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BBQ Grill to Electric Smoker

@kins.dev

Newbie
3
0
Joined Aug 26, 2019
So this is a long one. My first build, and I started off small. Hot plate in my Weber Performer, wood chips in a cast iron skillet, using an iGrill 2 to monitor temperature reporting back to a Raspberry Pi which then controlled a smart plug.

MVIMG_20190316_184627.jpg MVIMG_20190317_082524.jpg

I was trying to use what I had on hand and had something that was OK for under $50. I quickly discovered using a single burner of the hotplate was not ideal so I moved to a two burner solution.
MVIMG_20190330_133249.jpg IMG_20190401_200621.jpg IMG_20190402_020935.jpg

Wife complained the results were still sub par, temperatures were all over the place. I had from day 1 setup a way to graph my grills at https://www.kins.dev.

So I sat down and thought through a new system. The problem with the smart plug was that I couldn't change every 10 seconds (or less) for better control. (It would wear out the relay in all of 2-5 days.) Well I have some electrical engineering background, so I started to design a solid state relay board.

Six revisions later (one unpublished) and an obscene amount of testing, I finally had something that works nicely. But the grill setup still was a little cramped. So I picked this up for $80 as an end of the season special:
IMG_20190826_062010.jpg IMG_20190807_055632.jpg IMG_20190827_053414.jpg

My first run with this setup encountered a problem with my code about 18 hours in with a pork shoulder. I found and fixed the error in my code, but apparently I burned out the solid state relay at the same time. Moved from a 25A to a 40A relay, used JB Weld to patch some holes in the grill, painted it and seasoned it again.

Now for the questions: I currently use a cast iron skillet and an anodized aluminum pot for holding my wood chips. Both are ash at the end, but the pot seems to go slower. Is it better to use cast iron for this (1 quart dutch ovens) or aluminum?

My ramp up time is slow, is that a big deal? (~ 1hr to get to 225.)

I have schedules where I increase the external temperature based on the internal temperature, has anyone done that before? What are the pros/cons of this approach?

Finally, I'm new here, so if I put this in the wrong spot or did something wrong, please let me know.

My code is free to use/improve:
https://git.kins.dev/igrill-smoker
I'm continuing to work on it.
 

Erndoggy1000

Newbie
29
4
Joined Aug 26, 2019
So this is a long one. My first build, and I started off small. Hot plate in my Weber Performer, wood chips in a cast iron skillet, using an iGrill 2 to monitor temperature reporting back to a Raspberry Pi which then controlled a smart plug.
Hey there. It takes an hour to get up to 225f!!! That seems like a little to long
View attachment 404156View attachment 404158

I was trying to use what I had on hand and had something that was OK for under $50. I quickly discovered using a single burner of the hotplate was not ideal so I moved to a two burner solution.
View attachment 404162View attachment 404163View attachment 404164

Wife complained the results were still sub par, temperatures were all over the place. I had from day 1 setup a way to graph my grills at https://www.kins.dev.

So I sat down and thought
So this is a long one. My first build, and I started off small. Hot plate in my Weber Performer, wood chips in a cast iron skillet, using an iGrill 2 to monitor temperature reporting back to a Raspberry Pi which then controlled a smart plug.

View attachment 404156View attachment 404158

I was trying to use what I had on hand and had something that was OK for under $50. I quickly discovered using a single burner of the hotplate was not ideal so I moved to a two burner solution.
View attachment 404162View attachment 404163View attachment 404164

Wife complained the results were still sub par, temperatures were all over the place. I had from day 1 setup a way to graph my grills at https://www.kins.dev.

So I sat down and thought through a new system. The problem with the smart plug was that I couldn't change every 10 seconds (or less) for better control. (It would wear out the relay in all of 2-5 days.) Well I have some electrical engineering background, so I started to design a solid state relay board.

Six revisions later (one unpublished) and an obscene amount of testing, I finally had something that works nicely. But the grill setup still was a little cramped. So I picked this up for $80 as an end of the season special:
View attachment 404169View attachment 404170View attachment 404171

My first run with this setup encountered a problem with my code about 18 hours in with a pork shoulder. I found and fixed the error in my code, but apparently I burned out the solid state relay at the same time. Moved from a 25A to a 40A relay, used JB Weld to patch some holes in the grill, painted it and seasoned it again.

Now for the questions: I currently use a cast iron skillet and an anodized aluminum pot for holding my wood chips. Both are ash at the end, but the pot seems to go slower. Is it better to use cast iron for this (1 quart dutch ovens) or aluminum?

My ramp up time is slow, is that a big deal? (~ 1hr to get to 225.)

I have schedules where I increase the external temperature based on the internal temperature, has anyone done that before? What are the pros/cons of this approach?

Finally, I'm new here, so if I put this in the wrong spot or did something wrong, please let me know.

My code is free to use/improve:
https://git.kins.dev/igrill-smoker
I'm continuing to work on it.
An hour to get to 225 "degrees?? That seems a bit long. I work at Home Depot part time and saw that grill on clearance. Cheap thin metals are hard to keep a consistent tempature with.
through a new system. The problem with the smart plug was that I couldn't change every 10 seconds (or less) for better control. (It would wear out the relay in all of 2-5 days.) Well I have some electrical engineering background, so I started to design a solid state relay board.

Six revisions later (one unpublished) and an obscene amount of testing, I finally had something that works nicely. But the grill setup still was a little cramped. So I picked this up for $80 as an end of the season special:
View attachment 404169View attachment 404170View attachment 404171

My first run with this setup encountered a problem with my code about 18 hours in with a pork shoulder. I found and fixed the error in my code, but apparently I burned out the solid state relay at the same time. Moved from a 25A to a 40A relay, used JB Weld to patch some holes in the grill, painted it and seasoned it again.

Now for the questions: I currently use a cast iron skillet and an anodized aluminum pot for holding my wood chips. Both are ash at the end, but the pot seems to go slower. Is it better to use cast iron for this (1 quart dutch ovens) or aluminum?

My ramp up time is slow, is that a big deal? (~ 1hr to get to 225.)

I have schedules where I increase the external temperature based on the internal temperature, has anyone done that before? What are the pros/cons of this approach?

Finally, I'm new here, so if I put this in the wrong spot or did something wrong, please let me know.

My code is free to use/improve:
https://git.kins.dev/igrill-smoker
I'm continuing to work on it.
 

kruizer

Master of the Pit
1,437
453
Joined Sep 7, 2015
Can;t help much but I will say welcome to SMF from Minnesota.
 

HalfSmoked

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
6,707
1,526
Joined Jun 11, 2015
I too think an hour to 225 is way to long and probably not food safe you want the meat temp to 140 in about 4 hours.
The only option to this is if you have brined the meat with cure #1 in the brine. Look up POPS BRINE.

Warren
 

2008RN

Smoke Blower
146
81
Joined Mar 4, 2018
I personally like the Cast iron better. I would look for skillets, or one large flat pan. Anodizing is a really hard material, but can start slowly degrade at higher temps 700 °F-800 °F.
If you need more smoke at lower temps you could drill a few 1/4 holes around the base, otherwise just just leave the skillet(s) intact. Only problem with drilling hole in cast iron is the it will slowly rust. I did that to one pan and after 7 year it started to rust and flake off over time. The pan might only last another 10-15 years. Have intact cast iron skillets in the house that are over 60 years old.
 

@kins.dev

Newbie
3
0
Joined Aug 26, 2019
I too think an hour to 225 is way to long and probably not food safe you want the meat temp to 140 in about 4 hours.
The only option to this is if you have brined the meat with cure #1 in the brine. Look up POPS BRINE.

Warren
Curious, why wouldn't this be food safe if I brought it up to temp before putting the meat in?

I think my main issue is the electric element isn't heating the thermal mass of air inside quickly (granted that hour of time was at ~50 outside temp) but once up to temperature, does it make a difference?

Alternatively, I could move to a pot of water using that to distribute the heat quicker
 

HalfSmoked

Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
6,707
1,526
Joined Jun 11, 2015
Bringing up to 225 before you put the meat on you should be safe but that's not how I read your post.

Warren
 

@kins.dev

Newbie
3
0
Joined Aug 26, 2019
Well, you read my post correctly, I was just suggesting a work around if that warm up time was too long.

Now, here's where I'm confused. USDA says everything should be good provided the smoker is between 225º and 300º until you hit minimum safe temperature and that the danger zone is between 40º and 140º. So if I cook, let's say pork, at 225º until the internal temp hits the minimum safe value (145º) and then lower the external temperature, is that OK? (Provided the external temperature is equal to or greater than the minimum safe value.) I think the answer is yes.
 

Erndoggy1000

Newbie
29
4
Joined Aug 26, 2019
That should be fine. I've gotten advice from other bbq'rs (don't Kno if bbq'rs is a word LOL), don't get to hung up on times. I've heard people say that it's done when it's done. Keep that ️ handy and probes if u got it. Some cuts take longer than others. Slow and low!!
 

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