eSmoking has been achieved!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by sparksnsaaben, Jun 8, 2010.

  1. sparksnsaaben

    sparksnsaaben Newbie

    Have you ever heard the words smoker and authenticated SMTP in the same sentence before?  Well, now you have.  I have achieved eSmoking!!! Note: copyright pending by FFTWarren.

    I now have a smoker that I can access via the internet anywhere in the world that will also send me text messages when the meat is done/almost done.  I'm thinking about taking bids from local friends to fill up the unlimited extra email/text message spots to notify them when I have Vitamin "S" ready.

    It's been an arduous few days, but fortunately I had a kegerator with a half barrel of Odell's 90 Shilling to help see me through it.  In essence, I have hooked up an industrial PID controller to my Masterbuilt electric smoker.  The PID controller is an industrial process controller that I have set up to monitor smoker chamber temperature and internal meat temperature.  It just so happens that it is also Ethernet enabled.  This means that I can use any computer's internet browser from anywhere in the world to set the temperature profile of the chamber and it sends me an email or text messages when the meat has reached the set point that I want!!!

    There have been a few pitfalls along the way, but in the end I am victorious!  I disabled the Masterbuilt's controller and installed a solid state relay so that I can externally control the heating element inside.  Anyone who owns a Masterbuilt smoker can testify to the horrible temperature regulation.  I don't have to worry about that anymore.  I also had to set up an email/SMTP gateway on my home server because the PID controller didn't allow for email messaging using authenticated SMTP.  Long story short, I am most of the way towards an entirely automated smoking process.  The purists may hate the direction that I have gone.  I do enjoy relaxing while drinking beer and smoking cigarettes while smoking meat to perfection, but in the end I want to be able to press a button when I leave home for work/school and then come home to finished smoky goodness.

    How did I do it?  Well, here's a pic of some of basic tools I had to use:


    Please note that some tools are only for the purpose of remembering how awful it was to deal with the original controller's temperature regulation.

    This is what it looks like inside of the back cover and when you drill out the gazillion rivets on the back and underside of the Masterbuilt smoker.  Inside is a fairly simple electronics circuit board that includes a mechanical relay. 



    I bypassed that relay and installed a solid state one with thermal epoxy.


    I have a two lead wire eminating from the smoker to control that solid state relay.  Here's the PID controller sitting in an enclosure waiting for me to finish it.  I will install connectors for the thermocouples and whatnot at a later time to make a waterproof installation



    Here's the fruit of my labor:




    I only get about 30 characters so I unfortunately can't make the messages more fun, like "HELP!! I'm choking and my ribs hurt!", etc.  Regardless, I can automatically announce to any friends that I've got Vitamin "S" ready to go and that they should head on over.

    Unfortunately all I had to smoke once I finished it was some awesome local bratwurst and a piece of ribs that I smoked previously to experiment "second smoking" with.  As I play with this contraption I'll be sure to post some Qview in the "Electric Smokers" section of this forum.

    If you've made it this far reading, thank you for letting me share my fun.  Happy smoking,
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
    mtbken likes this.
  2. tulsajeff

    tulsajeff Master of the Pit Staff Member Administrator OTBS Member

    Great post!! We get a lot of posts here as in hundreds per day so occasionally things do get missed but this is something that everyone needs to see so I'm bumping it.

    Technology meets the rugged outdoors!
  3. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thanks for posting such an interesting thread. I also like the great pics you included. It's all good my friend.
  4. matts

    matts Smoking Fanatic

    I saw on a Pitmasters episode where one of the guys used a computer to control his heat in his smoker.  He had his computer hooked up to a box and that ran to the smoker.  I don't remember many of the details, but is that pretty much the same.  Except for the texting part.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2010
  5. smokingillini

    smokingillini Newbie

    I have though about doing something similar myself.  I just never found the time to do it.  Very well done.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2010
  6. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    That is very cool a bit to high tech for me but cool none the less
  7. daddyzaring

    daddyzaring Smoking Fanatic

    That is very cool.  I have a question though, does this lrt you know just the temps of the smoker, the tamps of the meat, or both?
  8. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    BTW that'll be $0.75 for every time I see eSmoking on this thread. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2010
  9. helljack6

    helljack6 Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    Nice job, very inventive.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 9, 2010
    fftwarren likes this.
  10. sparksnsaaben

    sparksnsaaben Newbie

    daddyzaring,  the PID monitors temperatures with two thermocouples.  One is used to monitor chamber temperature.  The second one is an "insertion probe" (looks like the tip of a meat thermometer) that is inserted into one of the pieces of meat.

    Take a look at the second picture from the bottom.  The two temperatures are in the "Process Value" field under the "Control Loop Status" heading.  237 is the chamber temperature and 172 is the internal meat temperature.  I missed the money shot when they were 250 and 170 so I turned it back on to get that screenshot.

    I'm still working on software that will log the data and graph it.
  11. sparksnsaaben

    sparksnsaaben Newbie

    FFTWarren, I count two instances of "that" word (I don't want to have to pay another $0.75) so you're owed $1.50.  Can you PM your street address for me to send a 4 foot by 8 foot check written on plywood to you?
  12. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Congratulation sparksnsaabe,

    you have been awarded a MES HOT MODS award for excellence!

    SMF member who are also MES owners really appreciate MES mods, and yours is an exceptional example, providing some great info and pictures.

    I would appreciate sort of a wiring diagram if you have one?

  13. jamminjimi

    jamminjimi Meat Mopper

    Well now this makes my flames and sunshield look elementary. Off the charts cool. Who can top that?
  14. indyadmin1974

    indyadmin1974 Smoking Fanatic

    sparksnsaabe I love it dude!

    Can you post a wiki with the parts that you used?

    I don't have an MES, but I'm thinking of building something similar to a Stoker or the BBQ Guru.

    Wonder if you can get it to tweet instead of SMTP traffic...
  15. sparksnsaaben

    sparksnsaaben Newbie

    Wow, an MES award.  I had no idea they existed.

    Here's a rough schematic of what's going on inside my 30" MES bought around the middle of May:


    There are a lot of missing support components like capacitors, transistor biasing resistors, and I haven't looked to see if the transistor is NPN or PNP.  I assumed NPN for the schematic. is a cheap source for SSRs, network patch cables, transformers, etc. is the only cheap source that I could find for thermocouples.

    The PID controller is from Watlow and is a two control loop model from their PD Series.  I got mine off of ebay for $50.

    To install the SSR to bypass the original mechanical relay, I just wired it like the old one however the circuit board that the mechanical relay is on uses the relay to get its AC common.  So I added a wire from the AC common connection from the SSR to the mechanical relay.  I did this because I still wanted to use the MES's original controller and display to get a rough idea of chamber temperature and still use the timer visually (it doesn't control anything though.

    Eventually I'm going to do a bit more to automate the process like add a timer module to my control box so I can set it to start itself in the wee hours of the morning/etc.

    When I was doing this mod I did pull apart the controller and found a 16-bit microcontroller inside.  I'm not an avid programmer yet, but someday I will play with the original controller to see if I can get it to do the same thing as my mod.  I'll have to add ethernet capabilities to it but there are many modules that would be easy to adapt.

    If there's a lot of interest I can write up my mod in detail.  The exact PID that you use will change things but I could do one for adding the SSR if you guys want.

    As for tweeting, there is Twittermail that would work immediately, just plug your twitter email address into one of the unlimited address fields.

    Stoker and BBQ Guru, huh, are they just for charcoal and wood grills?

    Thanks again for all the kind sentiments.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2010
  16. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    I've been waiting for the results, not that I would build one cuz I'm old,  but this is cool and I like new stuff. This should be a wiki. [​IMG]
  17. gmebey

    gmebey Smoke Blower

    Great work Ryan!
  18. jeffrey98335

    jeffrey98335 Newbie

    How about a DIY Kit.   I would like to be the first in line to purchase  :)

    This is an awsome idea and would be great to get text to the party people coming over to enjoy!!!!!
  19. hughjass

    hughjass Fire Starter

    Well done!  I've been thinking about a electric build.

    Question(s) for you:  I've a PID and thermocouple laying around from a home brewery build.  I'm thinking of building an e-UDS using this PID

    and connect via SSR to this heating element

    Do you (or others) think this would be a viable solution?

    Will the 1650 watts be sufficient BTU for smoking?

    Thanks all 

  20. Truly amazing dude!  What a use for technology!  Forget spreadsheets, gaming and all the other painful uses for computers.. 

    Now if you can just figure out a way to transport the meat from the fridge to the smoker... hmm

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