Smoking Meat Finds Natural Home In The Cloud

An opened plastic project box with electronics inside

Did you know that backyard barbecues now come with WiFi? It should be no surprise, given the pervasiveness of cloud-enabled appliances throughout the home. However [Carl] wasn’t ready to part with his reliable but oh-so-analog BBQ smoker, so instead he created an affordable WiFi-based temperature monitor that rivals its commercial counterparts.

Accurate temperature measurement is essential to smoking meat from both a taste and safety standpoint. In this project, two Maverick ET-732/733 thermistor probes take care of the actual temperature monitoring. One probe is skewered into meat itself, and the other measures the ambient ‘pit’ temperature. Combined, these two gauges ensure that the meat is smoked for exactly the right length of time. [Carl] mentions that adding an extra temperature sensor is trivial for larger setups, but he’s getting by just fine with two data points.

Naturally an ESP8266 does most of the heavy lifting in bridging the gap between smoke and cloud. At the core of this project is utility and practicality – temperature statistics can be viewed on any device with a web browser. Being able to study the temperature trends in this way also makes it easier to predict cooking times. Electronic alerts are also used to notify the chef if the temperature is too hot or cold (among other things). The entire contraption is housed in a smart looking project box that contains an LCD and rotary encoder for configuration.

If this has piqued your culinary interest, check out the extensive documentation recipe over on GitHub and the project Wiki.  We also recommend checking out this project that takes automated meat smoking to the next level.

15 thoughts on “Smoking Meat Finds Natural Home In The Cloud

  1. While the result is amazing, and the work inspiring, the whole “affordable” aspect might be a stretch. At $100+AU is the same as pre made units (at least some that I’ve seen on that online book-seller).
    I applaud the maker on their DIY work and open-ness though!

  2. Now, just add a small MOSFET driven output to it that will drive a small 12V blower style fan. You can then use this to regulate temperature by changing the amount of air that goes to the fuel basket. Either PWM speed control or low frequency on/off switching would work fine.

    You’ll have to fabricate an adapter for the inlet air damper but this is pretty easy out of some scrap sheet metal.

    1. Just put a stepper on the air damper.

      There should be plenty of convection, if your out of fuel you going cold anyhow. You’d need to go pellet and air control to make it truly automagic. Even then, not really, I go heavy smoke early (couple of hours), then switch to just mesquite charcoal to finish.

      Not really interested. Time spent drinking and minding the smoker is quality time. I test the temp with a touch on the outside. Granting I’m not doing the 14 hour smokes so much anymore. Can’t keep drinking that long in my old age. Just do the baby backs and they’re done in 6.

      Also: Try (young) goat leg. Seriously, it’s like the best lamb you’ll ever eat. Mexican style lime and mint sopping sauce and _fantastic_. Kind of spendy. Look at your local carnecaria (Mexican butcher).

  3. Smoking meat makes it highly carcinogenic because you consume the hydrocarbons that become attached to the meat. While it may not make a difference if you consume it highly infrequently, the creation of such a device makes it apparent the intent to have it more frequently. Frankly, increasing my chances of having to fight and/or die from colon cancer is not my idea of a good time.

    1. Then you shouldn’t eat any red meats at all and become pescetarian if any risk is putting you off. There is a reason Japanese fishers in villages become really old. Or is citylife and stress overall the biggest killer? Food for thought.

  4. Smoking salmon still means you’re eating all those horrible, pesky, cancer causing, delicious carcinogens. You need to become vegan and smoke all your vegetables for the healthy, happy lifestyle you crave. /sarc

  5. Last I saw, cooking was an ART, I never saw classes in the science wing. OK so the process is repeatable, but only McRibs are uniform, and I don’t think they are even pork

  6. While I can see the utility in probes ans timers, I would rather spend the time and money on the smoker first. Keeping the temp from fluctuating is the firat goal. I use my smoker so often and it holds temp better than my oven. All i require is eyeballs and my finger. Poke the meat. After a few runs of that particular cut, you can easily master the finished product. The skill of building a properly sized fire and controlling airflow is more important in my opinion than any sensor. I basicallly set my smoker, takes about 5 minutes to start my coals with a blow torch, then i check the temp 10 minutes later, slap the meat on and walk away.

  7. NO! NO! NO! NO!………NO!!
    Smoking meat or Bar-B-Que (vs grilling which is what most peeps think of when they hear the term)
    is a high form of art that takes a long time to consistently get right, and many never do. Its a slow dance that requires constant attention and light touch to gently and delicately bring the exact amount of heat humidity and smoke into the cooking process.
    Its one of the oldest art forms known to mankind.. its also ( when cold smoking) one of the very best ways to preserve and cure meat. To automate the process is to cheapen it. Its sacriledge. And while the food might be edible, you and your guest will be missing out on the experience of meat cooked to its full potential. Might as well boil the meat first….

    Slow smoking with natural clean and seasoned wood doesnt leave a cancer causing resin. Formed charcoal, lighter fluid and bullshit in the meat and seasonings ( liquid smoke, processed condiments) are the things you want to worry about causing chronic illness.

    While i appreciate the effort, this is one place where automation does not belong, imo.

    Like bread, a machine can make you a decent sammy but the moment you put it next to a hand made loaf done proper, its like eating cardboard.
    Eat less. Eat Better.

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