cooking appliances are home surplus.

    Purchased the probe and SSR relay with heat sink from this place close to home, so no shipping required: http://thermomart.com/   However, you can google on Amazon and may find them cheaper.

    The APC box is real nice, after discarding the useless battery, the charging circuit powers the low voltage PID, the space freed up by the battery houses the PID, SSR relay and heat sink.  The electrical outlets are already there too ... two outlets are hardwired and controlled by the existing manual switch for air or submersible pump; the other two are turned on/off by the SSR relay.  Big bonus: it has surge protection with a reset button, on one occasion I carelessly dripped water on a plug and it instantly shut itself.
    Vaughan, ON, Canada
  • rtt121rtt121 Posts: 420
    edited January 10
    OK so here it is.  Colors came out a little weird.  But you can see everything.  To answer the wife question.  The beauty of a set up like this is it doesnt have have to be in kitchen.  As you can see I SV in our "junk room".

    imageimage

    The PID is on the front panel of the temp unit. SSR encased inside and the heatsink is off the right there.  The unit plugs into the 110v.  The other side of the unit looks the same as the front and has the heating element installed in the pot plugged into it.  (The back electical oulet and switch are PID controlled.  The front electrical outlet is constant switchable 110 outlet)

    image

    DO NOT DO IT LIKE THIS. but it works for right now.  There is a much sturdier and safer apparatus.  I actually have the parts in the mail.  This is just a Neutral, Positive hooked up to the element, the ground wire is pinned between the Element wall and the pot wall.  Always hooked up to GFI.

    image

    Heating element at the bottom of the pot.  2000w.  It can barely boil 10 gallons.  You can get a 220 line and hook up 3500 and that will hold a nice boil.  But  for SV this works great.

    image

    This is the thermocouple that is plugged into the PID.  (plugged into yellow input on top panel - not connected in photo)

    image
    Sight glass showing 7 gallons in the pot.  Bottom of pic you see a ball valve for easy emptying.


    I can put together a pretty easy DIY build tutorial if anyone is interested.  You can do this with a ranco controller and the element for less then $80 if you have the pot and the tools.  If you want to build the PID / SSR unit that would be ~$175. 

    This unit works great and can hold temps with a full 10 gallons.  I have done ~20 beef tenderloin filets to perfection and it could have held more.  Of course you could install in a smaller / larger pot too.

    I have an air bubbler and stone but I have found it doesn't seem to add anything. I think it circulates fine without it.

    Edit: This particular pot is actually weldless.  None of the connections to the pot required a weld.
  • calikingcaliking Posts: 4,533
    Cool setups! 

    #1 LBGE December 2012 • #2 SBGE February  2013 • #3 Mini May 2013
    A happy BGE family in Houston, TX.
  • MurrayGMurrayG Posts: 15
    Just purchased an Anova unit and I'm looking for a good source of recipes.  Any suggestions?
  • GK59GK59 Posts: 424
    You guys are nutz. What happened to throwing a chunk of meat on the grill and enjoying a cold beer.

    Smitty's Kid's BBQ

    Bay City,MI

  • TackmanTackman Posts: 142
    I have the dorkfood controller. I like it. Already had an old crock pot. Works fine for me.thought about hooking it up to a freezer, to keep the beer extra cold. Mmmmmmm, cold beer...
    Cleveland, Ohio
  • CanuggheadCanugghead Posts: 3,267
    edited January 11
    @rtt121 ... Neat, I salvaged a heating element from an old kettle, was thinking of inserting into an old stock pot too.... currently my vessel of choice is a $7 used coffee urn since I don't SV large quantities and don't do vege (vege needs 180+ but coffee urn can't go above 170 ish unless I bypass the builtin thermostat); the urn is pre wired and came equipped with heater and spout, did I mention it makes coffee too?

    By the way, I hope the naked wires/contacts at your heating element were exposed temporarily  
    :-/
    Vaughan, ON, Canada
  • rtt121rtt121 Posts: 420
    Thanks @Canugghead

    The heating elements are cheap enough.. like $12. I haven't done veggies yet but I should try.

    Like I said this is something I already had made when I really started reading about SV.  It just happens to work great.  I thought of buying an Anova or Sansaire when it hits the market but then I realized this really does do the job and both of those devices are not listed to be able to head 10 gallons.

    Those wires are only exposed temporarily.
  • I have been thinking of tossing my hat into the sous vide ring... Taking a close look at a temp controller that power cycles a crockpot or a roaster...looking at this unit on Amazon..

    Any experience or opinions with these units or this setup would be welcome...Thanks

    I looked into this question about a year ago. I decided to make my own using the instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Sous-vide-cooker-for-less-than-40/

    Parts were easily purchased. The only additional item that was necessary was an inexpensive large manual (non digital) slow cooker. Very easy to use and we use it all of the time. 
  • scooter759scooter759 Posts: 216
    I've had the Dorkfood controller for about a year and a half. I use it quite a bit. I was lucky in that I already have a Masterbuilt electric turkey fryer. Haven't had an issue with circulation. True you have to run the cord for the probe under the lid. I wrap my cord in HDAF, helps to protect it and position it. I have dropped mine on concrete a couple of times, got it wet, no problems.
    Large & medium eggs, Weber Summit gasser, Weber Kettle, Weber Q. Mankato, MN


  • I have been thinking of tossing my hat into the sous vide ring... Taking a close look at a temp controller that power cycles a crockpot or a roaster...looking at this unit on Amazon..

    Any experience or opinions with these units or this setup would be welcome...Thanks


    I looked into this question about a year ago. I decided to make my own using the instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Sous-vide-cooker-for-less-than-40/

    Parts were easily purchased. The only additional item that was necessary was an inexpensive large manual (non digital) slow cooker. Very easy to use and we use it all of the time. 


    Thanks...good info...and interesting read...is your temp probe waterproof?
    Making the neighbors jealous in Pleasant Hill, Ia one cook at a time...
  • I've had the Dorkfood controller for about a year and a half. I use it quite a bit. I was lucky in that I already have a Masterbuilt electric turkey fryer. Haven't had an issue with circulation. True you have to run the cord for the probe under the lid. I wrap my cord in HDAF, helps to protect it and position it. I have dropped mine on concrete a couple of times, got it wet, no problems.

    Good info...it's one of the 3 configurations I am considering. ..appreciate the feedback.
    Making the neighbors jealous in Pleasant Hill, Ia one cook at a time...
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