New DigiQ DX2
03/31/15 - 15:22 Filed in: Pit Controllers | Thermometers
As threatened I picked up my second pit controller, the Big Green Egg branded BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2. Some folks who hear that I got a second pit controller for backyard use think I am crazy. Others who heard I bought the BGE branded version which costs more money think I am crazy. I will attempt to explain my logic on both counts. I will also discuss why I elected to go with the DigiQ DX2 this time around and how it is similar to and different than the CyberQ WiFi. This may help some folks trying to side between the two.
BIG PICTURE:I have discussed this before, but until maybe 6 months ago I saw zero need or use for a pit controller for Big Green Eggs for a backyard cook like me. What changed is last September I got a third Big Green Egg to be dedicated to baking. Big Green Eggs are a lot less fussy than the typical charcoal grill, but even so with three of them I was spending a decent amount of time lighting them and maintaining my desired cooking temperature. The Eggs are pretty stable if you get your settings right. You still must keep an eye on them at startup and keep them from overshooting the mark. It is easy to raise the temperature of an Egg, but it is much harder to get them to drop. Also you had to keep an eye on the temps during the cook to make sure they weren’t drifting off. The Egg is the easiest to control and most stable grill I have used. It still is not maintenance free. The amount of baby sitting you must do for one Egg isn’t bad, but multiply it by three and it starts to become a factor. Also it seems to be a given that each Egg requires maintenance on it’s own time schedule independent of the others. You are needing to make adjustments on each Egg at a different time than the other two. I began to notice my maintenance time during a 3 Egg cook was becoming a significant factor. Plus time out at the grill, is time taken away from prep and other tasks in the Kitchen.
CYBERQ WIFI:In December I picked up a CyberQ WiFi in an attempt to automate and offload the tasks of starting and monitoring the cooking of my main dish. This would free me up to spend more time keeping tabs on the other two grills and whatever I had going on on the Kitchen. I also felt it would give me a total sense of security doing overnight cooks. The Egg is stable enough that I always felt I could stabilize it and let it run overnight. But some how I hadn’t been brave enough to actually do it yet. I also was excited by the prospect of being able to use iOS software to graph my cooks. The ability to monitor and control your grill remotely, away from home was another big selling point. Instead of being “chained” to the house during a long cook, I cook run errands and still monitor what was happening out at the Egg.
USING THE CYBER Q:Although I did have some early growing pains related to networking issues, using the CyberQ has been an eyeopening experience. Even the networking issues turned out to be a problem with my WiFi router and were not the fault of the CyberQ. I am now able to light the Egg and trust it will be taken to my desired cooking temperature without any overshoot. I can go back to the Kitchen and not have to keep one eye on the temps out at the Egg. I use the CyberCook software on my iPad to monitor what is going on outside. I can focus on my prep tasks and give them my full attention. No more trips out to the Egg to play with the dampers to dial it in to my cooking temp. Once the cook has started, the CyberQ recovers from the lid being open to add the food without big overshoots. During the cook it usually keeps the temps within +2 degrees (1 C). This is far better than I could ever do on my best day and more importantly I do not have to spend any time out playing with the grill.
Since getting the CyberQ WiFi, the extra time and peace of mind I now had was making my multi Egg cooks way more relaxing and enjoyable. This was really an intangible beforehand. Until I experienced it, I hadn’t realized how things had gotten more complex when I started cooking on three Eggs starting last September. During that time period I had a couple cooks on my baking Egg where I had to play games to adjust for having the lid open in the cold weather. I suddenly began having thoughts along the lines of: “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to use a pit controller on my baking Egg?”. At first it was just a wish where I didn’t really mean it seriously. The more I used the CyberQ, the more I had thoughts about adding a second CyberQ.
USE CASE-BAKING EGG:At first I thought about buying a second adaptor plate only, and fitting it on my baking Egg. This way I could fit my Cyber Q onto the baking Egg when it wasn’t in use on my indirect grilling Egg. Only problem was the first CyberQ was in regular use on the other Egg and rarely had time off. So I began thinking of actually getting a second pit controller Here is my reasoning for wanting a second and separate pit controller for my baking Egg:
- It would be more time freed up which could be useful on 3 Egg cooks. My first Egg usually cooks the main meal, now with the help of the CyberQ. The second Egg is used for direct grilling or shorter indirect cooks. The third Egg is always set up for and used for indirect baking, I never use smoking chips or chunks here, Having a pit controller on the baking Egg would mean I really only need to keep a close eye on the second Egg.
- Baking is usually done at temperatures of 450 (232 C) or less. This is right in the CyberQ’s range, where it is rated for 475 (245 C) and the probes are rated to 500 degrees (260 C). This means I would be able to use a pit controller for all of the baking I do.
- Temperature variations can have a larger effect on baked goods, than on say a big piece of meat. Too high can mean the crust is over cooked and the inside are not done. Too low and the baked good takes longer and doesn’t get the right color or consistency on the crust. A pit controller can control the temps on an Egg better than I can, even if I stood outside the whole time.
- It gets the Egg to recover better and faster than I can. Sometimes if you rush things you end up overshooting the mark. The pit controllers seem to be very good recovering from n open lid.
- Less running in and out to tend to three, then two and with a pit controller: one grill would equal less stress and more fun.
WHY ANOTHER BBQ GURU BRAND MODEL:If something works, I like to stick with it. But here are some specific reasons why I bought another BBQ Guru brand model.
- The CyberQ WiFi has been 100 percent reliable. Any problems I had during initial use were cause by issues with my network, not the CyberQ.
- The BBQ Guru started this field and have been designing pit controllers for the Big Green Egg since Day 1.
- Interchangeability of parts. Other than the control unit itself, the other parts are all interchangeable. The adaptor plate, blower unit, power supply brick, and probes are all interchangeable. In a pinch if the control unit dies I can still use the other unit to control whichever Egg I want. If another part dies I can use the equivalent part from the other unit.
- I will not be using the food probe on the baking Egg, so this is like keeping a spare probe around if one of the CyberQ’s probes burns out.
- Familiarity. Though the control units are not the same, they are more similar than different which makes the DigiQ DX2 easier to learn than a model by another company.
WHY THE DIGIQ DX2:When I was first kicking around the idea of getting a second pit controller I told myself it would be another CyberQ. This was done without thinking much about the needs for this second unit. When thinking got closer to buying and I gave it more serious thought I realized the use case was different. At this point I quickly realized I didn’t need, nor did I actually want another CyberQ WiFi. Here are some of the reasons I decided on a DigiQ DX2:
- My CyberQ is controlling the main cook, this second controller is being used for my baked goods. The DigiQ’s feature set is more suited to this simpler task and saves me around $100
- Getting a second CyberQ on the same WiFi network is possible, but tricky.
- Baking is a short term cook, 20 minutes to an hour. I don’t need a graph of the pit temps and since I won’t be using the food probe, I don’t need to graph it all.
- I don’t need to view the progress of my baked goods or control the pit remotely on my iPhone via the internet. Baked goods cook so quickly that if I had to run out, it would be a 15 minute trip around the corner to the Quickie-Mart to grab something I’d run out of. I already trusted the Egg to stay within range for something like this. This is extra insurance and I would not need to remotely adjust the temps.
- I also realized that for baked goods the warmup time to get the Egg to temp and stabilized plus 30 minutes to heat the pizza stone is actually longer than the cook time. This would be the time to run around the corner on an emergency re-supply mission. Before this I never dared do this for fear when I got back the Egg might have run up too high. I needed to be around to make sure the Egg was trulyy stabilized at my desired cooking temp. Now I know when the Egg reaches the cooking temp the pit controller with keep it there. So no need to be there or monitor that remotely.
- Usually the main dish is what the timing of the rest of the rest of the meal revolves around. For this it is good to be able to monitor things from the house via WiFi. My baked goods or desserts occur during the main cook and I don’t need them to finish at a particular time. Just sometime before the main meat is ready. As a result I need a pit controller to control the pit temps but I don’t need to monitor this in the same way I do the main dish. So the WiFI capabilities are not necessary.
- I will rarely, if ever, need a food probe for baking let alone 3. Why pay for something you don’t need.
- Simplicity. The CyberQ WiFi is intended to control the main dish I am cooking and this may be a long term or overnight cook so a little extra setup is not too much to expect. The items I bake take 20 minutes to an hour, When the DigiQ comes on all I have to do is set my desired Pit Temperature. In other words the complexity of the initial setup is proportional to the shorter length and complexity of baking something.
WHY THE BGE BRANDED MODEL:Many long term big Green Egg users know that the company sells a BGE branded model of the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2. This model is painted green and has some BGE logos on the Pit Viper blower unit and the controller unit. For this you pay nearly $50,00 more. Now for those of you who who are looking for the words “Sucker” that must be painted on my forehead, I can assure you it isn't there. I think this is extra cost is outrageous and normally I wouldn’t pay this “BGE Tax”. In this case there was a method to my madness. Easter would be coming soon. This year all three Eggs will be in use, plus this year I will be taking my show on the road. It would be vital everything turns out on time and without incident, so I can bring it to my parents house. This extra wrinkle served to accelerate my planning about purchasing a second controller. Buying the unit locally would give me 8 days to play around with it. So here was my logic for buying what seemed at first to be the more expensive version with no extra features.
Would you pay extra for a BGE branded product where the only value added is BGE advertising and logos and BGE green color scheme? I said no absolutely not initially, but things might be different if it was the same price or possibly less.
I asked my dealer what their price for the BGE branded DigiQ DX2 was, The initial price difference was about $35.00.My dealer Oasis Hot Tub and Sauna happens to be in Nashua, NH. New Hampshire doesn't charge state sales tax, so here would be a savings of $20.00. To get the unit in my hands within a few days I would have to pay $15.00 for 3 day to $30.00 for overnight shipping. Suddenly it was a break even proposition or surprisingly enough a savings of $15. Plus I like supporting a local business. My dealer has been excellent and given me great support, this was a way I could support them in a small way. Bottom Line: you may have thought I was crazy to pay extra for this unit and initially I thought it was crazy too. But when I worked out all of the various costs it was break even or a savings. Plus I gave a little business to my local dealer. Win-Win!
INITIAL RESULTS:Based on the first three cooks using the DigiQ, I am very happy and my rationale for getting a DigiQ vs. a Cyber Q seems to be sound . The unit is quick and easy to set up and there is something to be said for set it and forget it. When I am ready to bake the unit is up to temperature and ready to go. I don’t need to see it in the Kitchen, I just know it will be right. When I open the lid to add the food, the controller takes care of recovering the temps and so far there has been minimum if any overshoot. Getting some of this time back not having to keep as close an eye on things is great, It really is an intangible in some ways, until you actually experience it. Then you realize you have more free time and you are able to relax a bit. Your cook is being controlled by something that can do as good as you and usually better.
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