Pit Controller

AKA- Pellet Poopers
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HogFather
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Pit Controller

Post by HogFather » September 18th, 2018, 11:34 pm

Years ago my controller on the Traeger took a dump the night before I needed to do a bunch of Pulled Pork for a big summer shin dig. I design PLC Controls for a living so I grabbed a damaged controller from the garage and wrote some basic controls to make the unit run.

Over the years I’ve changed controllers and added a bunch of different features as I wanted it to do more. I like smoking but don’t like babysitting a cooker. For me it’s about making great food and sharing with family and friends. With these controls I have been able to increase the quality of smoke from a pellet grill as well as free myself up to run around on a Saturday. I can start a cook head to home depot run errands, get ready for guest or best of all. I can go to bed and night!


What I’ve done is to take Siemens PLC hardware. To replace the traditional controls. I then used a Rasberry-PI to run a SCADA Program ( Used for display interface). The interface can be access from a mini touch screen on the HogFather as well as provide access from your PHONE , COMPUTER etc. anything with Internet. The Raspberry PI is hooked to a Input Chanel on the Den TV so I can switch to Chanel (Ant) 4 and the controls pop up as well.

I’ve called this thing the HogFather!

Here's are screen shots with explanations of what the controls do

Access main home screen on any screen by pressing HogFather Icon.

On Top of all screens is the menu bar from left to right
Grill Auto Start Time- Allow you to set a start time for your grill.
Cook Timers- For timing cooking operations.
Complex Cook- used for long smokes
Manual Operation – manual control
Chart – tracts cook settings
Back end settings – various control settings

Main Screen
The Hog Fathers smoke from his cigar changes based on state of operation Grey = Smoke yellow = Medium temp cook Red = Hi heat Blue = Cool Down.
Pellet dances on bottom and burst into flame when Auger is running.
Hot Rod and flame show when Rod is on.
Fan size changed based on fan speed (Smoke Medium Hi).

For a basic cook set your grill temp set point (blue) to desired temp , Press start grill, Plug in food probes grill does the rest.
Actual Grill temp shows next to grill Icon
The food temps display next “place setting” If you want a text notification when your food is ready enter desired set point in the blue box below.

Delayed BBQ Start
Enter Hour and Minutes press Enable on Activate button. BBq will remote start when that time is reached.
I use this a lot when I’m heading home from the office and want things ready when I get home.

Cook Help Timers
Three timers Set time value in MIN. Choose count up or Count down Press timer start turns green when active

Complex Cook
For Complex cook use I set grill Sp (set point) on main screen to zero then press the time/Thermometer icon for Complex cook. I can set 6 stages not including “Warm up” and “Keep Warm” those are automatic functions.
Operation;
Set desired Grill SP, then set either food probe temp or timed operation for that stage. When either is reached, cook sequences advance to next cook stage.
I used these for Long Smokes like Briskets, Pulled Pork or Burnt ends.
Example of a Pork butt cook.
Stage 1 200f temp 1 hr timer to allow smoke
Stage 2 250f temp 3 hr cook this gives great smoke and higher cook temp.
Stage 3 250f temp with food probe at 235 which can jump to next stage when Pork reaches 235f.
Stage 4 275 temp bump helps get pulled pork over the stall period. Set food for 250 f
Stage 5 Foil Stage. Set the temp at 275f food temp for 195
Stage 6 Set temp 200f timer 60 min
Also you can choose to have an alarm notification via text when each stage is reached. Same with Cook Timers. These are helpful for Mops , spritzes , foiling or other cook stops.

BBQ Run Chart
This is a sample of the Auto Charting feature that lets me see what happens with the cooks.

Other Built in Features
Fan Control
Based on temperature the fan will slow down or speed up to maximize pellet usage and smoke.
In smoke setting the fan turns slowest and also has a Fan Pause feature that will stop the fan for XX seconds. I have found this helps promote a heavier smoke flavoring.

Alarming
Text notifications when set points are met, stages are reached or Timers have timed out. Also if the temperature drops too far the grill will text and restart the grill.
The hopper has a ultrasonic sensor that measures the pellet height level. If it falls below certain levels it will also send a notification.
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Chromeski
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Re: Pit Controller

Post by Chromeski » September 19th, 2018, 2:32 am

Looks like you did a great job.



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HogFather
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Re: Pit Controller

Post by HogFather » September 19th, 2018, 4:35 pm

Looks like a missed few screen shots.
Main Screen
HF_main_Screen.png
Timers
HF_Help_Timers.png
Complex Cook
HG_Complex_Run.png
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