Auto temp control smoker quest

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by marctrees, Oct 1, 2016.

  1. Hey Guys and Gals - New to this forum.

    Getting very interested in smoking Homemade  "Polish sausage"

    BTW, awesome very specialized forum for that  based in Poland -


    We do have an offset BBQ for years, But I need something like an electric Masterbuilt 30 or 40, but with AUTO control, that will keep smoking temp like   ?155? to 170f ? MAXIMUM  to not bleed fat out of sausage.

    Well, and higher maybe, for ribs, etc.

    But that's secondary, the narrow temp control for sausages is what I'm concerned about.

    I have done some due diligence Googling, but not happy w results.

    Have looked a bit at controls.

    I am mobility limited, and cannot go out to check and adjust temp every 20 minutes.

    That's the main problem

    I trust you experienced  folks WAY more than my searching results.

    Please, keeping low $ budget in mind.

  2. OK, so I've done 14 hours more Googling, and see the Masterbuilt digitals  ?it seems? will do this for me.

    I thought, when I first posted, the "digital" was just readouts of air and meat probe temps.

    Now, I'm seeing it DOES control the temp.

    So, it sounds like all I need.

    I did read about Auber controls extensively, and it seems to me they add more control parameters, BUT, from what I understand, the stock Masterbuilts are more than adequate, unless I want to get into fussy fancy  programmmed temp ramping, etc. the stock Masterbuilts is all I need.

    PLEASE comment on that.

    Also, from reading, It seems SOME Masterbuilts are better than others.

    I don't mean the size, I mean the auto temp control system.

    Something about reliability or accuracy, I read, don't recall.

    But, isn't there just ONE (no choice) CURRENT NEW  model available???

    Yes, different sizes, but same control system.

    I do not need large capacity, PLEASE advise if I am on the right track.

    Thank you all,    Marc
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  3. And, it seems the Auber controls, in addition to programming various temps during the cooking cycle,  may also have ability for a tighter more narrow temp control, but that seems very unnecessary at this time.

    Keep in mind that I mostly want to do sausages, below 170F to not bleed fat out, but also other meats like ribs, brisket, Butt, BUT that's secondary to the max temp regulation I need for sausage.

    Please comment.  Again Thanks, Marc
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
  4. smokin monkey

    smokin monkey Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Marc, I do not have or seen a Masterbuild as I live in the UK, but wanted to respond to your thread to prove we are out here!

    I see you have posted up n Electric Smokers Section which is good.

    Bearcarver uses a Masterbuilt all the time and he producers some good looking food. Do a search for him, and drop him a PM and ask him for his thoughts.

    Hope this is of use to you.

    Smokin Monkey
  5. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You can do this in a Masterbuilt, but you'll need an additional smoke source.  At 170° and below, the MES will NOT generate much, if any, smoke.  MANY on here use the MES for sausages and other low temp smokes.

    Use the search function for "mailbox mod".  That will give you almost all the info you need.
  6. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I'd start with an insulated cabinet, digital MES 40 and use the controller it comes with before leaping to the PID. 

    I would get a Maverick dual probe therm or similar for food and pit temp monitoring from the get go so you can get your pit temp you want at the rack levels your food is on and set the MES accordingly. 

    I smoke sausages at 150*F the first hour, then 160*F the second hour, then 170*F the third and keep it there till the IT of the sausage gets to your desired temp (155-160*F) or whatever. 

    I have the  Gen 1 Mes 20070311 and in thirty seconds I removed the chip housing/tray with the three screws holding it in place, eliminating metal around the heating element to get shorter heating/cooling cycles.  It can be reinstalled in a couple of minutes if you want it back in place but I have never used chips in my Mes.  The Gen 1 or Gen (2.5 Bluetooth) Mes units with large oval water pans are what you want not the Gen 2 with the slant drip tray that the baby water pan hangs from. 

    I use the A-maze-n pellet smoker to generate smoke in the mailbox mod in the pics below.

    Chip housing/tray in bottom right corner as installed by Masterbuilt.

    Removed three screws in thirty seconds and housing/chip tray.

    $15.00 mailbox with 3" hole cut in it with tin snips at top back with 3" vent coupling inserted into mailbox hole and sealed with 700*F RTV silicone.  Its strapped to a tomato cage for a stand and coupling is inserted into 3" Mes chip loader opening.  Easiest mod!  Or

    2' extention.  Add as many as you want for length to condense heavier volatiles and creosote out of your smoke to get a drier higher quality smoke. 


    Aluminum 3" dia. Flex pipe

    Mailbox bottom mounting holes.

    Temporarily covered rear mailbox holes with refrigerator magnets at 3" cut opening end.  I ended up sealing them permanently after a month of testing.  Plenty of air comes into the mailbox at the door hinge and from front four mailbox mounting holes.  No need to drill in the door for air holes unless you want to.

    Made a rack to put in the mailbox to elevate the pellet smoker so it's ventilated from underneath.  I did this mod primarily for safety reasons since I'm not using it as intended by the manufacturer.  Pellets can ignite from drippings being inside the smoker food chamber, and from being too close to the heating element and I benefit IMO with higher quality smoke 

    Since electric and propane smokers have separate sources for heat and smoke,  there's no need to cook the smoke generator with your food.  It's just convenient to put the smoke generator in the product chamber. If you have to manage your smoke generator, and it's in your product chamber (because it may or may not stay lit,) or you're done applying smoke to your food, I'd rather open the mailbox than let all the heat out of the smoker. 

    When I'm done applying smoke I pull out the mailbox mod pipe from the smoker and put the chip loader/dumper in that hole shown in the pic above (laying on the deck), reducing air convection and drying the food.  I plugged the chip loader/dumper's three air holes with RTV silicone. Wow!  I just thought of an easier idea of putting a large sheet of aluminum foil over the loader hole and using magnets at the corners to hold it there.  The exterior of the smoker is hottest at the loader opening so magnets may not be a good idea close to the opening.  I have large sheet refrigerator magnets I could use but they would smoke/melt.

    The fifteen minutes of cutting the opening in the mailbox, inserting the coupling and sealing it and putting magnets over the unnecessary mounting holes has exponentially increased the quality of my smoked foods.

    When I see commercially smoked hams, bacons, Lox etc. just on the Science Channel "How it's Made", it's all piped in smoke.  If this smoking method sucked then people at home wouldn't even try it based on reviews let alone on a commercial level. 

    If I didn't use pellets for smoke, I think burning wood embers would be my first choice of smoke flavor on food in any traditional smoker before chips or chunks on charcoal.

  7. Dr K - Thank you SO much for an extremely well worded communicative message.

    Seriously, the typical response is a very brief series of cave man grunts.

    Ok, let me mirror back.

    Do I understand correctly you are using the mailbox W the 5x8" tray, not tube?

    Further, you confused me with the "Embers" part, but I think you use pellets in the tray?

    So first, is that correct?

    If so, do you think the mailbox mod w tray, is better than the Masterbuilt "cold attachment"?

    Or maybe just your experience?

    Not to belittle it at all, just asking.

    I am ready to pull trigger(soon, $ as usual here) on ordering a Gen 1 smoker, and further, planning on mailbox w Amezen TRAY, OR ????  OR ??     MES "cold" attachment?

    Can always add a dryer pipe extension to cool that off also for like cheese.

    Will get Maverick therm for remote purposes, unless my MES has a remote.

    Will try to get the model # you have,.

    Major learning moving ahead here.

    So I guess, use the MES electronics till I see it's not sufficient, OR, til;l it dies, THEN spend the money on Auber add on.

    Comments please. 

    Thank you SO much,   Marc
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  8. I should add, from everything I've read, the MES digital temp control is more than adequate for most stuff, (until it totally dies or is REALLY off)) but remember, I mostly want to do sausage in temp NOT to exceed 170f.

    AND, it seems the stock MES's may not produce enough smoke at that "lower" temp, so I DO need either the mailbox/ Amazen OR the MES "Cold" attachment even for my sausage max 170f???

    So I may be more critical of temp than many.

    So Ya, if and when that happens, then I retrofit w Auber.

    And I see your rack for the Amazen tray to elevate and give venting for oxygen to the pellets, makes TOTAL sense.

    Would definately do something similar.

    And, I see  do need to start w a digital MES, so it's insulated.

    Don't want to be making insulation jackets, or sleeping bag draping !!

    I'm excited to learn SO much, less than a week ago I thought I could NOT smoke sausages because to complicated.

    The info from here, and ---           has made me feel totally capable.  Marc
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2016
  9. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I primarily use the pellet tray in the mailbox mod but both work just fine. I use the tube to cold smoke burgers, steaks etc. for a few hours in my grill before I light my grill. As long as you have finished cooking in under the four hour food safety limit.

    I have heard great results with the MB cold smoker attachment. Either should be fine. The AMNPS tray with mailbox is less expensive and the tray can be placed in a grill and portable. The tray with pellets burns consistently/predictably 3.5-4 hours/row and doesn't need electricity. Pellets are self sufficient being directly in the air intake path with the mailbox. I cold smoke with the mailbox mod with my charcoal grill since it breathes more freely than the Mes without heat. Sometimes it's hard to get the smoke moving out the top Mes vent as quickly as I want for cold smoking. The ash pan in my grill slides out so I can run the flex tube up from underneath or through the coal door in the pics below.

    What ever Mes you get set the smoker pit controller by the remote therm you should get and clip the remote pit probe to the grate next to your food. Don't go by the Mes meat probe or Mes controller temp numbers. There's no way test the accuracy like with the Mav that can be done with boiling water/ice water. Even if the Mes controller pit temp is accurate, its on the back wall at a fixed height where your food isn't. Hottest on the bottom rack and coolest on the top rack and many of us use the top two racks first before going down towards the heating element if you have a lot to smoke.

    With the ember confusion: I use only pellets in the Amnps tray and would use that in the mailbox mod as my smoke generator for gas/electric smokers.

    For charcoal off set stick burners/concrete/brick pits I prefer the flavor of the smoke from building a wood split fire in my grill and add burning charred embers or chunks of them as needed with a shovel.

    With bullet or Kamado vertical charcoal smokers you pretty much have start with a small charcoal fire and snake unlit coal in a Minion method with wood chunks/chips scattered over them so the fire slowly spreads to the unlit coals and the random wood.
  10. Mailbox mod VS  MES cold smoker attachment ---  

    Price diff of Mailbox plus AMNPS tray and final rigging by the time it's all said and done, basically same as the MES cold smoker attachment without figuring in any labor, that I'm not counting, which is fine.

    So figure ---   SAME price, what's better??

    Opinions? Experience?  

    Thank you again Dr K for excellent info  Marc.

    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've owned a MES 30 Gen 1 for four years. In my opinion, if you're looking for a rock solid temp then if you go with this model I'd recommend also buying an Auber PID controller, something I haven't done. The older MES digital models are prone to temp swings during the first 2-3 heating cycles. The temps become more or less stable after about 3-4 hours of smoking from my experience. The newer, more expensive, so-called Gen 2.5 models might be more temp stable. Also in the older models you'll find the right side temp much hotter than the left for various reason, but in my MES about 4-5 hours in that gets reversed where the left side has the higher temp. I also use the AMNPS and I'm considering building a mailbox mod since I've had issues with wood pellets going out. I used to have a lot more success with the AMNPS than in my last few smokes. Before I go the mailbox mod route there's a few things to try which should enable the pellets to burn longer.

    And yes, if the MES is anything it's very nicely insulated. So much so that I never put water in the water bowl because the insulation helps keep moisture inside the smoker which helps keep the meat from drying out--as long as you don't overcook it by an hour or more. I hope to smoke homemade sausage--and pastrami--someday but for now I realized a long-standing goal of making beef jerky. After 3 batches I've got the process down. Many people use a dehydrator to make jerky but my MES 30 does a superb job AND instills a nice smoky flavor into it.

    This MES 30 Gen 1 remains my first and only smoker. I bought it because, just starting out, I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a smoker and this came in under $200. If it had been in my budget I would've opted for the MES 40 because that extra room really comes in handy when smoking pork ribs and larger beef briskets and pork shoulders/butts. But because the MES 30 is so small it fits on a hand truck which enables me to easily wheel it out of and back into my garage (where I store it).
  12. Thanks all for help, I have read mostly here, SMF, and other places, SOOO many hours, and decided on the following....

    MES Analog 1500W smoker, Auber standalone two probe control, and somekinda Mailbox w definately an AMNPS 5x8 tray.

    NO frickin way will I buy MES electronics.

    OR the stupid plastic trimmed door on the Digitals, like that whole Transformers Robot Nike shoe stupid design.

    Only way I can improve that, is instead of the MES analog, I get a dead and so cheap $ like small commercial SS oven, proof box, etc W/ HIGH temp INSULATION, NOT somekinda foam,  unlike the MES analog, that IS double wall, but NO insulation, AND like a Brinkman or Old Smokey 1500W element.

    Now, I DO like the size (for my purposes) of the MES, so will probably go that way.

    The ONLY reason I care to have it insulated, is so that w a 1500W heater, I can bump up to crisp chicken.

    Other than that, I am in TX, so do not "need" insulation.

    All comments welcome, Thank you alll again,     Marc
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016

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