The BBQ Guru Competitor
Temperature Controller, Cont'd

Good Neighbor Feature

Speaking of silencing alarms, what if you don't want the alarm to go off at all because it might disturb your neighbors in the middle of the night? Well, the Good Neighbor feature allows you to permanently silence the alarm. You activate this feature when you turn the Competitor on. When you release the Power button, immediately press the alarm silence button for two seconds or more, then release the alarm silence button. Now all alarms are permanently silenced until the next time you turn your Competitor on. Note that when you release the power button and press the alarm silence button, no lights should light up on the Competitor until you release the alarm silence button. If anything lights up before you release the alarm silence button, you'll have to turn the Competitor off and try again.

Audible Blower Feature

We decided to call this feature the Audible Blower feature. Normally, the green power draft LED will light up on the system unit when the blower is actually blowing. When the blower stops blowing, the LED goes off. You can use this visual clue to tell how often and how long the blower is blowing. However, if you really want to annoy everyone, or if for some reason you need an audible indication that the blower is running, you can activate this feature so that the audible alarm sounds whenever the blower is running. To do this you press and hold the alarm silence button for ten seconds. (You see, this is so annoying, that the makers of the Competitor want you to be really sure you want to turn this on!) Once the feature is active and you discover that you really really have second thoughts about it, you can deactivate the feature by pressing and holding the alarm silence button for ten seconds. (You see, the makers of the Competitor want to punish you for turning this feature on by making you hold the button for 10 seconds!) And, ok, you can actually turn this feature off without the pain of a 10-second button press by turning the unit off and back on.

There is actually a use for this annoying (to us) feature. Shotgun Fred tells us that some folks buy a baby monitor and place it by the Competitor with this Audible Blower Feature turned on. In that way, they can remotely monitor the unit and tell how often and how long the blower is on. Obviously, if the blower is on solid, you should check the cooker and see what's up!

Power Interruption Feature

We'll quote from the manual on this one:

"If there is a brief or sustained power interruption at any time while cooking with your BBQ GURU Competitor, the unit will automatically restart and continue to control your grill/smoker at the same settings you originally set once power is restored. NOTE: This will enable the ramp mode if both your meat and pit temperatures are set. The Good Neighbor feature will also be disabled if it was set. This lets you know you had a power interruption."
We wondered what the big deal was about this feature until it struck us that if the unit loses power, it turns itself back on when power is restored! Some electrical devices have to be turned back on after a power loss. The Competitor will indeed return to operation (with Ramp Mode enabled and Good Neighbor feature disabled) if it loses power for any length of time. So as long as the power doesn't go out long enough to create other problems, the Competitor will pick up where it left off and the cooker can get back to cooking!

Ramp Mode Feature

Ok, now we come to Ramp Mode! What is Ramp Mode? It is a clever mode in which the Competitor will lower the cooker temperature once the meat is within 25 degrees of being done. As the meat temperature rises closer and closer to the target temperature, the Competitor will continue to lower the cooker temperature. Ultimately, when the meat temperature reaches the target temperature, the cooker will also be at the meat target temperature. As a result, you can hold your meat at your target temperature as long as the cooker has fuel left to burn. Needless to say, once Ramp Mode kicks in, the pit temperature displayed will no longer be the same as the target pit temperature setting indicated by the knob. (The Competitor can lower the pit temperature by messing with electrons inside the unit, but it cannot turn the knob down.) Here is a graph that should make Ramp Mode clearer:

BBQ Guru Competitor Ramp mode graph
Graph showing how pit temperature is lowered to match
meat temperature using Ramp Mode

You activate Ramp Mode (or not) when you turn the Competitor on. If the meat temperature knob is set to "OFF" when you turn the Competitor on, Ramp Mode will not be activated and the Ramp Mode LED will not be lit. (After you turn the Competitor on, you can then turn the meat target temperature knob to the desired setting.) However, if the meat temperature knob is set to some target temperature when the Competitor is turned on, Ramp Mode will be activated and the Ramp Mode LED will be lit.

There's another use for Ramp Mode.....

Cold Smoking

Normally, the Competitor can only control your cooker down to a temperature of 175 degrees. (That's how low the pit temperature knob goes, remember?) But you can use Ramp Mode to trick the Competitor into going even lower! Check this out:

Take a piece of foil and wrap your food probe and pit probe together. This way, they will both register the same temperature inside your cooker. Now, suppose you want to keep your cooker at 150 degrees. Set the meat temperature knob to 150 degrees and then turn on the Competitor. You will be activating Ramp Mode by doing this. As your cooker rises towards 150 degrees, the Competitor will think that the meat is getting close to the target temperature, so it will try to keep the cooker temperature down at the meat temperature. Since the meat target temperature is 150 degrees, the Competitor will keep the cooker at 150 degrees. Clever, eh?

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