The BBQ Guru Competitor
Temperature Controller


We don't know if the BBQ Guru Competitor was the first electronic temperature controller for BBQ's to be sold, but it certainly was the first to become a household word amongst the BBQ community. The Competitor comes to us from The BBQ Guru near Philadelphia, PA. It is a device that monitors the temperature of your cooker and then adjusts it and controls it by controlling the airflow through the cooker with a blower attached to your cooker. By turning the blower on and off as required, the Competitor can keep your cooker within a few degrees of a set temperature as long as there is fuel to keep the fire going. In addition, the Competitor monitors the temperature of your food and alerts you when the food is done.


Features

The Competitor system includes the following basic features:

  • Handy stand to sit The Competitor on a table top. It also can attach directly to a bracket on the blower.

  • LED segment displays to indicate meat and pit temperatures.

  • Two knobs for setting meat and pit temperatures.

  • 4, 10 or 25 CFM blowers with built-in adjustable dampers that control airflow.

  • Stainless steel food and pit temperature sensors

  • Temperature control from 175 F to 400 F (although as we'll see later, you can trick it into controlling at lower temperatures).

  • Meat temperature control from 110 F to 210 F.

  • Audible alarm to signal pit over and under temperature conditions, as well as to signal when the food reaches the target temperature.

  • "Brick" style power supply.

  • Optional power adapter for powering The Competitor from a 12V portable battery.

  • Adapter plates to allow you to attach The Competitor to different brands and models of cookers.

In addition, The Competitor system includes the following more advanced features:

  • "Good Neighbor Feature" allows to you silence all audible alarms.

  • Power Interruption Recovery which resumes set temperatures if power is lost temporarily.

  • "Ramp" mode which reduces the cooker temperature when the meat is done in order to hold the meat at the finishing temperature. Also can be used to control the cooker at temperatures below 175 F.

  • "Audible Blower" feature (our name) that sounds the audible alarm when the blower is actually blowing.


The Basic System

Here's what comes in the basic system:

  • The Competitor system unit and stand
  • 4, 10 or 25 CFM blower
  • Pit/food temperature sensors
  • Blower adapter door
  • Power supply
  • A piece of foil tape for sealing leaks
  • A small probe cleaning pad
  • A kill plug so you can remove the fan and plug the door adapter
  • A package of over 20 Curl-Eez for organizing probe wires
  • Condensed Users's Guide (full version downloadable from the web)
  • Laminated Quick Setup and Operation card
When you order your system, you specify the size of the blower that you want and the type of door adapter you need. You can also specify the length of the leads on the temperature probes and the blower.

BBQ Guru Competitor basic system
The basic BBQ Guru Competitor system


The System Unit

The system unit is a small box about 5.5 x 3.25 x 1.125 inches in size. Here we show it on its handy stand:

Front view of BBQ Guru Competitor
Front view
Side view of BBQ Guru Competitor
Side view
Back view of BBQ Guru Competitor
Back view


All the controls are on the front panel, while all the plugs for power, blower and probes are on the side. On the back, you can see how the system unit attaches to the stand. As you will see later, the system unit can also attach to a blower.


Temperature Controls

Let's look at the front panel details. The following two photos show the controls and displays setting the meat and pit temperatures:

Meat Set Point Control and Display
Meat Set Point Control and Display
Cooker Set Point Control and Display
Pit Set Point Control and Display


The photo on the left shows the control and display for setting and monitoring the meat temperature. As you can see, you can dial in a target temperature for your meat anywhere between 110 and 210 degrees F. You can also turn the meat set point control to "OFF", which is used to turn off Ramp Mode, to be explained later. The display tells you what the meat temperature is in relation to the target temperature. If you have set a target of 180 degrees and the meat is at 150 degrees, the -30 led will be lit. When the meat temperature hits the target temperature, the 0 LED will be lit (and an audible alarm will sound). If the -40 LED or the +5 LED is flashing, then your meat temperature is more than 40 degrees below or 5 degrees above your target temperature. Also note, that if you turn the knob until the 0 LED is lit, the position of the knob will then be indicating the actual meat temperature.

The photo on the right shows the control and display for setting and monitoring the pit (cooker) temperature. You can dial in pit temperatures between 175 and 400 degrees. (Note that the Competitor can keep your pit at temperatures lower than 175 degrees, but more about that later when we discuss Ramp Mode.) If the 175 LED or the 400 LED is blinking, then your cooker temperature is either below 175 degrees or above 400 degrees.


Other Controls and Displays

The following photos show the other miscellaneous controls and displays on the front panel of the Competitor system unit:

BBQ Guru Power Button
Power Button
BBQ Guru Alarm Silence Button
Alarm Silence Button
BBQ Guru Power Draft Indicator
Power Draft Indicator
BBQ Guru Ramp Mode Indicator
Ramp Mode Indicator


We hope the power button should be self-explanatory, but in case it isn't, you press this button to turn the Competitor on and off. (If it's on, you press the power button to turn it off; if it's off, you press the power button to turn it on.)

The alarm silence button is used for several alarm-related features. First, if the alarm is sounding, you can press the alarm silence button to silence the alarm. Second, the alarm silence button can be used to activate the "Good Neighbor" feature (more on that later). And finally, the alarm silence button can be used to activate the "Audible Blower" feature (our name, but again, more on that later).

The power draft indicator lights whenever the blower is actually blowing. You can use this visual cue to see how often and how long the blower is having run on each on/off cycle.

The Ramp Mode indicator lights whenever you have Ramp Mode activated (more on that later, also).


Connections

In the following photo we have turned the Competitor on its back and show the side where the connectors are:

BBQ Guru Competitor Connections
Connections


The connector on the left is for the blower, while the connector on the right is for power. You can either use the supplied "brick" power supply or you can purchase an optional cigarette lighter power cord that you can then plug into one of the many automobile starter batteries available which have a cigarette lighter outlet on them. There is also a second power cord adapter with clips on the end for use when you don't have a cigarette lighter outlet available.

The connector in the middle is for the temperature probes. As you will see in the next section, the pit and meat temperature probes both connect to a single plug which goes into this center connector.

Next Page....


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