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My thoughts and initial impressions on the Smobot.

Hi everyone.  First off happy Thanksgiving and thanks for all the great info everyone provides.  I am making this post to share my initial impressions of the Smobot after using it for two cooks.   First, I have had my large egg since February of 2016 and have done everything from pizza at 650F to 20 hour long low and slow pulled pork, and everything in between.  Have even baked apple pies, pecan pies, various cheese cakes, coconut cake, and various breads all of which have turned out great thanks in large part due to the experience of others on this forum.  Second, prior to purchasing the Smobot I had CyberQ Wifi which I have owned since 2016.  

My requirements for a new temperature controller:

I was happy with my CyberQ but after 6 years of use the controller quit reading the grate temperature.  This was due to an internal failure of the unit and not the probe so it no longer functioned as intended so started the search for a new device.   I did look at the newest offering from bbq guru but decided against which I will discuss later.  I started my search with some basic wants in mind: waterproof controller and fan, easy to use remote interface, and battery powered.  

I wanted something waterproof as I smoke and bbq all year round and we get rain and snow.   I was more concerned about the fan being waterproof than the controller as I can always cover the controller with a plastic bag or container.  Though I was happy with the CyberQ I did have issues with the interface, and getting notifications when the food was done, or the ambient temp was out of spec so I wanted my next controller to use an app.  I wanted something battery powered so I could potentially use the unit to only monitor the food on the grill for those shorter cooks where I don't need/want to use the controller to maintain temp, just for connivence sake.   My order of priority: (1) Battery powered, (2) Wifi/App, (3) Waterproof fan, (4) Waterproof Controller    

Other controllers I considered:

During my research I found two units that seemed to really fit my needs: (1) FireBoard 2 Drive, (2) ThermoWorks Signals with Billows.  Of the two, I was leaning more towards the FireBoard 2 Drive, as it offered a few more features then the ThermoWorks.  I liked how the fan integrated with the FireBoard 2, as you don't have to use a separate power adapter, to potentially power the fan as compared to the ThermoWorks.  I also appreciated the ability to add up to 6 food probes on the FireBoard versus the 4 on the ThermoWorks.  

Why I got the Smobot:

I was ready to pull the trigger on the FireBoard when I stumbled across the Smobot.  I vaguely remembered the unit when the company was just starting out on KickStarter.  What intrigued me about the Smobot was the unique way in which it controls the temperature via the vent settings and the ability to use a battery back to run the unit for long periods of time (they claim for every 100 mah of capacity you get 1 hour of run time).   As I continued my research I discovered several positive reviews from individuals I follow online in the BBQ community including T-Roy cooks and Nibble Me This.   Some of the potential downsides from my research included: (1) The vent cap damper jamming up due to the control arm, (2) damper getting stuck due to the build up of soot.  (3) The app and web interface isn't as advance as other, (4) Air leaks can cause more of an issue in regards to temperature control.  

In the end I choose the Smobot over the FireBoard due to its ability to run off a battery pack for 24 hours which would cover my longest cooks.   To simplify the setup I am getingt a clear waterproof case with foam inserts to place the controller and the battery pack into it.   I will drill some holes in the bottom of the case to run the probes through and modify the case so I can mount/un-mount it to either the egg mates or the garden fence next to the Egg.    

Initial Impressions:

I have used the unit twice now.   It was extremely easy to setup and connect to Wifi and the app so I was happy about that.  The first cook was a 6lb slab of beef plate ribs (first time cooking smoke ribs) that I smoked at 285 for 7.5 hours.   The Smobot did well maintaining the desired temperature, despite noticing a slight air leak in the back of the egg, which appeared to cause the temperature to climb more than expected after opening the dome lid.  I fixed the air leak prior to the second cook which seems to have corrected the exaggerated increase in temp after opening the lid.  I set the unit to alarm if the ambient internal temperature decreased/exceeded 15F of the set temperature and never received a notification as you can see from the graph.   The other thing I noticed compared to the CyberQ is that it appears that Smobot takes longer to return the internal temperature back to the set point after opening the lid, though as I mentioned it maintained 285 within +/- 15F.  The following day when preparing the egg for cooking pecan pies, t appears that the Egg burned less lump with the Smobot compared to the CyberQ.  Of course this is subjective as I didn't weigh out the lump but after doing hundreds of cooks I am pretty confident in that assessment.        

The ribs where amazing, extremely moist great smoke flavor, great bark and texture.  I pulled them off when they were probe tender (around 205F) and let them rest in a cooler for little over an hour.  My friends and i agreed that this was one of the best if not the best bbq we have had.  I have included a few pictures.  
 

The second cook was a honey baked ham.  I cooked the ham at 300F and as you can see after fixing the air leak the Smobot did a much better job of maintaining the temperature and returning it to its set point after opening the dome.  I need to point out that the Smobot also "learns" your smoker so they may account for some of the increased accuracy. 



I will end this post with a few pics of the ham that I cooked for Thanksgiving using the Smobot and if any of you have any questions I would be more than happy to try and answer them for you.
    


  

Comments

  • TL; DR though I’ll throw my 2 cents in. Pros, it works perfectly and customer support it’s awesome. Cons, too many cords it’s always in a heap of tangles.
    South of Columbus, Ohio.

    "It’s very possible I’m doing it all wrong, haven’t watched any videos, but I’m happy with the ones I make."
      - @Legume

  • 6baluts6baluts Posts: 215
    @mwe2121
    If ever worried about soot build up a cotton ball and alcohol is your friend 
  • WeberWhoWeberWho Posts: 10,491
    Great post and the food looks fantastic!
    "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
  • BotchBotch Posts: 13,970
    Great writeup.  I've been using the Smobot (with a battery) for over 3 years now and have been very pleased, although I've had to disassemble it twice now to clean it.  I have not been able to get the Wifi to work, the Smobot owner even sent me a PM to walk me thru it; that's been 3 years ago and I still haven't called him back (I'm lazy).  
    A quick trick for the end of your cook:  I bought my Large pre-assembled, and did not get the ceramic cap.  To extinguish the fire, I close off the bottom vent, then turn the Smobot Off; turn the power back on, and when it cycles thru its full range, I turn it off again when the vent is completely closed.  Works nice.  
    ____________________________________________

    "People think that I must be a very strange person.  This is not correct; I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk"

    - Stephen King

     

    Ogden, Utard  

  • Botch said:
    Great writeup.  I've been using the Smobot (with a battery) for over 3 years now and have been very pleased, although I've had to disassemble it twice now to clean it.  I have not been able to get the Wifi to work, the Smobot owner even sent me a PM to walk me thru it; that's been 3 years ago and I still haven't called him back (I'm lazy).  
    A quick trick for the end of your cook:  I bought my Large pre-assembled, and did not get the ceramic cap.  To extinguish the fire, I close off the bottom vent, then turn the Smobot Off; turn the power back on, and when it cycles thru its full range, I turn it off again when the vent is completely closed.  Works nice.  
    Are you using a router that combines SSD's for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands?  I have noticed these devices only come with 2.4 GHz gear and sometimes in the app they try to connect to the Wi-Fi your phone is connected to, which isn't always the right band.  I usually turn off the 5 GHz band before connecting these IoT devices and that solves it.  
  • Botch said:
    Great writeup.  I've been using the Smobot (with a battery) for over 3 years now and have been very pleased, although I've had to disassemble it twice now to clean it.  I have not been able to get the Wifi to work, the Smobot owner even sent me a PM to walk me thru it; that's been 3 years ago and I still haven't called him back (I'm lazy).  
    A quick trick for the end of your cook:  I bought my Large pre-assembled, and did not get the ceramic cap.  To extinguish the fire, I close off the bottom vent, then turn the Smobot Off; turn the power back on, and when it cycles thru its full range, I turn it off again when the vent is completely closed.  Works nice.  
    I had some initial issues getting mine to register as my computer wouldn't recognize the Smobot's Wifi.  I had to register using my phone but everything after that was smooth sailing.  

    The only other potential downside that I didn't discuss is the relatively short probe wires which isn't a problem for me but maybe for others.   
  • BotchBotch Posts: 13,970
    Botch said:
    Great writeup.  I've been using the Smobot (with a battery) for over 3 years now and have been very pleased, although I've had to disassemble it twice now to clean it.  I have not been able to get the Wifi to work, the Smobot owner even sent me a PM to walk me thru it; that's been 3 years ago and I still haven't called him back (I'm lazy).  
    A quick trick for the end of your cook:  I bought my Large pre-assembled, and did not get the ceramic cap.  To extinguish the fire, I close off the bottom vent, then turn the Smobot Off; turn the power back on, and when it cycles thru its full range, I turn it off again when the vent is completely closed.  Works nice.  
    Are you using a router that combines SSD's for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands?  I have noticed these devices only come with 2.4 GHz gear and sometimes in the app they try to connect to the Wi-Fi your phone is connected to, which isn't always the right band.  I usually turn off the 5 GHz band before connecting these IoT devices and that solves it.  
    I suspected it had something to do with my 5 GHz and its 2.4 GHz.  Its no biggie for me to just step out the back door and look at it; don't usually have it running when I'm away from home.  
    ____________________________________________

    "People think that I must be a very strange person.  This is not correct; I have the heart of a small boy. It is in a glass jar on my desk"

    - Stephen King

     

    Ogden, Utard  

  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 16,474
    Excellent write-up and documentation.  I have been using a Smobot beta version for about 8 years.  It is a great controller.
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    It amazes me, how many people do not realize how the future works.
  • Excellent write-up and documentation.  I have been using a Smobot beta version for about 8 years.  It is a great controller.
    It's still in beta after 8 years?!

    @mwe2121
    Thanks for the write up. I have been toying with getting something. My brother has the flameboss and loves it, but this has definitely got me thinking smobot.
  • @JohnfromKentucky I think Ozzie was one of the early testers, through KickStarter, and that's why he has the beta version.   

    I don't think you can really go wrong with any of controllers based off of what I have seen discussed online and it really comes down to what mix of features is most important to you.   The features of the Smobot most closely met my needs and I like to support smaller companies.  Plus I have read that Smobot's customer service is top notch and that they listen to their customers feedback in order to improve their product.   
  • Ozzie_IsaacOzzie_Isaac Posts: 16,474
    Excellent write-up and documentation.  I have been using a Smobot beta version for about 8 years.  It is a great controller.
    It's still in beta after 8 years?!

    @mwe2121
    Thanks for the write up. I have been toying with getting something. My brother has the flameboss and loves it, but this has definitely got me thinking smobot.
    I just checked, I got my Smobot unit about 1 year before the Kickstarter.  Eric reached out to me and asked me (along with many others I assume) to test one of his prototypes and provide feedback.  It was pretty cool to be a part of his early development.  I am pretty sure he and Curtis had already been working on the units for a few years at that point.
    If it is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.

    It amazes me, how many people do not realize how the future works.
  • I also have a Smobot and would most definitely purchase again.
    Stillwater, MN
  • mwe2121 said:
    I need to point out that the Smobot also "learns" your smoker so they may account for some of the increased accuracy. 
    To me, this is a big advantage the Smobot has over its rivals -- a much better algorithm.
    Cincinnati, Ohio. Large BGE since 2011. Still learning.
  • Great Post. I love my Smobot. I purchased mine a solid year after I bought the egg. I wanted to learn how to adjust the temp manually. 
  • Great Post. I love my Smobot. I purchased mine a solid year after I bought the egg. I wanted to learn how to adjust the temp manually. 
    I usually only use a temp controller if I am doing a long low and slow, at least 5 hours long, and I got errands to run or kids games/practices to attend and will not be home.  I am planning on smoking 2 or three racks of St. Louis ribs this weekend with the Smobot.   
  • I’ve Been using Smobot for 2-3 years and absolutely love it for longer cooks.  Early on I had an issue with one of the probes and they promptly replaced it free of charge. Would definitely purchase again.  
  • @mwe2121

    Nice writeup of the SMOBOT.  I had a DigiQ for several years prior to getting the SMOBOT.  Absolutely no comparison in terms of reliability and repeatability.  And they are good folks to deal with. Geaux SMOBOT!!
    The problem with a problem is that you don't know it's a problem until it's a problem.
    Holding the company together with three spreadsheets and two cans connected by a long piece of string.
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