Slow and steady wins the taste!
It’s 4th of July weekend, and that can mean only one thing: time to cue the Springsteen and fire up the grill! Given the finger-lickin’ deliciousness of BBQ ribs, chicken and pulled pork, it’s no wonder that it has become one of the oldest and most popular cooking methods throughout the world. One style in particular, American Southern, involves roasting meat at low temperatures for many hours in the presence of smoke emitted from a charcoal grill. This also happens to be former Pixar engineer and Modulo Labs founder Erin Tomson’s favorite.
As the Maker explains, though charcoal may be an excellent fuel source, it can be a bit difficult to maintain stable temperatures for extended periods of time. And so, she decided to build an automated temperature controller for her grill using a set of Modulo devices.
For those unfamiliar with Modulo, the tiny set of modular circuit boards — which recently launched on Kickstarter — provide DIYers with an easy-to-use, hassle-free way to devise electronic projects. Each board is equipped with its own little processor (ATtiny841) that communicates with an ATmega32U4 driven Controller. Makers can slide their modules right into the so-called Modulo Base which securely holds them in place.
In order to streamline her BBQing process, Tomson employed one Modulo Base along with four other modular pieces. These included an Arduino-programmable controller as the brains of the operation, a full-color OLED display to show the temperature and its coinciding graphs, a knob for setting and adjusting parameters, as well as a thermocouple interface to measure the extreme temperatures within the grill. From there, the Modulo Arduino Library simplifies communication between the main board and its corresponding modules.
“You simply create an object for each module that you’re using,” Tomson adds. “I tested the system by BBQing pork spare ribs and beef back ribs. At first the controller needed some parameters to be tweaked and minor bugs to be fixed, but after an hour or so it was dialed in and kept a steady temperature for the remainder of the cook. Though it seemed to work well, I think I should probably ‘test’ it again soon.”
Want to create an automated temp controller for your charcoal grill? Head over to the Maker’s entire project log on Hackster.io.