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Using Old Linksys Routers to Control BBQ Smokers 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-out-the-brisket-page dept.
mache writes "It's scary when you find two completely unrelated areas that you are passionate about merged. It happened to me with BBQ and hacking home network infrastructure. People have taken old Linksys WRT54G (and their derivatives) routers and made them into automatic temperature controllers for BBQ smokers. They support Wi-Fi and even have a web browser to monitor progress."

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Using Old Linksys Routers to Control BBQ Smokers

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  • Sir, (Score:4, Funny)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:40AM (#36682184)
    I like the cut of your gib.
  • Feature set (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jon Abbott (723) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:45AM (#36682244) Homepage

    Do these routers support Quality of Smoke? Pulled Pork Tunneling Protocol?

    • Don't forget Virtual Pork Network.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        or Highly tenderised and toasted pork or succulently marinaded tender pork

    • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:29AM (#36682724) Homepage
      If it crashes, does it turn your barbecue into a literal firewall?
    • by formfeed (703859)

      Do these routers support Quality of Smoke? Pulled Pork Tunneling Protocol?

      Yes even Teriyaki Finished Tender Pork, but you better have a good firewall in place.

      The WRT 54 Grillmaster used to be popular for these kind of projects, but because of hardware changes, with new models you now can only use the WRT 54 Grillmaster Lardass, which is kind of overpriced.
      If you buy new, it is cheaper to use the WL-520 Grillmaster Unlimited, which also extra Unhealthy Smoker Barbecue support.

  • by Quato (132194) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:50AM (#36682292)
    I tried this years ago with RFC 1149. I had to abandon my project, the smell of delicious smoked meat attracted hawks, which kept catching all the pigeons.
  • by barlevg (2111272)
    I just bought one brand new about two weeks ago. Don't have any laptops that support Wireless-N, it works really well with dd-wrt, and it was on sale. The way the article is talking about them makes them sound like they're ancient and outdated tech.
    • None of the WRT54G models support 802.11n. Going to go out on a limb here and say you have no idea what you have.
  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:56AM (#36682346) Journal
    It seems to me that automating the operation of the BBQ is a Bad Thing as it eliminates the excuse that one needs to be out back drinking because the fire must be tended.
    • When one is smoking meat, opening the cover to check on the meat is the last thing you wish to do. This lets heat, smoke and moisture out.

      Totally with you on the drinking though.

      • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
        Check the meat? Nah, you gotta be there to monitor the temperature. That doesn't require opening the pit.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        When one is smoking meat, opening the cover to check on the meat is the last thing you wish to do. This lets heat, smoke and moisture out.

        Well, this is 100% true for a bullet type smoker, but not so much for indirect heat smokers. With indirect smokers with an offset firebox...you actually DO want to check your meat about hourly...to 'mop' or baste the meat as it goes. And wood is usually added in 1 - 1.5 hourly rates.

        This weekend, I did a 13.5 lb beef brisket and 2x racks of spare ribs on my bandera sty

      • Thats why I have a wireless thermometer that allows me to stray from the BBQ, but sadly, oh so sadly, not into the house.. Nope, gotta hang out by the shop where the BBQ is, and the fridge with beer.. bummer..

    • Not all of us use computers (or smartphones) that are impossible to bring into the backyard.

      It facilitates the drinking, as you don't need to watch the temperatures so closely.

    • by es330td (964170)
      I do brisket cooks on my Big Green Egg that require me to get up periodically throughout the night. I have a WRT54G I am not using that I will be converting to a BBQ controller posthaste.
      • Unless you're a hardcore maker type who will derive pleasure from building this, just go buy a Stoker, BBQ Guru, or similar product. It's not cheap, but if you can afford a BGE, you can afford them. Total fire control, and a few guys I know who have them will completely entrust them with a brisket overnight.
    • It seems to me that automating the operation of the BBQ is a Bad Thing as it eliminates the excuse that one needs to be out back drinking because the fire must be tended.

      What he said is the very foundation of why men BBQ. It's a neat homebrew tech project and I even entertained the idea till you set me straight. Heck if the menfolk were not out in the backyard tending the fire the women would pull out the honeydo list. Those of us geeks that are married have firsthand knowlege of the terrible thing that is the honeydo list. The wives should NEVER have knowledge of this contraption as it would result in no beer drinking and tons of excess work.

    • You need an excuse for drinking? Shit.
    • It seems to me that automating the operation of the BBQ is a Bad Thing as it eliminates the excuse that one needs to be out back drinking because the fire must be tended.

      This is also why any respectable recipe that requires beer will ask for one bottle + one tablespoon.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:56AM (#36682350)

    Not only can Anonymous cause multimillion dollar embarrassment to fortune 500 companies, but now they can ruin a perfectly good batch of jerky.

    • Would people dislike Anonymous more if they messed up their own jerky, verses a large manufacture of jerky?

  • by dreemernj (859414) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:00AM (#36682402) Homepage Journal
    I don't know what's more beautiful, the finished product or the documentation they put together on that forum.
  • Idle? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Why on earth is this under idle? Isn't this the type of thing that everyone on here cries about not being on Slashdot?

  • For some reason exotic BBQ seems to attract geeks. It seems that a lot of the people who hang out on the Komodo Kamado forum are IT/math/... types. So of course there is discussion of homebrew controllers.
    http://komodokamado.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=4126 [komodokamado.com]

    • Re:Geeks and BBQ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:13AM (#36682526) Homepage Journal

      BBQ attracts life.

      • BBQ attracts life.

        Not sure how this is a valid comment on Slashdot since we're mostly running away from it here.

        • I didn't mean social life. I just meant all living things are attracted to BBQ. I bet even vegetarians enjoy BBQing up some plants. BBQ itself involves death of course. Tasty, tasty death.

    • Can anyone explain to me the 10,000' view of how this works? Does the fan blow on the coals? Does it pull excess heat out the top?

      And this isn't just simple 'set point' bang bag controllers. This is PID control, which .... that's a damn small subset of engineers that actually get it. Ooo, this is getting me all excited. I'd love to just ID the model. Simple sine sweep identification. Well then I guess you have 'degradation factor' as your fuel runs low. And of course you're going to need to model in the ene

      • by bryansj (89051)
        You hook a blower to the bottom "intake" of the smoker and you put a temperature probe at the grid where the meat is located. The controller turns the blower on to force air into the smoker which feeds the fire making it hotter. Once the probe reads the target temperature it shuts off the blower until the probe reading is below the target.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      I don't think its BBQ specifically so much as cooking in general. Cooking is actually a technical process after all and learning it offers a nice effort / reward pattern that tends draw people in.

      Chemistry and Physics play a large part in cooking. There is tons of opportunity to experiment and solve problems around maintain conditions and generating reactions and effects you want. Its pretty much the things geeks like doing most and after that the reward comes in that you get it eat it!

      Food is probably t

      • by afidel (530433)
        You know, you would think that's all true, and it applies to homebrewing as well which is also a fairly common geek hobby, but it doesn't explain why baking is fairly ignored by the geek set. Afterall baking might be one of the finest examples of applied chemistry there is, but I don't know too many geeks that are big into baking. Perhaps it's the risk vs reward threshold, if you're off by much in baking you tend to get an inedible result whereas with homebrewing or BBQing even when it's bad it's still pret
        • My brother and law and I are both geek-types and we love baking (as well as homebrewing). In fact, homebrewing isn't all that far different of a process than baking, when you get down to the fundamentals. Bread - and grains, in general - is a wonderful, wonderful thing, and there's nothing more satisfying...you're right, it's surprising that more people don't geek out on it, because, what with the yeast, the gluten formation, balancing pH, there's plenty to geek out on.

          Oh, and by the way, the further alon

  • Not that this isn't a sort of cool hack, but don't wireless food thermometer/probes already exist for this exact purpose? Is using your old router to accomplish the same thing really any better? I know we are nerds, but not having to install packages with dependencies and such to accomplish a simple task seems real appealing to me at times...
    • Yes, wireless fan ctronllers for BBQ do already exist. But it can be more complicated than if temp X then power fan on.

      They can do temp curves, different speeds, and even have it run at this temp for X minutes then raise to temp Y then keep warm at temp Z

      • by Willuz (1246698)
        There are also a lot more tools written for the existing temp controllers. I use a Stoker and control it via wireless from a computer using Stoker Log. This automatically graphs the entire cook process, then I add comments and save the info for the next time I cook the same thing. Even more awesome is that it can send Tweets to update the status and I can check on it and change the temperature using my phone while I'm at work or out picking up more beer for the BBQ. When I used to run the smoker overnig
    • I grill/BBQ a lot. I've tried many brands of wireless thermometers over the last few years. None have lasted more than about 4 uses. The cheap thermocouples start giving wildly incorrect temps (I know the meat doesn't go to 467F in 3 minutes). or they just stop working altogether.

      Anyone have a recommendation on a good one that lasts more than a couple of times? Price not an issue, within reason of course.
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by teaserX (252970) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:30AM (#36682742) Homepage Journal

      ...but don't wireless food thermometer/probes already exist for this exact purpose?

      1. They are not used for an unintended purpose.
      2. They do not require soldering.
      3. They do not run linux.

      For more on why this is relevant here refer to your Slashdot handbook.

  • so now hackers can burn the BBQ down

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:18AM (#36682578) Journal

    A mismash of old and possibly current information split up over 20 posts on a dozen pages with disclaimers of "This is old, dont use it, but here it is anyways" interspersed with links to other posts that may or may not work anymore.

    • Then offer him a website if you really like the project and have the knowhow. Different people have their own skills and concerns, and his main interest is running the smoker rather than taking the effort to maintain a website on the project (which can easily turn into a big project itself).

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:34AM (#36682798) Homepage Journal

    Don't you mean Web server?

  • Awesome!
    I smoke stuff about once a month and this will really save me some time and effort.
    Especially when doing a big cut like a brisket or a whole turkey.

  • "It's scary when you find two completely unrelated areas that you are passionate about merged."

    But also mind-expanding

  • I'm still using my WRT54G to in my home network. What am I missing? I don't do much intra-network data transfer, and my bottleneck is my cable connection rather than the router itself... it is worth upgrading?
  • by bryansj (89051) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @10:26AM (#36683466)
    This is a DIY version of the Stoker from Rock's Barbeque (https://www.rocksbarbque.com/). It costs $340 to get the basics, pit thermometer, food thermometer, and fan. So add up the DIY costs and you could see some savings if your time is of no value or you just love doing things like this. I purchased the Stoker before its WiFi version was announced. I found a cheap WiFi adapter and hooked it up the the Stoker's Ethernet port. Once connected you can monitor your pit and food temperatures and control the pit temperature using any web browser and/or a program called StokerLog. If you really wanted to you can access it via telnet and do the same things. My Stoker keeps my large Big Green Egg to with +/- 3 degrees of my pit probe target over what is usually a 16 hour cook. Using my iPhone I'm able to check the food probe temperature and if needed change the target pit temperature, all from anywhere I have data access. With StokerLog running on my laptop it will create a graph of your cook showing the temp probe temperatures and fan power cycles over time. It also has open lid detection where it will pause the temperature control until you close the lid and the smoker stabilizes, not that you should be opening the lid during the cook. The main point of the ATCs is to give a steady pit temperature and allow you to get some sleep during the overnight cooks.
    • You know, you could just save all that money, and run over to Bobs BBQ Shack and pick up what you want ready made. Instead of having your robot make it, and blaiming all the burnt bits onyour stupid robot, you could blaim it on Bob instead.

      • by bryansj (89051)
        Bob's BBQ Shack [facebook.com] is too far away from where I live. My Stoker would pay for itself in a single meal considering the airfare cost from ATL to NY.
  • Heat is important to control, no question, but just as important is the smoke! How can I control / detect smoke density automatically?
  • There is a similar project using these and other routers for remote monitoring of the Homebrewing process. Can't find the damn link...

  • Am I the only one who still has his WRT54G v2 in full service?
    Its no longer a router, just an wireless access point and it runs dd-wrt.
    Nevertheless, it is probably the only 9 year old device still in active duty without any problems.

    • Nope. Same device, same hardware revision. Probably the most reliable thing in my basement. I use it for the decent QOS, bandwith history and as a failover WAP in case my wireless N unit loses power for whatever reason. I can't imagine tearing it apart to add IO headers for this kind of project though.
    • Am I the only one who still has his WRT54G v2 in full service? Its no longer a router, just an wireless access point and it runs dd-wrt. Nevertheless, it is probably the only 9 year old device still in active duty without any problems.

      Up until 2008 or thereabouts when I upgraded from DSL to FiOS and 10Mbps ethernet became a bottleneck, my home firewall was running on a Sun SPARCstation LX c.1992. Never gave me any problems and it was probably 16 years old when I retired it. Haven't powered it up since then but I suspect it would still run.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Am I the only one who still has his WRT54G v2 in full service?

      Nope, I still have mine (GL variant) in service doing it's original intended job. I've replaced the ADSL modem with a newer Billion model but ended up putting the WRT54G back into service because it was that much more reliable.

      Mine's only 4 years old though.

    • by unitron (5733)

      I'm using one right now to connect my TiVos and their computer to a BEFSR41 that's connected to my cable modem.

      Both, along with another 41, are currently still running stock software, but I've put old 486-era type CPU fans in each, and that makes a world of difference in reliability/uptime/etc.

      My first 54G, a v2.2, is set to one side at the moment, waiting for me to get around to replacing the stock software so I can use it in bridge mode with some of the TiVos to free up USB wi-fi adapters.

    • by fajmoh (1119641)

      Am I the only one who still has his WRT54G v2 in full service? Its no longer a router, just an wireless access point and it runs dd-wrt. Nevertheless, it is probably the only 9 year old device still in active duty without any problems.

      54Mbps ought to be enough for anybody?

  • And the damn fire kept going out, then it would come back for a minute, then it would go out...

  • n/t

  • ...I may see how this can be applied to brewing beer. Been looking for a cheap temp control for a while.
  • I am fairly certain Apple has the patent on this.....

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