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Thread: Upgraded my 1400 to a Digital temperature controller

  1. #21

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    I just completed this upgrade to my 10 year old 1400. I ordered the PID from aubin. I got the controller with the built in relay along with the 4 inch prob. Cost around $65 with shipping. After running the set up program, the smoker maintained within 1 degree. Problem was that the element was never on long enough to keep the wood lit, not even at start up. I switched to the manual control with a 5 degree differential. This still did not maintain control within 20 degrees. Next I moved the prob from a sticking strait out of the back to a mount that I could attach to the cooking grates, up near the food. This worked great and keeps the temp within 10 degrees either way, and I could lower the differential even more but I am worried about keeping the wood lit. I am going to try a combination of chips or smaller pieces.

    NOTE Before upgrading, try relocating your temperature prob. I believe that the proximity to the steel wall and the wood bin, cause the actual temperature to decrease as the prob gets hotter. The insulation and low air flow add to the effect. The result is the smoker keeps getting cooler, causing your times to increase and drying out the meat.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    64

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceofSpd View Post
    I just completed this upgrade to my 10 year old 1400. I ordered the PID from aubin. I got the controller with the built in relay along with the 4 inch prob. Cost around $65 with shipping. After running the set up program, the smoker maintained within 1 degree. Problem was that the element was never on long enough to keep the wood lit, not even at start up. I switched to the manual control with a 5 degree differential. This still did not maintain control within 20 degrees. Next I moved the prob from a sticking strait out of the back to a mount that I could attach to the cooking grates, up near the food. This worked great and keeps the temp within 10 degrees either way, and I could lower the differential even more but I am worried about keeping the wood lit. I am going to try a combination of chips or smaller pieces.

    NOTE Before upgrading, try relocating your temperature prob. I believe that the proximity to the steel wall and the wood bin, cause the actual temperature to decrease as the prob gets hotter. The insulation and low air flow add to the effect. The result is the smoker keeps getting cooler, causing your times to increase and drying out the meat.
    I'm wondering more about relocating the thermostat temperature probe too. A conventional oven has the probe at the top of the cooking area, not the bottom. You stated that you had it sticking out of the back. Was that down near the bottom by the burner? I'm thinking straight out the back, either half-way up where the food gets cooked, or very near the top like in a regular oven.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Maryville,Tn Just south of Knoxville
    Posts
    499

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    No offence to those of you who want to inprove your 1400's...however, why mess with a good smoker that doe's a great job with little to no effort. Just learn how to smoke on a great product. I have other 'charcoal' smokers that I like and use quite often...2 Bubba KEGS...PRO CERAMIC.. Weber WSM and a Weber Perfomer. This 1400 is a great smoker, I can "set it and forget it" while I spend my time fishing or whatever!!!!!

    For you that are worried about temp fluchuations...try charcoal!!!! You must be there.... without very expensive Automatic Temperature Controls...I know...I own them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BillyBob
    "IT'S 5 O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE"

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    64

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyBob View Post
    No offence to those of you who want to inprove your 1400's...however, why mess with a good smoker that doe's a great job with little to no effort. Just learn how to smoke on a great product. I have other 'charcoal' smokers that I like and use quite often...2 Bubba KEGS...PRO CERAMIC.. Weber WSM and a Weber Perfomer. This 1400 is a great smoker, I can "set it and forget it" while I spend my time fishing or whatever!!!!!

    For you that are worried about temp fluchuations...try charcoal!!!! You must be there.... without very expensive Automatic Temperature Controls...I know...I own them!!!!!!!!!!!!!



    BillyBob
    Billybob,

    Its not the fluctuations that bother me, its the fact that the smoker doesnt seem to be getting hot enough. My first foray was 2 6lb boneless pork shoulders. Eveything I read, said about 12-15 hours for that much meat. In reality it took 24 hours, and I still had to finish in the oven. When I have the dial on the smoker set for 225, I had my dual probe thermometer in the meat, and in the oven. The *average* temp of the oven was 180(lows of 160 high of 200). After 8 hours, I then turned the burner all the way up, and the high swing was only 225, and the low end was 180. More recently, I did a 7lb brisket and it took 15 hours to get to 195. With the burner temp sensor located so close to the element, I think that the burner just doesnt doesnt stay on long enough.

    You are right, I am new to all of this, and am learning. And, as a newbie, I am using the recipies in the smokintex owners manual, and others off the internet as a guide for how to cook. Because I am new to this, I cannot yet cook by time, because I dont know what a "done" one looks like, so I have to cook to internal temp for now so that I am not pulling a pork off the smoker that is still raw.....

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Maryville,Tn Just south of Knoxville
    Posts
    499

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    You are right...there is a substantial difference in temp swings!!!!! Others have indicated this problem. The last 1400 I bought was in 2005 and I do not have those issues.

    I will contact Smokin Tex and address this issue!!! Give me some time and I will get back to you!

    BillyBob
    "IT'S 5 O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE"

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    64

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    Ok, just so you know, i already did contact them, and they walked me through recalibrating the knob. but that really didnt help, other than the knob now registers correctly, but at the lower temp - i.e. 200 on the knob is turned all the way up to the high stop.

    I will just say, I love the smoker, it is built to last. the temp controls are just a little skimpy. I understand the desire to keep things cost effective and simple, but there are people willing to pay for quality.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Tampa
    Posts
    111

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    I think this has been a common issue. That recalibration process mentioned the other day is actually just relocating the pointer on the temp knob. A poorboys fix I think. There needs to be some technical issues addressed here. And maybe the admin can chime in and together we can work towards a fix. Will see.......Steve

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    64

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    Well, after all my problems keeping the temp warm enough, I decided to take the plunge, and mod my smokintex 1400 smoker to install a PID controller, as many others have here too. Ordered all the parts from Auberins.com, installation looks stock, if I must say, and very clean. Took me a few hours, mainly because I had to run to the store a couple times for assorted hardware, and to cut the hole in the back for the SSR cooling.

    Here is a photo of the installation. I installed a toggle switch for power on/off where the old thermostat was, and used a nice aluminum project box from Auber too.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And then I mounted the 25a SSR inside the back cover, with a external heatsink. Heatsink might be overkill since this is a 10a smoker, but didnt want any affect from smoker heat inside the cabinet.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    No photo attached, but the temp probe is just under the 2nd rack off center. Auto Tuning the pid now, and smoking a pork tenderloin. Last thing to do is to calibrate the temp probe offset to a known accurate thermometer.

    We'll see how things go.

    I realize my warranty is now void, but really, at this point, what can go wrong?

    Parts list:

    PID
    Project Box
    Temp Sensor - 3' cord
    25a SSR
    External Heat Sink
    12ga heat wire - 4'
    20ga 4 strand thermostat wire - 4'
    15a 120V Toggle switch

    I chose to go with the simpler PID that does not have the 30 programmable steps because those PID's would not fit in the project box horizontally due to the bracket size according to Auber. Esthetics vs additional function was a trade-off for me. I used the 4 strand thermostat wire for the low amperage AC to the PID, and the low voltage control to the SSR. I am still looking for a panel mount 15A fuse assembly. Those seem to be harder to find than I expected. I am going to mount the fuse next to the toggle switch.

    Thermocouple seems a little slower to react than the Maverick temp sensors I used, however, they are very close.

    I am very happy with the outcome. My Pork Tenderloin finished in 3 hours at 225. I can finally get the oven up to temp! No problems getting the wood chips to burn.
    Last edited by djousma; 01-10-2016 at 05:38 PM. Reason: Updated Link to oven temp sensor.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Cedar, MN (but still not far enough from the Cities)
    Posts
    652

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    Seems like it is only a "here and there" problem. It seems like some folks are relocating temp probes, but it would seem to me that if that were the solution, ST would have done that already. If the unit still isn't hot enough after a re-cal, I'd lean toward a different heating element before I though about relocating the temp probe or going digital. If the hottest setting on the knob isnt hot enough, I'd think the problem isn't the temp probe is incorrectly placed, since it appears to be the correct place for the rest of us, and I'm not sure if a rheostat isn't allowing enough power to get through to the element that switching to digital is going to solve the problem. Almost appears we've got two different issues here, one is the element isn't getting hot enough and the other wanting tighter limits on temp controls.....just sayin....

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    64

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    In my case, maybe the stock temp probe was not accuate. dont know. didnt see anyway to recalibrate it, other than replacing it. I agree with everything you are saying. I didnt go digital to tighten the temp limits. Element is fine in my smoker, it now gets up to temp. I decided that if I had to tear my smoker apart to put a replacement rheostat in, that may or may not fix the problem, then I may as well go digital and be done with it.

    Bottom line, is that I now have a smoker that I am 100% happy with.

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