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View Full Version : My review of Lion v4


ChrisH
07-23-2012, 10:14 PM
Howdy,

My Controller is nearly working how I would like it to, so I decided to write this review.

I ordered the v4 Lion with Stainless Steel box and the C Adapter for my UDS. The ordering process was painless through PayPal, and the price was right (~$260). I received the unit slightly quicker than the 2 weeks I was originally told.

It arrived with no documentation whatsoever, which was a little frustrating, however, reading through the 13 page thread on here I was able to figure out how to get things operating in the most basic sense of the word. The box provided is basically useless, it is too small to fit the fan, controller and even the smallest battery. Speaking of which, I bought a tiny 1.3Ah sealed lead acid battery and a 12V charger, on battery alone the unit will run for 1~2 hours before shutting down. I run with the battery connected to the charger, the battery acts as a 'damper' for high draw scenarios, and would also provide some degree of 'critical cooking'. However, there is no online indication of a low battery, so if you were to lose power the only way you'd realize (from your sofa) is when the web server stopped responding. Based on my experience I would go with at least a 6Ah battery if I was running without a mains hookup.

The thing I love about this controller is the ability to sleep at night! I cooked a 9# brisket at roughly 220degF with no interaction until I pulled it to wrap at ~165 internal. I slept a full 8 hours worry free. The ability to make changes from bed, the sofa, Sam's Club (when you realize you're out of foil) etc etc is awesome too.

The things I dislike are mostly down to a complete lack of support from the builder. Mr Wang had no interest in the fact that the SS box he sold was much too small, claiming it was somehow a 'standard size'. Issues (which were numerous) in setting up the network/Internet features were ignored. He would refer to the 13 page thread on here saying that it 'is standard network equipment' with no advice on how to get things up and running. I eventually was able to get the controller on my home network, accessible both by ip address and also on the Internet, with it's own web address thanks mostly due to hours spent reading online, and a lot of trial and error. I am more than willing to help others get online if they are struggling, send me a PM.

The website for the controller is rediculous. It has nothing on the Stoker, the interface is ugly and the graphing feature, while nice, looks goofy. The graphs produced should have an Auto-Scale feature, such that they do not go all the way to 596degF. Hopefully someone might produce an app or a better looking interface. Finally, my controller is far from being accurate to 1 or 2 degrees as claimed. I have tried various settings for P, I and D, and cannot do better than +10/-5 degrees. Not bad at all, and certainly within my comfor level, but I would love it if I could get it precise.

I do not know, but I feel like the fan provided (50cfm) is way too powerful or it does not work. There are times when the 'out' light is on, implying the fan is trying to run, but the fan is not moving. I have tried changing the Minimum Fan Speed UdC, but I do not know how to find the minimum for this fan. The result is that the fan basically operates as a on/off binary state, not variable voltage as suggested by the builder.

Overall I am happy with product, and feel like its performance is slightly below its price point, but not bad. If we can get some significant improvements it could absolutely be a Stoker-killer, but until then I'd probably save my money.

I am asking the builder, Mr Wang to contact me regarding a refund for the SS box and also the fan, which I feel is defective.

woodpelletsmoker
07-24-2012, 01:54 AM
1. I am using a Li-ion battery, 2 a.h. the size is small enough to be put in the SS box with the fan, controller. also 2 a.h is big enough to power the system for 10+hours. Lead battery is too big in size. Also lead battery will lose capacity step by step. You bought 1.3 a.h, but the real capacity may be 0.5 a.h. SS box is designed for Li-ion battery.

2.LION is a standard WIFI equipment, different environmental needs different method to access to Internet. Good you finally do it. Be honest I can help less to access LION to Internet. But two IT masters are really writing a guideline separately

3.Temperature accuracy depends on the smoker too. My gravity feed burner and controller can keep my smoke temperature accuracy around 1 F.
Let us image, you forget to add coal to your smoker, after 5 hours, your smoker temperature may fall to environmental temperature.
please visit www.allchinas.com about my gravity feed burner.

About interface I agree with you. I will upgrade later. But basic functions are all there

woodpelletsmoker
07-24-2012, 02:11 AM
about refund:
1.All buyers are using same fan. total buyers are more than 200. there are 2 or 3 fans of bad quality. I sent them a new fan. But this fan works perfect with my controllers in general. If your fan does have quality problem, I can send you a new one

2.SS box. I can not design SS box to suit all batteries. Someone simply uses his car battery. By no means my SS box can suit a car battery. You should discard your 1.3 ah lead battery and change to a 2 a.h Li-ion battery

About temperature accuracy
My controller is one factor, your smoker is an important factor too.
Just think heavy mass ceramic smoker, double walls smokers like stumps and backwoods and vikiing, and single wall of 1.5 mm carbon steel of Brinkmann.
Certainly the best is MY smoker of gravity feed burner.
My gravity feed burner is DIFFERENT from backwoods, stumps,,viiking.,
My burner its self is reverse flow.

woodpelletsmoker
07-24-2012, 02:25 AM
"feel like its performance is slightly below its price point,"
My LION V 4 is US$198, SAL mail cost US$20.
One competitor is US$400
and another competitor is US$450

woodpelletsmoker
07-24-2012, 02:28 AM
"I do not know, but I feel like the fan provided (50cfm) is way too powerful or it does not work. There are times when the 'out' light is on, implying the fan is trying to run, but the fan is not moving. I have tried changing the Minimum Fan Speed UdC, but I do not know how to find the minimum for this fan. The result is that the fan basically operates as a on/off binary state, not variable voltage as suggested by the builder. "

Your feeling is not correct.
OUTPUT is PID variable voltage.
Fan does not run when output voltage is lower than the minimum starting voltage of fan.
Indeed you can forget how it works.

woodpelletsmoker
07-24-2012, 06:36 AM
http://www.allchinas.com/probe/ssbox1.jpg
This is SS box with battery, fan and Tiger inside the SS box.
Size of Tiger is exactly same as LION
Probe wires and antenna go through holes on the bottom.
Holes on bottom are also for the purpose of air pass

http://www.allchinas.com/probe/ssbox2.jpg
SS box mounted on my gravity feed burner

http://www.allchinas.com/probe/ssbox3.jpg
Cover is on the SS box. It is RAIN PROOF.


http://www.allchinas.com/probe/ssbox4.jpg
Please check the size of battery, fan, and the controller.
The battery is 12 VDC 2 a.h Li-ion.

woodpelletsmoker
07-25-2012, 08:50 AM
There is one customer going to buy SS box.
You can sell the SS box to him at US$30.
I suggest him to read this post and contact you

woodpelletsmoker
07-25-2012, 08:36 PM
"My registration is not approved yet on the BBQ brethren forum. My user name is "thegizzard" Can you ask him to contact me by email?"
I got this message this morning. If you do not want your SS box, you can sell to him. Please let me know your decision. then I can exchange your emails.
If you want to keep the SS box, I will sell him a new piece.
Please confirm

woodpelletsmoker
07-25-2012, 08:44 PM
Also please check the fan directly on a battery. If it does not work, I will send you a new one

thegizzard
07-26-2012, 02:08 AM
Pm sent. Thanks.

woodpelletsmoker
07-26-2012, 07:27 PM
a BBQ-Brethren just received LION V4 and set up in 15 minutes. please ready below.


From: Ran<XXX@digitalhomes.ca>
To: zhaohui wang <sale@allchinas.com>
Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 4:11 AM
Subject: Re: Lion WiFi PID

Wang,

I just received the new Goldon-Lion v4 yesterday - thank you.

It took me less than 15 minutes to have it setup on my network and working perfectly.

I'll be working on a users manual this weekend - I should have you something by Monday.

thegizzard
07-27-2012, 07:00 AM
Pm sent. Thanks.

Chris, do you still want to sell you ss box?

woodpelletsmoker
07-30-2012, 10:04 PM
AS both thegizzard and I fail to get your reply, I will sell a new SS box to thegizzard

ChrisH
02-09-2013, 12:43 PM
Apologies to the Gizzard and Mr Wang, having written my review I did not check back here until today - I completely forgot about this thread.

As an update, I will say that lion is still going strong, which is great. I have cooked close to 100 times with it and it has served me well.

I still cannot do better than +/-10degF accuracy in my UDS. Without a temperature controller I have been able to get the same accuracy adjusting the air intake ball valve. I do believe my fan is defective, it spins but I only ever get binary output from it. Next time I smoke I will copy the graph for you to see.

You say that the control has a 'self tuning' mode, I have run the controller for 12+ straight and I have never seen an improvement in accuracy. Also I have never seen the values for P, I and D change, they are displayed on the bottom right of the graph and are the same as I set.

Thanks

woodpelletsmoker
02-09-2013, 08:44 PM
1.You may need to set a different value of Udc to change maximum speed of fan.
2.You need to hand tune P.I.D.
3.press button of ">" and hold a few seconds, you will find F-C option, click ">" a few times, you will find "Udc". set its value and press ">" again and hold till back to normal display
4.press button of ">" and hold even long time after "F-C", you will find P, I ,D, change their values, press again ">" and hold till normal display.
5. Indeed its a trial and error process. Different smokers will have different PID and Udc.
Every users need to find by himself.

woodpelletsmoker
02-09-2013, 08:45 PM
In V5 there will be auto-tuning scale of graphing

ChrisH
02-09-2013, 10:31 PM
Will it be possible to do a firmware update from V4 to V5?

So does V4 autotune P,I and D values? I have never seen them change.

Thanks

woodpelletsmoker
02-09-2013, 11:06 PM
No, V4 can not be upgraded.
You have to hand tune P,I,D. There is not autotune of P,I,D, in the LION.Smoker is just too complicated.

But in Elephant, outlet 80 -260 VAC, WIFI, dual probes, mainly designed for Sous Vide, P.I.D. can be autotuned

ChrisH
02-10-2013, 02:29 AM
In a number of different threads you have mentioned that the Lion will 'learn' the pit. This means adjust PID values depending on the performance of the particular smoker. Are you now saying that this is not the case?

All other smoker controllers that I know of have a auto learn feature.

Thanks

woodpelletsmoker
02-10-2013, 03:08 AM
In a number of different threads you have mentioned that the Lion will 'learn' the pit. This means adjust PID values depending on the performance of the particular smoker. Are you now saying that this is not the case?

All other smoker controllers that I know of have a auto learn feature.

Thanks
please note difference betweem auto-tuning and auto-learning.
The PID controller is auto-learning. After a period of learning,the target will get closer and closer.
Auto-tuning refers to tuning value of P, I ,D. Optimastic data of P,I,D will SHORTEN auto-learning period, and swing away from target will be less.
DOG, WOLF, TIGER, LION are designed for stick smokers and do not have auto-tuning. You have to manually tuning P.I.D for best results. Default settings work too, but not at the best.
RHINO and Elephant are designed mainly for Sous Vide and have auto-tuning.
Rhino and Elephant can be used for stick smokers too if adding blower.
When Rhino and Elephant are used for stick smokers, I recommed not using auto-tuning function.

bikerBBQ
02-18-2013, 02:21 PM
In V5 there will be auto-tuning scale of graphing
When will Lion V5 be ready to ship?

woodpelletsmoker
02-18-2013, 07:49 PM
When will Lion V5 be ready to ship?
LION V5 shall be ready earlier April

bikerBBQ
02-20-2013, 09:19 AM
Thanks! I'll watch for the availability and place an order.

chiefsr
03-26-2013, 01:28 PM
LION V5 shall be ready earlier April

What is the expected ship date of the Lion v5?

woodpelletsmoker
03-27-2013, 08:33 AM
What is the expected ship date of the Lion v5?

focusing on develop a remote monitor/controller for greenhouse.
BBQ controllers are all effected.
LION V5 is scheduled to be ready end of May

chiefsr
03-27-2013, 09:56 AM
That's unfortunate, but being busy at your business is a good thing. I was looking forward to getting an order in for the next version of Lion.

chiefsr
04-09-2013, 09:16 AM
I'm still in for Lion v5. It's too bad that it won't be possible to upgrade because I would get v4 now and upgrade later.

Teltum
04-18-2013, 10:43 AM
I am excited for V5 I will start saving my $ for when it releases!

chiefsr
04-18-2013, 11:08 AM
I quit waiting and ordered a Wolf. I would have liked to spend the extra cash on the gadgetry :-)

woodpelletsmoker
04-18-2013, 08:39 PM
WIFI thermometer is going to be ready next Monday. You can use this WIFI thermometer with WOLF

chiefsr
05-09-2013, 12:14 PM
Does anyone have PID values for the Webber Smokey Mountain 22.5"?


1.You may need to set a different value of Udc to change maximum speed of fan.
2.You need to hand tune P.I.D.
3.press button of ">" and hold a few seconds, you will find F-C option, click ">" a few times, you will find "Udc". set its value and press ">" again and hold till back to normal display
4.press button of ">" and hold even long time after "F-C", you will find P, I ,D, change their values, press again ">" and hold till normal display.
5. Indeed its a trial and error process. Different smokers will have different PID and Udc.
Every users need to find by himself.

ChrisH
05-21-2013, 05:38 PM
I thought I would write an update to my review now I have had my Lion for over a year now.

I really do like it, and I use it every time I smoke (a couple of times a month, year round). I must have 20 or 30 smoke sessions out of it and it has never let me down, I am very comfortable with its setup and use, if not a little cumbersome. The build quality feels great, it seems to run pretty hot but definitely feels solid. I compared it to a buddy's Auber, the Lion definitely is better built.

I have given my web address to guests the night before a meat fest to whet their appetites in anticipation. The combination of my UDS and my Lion produces some of the best BBQ I have ever eaten, and it is hassle free.

I have yet to get the PID settings dialed in exactly, but it works well enough. At a desired temperature of 225, I normally get a swing of -2F +15F. As soon as the temp drops below the desired temp, the fan kicks on (hence only losing -2), but it seems to blow too hard for too long, thus overshooting by 10-15 degrees of so. I can live with the swing, and compromise by setting the desired temperature, 5 degrees or so below where I actually want it. This seems to work ok, and the great thing is that it will work for 10+ hours without any interference from me.

I honestly feel fine setting it up, going to bed for 8 hours or so, and waking up to find it chugging along roughly where I left it. I am sure with a little more tuning I could get it a lot more precise, I guess I'm not that worried - I would rather be doing something else while it smokes!

As I said earlier, setting it up was a bear, and I hope I never have to do that again. I wrote some pretty detailed instructions in another post, I will try to copy them over to his thread.

I will get some action shots next time I smoke.

woodpelletsmoker
05-21-2013, 06:29 PM
1.You need to fine tune P,I,D. This is a trial and error process.
2.Overshooting may be due to bigger fan. You can set Hdc as 80%, 60%,40%,just lower maximum capacity of fan.
3.In new design it will be plug&play connecting to Internet