Originally Posted by Sigmo
As you point out, you must be very careful about where you drill into the unit, though, because you need to avoid both the condensing and evaporating coils which could be anywhere. How did you establish where it'd be safe to drill your holes?
Let it run for a while. The cooling coils will have frost on them, and the condensing coils will be warm.
I can't see exactly, but you said that you drilled valve D and added another port. So that's where the piping from blower B goes, correct?
And you've turned valve D from a simple two-port on/off valve into a three port valve. But if you turn the handle for valve D fully horizontal, there's no place for the smoke to go.
It's OK for the smoker to have the smoke cut off for a few minutes, the flame will not be extinguished.
Then, when you want to clear out the smoke so you can open the door, you set valve D to the fully vertical position shown in the photo, and only run blower C?
As I said above, the smoke generator is still operational, but the blower is not drawing any smoke with the valve in that position.
But when you're smoking, you're running both blower C and blower B?
Blower C only works when I want to open the door.
I guess I'm still not fully understanding how your modified valve works because I'd think that the only way to get smoke to go into the fridge would be to have the valve set to something between "on" and "off" otherwise the smoke would be blocked. And with the valve halfway, and blower C not running, wouldn't smoke be able to just escape (backflow) through blower C? I guess the problem is that I can't see how, exactly, you have Valve D modified.
But it doesn't matter, really. Just so it works for you!
Also, I'm curious as to what the black box just above the toggle switch is. It's got two wires going into the end we can see. Is that a battery case? Maybe for your smoke-viewing LED?
Just li-ion rechargeable batteries for the blower C, Blower B is powered by an adapter.
Have you had any problems with blower B getting gummed up? The fact that you've condensed and trapped most of the nasty stuff ahead of the blower probably keeps it pretty clean.
No problems so far.
What do you use the humidifier for? Is this for smoking meats? Or do you also use it when cold smoking cheese, for example?
I use the humidifier for whatever I am smoking that I don't want to dry out. Like 24 hour low & slow pulled pork smokes.
I love your idea to have a smoke viewing light and window as well as your way of purging the chamber. You really can't be opening a smoke-filled smoker in the house. Very clever!
Works very well. I am very happy with those two features.
Does the refrigerator have any problem keeping up with the "load" when you're blowing smoke through the unit? Do you control the cooling with anything other than the factory thermostat?
The factory thermostat is disabled, temperature is totally controlled by a PID controller.
So you're running the refrigerator's compressor with the PID controller? When I've done that, it was through a second channel that the PID controller had, which I set up to NOT operate in PID mode (simple on-off mode only) and with enough hysteresis to guarantee that the compressor would not be "short cycled". Is that what you're doing, too?
I used the first channel in the PID controller to run the heater in these particular gadgets in PID mode because the heating elements don't mind being cycled on and off very rapidly. And I set the differential between the two channels to be great enough to keep the compressor/AC unit from "fighting" with the heater. So the temperature cycles up and down when in the "cooling mode" but draws a straight line when it gets down into the heating mode. That's OK for what I was using these systems for because all that was needed was to keep the temperature in these cabinets between two limits. The temperature required is near room temperature, but we still needed to have better control than what the normal HVAC systems give us in the rooms in which these units are placed. We needed to hold 23 degrees C plus or minus 2 degrees C and couldn't guarantee that any room could actually hold that. So we built enclosures that we could put in the rooms and control with a small air conditioner and a small heater.
Have you had any problems using the unit for hot smoking? Does the plastic interior and insulation seem to be OK at the smoking temperatures you've used? Around here, water boils at about 201 degrees F (fairly high elevation). But I sometimes smoke meats at up to 225. I like the stainless steel interior of my MES, but behind that is probably the same foam insulation that's used in your fridge! So it's probably all fine.
I don't smoke meat above 160F. All meat shrinks and gets tough above that temperature.
OK. That explains it. I'd be kind of worried about the plastic and insulation at higher temps.
I'm really just looking to set up a cooled cold-smoker, but hey - if you could hot smoke in something, too, that'd be a plus. And your setup to let you smoke indoors is great! So setting things up to accommodate that is something I need to consider!
Yes, Indoor smoking year round is a very happy thing. Precise temperature control from 32F to 212 F is a happy thing, and good smoke quality/quantity control is a very happy thing.
Right on! I love the idea of an indoor smoker. It gets nasty around here in the winter!!!
I can appreciate how the halogen light puts out plenty of heat for your job. I have built a few bacteriological incubators out of full-size freezers. They run at warm, but not "hot" temperatures. Usually 35 degrees C, And the freezers are usually so well insulated that just the circulating fans can generate too much heat such that the problem isn't getting the temperatures up to the proper levels, but rather, keeping the temperatures DOWN!! I've had to purposely sabotage the insulation in those units to allow them to "leak heat" so that I can control the temperatures precisely.
The construction of a typical refrigerator makes temperature control a very simple task.
Yep. Sometimes they're actually insulated TOO well.
Being able to look at your pictures and read your explanations is a great help in trying to come up with a workable design for what I want to do. I really appreciate it!
We share experiences, that's what a forum is for.
Thanks again!!! I'm sure more people than just me will read your posts and learn from them! I appreciate you taking the time to help out and post the pictures and explanations.