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Rock's BBQ Stoker

 
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 6:59 pm    Post subject: Rock's BBQ Stoker Reply with quote

hi, first post here. I'm actually posting in response to a comment for an article on standing rib roast. I'll be starting my holiday roast right after I finish this post Smile Anyway, on to my topic.

Here the pertinent excerpt from the Michael's post:

"The extra ten degrees may account of some of the time discrepancy, but I doubt that it would double the time. I don't know what to say except, in my experience it takes closer to 45 minutes per pound to bring the roast to medium rare. Of course, I've always suspected that the minutes per pound estimate is a really bad hack as it's unlikely that the time it takes to heat a volume of meat is linear and predictable (what if my roast has more surface area than your roast?)... but that means a series of experiments that I cannot afford (both from a time and a money stand point) at this time in my life.."

when I was shopping for a ceramic cooker (I bought a Big Green Egg), I learned of, and also bought a device called The Stoker from Rock's BBQ
(http://rocksbarbque.com/). It is a microcontroller (TINI from Maxim) with jacks for probes and sensors that allow you to control the temperature of your smoker/grill and monitor the internal temperature of your food. Additionally, it comes with an ethernet port and has an embedded http server. So you can control/monitor from your network.

This thing makes it so much easier to do long cooks and allows me to get a full night sleep even if I'm doing an overnight burn. With the temperature stability I get by using the stoker, Ive eeked 23 hour burns out of a single charcoal load in my BGE.

But, if one were so inclined, it also provides lots of data that one can play with. I've not done much playing with the data, but I've seen it plotted on a graph. I can confirm the non-linearity of the temperature as it climbs to its target temperature. I usually stick 2 probes into a pork shoulder and there can be interesting variances in the temperature curve even in the same hunk of meat.

For just over 200 bucks, you get the controller, 3 meat probes, a grid sensor, and a 5 CFS blower. The blower is not necessary if you do not need to use the unit to control the temperature of the cooking environment. but it comes with the package deal. I was unsure about spending that much on the thing, but I'm so glad I did. It has made it a lot easier for me to start using a cooking technique that usually requires close monitoring. So, if you can spend that money, it would also free you up to do other things while you are cooking low and slow.

And if you're inclined to hack, the TINI is a pretty open platform with embedded Java, You can hack the internal software (voiding any warrantee of course). You can also scrape the web page for data, or telnet into the machine and slurp the stream of data that comes out of it.

happy holidays, happy cooking and happy eating.

-Geoff (who is not affiliated with either Rock's or BGE, just an enthusiastic end user)
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Rock's BBQ Stoker Reply with quote

Anonymous wrote:
hi, first post here. I'm actually posting in response to a comment for an article on standing rib roast. I'll be starting my holiday roast right after I finish this post Smile Anyway, on to my topic.

Here the pertinent excerpt from the Michael's post:

"The extra ten degrees may account of some of the time discrepancy, but I doubt that it would double the time. I don't know what to say except, in my experience it takes closer to 45 minutes per pound to bring the roast to medium rare. Of course, I've always suspected that the minutes per pound estimate is a really bad hack as it's unlikely that the time it takes to heat a volume of meat is linear and predictable (what if my roast has more surface area than your roast?)... but that means a series of experiments that I cannot afford (both from a time and a money stand point) at this time in my life.."

when I was shopping for a ceramic cooker (I bought a Big Green Egg), I learned of, and also bought a device called The Stoker from Rock's BBQ
(http://rocksbarbque.com/). It is a microcontroller (TINI from Maxim) with jacks for probes and sensors that allow you to control the temperature of your smoker/grill and monitor the internal temperature of your food. Additionally, it comes with an ethernet port and has an embedded http server. So you can control/monitor from your network.

This thing makes it so much easier to do long cooks and allows me to get a full night sleep even if I'm doing an overnight burn. With the temperature stability I get by using the stoker, Ive eeked 23 hour burns out of a single charcoal load in my BGE.

But, if one were so inclined, it also provides lots of data that one can play with. I've not done much playing with the data, but I've seen it plotted on a graph. I can confirm the non-linearity of the temperature as it climbs to its target temperature. I usually stick 2 probes into a pork shoulder and there can be interesting variances in the temperature curve even in the same hunk of meat.

For just over 200 bucks, you get the controller, 3 meat probes, a grid sensor, and a 5 CFS blower. The blower is not necessary if you do not need to use the unit to control the temperature of the cooking environment. but it comes with the package deal. I was unsure about spending that much on the thing, but I'm so glad I did. It has made it a lot easier for me to start using a cooking technique that usually requires close monitoring. So, if you can spend that money, it would also free you up to do other things while you are cooking low and slow.

And if you're inclined to hack, the TINI is a pretty open platform with embedded Java, You can hack the internal software (voiding any warrantee of course). You can also scrape the web page for data, or telnet into the machine and slurp the stream of data that comes out of it.

happy holidays, happy cooking and happy eating.

-Geoff (who is not affiliated with either Rock's or BGE, just an enthusiastic end user)


Wow, that's some pretty fricken cool hardware! Doesn't it kinda take the fun out of the whole process though?

Biggles
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taterpeel



Joined: 25 Dec 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Rock's BBQ Stoker Reply with quote

DrBiggles wrote:


Wow, that's some pretty fricken cool hardware! Doesn't it kinda take the fun out of the whole process though?

Biggles


I don't think it takes any fun out of it. On the the contrary, it makes it more fun to me and removes some of the tedium of managing a long burn.

The first time I smoked a pork shoulder, I was getting up every 15 minutes fiddling with the vents trying to micro-manage the temperature. That's not the fun part of bbq-ing for me and after several hours, it got a little old. But I am endlessly entertained by being able to raise the target temperature in the software, and immediately seeing the smoke start streaming out of the daisywheel on the Egg when the blower kicks on.

Also, there's a guy who maintains a thick-client app called stokerLog (free but not open source). This has a graph that charts your whole burn. I usually put two probes in the meat. It's interesting to see the difference in the curves of two probes inches from each other in the same hunk of meat. StokerLog also has alarms that will go off if your temperature goes outside of a range that you specify, when the meat reaches your target temperature of if the software loses it's connection to the device. So, I run it on my laptop and crank the volume. It is much more fun to be awoken in the middle of the night to avert a crisis and eat well the next day, than to destroy 10-15 lbs of meat you had planned to feed yourself and your friends.

My Dad also got a kick out of sitting on the couch watching stokerlog plot the graph and announcing periodically, "I'm cooking." (My Dad is an excellent cook, for the record)
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Only Cookware



Joined: 20 May 2007
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well you have sold me on it. Sounds like an awesome gadget. I am like you used to be, keep fiddling when doing a long burn. Thanks for the links I will go and check this gadget out. Combines two of my passions, cooking and computers.
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