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Has Anyone Fooled the MES Temp Sensor Before? - Page 4

post #61 of 66



This is the link my quote below is in reference to.  I thought this was originally posted by Sigmo but looks like originally TallBM  posted this.




Originally Posted by Dr K View Post

@Sigmo does the fan controller have a three prong plug so it's grounded? I couldn't tell. If it does I guess it would run mes heating elements being 120v 15A = 1,800W. Just wondering if it would work. If it would then you could turn it on full to preheat and switch to variable without adjusting the dial. As well as bumping the heat up on full for a minute then switching back to variable during a smoke without touching the dial. Keeping my eyes open for when my electronics fail. I may try a rheostat before a PID. I like that switch.


post #62 of 66
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Dr K View Post



Kurt, I believe it does have the 3 prong plug (99% sure).  I looked at it this weekend when it came in the mail but I won't be able to confirm 100% until I get back to it this weekend.


I believe you could do what you desire with this controller to make your smoker into an analogue style one.  I thought I read about someone doing that here with their MES while still using the stock MES electronics for the temp sensing and such.  They just simply rewired so the controller was no longer connected to the heating element and used the dial to control power to the heating element.  They used the onboard MES electronics and thermometer to read temp and then they would manually adjust the power to the element with the dial.


I'm pretty sure it is a 3 prong all the way through because I have it on my todo list to figure out how I'm going to ground fan motor when I build a chord for it.  My guess is I could simply just run the ground through the MES backing down to the same location the MES using for a ground.  I have a strong feeling I will put the fan in the back of the MES to stir the air inside.  I'm going for a keep it simple keep it stupid approach for the fan portion of the modification.  Putting it in the back and piggybacking off any existing wiring strategy, etc. is a simple way to go and I think any stirring will be a noticeable improvement even if it is not the most ideal stirring setup.


I also need to figure out how I'm going to drill the hole and insert the fan shaft through the body of the MES.  I want to keep smoker/air from going into the body and insulation of the smoker. 


I think I am going to buy a stainless steel pen, remove the guts, then cut it to the proper length to use it as as fan shaft guide tube.  I would then drill holes to accommodate the pen body shaft guide tube and"fasten" it to the back of the inside of the MES inner chamber while having it stick just outside the back of the MES so I can pull the back off at will with no issue from this tube.  See my ugly attempt at what this would look like below lol


Cheap stainless steel pen like this or something similar.

My ugly sketch as an idea not as an exact schematic, I don't know where actual fan placement will be yet:

post #63 of 66
Thanks for the controller input. Like I said I like the switch from full to variable. This is for down the road when contrllers fail. I though about a fan like you and Sigmo are doing to mix air evenly in the smoker awhile back but it was just a thought. I thought about putting the fan in the bottom corner at the door on the hinge side of the gen 1facing the latch side so a current would start out going across the bottom face of the door, and rise with the air coming in from the mailbox mod, going the same direction.

The pen grommet sounds like a good idea to keep insulation where it's supposed to be. And the pen tapers so that maybe good to use if possible. I don't know.
post #64 of 66

Hi, Guys!


I think the controller you're looking at, Dr K, will work as TallBM described.


The only real drawback I see with it is that you will no longer have a thermostat.  Instead, you'll just be adjusting the power to the heating element directly yourself with the knob.  So you'll have to constantly monitor the temperature in the smoker and adjust the power to the heating element yourself.


I've gotten spoiled by the MES, and I like to be able to set the temperature of the smoker, then walk away from it and have a thermostat maintain the temperature I've set.  So that's one of the main things I really like about these electric smokers versus (in my case) the charcoal unit I have.  However, if you'll be tending the smoker during the run anyhow, then the control you'll looking at would likely work just fine.  It won't be any different than running a charcoal or gas smoker in that regard, and really, the charcoal unit of mine has worked just fine.


You'll probably get a good feel for what settings of the knob work the best for different meats and weather conditions just like we do when running a charcoal unit.  But it will be a lot easier for you to adjust the power than it is with a charcoal smoker.


I'd do like TallBM suggested and use a three-wire power cord.  Use the hot and neutral to power the heating element, but wire it so that the snap-disk thermal cut-off device is still in that circuit.  Then connect a good ground from the chassis of the smoker to the grounding wire of that three wire cord.  Then the ground pin of the controller will carry that ground through to the ground of the receptacle into which the controller is plugged.  That way, the controller and the smoker will both be grounded.




I like the idea of a sleeve between the inside of the smoker and the outer wall to seal things off from the insulation space.  It would be good to keep moisture and smoke out of that space, I think!


Maybe a guy could use some high temperature RTV to seal both sides (or at least the inside end) of the sleeve tube.  But the tapered pen casing might work great just by itself because you could push it into the hole from the inside until it jams in place and makes a seal to the inside wall of the smoker.  I'm going to want to do the same thing for mine.  I don't like the idea of condensation forming in the insulation space.  I want a "vapor barrier" like you'd install in the walls of a house or building, I guess!  :)



I found out Opto 22 has an app for Android or IOS devices to let you access various things over a WiFi network to which the controllers and I/O are connected.  I just played with it, and it works great, but I'll have to use one of their newer Snap PAC controllers to have access to the "Strategy Tags".  The older model controller I tried this with lets me look at I/O, and control it as well, but it would be more convenient to be able to adjust variables, tables, etc., in the running strategy, and the older controllers don't know how to do that.  I've got newer controllers laying around, so I'll use one of those and try that out when I get the chance.


I was thinking I'd need to use a laptop or other PC connected to the network to adjust and monitor things, but this little app, running on a tablet or phone will do everything I'd really need, too, so that'll be cool.


They've got a full-blown system for remote access to their systems that lets you create very user-friendly Man Machine Interfaces to run on phones or tablets, and connect from anywhere that you have internet access, but they actually want real money for that setup!


Being a cheapskate, I want to do this all with bits and pieces I already have laying around and with their free software.  This app was just $5, so that's acceptable, I guess.


Woo Hoo!  I can see the temperature in my office now from anywhere my WiFi reaches, and I can turn a light on and off as well as adjust the duty cycles of some Time Period Outputs.  Yee Haw!  (It doesn't take much to amuse a nerd, I guess)   ;)


When I get the new style controller set up and configured, I will be able to adjust variables within a running strategy from my phone or tablet, which will let me adjust setpoints and such.  There are ways to let this work over the internet, too, but I'm not sure that's really necessary since I'd at least be somewhere around the house while smoking stuff.  Just being able to monitor and control things from an easy chair or the like without needing to go out in the cold is nice.  That's one of the features I've always liked about the MES (and similar smokers).  So it will be nice not to lose that feature.


And that looks like one of the nice features of the system you're using, too.  Remote control and monitoring is nice.  I'm thoroughly spoiled.

post #65 of 66
Thread Starter 

Wow Sigmo, it looks like you are well on your way to an awesome controller setup with the apps and all.

You might want to check and see if you can still connect with your app when you are out of your personal wifi network range.

I know network enabled security cameras do this with their apps so you can view live feeds, few recorded pics and videos, turn on/of alerts, etc.  I don't see why your app would not work the same way once setup, but I guess this is something you will want to confirm while at work or at the grocery store some day.


I think I have all of my pieces in.  For the sleeve I was thinking I would high temp silicone it to the the inner chamber and use some 600F flue tape to assist and then let the tapered end sit outside the back end and allow the taper to provide a metal to metal "seal" that I would then reinforce with the 600F flue tape.  Or vise-versa...something along those lines.  I'll know more when I get down and dirty with the parts and the MES.


The Heater Meter already comes with an app (free I believe) and I believe I can access the controller from my phone as long as it is on and connected to my wifi network.  So I can kick the smoker on from the grocery store to start warming up when I find a nice piece of marked down meat :D


Also I have wired in a 350F manual reset into my Gen 2 guinea pig MES I have setup for my mother.  This way a 325F temp can be set ONLY for chicken/turkey with skin.  All other smokes will be no higher than 275F.   I will get acceptable chicken skin form an MES dammit!!! :)



I'm about to play with all of my HeaterMeter/LinkMeter parts this evening so I can figure out the final piece I am waiting to buy.  The final piece is the project box/enclosure once I know how much room things will take up.


I'm like you, very excited and happy to see things coming together!

post #66 of 66
Thread Starter 

Well I figured I would kind of put the concluding post on this thread.


I decided to rewire the MES and go with a PID controller for it.  I went unconventional and used the HeaterMeter controller and I feel I have completely eliminated the Temp Swings!


I also installed a convection fan to try and even out the temps throughout the smoker.  The fan has improved things quite a bit BUT it seems that there is just NO way to get the entire smoker to be consistently even.  Between racks there will be differences in temp and even along a rack there will be differences.  The fan has at least helped the differences become much more consistent.  For example if the bottom rack is right on then the top rack may be off by 25 degrees but across the rack it is close to a 25 degree difference and seems to hold true to that difference.  I was not able to make the top and bottom racks the same but I think this is about the best that can be done with the device.  It is a smoker not a convection oven and vents smoke plus air right out of the top so it is more difficult to retain temp at the top most racks that would be the same as the temp at the bottom most racks.


In any case I bypassed the stock MES controller and probes and I have improved upon my smokers biggest issues.  Soon I hope to post about all of my mods but as for now here is the thread with my mods being discussed as I was working through them.  


I wish everyone the best with their MES temp issues and I hope you enjoy my little journey and the info I've shared.  Thanks! :)



Pic of steady temps using my HeaterMeater PID controller, look at the orange and light green line at the top of the pic holding steady  :)

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