Sawtooth Pellet Smoker control using a Photon.
I have a Sawtooth Pellet Grill, Model SPG-610 (SawtoothPelletGrills.com) that came with an analog control setup. The manufacturer offers an electronic control setup for an investment of $175.00!!! I cannot bring myself to pay that amount, as it has no remote monitoring or control capabilities, and one of their competitors (Traeger) offers the upgrade to electronic controls for a mere $60.00! The current controls consist of:
- A DPST rocker switch for POWER.
- A PRIME button (for cold weather startups).
- A START button.
- An LED to indicate POWER.
- A rheostat that goes from LOW to HIGH and is infinitely variable between the two.
I have used this smoker at a few BBQ competitions over the last year, and from transporting the grill around, the rheostat has become wobbly. Last weekend I was smoking a Corned Beef Brisket (making Pastrami) and I could not control the temperature at all! Turning the know up 1/16" would swing my temperature from 158 degrees up to 385 degrees in a matter of 5 minutes! Unacceptable! Time to do something about these horrible controls!
So here’s my plan…
I ordered a Photon, a rubber duck antenna and a Relay Shield for this project. I also have some other components on hand to use in this project. I need to control the Fan, Igniter and Auger Motor (all 120V and minimal amp draw, other than ignitor (300W @ 120V=2.5A)). That will be done through the Relay Shield. I also have already mounted a 6" long, stainless steel probe in the smoker, 1" above the cooking grate, to measure smoker temp (@ grate). I am using an Adafruit Thermocouple Amplifier (Analog Output K-Type Thermocouple Amplifier - AD8495 Breakout, PRODUCT ID: 1778) and would like to use this LCD Screen w/buttons I purchased also (RGB LCD Shield Kit w/ 16x2 Character Display - Only 2 pins used! - NEGATIVE DISPLAY, PRODUCT ID: 714). Everything would be powered up by a 9V Wall Wort style transformer with barrel connector and the 120V side would be powered through the power cord that came installed on the smoker.
Please note that I only have one project using a Photon board under my belt (a garage door opener that can be used over the internet (I have a secure, hosted website), via my iPhone or Apple Watch using IFTTT). I have a bit of experience on the Arduinos and currently have a mini breadboard and a Red Board wired up with the aforementioned thermocouple and amplifier and LCD Display to display the grate temperature in the smoker. (I was trying to see how accurate the dome thermometer was that came with the grill…let’s just say…whoa!).
Other aspirations with this project would be to be able to mount it all in the same location that the original control were in and to also be able to control the smoker (setpoint, startup mode and smoker temp) from either a website or an app. I plan on bringing a router with me to future BBQ Competitions to be able to access this information with or without internet access.
I have a few ideas on how to implement these things, but any help would be greatly appreciated!! I know I will run into some snags, especially on the software side and I am going to have to figure out auger on/off time through trial and error (more than likely) unless someone has some ideas on that!
Here’s some info on the grill: