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Syzygies although I have looked into both the bbq guru and Smartfire, I haven’t  looked closely at Billows.

hands down for me Smartfire win as the fan does have multiple speed rates, it plugs in to 240v or battery packs, and is Bluetooth and wifi comparable.

details here- it’s in aus$ which are about half the value of US$. https://smartfirebbq.com/

 

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5 hours ago, Syzygies said:

The PID mechanism doesn't care, it sees a black box.

Engineer here. @Syzygies for the win. Spot on. I see a lot of people on a lot of forums getting bent out of shape by this fan being 100 or 0, and that one being better because it is variable. Doesn’t matter. It all comes down to airflow, and PID figures that out for you.

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15 hours ago, MacKenzie said:

That is a great article. I am torn, pretty sure I'm not going to like the temp. fluctuation. 

 

I didn't read that entire article but......

 

Lately I've been doing different low-n-slow tests using my CyberQ, a Primo Oval Jr and different brands of lump. What I'm finding so far is how stable the temperature runs has to do with the type of lump and the size of the pieces. My guess is that's true across all controllers. I still have  4 more tests to run (out of 10 total) before I'm really willing to make a conclusion. 

 

Also with a controller if it fluctuates plus or minus 10* or so who cares as long as it properly recovers. 

 

 

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After reading the Naked Whiz article, I think the design flaw here is the oversized fan. It will be very hard for the controller to maintain a tight band on temperature around the setpoint (target pit temperature) blowing 4x the airflow that the 10 cfm Guru fan blows. By the time that the PID sees the temperature hit the setpoint and stop the fan, you've blown a lot of air into the fire, so it's just naturally going to overshoot your setpoint by a large amount; unless their controller has a ramp function and can see rate-of-change and stop the fan short of the setpoint and let it coast in. It didn't appear that way to me, from Whiz's chart of the temperature response to opening the lid. 

MacKenzie, if you end up having your friend make you an adapter plate for the fan unit, see if they can build in a damper so you can throttle down this massive airflow. 

@ckreef - eagerly awaiting the results of your tests. Would love to see your test matrix. 

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Syzygies, thanks for that explanation. I found it very interesting and helps me understand the situation better.:smt060

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My friend was out to measure the hole in the KK. I better get a hold of him to see what he thinks about the damper idea. Thanks, Tony. He is making an adapter like the one on my DigiQ, O ring and all. Getting rid of that spring. Pretty sure this one will be solid as a rock. :) It will take him a few days as he is a little backed up. Maybe I'll go over right now and see what he thinks.

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Tony, I just came back and he is sure he can do it but just not sure the best way right now. He has to think about it and I can understand that. :smt060

I am glad you mentioned that in time to get it done. :) 

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@MacKenzie the problem without a damper on a KK is more than just fan output. Think about how small of a bottom vent opening you have for low-n-slow. The fan opening will now be your bottom vent opening. That opening needs to be closed down fairly small otherwise when the fans not blowing you have a huge bottom vent opening. This is really just a KK issue since low-n-slow requires very minimal vent openings compared to regular ceramic Kamados. 

 

Hopefully that made sense. 

 

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Makes perfect sense, CK. I better keep a small opening in the dome. :) 

Edited by MacKenzie

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7 minutes ago, MacKenzie said:

Makes perfect sense, CK. I better keep a small opening the dome. :) 

Yea I set mine just open enough for the fan forced air to escape. We're talking 1/8 of a turn there abouts. 

 

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Just barely off the seat, so long as I see wisps of smoke coming out. If it's closed too tightly, I'll get a stream of smoke coming out of the temperature probe plug or even around the vent door when the fan is running. 

Even with the lower flow Guru fan, I never run it with the damper wide open. It's usually less than 1/2 open. 

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Here is the adapter my friend made. We decided to use part of the DigiQ and that meant we just needed an adapter. 

He made a plastic fitting and it uses the springs on the Billows to hold it all in place. It is working like a charm right now as I'm smoking some beef back ribs.

Adapter.thumb.jpg.4bc5d7959a9d6ee42ff41e59d0eef69d.jpg

705656738_Adapter3.thumb.jpg.21a23f26a8a4bc1b9a0708a76caa5b62.jpg

1665973382_Adapter2.thumb.jpg.3b7165c5b278f2901cde407df36ea011.jpg

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I have it working on a cook right now and it seems to be maintaining the temp. within reason. On the web site they say -

  • Maintains constant temperature control (±10°F/6°C typical) over entire cook. They also state the the fan has shut off and turn on 25 Degrees F from the set fan temp. so I'm not sure how it will maintain 10 degrees over the entire cook. It is working at the moment and we'll see as time goes by. Doing beef back ribs so it will be a long cook. I would call it a plain Jane/Jim controller so as not to discriminate.:-D
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Your friend did a very nice job with the adaptor. Good way to get the damper into the design with minimal hassles. 

That's a pretty big "dead band" around the setpoint, but given the size of this fan, it might be reasonable for it. I would have expected better from ThermoWorks, given how good the rest of their gear is designed/built. 

Edited by tony b
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Tony, I feel the same. I am so thankful that you mentioned the vent restrictor without that I think there would have been big trouble.

 

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Really nice adapter. Your friend did an excellent job. On all my lump tests I have the alarm set for +- 25*. Most of the lumps go +- 10*-15* throughout the test. I'm good with that. By the time it gets to - 25* the fan is on constant and the test is over. That's my standard anyway. 

 

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7 hours ago, MacKenzie said:

IThey also state the the fan has shut off and turn on 25 Degrees F from the set fan temp. so I'm not sure how it will maintain 10 degrees over the entire cook.

 

6 hours ago, tony b said:

That's a pretty big "dead band" around the setpoint, but given the size of this fan, it might be reasonable for it.

 

I have the greatest respect for ThermoWorks. However, there's no reason to believe that their public-facing spokespeople understand this product as well as their engineers. I'm guessing that this description is "misleading".

How well does the Billows actually work? My BBQGuru can struggle if the fire is having trouble jumping between pockets of fuel, but almost always for a long low & slow it locks on to exactly the target temperature. Does the Billows do this or not?

To be blunt, they have to be using the PID algorithm. They couldn't possibly be that stupid, to have freelanced a different algorithm. They could be selling a poorly tuned PID controller, but I doubt that. My money is on ignorant documentation writers.

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19 hours ago, MacKenzie said:

Here is the adapter my friend made. We decided to use part of the DigiQ and that meant we just needed an adapter. 

He made a plastic fitting and it uses the springs on the Billows to hold it all in place. It is working like a charm right now as I'm smoking some beef back ribs.

Adapter.thumb.jpg.4bc5d7959a9d6ee42ff41e59d0eef69d.jpg

705656738_Adapter3.thumb.jpg.21a23f26a8a4bc1b9a0708a76caa5b62.jpg

1665973382_Adapter2.thumb.jpg.3b7165c5b278f2901cde407df36ea011.jpg

I think that your friend should start a side business and create these adapters for the KK community.  I would buy one in a heartbeat.

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My son has a new ThermoWorks Signals/Billows setup on a Primo XL.   I made an adapter to fit the Billows fan to the Primo and he used the setup this weekend.  I loaned my son a tachometer and asked him to do some blower speed tests.  He reported back that the Signals controller appears to operating the fan "on/off" and he confirmed constant speed when on.  The speed info he gathered confirmed the fan was getting 12 volts.  

In the way of additional background, I have a Billows fan that I bought for possibly using in another application (stick burner).  The ThermoWorks claim that it is 46 CFM caught my attention and I bought one.   I tested the fan to get data on power and rpm at various voltages.  So yes, I have a fan speed curve plus power data.  

A few observations/assumptions about the Billows fan:

  1. The fan appears to be operated/switched by the Signals controller at 12 vdc.  It is "on and off" as needed.
  2. Answering a question in this thread earlier:  Yes, the Signals controller sees the fan and indicates that on its display.
  3. The fan is fed power via USB-C cord.   This makes it a bit difficult to adapt the fan to another controller using barrel connectors (e.g. FireBoard, Guru).   This also makes it difficult to adapt another fan to the Signals controller. 
  4. I do not believe the fan is anywhere close to the 46 cfm claimed by ThermoWorks.  It is more likely in the range of 15 to 18 cfm.  This is based on power consumption data I took.   That said, the fan is still quite capable and is more than adequate for most applications.  
  5. Based on what I have learned here on this forum, the fan's output is certainly larger than is required for a Komodo Kamado.   If I were using it on any decent kamado, I would want to throttle the output by a slide valve or other means.  (I am going to put a reducer in the exit of my son's fan for his Primo application).

As already identified here in this thread, mounting a Billows fan on a KK needs an adapter.    BTW, adaptation of the FireBoard fan to the KK is the same problem.   In anticipation of possibly getting a KK myself, I can't help but tinker with this idea and gin up something.    

 

Edited by Alphonse
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4 hours ago, Alphonse said:

If I were using it on any decent kamado, I would want to throttle the output by a slide valve or other means.  (I am going to put a reducer in the exit of my son's fan for his Primo application).

That's why I suggested to MacKenzie that her mechanic friend incorporate a damper similar to the Guru fan. Since he ended up using the Guru parts in his adapter design, the slide damper was included. 

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