This blog entry on the CyberQ WiFi has taken on a life of its own. I originally was thinking a single entry was all I needed. But there is a lot to talk about and it is now going to take up 6 entries. So far PART 1 of this 6 part entry about the CyberQ WiFi has discussed pit controllers and why you might want one. Next PART 2 discussed the specific unit I bought and why I chose it. PART 3 discussed setting the CyberQ up on a WiFI network and the two possible methods of doing this. It also covered the first method: Adhoc Pairing in more depth. The second method, called Infrastructure Mode, was the subject of PART 4. This entry will discuss attaching the unit to my Big Green Egg. I should note that the procedure is quite similar for all pits. The main difference would be in the adapter unit used to attach the blower fan to the brand grill/smoker you have. PART 6 will discuss some of the first cooks I’ve done with the CyberQ WiFi and what I have learned about it so far.
WARNING: Just because you saw it on YouTube that doesn’t mean it is right. There are many videos on YouTube showing people setting up and/or using their CyberQ WiFi’s. I watched these videos after reading the owners manual and viewing all of the information I could get on the BBQ Guru Company’s website. Many of the YouTube videos showed the Cyber Q installed incorrectly in some way. The information in this blog is based on the Owner’s Manual and FAQ’s on the BBQ Guru website. Often I would see people in the YouTube videos who’s Big Green Egg was set up incorrectly. Often they were lighting it or using it in a manner different than accepted practice. As soon as I saw this in a particular video, I basically gave no credibility to anything I heard them say RE: setting up or using the CyberQ.
INSTALLATION:The setup for any grill is basically going to involve these steps, the details will vary a little. The biggest difference will be in the adaptor used to attach the fan to a particular model grill/smoker. Here are the steps involved installing the Cyber Q WiFi on my Big Green Egg and starting a cook:
Install the Adaptor: BBQ Guru makes nearly 20 different adaptors to allow you to attach the Blower Fan to your particular model smoker. The model for my large Big Green Egg is called the Ceramic Adaptor and is said to fit most Medium to XL sized ceramic grills. There are other adaptors for certain specific model ceramic grills which use a different sized lower grate. The adaptor for the BGE is a rectangular s/s plate with a hole in the middle. Attached to the plate is a s/s tube projecting out from the hole. This tube is where the fan plugs into. There is also an adjustment clip attached to one side of the plate. This clip can be slid up a bit to close off any air gaps. Depending on the vertical dimension of your grate opening, the plate can be oriented in the horizontal or vertical direction. The steps are as follows:
- Remove both the outer draft door and the inner spark arresting screen by sliding them to the right until they slide out of the top and bottom tracks.
- Use the Ash Tool and Ash pan to clean out any ash from your last cooking session.
- For my LBGE I orient the plate horizontally with the extender clip on top. Before installing the plate in the tracks, push the clip at the top as far to the left as possible so it is flush with the left side of the plate.
- You do not actually slide the plate in from the right side, like you do for the draft door. Instead you start on the very left side and lift and tilt the plate into place.
- Tilt the top of the plate forward and slip it into up and into the upper track for the draft door. You start tilting it back to the vertical position while raising it as high as possible into the upper track.
- When the plate is close to vertical and as high as possible in the upper track, you should have the clearance to swing the bottom of the plate up and over the lip of the bottom track.
- Next begin to lower the plate so it engages into the lower track. This is definitely a two-handed operation and is a bit tricky. You are actually bending a flat plate into a slightly curved position to fit into the top and bottom tracks.
- The next operation is a bit tricky too. You are trying to simultaneously get the plates as low as possible into the lower track while simultaneously holding the adjustment clip up to completely engage the upper track. I’ve found it is a series of steps: Lower the plate slightly, push the adjustment clip up, lower the plate some more, raise the adjustment clip some more. I may be making it sound a bit harder than it is, but it does take a bit of coordination to keep the plate bent and engaged in both the upper and lower tracks. After several uses my plate is beginning to take on a slight curve which makes things easier.
- Once the clip is properly positioned in the upper and lower tracks, push both the adaptor plate and clip as far to the left as possible. The plate will slide under and be held by the door stop at the left end of the door opening.
- Store the inner spark arresting screen someplace safe where you won’t lose it.
- Reinstall the outer draft door and slide it to the left until it hits the right side of the extender clip. The extender clip is shorter than the adaptor plate by about 1/2” so the draft door is able slide over the adaptor and overlap it by about 1/2”
You have just completed the most difficult part of the physical set up of the unit. From here everything else is a piece of cake.
Set Up the Control Unit: The pit controller kit comes with a flat metal mounting plate with mounting slots intended to engage projecting mounting studs located on the back of the controller. This plate can be bent into several different shapes to hold the controller unit in a useful position. BBQ Guru also sells several accessory mounts for other mounting methods. Place your Control Unit where you want it to reside during your cook. The Control Unit for the CyberQ WiFi has a plastic, not a metal, shell. This is to allow the WiFi signal to be sent from inside the shell. Pick a safe place where it will not be too close to your cooker.
Light the Egg: I usually install the Blower Fan after I have the Egg lit. I install paraffin starters based on my cooking temps. Two for 225 low and slow smoking, 3 for temps from 325-450. I light the Egg and keep the lid open and let the paraffin starters burn for about 5 of their 10 minutes. I am typically using the AR (Adjustable Rig) for items cooked on this Egg. While the fire is starting I set the AR up in my desired configuration with the shelves, pizza stone, drip pans etc. in place. Once the paraffin starters have been going for 5 minutes, I install the pre-assembled AR in the Egg.
Install the Grate Temperature Probe: Once the AR is in place I attach the Pit Temperature Probe to the grate level I will be cooking on. The Pit Temperature Probe is the probe with an alligator clip at the end. I try to install it near where my food items will go, but not where I will need to place the food. In other words I’d rather not have to move the Pit Probe when I add my food later. Then I install the Blower Fan and close the lid.
Install the Blower Fan: The blower fan has a tube on one side that slides into the similar sized tube in the adaptor. There is a damper plate in the tube new the blower motor that looks a little bit like a guillotine. It has a plate the slides up and down to allow you to restrict the airflow into the tube so the blower doesn’t blow too much air on the fire for a given cooking temperature. There are marks at the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 open positions. The manual covers the various settings and what temperatures they are intended for. The damper can be fully closed to extinguish the fire at the end of your cook. Alternatively, you can also remove the fan and use the supplied high temperature silicon plug that caps off the end of the tube. The steps for installing the Blower Fan are as follows:
- Remove the wire ties and uncoil the wire for the power feed to the fan.
- Orient the fan so that the flat plate with the BBQ Guru label is facing up.
- Insert the fan into the tube in the adaptor plate and push it in as snugly as you can. This is a rather tight fit so make sure you are inserting the fan squarely into the tube of the adaptor. Failure to do so will result in the Blower Motor blowing itself right back off the tube. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Turn Everything On: Plug the Wire from the Blower Fan into the appropriate jack in the Controller Unit. Use the supplied power brick to plug the unit into AC power. The Controller Unit should power up and if you are using the Infrastructure Mode it should acquire it’s IP address and display it on screen.
Adjust the Top Damper: At this point I set the Dual Function Metal Cap where I want it. For low and slow cooks I use the daisy wheel portion of the cap to set the actual opening size I normally use during a low and slow cook. It doesn’t take long at all to reach temperature and I’d rather not overshoot. When I am cooking up around 400 degrees (205 C), I initially open the cap more than I need. I open the lower portion of the cap so it is about 1/2 open. This will shorten the warm up time. I monitor the warmup from the Kitchen and when the pit temp is with 50 degrees of my desired cooking temperature, I go outside and close the lower portion of the cap down and set the daisy wheel portion the way I would normally use for that temperature.
Adjust the Settings for This Cook: At this point you need to tell your CyberQ some information about your intentions for this cook. This can be done via the 5 buttons on the front panel of the CyberQ, or if you have WiFi set up you can change these settings using any WiFi enabled device. Using WiFi you can even do it from the comfort of your house on a cold snowy day. You will need to tell the CyberQ what your desired pit temperature is. By default it is set to 275 degrees (135C). Change this setting first so the CyberQ won’t overshoot. You can tell the CyberQ what the maximum temperature deviation can be before a warning alarm sounds. The default is +/- 50 degrees (28C) and I usually set this to +/- 25 degrees (14C). Then you need to decide if you (and your neighbors) want to hear alarms outside at the CyberQ. There is no reason for this if you will be monitoring things over a WiFi device from indoors. You also need to decide whether you want to enable Open Lid Detection, Ramp Mode etc. The point is the CyberQ does not remember your settings preferences from cooking session to cooking session. So the first thing to do after everything is up and running is edit your settings for this cook. These settings are not retained from cook to cook. Once gain let me point out it is far easier to do this on a WiFi enabled device where you have access to a full QWERTY keyboard.
Plug in Food Probes: Once the Egg is stabilized at my cooking temperature the last step is to add the food. If I am using one or more food probes I try to insert them in the Kitchen just before heading out to the grill. This way I am not rushing things out at the hot grill trying to get the probes inserted quickly so I don’t loose too much heat or let too much combustion air into the grill. This is particularly important when cooking low and slow. Even if I am cooking only one meat, I will often insert more than one probe. This helps my odds of getting a good placement and can help with things like turkey where you want the breast to be one temp and the dark meat to be another. Once the food is on the Egg, I close the lid and plug the food probes into the Controller Unit.
Final Settings: At this point I use my WiFi device or the front panel buttons of the CyberQ to make some final settings. I start any timers I wish to use, set the doneness temperature I want for the food probes, turn on alarms etc.
At this point you are on cruise control. If you have done your setup correctly the CyberQ will control your pit temperature and notify you when your food is done.
WEATHER - Tips & Tricks: The first few times I used the CyberQ involved less than perfect weather. This caused me to research the operating conditions the CyberQ is designed for and what to do for bad weather. There is an FAQ on the site regarding this.
Cold Weather: The FAQ said the Cyber Q can be used in sub-zero temps and it will have little effect on the unit. They said the only thing you may notice is the display may take longer to refresh itself. I have used mine when the outside air temp was 4 degrees (-15 C). I will add several observations:
Tip: The cable for the Blower Unit to connect it to the Control Unit is very thing. The Power Supply Cord is somewhat thin too. If you roll up they cables & secure the rolled cables with wire ties to store them, you should untie and unroll the cables from the comfort of your warm house. Unroll them, take out any kinks or knots before going out into the cold air. The cables become VERY stiff in the cold and to me it feels like the less I have to move the cable in the cold, the better off I will be.
Tip: Make sure the fan is inserted far enough. On the day it was 4 degrees the Blower Unit was very difficult to insert into the Adaptor Plate. I assumed the O-ring gasket and the cold was to blame here. I didn’t want to apply excessive force here and so I didn’t push the fan in very far. It just so happened the Blower Unit blew itself out of the Adaptor Plate. Fortunately I was making a trip out to the grilling area to check on another grill and I heard this happen. When I turned around the Blower Unit was laying on my grill cabinet. This could have been a disaster for the cook. Interestingly enough when I reinserted the Blower Unit, it slid in normally. The Egg must have warmed up enough the Adaptor Plate was warmer.
Tip: I contacted BBQ Guru support to see if there is a lubricant I could use to help this situation. I was told to use Canola oil if some lubrication is needed.
Wet Weather - Control Unit: The BBQ Guru folks say the Control Unit is “weather resistant” and not “weather proof”. They suggest cooking under cover and or putting the control unit in a zip lock bag. My Eggs are installed under a grill gazebo but heavy rain or wind driven rain things can still get wet. Not soaked, but wet. So the two times I have used this in damp conditions I have used a zip lock bag with the opening facing down and it has done the job well. If I was going to be using the CyberQ in a more exposed condition, I would buy a plastic storage container and cut some appropriate holes to pass the cables.
Wet Weather - Blower Unit: The Blower Unit should be installed with the flat side bearing the BBQ Guru logo on it facing up.
Tip: Many of the YouTube videos show the Blower Unit installed in every possible orientation but the right one. The “approved” orientation is as shown in the picture above.
Wet Weather - Control Unit: If you are plugging in to an extension cord make sure the plugs are up of the ground. You don’t want the plug sitting in a puddle of water.
Tip: When it is raining or snowing I put the plugs up on the raised bottom of my grill cabinets and close the cabinet door to keep it out of the direct rain.
Warm Weather: Since this was a Christmas gift and it is now January, this hasn’t been an issue yet. The BBQ Guru folks suggest keeping the Control Unit in the shade and not to close to the smoker or other heat sources.
The final part of this blog, PART 6, will cover my fist few cooks using the CyberQ. Soon I will also be adding a blog about the really cool 3rd party software I am using on my iPhone and iPad called CYBERCOOK. CyberCook gives me a more usable and visually appealing interface for controlling the CyberQ on my WiFi network. It also adds the ability to record your cooks and store them as a chart o graph.
CYBERQ WIFI BLOG SERIES: 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: 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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