Tag Archives: howto

osPID Sous Vide: Open source high tech cooking on a budget

osPID Sous Vide

It seemed inevitable that I’d put together a sous vide immersion cooker, when I came across a post regarding the osPID I knew the time was right. The osPID or Open Source Proportional–Integral–Derivative Controller is a device which can be employed to turn a heater on and off in such a way as to keep the temperature of an environment at a specific level — in this case a container of water used to cook sealed food, or a sous vide.

What I liked about the osPID is that it’s more than just a PID, it’s a platform. Programmable as any Arduino is along with four buttons, a two line LCD display (my favourite white-on-blue style) and limitless expansion possibilities, the osPID can be used in many, many applications — a sound investment I thought, so I invested. Can anyone spot the other PID in the gallery?

Commercial sous vide cookers can be extremely expensive. Creating one yourself is easy, it can be taken apart for storage and you can also salvage parts from it for other projects if need be.

Parts

  • osPID Kit $85.00 (Rocket Scream)
  • Exoterra Repti flo 200 Circulation Pump $10.99 (Pets & Ponds)
  • Milwaukee Type K 49-77-2002 Thermocouple $14.17 (Amazon)
  • Norpro 559 300 Watt Water/Tea/Coffee Heater $7.05 (Amazon, eBay) *Ensure the coils are submersed before powering (plugging-in) or these will fry themselves
  • 12V, Positive Center, A/C Adapter
  • Grounded Extension Cable
  • Coat Hanger
  • Clip

Alternate Parts

Once I had the osPID up and running, thanks to great support from Brett (one half of the dynamic duo responsible for the osPID), I cut the black (hot) wire of the extension cord and attached each stripped end to the relay onboard the osPID. By using an extension cord I can plug any type of heater into the relay, for this project I purchased two Norpro Water/Tea/Coffee Heaters which have a useful clip style base. Because the extension I wired only had one outlet I needed a power bar to plug both heaters in — whether or not you’ll need one will depend on how many heaters you want to use.

I then purchased a K-Type thermocouple (don’t ask me what it means, K-Type is what the osPID supports), removed the connector it came with and connected the positive and negative leads to the thermocouple terminals on the osPID. These terminals are polarized so keep track of positive and negative leads on the thermocouple while working.

That’s it really. I purchase a circulation pump to keep the water moving in the vessel and thus heating evenly. I try to include a coat hanger in every project so I used one to suspend the ziplock full of tenderloin secured with a clip in the sous vide.

Keep in mind the thermocouple will most likely not read the proper temperature until calibrated so just use a thermometer to find the target temperature and set the osPID accordingly. For me an input reading of 57 translated to the 130°F I needed for medium rare, so I set the osPID to maintain an input of 57.

I would’ve preferred a larger bowl and will track one down, but the Beef Tenderloin With Lemon-Parsley Butter I cooked with my favourite gal turned out fantastic and we’re looking forward to more sous vide meals.

Thanks to Brett for the swift support and for the osPID itself.

Update: The Norpro Heaters stopped working on my second cook. This is probably due to the fact that I plugged them in before fully submersing the coils, that being said, many others have had these types of cheap immersion heaters die on them — so I included an alternate upgraded heater for those wishing to avoid the issue. Thankfully since I wired in a cord not the heaters themselves I was able to plug in another heat source for the osPID to control in order to get my dinner cooked.

Update: To replace the Norpro Heaters I picked up a couple of heating elements at a local electronic surplus store (Active Surplus) for $3 each. I snipped and soldered the Norpro power cords to the new heating elements and covered the connections with heat shrink tubing. You can see the final results in the gallery above. These weren’t stainless steel but they work just fine, I bent them to follow the curve of the bowl (which I’ll probably regret when I switch to another container) and to keep them from slipping I fashioned some clips out of, you guessed it, left over coat hanger. They’ll probably short circuit if both solder joints hit the water, heat shrinking or no – be mindful of that if you decide to go this route. I believe these are somewhere around 140 Watts, I needed both to maintain a temperature setting.

Thingamagoop Alarm Clock Mod


You Tube Demo

Thingamagoop Alarm Clock Mod

Meet Bob. My favourite gal got me a Thingamagoop, from Bleep Labs for my birthday so I named him Bob ( after Mr. Moog ) and I’ve been listening to his chatter now and again day to day. However, I thought he’d make a really cool alarm clock, like waking up to an excited friend trying to tell you a thousand things at once, but in a good way

I also recently picked up a Neverlate Executive Alarm Clock. One of the cool features of the Neverlate Exec is that you can run audio in which it will play through it’s speaker as your alarm.

So I added a switch for Bob’s LEDacle ( can’t have him strobing all night ) and I added a 9 volt adapter jack which runs to the battery leads so I can power him from an adapter. Now I turn him on, switch off his LEDacle, run his 1/4″ to the Neverlate’s 1/8″ input and he wakes me up in the morning, bleeping and blooping depending on the sunlight ( the Neverlate will also increase volume of the alarm if you try to ignore it, or don’t hear it ).

While not the most difficult of mods by far I found it tons of fun! So here’s how it goes.

Parts List

Tools

  • Soldering iron
  • Wire cutters
  • Drill
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Unibit ( this is not required but makes drilling alot easier ), Small Bear Electronics

Step 1

First take your Thingamagoop apart by removing the two screws on each side. The back then slides out, careful as there is a ribbon connector which is hard wired and should be handled delicately. I love gadgets that come apart so easily.

Step 2

I installed the jack at the back of the Thingamagoop just below and beside the battery. Start drilling with a very small bit and move up in size until the unibit fits in, then enlarge the hole with the unibit.

 

Then solder two 6″ lengths of wire to the jack, there are two positive leads and one negative lead, solder black wire to the negative lead and red wire to either of the positive leads. These wires should be long enough to reach the top of the Thingamagoop where the battery leads are.

Step 3

Next solder the positive red wire to the positive battery lead on top of the circuit board above the battery. In turn solder the negative black wire to the negative battery lead on the same circuit board. If you’re confused as to which is which, look at the sides of a battery and then plug the battery in and see which side is positive and which is negative. The jack is now installed and your Thingamagoop should be able to run off any standard 9 vold adapter, as well as a battery.

Step 4

Now drill a hole for the switch, I put the switch on top beside the LEDacle, which actually turned out to be a bad idea since it is a little big on the inside and I had to trim the leads for Bob to fit back together. Sooooo look around as to where you can maybe fit this switch better. Again drill a small hole and work up to the unibit. Then unsolder either of the LEDacle leads from the circuit board and solder it to the center lead on the switch.

Then cut a 3″ length of wire and solder it to the circuit board where you unsoldered the LEDacle lead. Solder the other end of this wire to one of the remaining leads on the siwtch, doesn’t matter which.

Step 5

  • Put your Thingamagoop back together
  • Plug your Thingamagoop into the wall beside your Neverlate Exec Alarm Clock
  • Plug the output of your Thingamagoop into the AUX input of the clock using the 1/4″ to 1/8″ cable, or using a cable and an adapter
  • Set the input of the clock to AUX ( read the Neverlate manual )
  • Turn off the LEDacle using your new switch
  • Turn on your Thingamagoop
  • Set your alarms ( read the Neverlate manual )

You should be able to test the whole thing by selecting the AUX input and turning on the radio of the alarm clock. You’re all done, you can now wake up to your Thingamagoop bleeping on about this or that.