Jul 31 2015

Chargriller Akorn Kamado Cooker mods

Posted by Seth in BBQ

Thanks to all of the folks at BBQ Brethren and The Virtual Weber Bulletin board for the advice.

I got a great Target Clearance deal on this cooker — $89 out the door, down from $350.  Could not pass it up.

I seasoned it and tested it out with some pizza, and was super impressed. Before I went down the low and slow journey with it, many folks suggested to seal up any possible leaks.   Since I planned on using my new Rotodamper 3 on this grill, it only made sense to heed such advice.

 

Here are the pics of the install.

Gasket Material   (~$14 shipped)

For the top half, clean the rim very well with some adhesive remover (or alcohol) and apply the gasket.

20150731_131654

Chargriller Akorn Gasket

For the ash pan, take it off the grill and use the same technique.

20150731_124424

Chargriller Akorn Gasket

For the vent on the ash pan, remove the 3 screws.  Cut the gasket to fit and apply. Then, replace the metal vent piece.

20150731_125145

 

 

Rotodamper 3 mounted and ready to go :)

20150731_140706

 

Heatermeter page:

hm5

Share
Jul 17 2015

Campfire / Open Fire Rotisserie Setup

Posted by Seth in BBQ

(Inspiration from this thread, and BBQ Brethren member Larred)

Ever since I built a UDS (and scored a CG Akorn for $89 :) ) , my poor CG Smokin’ Pro gets little to no use.  The only real cooking it sees is for the rotisserie setup, which is the stock CG rotisserie kit.

After seeing the thread linked above on BBQ Brethren, I realized I could easily adapt my existing rotisserie gear to any fire,with very little effort.  I went ahead and purchased an extra mount kit, took out my crappy Harbor Freight welder, and got to work.

The pieces are simple — I put it all together by walking around Lowes and fitting things together.

1) Rebar, to drive into the ground and hold the rods that the brackets attach to

2) Rods, the bracket attach to these.  I used some leftover electrical conduit that I laying around. I drilled holes every inch or so, for height adjustment. Used some pins I had laying around for height.

3) Steel bushings, from Lowe’s. You’ll find these in the area that has all of the screws, nuts, bolts, etc..

4) Rotisserie spit rod bushing (as the rods will not always be the same distance apart, I have to be able to adjust. The stock one on my spit doesn’t move any more because it’s old.

 

(note, this welder sucks, and I’m not the greatest welder, so, the welds are not pretty. I know. I don’t care).

Pretty simple after that — I just welded the bushings on to the brackets, drilled some holes in the rods for height adjustment, and voila.   Make sure you aren’t stupid like me, and you weld the bushings off to the side of the brackets. If you weld them down the middle, then the rotisserie spit rod will hit the support rod.

Pretty simple set up — you should be able to duplicate easily. Thanks for visiting!

 

20150717_131624 20150717_131613 20150701_191436 20150701_191111 20150701_191102

 

We took a whole New York Strip loin, trussed it up, and stuck it on the rotisserie.  Amazing!! We did it twice.. the pics are from the first time.  The second one, we put the fire closer to the steaks — that fat layer completely rendered out.

20150619_213256 20150620_184429 20150717_154902 20150717_131613

Share
Aug 04 2014

Heatermeter 4.2.4 Build

Posted by Seth in BBQ

My Heatermeter 4.0 treated me very well.. but compared to my other PID controller projects (here and here), it lacked one thing I wanted, which was Thermocouple support.

The HM community over at TVWBB is amazing.  Bryan and everyone else there (too many to name) are an incredible wealth of knowledge, and the Heatermeter development over the years has been great.   With the release of the Heatermeter 4.2.4 (TVWBB Thread Github), Thermocouple support is now built in.  As soon as the components were available, I ordered them up.

If you are going from a HM 4.0 to 4.2.4, there are a bunch of parts you can reuse, like the ATMega, the Raspberry Pi, and the LCD.   The rest of the components are pretty cheap so, just order new ones.  I ended up getting a new LCD, because, the 10 bucks or so was worth it to me, as I hate desoldering.

 

I haven’t done surface mount soldering in a very long time.. but, it wasn’t that bad. If my hands were not so shaky, this would look neater. To me, it looks like crap, but it works, so, oh well.

Here are the Thermocouple components soldered on:

hm42-003

Heatermeter 4.2 Thermocouple SMD components

 

Testing per the thermocouple testing procedure.. good to go! (13.8v input)

fancy testing holder..

fancy testing holder..

Testing Thermocouple Amplifier on Heatermeter

Testing Thermocouple Amplifier on Heatermeter

 

 

Bit of soldering later.. all assembled!

Heatermeter 4.2 assembled

Heatermeter 4.2 assembled

Heatermeter 4.2 assembled

Heatermeter 4.2 assembled

 

Since I reused my Raspberry Pi from my HM 4.0, I just mated up the new HM and it started right up with the old settings.  Awesome!

Just waiting on a case and roto-damper now to complete the upgrade project.

Share
Dec 27 2013

NJ Gaming – Geolocation Problems?

Posted by Seth in Uncategorized

One perk (some see it that way?) of living in New Jersey, is that I can take part in some of the new online casinos that have sprung up.  Getting signed up was a breeze, but, actually playing for real money was a real pain in the ass for me.

My home computer is a desktop, wired into the home network, in my basement.  Wireless signals from surrounding houses have no chance of being received down there. When I went to play for the first time, I was disappointed that the geolocation software for Borgata and Tropicana could not figure out that I was in New Jersey — even after enabling it on my mobile phone.   Their support was, for the most part, useless. They told me to call Comcast and get them to fix the location data on my IP address (fat chance of that!)

After talking with support people from the Tropicana and Borgata, it came out that the geolocation software uses data from Google Location data. Google Location data (when enabled on your phone) sends Google data about nearby wireless networks, along with cell tower location.   Support teams said I was not in range of enough Wireless networks to get a good fix… which is a problem that most people who live in standalone houses will have.

How to get around it?

 

My Router runs TomatoUSB.  I added 3 extra virtual SSID’s to the router, with ridiculously long WPA passwords that I’ll never use.  I fired up Google Maps on my phone, turned off location data, then turned it back on..  waited 24-48 hours, and now the geolocation software works, and I can play online.

If you have similar problems, fire up some extra wireless SSID’s in your house, then get that data to Google, somehow (Google Maps + location data enabled on phone is the easiest).

Share
Jan 17 2013

DIY 12 Volt PID Smoker Controller

Posted by Seth in BBQ

While my last PID controller build is extremely versatile and a multi-tasker, the only drawback is that it requires AC power to operate.  I recently put together an Ugly Drum Smoker, which unlike my CharGriller, is (somewhat) portable.  The need came up for me to build a PID + blower fan rig that could be powered from AC, but also portable power if necessary. Luckily for me, the JLD612 comes in a 12 volt model, and with a background in car electronics, this 12-volt setup was a cake walk.  This particular build is not a multi-tasker, just a straight up smoker controller.

While at home, I can power it with a standard 12 volt wall wart power supply, and when on the go, I can use a jump pack, or even a car battery and some alligator clips.

Just like anything I post, this is the way *I* built this unit. Is it the only way to do it? Nope. Is it the absolute best? Probably not. But it works for me, and should give you, the reader, enough information to help you figure out something on your own.

Completed unit

Completed unit

Parts List

Here are the parts I used for my build – many have “See Power Input Notes below” because you can pick and choose whatever type of physical input power connector you wish.. this is just what I ended up with myself. There are infinite choices, many better ones than I have used, you’re free to do what you wish.

  • 1x JLD-612 (12 Volt Model) PID Temperature Controller – $36.50 US
  • 1x Digikey P/N 603-1177-ND 15.3CFM 12V Blower Fan – $15.53 US
  • 1x Digikey P/N HM923-ND Project Box – $15.13 US
  • (See Power Input Notes below) 1x Digikey P/N T1061-P5P-ND 12volt Power Supply – Size M Connector- $14.70 US
  • 1x PT100 Sensor Probe – $15.50 US
  • 1x TPJ-U-F thermocouple panel jack – $4.70 US
  • 1x OTP-U-M thermocouple male plug – $3.90 US
  • (See Power Input Notes below) 1x Digikey P/N SC-1047-ND *OR* Radio Shack 274-1563 Size ‘M’ Panel Connector ~$4 US
  • (See Power Input Notes Below) 1x DigiKey P/N 763KSW-ND *OR* Radio Shack 274-1569 Size ‘M’ DC Power Plug ~$4 US
  • (See Power Input Notes Below) 1x 12 Volt SPST Switch (optional – have a look at Digikey’s catalog or a Radio Shack Example that I used) ~$4 US
  • Standard Automotive 12 volt relay (something like this) – ~$5 US at any Auto Parts store, I had some laying around
  • (Optional) 2x Barrier strips, at least 3 positions – like these – don’t forget the jumpers
  • 1″ ID x 3/4″ MIP Nylon Hose Barb (Home Depot part A-625 in the nylon hose part area)
  • Hose to connect to your smoker – I used 1″ ID plastic bilge hose from Home Depot
  • (Optional) 1x Warning light, 12volt powered, if you plan on using the built in alarm functions of the JLD612
  • 1x Fan guard, salvaged from parts laying around.  Digikey’s fan guard section
  • 1x Fuse holder Example 1 Example 2 – along with a 1amp 12 volt fuse
  • M4 nuts and bolts to mount the fan
  • Various quick disconnect crimp connectors.  If you have a well stocked electrical connector box for automotive stuff, that will get you through it
  • Hot glue gun to mount components like the barrier strips
  • Dremel tool / drill, to mount everything in the box

Power Input Notes

I chose to use a wall wart for my 12 volt power source (when AC is available), and also put an on/off switch for the whole unit.  You don’t need to use either, but you can if you want.  I actually bought the wall wart, but, if you go digging in your junk pile at your residence, you will probably find a 12V power supply that works just fine for you from an old phone or router.  You may also decide to use this away from any type of power source ever, and just use a 12 Volt battery or jump starting pack (my whole reason for building a 12 volt PID in the first place) – in that case, pick whatever type of physical power input plug works for you.  Digikey and Radio Shack have extensive choices, have fun with their catalogs.

Relay Talk

The JLD612 has two different methods of activating the heating device, in our case, a blower fan.  It can use the built-in relay J2, or it can use the built in SSR (solid state relay) control.  Since I had relays laying around, my build uses the J2 option.  If you want to use an SSR, by all means, go right ahead. Sample units are here and here.  The advantage of using an SSR is that you could use the built in alarm functions of the JLD612 to activate warning lights (anything, really) on low or high temperature conditions, while using the SSR output for the PID control.  In my setup, J2 is tied up with PID control, so only J1 is available for alarm output.

Fan Output – Rectangle in to a round hole?

When I first envisioned this thing, my only real question without having the parts in my hand was if the rectangular output of the fan would mate up to the circular hose barb – more importantly, if I would have to block off the air from the fan exit so that it would only blow out of the hose barb, and not just blow inside the project box.  The answer is, no, I did not have to block off any of the fan exit.  When I mounted everything, I lined it up as best I could, and plenty of air comes out of the barb without any sort of special ductwork.  I am actually impressed at the amount of air that this fan moves.

Component Mounting

I mounted the JLD612 and thermocouple jack first.  Make templates with cardboard for the JLD612 and thermocouple panel jack. Transfer these templates to the plastic project box and start cutting.  My JLD612 is mounted high on the box as far as I can go, while still being able to attach the wire terminals for pins 6-10 on the JLD612, and leaves enough space for the fan to fit in the box.

Closeup of fan mounting post

Closeup of fan mounting post

Once the JLD612 is in place, I worked on mounting the hose barb, which is the fan output.  I first placed the fan in the box and mounted it as high as I could without interfering with the JLD612, but also clearing the plastic ridge inside the box.   I then marked its two mounting holes and drilled holes in the plastic box. Using a 2″ M4 machine screw, I secured the screw through the box, with a nut on the inside. I then added 1 nut to each screw, so the fan stood off of the box by about a 1/4″ (eyeballed).  Once the fan was mounted, I marked the center location of the fan output, and drilled the hole for the hose barb.   Mount the hose barb with the conduit nuts, then adjust the location of the fan so that it is centered in the host barb opening. Once it’s centered, add another nut to each screw to hold the fan securely.

Mounting hole for JLD612.  Posts for the fan, and barb mounted.

Mounting hole for JLD612. Posts for the fan, and barb mounted.

The switch, warning light, and power input jack all mount through drilled holes.  The relay inside mounts on one of the fan screw posts with a nut, just so it’s not bouncing around.

Wiring

  • Input voltage comes in through the M connector.  Negative (aka ground in the 12V world) goes straight to the Negative Barrier Strip. +12v goes through the switch, to the fuse holder, then to the +12V Barrier Strip.
  • Supply +12V from barrier strip to the JLD612 on pins 1, 4*, 13, and the relay pin 30
  • Supply -12V from barrier strip to the JLD612 pin 2, Relay pin 85,  fan negative, warning light negative*, and your switch if you chose a lighted one
  • Connect the red pin of your thermocouple to pin 8 of the JLD612 (through panel jack)
  • Connect each blue pin of your thermocouple to pin 9 and 10 of the JLD612 (through panel jack)
  • Connect pin 14 of the JLD612 to pin 86 of the relay
  • Connect pin 87 of the relay to the fan positive input
  • Connect pin 5 of the JLD612 to your warning light +12v*

*Warning light not pictured at the time of writing this

Everything mounted and wired

Everything mounted and wired

 

That’s about it as far as construction goes!  You will want to familiarize yourself with the PID controller manual  and set all of the configuration parameters properly on the first use.  My settings are as follows on the ‘0089’ set menu:

  • IntY =  PT 10 0   (Pt100 thermocouple, this setting will show temp in .1 increments)
  • OutY = 1 (PID controls J2 )
  • rd = 0 (heating control)
  • CorF = 1 (Fahrenheit)

On the ‘0001’ set menu, I have the following settings, for the high temperature warning light to come on at 230F and go out at 228F:

  • AH1 = 230
  • AL1 = 228

On the ‘0036’ set menu, I have the following setting due to me using a mechanical relay. For an SSR, leave this alone:

  • ot = 5  (Recommended to use 5-15, TBD what setting I end up with. This keeps the relay from cycling so much and wearing out)
The  PID settings are set through the AutoLearn function of the JLD612.
Maiden voyage, on the UDS

Maiden voyage, on the UDS

Fan finger screen

Fan finger screen

 

Side view, thermocouple plug and hose barb

Side view, thermocouple plug and hose barb. Don’t mind my dremel oops.

 

Tested the controller out with a cigarette lighter plug.. works great off a jump pack

Tested the controller out with a cigarette lighter plug.. works great off a jump pack

 

Share
Jan 17 2013

Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) Build

Posted by Seth in BBQ
First pork butts out of the UDS

First pork butts out of the UDS

While my CharGriller Smokin’ Pro has done me right over the years, I wanted to build another smoker with more capacity.  Originally, I was going to build an offset smoker with a 55 gallon drum.  Once I started researching that, I came across plans for an Ugly Drum Smoker, and after a ton of reading, decided to go that route.

My plans were based off all of the reading in the BBQ-Brethern.com thread, as well as the plans from this site.  All the credit goes to them.. I didn’t invent anything, I just did a lot of reading and followed recommendations.

Upon setting out, I knew I wanted two things out of this.

  1. Two cooking grates (twice the cooking area :) ).  That means I had to use a dome lid
  2. PID control -done, see here

For #1, many folks take the lid off of a Weber 22.5″ grill, which fits directly on a 55 gallon drum without any modification. I wasn’t about to drop a bunch of coin just to get a lid, and I don’t need another grill, so I found an alternative.  This Uniflame 22.5″ Grill from Walmart has a lid that will fit a 55 gallon drum with a tiny modification – see Thread 1 or Thread 2. Bonus – the grill was on clearance at Walmart, I picked a few of them up for $20 a piece.

The Build

I have friends in the auto industry, and they in turn have access to 55 gallon drums.  My cost on the drum was 0, but you can find them in the Philly area quite easily for about $25 if you look on Craigslist.

I also have friends with a Powdercoating business, so I was able to get a quality powdercoating job on the entire outside of the drum done in a nice, bright blue, without breaking the bank.  I could have painted the drum like most people, but the powdercoating came out AWESOME and it will last for years to come.

Check out Precision Powdercoating, that’s where I had the drum done. Tell them I sent you!

Anyways ..

First I had the drum completely sandblasted.  This is also a requirement before powdercoating, so I probably did not need to get this done twice.  In the following pictures, the gray color is the bare metal of the drum after sandblasting.

First step before painting or powdercoating is to make all of the necessary holes and modifications to the drum.

Marking the 3 air inlet holes I tied a string around the drum, took it off, marked it off in thirds, transferred the marks to the drum and drilled.

Marking the 3 air inlet holes
I tied a string around the drum, took it off, marked it off in thirds, transferred the marks to the drum and drilled.

 

I used tape to mark center lines across the top of the drum. Once I had even marks    around, I made my holes for mounting the grate holder bolts, thermometer, handles, and thermocouple.

I used tape to mark center lines across the top of the drum.
Once I had even marks around, I made my holes for mounting the grate holder bolts, thermometer, handles, and thermocouple.

Mounting holes for various items

Mounting holes for various items

 

The inside rim of the drum was rough, from removal of the original top (the drum was sealed)

The inside rim of the drum was rough, from removal of the original top (the drum was sealed)

 

Took the angle grinder to smooth out  the inside lip

Took the angle grinder to smooth out the inside lip

 

To make the Uniflame lid fit snugly, I took some 1/8" thick 1 1/2" aluminum flat bar, bent it around the inside of the lip, then riveted it into place.  Start at one end, place rivets about every 6 inches. Trim the flat bar once you are at the very end (and don't cut it too short like I did, otherwise you have to fill a gap)

To make the Uniflame lid fit snugly, I took some 1/8″ thick 1 1/2″ aluminum flat bar, bent it around the inside of the lip, then riveted it into place.
Start at one end, place rivets about every 6 inches. Trim the flat bar once you are at the very end (and don’t cut it too short like I did, otherwise you have to fill a gap)

 

Dome fits snug now!

Dome fits snug now!

I used the hinge hardware that came with the Uniflame grill, and attached it to the UDS.The only modifications to the hinges that were necessary was to make new holes for the pins to go through .. easy work with a drill.

I used the hinge hardware that came with the Uniflame grill, and attached it to the UDS.
The only modifications to the hinges that were necessary was to make new holes for the pins to go through .. easy work with a drill.

 

Modified hinge mechanism

Modified hinge mechanism

Once all of the holes were done, I disassembled everything and sent the drum out for powdercoat (outside of the drum only!).  Once it came back, I mounted all of the hardware up, using stainless hardware. To seal the drum well, you should use high temp RTV around each and every fastener from the inside of the drum (yes, it is food safe).   I didn’t do this step, and I had a ton of oil leak out of each and every fastener hole, staining my fresh powdercoat job :(   Seal the aluminum lip for the lid, from the bottom of the lip inside the drum, to keep air from leaking out.  I used a flashlight place inside the drum, facing up at my face, to see the air gaps and make sure I sealed it properly.

For the charcoal basket, I used the charcoal grate from the Uniflame grill, and expanded steel. I bent the expanded steel around a propane tank to get the basic shape, then welded it to the grate and itself, forming a cylinder.  I then took a cheap $5 aluminum pizza pan from Walmart to use as an ash pan, using stainless 3″ bolts to offset it from the rest of the basket.

 

Here's the charcoal basket.  I scrapped the original handle idea and just put a bar across the top.

Here’s the charcoal basket. I scrapped the original handle idea and just put a bar across the top.

Used nuts and bolts to hold the steel together while I welded it.   (p.s. my welding skills suck, I know!)

Used nuts and bolts to hold the steel together while I welded it. (p.s. my welding skills suck, I know!)

 

That’s about it! Along with my 12v PID controller, the UDS has proven to be quite awesome!

More pics:

Assembly complete, ready to go

Assembly complete, ready to go

 

UDS and basket

UDS and basket

 

Seal your holes well.. or you get THIS!

Seal your holes well.. or you get THIS!

 

 

Share
Mar 15 2012

100% Whole Wheat Quick Ciabatta Recipe

Posted by Seth in Bread, Food

100% Whole Wheat Ciabatta Bread - Sundried Tomato, Garlic, Basil version

Ciabatta bread is one of my favorite breads to make sandwiches with, or just toast up and top for breakfast.  Finding a whole wheat one (aka ciabatta integrale), however, is near impossible, so, I make my own.  I have a goal to scratch make as much food as I possibly can, and only buy ingredients instead of the finished product, so I’ve been developing many bread recipes lately and this is the second one that I’ll be sharing.

Inspiration comes from here

The recipe that I based mine off of is not 100% Whole Wheat..  so I’ve adapted it to make it 100% by adding Vital Wheat Gluten and Diastatic Malt Powder.  The rest of the recipe and process is about the same. 

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, get one.  Measuring by weight will give you consistent results with making bread, versus measuring by volume.

This is a very wet dough .. don’t be alarmed :)

Looking to make a more interesting loaf?  Throw in some ingredients during the mixing stage!!  In these pictures, you’ll see my version of the bread which includes Sundried tomato, garlic, and basil.

Ingredients

  • 500g Whole Wheat flour
  • 475g Warm Water (~2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Diastatic Malt Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 15g salt
  1. Place all ingredients into your stand mixer, and mix all ingredients with the paddle until combined. Let rest 10 minutes
  2. Leaving the paddle in, start working the dough on the lowest speed setting for about 10-30 minutes.  You are looking for the dough to separate from the sides of the bowl, and start to climb up the paddle – if it climbs too soon, switch to the dough hook.
  3. Pour into a well oiled container and let it triple – this should take about 2-3 hours
  4. Dump the dough (use a spatula if you have to) on to an extremely well floured surface, and cut it into half.  Stretch both halfs out to oblong rectangle shapes, and place on to well oiled pieces of parchment paper.  Cover them with well oiled plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. If you are baking on baking sheets, put the dough and parchment paper on them now.  After you have tried this recipe once, you will see how the dough behaves and will be able to safely transfer on to a well floured peel and bake on a stone. 
  5. Have your oven to 500F by the end of the 45 minutes, and also have a few cups of boiling water ready at the 45 minute mark. Also, place a crappy cooking sheet or baking pan on the bottom shelf.
  6. Flipping the dough before baking is in the original recipe, but I’ve skipped it without noticing any difference.  The dough will be easily flattened, so be careful with it.  It does have quite an oven spring, but not enough to undo any damage you’ve done.   If you take the flipping route, I suggest placing a second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough, and then flipping the whole shebang upside down to transfer – don’t pinch it with your fingers. Remember, this dough is very sticky.
  7. Place the dough in to the oven, either on pans or transfer on to a stone.  Before closing the door, pour a cup of your boiling water in to your crappy pan on the bottom shelf, or directly on the oven floor,  and quickly close the door.  Every 3 minutes for the first 9 minutes, open the door and quickly spritz the walls with a squirt bottle of water, or pour more water on your pan.  This steam is what creates a nice crust on the bread.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until you have a nice brown bread and internal temperature registers 205F.

 

Share
Jan 30 2012

100% Whole Wheat Bagel Recipe

Posted by Seth in Bread, Food

100% Whole Wheat Everything Bagels

 

Inspiration and original credit goes to this site

 

Well, add one more thing that I will be making at home and never buying again – bagels.  This recipe is extremely simple, if you have a stand mixer, then you need to try it!

Base Recipe

This base recipe is good for just the bagel – variations are highly suggested, I put a few ideas below.

Making the Sponge

You will need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (active yeast also worked fine for me).  I picked up this stuff, as I need it often and the price is damn good compared to a retail store.
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) Whole Wheat Flour.  I use this stuff, usually priced about 75cents a pound at Wegmans, and there are often coupons in the Sunday paper.
  • 2 tablespoons Vital Wheat Gluten. If you’re having a hard time finding it, go to Whole Foods, it’s cheaper in the bulk section than in the box
  • 11oz. water (warm enough to activate yeast, read your yeast package for temperatures)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the above 4 ingredients and whisk together until everything is incorporated. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours, by then it should be bubbly and will collapse a little if the bowl is tapped on the counter.

Sponge, after 2 hour rise

Dough Ingredients

You will need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast
  • 7 oz. (1 3/4 cup) Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (I did 2 batches without it so far, no issues. Not sure if this makes a difference yet, but I will post an update once I receive some)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • Variations (see below)
Making the Dough

Mix the yeast in with the sponge so it is well incorporated, then add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl.  Using the dough hook on low, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, it took about 5-6 minutes for me.  If you have any variations that you want to be part of the dough, add them during this kneading cycle.

Dough Ball, everything seasoning mixed in

Dough Ball, everything seasoning mixed in

Divide the dough into 3 oz. portions for smaller bagels, 4.5 oz. portions for larger bagels.  Put the dough balls on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, and cover with a damp towel and rest for 20 minutes.

Bagel Dough Balls

Bagel Dough Balls

Pick up each dough ball and push your thumb through the middle to make a hole, then stretch out to make bagel shapes.  Put the bagels back on the baking sheet and let rest again for 20 minutes, cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bagel Dough.. taking shape

Bagel Dough.. taking shape

To see if the bagels are ready to rest in the fridge overnight, put one of them in a shallow bowl of water. If it floats within a few seconds (See below), then it is ready.  Dry off the test bagel, place it back on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place into the fridge for the night and up to two days.

Dough is floating.. it's ready to rest

Dough is floating.. it's ready to rest


Variations
Plan bagels are boring – so I make flavored ones.  Possibilities are endless, so try whatever you like! Just be careful about adding sugar or anything fermentable before the rise, as the yeast will eat it and you may end up with a much larger rise than you expected.
Everything Bagels
  • Combine equal parts dried minced garlic, dried onion, poppy seed, sesame seed, caraway seed, and 1/4 part salt. Put a few tablespoons of this into the dough during kneading if you want the seasoning inside the dough (it’s awesome), and the rest will be used to coat the outside of the bagel after the boil
Cinnamon Raisin Bagels
  • Combine two teaspoons and about 3/4 cup of raisins into the dough during kneading

 

Cooking the Bagels

  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and bring a wide pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the water pot.
  • Remove the bagels from the fridge, and gently drop into the boiling water.  Boil for one minute, turn them, and boil the second side for another minute.  Remove them from the boiling water and onto a rack to dry out for a few seconds.
Boiling Bagels

Boiling Bagels

  • Once they come out of the boil, now is the time to dip them into any seasoning, such as for everything bagels, rye bagels, garlic bagels, etc..
Bagles, out of the boil and seasoned up

Bagels, out of the boil and seasoned up

  • Place each bagel onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 5 minutes at 500 degrees, rotate the pan 180 degrees, then lower the heat to 450 degrees and bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until the bagels are nice and brown
  • Remove from the oven, cool on a wiring rack for as long as you like, and enjoy!  I would wait about 10-15 minutes until serving.

 

100% Whole Wheat Everything Bagels left / Cinnamon Raisin right

100% Whole Wheat Everything Bagels left / Cinnamon Raisin right

 

Enjoy with some of your favorite spread!

 

100% Whole Wheat Everything Bagel w/ homemade Lox spread

100% Whole Wheat Everything Bagel w/ homemade Lox spread

Share
Jan 24 2012

DIY PID Control for BBQ, Sous Vide, Mash Tun, whatever….

Posted by Seth in BBQ, Food, Homebrew
My DIY PID Controller for BBQ, Sous Vide, Home Brew

My DIY PID Controller for BBQ, Sous Vide, Home Brew

 (update: go HERE for a 12 volt BBQ controller!)

 

I’ve been slacking on the blog, I know, been busy!

Here’s a project that’s been in the works for a while, and I wanted to test it out to make sure it works well before sharing with everyone.. well, here it is! A DIY PID controller for a smoker, sous vide cooking, mash tun, whatever you can think of, that doesn’t break the bank. After a few runs in the smoker and sous vide (a la crockpot), I can say, it’s awesome !!!!

What is PID? Basically you tell it what temperature you want something, and it figures out how to hold that temperature. It’s nerdy and involves lots of math.  I can’t explain it too well, so go and read about it here.

PID Controller, Sous Vide style, powering a crockpot

When I set out to build this, I wanted to keep costs down (obviously), but I wanted it to be versatile, so I decided to build everything with modular plugs, so that thermocouples and outputs could be swapped in a matter of seconds.  Everything fits into a project box, and all you do is plug in power (input), a thermocouple (thermometer for you noobs), and then plug in an output device, whether it is a blower fan, a crock pot, a heating element, whatever. All of the components in my design are good for 15 amps, so a ~1500 watt heating element should be no issue. Wiring is simple and contained completely within the project box. I chose to do a simple design for the first incarnation of this device, but I have some ideas for another one. The PID controller has alarm outputs (such as over/under temperature) that could potentially control other items, such as a damper to release extra heat in the smoker, outputs to my X10 devices to page me, etc… the possibilities are endless.

Parts List

  • 1x JLD612 PID Controller – $33.50 US
  • 1x Submersible thermocouple – $19.50 US – this is for Sous Vide only
  • 1x PT100 thermocouple – $16.50 US – this is mounted in my smoker
  • 1x ESSR-25DAC 25amp DC in / AC Out Solid State Relay (SSR)- $8.95 US
  • 1x EHS-SSR25A  heat sink for the SSR – $4.25 US
  • 1x TPJ-U-F thermocouple panel jack – $4.50 US
  • 2x OTP-U-M thermocouple male plug – $3.50 US each (only need one per thermocouple
  • 1x 486-1083-ND – female NEMA-15 outlet (output outlet) – $1.42 US
  • 1x CCM1909-ND – power entry module w/ switch (input) – $7.66 US (you can go with a more simple input plug without a switch, but I wanted a switch on mine, and these fit your standard computer power wires)
  • 1x HM928-ND project box – $17.82 US – Digikey’s site is very easy to search, if you need a bigger box, then look around – just make sure the dimensions are deep enough for all of your components.
  • 1x 1053-1118-ND 14CFM blower fan – you can go bigger or smaller, this one seems to work great on my Chargriller
  • 2x Barrier strips, at least 3 positions – like these – don’t forget the jumpers
  • 1x stainless steel pet water bowl, to mount the fan to the BBQ – see picture.  Found it at Walmart for a few bucks
  • Various M4 screws, to mount SSR heatsink to the SSR. Take them both with you to Lowe’s/Home Depot and figure it out
  • Heat sink paste for the SSR
  • Various quick disconnect crimp connectors.  If you have a well stocked electrical connector box for automotive stuff, that will get you through it
  • Hot glue gun to mount components like the barrier strips
  • Dremel tool / drill, to mount everything in the box

Wiring

Wiring is pretty easy – you can see most of it in the picture.  Use at least 14ga on the 120volt stuff.  The DC is low current, but I still used 16gauge because that’s what I had around.  Thermocouple wiring comes with the thermocouples, I just changed the connectors.  Specific wiring info:

  • For 120v – the hot side of the input module goes through the switch and feeds a barrier strip.  One barrier strip output goes to the output side of the SSR, the other output goes to the PID controller on pin #1. SSR Output goes to the output module hot.
  • The neutral side of the input module feeds a barrier strip.  One barrier strip output goes to the neutral of the output module, the other goes to the PID controller on pin #2.
  • The ground wire goes directly from the input module ground, to the output module ground.
  • The thermocouple panel has one plug that is larger – I used that for the red. Connect that to pin #8 on the PID. Connect the two blues to pins #9 and #10
  • Connect Pin #6 of the PID to the + Input of the SSR
  • Connect Pin #7 of the PID to the – Input of the SSR

PID Controller, wired up in the project box

Component Mounting

Mounting components was simple.  The input module, output module, PID controller, and thermocouple plug all require some dremel work to make mounting holes, then they snap into place. I used some hot glue for added security. My input is on the right in the picture above, the output and thermocouple  is on the left.

The heatsink mounts to the project box with screws, those are the 2 screws that you see on the first picture of this post that show through the front.  I did not want to use glue for this part, as this part gets hot, I don’t need it coming loose inside.

When mounting the Thermocouple in your smoker, you want it as close to the cooking surface as possible, and also nearest to any potential hotspot.  Remember, with smoking, high temperature is bad and will ruin food, low temperature only extends cooking times. On my Chargriller Smokin’ Pro, this meant the thermocouple was mounted about an inch off of the cooking surface, on the right side of the cooking area, nearest to the side fire box.  My smoker can vary temperatures up to 15 degrees from side to side.

That’s about it as far as construction goes!  You will want to familiarize yourself with the PID controller manual  and set all of the configuration parameters properly on the first use.  My settings are:

  • IntY =  PT 10 0   (Pt100 thermocouple, this setting will show temp in .1 increments)
  • OutY = 2 (PID controls SSR )
  • rd = 0 (heating control)
  • CorF = 1 (Fahrenheit)
The  PID settings are set through the AutoLearn function of the JLD612.

Blower fan, mounted on the side firebox of a Chargriller Smokin’ Pro

As for usage of the device, it’s too easy.  For me, every time I fire up the BBQ or Sous Vide, I put in my set temperature, and kick off the autolearn function of the JLD612, and walk away.  It will figure out how to control the temperature on its own. Four Sous Vide and any type of electric heating element, the accuracy is surprising – it will hold temperature to within .1 degree F with no trouble at all.  For something like a smoker that has varying amounts of fuel, it does a great job from temperatures becoming too cold when you are low on fuel, but be very careful about adding too much wood or charcoal.  I am very familiar with my smoker and know how much it needs, but you can easily overdo it and have a fire much hotter than you desire.  Remember, this device (as-is built in this post) can only add heat, it cannot remove it.  If you want to get fancy with alarm outputs, you could definitely use this controller to trigger some sort of contraption to clear heat out of a smoker if need be.
The results.. see for yourself!!

Here’s a brisket that was done using this controller

 

Teriyaki Chicken Breast, Sous vide

 

Some more pictures of the box:

Another wiring view

 

Thermocouple port and output port

 

Input module, accepts standard computer power supply plug

 

Thermocouple mounted on the smoker (since moved to the other side)

Share
Jul 05 2011

Raised Bed Garden – July 2011 Update

Posted by Seth in Gardening, Home Improvement

My garden that I built way back when (ok, so a few months ago..) is doing great.  For as much work as I put in, I am starting to reap the benefits, and I can’t wait until next year where I don’t have to focus on construction.   I thought I would update everyone on the lessons learned so far, and some things I will be doing differently next year.

First..  I severely underestimated how tall my tomato and cucumber plants would get. I was used to having a dinky container garden at my old apartment, now that the plants are in the ground and being properly watered, they are growing like they should – and my trellis is definitely not tall enough. Next year, I will be building a much taller trellis, using the 3/4″ electrical conduit and tent parts that I built the protective cage out of.  Total height will be in the 8-10 foot range, it will be the last time I build it for sure!  When the plants were young, I trimmed back the lower branches to promote upward growth – that was definitely successful!

The cucumber vines are ridiculously long, one of them I would guess is at least 10 feet. You can train them to go where you want, but I just ran out of trellis for them – I’m letting them go wherever they want now.  Good news is the tomatoes are already mature and they don’t seem to mind.

For reference.. the random poles holding up tomato plants on the right of the big bed are 10 feet long!

Part of the garden.. holy tall tomato plants!!

Next.. the hops plant will require some sort of extraordinary system to climb up as well, as it’s well over my garage roof already. Some sort of 30′ tall contraption with pulley system is in order.

Probably the best money spent so far is the irrigation system.   I water twice a day, 5pm & 5am, for 95 minutes.  The plants are doing great!  I have been adding some vegetable plant food per the directions on the container at the recommended interval, and it’s helped tremendously, probably because this is brand new soil and was lacking some nutrients.  I have a nice compost pile going that will be great for the next growing season.

Honeydew, Canteloupe, Watermelon vines

The watermelon, honeydew, and canteloupe vines are EVERYWHERE.  Next year, I probably won’t plant as many as they are hard to manage.  There are overgrown weeds in the neighbor’s yard, on the other side of my fence, which I need to cut back, but you can see how the melon plants have taken over this area.

Peas – thanks to my cousin’s advice, I found out why they are not doing so well.. they do not do well in the heat. I just put some seeds in the shade of the tomato plants, we’ll see if they do well or not.  Next year, I’ll be planting these much earlier / later in the season, when it’s not so hot.

 The squash plants are in the main bed with all of the pepper plants.. they have really taken off and are HUGE. They are starting to overtake the pepper plants, I will be keeping a close eye to make sure this does not hinder the peppers at all, if it does, I will cut back the squash if I have to.

 

Share