A while back I got myself a Pit Barrel Cooker which is kind of like a meat smoker/grill kind of thing. Its a pretty neat cooker and after a few attempts, it turned out some of the best ribs I’ve had in my life. They make it to be about as simple as possible. In a traditional smoker, you adjust the temperature based on what you’re cooking, and monitor the temperature closely to end up with a good product. In the Pit Barrel, you add the same amount of charcoal, cook at the same(ish) temperature, and you just let the cooker do its thing. Which means the temperature fluctuates much more than a traditional smoker. But despite all these differences, the Pit Barrel turns out amazing meats.
The two cooks I did in my Pit Barrel didn’t work out so well. The first one, I thought it wasn’t cooking hot enough, so I deviated from the directions and burnt my ribs to a crisp. The second time, I didn’t use enough charcoal (not sure why) and ended up with the ribs a bit tough.
So after that, I started looking to get myself a thermometer with a grill probe.
The ones I saw everywhere were the Maverick ET-732, Thermoworks Chef Alarm, or Thermoworks DOT. Or if you want to go so far as to mod the Pit Barrel with a temperature controller/thermometer all in one there’s the CyberQ.
But none of these really fits my desires. The CyberQ is prohibitively expensive considering it cost more than the Pit Barrel. Both of the Thermoworks have excellent thermometers and quality, but no wireless monitoring, and the Maverick has wireless monitoring with RF (much more range than Bluetooth), but not as good of thermometers and the quality is sketchy depending on the source.
I started searching for some alternatives which lead me to this blog post. They used a raspberry pi and some of the Thermoworks thermometers to make their own temperature probe. I really like this idea with a few exceptions. I don’t want to have to plug in my thermometer to an outlet because I want to be able to take my Pit Barrel camping. Second, I don’t want to rely on connecting to the raspberry pi with wifi because I want to be able to take my Pit Barrel camping.
So that’s when I happened to finally look into what an Arduino is/does. If you don’t know, the Arduino is basically a microchip that runs a single program. Its not a full blown computer on a chip like a raspberry pi.
If you want to know the basics of Arduino, I recommend this video on Pluralsight.
My plan is to hook up some Thermoworks thermometers to an Arduino. Another Arduino will be able to used as an alarm, and a remote monitoring device. It’ll work with RF so I can have good range, and no need for wifi when camping.
I also decided to make a smart sprinkler system. Something that my wife has wanted for a long time, and I’ve repeatedly said no because they’re stupid expensive. (I know about the raspberry pi sprinkler controllers, but I wanted to do an Arduino instead because I think it will be more fun.)
So both of these projects will be forthcoming.