What is best controller for WSM?


 

ZaneMoseley

New member
On the fence between a WSM or an electric smoker. What is the best controller system for the WSM? I found the Fireboard 2 system which looks promising. Looking for PID control with a fan to control temps.
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
Hi Zane, I have used BBQ guru and Thermoworks Billows, on my WSM and both work really well. The WSM is a lot more versatile than an electric smoker since you can break it down and grill steaks on it and do reverse searing etc... But the WSM definitely requires a bit more effort and practice even when using control system. Lots of people on this forum just use the WSM with vents and natural draft, and I've done that too, but it requires a bit more practice and patience. Not sure what your budget is but if I were looking for an easy to use smoker, I'd probably look at a pellet smoker before an electric.

BBQ guru and Thermoworks Billows both have their own PID logic built in, so you don't have to fiddle around with tuning that PID in. I have messed with PID in my engineering jobs and I would prefer not to mess with that at home, but other folks may want to do that.... it's a preference thing.

No matter what you end up doing, I wish you goo luck and happy smoking
 

Jerry We

TVWBB Fan
I've used the same BBQ guru DigiQ DX2 for 10+ years and it has never failed (except for one 4th of July cook when our power went out during the middle of the night). It truly makes my WSM 18 set it and forget it just like an electric smoker and much more versatile. I haven't needed to look but assume there are new models out by now.
 
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ChuckH

TVWBB Super Fan
I can vouch for what Jerry said. I use a BBQ guru DigiQ 2 on my WSM 22.5. Easy to learn, easy to use. Works great.
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
So I'm being tempted by the Black Friday sale at Thermoworks. Smoke X2 plus Billows for $195 (20% off).

I already have another 2 probe remote thermometer (which is fine) which I guess would have to be tossed in order to get a fan on the 18.

I generally can get the temps to hold pretty well in my 18 (including overnights) manually, but it does take some fussing and attention. So the idea of setting it at 250F and it staying there (like a pellet grill) without intervention for hours on end is appealing. I don't feel the need for the full wifi iphone app stuff. A simple RF that reaches inside the house (like I already have) is fine for me.

Thoughts on that combo?

Any fan-only gizmo I could get instead (like the departed PartyQ)?

Do you always use your ATC or only on some cooks? Is the plug in a pain in bad weather?
 

MartinB

TVWBB All-Star
The best controller is the heatermeter with a blower and damper imo.

You may want different attributes though. Like easier, simpler, Thats fine.
That comes with less performance too.

But to get best control, at different temperatures, different amounts of burning coals, when wood chunks blaze up, etc requires being able to graphically monitor it, and adjust tuning and blower parameters when needed.

ATCs have some pitfalls. Sometimes more air cools....instead of heats.
Sometimes that eventually Stokes the fire until the fire begins burning very hot.... And when the blower cuts back the temperature shoots through the roof. then the blower is off for so long the fire actually goes out and the cycle repeats itself as it cools.

Adjustability is needed to get best results, and good airflow distribution.

Shaking ash off helps with control issues sonetines. Changing tuning from bed lets you fight thru them without going outside......
 
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John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
So I'm being tempted by the Black Friday sale at Thermoworks. Smoke X2 plus Billows for $195 (20% off).

I already have another 2 probe remote thermometer (which is fine) which I guess would have to be tossed in order to get a fan on the 18.

I generally can get the temps to hold pretty well in my 18 (including overnights) manually, but it does take some fussing and attention. So the idea of setting it at 250F and it staying there (like a pellet grill) without intervention for hours on end is appealing. I don't feel the need for the full wifi iphone app stuff. A simple RF that reaches inside the house (like I already have) is fine for me.

Thoughts on that combo?

Any fan-only gizmo I could get instead (like the departed PartyQ)?

Do you always use your ATC or only on some cooks? Is the plug in a pain in bad weather?
Jim - the Thermoworks Smoke-X + Billows set up works great for me for long cooks. The transmitter does have pretty good range if you need to mosey over to your neighbors house while he's smelling your delicious bbq to rub it in a little more by showing him that you don't even have to watch your pit. Of course, you could buy a different system, and put an app on your phone and all that, but I already have too many apps on my phone, and I use a company phone and don't need "the man" knowing what temperature I'm smoking my ribs at ;)

If you buy a Thermoworks system, be careful to get all of the cables you need. I bought my smoke X at a local bbq specialty supply, which was selling the Smoke X, and Billows both in seperate boxes. I got it home and realized I was missing some cables. I think if you buy from Thermoworks on line, you need the https://www.thermoworks.com/billows-smokex-fan-kit?tw=VWB&chan=TVWBB and https://www.thermoworks.com/smokex?tw=VWB&chan=TVWBB&quantity=1&smokex=2 Thermoworks is missing the boat by not putting the whole schmear in one kit.

Here's a photo over all the stuff you need to run the Smoke X plus billows. I just bought the shorter meat probe for smaller cuts. It seems like the longer ones are over kill for almost everything except for large pork butts and briskets.

WIN_20201201_17_27_42_Pro.jpg
 

Jim C in Denver

TVWBB All-Star
Thanks John.

I think I will pull the trigger on the Smoke X2 + Billows. Good tip on the fan kit versus just the fan. I see that as an option for the website.
 

RyanS_MN

TVWBB Fan
I've been using a partyq with decent luck but since it was barebones it was missing a lot of what i wanted. After a lot of research and deliberation i settled on a fireboard2 with a pitviper fan. the unit is wifi and up to 30 hours of batterly life with a rechargeable batter which means i can get all the convenience of wifi or bluetooth without needing to run an extension chord and the 30 hour life is good enough for multiple cooks. Mine just showed up today so well see how well it actually runs, but on paper this was one of the best combos to get.

Thermoworks also seems like a really good option if you want all the bells an whistles.

I have not heard good things about the ultraq or dynaq from bbq guru (new units).

For the cheaper end though bbq guru digiq still looks solid and the lavalock controller looks promising given its $160 price point.
 
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John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
I've been using a partyq with decent luck but since it was barebones it was missing a lot of what i wanted. After a lot of research and deliberation i settled on a fireboard2 with a pitviper fan. the unit is wifi and up to 30 hours of batterly life with a rechargeable batter which means i can get all the convenience of wifi or bluetooth without needing to run an extension chord and the 30 hour life is good enough for multiple cooks. Mine just showed up today so well see how well it actually runs, but on paper this was one of the best combos to get.

Thermoworks also seems like a really good option if you want all the bells an whistles.

I have not heard good things about the ultraq or dynaq from bbq guru (new units).

For the cheaper end though bbq guru digiq still looks solid and the lavalock controller looks promising given its $160 price point.
I loved the PartyQ - I cannot believe they stopped making it. I wish they would have set it up to work with a rechargeable battery, but otherwise I got a lot of good cooks out of that little sucker.
 

John K BBQ

TVWBB All-Star
Old school is pretty awesome - much respect. I run old school every now and then when I have more time to monitor the grill.
 

Duc

New member
On the fence between a WSM or an electric smoker. What is the best controller system for the WSM? I found the Fireboard 2 system which looks promising. Looking for PID control with a fan to control temps.
I have a FireBoard 2 Drive with their new fan and have not been disappointed, system works well and launched me into the Smoking BBQ world at a very comfortable pace, great system. Be happy to answer any questions you might have about it.
 

DrewS

New member
I had the DigiQ but upgraded to a Fireboard 2 Drive that I use with my pit viper fan that I used with my DigiQ. I really like it, I like the cloud ability and being able to access/control everything from my phone. I would suggest one with wifi capability if you wanna have freedom to move around and still have control. Only down side is its more $$$
 

RyanS_MN

TVWBB Fan
I had the DigiQ but upgraded to a Fireboard 2 Drive that I use with my pit viper fan that I used with my DigiQ. I really like it, I like the cloud ability and being able to access/control everything from my phone. I would suggest one with wifi capability if you wanna have freedom to move around and still have control. Only down side is its more $$$
Love my FireBoard drive 2. Yeah the WSM doesn’t take much work but it’s awesome to set up ribs and leave them for 3 hours while I play some video games, and then only have to spritz an hour. Best of both worlds
 

Fred BW

TVWBB Fan
I use the IQ 110 https://pitmasteriq.com/
If it breaks I won't even look at what else new has come out. I will just get another one.
The IQ 110 is just soooo simple and it works.
Light a few coals and throw them on. Plug the controller in. Set the knob to the temp you want. Give it a few minutes to settle in and you are ready to go.
There are no graphs or bells or whistles,but as i said above,its simple.
And simple means I will use it. And I DO use it every time i light my smoker
 

DennisT

TVWBB Member
I use the IQ 110 https://pitmasteriq.com/
If it breaks I won't even look at what else new has come out. I will just get another one.
The IQ 110 is just soooo simple and it works.
Light a few coals and throw them on. Plug the controller in. Set the knob to the temp you want. Give it a few minutes to settle in and you are ready to go.
There are no graphs or bells or whistles,but as i said above,its simple.
And simple means I will use it. And I DO use it every time i light my smoker
I use IQ 110 as well. I was looking for a magnet goose neck or similar to hang my 110 as well as my Smoke 2 while cooking. Have you seen anything that works?
 

 

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