The barbecue temperature controller market was pioneered and has long been dominated by The BBQ Guru's line of controllers. However, several other players have entered the market in the past several years including The Stoker, Auber Instruments, and pitmaster.com. Now the lastest entrant to come to our attention is Flame Boss. In September, 2013 they began selling the original Flame Boss 1. We had one to test, but before we got around to it, they had brought out the Flame Boss 100. And sure enough, before we got around to testing the 100, they brought out the 200 which introduced Wifi to the Flame Boss family. So, what we are going to do here is review both the 100 and the 200 Wifi models since they are essentially identical, save for the Wifi feature in the 200.
Here are the specifications listed on the Flame Boss web site for both the 100 and 200 Wifi controllers:
Plus we'll add a few notes of our own:
The Flame Boss 100 compares to the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX, and pitmaster.com IQ120 controllers, both having a food probe, controlling one cooker and with no Wifi capability. The Flame Boss 200 Wifi compares to the BBQ Guru CyberQ Wifi unit, both having a food probe, controlling one cooker, and having Wifi capability. Of course the Stoker Wifi has Wifi, but it really is a step above these controllers in that it can control as many cookers simultaneously as you care to hook up.
Here's what comes with a basic system:
The control unit is in a plastic case which is not necessarily watertight, but should be able to resist some moisture. It also comes with a metal bracket to hold it that is made from sturdy powder coated metal. The temperature probe cables are made from braided stainless steel and covered with PTFE. In general, everything seems to be rugged enough to do the job.
The system unit is a small plastic box about 4¼" x 1⅛" x 3⅛". It comes with a metal bracket for mounting. The case is not waterproof, but should be able to withstand a small amount of moisture. The case houses the electronics and has the display and control buttons on the front. There is no power switch. The unit turns on when connected to power and off when disconnected from the power.
Let's look at the front panel details. In the photo below, you can see the display and control buttons:
First, the display. As you can see, it shows the target pit temperature (SET), the actual pit temperature, the blower's percentage of capacity it is blowing, and the meat temperature. When you cycle through the various menu options, they will be displayed on this display instead of what you see in the photo.
One other note about the display. There is a setting in the menu called "LCD Contrast" which allows to adjust the appearance of the display. Frankly, the default setting of 50 is probably the best setting, so you may not ever need to adjust this.
On to the control buttons. As you can see there are only 3 buttons. The menu button enters the menu and scrolls through the menu items. After you go through the menu, the display returns to what you see in the photo above. The up and down buttons will alter the target pit temperature if the unit is displaying what you see in the photo above. Note that if you do alter the pit set temperature, an asterisk will appear next to it. After a short while, the asterisk disappears. This is indicating that the new pit temperature is not being stored in non-volatile memory until the asterisk disappears.
If you are running through the menu items, the up and down buttons alter the value of the current menu item and pressing the menu button accepts the current value. Also, when you press any of the buttons there is a satisfying "bump" to let you know that the press has registered.
One last little quirk about navigating the menus is that if you keep pressing the menu button and pass the Wifi menu item, the unit will reset the wifi connection. When it completes, the unit will chirp and display the myflameboss.com screen for period of time. You should be aware of this so that you don't think the unit keeps resetting the connection for no reason.
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