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My homemade digital temperature controller!

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Comments

  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    Sounds good.  I'll look into a way of simplifying the electronics enclosure a little bit, and see about cooking up a handful for at-cost "beta testers."  :)

    The wireless complicates matters, and is expensive.  I used an already FCC approved chip with an integral antenna etc, and it would take some time to engineer a cheaper alternative.  I presume people just want to cook and not record data sets, right? 

    Thanks again for the great feedback!
  • BREWnQBREWnQ Posts: 194
    I dont have really any desire to log my temps.  Having it hold temp is the most important thing to me.
    Brewer, BBQer, Softballer, RCer, Father, HomeTheaterer, and trouble maker.
    Orange, CA
  • GeorgeSGeorgeS Posts: 699
    edited April 4
    I wouldn't need any data logging either. Might be interesting to see what the cost differential is though. It might be handy if you could record both grill temp and meat temp if you had a particularly good or bad cook to see where it was and where you pulled the cook. It's easy enough to note it by hand though if need be. It will be interesting to see how others feel about that too.
    Bristow Virginia XLBGE One of the best feelings in life is watching other people enjoy the food I cooked!
  • SkinnyVSkinnyV Posts: 1,557
    I was unaware that you could leave the bottom wide open and use the top only and still be @ 250.
    Just tested today its working although I made a very slight adjustment up top and next thingiI know it was @ 300.
    Makes sense with bottom wide open any slight move up top can swing things quickly.
    Thanks
    Seattle, WA
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    I used general purpose terminal software on my PC to record/log the serial data, and it is freeware - TeraTerm.

    For the communication itself, two expensive parts were used to save time:
    1. in the controller: Bluetooth module RN-41, which retails for $25
    2. at my PC: BluetoothRN-41 modem for serial cable replacement which retailed for $65.  It looks like the exact one I used isn't in production anymore, but I'm sure there's something similar.

    The range through the walls of my house was not good with this configuration, so my laptop needed to be located near the exterior wall nearest my grill.  I wouldn't feel real comfortable promoting a setup like that for general use.

    If it's really of interest, I could try to find a better near-term solution, but it will require some investigation / engineering.

    Let me know of your thoughts.

    Eric

  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    Ragtop99 said:
    Nice project; I hope you make them available. 

    Be cool to make that work with the vent caps.  Then the original DW could stay unmodified for when a person wants to cook old school.
    I agree.  For most uses, I just leave the fancy damper on and move it by hand just like the original.  However, for really hot operation like searing tuna, I take it off.

    I was thinking of using a screw with a "knob" to hold the damper on, so a screwdriver isn't needed to make the quick switch.  I just use my hands to change it though, like in the video.

    Thanks for the suggestion / feedback

    Eric
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    SkinnyV said:
    I was unaware that you could leave the bottom wide open and use the top only and still be @ 250. Just tested today its working although I made a very slight adjustment up top and next thingiI know it was @ 300. Makes sense with bottom wide open any slight move up top can swing things quickly. Thanks
    Yeah, and if you look at the size of the holes in my automated one, you'll notice there is a lot more area there than on the factory one.  The reason I made the holes so large was to allow for rapid startup.  It's nearly all the way shut once it's actually at temp.
  • Smokin_TroutSmokin_Trout Posts: 169
    Very nice! Let me know if you would like a hand putting some together. You can't be far from me with the umich address.
  • CPARKTXCPARKTX Posts: 731
    Very cool. I've been contrmlating building a Heater Meter, your approach of using the top damper over a blower is awesome and really cuts down on cost. I like the suggestion of making the a Kickstater...
    LBGE & SBGE.  Central Texas.  
  • xiphoid007xiphoid007 Posts: 269
    That looks awesome. Great job!

    The only problem I for see is buildup from smoking. I know my daisy wheel gets pretty dirty with deposits after smoking a butt/ribs/brisket. You may want to plan for a way to take apart the pieces easily for cleaning.

    Then you're ready for your patent!

    Altogether pretty cool!
  • BotchBotch Posts: 2,444
    edited April 5
    That looks awesome. Great job! The only problem I for see is buildup from smoking. I know my daisy wheel gets pretty dirty with deposits after smoking a butt/ribs/brisket. You may want to plan for a way to take apart the pieces easily for cleaning. 
     
    Or.... the adjustable vents don't have to be on the top; a similar device could be installed at the bottom vent, and leave the top vent off (that's how I normally run my egg).  That would avoid the fouling issue.  
    _____________________________________________
     
    I Know Why The Egged Bird Sings.
     
    Ogden, Utard.  
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39

    That looks awesome. Great job! The only problem I for see is buildup from smoking. I know my daisy wheel gets pretty dirty with deposits after smoking a butt/ribs/brisket. You may want to plan for a way to take apart the pieces easily for cleaning. Then you're ready for your patent! Altogether pretty cool!
    I was concerned with that when I started this, but it turned out not to be a problem.  I've been using this concept since late 2010, so I've had lots of crud build up on them.

    If it's really dirty (and I never cleaned mine except for show and tell), before you start cooking you can just lift up slightly on the arm of the damper and you hear a "click."  The damper is free and ready to go!  It's never gotten stuck like the factory one can.  I think that might be because the surface of the sheet metal is much more smooth than that of the cast iron factory damper.

    Thanks for the question/feedback!
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39

    Botch said:
    That looks awesome. Great job! The only problem I for see is buildup from smoking. I know my daisy wheel gets pretty dirty with deposits after smoking a butt/ribs/brisket. You may want to plan for a way to take apart the pieces easily for cleaning. 
     
    Or.... the adjustable vents don't have to be on the top; a similar device could be installed at the bottom vent, and leave the top vent off (that's how I normally run my egg).  That would avoid the fouling issue.  
    That's true, but then it wouldn't look as cool.  ;)

  • Nathan_CNathan_C Posts: 19
    So... when can I buy one??    :D
  • mokadirmokadir Posts: 105
    Really nice. Depending on the price point, I think that there would be great interest in your product. You could have 2 different setups, with different Bells and whistles. Personally, I could care less about the logging. After looking at all the available controllers out there, I ended up getting the iq110 as it was the simplest. On the other hand, remote access and/or meat temps are very convenient features.
    Delaware Valley, PA Large BGE, CGS adjustable rig, iQue110, High-Que grate
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39

    mokadir said:
    Really nice. Depending on the price point, I think that there would be great interest in your product. You could have 2 different setups, with different Bells and whistles. Personally, I could care less about the logging. After looking at all the available controllers out there, I ended up getting the iq110 as it was the simplest. On the other hand, remote access and/or meat temps are very convenient features.
    I agree on the data logging - it's needed for development, but once you're cooking, there's really no need to record a ~constant temp.

    Having taken a high-level look, I suspect it'd come out around $250/piece to build 50 of them without the wireless, and with a slightly simpler display.

    That's a little steep, but it should last forever (effectively) since there isn't a fan to go out, etc.  I'm waiting for a few quotes to come back, and will let you know how it all comes out.  For "beta testers" I'd plan to support future software updates as feedback is received.

    Thanks again for the interest and feedback - this is becoming quite entertaining!
  • yogi84yogi84 Posts: 86
    edited April 8
    just to through it our there.... the heatermeter can do all this and does have servo support.... i currently  run a custom servo damper with a fan that kicks on only when needed....and the heatermeter does email alerts/sms and support "custom" scripts ie you can do ramp downs...etc ohhh and there is a web page to manage the device also...but this is pretty cool  =D>
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    yogi84 said:
    just to through it our there.... the heatermeter can do all this and does have servo support.... i currently  run a custom servo damper with a fan that kicks on only when needed....and the heatermeter does email alerts/sms and support "custom" scripts ie you can do ramp downs...etc ohhh and there is a web page to manage the device also...but this is pretty cool  =D>
    Yes, the heatmeter looks like a good way to facilitate a techie in developing a controller for sure!

    Do you have a picture or video of your custom setup in action? 

    thanks!
  • yogi84yogi84 Posts: 86
    i will get take some and post...its a design buy a guy on tvvwb forums....its the "roto-damper" if you ever want to check one out pm me and i can get you access to mine....
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,096
    edited April 8
    At $250 you'll be competing with some of the fan based systems. If you make a unit w/o the wireless, I'm guessing the power requirements would be very low.  Having battery power rather than needing a plug in would be popular for those of us who don't to run an extension cord or take the egg camping.  The need for power is a drawback on most of the aftermarket fan based system for me.  Because your unit is passive, portability (and maybe simplicity) can be big a feature compared to fan based controllers.  It could be a longer lasting alternative to the Party Q.

    I'm sure there are buyers who would prefer plug-in power; I'm just looking for ideas that will help you compete against fan based systems.  :)





    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • Very, very cool. How did you calibrate the thermocouple? Did you open source the code? GrillinSailor
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39

    Very, very cool. How did you calibrate the thermocouple? Did you open source the code? GrillinSailor
    Thanks!  Using a "real" engineering grade thermocouple with a proper connector, there's no calibration neccessary - at least for the level of accuracy needed for a grill.  Second decimal place or something can be disregarded.

    That being said, I did verify the correctness of it buy checking boiling water and ice water temperatures.  All was well.

    Take care,
    Eric
  • reinhart36reinhart36 Posts: 39
    Ragtop99 said:
    At $250 you'll be competing with some of the fan based systems. If you make a unit w/o the wireless, I'm guessing the power requirements would be very low.  Having battery power rather than needing a plug in would be popular for those of us who don't to run an extension cord or take the egg camping.  The need for power is a drawback on most of the aftermarket fan based system for me.  Because your unit is passive, portability (and maybe simplicity) can be big a feature compared to fan based controllers.  It could be a longer lasting alternative to the Party Q.

    I'm sure there are buyers who would prefer plug-in power; I'm just looking for ideas that will help you compete against fan based systems.  :)





    Thanks for all the great feedback!  :)  It's starting to look like $235 or so as my research continues, but I'll keep people posted in a couple months as I seek would-be "guinea pigs."  :)

    Take care,
    Eric
  • GeorgeSGeorgeS Posts: 699
    Oink, oink, oink!
    Bristow Virginia XLBGE One of the best feelings in life is watching other people enjoy the food I cooked!
  • Gator_ManGator_Man Posts: 138
    Ragtop99 said:
    At $250 you'll be competing with some of the fan based systems. If you make a unit w/o the wireless, I'm guessing the power requirements would be very low.  Having battery power rather than needing a plug in would be popular for those of us who don't to run an extension cord or take the egg camping.  The need for power is a drawback on most of the aftermarket fan based system for me.  Because your unit is passive, portability (and maybe simplicity) can be big a feature compared to fan based controllers.  It could be a longer lasting alternative to the Party Q.

    I'm sure there are buyers who would prefer plug-in power; I'm just looking for ideas that will help you compete against fan based systems.  :)





    Thanks for all the great feedback!  :)  It's starting to look like $235 or so as my research continues, but I'll keep people posted in a couple months as I seek would-be "guinea pigs."  :)

    Take care,
    Eric
    Eric I would love to be a Guinea Pig!!!! jupiterjim@outlook.com :)

    I'm from North Carolina summer and Okeechobee Florida winter.

    I'm only hungry when I'm awake!

  • michigan_jasonmichigan_jason Posts: 1,293
    edited April 16
    All of the positive feedback is appreciated.

    @ Henapple - "Vent Buddy" is pretty cool!

    kind regards,
    Eric



    Call it the iVent

    @reinhart36

    Are you in need of funding to get it off the ground? This could become something worth while. What are your plans?



    "Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage."

  • ElCapitanElCapitan Posts: 139
    Add me to the list of testers, I can fork over the $ when you are ready.
    XL Owner
  • johnnyspojohnnyspo Posts: 12
    Great looking unit!  As a fellow geek, I appreciate the effort to roll your own versus buying off the shelf, especially when I feel that the off the shelf version is way over-priced. 

    Your algorithm is probably independent of vent size, so you should consider (if you haven't already) fittings for other kamados.  I have a Vision Classic that I would love to try this on.

    If you decide to go with wireless data logging, let me know if you're interested in a companion iOS app.  I am experienced in this area and there's no extra hardware (besides the iOS device) to buy.

    Good luck!

    --John
  • takositotakosito Posts: 21
    For low-power wireless applications, zigbee it's a good option. 
    Also, there's the Audrino platform to make it on the open-source side, and let it grow faster.
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