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DIY Probe for Rock's Stoker

brentmbrentm Posts: 669
edited December 2019 in EggHead Forum
Hi everyone.  I figured this deserved its own thread...

There is another thread that goes into detail on how to repair probe wires and ends.  I highly recommend you read that thread also if you want to work on the probe tip, or fix a burned wire.  https://eggheadforum.com/discussion/1180672/make-or-repair-your-stoker-pit-probes


But if you want to expand your setup or replace a probe that was submerged in water or has otherwise failed.  Here's what you'll need to do.

Supplies:
https://en.m.nu/measuring-instruments/thermocouple-interface-measuring-high-temperatures-version-2
1/4" TRS phono plug
3 conductor wire.
Type K thermometer/thermocouple
small zip tie




It doesn't matter what colors you use on your wire as long as they land correctly on the other side.  As an audio person, I didn't have any 3 conductor wire handy so I improvised with the drain wire for ground on this microphone wire. 

Tip - +5
Ring - DQ
Sleeve - GND

It's helpful to have a basic multimeter to check for continuity from the cable you're going to make to connect to this box.  Once you connect your wires to the block, put a small zip tie around the cable to provide some strain relief.  You don't want the box hanging by those wires in the terminal block.  The zip tie needs to relieve the strain.  

I'm going to order the correct cable.  I'm also going to desolder that green terminal block and solder the wires directly to the board.  Then I'll likely use a load of hot glue to secure that wire in place around the zip tie maybe...  still trying to figure out a more rugged version of this.



You'll end up with something like this...



And here it is, uncalibrated.

I was able to calibrate the probe to be within 1 degree of my existing probes in boiling water.  And that's about the temperature of brisket..... so on my next cook, I'll work one of these new probes in parallel to see how they mix with my "known good" probes.
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Comments

  • HotchHotch Posts: 3,560
    Thanks for all the work!!
    I wish I would have bought 4 of the K-Probe adaptors from Rock's.
    Thermoworks has the high temp K-Probes.
    Your efforts are greatly appreciated!! 
    Nicely done sir!! :clap:
    Large BGE, MiniMAX BGE, 2 Mini BGE's, R&V Fryer, 36" Blackstone Griddle, Camp Chef Dual Burner 40K BTU Stove
    BGE Chiminea
    Prosper, TX
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    Hotch said:
    Thanks for all the work!!
    I wish I would have bought 4 of the K-Probe adaptors from Rock's.
    Thermoworks has the high temp K-Probes.
    Your efforts are greatly appreciated!! 
    Nicely done sir!! :clap:
    Thank you.  And I know what you mean about wishing you'd purchased additional supplies from Rock.

    I wasn't crazy about the idea of buying a whole new system.  Not so much the expense side (although its a consideration), but I really didn't want to change anything about my cooks.  I have things dialed in, and I like how it works.

    The blower looks pretty easy to do up from scratch.  What's the most popular and available blower I can adapt?  It'd be nice to just buy another brand of blower and connect it to an adapter for the stoker.

    And I don't mind presoldering a handful of TRS cable ends for those who are solder adverse.  It'd come to you with pretinned leads so you'd just have to screw them down to the terminal block in the hammond enclosure (black box).
  • $6.00 Chinese 12 Vdc fan off eBay.  Bracket was $2 hub for electric box, and piece of flat metal. Had a couple of these larger fans I used on cabinet smokers, with FB300’s.  They had pipe nipple connectors for cabinet valve.

    BGE XL++Flameboss 300 WiFi++Blackstone 36"++Weber 26" kettle

  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    @speed51133 thanks for the link.

    @littlerascal56 - that's a interesting looking fan.  do you remember what size dc barrel connector you used?  

    @Hotch - thanks for that link.  I like those right angle probes.  I think it'd be possible to put two boards in one hammond box using standoffs.  Then one cable back to your Stoker.  So you'd have one cable to the stoker, and two type-k pig tails on the other side of the box.  If I understand one-wire, I believe these devices can share the bus with just some jumper wires between boards inside the box.
  • I use 2.1mm x 5.5mm male & female DC connectors.  My FB300 has the fan circuit brought out, so I just plug in the fan I need depending on cooker being controlled. Flameboss factory fans plug right in the female connector, as do my “custom” blowers.

    BGE XL++Flameboss 300 WiFi++Blackstone 36"++Weber 26" kettle

  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669


    Here's the beginnings of a dual stack.  It'd cut down on the cables, but I really need a triple stack to satisfy my own needs.  Two food sensors and one pit sensor.

    I bet I can fit three of these boards in one of these boxes.  There's some room in the lid also.  And then just mount the box to one of the legs of my nest.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    A simple solderless solution is to just buy a balanced TRS cable and cut one end off.  Then you'd just need to strip and terminate three wires in the screw down block.

    https://www.amazon.com/Hosa-CSS-115-Balanced-Interconnect-Cable/dp/B000068NYI/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=hosa+trs+speaker+cable&qid=1576697252&sr=8-6

    And I was only able to stack them two high in that project box.  Tested and works.  One cable, two probes.  Perhaps a different project box for three in one.

    Have fun!
  • Always been a fan of probes!
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 5
    Always been a fan of probes!
    But are you a probe of fans?

    https://vimeo.com/382841928

    Hi Friends. 

    Please find todays escapade on reversing Rock's fan circuit.  It should be fairly easy to drop this into a perfboard and a project box.  I thought about attaching the electronics to a 3D printed housing for the fan... so you could see fan activity by looking at the smoker.... probably helpful for multiple units.

    I forgot to mention the transistor value.  2n2222.  The cap across positive and negative is 4.7uf.  And that's a DS2413 breakout board.  :)

    Anyway..... meh.

    Stokers not dead.


  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 8,546
    brentm said:
    Always been a fan of probes!
    But are you a probe of fans?

    https://vimeo.com/382841928

    Hi Friends. 

    Please find todays escapade on reversing Rock's fan circuit.  It should be fairly easy to drop this into a perfboard and a project box.  I thought about attaching the electronics to a 3D printed housing for the fan... so you could see fan activity by looking at the smoker.... probably helpful for multiple units.

    I forgot to mention the transistor value.  2n2222.  The cap across positive and negative is 4.7uf.  And that's a DS2413 breakout board.  :)

    Anyway..... meh.

    Stokers not dead.


    That's super impressive. Nicely done!
    "The pig is an amazing animal. You feed a pig an apple and it makes bacon. Let's see Michael Phelps do that" - Jim Gaffigan

    Minnesota
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 5
    @WeberWho - thanks.  I'm not an electronics engineer...just a hacker.

    Imagine getting that entire circuit to fit into the housing of the plug.  I'm super bummed Rock left without a better exit strategy.

    Anyway, at least it's out there if someone wants to repair or replace a part for their Stoker.    

    Here's a link to the BGE adapter for the fan- https://www.ebay.com/itm/Fan-Blower-Adapter-B-for-Big-Green-Egg-BBQ-Temperature-Controller/254419217116?

    And the fan itself - https://www.ebay.com/itm/50x50x20mm-sleeve-5V-12v-24v-50mm-2-pin-cooler-turbine-centrifugal-blower-fan/323889123351

    That's enough information for someone to DIY.  I might be able to make a few of these for forum members if they're needed.  I'll pot the completed board in epoxy inside the hammond enclosure.  Almost like Solo in carbonite.  But epoxy and not cabonite. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073JNDRXJ  

  • paqmanpaqman Posts: 3,318
    Nice, glad you figured it out!  I kinda want to get one now.  All those cloud connected units will go south when the cloud dissipates 🤷‍♂️

    ____________________
    Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. •Niccolo Machiavelli
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 5
    paqman said:
    Nice, glad you figured it out!  I kinda want to get one now.  All those cloud connected units will go south when the cloud dissipates 🤷‍♂️
    Thanks for your help on the other thread.  It is appreciated! :) 

    Now that I've studied the circuit a bit, it looks like thermocouple boards could use a pullup resistor (2.2k like Rock's) between +5 and data.  Luckily, there's a few spare through holes on that board between those two traces.  Although it works without the pullup.

    I've thought about LEDs on the probes... but I don't think they're as useful as the LED on the blower.  Handy for alarms, but if something is alarming, I know what it is already since I'm only using it on one cooker.

    I suppose one of the major selling points is the ability for one Stoker to control multiple units.  Many of the other vendors I've looked at seem limited in their scaling.

    Another random thought is to install a proxy, and use a blockchain to store the data in real-time.  BitcoinSV would be my chain choice.  It'd require firmware changes to the stoker... but you wouldn't have to worry about the cloud infrastructure.  And it'd be cheap microtransactions.  Maybe Amir can include that in the next StokerLog, if there is one.  It'd be a fun use case... but who has the time?




  • paqmanpaqman Posts: 3,318
    brentm said:
    paqman said:
    Nice, glad you figured it out!  I kinda want to get one now.  All those cloud connected units will go south when the cloud dissipates 🤷‍♂️
    Thanks for your help on the other thread.  It is appreciated! :) 

    Now that I've studied the circuit a bit, it looks like thermocouple boards could use a pullup resistor (2.2k like Rock's) between +5 and data.  Luckily, there's a few spare through holes on that board between those two traces.  Although it works without the pullup.

    I've thought about LEDs on the probes... but I don't think they're as useful as the LED on the blower.  Handy for alarms, but if something is alarming, I know what it is already since I'm only using it on one cooker.

    I suppose one of the major selling points is the ability for one Stoker to control multiple units.  Many of the other vendors I've looked at seem limited in their scaling.

    Another random thought is to install a proxy, and use a blockchain to store the data in real-time.  BitcoinSV would be my chain choice.  It'd require firmware changes to the stoker... but you wouldn't have to worry about the cloud infrastructure.  And it'd be cheap microtransactions.  Maybe Amir can include that in the next StokerLog, if there is one.  It'd be a fun use case... but who has the time?




    Do you have access to the firmware source code?

    ____________________
    Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. •Niccolo Machiavelli
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    paqman said:
    Do you have access to the firmware source code?
    No, but I think he intended to at some point based on his response here.

    https://github.com/kaytat/stoker/issues/2

    Honestly, I'd be afraid to brick my stoker.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 6
    Seems like a lot of this stuff is procured from China.  I can't find probe tips that match Rock's lengths stateside.  So I ended up procuring some stainless probe tips from China.  

    3" lengths for pits.
    6" lengths for probes.

    As far as the best off-the-shelf thermocouple probes I've found... Milwaukee's termination of the thermocouple wire is superior to any other terminations I've seen.  The length is nice (3 feet).  Glue a stainless probe tip on it and maybe a short length of silicon tube to cover the transition.  :)

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003V8BF2U - it really is beautifully terminated.

    After breadboarding Rock's fan circuit.  I thought it might be easy to drop it onto a circuit.  It looks like Pad2Pad can include many of the components (except the 1wire chips and ???) on the boards, and do a run in small numbers.  

    I realize there's not a clamoring of demand, but I'll probably come up with a board that works in the project box for the fan controller.  I'm never quite happy with prototype boards.  I do think the electronics for the fan should be on the fan itself.  Including the LED.  I'd rather just look at my Egg to see what it's doing than look at the stoker unit.

    So anything worth doing is worth overdoing right?   I found these white plugs from China; they look very similar to the ones Rock used.  I suspect they might require a little rework, but just maybe, I could clone the probes and the fan plugs.  

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1820926421.html

    I suspect these Chinese plugs will just supply the housing.  The internals probably aren't similar to the ones Rock uses.  I'm sure those are on Mouser though.  From an audio standpoint, you'd want a metal housing to maintain the shield of the audio cable.... but in this case... plastic is perfect!

    I suppose now is the time to get your .cn orders in... Chinese New Year starts Jan 25 and tends to delay things even more than normal.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 6


    Here's my dual probe project box.  I ended up putting the cover on before it cured because I was afraid it wouldn't fit after drying.  I also added the filter cap and the pull up resistor from data to +5.  Nothing but a surface mount cap would fit in this configuration.  So the radial capacitor can is off to the side.  High quality Nichicon cap.  And I didn't go too sharp of a bend on the pup resistor, so I put some teflon tubing around those leads because I had it.  Teflon...  non-stick....  derp.

    Pretty fun...  and I was able to hide my soldering sins.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    Stokers...

    Just a quick update on my trials with the Stoker unit.  As far as the blower is concerned, I've struggled finding a suitable equivalent of Rock's 5V .35A fan.  The fan I purchased is .2A and it's considerably slower.  Rock's fan is almost twice as powerful... 

    And then the eBay fan shroud arrives.  And it looks like I need a considerably larger fan for this draft door adapter.  So here's what we're going to try.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07Y84WN3Y

    The fan wattage is slightly higher than Rocks.  Hopefully the tolerances are in my favor.

    Here's what the chinese adapter looks like.  Ideally, I'd be able to find something that fits a smaller fan, but I don't see anything. 

    f
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 13









    Well, this is funny.  In my last demo, I think the fan was running off the 1wire voltage and not the 5+ rail on the stoker.

    I think I might have the wrong transistor type.  Anyway, more work to be done on the circuit, but physically it looks like a good match with this 10 dollar Amazon fan and the 20 dollar eBay egg adapter.  For the money, the adapter is quite good.  It comes with fairly sharp edges, and needs some additional finish work.  But once you file down the rough edges, it seems quite worthy.  Once things gel, I'll probably drill some pilot holes to screw down the fan.  

    Anyway, at full power, this fan is very similar to the stock 3.5a fan Rock sent.

    I'll get the circuit figured out and post back.
  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 8,546
    Awesome!
    "The pig is an amazing animal. You feed a pig an apple and it makes bacon. Let's see Michael Phelps do that" - Jim Gaffigan

    Minnesota
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 15
    What’s up Stoker fans (all two of you) 8)

    Quick update.  I believe i have the fan working as expected on the breadboard.  I'm not a fan of perfboard.  So I'm going to do a run of 50 fan circuit boards (price doesn't change appreciably with higher quantities).  I'll pass these "ready to plug in" boards along to members at my cost.  You'll also need a fan and a adapter.  I think we'll still be reasonably priced "all in".

    Here's the circuit for those who wish to DIY the circuit.  Anyway.  Rock is going to verify my circuit against his design at the end of the week.  Fingers crossed for an error free design.

    I'm hoping to have these boards available in a couple months.  It takes some time to get them printed and stuffed.  The board will mount inside a 1551 Hammond project box. https://www.amazon.com/Hammond-1551FTBU-Translucent-Plastic-Project/dp/B007PBZ57K/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8  - And mount that to the side of the fan.  There's an LED on the board, so you'll see activity lights on your smoker.

    The board will not require any soldering.  Screw down terminals for the stoker side and a JST connector for the fan (connector fans ship with).  

    Also I'm in the market for an R&D Stoker unit (any version).  If you want to sell yours?  So i can cook and test at the same time. 

    Stay tuned!


  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Rock moved the electronics from the plug into a project box for blowers.  Looks familiar!  Those plugs had to be a PITA to build.




  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 19
    I'm real close to submitting the job to the fabricator.  Like I said I'm not an EE.  So if any of you are and see some layout issues let me know ( @paqman ).  

    None of the R/C component values changed.  Only change, component-wise is a P-Channel FET instead of the PNP transistor.  It'll be more reliable and less voltage drop.  Thanks to John for his input via email.

    I also changed the fan connector to a right angle connector.  So the nylon fan plug will be parallel with the board plane.  This will help with clearance as we have to account for the bend in the wires.  The STOKER screw down terminals are right angle also (wires enter on the side, screw is on the top).

    The boards will cost around 10 dollars to Stoker owners.  So you should be able to put together a Stoker blower fan, no soldering required, for ~50 dollars, all-in.

    I'll submit the job sometime on the Monday holiday, and we should have some fan boards in about a month.  Any layout suggestions welcome.  The board is 27mm sq.

    -Brent




  • alaskanassasinalaskanassasin Posts: 3,583
    Looks good!
    South of Columbus, Ohio.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 19
    polarity reversed on the fan... oops.  damn that 1 hour editing time window


  • paqmanpaqman Posts: 3,318
    I’m not an EE, I’m just a hobbyist.  I started dismantling electronics when I was a kid and started playing with microcontrollers a few years ago.  Thanks to the Internet, information is widely available now and mostly easy to find.  I knew what 1-wire is because of a few projects I worked on over the years.  One thing I learned for outdoor projects is that even if your project is enclosed in a waterproof enclosure, corrosion will happen on the traces and solder joints so you need to apply a coating to protect the circuit.  Back in the good old days, Radio Shack was your friend and you could find all you need there.  It am lucky enough to live in an area where there is still a brick and mortar store that sells components and chemicals needed for EE design, the place used to be 10 times its current size when I was a kid but at least it is still open.

    ____________________
    Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. •Niccolo Machiavelli
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 20
    Thanks @paqman - yeah, I'll spray these with conformal coating for sure.  I wonder how the LEDs would look if potted in clear epoxy rather than black. 

    I hope it's not too bright with two LEDs.

    I fixed the fan plug for the third time..  datasheet hell. :skull: - but I think I nailed it on this rev.

    Clarified some labels on the silkscreen.




    I like Rock's strain relief and his mounting style to his fan enclosure.  It looks like he mounted the Hammond enclosure without the lid, and used the screws to fasten the box to his aluminum housing.  

    I'm thinking VHB tape to secure the enclosure to the fan.  :tongue: that stuff is incredible if you clean the mating surfaces with a solvent.

    I'll submit this shortly.
  • brentmbrentm Posts: 669
    edited January 22
    Photo Egg said:
    Good looking out!  Thank you.  I purchased it from the owner; hopefully I'll have it by the end of the week!!

    Thank you again!

    Blower boards have been submitted.  Contemplating a run of boards for probes that fit inside the 1/4" phone plug. 

    I just can't decide if I want to omit the LEDs or not.  If I include the LEDs, I'd need a custom translucent plug cover.  I could print these pretty easily, and cut the necessary threads for the plug.

    Do you guys care about/use the LEDs on your probes?  Here's what it looks like with the standard barrel cover.  https://www.store.calrad.com/30-401-bk

    The other hook is that I think they'd be slightly more expensive than Rock's with the LEDs and custom cover.  It'd be less expensive and faster to use the black covers.



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