The barbecue temperature controller market was pioneered and has long been dominated by The BBQ Guru's line of controllers which currently include the NanoQ, the DigiQ, the CyberQ, the CyberQ Wifi and the ProCom4 controllers. They have been selling controllers since early 2004. They were followed in 2006 by Rock's Barbeque and The Stoker controller which introduced internet connectivity, web-based control and multiple cooker control. In early 2010 another company, Auber Instruments, entered the arena with a low-cost simple temperature controller. In October 2010, pitmasterIQ.com appeared at The Jack in Lynchburg where they introduced the iQue 100 temperature controller, the first all-in-one unit. Well, now it's back to The BBQ Guru to produce the next innovation in this ever more crowded field, the battery powered all-in-one PartyQ.
We were given the opportunity to try a beta version of this new model before it first came out. We had our hands on it for a limited time and were able to do several cooks at different temperatures and lengths of time. Our initial reaction was to clap our hands with joy. Seriously. A battery-powered all-in-one unit sounded absolutely great. When you get this unit in your hands and realize that everything you need to control your cooker will almost fit in your pocket and require no power cord, separate blower or blower cord, you may feel the same way.
But now we have a production model which we will subject to our normal testing so we can determine how good this little unit really is.
Here are the specifications listed by The BBQ Guru:
Plus we'll add a few notes of our own:
The PartyQ clearly falls into the same category as the iQue 110, Auber Instruments controller and the BBQ Guru NanoQ. All four units are intended to be simple, low-cost temperature controllers. None has a food probe or food temperature monitoring as in other more expensive and fuller-featured controllers. No food temperature monitoring means no Ramp Mode or equivalent feature. No wireless, no dual-cooker control, no USB connection. These simpler units control the temperature of your cooker and that's it. Of course, what distinguishes the PartyQ from the other 3 is the fact that is is battery powered.
Here's what comes with a basic system:
The control unit is in a plastic case, as are the batteries. The blower is composed of both plastic and metal casing materials. All are attached to a sturdy metal plate that brings them all together into a single unit. The temperature probe cable is steel braid. Overall, it appears that the unit is quite well built.
The system unit is a small plastic box about 2-3/4" x 3-1/4" x 1/2" in size which attaches to the metal plate which forms the backbone of the PartyQ unit. The case houses the electronics and has the display, control buttons and the color LED on the front. The housing is not water proof, so precautions should be taken when using it under the threat of rain, such as using a plastic bag to protect it. We typically place these types of units in a zip top plastic bag. Of course if you do use a bag, you must ensure that the blower doesn't suck the bag up against the opening or there will be no air blown into the cooker. All controls are on the front panel, while the plug for the temperature probe can be found on the backside of the unit. Here we show various views of it:
Let's look at the front panel details. In the photo below, you can see the display, LED and control buttons:
First, the LED:
When you cooker is at a stable temperature, the led will show a solid red color, only occasionally turning briefly to green and back to red as the blower cycles on and off.
Next, the LCD display. It is used to display the current pit temperature as well as various settings.
Finally, the control buttons. If you press the up or down button, the currently displayed value will be modified accordingly. If you press them together, you will enter the system menu. (The system menu contains 3 items: 1) Display the battery level, 2) Set degrees to F or C, and 3) adjust the display temperature.