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Auber SYL-2615 snuffing fire on Akron, possible solution


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I picked up the SYL-2615 as it's on sale until they run out of them (around $150, about the price difference between a normal Akorn and the Auto Akorn). It's more sensitive than my Thermpro remote, which makes it a little picky about temp differences between different spots in the Akorn. The biggest problem I found was that when you start up the fire, wait for a few minutes, then close it up to let the fan bring the temp up, it tends to overshoot a lot, which results in a 30 minute or longer period of no fan while the temp lowers, which in turn resulted in a dead fire. I wrote to Auber about this, and they recommended trying to default settings for the BGE, which was what I had started with. problem is, the Akorn is not a BGE. Akorns are crazy efficient and crazy oxygen-sensitive, as anyone who's done low and slow on an unmodded Akorn knows.

 

However, going through the troubleshooting manual as recommended, I found that the P value (in PID) on the settings page in the app is the difference between your current temp and the target temp where the fan starts to brake. The default value on the BGE settings is 45, meaning if your target temp is 225, the fan is running full blast until 180. I know that when manually creeping up the temperature, I start closing vents around 125 at the most or I could have a runaway fire. In the troubleshooting manual they have the following picture:

 

image.thumb.png.fcd106482f81dc1c3a786bebed9f8c1c.png

 

The first pic is what's supposed to happen. What actually happens is I set for 225, the pit overshot to 265, then slowly went down and down and down, never recovering because the fire was out. Now look at the middle pic, which is a minor inconvenience you get when using a high P value. This is what I want to happen. The default P value is 45 so I set it to 90.

 

At this point my P=90 test burn has been running half an hour, pit now at 233 (out of 225) and the fan around 20%. This is still way too high especially since I'm already past the target temp. It looked promising when the fan started out at 85% instead of 100% at 80 degrees but I'm not sure what's going on now. Will update.

 

For reference my Akorn's top vent is sealed up with red RTV (after I burned out two O-rings) and on the deflector position I have a Weber charcoal grate, a triangular steel diffuser and a 15" corderite pizza stone. Charcoal is a mix of B&B and Western lump with a couple pieces of apple wood tossed in near the bottom. Top vent at 0.75 (half moons only).

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image.thumb.png.4e52c554011f3ad032359b7ba66ae367.png

 

This is almost 2 hours in at P=90. To be honest this isn't much different from my first runs at P=45 except the pit temp just increased from 218F, indicating the fire isn't dead. Still not ideal but in theory if you waited 30 to 45 minutes from ignition to thin blue smoke, the pit temp would go down from the mass of meat and start the fan sooner. Gonna let this run a little more.

 

I contacted auber about this and at this point I'm getting referred to a senior PID eng, who is out this week.

 

Edit: 10 hour plot to show the beginning.

image.thumb.png.d914c6dbc61b951ea9f036c583e2dd31.png

 

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Just wondering if the adjustment might be on the "D" parameter?  Just reading the manual now, that parameter adjusts the response rate, so perhaps a lower value might get you more in the range. But these values don't translate easily into (my) understanding of response, as they're interacting, so I'd expect non-linear functions.  

 

Also wondering if Auber controllers have a user group somewhere.  

 

I can see why folk would want a more straight-forward interface for a controller.  Or a set of PID parameters for at least a good-sized set of very different smokers, so users could better understand how those relate to their unit.  3 presets isn't enough to get that.

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59 minutes ago, Boater said:

Just wondering if the adjustment might be on the "D" parameter?  Just reading the manual now, that parameter adjusts the response rate, so perhaps a lower value might get you more in the range. But these values don't translate easily into (my) understanding of response, as they're interacting, so I'd expect non-linear functions.  

 

Also wondering if Auber controllers have a user group somewhere.  

 

I can see why folk would want a more straight-forward interface for a controller.  Or a set of PID parameters for at least a good-sized set of very different smokers, so users could better understand how those relate to their unit.  3 presets isn't enough to get that.

I asked about the D parameter modification but the reply I got seemed to indicate messing with the values too much can cause weird behavior. P is the most mutable. He said I might try modifying the integral by 20% but not sure why I would want to do that.

 

I think the device works pretty well, just not tuned for the Akorn specifically because it's so oxygen-finicky. I'm about 4 hours in on this test burn and it's fairly steady, just oscillating a little which may be because I changed the P value.

 

I think actually if I had a BGE I would only need one preset. The stepped timed programmability is of limited usefulness to me.

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47 minutes ago, Ogopogo said:

messing with the values too much can cause weird behavior.

I'd believe that!  

 

So the primary issue is getting the overshoot handled, once it's in range it runs ok.  I wonder if using it will affect the legendary efficiency of the Akorn.  

 

I did find another manual, and that one mentioned using an extremely small upper air setting for that controller.  Might be something else to fiddle with, at some point.

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2 minutes ago, Boater said:

I'd believe that!  

 

So the primary issue is getting the overshoot handled, once it's in range it runs ok.  I wonder if using it will affect the legendary efficiency of the Akorn.  

 

I did find another manual, and that one mentioned using an extremely small upper air setting for that controller.  Might be something else to fiddle with, at some point.

I set to half-moons which is less than I normally use because of the presence of the blower. Normally I set up for negative pressure where the top is slightly more open than half-moons and the bottom vent is almost closed so this is weird for me.

 

I didn't notice additional fuel consumption when using the blower. I might have had extra ash in the pit from the blower moving air through the ash pan but not enough to block airflow.

 

I used this on an overnight brisket this weekend and it turned out well, though I thought the smoke flavor was weaker than usual. I set up with the wood on the bottom right around the ignition point, so maybe the blower consumes the wood faster than normal. I might have to start spreading the wood around the coal pile.

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Posted (edited)

image.thumb.jpeg.42b454aebb232c1ea534d693b855fea3.jpeg

 

This is a test running with a reduced I value (I=1000) and everything else set to the BGE preset values, targeting 350F for chicken. What happened here so far is the device ramped up to target temp and again failed to shut the fan down completely at or near that temp, so the pit rose to 371F before slowly dipping back down to 337, which I thought meant the fire was out. It started rising again (right now at 344 so I'm going to set up for chicken). What seems to be happening is that the device doesn't brake enough on the way to the target temp, overshoots by 20 degrees, chokes the fire on the relatively long (half hour or so) drop, and IF there are any live embers left it will bring the temp back up to target in a few minutes, if the fire's not dead yet. The problem here is I and other kamado users like building with wood on the bottom of the pit to clean up the smoke and use it up while the meat can take it on, and this extra long and chokey start tends to eat all the wood up too quickly, or else makes me start over if the fire dies. I haven't been able to change this behavior by changing the PID values.

 

One idea I had was to simply target temp about 25 degrees below my real target and then reset the target temp once the food is on. This would probably work but it's a stupid workaround for a device with enough of a microprocessor inside to handle automatically. Note that Auber also makes a kit based on a Raspberry Pi, which I may want to look into IF it can do things like run a small web server instead of relying on an app and IF I can redefine the startup heat curves like I want.

 

Hopefully I get some help from the Auber guys this week, since other than this startup problem the unit's been solid and reliable. Time to make some jerk chicken.

Edited by Ogopogo
Fixed a temperature typo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Update: So not a formula solution, but I got this curve in a test using my "tower of inefficiency." This is using the following as a heat deflector array, from the bottom up: Weber charcoal grill over the fire pit, a 14" corderite pizza stone, a triangular steel heat spreader (just to make space), a 15" corderite pizza stone, and a 14" cake pan lined with aluminum foil as a grease trap. This was actually an idea I had to increase the air gap around the larger pizza stone but I think the increase in thermal mass gives me enough of a heat sink to normalize performance using the BGE PID presets. Temp went up to 230F, and I was still worried since the fan didn't kill itself at 225, but it started falling immediately afterwards. Temp is now 227F with fan duty cycle at 5%.

 

This kinda sorta confirms my theory that the Auber isn't really tuned for a reflective cooker like the Akorn, but for a heat soaking ceramic. It also seems to solve my immediate problem. I still haven't heard back from Auber on the PID numbers but I can work with this for now.

 

 

Screenshot_20220616-185141_AuberSmart.jpg

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