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New 2 Star testing

mcschlotz

Member
So I've had this unit for a few weeks now and have been getting some strange results vs my older 2 Star (2014). It culminated with a babyback smoke on Saturday where the temp swings were wild causing me to babysit a process that I never had to in the past. With it set to 225º the PB was reporting 265º ???
The aha moment.... billowing smoke coming out of the pellet hopper.:(

Okay, next day (the ribs turned out fine by the way) I teardown the smoker and sure enough the firepot is full despite this only being my 3rd smoke. Never had this occur with the older unit using BBQ'rs pellets. Cleaned the pot out, dumped remaining pellets (Bear brand), steel wooled the built-in therm, went ahead and installed the wifi I saved from the older unit, put in a fresh batch of BBQ'rs Delight pellets and fired it back up. Determined to understand how this unit was functioning I started recording time, PBoss temp and what the actual center grate temp was using my ThermoWorks ChefAlarm. Ran it on smoke, at 225º and then at 245º.

Results: similar to the older unit, grate temps are approx 10-15º hotter than what the PBoss reports. PBoss usually reports 5º lower than what it's set for and one curious discovery. The PBoss beeps signaling it's reached set temp yet what it shows at that point on the screen is 10º lower than the set temp. None of this is major and going forward I will return to setting the PBoss 10-15º lower in order to achieve the correct grate temps I want. One thing I will not do is use the supplied Bear pellets which created, in my opinion, far more ash. I also wonder if they contributed to the wild temp swing I experienced. Suppose I could go back and test that, but life is short and I have a solution.

Bottom line: know your smoker and you will consistently get Good Eats :eek: :cool:

MAK3623.png
 
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rzrbrewer

New member
Interesting results. I noticed some wild swings in mine on one of my first runs. Swings to the tune of 25-35° different in the PB setting and the PB temp reading. I do not have wifi installed on mine. It's possible I had the supplied pellets in mine during that run, but I can't be certain as I didn't record anything and have run several different pellets over the course of my cooks.
 

MAK DADDY

Moderator
When the grill is brand new it will have a lot heat refraction from the shiny stainless, as it breaks in (season's) it will become much smoother. Just keep smoking :)
 

sschorr

Member
Like mcschlotz, my MAK is new, and it is my first MAK. I also noticed a big VARIANCE (not temp swings) from the PB's setpoint and readings versus my Fireboard ambient monitors. I have cooked at least 6-7 times now, the last being a pork shoulder butt (9 lbs) this last Friday. I have done pig shots, bacon, steaks, chicken, ribs a couple of times and this pork butt.

I decided to emulate MAKDADDY's test he post on 5/18 - I bought Thermoworks IND-IR temp monitor with optional ambient K-Probe for it. I then set that probe in the very center of the main grates as shown in his photos. I also put 2 Fireboard ambient probes, one next to the Thermoworks, and one on the upper 3/4 grate. Here are the results:

I started at 7:30 and decided to go at 225 for 1 hour, then 250 for 1 hour, then finally 275 for 1 hour.



Setup of Probes:

Thermoworks K-probe at center of main grates.
FB 100K thermistor and FB RTD ambient probe next to TW K-probe center of main grates.
FB 100K thermistor and FB RTD ambient probes center of upper 3/4 rack.

Start Pellet Boss at 225.

Readings at 8:30 AM after 1 hour:

Pellet Boss - 225
TW K-probe - 238
FB Uppers - 248
FB Mains - 238

8:32 raised PB to 250

Readings at 9:30 AM (after 1 hour):

PB - 250

TW - 268

FB upper - 283

FB main - 270



9:32 raised PB to 275

Readings at 10:30 AM (after 1 hour):

PB - 270

TW - 300

FB upper - 310

FB main - 300



As you can see, the temp at the main grates was consistently 15-30 degrees above the setpoint and PB readings. The upper rack temps were 10-15 degrees above the main grate, 25-40 degrees higher than the setpoint and PB readings. The charting using the Fireboard's cloud session recording shows at these temp readings were stable, just at a significant variance from the setpoint and PB readings. I did not see a VARIANCE between the setpoint and PB temp readings, nor huge "swings" - just the large difference in readings.

My pork butt cook, done after the above testing, produced a good pulled pork, not great. I set the PB to 210 with the goad of having the cook temp be 225. While the PB reported 205-210, the Fireboard reported 15-30 degrees above that over the 6 hours before I foiled in a pan and raised the temp.

While I can manage knowing about this VARIANCE (not swings), it just seems "wrong". I think my MAK has lost the new pit sheen, so I am not as convinced this is reflective heat.
 

MAK DADDY

Moderator
There will always be a variance around the grill compared to other areas including where the MAK TC is located due to the fire pot pushing the heated air in those area's as well as the metal heating up. The TC in the corner is a good average of pit temp (we have to put it somewhere) and located out of the way best as possible.
 

rzrbrewer

New member
There will always be a variance around the grill compared to other areas including where the MAK TC is located due to the fire pot pushing the heated air in those area's as well as the metal heating up. The TC in the corner is a good average of pit temp (we have to put it somewhere) and located out of the way best as possible.

Just a thought, but could an additional port that you could plug a TC into that could be placed anywhere in the grill (let's call it a "floating TC"), similar to a Maverick, Thermoworks, etc, be added to the PB - future build of course? And then have the PB give the option of which TC to monitor for the cook? Meaning if I opted to use the floating TC, the PB would override the stock TC and read/control temps off the floating TC instead. Does that make sense/is it possible?
 

sschorr

Member
There will always be a variance around the grill compared to other areas including where the MAK TC is located due to the fire pot pushing the heated air in those area's as well as the metal heating up. The TC in the corner is a good average of pit temp (we have to put it somewhere) and located out of the way best as possible.

OK, I'll try what for me is a "Brave New World" - I'll set the PB to the temp I want to cook at and let 'er ride. Well, maybe set it 10 degrees lower as I like to smoke on the 3/4 upper. Since I like ribs cooked at 275 (3-3.5 hours for baby backs), and set the PB for 265, then see if it cooks as previous ones at that temp have gone (usually very well, although that was on my previous smoker). If the temp is running "hot" as my testing suggests, I would expect the ribs to be dry or overcooked or even a bit charred. if the PB is doing "the right thing", then I should be golden. Aldous Huxley, here I come!
 
Not trying to be the devils advocate. I don't own a MAK but I'm just speaking from some smoking/grilling experience. I don't know if your MAK will settle or not. If not, and you're not happy with it, I'll take it. LOL!! I want one. Anyways, I know the PB is there for a reason and should be pretty accurate. All grills have some fluctuations. It's our job as cooks to know those to produce the best Q we can. Now for the grilling side, The extra heat would seem good. I guess now that you know your temps, you should continue to monitor them to see if your grill settles down a bit. Then, you can make cooking adjustments to produce the results you want. I know spending the money you did on this grill and after a few cooks having the temp differences you do, I'm sure I would be sweating it too. I guess it's good that you know your grill runs a little bit warmer and you can adjust to it. So, Best of luck and I'm looking forward to seeing some of your cooks!!
 

MAK DADDY

Moderator
Just a thought, but could an additional port that you could plug a TC into that could be placed anywhere in the grill (let's call it a "floating TC"), similar to a Maverick, Thermoworks, etc, be added to the PB - future build of course? And then have the PB give the option of which TC to monitor for the cook? Meaning if I opted to use the floating TC, the PB would override the stock TC and read/control temps off the floating TC instead. Does that make sense/is it possible?
We do this on the 3 Star because it uses K Style probes and has 4 inputs, we call it "zone control". We have found it never gets used because once they own the grill for a while they figure out what temps they like to smoke different things at and don't bother with the extra probe. It's on the future design list of ideas for the 1 and 2 star so you may see it one day.
 

sschorr

Member
wolverines - all input welcome! There is a lot I really, really like about the MAK - the quality of the construction, the pellet dump, wifi, the design of the FZ, the direct cook capability (steaks and chicken come out sensational), the ease of cleaning, the size of the cook chamber to handle as much on the upper grates as the main grates, the warmer box, etc.

I will be monitoring, but my intention is to let the Pellet Boss do it's designed "thing" for various cooks and then see how I like the results. I have been second-guessing based on my independent temp monitoring and tending to adjust the PB's settings. So my results right now are "mixed", particularly for mid-range cooks (250-275) as I have tried to manage to the Fireboard/Thermoworks ambient temps. Time to commit to letting the MAK cook as MAK designed it to cook and then judge.
 

TentHunter

Moderator
When the grill is brand new it will have a lot heat refraction from the shiny stainless, as it breaks in (season's) it will become much smoother. Just keep smoking :)

Yep! This is very overlooked IMHO. :)

When the stainless is new and shiny (especially the underside of the drip pan) it refracts very differently because it reflects the infrared light/heat. As it dulls and darkens a bit it will start to absorb and radiate that same infrared, and the grill temps will stabilize quite a bit and the grill becomes more efficient.

I've had three MAK's so far and this has been the case with all three of them.



As far as setting the grill temp to compensate for actual grate temps, I don't worry so much about what the actual grate temp is. Instead, I've simply learned what temps to set on the PelletBoss for various types of cooks. It's a lot less strain on my old brain! :rolleyes: :p

It's exactly like you said, "Bottom line: know your smoker and you will consistently get Good Eats!" :cool:


Glad you are getting to know and enjoying your new MAK!

Cliff
 

mcschlotz

Member
It was just a bit unnerving having to deal with temp swings while trying to make a good dinner when it hadn't been a problem for the last 4 years. This was smoke #4, after very long smokes for a brisket and 2 separate butts. Guess it's still not settled in. It'll get there I'm sure. These MAK's are wonderful pieces of equipment. Though, I most likely will not be using the Bear pellets again.
 
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MAK DADDY

Moderator
It was just a bit unnerving having to deal with temp swings while trying to make a good dinner when it hadn't been a problem for the last 4 years. This was smoke #4, after very long smokes for a brisket and 2 separate butts. Guess it's still not settled in. It'll get there I'm sure. These MAK's are wonderful pieces of equipment. Though, I most likely will not be using the Bear pellets again.

The newer grills flame zone system works way better at pushing the heat directly where its used (where the food is), trade off is less pellets being used to maintain temps and more time between pellet dumps creating more variance at times. Miles better at getting to temp faster and much hotter grilling temps plus more smoke at higher temps. I only use Bear mountain pellets, they are made right up the road :)
 
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mcschlotz

Member
Agreed! I've experienced a significant reduction in pellet usage, it gets up to temp VERY fast and more smoke at higher temps. That combined with the newer racking and internal grease trap (critter prevention) is why I bought the 2nd 2-Star. Just need to get this unit calmed down (more seasoning) so the temps become more stabilized. Pellets...well I'll stay with BBQ'rs Delight but I'm glad to hear Bear Mountain brand is working for you.

BTW: is case anyone else has the opportunity to put in a previously used WiFi accessory (saved mine from #1915), it remembers the settings when it was initially setup. No need to go through that process. :cool:
 

rzrbrewer

New member
Is 255° at hour 4 and 260° at hour 5 on SMOKE setting normal? I put a butt on 5 hours ago and those are the last two observed readings. Running Lumberjack comp blend. It's been on SMOKE setting the entire cook. The only other time I looked was fairly early on, probably 1.5-2 hours and it was reading 235°. If the internal temps run higher than the PB reading by 15°+, which seems to be the consensus, these seem like excessive overruns. But perhaps there's some kind of user error on my end? This is my first MAK, so not sure.

EDIT: I'm cooking on the top rack and put a Maverick TC next to the butt, middle of the top rack towards the rear of the cooker. Maverick is within 2-3° of the PB right now with the Maverick reading 252° and the PB reading 255°. So the stock TC seems pretty spot on, but temps are certainly running high.

EDIT: See below, it was user error!
 
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rzrbrewer

New member
Eeesh, I feel a little bit foolish this morning but I need to give everyone an update regarding my temps. It was 100% user error. I woke up this morning and cleaned out my fire pot on the MAK 2* and ashes were overflowing out of the pot. Cleaned her up, set to SMOKE, put on a naked fatty and she's performing beautifully, hovering around 185°. Lesson learned for me!
 

MAK DADDY

Moderator
Not saying to stop using those pellets as some seem to really like them but just an FYI we have had quite a few others have trouble with heavy ash buildup and clinkers in the firepot. If you keep the firepot cleaned out after every cook that will help.
 

MAK DADDY

Moderator
TC looks fine, as long as it has the stainless color it will read accurate.
Again, depending where you place your roaming probe you will get different temps. The MAK TC is just measuring the average pit temp inside the chamber from it's location in the corner.
 
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