For the whole ten months it worked, I really enjoyed my MES 40. Then, something went electronically kaput. I isolated the problem to the solid state relay. For once, a Masterbuilt did not fail due to shoddy connections at the heating element! Unfortunately, I had owned the unit for over five months before taking it out of the box for use. You guessed it - no luck on scoring a free replacement. I also kick myself now for not buying the three year extended warranty at Sam's Club, but that's water under the bridge.
I decided to kill two birds with one stone and am constructing a PID controller box for it. One big question popped into my mind - everyone I've read about who has used a PID has done so on the Bradley Smoker with a separate smoke generator. I am worried that the tight control I will get with the PID, with an advertised plus/minus one to five degrees in temp swings will cause the unit to not generate smoke! I'm afraid that the heating element just won't be on long enough in duration to get the wood going. I am a sausage maker, so the tight temp control will be great, but it seems the tradeoff will be that I'll need to construct a smoke generator. Has anyone else gone down this path, and if so, what did they find?
If a smoke generator is in order, does anyone have any good suggestions beyond just using a hot plate in a separate enclosure?
It's not all bad - if I need to add a smoke generator, I look forward to being able to reliably cold smoke foods!
ps - Don't tell me to buy a smoke pistol or similar device. I'm the king of the tightwads!