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Old 02-02-2012, 05:07 AM   #1
akthor
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Default Quick and dirty Superbowl Smoker Temp Controller Help!

So it is winter in Maine, this summer I made a smoker out of an old 275 gallon oil tank. Works great but requires a lot of checking to keep consistent temps. I really want to use it to smoke stuff superbowl sunday but don't want to be outside constantly.

Got thinking about the different temp controllers and relays used in homebrewing you know for keezers and and HERMS and RIMS etc. And was thinking I could rig up something quick and cheap to use to better maintain temps in the smoker. They sell kits and such for smokers but they are a bit spendy.

I was thinking of something like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/All-purpose-...ht_3985wt_1037 then I would just need a blower fan, hell I could use a hairdryer for now.

What I am a little cloudy on is how to wire it up?

I know this isn't brewing but it does involve consuming a lot of brew And I need to order the stuff quick and overnight it or try to find the stuff in town to get it ready for Sunday.

Thanks for any help!

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Old 02-02-2012, 05:31 AM   #2
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dont think a dual stage would be necessary. just need to rig a thermostat to a fan that will stoke the flame in the firebox. thermometer in cook chamber drops below 230 kicks fan on to stoke the fire temp rises. shouldnt be too hard to rig up im planning on doing one for my smoker also. main problem is getting the right fan that can take the heat.

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Old 02-02-2012, 09:45 AM   #3
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Would some sort of thermostat from Home Depot or Lowes work? If it is something I can make from locally available stuff would be great.

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Old 02-02-2012, 02:39 PM   #4
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You can always get a hot plate that is wired to a Ranco controller. Wood chips sit in a cast iron skillet on the hot plate with the temp probe near the meat that is being smoked.

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Old 02-02-2012, 03:56 PM   #5
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Despite your efforts in this endeavor I don't think you can accomplish what you are trying to accomplish. If I correctly gather what you are tyring to do here, it sounds like you are essentially trying to make a cyberQ controller out of the ebay aquarium controller.

The first (and biggest) problem is you are dealing with a heat source that varies because it depends on drafting air to stoke the fire and thereby increase or decrease the heat. The CyberQ acccomplishes this through its software that depends on very precise mathematical calculations. The way it works is it detects a temp drop and kicks on a fan at various speeds for various durations to bring the pit up to temp and keep it there. In otherwords, its not just on/off, its on/off, low/high and long/short. The software is really what you are paying the big $$$ for. It's not so simple as taking a temp reading and kicking on a fan.

The second problem I think you will have is this: a 274 gallon tank is a big pit. I don't know how thick the steel is or how tight your doors are, but even a CyberQ will not produce ideal results because it requires a tight pit to accurately regulate the temps. In otherwords, it has to be able to draft air at a constant rate through the baffles. If you have leaks around the openings you can have the baffle closed all the way and the pit will draft air. A cyberQ can overcome this, but it is my understanding that you will burn through alot of wood. CyberQ's also work best on smaller pits. Something your size would require at least two of their larger fans to pull enough air...and again, that means burning alot of wood.

I don't have any real details on your pit design but I'm betting it is an offset "stick burner." The reality is that type of pit requries alot of baby-sitting. I should know, that's what I use. If you don't like all day sit by the pit Qing, invest in something like a Weber Smoking Mountain, a Traeger pellet smoker, or one of those gravity fed cabinet smokers (backwoods for instance) if you want a "set it and forget it" type of setup. As for me, I enjoy sitting by the firebox with a brew in hand baby-sittin my stick burner while I smoke Brisket and Spares!

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Old 02-02-2012, 08:36 PM   #6
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I love tending my smoker when the weather is nice but it's winter here. I build the fire in bottom of one end of the tank and I have a rack with water pans between the fire and the rack on top where I put the meat. It's a fairly thick walled tank nowhere near being airtight I cut the top off with a sawzall and the tank of course bowed out I reinforced the edges with angle iron but the lid and body still don't mate perfectly. I built the smoker right before winter in the fall so it is still a work in process and come warm weather I will work towards getting it more airtight.

You know outdoor wood furnaces are a big thing here in Maine. They use a thermastat and fan to control the fire to heat the water that circulates thru the house. I am going to call around and see if the sell replacement parts maybe I can cobble something together.

I will take some pics of the smoker after work tomorrow so those interested can see what I am talking about.

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Old 02-02-2012, 09:40 PM   #7
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Good luck and keep us posted...you might prove me wrong!

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Old 02-02-2012, 11:26 PM   #8
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While it may be difficult to source parts for Sunday, an arduino with a thermocouple and relay to run a small fan would be fairly straightforward, although I don't know your experience with programming. I'm sure plenty of people here would help, although probably a better long term solution than 4 day cobble together. Good luck and enjoy your smoking.

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