Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New electronics developing....

Arduino UNO, uOLED-128-G1h,xBee Series 2, 18B20 temperature sensor, HIH-4030 humidity sensor, OMRON G3NA-220B SSR for heat element control. Still considering MAX6675 temperature sensor for foord temperature probe.
Ah, and still missing some MOSFETs for motor control.

That should do it. For new smoker electronics, that is.

This development version will have two-way radio link and some other more advnced goodies.
Old smoker decided to end its career by breaking wood feeder link when one woodchip puck got stuck and due to overpowered motor some parts broke.

I wonder how could I detect the current motor is using? That way the system could shut down and alert the operator when pucks get stuck and cause system overload.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Uusi versio, kasaus aloitettu.

Koneistoa yksinkertaistettu kovasti:

Tuohon viela jostain metallilevysta runko ja puukiekkojen syottoputki niin paasee kokeilemaan.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Smoker v2...

Simplified mechanics on the way, sw 90% ready, need to do PCB.
Waiting to receive some parts from internet suppliers. Pictures after they arrive.
Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


First real test run done.
Yesterday evening before going to bed I set up the system with temp setting 85C and full magazine of smoke pucks. Oh, and one brisket.

Unfortunately last night was a bit cold. System could not get temperature higher than 70C and due to a software bug (what was I thinking? Probaply nothing, as usual) feeder spent five hours worth of pucks in about two hours before getting jammed due to too low stepper motor current limiter setting.

Anyhow... Brisket turned out tender, moist and delicious:

This morning I changed the setting to cold smoking, put piece of salmon there, loaded magazine, set the temperature to 7C, started the system and slipped and slided to work.

Soon (relatively soon, in a day or two) to be cold smoked salmon:

After about 2hrs, I got message from home saying there is no more smoke!
Went home during lunchbreak and checked the system.

Again I built something with too tight tolerances. Apparently about 2% of smoke pucks are 3mm thicker than "normal" pucks. That caused puck to jam in feeding system.
Fixed by checking all remaining pucks and discarding too fat ones.
Since then system has been running flawlessly about seven hours. Two more hours and salmon will move from smoker to fridge overnight and from there to tomorrows lunch.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smoke on the wat....

Well. Technically yes because it was next to pool.

First 2hrs test run went perfectly (after minor tweaking of limit switch).

Oh, and the smoking evidence:

Yes. It is not image manipulation. It really smokes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Flux capacitor is working!

Yesterday I finally got the new flux capacitor working. Unfortunately the subspace resonance field distorted the reality field of my cameras image cell so no video of first test run. Sorry.
Here is a picture of it powered up but not running in full power.

Another milestone on my way to world dominance was achieved today when I finally got the infinite improbability drive working. Does not look much but took some time to get it running.

Depleted trilithium waste port in action:

First real life test nears. Yesterday evening I already converted some fresh fish to delicious dinner with my new flux capacitor.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Heat controller...

Almost done. Everything else works but the heat controlling does not...

Why not?
Well.... After connecting everything, I realized this eBay-based Sestos PID heat controller outputs 12V for SSR. SSR? Solid state relay.
Few minutes with google gave me the specifications of this controller and there they say it is 12V/30mA! I don't have any relays that operate with less than 80mA.

Time to go to Tanner Electronics...

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Smoker electronics and sw done!

Yesterday, between rolling blackouts, I finally finished the final finalization of the brainbox of the smoker.

Parts from top:
Come 1x16 LCD with LCD#117 serialization piggyback module from P. Anderson
(Red) Easydriver stepper motor driver from Sparkfun
Microchip PIC 18F2580 programmed with CCS C.
In the end of ribbon cable on left: DS18B20 temperature sensor from Sparkfun.

Next: smoking puck magazine installation, connecting wires and first test run.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Progress report

Howdy folks.

Today, after some wallpapering, house cleaning etc. I continued my little pet project...

The frame I made out of aluminium square pipe was not good. The frame itself uses too much space. So I designed a new one. Google sketchup is just wonderful piece of software. I measured all components, created simple placeholders for them and then put them together with some 2mm plate holding them in place. Measurements show the dimensions of aluminium plate to be cut.

Now when we had a drawn plans, started cutting:

Required holes were easy to make with a mini mill (to be converted to CNC mill later, I hope):

Then some bending with "el cheapo" bench brake. (Why it is called a brake?)

After a while this was the result:

Mechanical components and heating element in place, some minor adjustments still needed to make the sled to move properly.

After long and productive day, hot sauna and cold beer...
This is a new find, Liberty Ale. Smooth taste, but kinda bitter aftertaste. Not the best selection for after sauna beer.

Oh, and I just had to post this picture...
"Texas size parking spot" spotted in Texas.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smoke generator frame done (and some electronics)

Howdy y'all.

Smoke generator has achieved a significant milestone. Electronics module is ready for initial test runs.
Also the mechanics have advanced nicely, more about that later.

Here are the brains of my cold smoke generator. I let the picture tell more:

I finished the frame for my smoke generator and before going to bed I just had to tape all the parts to it just to see if they fit.

Of course the heatshields will be metal and so on but here is the all-telling picture:

How it works? Well... The "sled" retracts (to right) and smoke puck in magazine falls down to feeder rail.
Then the "sled" advances to left until the puck is pushed all the way to heat element.
If there is old charred puck on the heat element, the new puck pushes it away through some kind of waste hatch (need to figure that out).
While on the heat element, the wooden smoke puck heats up so much it starts smoking and the smoke moves through smoke outlet to the actual smoker.

"Magazine" holds now 8 pucks (+1 on the heater) so that should give plenty of smoke for 3-4 hours. I need to figure out some kind of external extended magazine for long overnight cold smoking sessions.

Must be external because the case of choice does not have too much room in it...

I don't think I will get this ready for this weekend but next weekend will be the first test for sure but before the first test I need to find out how unhealthy that army green paint is.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Field test. (Sort of)

Success! (Sort of...)
This morning I drove to work wearing the heater liner under my leather jacket.
It was wired to prototype controller...
And everything worked just fine!

I think I need to cut about 5cm off from heater wires because it took about 6 minutes for the liner to heat up.
If I shorten the wire, it will heat up more quickly but it will also generate more heat. And that is a problem if the controller decides to give it full power.
Currently MOSFETs in controller do have a pull-down resistor just in case if MCU leaves gate control pin floating but what if MCU dies and pulls pin up? Hmmm....
Do I need to add another MCU to circuit to keep the "main" MCU an eye and shut system down if needed?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Jacket and smoker...

Jacket liner is connectors short of being ready for field test.

Labtest was a success! Plenty of heat distributed evenly.

Now I just need to install potentiometers and close the box to get controller prototype ready for road test.

And here is the mechanics module for the cold smoker:

Scrap parts from who knows what and some machined aluminium. Next I need to fabricate guides and pusher parts out of aluminium (actually they are ready, see that L-shaped piece underneath and C-shaped piece in back...).
One big question remains until the first test:does that puny stepper motor have enough oomph to move wooden discs to burner?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New project emerging...

No details revealed yet, just this concept picture: