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Brisket: Pit-Boss 820D, Savannah Stoker controller

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by banjo, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    I've been smoking meat, primarily pork shoulder, since 1989. During that time, I got quite good at pork, but my brisket was never righteous.....until today!

    On my Pit-Boss 820D, using the Savannah Stoker controller:
    • Pit-Boss pro blend pellets (consumed about 1 *RC per hour)
    • 14.5 # brisket from Costco. I trimmed fat from this using Aaron Franklin's suggestions.
    • Rub: 50/50 sea salt, black pepper (course grind), applied moderately.
    • 1 hour on counter top in 75dF kitchen, uncovered, with rub on.
    • Placed point (thick end) in middle of smoke chamber, flat (thin) on right side. (Center of smoker is hottest, so put the thickest part of meat here)
    • 2 hours at 170 dF in Pit-Boss for smoke (middle of thickest part was at 190 dF)
    • 14 hours at 225, uncovered, not sprayed or mopped with anything; no flips, no rotations
    • 1 hour wrapped in aluminum foil cool down on counter.

    Results: Outstanding! As good at the best I've ever been served, far better than most I've had, and many times better than anything I've ever made before; hard to see where I could improve this, from our standpoint.

    *RC: Red Cup, the new international standard for pellet smoking rate of pellet consumption.
    richieii likes this.
  2. mike243

    mike243 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like a winner,daughter inlaw loves brisket,working my way up to 1 some time late summer early fall.Still getting use to this pellet smoker and trying to not make food that's not what I want to eat ,been great so far but a mistake could happen at any time lol. Practice makes perfect they say :rolleyes:
    banjo likes this.
  3. Nice write up. I have the same pit as you and my brisket always turns out great on it. Glad yours does also.

    banjo likes this.
  4. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Sounds like a great smoke. Now you need to add a picture or two so we can visually appreciate it.

  5. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    Chris, thanks for the suggestion - will do on next one.
  6. Bouve124

    Bouve124 Newbie

    Hey banjo, I also have a PitBoss 820d and I just recently installed a Savannah Stoker on it.
    I'm having a bit of an issue fine tuning the controller. What did you do for your setup?
    I have adjusted the RTD temp offset, I tried to get my "outL" setting adjusted, and then I ran an Auto Tune.

    Did you do these steps or something similar?

    Can you post your PID settings, as well as your "t" and "outL" settings?

    Any help is very appreciated!

  7. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter


    I did some manual settings as well as autotune. Both appear to work OK, and is what I used to smoke my 14.25 lb brisket that turned out well at 225 dF.

    These are my manual tuning values (for pit-boss master-pro blend pellets):
    • P 15
    • I 1,000
    • D 75
    • OutL 2
    • T 15
    • Oth 25
    • Pb1 31.
    I changed T to 15 because it appeared to me that the controller needed to take a sample more frequently. I also think that helps prevent the fire from going out. But that's an increase in the rate of energy, so the other parameters are adjusted to reflect this. I want to play around with this some more, but that's what I've got at the moment.

    If you autotune, then do so after you've made your other adjustments. Pay particular attention to the method they tell you to do the autotune. I don't have access to the autotune settings right now, and it will be about 10 days before I can access them - sorry!

    Hope that works for you as well as it did for me!

  8. Bouve124

    Bouve124 Newbie

    Thanks for getting back to me.
    I'm doing a couple chickens tomorrow, maybe after that I'll mess around with those settings and see what it does for mine.
    I'm guessing with those settings you had not issues maintaining a steady temp for your brisket?

    Thanks again!
  9. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    No, did not have any issues. It's not perfect though. The RTD is in a rather bulky package, much higher mass than the thermocouples I used, so the RTD tends to dampen or smooth-out the temperature swings, while the thermocouple reacts almost immediately, and shows the true swings. But it's the average that counts, as long as the upper and lower swings aren't too big, and don't stay at the extremes for very long. I'm happy with the controller.

    I've attached a picture of my 4 channel thermocouple sensor (has two external relays for sensing 120vac motors - auger and fan), and shows all six (6) it all on my network, and logs all six (6) channels of data into a file, which produced the charts I posted previously. The green item on the top is a $35 microcontroller, running the C++ program I wrote; a Raspberry Pi 3 B. The items on the white board at the bottom are the four (4) individual thermocouple amplifiers that translate the thermocouple's voltage output to temperature values. The red item on the top-left are the connections for connecting to the 120vac relays, which are connected in parallel to the auger and fan motors. This feeds 3.3vdc through the contacts of the relay, which has a 120vac coil; when the coil is energized, it closes the contacts and the 3.3vdc then flows through the contacts and back to the red plug board, so it's completely isolated from the mains voltage.

    If anyone is interested, I can post the software on github, along with instructions for building one.

  10. Bouve124

    Bouve124 Newbie

    I also thought about the RTD, I was thinking about getting a smaller diameter probe so it will react faster. I'm sure I could find a decent pt1000 probe on omega.com.
  11. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    You know, I'm not sure that a faster RTD will help.

    I saw really fast temperature shifts, which I attributed to just hot air currents swirling around, on my thermocouples. A faster response RTD, coupled with a slow energy injection (feed pellets in, they gradually catch fire), and I suspect we would probably find ourselves chasing our tails! I know for a fact I would not be able to control those swings I saw with my low mass thermocouples, with even the fastest response on energy injection or throttle-down!

    A 14# slab of meat can't respond quickly either; takes a lot of btu's up and down to move it much, and certainly not quickly; that's why the temperature averages are the true aim, with low excursions above and below.

    So, I'm happy with the RDT that came with the unit as factory supplied.
  12. Adam Brace

    Adam Brace Newbie

    I would love to see what you did.
  13. banjo

    banjo Fire Starter

    Hi Adam! Thanks for the request regarding the software. I'm on the road right now traveling in our R-POD camper, so it will be a month or more before I'll be back at my home systems where the software is stored. In the meantime, there are some other projects I've built here: https://github.com/bbqbailey