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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 10-03-2012, 10:58 AM   #1
Deeg
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Default DIY: UDS temp controller using Android

Hey all, I'm preparing to build a temperature controller for my UDS using an old Android phone as the computer and I'm hoping to get some advice and ideas from all of you as this project goes along. I've already built a controller using an Arduino but it's not wireless and it doesn't log the temps. I hope that the new controller will be easy enough that many of you can also build one once it's complete. I will keep this thread updated and when it's done I'll create a step-by-step guide over on Instructables.com.

My design goals, in order of importance:
  1. It's gotta work (duh). By this I want it to keep the temps relatively stable without any oversight once it's set up.
  2. Simple to replicate, for reasons stated above. However, some soldering will be required.
  3. Cheap as possible. However, because of #2 I don't plan on using many scrounged parts unless they are universally available. Not including the temperature probes I'm pretty sure I can keep it under $100.
  4. Wireless operation, including being able to change the set temperature.
  5. Easy to operate.
  6. Can be modified to fit existing UDS's.
  7. Can be made water-resistant so it can be used in the rain.
  8. Because I'm a nerd, I want lots of logging and stats available with multiple thermometers.
Is there anything important that I've missed or something you'd like to see added?

I've decided on using an Android phone largely because I already have an old one I can donate to the project. For iPhone users it should be possible to get an old Android phone somewhere cheap. The phone comes with WiFi and Bluetooth for a couple of different wireless options. It can also run a web server for remote operation.

My current plan is to use a IOIO board to connect to the Android phone. A TB6612FNG driver will be used to run a small blower that will be attached to the inlet valve of the UDS. The Android will monitor the temperature and--using a PID algorithm--set the speed of the blower appropriately.

In general I think that this is workable. My biggest concern right now is how to fit the blower to the UDS. Most of us have some sort of nipple on the UDS and I can't come up with a good (and easy) way to connect them. I'm hoping to get some ideas from you all.

What are some suggestions for snaking the thermometers into the UDS? Right now I'm threading them through the exhaust vents on the lid but this is inelegant and annoying when opening the lid.

At $50 the IOIO is the single largest expense so far (other than the phone). I'd love to hear of an alternative.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 11:02 AM   #2
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Doh. I was getting an error and clicked "Submit" multiple times. Sorry for the spam. If a moderator can delete the extras I'd be thankful.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 11:25 AM   #3
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Done!
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Unread 10-03-2012, 12:03 PM   #4
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BBQ guru cyberQ. By far the most ready to run remote Internet acess BBQ cooking there is IMO. I have one on the way as an upgrade to my diqigdx2 which I'm very impressed with
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Unread 10-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #5
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WAAAYYYYYY looking forward to this!
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Unread 10-03-2012, 12:24 PM   #6
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Me to. Something like this sounds so far above what I am actually capable of that I can wait to give it a try.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 12:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
BBQ guru cyberQ. By far the most ready to run remote Internet acess BBQ cooking there is IMO. I have one on the way as an upgrade to my diqigdx2 which I'm very impressed with
Where's the fun in that?!?! I also hope that my final controller is much cheaper.

More seriously, I see this in the description of the CyberQ: Open lid detect senses when the pitís lid is open to minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly to the setpoint, can be turned on /off (default is ON)

How useful is this? Is this something that users find important?

It also mentions that it runs on 12VDC so it can be used with car adapter. That makes a lot of sense so I'll plan on using 12VDC.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 01:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
Where's the fun in that?!?! I also hope that my final controller is much cheaper.

More seriously, I see this in the description of the CyberQ: Open lid detect senses when the pitís lid is open to minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly to the setpoint, can be turned on /off (default is ON)

How useful is this? Is this something that users find important?

It also mentions that it runs on 12VDC so it can be used with car adapter. That makes a lot of sense so I'll plan on using 12VDC.
I heartily agree. I gave in some time ago and bought an iGrill thermo. When I was about to buy the iDevice to go with it, I felt like someone had emasculated me, so I returned it all. I have been wanting to build a similar thermo, but don't have the electronic know-how.

I'll be watching out for your Android-based controller - good luck!

PS- The easiest way to get probe in the cooker is by cutting a notch in the rim of the drum. Place probes in meat. Place meat in cooker. Place wires in notch. Shut the lid... much easier than running the probes/wires through grommets or the vent holes.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 02:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
More seriously, I see this in the description of the CyberQ: Open lid detect senses when the pitís lid is open to minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly to the setpoint, can be turned on /off (default is ON)[FONT=arial]
In HeaterMeter, I find this to be quite useful. When you open the lid the temperature drops and the fan goes to town stoking up the fire in a way that can take a really long time to drop back down to temperature. The alternative is to unplug the fan when you open the lid. HeaterMeter has a button for it (to activate a countdown to resuming control) and an autodetect that kicks off if the temperature is N% below the setpoint after achieving temperature.

You may consider using some if not all of the HeaterMeter code. The IOIO uses the exact same microcontroller and if you can get it to show up as a serial device to the Android OS, you can just use the HeaterMeter serial protocol to do all your work and just focus on making a kick-butt Android app to record/display it.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post
Where's the fun in that?!?! I also hope that my final controller is much cheaper.

More seriously, I see this in the description of the CyberQ: Open lid detect senses when the pit’s lid is open to minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly to the setpoint, can be turned on /off (default is ON)

How useful is this? Is this something that users find important?

It also mentions that it runs on 12VDC so it can be used with car adapter. That makes a lot of sense so I'll plan on using 12VDC.
Extremely useful, and worth every penny to not have to tinker with stuff. In 3 years i have only had 1 probe fail, but I always have an extra. I love to tinker, have built many pid controllers myself, and trust me these devices are worth their weight in gold. In the long run I don't think you will come out much ahead building your own.
Here is open lid detect in action.
Depending on how cheap your wanting to do it, the auber syl-2342 is awesome which I have retrofitted my HSAM traeger with. You can do the whole project for under $100 but you won't be able to log and control remotely. Can I ask why anyone wants to log cooks? The meats done when it's done right?

Last edited by jmoney7269; 10-03-2012 at 03:01 PM..
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Unread 10-03-2012, 03:03 PM   #11
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Looks like a great project! I will be following this thread, for updates.
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Unread 10-03-2012, 03:05 PM   #12
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I don't know anything about android programming (I actually bricked several phones trying to root before I gave up) or making my own PID, but this sounds awesome!
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Unread 10-03-2012, 03:36 PM   #13
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On a side note, i wish you luck and am not trying to deter your project. On pelletheads we have seen many people try to make their own PID device/unique contraption, and the success rate is IMO less than 1%. They come and go and end up spending $100+ on something the doesn't work or works but not how they expected. That's just the realist in me talking. Good luck sir, I will be following this thread also
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Unread 10-03-2012, 06:02 PM   #14
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Thanks, all, for the posts. This is exactly what I'm looking for. Keep it up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
Can I ask why anyone wants to log cooks? The meats done when it's done right?
For me, it's to gauge how well the controller is doing. I nice steady chart means it's working.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CapnBry View Post
You may consider using some if not all of the HeaterMeter code. The IOIO uses the exact same microcontroller and if you can get it to show up as a serial device to the Android OS, you can just use the HeaterMeter serial protocol to do all your work and just focus on making a kick-butt Android app to record/display it.
Wow, awesome work CapnBry. No way my resulting instructions will be as good as yours. You've even provided a link for every component. I'll be digesting your site for the next few days.

Android development (as I understand it) uses Java instead of C so I won't be able to copy your code without changes but it should still be a big help. I think I remember your posts on the Virtual Weber board. Thanks for the link!

I will copy your example and try to put in an "open lid" timer, although that will come later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caliking View Post
PS- The easiest way to get probe in the cooker is by cutting a notch in the rim of the drum. Place probes in meat. Place meat in cooker. Place wires in notch. Shut the lid... much easier than running the probes/wires through grommets or the vent holes.
I didn't like this idea at first but after thinking about I've come around. It also makes it easier to remove a rack when one of the thermometers is in the meat. Do you put anything around the notch to minimize escaping air?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmoney7269 View Post
On a side note, i wish you luck and am not trying to deter your project. On pelletheads we have seen many people try to make their own PID device/unique contraption, and the success rate is IMO less than 1%. They come and go and end up spending $100+ on something the doesn't work or works but not how they expected. That's just the realist in me talking. Good luck sir, I will be following this thread also
Thanks for the brace of realism. I'd be skeptical myself except that I've already completed a controller that had more complicated hardware. This one seems easier except (possibly) for the code but I'm a software engineer so I'm confident on that part. Be sure to shoot down any hare-brained ideas I might try. :)
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Unread 10-03-2012, 07:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deeg View Post



I didn't like this idea at first but after thinking about I've come around. It also makes it easier to remove a rack when one of the thermometers is in the meat. Do you put anything around the notch to minimize escaping air?
I cut a vertical notch in the lip, just deep enough to accommodate 2-3 probe wires, with a a wee bit of play so that the wires are not mashed against the drum edge. The air gap is really minimal. I did line the notch with a small bit of foil to protect the probe wires from the metal edge of the drum. The notch works much better then other options. I have done this for both of my drums, and will soon cut notches in all of my cookers... just having a hard time thinking about cutting notches in my kettle though!

Have you read some of the other threads on here re: Arduino based controllers? You may be the first to assemble an Android based one. Of course, the Heatermeter is a superb (and superbly documented) project.

[oh btw - how did you manage to quote multiple posts in your reply? I have been on here a couple of years and have not been able to figure it out!!]
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