The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Everything Is Under Control-Part 3

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PART 1 of this 6 part blog series about my recent purchase of the CyberQ WiFi Pit Temperature Controller discussed in general terms what a pit temperature controller is and why someone might want one. PART 2 went on to discuss why I chose the specific unit I bought. This entry will discuss the Networking/WiFi setup of my particular unit in a Big Picture fashion. Plus I will also discuss the simplest, but most limited method of connecting via WiFi called Adhoq mode. PART 4 will cover the more advance and sadly more difficult method of connecting to WiFi, called Infrastructure Mode. Parts of the setup process are shared among all pit controllers and there are certain aspects of the setup, such as the WiFi setup which are more unique to this unit. If you are considering a Pit Controller that does not have WiFi capabilities, you could skip this entry & Part 4 and move on to PART 5. This is where I will also describe physically installing the unit on my BGE. The physical installation of the unit on the smoker is pretty similar between various pit controllers & various smokers. The differences are mostly due to the differences between the smokers and how the blower fan is attached to each model smoker. PART 6, the final part of this blog, will discuss my first impressions after several uses.

Big Picture - Plan of Attack: I broke the setup procedure into two separate tasks. The first was to get the CyberQ on my WiFi network. I wanted to make sure I could control it remotely, both on my Local Area Network (LAN) and then over the Wide Area Network (WAN) that is the Internet. Once I had the WiFi networking set up, I would move along to doing the necessary physical setup out at my Big Green Egg. I had hoped to do a test run the weekend before Christmas, but the unit arriving 4 days late on Sunday killed that idea. I was able to sit down Tuesday night and try the network setup portion inside the house. Assuming this was successful this left Wednesday, the day before Christmas, to make a test run. I wasn’t going to cook food on it, but I was going to duplicate the cooking times and temperatures I would be using to cook my roast on Christmas morning. This involved starting up at 275 degrees (135C) and cooking for several hours until the meat reached a certain internal temperature based on the doneness level you were shooting for. The roast is pulled and rested while the pit temperature is raised to 350 degrees (175 C) for the final hour or so.

Now many people have had trouble setting up the WiFi, so why did I do that first? Two reasons actually. The first was the WiFI capabilities were the main reason I chose the CyberQ WiFi. Secondly the interface your are working with on the CyberQ to do the initial setup consists of four arrow shaped keys (Up, Down, Left, Right) surrounding a single round key in the center. Various settings such as your WiFi network password involve tapping the arrow keys or holding them down to scroll through a menu of the numbers 0-9, capitol letters A-Z, lower case letters a-z and all of the symbols found on a standard keyboard. I have a 24 digit WiFi network password and trying to set that up outside in the cold and freezing drizzle would not be fun and would take a long time. I could accomplish the same thing in less time from the warm and toasty comfort of my office. This was a no-brainer.

Big Picture - Why is This so Hard?: I am not being an apologist for the BBQ Guru company. If you read PART 2 of this series, you may remember I dinged them for the far less than stellar online ordering and Customer Service follow up experience I had. But in the case of the networking setup for the CyberQ you absolutely cannot blame the folks at BBQ Guru for the setup process for WiFi and networking. It is not their fault it is a bit difficult. They are using the standard WiFi and networking protocols in place. They have to play by those rules and you are along for the ride. While doing my buying research, I saw a number of posts from people who had failed to get their devices set up properly. This was typically when they were trying to use the Infrastructure Mode. The basic setup where you use the unit in what is called the AdHoc mode, is within most peoples abilities. In this mode the CyberQ creates it’s own network for use by one and only one other device. To enable the more advanced capabilities of the CyberQ you must get the device onto your home WiFi network and then change some network settings on your router, This mode is called the Infrastructure Mode. Getting the CyberQ on your local WiFi network is not very difficult. But going in and making the necessary changes to your network’s router goes beyond basic. You will need to do these setting changes for the CyberQ to do more than simply reside on your WiFi Network in a dumb fashion. People complain that the BBQ Guru folks don’t explain how to do it with their particular router. The manual gives a step by step example using a popular Verizon router. The problem is their are so many different routers out there from so many manufacturers. It would be impossible to cover them all. I ended up getting a new router when I started using my CyberQ. My older router was dying. Even though the old and new routers were both Linksys routers, the setup pages were laid out totally differently for each model.

Big Picture - Can I Do the Network Setup Myself?: The short answer is maybe. The AdHoc mode, which is the way the CyberQ is configured out of the box is within most people’s capabilities. If you have ever set up your smartphone or tablet device to join a WiFi network, this would seem familiar to you. There are limitations to this mode though and I would suggest reading the AdHoc setup section to see what they are. The Infrastructure Mode is a different beast entirely. After it is on your network you will need to reconfigure some settings on your router. You will be setting up Port Forwarding and assigning Static IP addresses. If these terms are unfamiliar to you and if you have never done this before, it might be wise to bribe a friend who is a bit of a networking geek to come over and help you. Offer up some BBQ next time you cook, or beers or whatever your friends vice is. I’ve had to set up Port Forwarding on my router before, to set up video conferencing in the early 90’s. I was self taught, but I tend to be good with directions. The directions here went into just enough detail that I was able to do this myself and it worked first time I set it up. If I hadn’t done this before I might have tried it once and then called in a friend to help. When deciding whether to try this yourself also remember: If you go in under the hood and make changes to the wrong settings, you could render you entire WiFI network useless. But like I said: I knew just enough to be dangerous and I followed the instructions step-by-step. To my relief after I restarted the router & CyberQ everything worked. I was pleasantly surprised at my first attempt being 100 percent successful. However as you will see later in this blog, the internet Gods weren’t through with me. I had network issues that were unknown to me on this day.

I am not going to give a detailed step-by-step tutorial, here that is what the manual is for. I am going to just give an overview so that you can understand the steps you will need to go through. This way you can decide if the work is above your pay grade and whether you will require help setting this up.

Adhoq Networking - Procedure: Honestly networking doesn't get a whole lot simpler than this. This type of networking is a private Wi-Fi network created between two and only two devices. No other devices can join this network. To create this kind of network you simply fire up the CyberQ WiFi controller by plugging it into power. It is set to do Adhoq networking out-of-the-box. Once the Cyber Q is fired up, you go into the networking settings for your computer, smartphone or tablet device. You go into the WiFi Settings and you should see a network listed in “Other Networks” called “myCyberQWiFi”. Select this network and you will be prompted for a password. There is a default password listed in the Owner’s Manual that you should use. After a brief pause you will be paired and on the network. The main display of the CyberQ will display AdHoq Paired! and show an IP addressor Launch a browser on the device paired with the CyberQ and type in that same and you will be brought to the CyberQ WiFi controller web page.

Adhoq Networking - Pro’s: There are advantages and disadvantages to both networking setups. Here is what I have learned so far:
  • The setup couldn’t be simpler.
  • The setup takes less than 5 minutes.
  • You don’t need a WiFi network. The CyberQ WiFi makes it’s own network.
  • If you are a competition cook and your contests are often held in places without WiFi connectivity you can still use many of the capabilities of the unit.

Adhoq Networking - Con’s:
  • The BIG disadvantage for me is you lose some extra capabilities by not being on a normal WiFi Network. But there are others.
  • You can only pair one device at a time with the CyberQ. I like using and leaving my iPad in the Kitchen and taking my iPhone out with me in the backyard or on the road. This is not possible in Adhoq mode.
  • You lose the ability to monitor the CyberQ over the internet from remote locations. Your device must be within range.
  • Your “device” must be able to see the signal from the CyberQ WiFi to work. While my iPhone worked out by the Big Green Egg & CyberQ WiFi, it did not work inside my Kitchen 35 feet away. This is due to the foil-faced sheathing used under the vinyl siding.
  • There is no way to extend the range of the WiFi network created by the CyberQ with and extra base station. It is a device to device direct network. It either works or it doesn’t.
  • Adhoq pairing is available on most modern WiFi capable devices. If your mobile device is old enough, it may lack the feature.
  • Because this is a 1:1 pairing and your device must “see” the CyberQ, you are limited as to locations you can be in and what you can do RE: the CyberQ. In Infrastructure mode, once you have the CyberQ is on the network multiple devices can see it and use it. Also you can access the CyberQ anywhere your WiFi network extends to.
  • When your device is in Adhoq mode, you lose the ability to use the WiFi for anything else: no data, no email etc.

PART 4 of this blog will cover connecting the CyberQ WiFi to your existing WiFI network at your house via the Infrastructure method. It gives you additional capabilities which is the big plus. The big minus is because you have now entered the wild and wooly world of networking and WiFi, it is far more difficult. This is not the fault of this Pit Controller or any other WiFi enabled Pit Controller. They are playing by rules they didn’t create. But as you will see with the extra work comes extra benefits too. PART 5 discusses attaching the CyberQ to a grill or smoker. PART 6 will give my first impressions after several uses.

   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 1 What is a Pit Controller & why would someone want one?
   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 2 Why did I choose to but the BBQ Guru CyberQ WiFi?
   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 3 WiFi Networking overview and setting up an Adhoc WiFi connection on the CyberQ WiFi.
   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 4 Setting up an Infrastructure mode WiFi Network Connection. More difficult but more capabilities.
   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 5 Attaching the CyberQ to a grill/smoker.
   EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL - Part 6 First impressions after several cooks.

   CYBERCOOK - CYBERQ WiFi SOFTWARE iOS Software that enhances your use of the CyberQ. It makes it faster and easier to use & adds capabilities such as Logging/Graphing your cooks.

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