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Troubleshooting a Garage Find


Joined Jul 24, 2016
Hey all, Thought I would start my introduction to the forum looking for some troubleshooting help. Got interested in smoking after attempting to use the trusty weber I grill brats and burgers on and found it challenging to modulate the temp without a purpose built rig. Saw the UDS builds and I was sucked in. Being a recent college grad I love me some garage sales and happened to find this awesome one off custom electric smoker for $50 bucks. The guy plugged it in and it started to heat up. He shows me the basics of using the PID to set the temp. Off I go and I did a test run up to 300F and it did well. I got a pork butt the next week and went to turn it on again and it wouldn't heat. I did mess with the settings but I called the manufacture of the PID and I'm almost certain I have it back to the settings the PO had it at when I bought it. I even called the PO and he said he might have a extra hot plate around but never called me back. I've put a multimeter to the relay and it shows voltage when I turn it on and it begins to heat ramp. However the hot plate doesn't heat. The hot plate is a waage hot stove 1250watt. PID is Solo 4848 from Automation Direct. It has a temperature probe to detect ambient temperature to know when to cycle on/off the relay to the hot plate. Any ideas on what I should look at to verify that the hot plate element is bad or I screwed something up with the PID? I've linked some photos to the smoker and took the baseplate off the hot plate to show the insides. 

Link to album with more pics:


Smoking Fanatic
★ Lifetime Premier ★
Joined Jun 4, 2012
The indicator is "on" on the PID controller, so it thinks it's calling for heat in your photo.

Check the wiring connections to the hotplate (with power off, of course).  Then, check the hotplate itself with an ohm meter to verify that you have continuity through its heating element.  If it's rated for 1250 Watts, and assuming the rig runs off of 120VAC, then the resistance through the hot plate should be about 11.5 ohms.

And make sure that the control on the hot plate itself isn't turned down to where IT has the hot plate shut off.  If the hot plate has a temperature control, it will need to be turned up high so that it keeps the circuit closed to the heating element at all times.

You can also check to see that there's 120VAC at the hot plate connections when the PID controller is calling for heat.  But making that kind of measurement is dangerous because you're dealing with potentially lethal voltages!  If you're not comfortable making such measurements safely, call an electrician or instrument tech to do that part for you!

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