When I started writing this blog item about the CyberQ WiFi, I expected it to be a longish single entry. It has taken 5 other parts to get to this point, where I get beyond planning and setup and actually use the CyberQ to help me cook some food. If you are interested in what was covered in the preceding 5 entries, scroll down to the bottom of this entry for links to the other sections. This entry will discuss my first few uses of the CyberQ and my first impressions. I figured getting the CyberQ on the network was the hardest part and I got it on the first try. It turns out my problems had just begun. I had some networking issues that had nothing to do with the CyberQ and everything to do with my router dying off. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me begin at the beginning.
COOK 1 - Test Run: Christmas fell on a Thursday this year. I originally expected to receive my CyberQ WiFI on the Thursday or Friday before Christmas. My intent was to do a test cook over the weekend, where I evaluated the CyberQ and my ability to get it installed on my grill and working as expected. The “2-day” service from the USPS took 6 days and I didn’t get the CyberQ until Sunday. With Christmas on Thursday, a full-fledged test cook with food was probably not in the cards. I really did not want to trust my $100 plus rib-eye roast to an untested pit controller which was being used by a rookie operator (me). I was able to get the CyberQ onto my WiFi network Tuesday night. That had been a bit of a concern to me. Many people on various message boards had issues getting their CyberQ’s on their network. So it wasn’t a given to me that I would be successful. Following the directions carefully and with some prior experience with port forwarding on my router, I was successful the first time out. I got my public IP address and was successful reaching the CyberQ from outside my home WiFi network. This left Wednesday, the day before Christmas to do something to test the CyberQ. I didn’t have the time to throw together a cook, plus I needed to go finish running some Christmas errands, so I decided to simulate my prime rib cook, minus the meat. Similar times, similar temperatures to let me see how the CyberQ performed.
A cold rain was falling and I was glad this was just a simulated cook. The weather for Christmas was going to be fair but cold. This test cook marked the first time I had attached the CyberQ to the grill. Attaching the adaptor plate in place of the lower draft door proved to be the trickiest part of the operation. You are installing a flat adaptor plate into a slight curved draft door track. The adjustment clip that serves to close off the vertical opening can be a bit difficult to position correctly. Essentially a third hand would be nice. Once this in place it was smooth sailing from there. The only other item I had to deal with was the rain. Even though I have my grill gazebo, a swirling rain on a windy day can get things wet even inside the gazebo. The solution was simply to put a ziplock bag over the Controller Unit. I lit the Big Green Egg using 2 fire starters at the 9:00 and 3:00 position. I kept the lid open and let the fire starters burn for 5 minutes while I set up the AR (Adjustable Rig) just like I would for the roast and put it in place. I installed the Pit Temperature Probe on the top grill grid and put the Blower Unit into the Adaptor Plate and plugged it into the Controller Unit. I set the damper on the Blower Unit to the middle setting as recommended in the owner’s manual for cooking at this temperature. I plugged in the Controller Unit and closed the grill lid. As soon as the CyberQ was plugged into power I heard the Blower Unit fan spin up. I was happy to see the CyberQ quickly grabbed the correct IP address off my WiFi network. I placed the metal cap on top of the Egg and set the daisy wheel portion of the cap the way I would normally set it for a 275 (135C) cooking temp. I set the pit temperature I wanted (275F / 135C) on the front panel of the CyberQ. Then I went through the Setup Menu to customize the other settings to my needs. I turned off the key beeps (when you press any of the 5 keys) and I turned the alarms off for my neighbor’s sake. I changed the allowed temperature deviation from +/-50 (28C) to +/-25 degrees (14C). I turned off Ramp Mode (like a cook and hold) and turned on the Open Lid Detect feature. I put the Controller Unit in a zip lock bag to help keep the swirling wind driven rain off it. I stayed around the house while the Egg came up to temperature. The plan was I was going to go out and about to run errands after that.
The Egg took 30 minutes to reach 275 (135C), just as it would have normally. The difference was there was only a 2 degree (1C) overshoot, which I can’t say I get every time when I am manually doing the warm up. I opened the lid to simulate putting the meat on and noted with satisfaction the Open Lid Detection feature seemed to work as advertised. The temperature dropped to 180 degrees (82C) and got back to 275 (135C) quickly and only overshot by 5 degrees (2.8C). Things seemed to be going well,so I jumped in the car and headed out. I stopped at the end of my street, where I would be out of range of my WiFi network. I used cellular data to connect to my CyberQ. This is done by entering the WAN/Public IP address for my network into the web browser. Within about 3 seconds the web browser had made contact with my network and the CyberQ configuration screens came up. I must admit to having an: “It’s Good to be the King” moment. It turned out to be one of several this day. For the next 2 1/2 hours I completed my errands and I kept checking the readings from my Egg from my various stops. The temps were remarkably steady for the first hour within +5 / -2 degrees (+2.8 / -1C). I was having breakfast at about the one hour mark and I noted the temp were slowly climbing. Over a 10 minute period they climbed 10 degrees (5.5C) too high. Then they began dropping slowly. For the rest of the next 2 hours the temps stayed relatively stable other than that one spike. It seems the CyberQ really does learn your grill as the cook progresses. By the 3 hour mark, I was back home and I simulated the last phase of my cook. You remove the roast and bring it into the Kitchen to rest for 20-30 minutes while you raised the cooking temp 75 degrees (42C) to 350 degrees (175C). I went outside and raised the lid the length of time it would really take to remove the roast pan. I then went into the Kitchen and watched the temps to see what the time would be to reach 350 (175C). It took 25 minutes. I went back outside and raised the lid to simulate putting the roast back on the Egg. To my great surprise the rest of the cook was incredibly stable, despite using an even higher temperature to finish. Once the Egg recovered from the lid being open, my temperature deviation at 350 (175C) was +2 / - 0 degrees (+1 / -0C). I was amazed and impressed to say the least. I would never be able to equal that even on my best day. After that performance I had no fears about using the CyberQ to help me cook my rib-eye roast on Christmas Day.
COOK 1 - Lessons Learned:(Good) The CyberQ does a remarkable job of keeping the Egg stable and at your desired temperatures.
(Good) The Open Lid Detect feature seems to work as advertised and you don’t seem to get the large overshoots you can get manually controlling the Egg.
(Good / Bad) The CyberQ learns your Grill/Smoker throughout the cook and adjusts it’s actions to become more accurate. At first I thought this was a negative, but then I thought some more about it. If you use the CyberQ on the same grill/smoker at the same cooking temperature every time, then having to relearn every time seems to be a waste. But many folks may use the CyberQ on several rigs and/or cook at several different temperature ranges. I know I have already used it at 3 different temps.
(Good / Bad) The CyberQ reverts to it’s default settings every time it is unplugged. If you are using the front panel buttons of the CyberQ this can be a bit clunky and time consuming. Next time I planned to try setting this from the interface on my iPhone. I was guessing this was a lot quicker and easier. Also the more I thought about it, knowing the unit resets each time forces you to recheck all of your settings each cook. This is probably a good thing because it forces you to recheck everything.
(Good) Closing the damper on the Blower Unit does serve to cut off the air flow so the coals extinguish at the end of the cook. I planned to remove the Blower Unit next time and plug the vent opening with the supplied silicon cap. This should give an even better seal and allow me to bring the Blower Unit inside along with all of the other pieces of the CyberQ.
COOK 2 - Rib-Eye Roast:I was genuinely looking forward to cooking my Christmas Rib-Eye Roast with the CyberQ. I had learned the day before that I could basically set it and nearly forget it. This would allow me to pay attention to the food and baked goods cooking on the other Eggs. Plus I shouldn’t have to make any extra trips out to the Egg with the roast on it to tweak the dampers. I set things up as I described in COOK 1 - Test Run the day before. I lit the Egg and when I plugged in the CyberQ it did NOT find my WiFi network. I pulled out my iPhone and saw I was getting a WiFi signal, but it was very low and much lower than the day before. This was puzzling because today was clear and yesterday was wet and windy. If anything I would have expected a better signal strength today. I rebooted the CyberQ and this time it grabbed the WiFi network. I breathed a sigh of relief, but my relief was short lived. A minute later the CyberQ had dropped off the network. I decided to try Adhoc mode where the CyberQ created a network and paired with one device, In this case my iPhone. The Adhoc pairing worked when the iPhone was outside by the grill. When I went into the Kitchen, the iPhone lost the CyberQ’s signal. When my house was vinyl sided years ago the foil faced sheathing placed under the siding served to significantly reduce radio signals out to the back yard.
I had a lot of other work to do and I really couldn’t waste any more time trying to diagnose this problem. I had a decision to make. I decided to: “Use the Force”. My test cook the day before had shown the CyberQ could do as good or better a job controlling the Egg as me. I also knew how long it took to stabilize at 275 degrees (135C) and how long it took to go from 275 to 350 degrees (135 to 175C). Both of these times happened to be 30 minutes. So after 30 minutes had passed I put the Rib-eye roast on the Egg. The one thing different about this cook was I was using food probes with the Cyber Q for the first time. I positioned two Food Probes at opposite ends of the roast while I was in the Kitchen. I brought the roast out to the Egg and quickly put it on the grill grid. Then I quickly pulled the AR, roast and all and ended it on my Corian “trivet” on my counter. I added some oak chips and got the AR and roast on the Egg as quickly as possible. I plugged the Food Probes into the Control Unit of the CyberQ and used the front panel of the to enter my desired doneness temperature. In this case I was shooting for medium rare and I was to cook at 275 degrees (135C) until the internal temperature of the roast was 116 degrees (47C). The the roast is rested for 30 minutes and the grill temperature gets raised to 350 (175C). The roast was then put back on the Egg and cooked to 125 degrees (52C).
After I got the roast started I was able to focus on other items. When I would go out to set up or light one of the other two Eggs, I would peek at the CyberQ to see my progress. One of the things I wanted to do with my CyberQ is to start graphing my cooks. I used to do this a lot in the old days with my CG Smokin’ Pro smoker. One of the things I had learned about large rib-eye or standing rib roasts is they are very linear. It takes a while for them to rise the first 10 degrees, but after that they rise in a straight line fashion. When this roast rose 10 degrees and I started tracking how many degrees it rose in the next 15 minutes, I was in for another surprise. With a linear rise the roast was going to finish about 1 hour earlier than planned. Both my Food Probes had the same readings and were correctly placed. I had no reason to believe this roast would behave any different than the dozens of similar roasts I had cooked. So I accelerated my preparations to suit. I just barely had enough cooking time left to fit the other items in. When the roast got to 116 (47C) and I pulled it, the CyberQ had the grill up to 350 (175C) within the same time frame. Yesterday it took 25 minutes, so today I just brought the roast out after 30 minutes and the Egg was good to go. I pulled the roast at 125 degrees (52C) and after the rest it had reached the 135 degree (57C) doneness temp I was shooting for. Having early notice the roast was going to finish an hour early allowed me to move up the start time for my other dishes by an hour. While the rib-eye roast was resting, the other items were finishing up just under the wire.
COOK 2 - Lessons Learned:(Good) Even without the WiFi capabilities of the CyberQ, it still frees up a lot of your time to do other things.
(Bad) The Adhoc mode is simple to set up and creates a one-to-one pairing between the CyberQ and your WiFi device. This means the WiFi device has to be able to “see” the CyberQ to function. This is different than when the devices are on the WiFI network . On the WiFi network the devices have to each be able to see the WiFi network and not necessarily each other directly. Because my iPhone could not see the CyberQ from my Kitchen, I was SOL. If you plan to use Adhoc mode, check the connection in all the locations you want to use your smartphone or tablet from.
(Bad) This is an assumption on my part, but I think the WiFi signal created by the CyberQ is not as strong as the one created by the WiFi routers or base stations. I couldn’t even get a signal from the CyberQ holding the iPhone in the opening to my Kitchen door.
NETWORK MELTDOWN: It turned out that what happened this day with WiFi connectivity issues was not the fault of my CyberQ. It took me 3 very frustrating days attempting to discover what was going on. Let me begin at the beginning and give a quick review which might help some others. My WiFi network consisted of 3 base stations (transmitters), one at each end of my house and one in the middle. These are all linked together to form a single extended WiFi network. This gives me good signal strength throughout the house. When I bought the CyberQ, I had moved my base station in the Kitchen onto the top of the refrigerator and as close to my grills as possible. The new location had helped a bit with the signal, but I could no longer see the network status light. So on Christmas Day, I didn’t realize the Kitchen base station was off line. What was happening was the base station in the Kitchen was dropping on and off my WiFi network and I wasn’t able to see the network status light. When this happened the CyberQ was sometime able to see a weak signal from the base station at the center of my house. But this signal was too weak to be reliable. Trying to get to the bottom of this was very frustrating. One of the things that was happening was all of the various base stations were dropping on an off. I would change settings then you need to reboot the base stations to upload the settings. This takes about 5 minutes each time and then you wait to see if all the other base stations rejoin the network. Two days into this I was still scratching my head. Then I used a wired computer for the first time in a week and I was having network connectivity issues on this computer too. This computer does not have WiFi and I realized the problem was beyond my WiFI network, it was my Linksys router. I raced out the next morning and picked up a new Linksys wireless router. This is where things took an odd twist. I think this is where the Internet gods paid me back for getting my CyberQ onto WiFi so easily. This new wireless router was defective too. I was seeing some of the same issues, plus some new ones. Let’s cut to the chase: After another frustrating day I returned the defective router and the second version of the same router worked perfectly out of the box. Zero problems. The base station in the Kitchen stays on the network and I am getting a constant useable signal in the backyard for the CyberQ. So bottom line: the CyberQ WiFi will only behave as good or bad as the network you put it on. If you are having connectivity issues, double check not just your WiFi network, but your router.
COOK 3 - Italian Sausage Smoke Bomb:This was to be a rather quick and higher temperature cook, so why use the Cyber Q? Several reasons. The first is why not? The CyberQ works up to 450 degrees (232 C) and this cook was going to be at 400 degrees (204C). Second this cook was to be on a cedar plank. I was very sure that I could trust the CyberQ to keep the temperature at 400 (204C), safely below the 451 degrees (233C) where the plank would start to burn up. Third I had some software for the iPad/iPhone called CYBERCOOK that I wanted to try out. Specifically I wanted to try the graphing capabilities of CYBERCOOK on a short cook before really putting it to work on an overnight cook. Plus this was a test cook for me. The recipe I was using mentioned cedar plank cooking as an alternative cooking method and it was done at a higher temperature. The problem was when they mentioned cooking time they called it “significantly less”. When I made this dinner for real, my plan was to make some SMOKED POTATOES too, which take 2 1/2 hours. The potatoes would need to go on “quite a bit earlier”. I had 1 equation with two unknowns. 150 minutes - Significantly Less = Quite a Bit Earlier. So to solve for the variable “Quite a Bit Earlier” I decided to do a test cook and see what “Significantly Less” was. I would make the meatloaf, but serve it with some mashed potatoes I just had to reheat.
This was a bitterly cold day (4 degrees / -16 C) and when I went out to the Egg to setup the CyberQ I ran into a new issue. Specifically the Blower Unit did not want to slip into the tube on the Adaptor Plate. I pulled it out and reseated it to make sure it wasn’t just crooked, but it still was very stiff. I pushed it in, but I didn’t want to force it so I pushed it only halfway in. I lit the Egg and installed my Adjustable Rig. I clipped the Pit Temperature Probe onto the grill grid next to where the cedar plank would go. I got the Pit Temperature Probe and Blower Unit leads plugged into the Control Unit. When the 3 paraffin starters had burned for 5 minutes (about half of their total burn time), I closed the lid, plugged in the CyberQ and put the daisy wheel cap on. I decided NOT to leave the cap off, like I normally do for a higher temperature warm up.I figured the CyberQ would raise temp quickly enough and I didn’t want to run the risk of a temperature overun when I was using a cedar plank. After all the damper in the Blower unit was fully open. So initially I set the daisy wheel portion of the Dual Function Metal Cap to fully open. I headed indoors to fire up my iPad and iPhone and use the CYBERCOOK software for the first time. I had my iPad in a stand and plugged into AC power on my baking counter about 6’ (1.8m) behind where I stand to do my prep. I turned it on and launched CYBERCOOK. A few seconds after launching CYBERCOOK it found my CyberQ WiFi. Unlike the web app screen of the CyberQ, where you see at most the readings from two probes at a time, CYBERCOOK on the iPad shows information from all 4 probes at once. Better yet, the screen’s display was big enough I could read it from 6’ (1.8m) away where I was doing my prep, without having to move from my spot. When the CYBERCOOK app fired up and displayed the Control Screen on my iPad I had the first of several “It’s Good to be the King” moments this day. I fired up the iPhone version and used the controls on it to set the settings for desired cooking temp, allowable temperature deviation, alarm behavior, Open Lid detection to on etc. This was a second: “It’s Good to be the King” moment in less than 5 minutes. I realized how much faster and easier and WARMER it was doing things this way. When I bought the iPad version of CYBERCOOK, I wasn’t sure if or how I might use the iPhone version. I figured it out immediately. The iPad version would stay plugged in and permanently residing in the Kitchen. I would use it as Mission Control where I could see everything about my cook. Because it would be plugged in and running during the entire length of the cook, it would also handle the graphing portion of the cook. The iPhone version would be with me at all times for use out at the grill and away from the Kitchen.
Once I had the pit settings correct using the iPhone, I created a Cooking Session for that cook on the iPad. A Cooking Session stores information about your cook. Once you have created a Cooking Session in CYBERCOOK, you can begin graphing it. When I went back to the Control Screen on the iPad I noticed my pit temperature was rising rather slowly. So I went out to the grill and opened the Dual Function Metal Cap fully to help speed things up. Once I had returned to the Kitchen, I set an alarm for the pit probe for 350 degrees (177C), 50 degrees (28C) short of my desired 400 degrees (204C). Where I was using a cedar plank today, I did not want to overshoot the 400 degree (204C) cooking temperature. I began my prep work on the meatloaf and was simply able to look over my shoulder to keep an eye on things out at the grill. When the cooking temp hit 350, the alarm sounded and I went outside and closed the main portion of the Dual Function Metal Draft cap and left the daisy wheel portion fully open. I returned to the Kitchen to wait for the Egg to hit 400 (204C) and I finished the meatloaf prep and got it on the cedar plank.
When the meatloaf prep was done and the loaf was sitting on the cedar plank, the Egg was sitting at 400 degrees (204C). I put two Food Temperature Probes in the meatloaf, one in each end. I headed out to the grill and got my one and only “surprise” of the day. The Blower Unit’s fan seemed extra noisy as I approached the Egg. When I got closer I saw why. The Blower Unit was lying on the counter top at the base of my Egg. I quickly added the planked meatloaf and got the lid closed as planned. Then I put the Blower Unit back into the tube on the Adaptor Plate. This time, because the Egg was warmed up, the Blower Unit slipped right in. I was lucky the Blower Unit fell off before the food went on. After this cook, I contacted BBQ Guru support with several questions, one of which was whether I could put some sort of oil on the gasket. I was told Canola oil would do the trick.
Returning to the Kitchen I found this was a rare cook. Lately I am cooking several things at once, but not today where I didn’t know the cooking time of the meatloaf. Since I did not have to make anything else and the CyberQ was taking care of the meatloaf, I had little to do. I set the table, bringing the iPhone with me so I could keep an eye on things. Then I was able to join my parents in the Living Room after they arrived and sit and visit with them. This was my third: “It’s good to be the King” moment of the day. I realized I had nothing to do but relax and visit with my guests. The CyberQ had things under control and I could monitor things from anywhere in the house. I didn’t even have to get up and run into the Kitchen every so often to check on things. The two use cases for the iPhone and iPad versions of the CYBERCOOK app were now crystal clear to me. The iPad version stays in the Kitchen to act as Mission Control and log the cook. The iPhone version goes with me where ever I need to be and allows me to monitor and tweak settings from any location. When my meatloaf came to temp the alarms went off on the iPhone version of CYBERCOOK as I sat in the Living Room. Notice I said alarms. The food probe readings had been within 0.5 to 1 degree of each other the whole time. The meatloaf was cooked evenly all the way through.
COOK 3 - Lessons Learned:(Good) For higher temperature cook I can open the Dual Function Metal Cap to let the temps rise more quickly. I set a Pit Temperature alarm for 50 degrees (28C) low and when I reached that temp I set the DFMC to it’s final setting.
(Bad) Extremely cold weather can cause the Blower Unit to be difficult to seat. If you aren’t able to get the Blower Unit most of the way into the Adaptor Plate, it can later blow itself loose when the grill warms up and the metal of the adaptor plate expands.
(Good) BBQ Guru support says a little Canola oil on the O-ring gasket should do the trick if the Blower Unit won’t slide in easily.
(Good) Making adjustments is far easier from a smartphone or tablet, than trying to do it from the front panel of the CyberQ. On a day where the temps were barely above 0 (-18C) you will appreciate being able to it from the warmth of your Kitchen.
(Bad) The electrical wires for the AC plug and the Blower Unit power lead are rather thin plastic coated wires. The cold makes them VERY stiff. This worries me a bit because of how thin the wires are. So I uncoil and straighten out the electrical wires from the warmth of the house. This way I do not have to bend or twist them much once I go outdoors.
(Good) Other than the Blower Unit issue I had, the actual operation of the CyberQ WiFi seems to be unaffected by real cold weather at least down to 0 (-18C). There is a simple solution to the Blower Unit issue. Looking forward, weather will not be an issue affecting whether I can grill or not.
(Good) I am very pleased with the CYBERCOOK software and I do have a use case for both the iPad and iPhone versions of it. I will be writing a blog entry soon, where I cover CYBERCOOK.
(Neutral) When using two copies of CYBERCOOK the owner’s manual advises changing the settings from only one of the devices. So going forward the iPad version will be mission control where I view the cook and record it. The iPhone version will be where I change any settings for the CyberQ and it will always be with me.
COOK 4 - Get a Book Whole Brisket:The weather last Saturday was not being cooperative in terms of getting in my planned cook for my family. What originally was going to be flurries turned into 8” of snow peaking right at lunch time. I had about 24 hours notice of this forecast change, so I decided that while my guests couldn’t come due to the snow, there was no reason I couldn’t still do a cook. I have long wanted to try a whole brisket, something I have never made before. Not having to try to hit a particular schedule to feed guests took any pressure of me. If the cook ran long or short, well I just ate sooner or later. The only whole brisket I could find was 16 pounds (7.25kg) instead of the 12 pounds (5.5kg) called for in the recipe. I wasn’t sure if the roast would take longer or about the same. The shape of a cut of meat can have as much effect on the cooking time as the weight sometimes. Here was a perfect case where by doing this as a test cook took the pressure off. I wasn’t cooking for guests, when this was ready I’d eat. Early or late.
I had been looking forward to using the CyberQ for an overnight cook on my Egg. This was one of my main reasons for getting it. The Egg is stable enough where I felt I could probably trust it to do an unattended overnight cook. Adding a pit controller would give me the ability to not stay up to babysit the Egg. After using the CyberQ several times, I felt I could sleep like a baby. Additionally with the CYBERCOOK software I could graph the cook and have alarms go off if anything was not going according to plan.
The setup was the same as my other cooks:
- Light the Egg, keep the lid up.
- Install the Adjustable Rig.
- Attach the Pit Temperature probe.
- Attach the Blower Unit, set the damper on the Blower Unit to suit your desired cooking temperature.
- Plug the Pit Probe and Blower Unit into the Control Unit
After 5 minutes have elapsed from first lighting the paraffin starters:
- Power up the Control Unit
- Close the Lid
- Add the Dual Function Metal Cap and set the daisy wheel openings to suit your desired cooking temperature.
Return to the Kitchen:
- With the iPad set on a stand and plugged into a wall outlet fire up the CYBERCOOK software.
- Fire up the CYBERCOOK software on my iPhone and use it to adjust the cooking settings on the CyberQ. Also set the desired Pit Temperature (cooking temperature) for your cook.
- Create a new Cooking Session on the iPad version of CYBERCOOK.
- Once the Cooking session is created turn on the recording feature to create a cooking log and graph of your session.
At this point I finished my prep and placed two food probes in the thickest part of the brisket. When the cooking temperature reached 275 (135C) I put the brisket on the Egg. This was about 10 PM. The brisket was so big that I had a bit of trouble getting it just where I wanted it. I had to adjust the location several times before I was happy. The pit temp dropped 100 degrees (56C) in the process. Once I got the lid down I plugged in the two Food Probes and I returned to the Kitchen. I used the iPhone version of CYBERCOOK to change the Food Probe temps to 165 degrees (74C). The recipe has you pull the brisket at 165, bring it into the Kitchen, coat it with a “wrapping” sauce, wrap it in a double layer of foil and return it to the smoker. The recipe said this would take about 6 to 7 hours which had me finishing up in the 4-5AM time frame. I felt that it would take somewhat longer due to the extra weight. I could have set an alarm on my iPhone version of CYBERCOOK to tell me when the brisket reached 165 (74C). I had a feeling things would take longer, but I wasn’t sure. Also this was around the time I normally wake up anyway.
The CyberQ had the temps back to 275 (135C) within 20 minutes. I planned on staying up for another 2 hours till around midnight. I wanted to make sure everything was proceeding normally with the CyberQ before going to sleep. The CyberQ was doing so well that I decided to hit the hay at 11:30. I slept like a baby until about 3:00AM. This was not the fitful, restless sleep I used to have when I would try to sneak in a couple hours of sleep during overnight cooks on my CG Smokin’ Pro. I had a very sound sleep. The only reason I woke up at 3:00AM was because a freight train whistle nearby woke me up. I decide to check on things in the Kitchen. When I went in and saw the Pit Temperature was at 273 only 2 degrees off my 275 degree desired cooking temp. Next I looked at what I thought was the temps of Food Probes 1 & 2, but they both read 165 (74C) which was my desired food temp. I figured being new to the CYBERCOOK app I had looked at the Food Probe set temp. When I looked further down, that reading also said 165 too. Then I noticed the first readout I had looked at was blinking. This was a visual alarm/notification of the Food Probe reaching temperature. Now I was confused, this was at least one hour earlier than the earliest time in the time range. Plus I was cooking a piece of meat 25% bigger than the one in the recipe. I went out to the Egg and the potential cause presented itself. During the night the meat had swollen up in the vertical direction. It was nearly 2” thicker than it had been when I put it on the Egg. The probes had clung to the surface of the meat as it swelled. This served to pull the two probes up and away from the middle of the meat. I removed both probes and reseated them in a slightly different location, making sure that the probe extended down into the center of the meat again. It took a few minutes, but the Food Probe temps started dropping slowly. After about 5 minutes they had dropped down to about 151 degrees (66C).
Not knowing exactly how long it would take for the food temps to rise back to 165 (74C), I decided to make the Wrapping Paste so I would be good to go when the temps reached 165 again. I would go back to sleep after I made the wrapping sauce. This time I would set an alarm on my iPhone version of CYBERCOOK to alert me when the temps got back to 165 (74C). This is when I ran into my second hiccup of the evening. I needed 1/2 cup (118ml) of honey. It turned out my honey was a solid block. I tried dissolving it in some near boiling water, but it did not completely dissolve and I couldn’t get it past a certain point. I had learned that some of the supermarkets in neighboring New Hampshire opened at 5:00 AM. I grabbed the Public/WAN IP address assigned by Comcast for my network and put it into my copy of CYBERCOOK on the iPhone. I headed up to the supermarket and was sitting in their parking lot when they opened at 5:00AM. At this point the temps were at 159 degrees (70.5C) for both probes. It seemed like the brisket had hit a plateau around +/- 160 (71C) which often happens with briskets around this temperature. This was a big relief because it meant I would be able to make it home before the temps returned to 165 (74C) again.
Once the meat reached 165 (74C), I took it off the grill and returned it to the Kitchen. I landed it on two pieces of aluminum foil and applied the wrapping sauce. Then I wrapped it in the two layers of foil, reinserted the temperature probes and returned the foiled brisket to the Egg where it would remain until the internal temperature had reached 195 degrees (90C). So for about the next 3 hours I had nothing to do out at the grill. Now I don’t plan to keep going out when I have something cooking on my Egg under the control of the CyberQ, but having the option sometimes is nice. I had already gone out once to make the unexpected “emergency” run for honey at 5:00AM. It was now 8:00AM and we were forecast to be getting about 8” (20cm) of snow lasting into the afternoon. I had some errands I’d originally planned to do in the afternoon after the brisket was done. I decided to run out now, before the roads got too bad. I would always be within 10-15 minutes of my house, so I could monitor the cook on my iPhone. If things got close to being done, I could cut my errands short and head home. Fortunately it took 2 hours to complete my errands and the meat took 3 hours to reach 195 (95C).
The final step was to take the brisket off the Egg and rest it, wrapped in foil and a dish towel, for an hour. When the brisket emerges from it’s foil cocoon, it gets brushed with BBQ sauce and placed back on the Egg which had been raised to 350 (175C) degrees. I used CYBERCOOK on the iPhone to make this temperature change about 30 minutes before I needed to put the brisket back on the Egg. When the brisket was ready, the Egg was up to temp. The brisket went on the Egg for a final 30 minutes to tighten up the BBQ sauce. I set a timer on CYBERCOOK for 30 minutes and the easiest overnight cook I have ever done was just about complete.
COOK 4 - Lessons Learned:(Good) The CyberQ makes overnight cooks on the Egg a breeze. Barring any unexpected events, the CyberQ can control the entire cook and let you get a good nights sleep.
(Good) It is amazing how much time the CyberQ frees up. Other than the one trip out to the grill to adjusts the Food Probes which had lifted up and out of the center of the meat, I made no other unexpected trips out to the Egg to make temperature tweaks. Once the food was on, with the exception of the trip to reinsert the Food Probes, I only had to go out to remove or add the food for the various phases of the cook.
(Bad) Don’t get complacent, don’t assume you will not be needed. I didn’t bother turning alarms on for my iPhone version of CYBERCOOK. I ASSumed it would cook through the night and I would be up anyway before it was time to foil it, so why turn on the alarms? In retrospect this was a silly decision. If there really were no problems I wouldn’t have heard a peep out of the iPhone. However if something like the meat swelling and the probes lifting out of the center of the meat happened I would have been alerted. I happened to luck out, I was awakened by a passing train right when the temps were about to read too high. So don’t assume surprises won’t happen and turn off the alarms.
(Good) The abilities of the CyberQ to be accessed over the internet is powerful and works well.
(Good) I have found the software I want to use for the iPad and iPhone to further enhance and improve my use of the CyberQ, The user interface makes it quicker and easier to access the CyberQ compared to the built in web page interface you get out of the box with the CyberQ.
(Good) Using the CYBERCOOK software gives me the ability to log all my cooks. After some quick setup to create a Cooking Session, I push a button to start a log and my work is done.
FINAL THOUGHTS:To sum things up: I am extremely pleased with my new CyberQ WiFi pit controller. Three months ago or so I just didn’t see the need for a backyard BBQer using a ceramic grill like the Big Green Egg. Now I can’t wait to use it again.
- Is it an essential? No, the Big Green Egg can be kept very steady under manual control and with a remote read thermometer like the Maverick ET-733 or ET-732 you can enjoy some of the same features.
- Is it the first thing I should buy with my new Big Green Egg?: No, I think you should learn to control your Egg the old-fashioned low tech way first. For the short term you could always get the remote read thermometers I mentioned above. Additionally a good instant read thermometer like the Thermapen is essential. The third item on my list would be the Adjustable Rig by The Ceramic Grill Store. Be sure to get the oval pizza stone for the AR which takes the place of a Plate Setter or Conveggtor as the BGE Company now brands the Plate Setter. This gets you indirect cooking capabilities. If you are going to be doing a lot of grilling, I would add a cast iron grill grid too.
- Who SHOULD get a pit controller? A competition BBQer, a serious backyard BBQer who does lots of overnight cooks or long all day cooks, and possibly someone who is more into the end results than they are in the process to get there. In my case I got it initially because I was now using 3 Eggs to cook with and I figured a pit controller would lighten my load. The CyberQ could watch the main meat and I could focus a bit more on other tasks.
- Who SHOULD NOT get a pit controller? If you do mostly high temperature, short length cooking on the grill you may not get much use out of a pit controller The CyberQ has a high temperature limit of 450 degrees (232C). Also if you are a ceramic grill user who finds they are able to control the temps easily and you want to save some money, you do not NEED a pit controller.
- When should I get a Pit Controller? If you know you really want one and will be using it regularly, sure you can get it with your Egg. I just wouldn’t start using it until you have had some time to learn lighting your Egg and controlling temps the old fashioned “manual” way. After all you may have no power someday when you need to cook. Or a Pit Temperature Probe wire or the Blower Unit wire may go DOA. If you don’t know how to control you Egg manually, you will be in big trouble. So learn your grill well first. Plus if you hold off on buying a pit controller, you may learn more about how much you will really use/need a pit controller. You may end up buying a cheaper or more fully featured unit after learning a bit about how much you will actually use a pit controller.
This 6 part series on the CyberQ WiFi is over for now. I may write another entry on the CyberQ after using it a while. This will depend on how much I find that there is to learn going forward. My next entry will be CyberQ WiFi related. I downloaded 3 other iOS apps for extending my use of the CyberQ onto the iPad. I was NOT happy with any of the first 3 apps, but I have now been using a 4th app called CYBERCOOK which I love. It is making a great thing (the CyberQ WiFi) even greater.
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.
PICTURE ENTRIES FOR COOKS ABOVE: RIB ROAST WITH MUSTARD & PEPPER Cook 2 Picture Entry.
ITALIAN SAUSAGE SMOKE BOMB Cook 3 Picture Entry.
GET A BOOK WHOLE BEEF BRISKET Cook 4 Picture Entry.
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.
OTHER GEAR MENTONED: THE ADJUSTABLE RIG - FIRST IMPRESSIONS 2014 Blog Entry about the Adjustable Rig, a combination of my unboxing type impressions and my early experiences.
GETTING TO KNOW THE ADJUSTABLE RIG 2014 Blog Entry about my first four months using Adjustable Rig including some unexpected and pleasant surprises.
AR RAISED INDIRECT BAKING - FIRST IMPRESSIONS 2014 Blog Entry about my first attempt at baking raised indirect on the Rig Extender at Level 7.5 of the AR.
THE ADJUSTABLE RIG - SEEING DOUBLE 2014 Blog Entry about my decision to pick up a second Adjustable Rig for my third (Baking Egg).
ADJUSTABLE RIG WEBSITE
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