Calling All Thermocouples
OK, so I’ll admit it… I love the nostalgia of analog devices. As a kid I assembled a rolling ball clock – the kind that resembles an intricate, miniature roller coaster, where time is measured by the number of balls on each “track”. I loved it! Unfortunately, it woke the whole house up at midnight, so I, alone, was unanimous in that, but to me it was the most wonderful invention I had ever seen.
The programming side of my brain, though, makes me a fair-weather friend to analog devices. For all their nostalgia, sometimes digital is just plain easier… and better. Such is the case for me with my roasting thermometer. There’s absolutely nothing charming about craning my neck upside down to read the accurate bean temp at regular intervals throughout a roast. And, though Roastmaster makes it easy to input temps with the keyboard, an automated solution would be much better.
For some time now, I’ve been wanting to make the jump to something digital. I’ve held off, hoping I could find a device that I could integrate with Roastmaster to accommodate the automated readings. There are endless USB data loggers out there, but without a USB port on any iOS device, they may as well be turkey probes. I did find a high-end Bluetooth thermocouple as well, but any price that is listed as “Call for quote” is usually just too ridiculous to display. I did, by the way… and it was.
I was hopeful when the iGrill bluetooth thermometer was introduced. It’s basic, but it’s an all-in-one package that looks great, and would do the trick, as long as the makers would release the SDK for other apps. Or, so I thought – turns out it’s not capable of reading temps high enough for coffee roasting. I’d like to talk to the manufacturer and see if this is hardcoded in the electronics, or simply a limitation of the probe supplied with the unit. For the moment, though, mine is sitting quietly and sadly, unused.
I’m aware that there are build-it-yourself open source Arduino solutions out there. I’ve researched one, and it is feasible from what I can read. I had hoped for a prepackaged solution, since we’re coffee roasters, not electronic engineers. But, being in this community for quite some time has taught me that often they do overlap. I’m thinking I may just take the plunge. Being open source – I anticipate it will work well, but probably won’t win any beauty contests. Still, though, it will give me a tool to at least construct the framework Roastmaster will need to work with these devices, and as new solutions come to market, those will be as easy to add as creating a device description for them, or so I’m hoping.
In the mean time, if anyone knows of a Bluetooth, LAN or, dare I ask for it – an iPhone dock-style thermocouple – available for a reasonable price, with a public SDK, please let me know.
Cheers and Happy Roasting,