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SeaBrisket

First Cook with a Controller - What a Pleasure

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I went from denial to curiosity about something I felt I didn't need nor could afford, to realizing I'd have one eventually, and finally to running across a used Signals with Billows that I couldn't pass up. Truth is, from the time I bought a Smoke and just a few weeks later Thermoworks debuted the incompatible Billows I knew I'd be investing in one as soon as the burn wore off.

 

Yesterday I threw on a rack of ribs for a nice 6 hour cook and, wow, I'm so glad I went forward with it. No question that everybody should learn how to drive manual first. While tending the fire is half the pleasure I get from grilling, after three and a half years of monitoring a beeping receiver while doing yardwork during a cook and restless sleep during overnights, using a controller proved to be a game changer. On a blustery, windy day that would normally send my temperatures up and down over the course of hours, I typed 250 into my app and let it roll on its steady course. Midway through I flipped the rack, typed in 225 and let the fan figure it out. It performed flawlessly.

 

This isn't meant as a review of my setup but rather a strong endorsement of controllers generally for the fence sitters. As for Billows, I have few complaints. I trust Thermoworks' quality from experience and believe it will last me years to come. Functionally, it was perfect. I wish the app we're more fully featured but that hopefully comes with further development in time. I wish the fan could be powered by a cheap 5V power bank instead of running an extension cord across my deck or having to invest in a 12V bank I have no other use for. These are small considerations for something that performed as impressively as it did.

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You can have my BBQube when you pry it from my cold dead hands.  For the 12volt problem get one of those ones that is also a car jump pack with a cigarette lighter attachement.  I would imagine finding a cigarette lighter adapter that had the same plug wouldn't be too difficult, they probably make a universal one.  That way it isn't completely useless, but an extension cord isn't that big of a nuisance. 

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As I understand it the Billows now has the ability to adjust for the open lid condition.  Was that the main strike against the Signals/Billows set up? I am teetering on the edge of making an investment in a controller and looking for input.  I have always been a Thermoworks fan.

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I know the OP mentioned this already but I too have been a Thermoworks fan for a while but am seriously disappointed in their app. Which to me is a important part of a temp controler. 

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1 hour ago, levic900rr said:

Dude you're killing me. I bought a Smoke about the same time you did... 

 

It's tough, isn't it? Smoke is great at what it does, but I bought it as an upgrade to the Maverick thinking I would pick up the Gateway when it went on sale. I just wanted something on my wireless network that wouldn't be disconnecting in the middle of the night waking me up with frequent disconnect alarms, and something that would graph my cook so I wouldn't have to log manually. I had no plan to get a controller. As soon as Billows came out and I saw it was incompatible I suddenly wanted a controller. I ditched the Gateway idea and that's left me with just a Smoke that has the same functionality as the Maverick I already had.

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4 hours ago, Tarnation said:

You can have my BBQube when you pry it from my cold dead hands.  For the 12volt problem get one of those ones that is also a car jump pack with a cigarette lighter attachement.  I would imagine finding a cigarette lighter adapter that had the same plug wouldn't be too difficult, they probably make a universal one.  That way it isn't completely useless, but an extension cord isn't that big of a nuisance. 

Great use of a jump pack,

They won't do everything, though. Imagine my dismay when I tried to make coffee, using the jump pack after a hurricane, and found it woefully short of power to run a Keurig. 

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On 2/25/2020 at 10:46 AM, GiffS said:

As I understand it the Billows now has the ability to adjust for the open lid condition.  Was that the main strike against the Signals/Billows set up? I am teetering on the edge of making an investment in a controller and looking for input.  I have always been a Thermoworks fan.

 

 

They addressed that issue and it kind of works but overshoots a bit. They should tighten up the open lid algorithm. I have the Billows and it works pretty good after using it quite a few times. It's still a bit buggy software wise. Not as many bells and whistles as the competitors either. It's pretty bare bones as a temperature controller goes. 

 

But......

 

 

The Signals is really nice and I often use that when I'm doing shorter cooks. If I were just going to get a temp controller I'd probably get something else but with Signals/Billows you're getting a temp controller and an awesome temp monitor so something to consider.

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I’ve bitten the billet and ordered a signals unit. I’m a bit concerned about some of the issues I’ve read about but a fire board would cost me another £100 or so. I’ll give the ThermoWorks unit a go and if it doesn’t work out I’ll return it and try the more expensive fire board 

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Just things about the app - crashing midway through a cook, losing data, the fan getting stuck on. The app gets a pretty terrible rating on the AppStore but only a tiny number of reviews. 

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