Which temperature controller do you like?
Greetings Man Cave Family and welcome to a new week... It's a holiday week so my personal intent is to be fairly lazy this week. The new FireBoard 2 Drive that I bought from Atlanta Grill Company arrived on Sunday so I have been playing around and experimenting with that a little yesterday and today. I have had the original FireBoard for a while and can see some significant improvements in this one compared to the original.
The two significant improvements I see right off the bat are the heft/durability of the control unit and the heft/durability of the fan. The main reason I didn't like the original FireBoard was because you needed to spend an extra $55 to get the weatherproof case that was NEEDED for more than just weatherproofing. The original FireBoard was just too small and lightweight to connect temperature probes and have it sit where you put it without having to deal with it falling, moving, and ending up somewhere else on its own. This new control unit is larger and heavier with a pseudo-rubberized case that will help it stay in place wherever you choose to set it.
The FireBoard is the 'my precious' for the OCD griller. I think out of all the controllers I have, THIS one has the most bells and whistles in terms of showing you the data. The FireBoard can monitor six different temperature probes at once. For those six probes, it can show you the current temp, peak high, peak low, and average via actual numbers or through a graph display. You also have the ability to set conditional temperature alarms on each probe. The alarms can be configured to sound on the device itself, through the app, email, or text messaging. The FireBoard also gives you the ability to set additional conditions on those alerts being sounded such as a wait period before sending the alert and how often to repeat the alert. You have the ability to put a name label on each probe so you can know what that probe is doing just by its name in the app. All of this data is accessible via the app or through a web browser. You also have full control of the device through either of those methods.
The FireBoard Drive 2 has an internal rechargeable battery that gets charged via a provided USB-C cable and AC adapter. This gives you the ability to run your device without having to drag a power cable to the grill. You can also power the device with a USB battery connected via that same USB-C port on the device. The USB-C cable that comes in the package has the standard male USB-C connector on both ends. That's gonna keep you from using that cable without an adapter to run the FireBoard from a battery. You will need a different cable or an adapter to make that process work unless you have a USB battery that has a USB-C output.
One of my favorite features with the FireBoard is the ability to set the maximum fan speed from the app. The FireBoard fan is a 20cfm fan. That's nice if you have a huge smoker. I'm mostly a Kamado grill guy. Even with the larger Kamado grills, you just never need 20cfm of fan output to get the job done. During my testing so far, I have used the app to set my fan to run no faster than 20% of it's maximum speed. So I'm really maxing my fan out at about 4cfm. It's working perfectly as you can see in the graph samples I have attached here. Making the controller stable on a Kamado is also dependent on having the top vent set properly, and that just comes from experience.
Every cook session you create with the FireBoard is saved in the cloud and accessible via the app or web browser. You can go back and review the data from those cooks very simply. You can also delete those sessions from the cloud on a one-by-one basis if you choose.
The DRIVE PROGRAMS in the FireBoard app are also quite useful. You can create multi-stage cooks where your cooking parameters change based on time or temperature readings. For example, You can create a program that will run your grill at a specific temperature and and then change the temperature after a specified amount of time OR when one of your meat probes reaches a certain temperature. I haven't played with these settings very much yet, but I have used similar programming on my pellet grill.
So, as you can see, I like a lot of things about the FireBoard. There are, however, two specific things I would love to see improved.
#1 - I want to be able to configure my set temps for the pit and the meat probes directly from the device itself without the use of the app. I personally believe that a touch-screen version of this device that included that functionality would be the holy grail of pit controllers.
#2 - This device, much like the original, needs a stand or holder with a magnetic mount that allows me to set the device upright so it can be seen from a distance. These screens on the FireBoard 2 Drive display some nice large numbers. Its unfortunate that you still have to be standing right by the device to see those. I am guessing that there will be another $50 case/stand/holder made available for this one in the near future.
Since I am running two Kamado grills regularly, I am going to use the FireBoard 2 Drive exclusively on one of those for the next few months. If I run into anything noteworthy that I haven't mentioned here, I will post about it again in the future.
I paid $249 for the FireBoard Drive 2. I paid $59 for the FireBoard Drive 20CFM fan. I recommend buying a few of the FireBoard probe wire managers for storing the probe wires. I haven't bought those yet but I intend to get some on the way immediately.
I don't know how long the Fireboard 2 Drive will run on a single full battery charge. I'm not even sure that I'm personally concerned with that since I can run it with an external battery
The difference between the FireBoard 2 Thermometer and the FireBoard 2 Drive thermometer is the latter has the built-in ability to run the fan. If you buy the FireBoard 2 Thermometer, you can add fan capability to it by purchasing the $79 FireBoard Drive Fan Control Cable.
Waiting, waiting, waiting for the Kamado Big Joe to arrive. Nothing.
Welp, expecting friends from out of town this weekend and can wait no longer. So, I picked up a Weber Summit Charcoal grill (kamado style) along with a Pit Viper fan. Once the Big Joe arrives I'll have two Kamados!
Anyhow, I tried the new Fireboard 2 Drive on this grill along with a Pit Viper fan for a hot smoked pork belly session.
I was in a bit of a rush to get things going so I used the fan to stoke the coals up to temperature with a target of 225F. With the Weber bottom vent fully closed and the top vent 1/4 open, the temperature initially overshot about 15 degrees. I brought the temperature down by opening the lid briefly when adding the belly and to make other adjustments (the dips in the graph).
Once things were settled in, though, the temperature was regulated on the order of tenths of a degree around the 225F target . That's pretty awesome.
Sitting at the computer typing emails and monitoring the temperatures on a browser. With the Fireboard 2 Drive and the kamado, this set-up has better performance and regulation than our kitchen oven.
I’m finally pulled the trigger & bought an IKamand. I feel KJ worked out all of the major kinks. I’m also getting weary of the bit and piece involved in the CyberQ Wifi.
It was time to make the plunge. I was a little disappointed that you can’t buy food probes separately from the grill probe. I guess the worst case scenario is having a back-up for a failed grate probe if one fails.
It feels like a strange omit not to sell separate food probes. The IKamand should arrive sometime this week.
I was hoping someone could tell me how I determine if I received version 2 of the iKamand. I just received it in 3/30/20 directly from KJ and used it for the first time today. I updated the software to V 1.0.54. I experienced several problems during my attempt to smoke a pork shoulder. First, three times it over shot the temp I set in the app by an average of 11%. Then the app notified me that the pork was at my target temp of 203. I then used my Therma-Pop thermometer to confirm and found that the roast was only 185 - 187 in four different areas. Obviously way off my target. All this is why I’m concerned that they shipped me version 1 of the iKamand.
I thought I'd write a quick review of using the BBQ Guru Pit Viper fan and their Blaze Kamado adapter.
The adapter comes as two pieces, one for inside the grill and one for outside.
There are two hex-head screws and wingnuts to cinch it down in the opening.
It seems it's designed to go in from the inside, but I wanted to try to slip it in from the outside.
Here's my first attempt at that
This didn't work because the second bolt couldn't be pulled through the outer plate and cinched down.
Next I added jam nuts and washers (from my shop "spare parts bin," these are not included):
With those, I was able to insert the back plate and pull it through-- it was a tight fit with the bolts pressing against the Blaze's vent opening:
but it worked:
However, the front plate is not quite large enough and just barely covers the opening:
It did perform well with the fireboard and its motor control cable.
Note that although the cable has a separate input for the motor power, the fireboard itself will drive it without that.
I used an aux USB battery to keep the fireboard energized:
Hope this helps. Would I buy it again? Yes, but I wish BBQ Guru included the jam nuts and washers. I also was surprised that the front plate just barely fit the opening. It should be larger by about 5mm.