Feb. 1st
written by scott


I’ve recently been fascinated by the idea of sous vide cooking – a method of slowly cooking vacu-sealed foods in a precisely controlled water bath to achieve the optimal doneness.  Last year, Sur La Table started carrying the world’s first “home” sous vide cooker, the SousVide Supreme.  This was fantastic, since commercial sous vide cooking machines cost north of $2000.  However, the home model (priced at $450) is still a steep investment for something that essentially just keeps water warm.  I was determined that I could build a better device on-the-cheap.

Behold, the $75 DIY sous vide heating immersion circulator!  By scrapping together parts that are readily available on eBay and Amazon, I was able to build a self-contained device that heats and circulates water while maintaining a temperature accurate to .1 degree Celsius (yes, point one degrees!).  And unlike the SousVide Supreme, my device can be mounted onto any container (up to a reasonable size, perhaps 15 gallons) allowing you more room to cook, if needed.

To build your own device, you’ll need some basic soldering skills, the list of stuff below, about 6 hours of free time (plus time for glue to dry) and the can-do attitude of a geek who doesn’t want to pay $450 for a water heater.  Click the “more” link for complete step-by-step instructions.

If these instructions have helped you build you own machine, I hope you’ll consider donating.  My goal is to mass-produce the world’s first sous vide heating immersion circulator for under $100, and every donation helps!

Update: Along with my business partners, I’ve finally commercialized a home sous vide machine!  It’s called the Sansaire, and it’s available for pre-order now!
Sansaire $199 Sous Vide Machine

DSC_0050 DSC_0046

Makes: 1 sous vide immersion heater
Total tinker time: about 6 hours

Shopping list:

Note: Make sure the controller you purchase has an SSR or Voltage output.  Controllers with a relay-only output will require an external relay and different wiring than what is listed in this project.

I’ve updated the parts list to specify an SSR – it adds a little to the cost of the project, but it is far more reliable, easier to connect, and works with any SSR/Voltage-output PID controller.

  • 1 piece of 1/4” acrylic, about 5cm x 20cm
  • 1/4” x 2” eye bolt and nut
  • About 2’ of 16-18 gauge wire
  • 3 wire nuts
  • Electrical tape
  • A means of cutting acrylic (see article)
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Multimeter (tool that measures voltage, current, resistance)
  • Hobby knife (X-Acto or similar)
  • Tub and Tile Silicone Caulk
  • Hot glue gun
  • Krazy Glue

Step 1 – Making cutouts in your enclosure

This is the most difficult part of the whole project.  In order for the final assembly to be sturdy, water-resistant and decent looking, you’ll need to cut your mounting holes as precisely as possible.  I am very lucky to have access to a laser cutter at a lab at work, which makes this kind of precision cutting very easy and accurate.  However, in the absence of a $30K computerized laser cutting machine, with a steady hand, you can achieve the same results using a high-speed rotary tool like a Dremel.

I’ve included a cutting template that is matched to the heaters, PID controller and switch in the shopping list.  However, if you use different parts (different models, different manufacturers) you’ll need to adjust the template to ensure a tight fit of all parts.

image Click here for the 1:1 scale diagram (PDF)

  1. Pick a side of the storage container that you want to be the bottom.  Using the template as a guide, cut out the three holes for the immersion heaters.  Make sure that these holes are closest to the open end of the container (the end that has the lid) to ensure you’ll be able to reach inside later for wiring, etc.
  2. Next, cut the small oval-shaped hole for the water pump power cord.
  3. Turn the container over so the side with the holes is facing down.  Now, cut out the openings for the PID controller, the on-off switch, and the power cord.  Be sure that the hole for the PID controller is towards the top.  Otherwise, you’ll be cramped for space when trying to reach the back of the controller.
  4. Next, dry-fit all of the parts to ensure a good, snug fit.  The tighter the fit, the more sturdy the finished product will be. IMG_0441

Step 2 – Making the mounting bracket and pump holder

The mounting bracket is a J-shaped piece of acrylic that will let you attach the finished sous vide cooker to the side of a pot or basin.

  1. Cut out the rectangle on the 2nd page of the parts diagram and drill the hole as indicated.
  2. Find a rectangular surface that will allow you to make the 2 90-degree bends necessary to shape the acrylic into a “J”.  I used a small, glass olive oil bottle with flat sides and rounded corners.
  3. Turn on your stove.  Holding the long end of the acrylic with an oven mitt, warm it a few inches above your stovetop, turning to heat both sides.  It may take a few minutes for the acrylic to be warm enough to bend- you’ll know you’re getting close when the acrylic starts to curl away from the heat.
  4. Bend the acrylic along (approximately) the lines indicated in the diagram to form a “J”.  Press the bottom part of the J (not the side with the hole, and not the long side) against a flat surface such as your counter top.  Immediately cool the acrylic with cool water to hold its form.

Step 3 – Mounting the immersion heaters

The immersion heaters are the primary working element of the sous vide machine.  We’ll mount them hanging down from the bottom of the enclosure, and arranged so that the opening in the middle of the coil is lined up between all three heaters.

  1. Cut the power cord off of each heater, leaving about a 4” tail of wires from the heating end.  Keep one of the long lengths of power cord (including the plug) to use later as the main power cord.
  2. Using your hobby knife, scrape down the flat sides of the heater handles to remove lettering and to flatten out the circular rim at the top of the handle.  This will allow for a deeper and tighter fit in the heater openings.
  3. Arrange all three heaters in their respective openings.  Note that the heaters should be oriented such that the coils are facing towards the center-line of the enclosure.  You should be able to fit your finger down the middle of all three coils.  Make sure the heaters are snug in their openings. IMG_0449
  4. Apply a small bead of tub and tile caulk around the heaters on the outside of the enclosure.  Allow to dry overnight before proceeding.

Step 4 – Wiring

CAUTION: Don’t ever power on the heater coils unless they are submerged in water!  Also, don’t electrocute yourself.

If you have experience with basic circuitry and wiring, this will be pretty easy.  However, if you’ve never worked with a soldering iron or circuit diagrams, these steps will take you a while.  Refer to the wiring diagram below for the “big picture.”

Wiring diagram for JLD612 PID Controller with SSR

sous vide electrical diagram for LJD612 PID

Wiring Diagram for CD101 PID Controller with physical relay

Update: I’ve updated the wiring diagram to make it clear that the view of the relay posts is from below.  In other words, if you set the relay down on your table with the pins facing up, that will match the alignment in the wiring diagram.

circuit diagram


  1. Strip off about 1/4” of shielding from your power cord (remember, the cord that you saved from one of the immersion heaters?).  Run the power cord in through the power cord opening on the front of the enclosure.  Separate the 2 wires about 6”.  One of these wires will go through the power switch, and the other will go directly to the PID controller, heaters and pump.
  2. Use your multimeter to find the two posts on the back of the power switch that are normally open, but closed when the switch is on.  On my power switch, these were the far and middle posts (not the two posts closest to the “ON” side of the switch, you know, with the dot).  IMG_0457
  3. Pass the switch mounting nut (the thing that screws on the back) over one lead from the power cable, inside the enclosure.  Run the lead out through the power switch hole.  Solder that lead to one of the posts you identified in step 2.  Cut an 8” length of wire and solder one end to the 2nd lead on the switch.  Tuck the wires inside the enclosure, place the switch in its hole, and tighten the mounding nut to secure it in place.  You’re now done with the power switch.
  4. Next, wire together the heater leads.  Separate the leads from the heating coils.  Gather together one lead from each coil to make two bundles of three.  Cut two 6” lengths of wire and add one to each bundle.  You should now have two bundles, each with four wires – 3 of which go to the heaters, and one left dangling.  Solder the wires in each bundle together, then cap with a wire nut and some electrical tape.
  5. Of the leads you have coming out of the heater bundles, one will go straight to the incoming power, and the other will go to the relay that turns on and off the heaters.
  6. At this point, it gets too difficult to describe the rest of the wiring in words, so refer to the wiring diagram.  Just make sure to be aware of how everything will mount in the enclosure when you’re all done.  Pass the wires through the mounting ring on of the PID controller before attaching them to the terminals, etc.
  7. After wiring the connections to the relay (or SSR), coat the bottom with hot glue to surround the connection points.  This will act as an insulator and prevent the relay from shorting out against any metal inside the case.  Or, if your SSR came with a plastic cover, secure it in place to prevent the connections from shorting.
  8. If you are using the PT100 thermocouple (which I recommend), make sure you connect the leads exactly as shown in the wiring diagram or you will have an inaccurate temperature reading.  (There’s no instruction manual with these probes, so it took 30 minutes of trying different combinations before I found the right one).

Step 5 – Final Assembly

  1. Using Krazy Glue, glue the J clamp to the bottom-front of the enclosure.  Wait until dry before proceeding.
    Note: This glue joint is a popular point of failure.  If you’d like, strengthen the connection between the J clamp and the body by using two screws and nuts.
  2. Glue the nut for the eye bolt to the inside of the hole in the J clamp.  Ensure that the nut lines up with the hole so the eye bolt can pass through.
    eye bolt
  3. Seal the openings for the power cord and pump cord using tub and tile caulk.
  4. Put the back cover on the enclosure and wrap the seam with electrical tape.
  5. Stick the suction cup feet of the immersion pump to the flat end of the J clamp and position the water outlet to pump through the middle of the heating coils.DSC_0039

Step 6 – Testing

Now that everything is wired up and assembled, you probably want to see if it works.  WAIT!  Don’t turn the machine on (ever!) unless the coils are submerged in water or, they will burn out in about 5 seconds (I learned this the hard way).  DSC_0038
To test the machine out, fill a basin with water so that it covers at least the coil part of the heaters.   Mount the machine on the edge, so that the J clamp hangs over the lip.  Tighten the eye bolt to secure the machine.  Plug in the cord and flip the power switch!  If the PID controller turns on and the pump starts pumping, that’s a good sign!  Note that the heaters may not warm up just yet, depending on what the target temperature is by default.

Step 7 – Programming the PID Controller

For users of the JLD612 PID Controller

For programming instructions such as running Auto-tune and changing alarm values, refer to the JLD612 manual.  Here are the steps you should take when programming your controller for the first time.

  1. Press SET and enter code 0089, then press SET.
  2. Set the value of Inty to Pt10.0 to get the temperature to display with one decimal place.  (I had to set it to Pt100, then back to Pt10.0 to get this to work the first time.
  3. Select End to exit the programming menu.


For users of the CD101 PID Controller

Out-of-the-box, the PID controller is designed to work with a different type of thermocouple, so the readings that you get using a PT100 will be strange.  Follow the instructions in this manual (that doesn’t ship with the PID controller) to set it for the PT100 probe.  You can also follow the instructions there to set the number of decimal points of precision.

Next, set a target temperature by tapping the SET button, then using the up and down arrows to pick a number and pressing SET again to confirm.  50C is a good target temp.  The OUT1 light will light up, indicating that the PID controller is turning on the heater.  You should hear a soft clicking noise – this is the relay kicking in.  At this point, the heating coils are on and warming up.  As the temperature measured by the probe (green, top line) approaches the target value (orange, 2nd line), the relay will click on and off more frequently to sustain the temperature.. DSC_0040

Ideas, Improvements, Thoughts

After burning out my first set of heating coils, I realized that there must be a better method of heating the water.  The coils are very effective and heat the water very quickly.  However, I’m pretty paranoid about burning them out again, and they’re a pain to replace.  I’ve found some commercial immersion heating elements, but they’re about $100, which inflates the budget for this project by quite a bit.  I may try using the heating element and pump system from an old espresso machine, the kind that makes steam.  Since it already has a self-contained heater and an pump, it might even be cheaper than the heating coils and aquarium pump.

I’ve also thought about turning this machine into a general-purpose temperature control unit.   Instead of wiring the heaters directly to the relay, I would install a power outlet on the back of the enclosure and add a jack to plug in an external temperature probe.  If I wanted to use the immersion heaters, I’d just plug them in to the power outlet.  If one got fried, I’m only out $6 instead of an hour of removing glue and solder.  Also, a general-purpose temperature controller is great for making your own smoker box.  A-la Alton Brown, you can plug in a hotplate filled with wood chips and have a precisely temperature-controlled smoker for just a few bucks.

I’m thrilled to start playing with sous vide cooking, and I’m happy that I was able to build an accurate, reliable machine for $75.  Even the PID Controller + Crockpot method costs $185 (not including the Crockpot!).


I gotten a lot of emails and comments asking for troubleshooting help, and rightfully so – there’s a lot going on in this project, especially if you’re pretty new to DIY electronics.  I’ve decided to add my basic troubleshooting routine, which should hopefully get you sorted out.  If you still have problems, please post a comment below, or send me an email at scott@seattlefoodgeek.com.

If your heaters don’t get hot when they should (i.e., your machine isn’t working), do the following:

  1. Ensure that your OUT1 light goes on and off when it should.  It should be on when the unit is heating, and off when you’re at or above the set value.  If not, double check that you’ve set your temperature probe type correctly, and that OUT1 is set to heating mode in the PID settings menu.  If this looks correct, proceed to step 2.
  2. Verify that your PID controller has an SSR/Voltage output.  This should be specified on the sticker on the side of your PID controller.  The controller in the photo below only has a relay output (this is not what you want).
    relay only controller
    PID controllers generally have two types of outputs: relay and voltage.  Contrary to how it sounds, a relay output is not used for controlling a relay.  Rather, a PID controller with a relay output actually has an internal relay.  Unfortunately, the internal relay is typically not rated for the kind of load that the heating coils pull, so you cannot connect them directly to the internal relay.  A PID controller with an SSR/voltage output produces a DC voltage (8-12V DC) that we can use to control an external mechanical relay or a solid state relay (SSR).  That’s what we want.
    Telltale signs that your PID controller has a relay-only output: a) there’s no voltage across pins 5&6 (or the corresponding pins on your controller) when the OUT1 light is on, b) you hear a clicking sound when OUT1 turns on and off, even when your external (blue) relay is disconnected, and c) you measure continuity across the pins that correspond to OUT1 when OUT1 is on.
    If you have a PID controller with a relay output, not all is lost.  You’ve got two options:
    1)  Return it for a PID controller with an SSR/voltage output, or
    2)  Use the internal relay to control an external 120VAC relay that is rated for 8+ Amps @ 120VAC.  The wiring for this configuration is a little messier, and you’ll need to buy a different relay than the one specified in the parts list.  The wiring diagram for this configuration is below.  Note that I haven’t attempted to show the actual pin configuration of the external relay – rather this is the logical way you’ll need to wire it in.
    circuit diagram for relay-out
    If you’re sure that your PID controller has an SSR/voltage output, proceed to step 3.
  3. Verify that you are using the right kind of relay for your PID controller. The CD101 will work with either an SSR (solid state relay) or a physical relay. However, the JLD612 and many other PID controllers will only work with an SSR.
  4. If you’re using a CD101 and a physical relay, ensure that your external (blue) relay is wired correctly.  You should hear a clicking noise coming from that relay when OUT1 lights up or turns off.  If not, you may have connected the leads from pins 5 & 6 backwards, or your external relay may require a higher activation voltage than what your PID controller outputs.  Measure the voltage from pins 5 & 6 and compare to the coil voltage specified by your relay.  In practice, there is some wiggle room (ex., a relay with a 9V coil will often be activated by less than 9V).  If the PID doesn’t produce enough voltage, buy an SSR.  If your relay is clicking, proceed to step 5.
  5. Check for 120VAC going to the heater leads when OUT1 is on.  If you’re not seeing a voltage, check the connections across your relay and between pin 1 and your heaters.  If you’re getting 120VAC to your heater bundles, proceed to step 6.
  6. Your heaters are likely burnt out.  This can happen in a flash if you accidentally supply power to the heaters when they are out of water.  Double check by submerging your heaters and connecting an 120VAC power source directly to the leads (exercising great caution not to electrocute yourself).  If they heat up, you’ve got a loose wire somewhere in your connections.  If they don’t heat up, they’re burnt out and you’ll need to replace them.

If these instructions have helped you build you own machine, I hope you’ll consider donating.  My goal is to mass-produce the world’s first sous vide heating immersion circulator for under $100, and every donation helps!


  1. I’m in awe, bro. You were telling me about this at the Palace Kitchen meetup. The package you built looks completely pro, and I love that you even included templates for making the cuts.

  2. 02/02/2010

    I am soooo impressed! I just got a vacuum sealer for Christmas and was wondering how I could build a sous-vide machine. This is awesome!

  3. 02/02/2010

    Just saw this, wondering if you have any take on how effective this might be:

  4. 02/02/2010

    Nice – always a fan of the home brew solution!

  5. 02/02/2010

    The microwave technique looks cook and is certainly more convienient. But if his microwave is anything like mine, it has cold spots and warm spots. So there’s a risk of scorching one part of your veggies and leaving the rest undercooked.

  6. Simon

    I’m definitely going to try this.. For those in Seattle, you can user the laser cutter at Metrix CreateSpace (http://metrixcreatespace.com/) to cut the acrylic. It takes a little work to create the files, but it’s probably a lot easier than making the cuts by hand.

  7. Yish

    First of all, love the article. Great timing as I was just about to start on my own sous-vide setup. This will save me a lot of money over my current plans. I assume one could use the PID/thermocouple directly with a rice cooker/crockpot if you already have one of those correct?

    What do you think about using the following as the heating element. 2x the price but has the advantage of being a single unit, same net wattage, designed for large volumes of water, and could be more reliable?

  8. 02/02/2010

    Simon, I’m so glad to hear that you’re planning to try this out! I’ve converted the scale drawings to SVGs to make them easier to use with the laser cutter at Metrix. You can download a zip of the files here:

    Yish, I looked at this heater too, but after I had already committed to using the immersion coils. It does look like it would do a better job and would be more rugged (and you wouldn’t have to worry about accidentally burning it out). If you decide to order one, I’d love to hear your impressions! Perhaps that heater will be a good investment for version 2.

  9. 02/02/2010

    You’re my hero. I can’t believe you built this on the cheap. You go, Seattle Food Geek.

  10. 03/02/2010

    Very interesting machine! what about the precision of the temperature and the stability, what kind of equipment did you use to verify there parameters? Did you make a long period trial of your immersion circulator?


  11. 03/02/2010

    Hi Jean-Francois,
    I compared the temperature reading on the machine to three other thermometers that I have and know to be accurate. You can also verify the accuracy of the temperature by measuring the temp of boiling water (which should always be 100C) and very cold ice water (which should be close to 0C). The PID controller allows you to specify a correction factor if the thermocouple is reading an innacurate measurement.

    I let the machine run for about 45 minutes once it had brought the water to 50C. I monitored the temperature reading and it never deviated during those 45 minutes, even by .1C.

    The PID controller has an “Autotune” mode that I ran before my test. This mode turns on and off the heaters and measures the temperature change from heating and cooling. Based on the measured change, the PID controller optimizes itself automatically so that it can maintain an exact temperature. Pretty neat stuff!

  12. 03/02/2010

    Just out of curiosity, at what temperature would the pump start having problems? I’m currently using a PID on a crockpot, and do 8 hour cooks at 180F for duck confit. I’d be worried about the pump operating at that temperature.

  13. 03/02/2010

    Hi Andrew,
    That’s a great question. I don’t know (yet) how the pump will perform in hot water over long time periods, but I’ll test it out and report back!

  14. muss

    I have been thinking hard about this all day and i keep coming back to a small replacement hot water heater element…they are cheap, around the same as three of the tea cup heaters, a possibility? only one round hole to cut (much easier) and it is threaded and has a gasket.

  15. muss

    Also, with the design you have now, if a bag were to touch the elements would it melt/break? a guard perhaps to prevent that would be great. some sort of wire basket?

  16. 09/02/2010

    Dear Scott,
    Several of us are meeting in Atlanta on 2/21/2010 to do this together. Would love to be able to reach you w/a question that day! Lol, we’ll see how it goes! BBQ will be on hand.



  17. 11/02/2010

    WOW. Incredible stuff mate. Truly unique I have to say! I have never considered making an immersion circulator, but now feel like I have to! Talk about a cost saving too – I cannot believe how cheaply you were able to build this!! (Heck mate, you should start making them for us Seattle food people!)

  18. 11/02/2010

    I’m excited to learn more about sous vide! Do you know of any restaurants using this method? What foods are most beneficial when cooked this way?

  19. 11/02/2010

    Hi Speckle,
    I know of a few Seattle restaurants, like Tilth and Spur, that use the sous vide method for several of their dishes, but I suspect that there are many more out there. I’m still pretty new to the technique myself, but I’m dying to explore the frontiers that it opens up in the kitchen.

    As far as what foods to choose to cook sous vide, the classic examples are fish, beef, and eggs. In all three cases, the precise control over temperature allows you to achieve a perfect doneness. I’ve eaten sous vide vegetables, like beets and carrots, but the difference isn’t nearly as dramatic.

    I just ordered Thomas Keller’s sous vide cookbook, so I’ll be sure to post my findings!

  20. 13/02/2010

    You rock!! I’m sure the SeaTac folks would be concerned if they saw it, and one might wonder if you cross wires, you wind up back in the 1950s with a young George McFly, but who cares, as this is a truly awesome device!

  21. alvin schultz

    I’ve gathered almost all the parts on your list…just waiting on my PT100 Thermocouple to come in…hopefully tomorrow.

    Interested in the idea of wiring the 120v outlet onto the unit instead of hardwiring the immersion heaters…would you just use a standard style plug like this:
    or did you have something else in mind?
    Is there any concern around the need to plug a 3 outlet adapter into this to accommodate all 3 heaters? I suppose it’s all the same as hardwiring them, but my electrical knowledge is very meager.

    Also, I would like to use a switch like this:
    I remember i used to have one in my car, but i don’t know how to get it to work…relay? Can you provide a wiring guide for that? Maybe this will work…

    Also is 6a 125VAC the minimum switch rating you recommend, Radioshack has a 5a 125VAC that I think i can get a “rocket switch” cover for…they’re just cool.

  22. 22/02/2010

    Hi Alvin,

    Glad to hear you’re going to take on the challenge of building your own immersion circulator! If you’re going to put in an outlet (or three), I’d recommend 2 things: 1) use an outlet that is designed for outdoor use or use in damp areas, and 2) use an outlet with a built-in GFI (ground fault interrupt). You’ll know if it has GFI because there will be a small reset button built right into the face of the outlet.

    And, of course, be careful. There’s a lot of power resting a few inches above a big pool of water. I’m not sure what I need to write (legally) to make sure I’m off the hook if you shock yourself, but consider yourself warned :-)

    As far as the switches, you should be fine with either one. The Radio Shack website doesn’t have wiring diagrams, but they’ll wire in in just about the same way as the switch I used. You can use a multimeter to test which posts to solder to – when the switch is off, there should be no electrical connection across 2 of the posts. When it is on, those two posts will pass current.

    Best of luck, and report back when you’re done!


  23. alvin schultz

    Thanks for the quick response Scott…
    No PT100 today, so I guess i have a bit more time to plan.

    had the same thought of the danger in the design. I thought about building some type of legged platform for the ddevice to rest on rather than the clamp…i suppose that with the outlet it wouldn’t have to be on top of the container and it could be next to it instead…

    for the plug in temp probe were you just thinking of using some type of TRS connector?

    Saw your steak pic, have you used yours for anything else? what type of heat (if any) does the box itself create?

  24. 23/02/2010

    @alvin, Yeah, I was thinking about a TRS style connector… maybe something designed for moisture & corrosion resistance. As for the enclosure, it doesn’t generate any noticable heat. You’ll want to make sure all of your holes on the underside of the box are well sealed with caulk, though, since the basin will give off a fair amount of steam.

    So far, I’ve stuck with steak (life changing!) but I’m going to play around with other things as well. Just got Thomas Keller’s “Under Pressure” sous vide cookbook which has amazing recipes.

  25. alvin schultz

    @Scott, do i have to ground the GFCI outlet? would that mean running a 3 pronged plug to the wall and connecting the ground directly to the outlet?

  26. 24/02/2010

    @Alvin Exactly. Note, however, that I’m not an electrician and should be considered unqualified to give such advice :-) But, that’s how I would wire it if I were you.

  27. Alvin Schultz
  28. Dan Tran


    I am currently working on a version myself but I think I should scrap it in favor of something similar to yours.

    For some reason I felt that the heating element and the circulating element should be in one system. I pumped water through some copper coiling around the heating element from a hairdryer. It works but the heating and control is too inconsistent. Not to mention, it wasn’t throttling water enough.

  29. alvin schultz

    Hi Scott,
    Can you please post the settings on you PID?

    I am sooooo close i can taste it. When my “OUT1″ light comes on, i hear clicking (from the PID controller) but i get no reading on terminals 5/6.

    Also, should I expect continuity on the coil terminals of the mini-relay? i get no tone on them right now.

    Thanks for your help!

  30. 26/02/2010

    Scott, you are brilliant and I’m in awe!

  31. Jon Trickey

    Thanks for your work pioneering this DIY project. I recently became interested in this cooking style, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dedicated cooker and I am always interested in DIY projects. I designed mine a little differently. I wanted to have plugs so that I could easily change heating elements or just use a slow cooker. I use an old crock pot last night for my first test and it worked well.
    I ended up with a slightly different PID than you did. The link you have for it did not come up with anything but I found some on E-Bay that looked the same. The one I got is the same model – CD101, but is configured differently and it came with a thermocouple. My PID has a relay built in instead of a 12v trigger on pins 5 and 6. Of course I didn’t realize this until I had already bought the relay. Mine also came with a 4 page instruction manual, but the manual leaves out how to change the parameters. My PID also has some different parameters, and I cannot change the number of decimals it displays, so it is stuck with 0 decimals.
    I wanted to keep it easy to start with, so I just took an 8 foot extension cord I had around with 3 outlets and cut it in half. I wired it into the PID so it controls the 3 outlets. It really could not be any simpler.
    The thermocouple it came with is really stubby, maybe half inch but seems to measure accurately. I had already order the probe that you used before I realized that the PID came with one, so I will probably change to that probe when it gets here.
    The only issue I have right now is the reading from the thermocouple (PV) drops 3-4 degrees every time out1 goes off. I think there must be some kind of electrical interference and I’ll play around with it to fix it. My instructions talk about twisting the power leads and minimizing the distance to avoid interference. It also says that you need to have a 250 ohm resistor on the input which I do not currently have.

    Avlin – it sounds like you have the same kind of controller as me, with the relay built in if you hear clicking. To test, take a volt meter and see if you get any voltage across pins 5-6 with out1 light. If not, then test for continuity between pins 4-5-6. Pins 4-6 should have continuity with out1 off, pins 4-5 should with out1 on. Let me know if you need help wiring it.

    I would love to hear more about what heating coils you have used that seem to last. I plan on experimenting with those next.

  32. alvin schultz

    @Jon: Yes! That worked…mine also has the built-in relay…wiring hot from the main switch on the box to #4 and out on #5 to my GFCI socket…some fine tuning and i think it’s steak for dinner tonight. I hope to finish a write up soon of my process and i will try to include some instructions on how to set accuracy and move the decimal place. I think i used Scott’s instruction link to move the decimal, but i was flipping through so many resources i may not have…

  33. 26/02/2010

    @Jon Nice, I’d love to see your solution! I may build a second, general purpose unit with outlets to make a DIY smoker or a chocolate tempering machine. For my heating coils, I’m still using the 3 immersion heaters listed in the instructions. So far, I’ve got about 10 hours of cooking logged on them and they’re still going strong. Just have to be cautious never to turn on the machine unless the coils are submerged. I’m actively investigating finding an upgrade to the coil solution, though.

    @Alvin Awesome! Please send pics when you’re all done. I’d love to post a gallery of the DIY adventurers who took on this challenge themselves!

  34. alvin schultz

    FYI- the “AT” or “Auto Tune” setting is your friend…forget about the Jay Z song…mine finally seems to be holding a temp.

  35. Alvin Schultz
  36. Pete W

    To streamline things and because I figure it is the component most likely to give out, I may just leave the pump as a stand alone component. I will still mount it exactly like you did but just plug it into the wall separately. Is there any reason that should cause me any issues?

  37. 02/03/2010

    @Alvin Congratulations! It looks awesome.

    @Pete W Nope, no reason to worry about the pump. I’d actually imagine that these little pumps are pretty reliable. Since they’re fountain pumps, they’re designed to be left on continuously. My coworker had a mini fountain in his office that he left running for months on end. But, there’s no harm in wiring it separately, just in case.

  38. 03/03/2010

    So, I saw your tweet about sourcing parts for “manufacturing” these. Where do I sign up to buy one?



  39. 03/03/2010

    @Hank Great question! if you’re interested in buying one of these (hopefully ready to sell in a few weeks) shoot me an email at scott@seattlefoodgeek.com.


  40. W.

    Trying to get my buildout finialized, but I’m not sure if I’ve got everything correct. I’m not electronically inclined at all, so I’m not able to pinpoint where I may be going wrong.

    If anyone could take a look at the manual for me and let me know if it has an internal relay, or do I need to use a relay like Scott has? link: http://www.lightobject.info/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3

    I may have some other questions, but I think I’ll start with that one.

  41. 04/03/2010

    @W It’s best to use a relay, since usually the relays built into these controllers are only rated for switching about 375W, and your heaters add to 900W.

    If anyone has had success using the relay built into the controller, please let me know, as it would be great to save a solder connection!

  42. 04/03/2010

    I see you are very committed to your sous vide cooking. Fantastic idea and great article!

  43. Pete W


    Any other ideas on where to source the PT100 probe? The company that sells them on ebay is backordered and has no idea when they will get more (though this has not stopped them from listing them on eBay).

  44. Jon Trickey

    I got my PT100 probe, which ended up being the hardest part, and the controller works much better now. Looking back, I don’t think I had the other probe wired correctly now and that was causing my temperature fluctuations. You need the PT100 probe if you want the display to show 1/10 of a degree. I’m guessing that the k-type thermocouple cannot measure that precisely. I also figured out how to get it to display in Fahrenheit, but that ‘broke’ when I changed temperature probes. I’m guessing there is a bug when it tries to convert decimal places.
    My little crock pot setup has been working great so now I am trying to decide whether to go with the immersion heaters or a large (18+ quart) counter top roaster oven. I like the flexibility of the immersion heaters, but I also like the simplicity of a self contained unit.
    @Scott You have me a little scared about the built-in relay now. Mine has been working fine controlling a small crock pot but I might augment it with a larger one before I add more power.
    @ Pete W I searched for a while before I found a source for the probe that wasn’t outrageously expensive. I got this probe http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/2HMP6?Pid=search but I have a local Grainger store. This place has it too with free shipping: http://www.drillspot.com/products/466574/Love_S-11_Temperature_Probe
    The probe only has 2 wires so connect it to terminals 10 and 11 and jumper 11 and 12.

  45. 06/03/2010

    hi scott

    i’m thrilled to see this. can you built one for me. i’m a full time cook and have no time and knowledge about electricity. i thought of buying a professional but the restaurant can’t afford it. it’s a wondermachine. what this thing does to proteins is beyond we’ve known about cooking. i had a machine for two days and putted in everything i had, fish, tender and fat meat and everything comes out like something else. exciting. poaching was yesterday.
    let me know your conditions.


  46. alvin schultz

    any one who has built one of these NEEDS to try eggs…just sous Vide in the shell (no vac sealing needed )@ 64.4C. incredible.

    I just finished a 25hr short rib and my internal relay worked out great…

    Thanks again to scott for the instructions and build!

  47. JT


    Just a small question for clarity. The acylic container list in your reference are 4.75″ x 4.75″ x 5.25″. However the template is 4″ x 6″. What size container did you use? I just want to order all the right pieces.


  48. 08/03/2010

    @JT The storage container linked to in the parts list is actually 4x4x7. You should be good to go with that one.

  49. 08/03/2010

    Scott – My heating elements are touching each other – can they touch or will this short the device?

    The silicone caulk isn’t firm enough to keep them from touching. I tried liquid weld but that isn’t work either.


  50. 08/03/2010

    @jimmy The heating elements can touch each other – that is OK. Inside the coils, there is a resistive wire that gets hot. The wire is surrounded by a non-conductive material, like a ceramic powder. This prevents any electricity from travelling to the outer part of the coil. Otherwise, you’d be electrocuted if you stuck your hand in the tub of water!

    So, it is fine if your heating coils touch. They won’t short out.

  51. Anders

    Hi Scott
    First of all this is the coolest homemade gadget i have ever seen.
    Lately I have been reading alot about sous vide.. And i have decided that I simply have to try building an immersion circulator like yours. The problem is that I live in europe (denmark) where we have 230 v – so my question is do you think I can use your rick?

    The PID should not be a problem, but what about the immersion heaters


  52. 08/03/2010

    @Anders Yes, this design will still work for 230V. However, you’ll need to find immersion heaters that are rated for 230V, or are rated from 110-240V. I’ve seen a few on eBay, but you might try hardware or camping stores, or an online retailer in your area. Also, (IMPORTANT) the power output of the heater will be doubled at 230V compared to 110V. So, you may want to alter the design to only use 2 heaters instead of 3.

    Best of luck!

  53. JT

    Another question Scott. Will this work as an heating element?

  54. 09/03/2010

    @JT I’m actually working on testing that now. The upper part of the element gets pretty hot, and I need to see if it will risk melting the enclosure. Standby.

  55. 10/03/2010

    @JT I’ve finished my testing with the heating element you linked to. I got a conclusive NO :-) Although the element works fine, electrically speaking, the top of the element gets far too hot for the plastic housing. After less than 10 minutes of heating, mine literally melted a hole through the enclosure and fell into the water bath. Good thing this was an intentional test!

  56. JT

    I understand the science, Acrylic does not resist heat very well. Have you uncovers any other options for the heating element or should I stay with the NORPOR559. Thanks for the help.


  57. Ravi

    Have you seen http://cow.org/r/?6508 as an alternative for the heating elements? I can’t quite figure out the dimensions of it, but the safety shut off is nice. To build in a safety for your version I was looking to use something like http://cow.org/r/?6509

    Most of the parts have been ordered so I’ll update with my final product. I think I’m leaning toward a modular version that @alvin did.

  58. Ravi

    Of course, as a friend pointed out, http://cow.org/r/?650e may be a better probe solution. When I was sourcing the parts for your method they came close to this device. Add the heating element and a pump and you’re done. Of course it takes away from the DIY fun…

  59. Pete W

    Just finished my build and waiting for some stuff to dry. Thanks for the plans, Scott!

    One thing I noticed during the build: I followed your instructions exactly at first but I kept screwing up the heater silicone as I was trying to move things in and out of the casing. I eventually just left them dry fitted and siliconed at the end. I think it is much easier that way.

  60. Pete W

    Well I just plugged it in and it’s not working. The PID comes on, the temperature reading is correct, I’ve set eveything but even when the light says that the heaters should be on, they are not. I’ve measured across the relay and there is a current going across it. I even undid one of the heaters to make sure they were good. It worked fine when not hooked into the machine. I’ve tested every significant point of connectivity.

    I am at a loss. Anybody care to help me troubleshoot this?

  61. 14/03/2010

    @Pete W
    When the output light comes on, can you hear your relay click? My guess is that you have the relay wired wrong – since relays don’t generally have their pins or posts labeled, they can be tricky to wire correctly.

    Test that you’re getting a DC voltage (somewhere between 5V and 12V) coming off your OUT pins (5 & 6 on my controller). If you’ve got voltage, and you’re confident that you’ve got the DC voltage wired to the correct posts on the relay, but you’re not hearing a clicking sound, your PID controller might not be putting out _enough_ voltage to trip your relay. Try connecting a 9V battery to the same pins on the relay. If it clicks, that’ll confirm it. To remedy, check Radio Shack or another source for a relay that has a lower voltage, like 5V.

  62. Pete W

    Success! Thanks for your help. I did have the relay wired wrong. I was thinking the schematic of the relay was oriented as if you were looking at the bottom side (where the posts are).

  63. Kevin

    Cool idea, but be careful. As a couple of people have said, you have a lot of power hovering over a bath of water.

    Others have suggested a GFI plug, but I am not sure that would get you anything since there is no ground in this setup.

    The best way to make this setup safe would be to use a metal box instead of clear acrylic. The ground from the wall outlet should then be wired to the metal box. Then you could use a GFI plug and even if a short occurred it should be contained within the box.

  64. 16/03/2010

    I think I’m close, but mine is having problems. The pump turns on, but the device is not heating.

    OUT1 stays on all the time, the PV and SV values still don’t make sense, even after trying to program using the PDF. I’m not 100% sure I programmed it right so I will keep checking that.

    When I play around with the set value, I’ve heard the relay click and OUT2 turns on.

    I realize people are asking tons of questions, and it must get old, but any thoughts are appreciated.


  65. 16/03/2010

    @jimmy Here are some debugging steps to take:
    1. By default, the controller is (probably) set to Celsius. Room temperature will be somewhere around 20-25C. Hot water from the tap will be around 45. If you’re seeing wierd values from PV, you probably need to adjust the order in which your thermocouple is connected to the PID controller. The pin numbers will vary by make and model.
    2. OUT1 should switch on and off when your SV and your PV are close to each other. If you set your SV a few degrees above PV, OUT1 will go off. If you set your SV a few degrees below PV, OUT1 will go on. If you’re seeing opposite results, look for a configuration setting in your controller’s manual for heating/cooling. Set it to heating.
    3. If the OUT1 light is behaving correctly but your heaters aren’t turning on, make sure your relay is wired correctly. The relay should click whenever OUT1 turns on, and click again whenever OUT1 turns off.
    4. With a multimeter, check the AC voltage on the leads going to your heaters when OUT1 is on. It should read around 120V. If not, your relay is wired wrong.
    5. If you get a positive result with #5, you’ve burned out your heating coils somewhere along the way. It’s very easy to do – it takes less than a second of ON time out of water. Unfortunately, you’ll have to get new coils and try again :-(

  66. 17/03/2010

    Scott – Thanks for the feedback. I did a little more testing on the device.

    Out 1 is turning on because PV PV. Any idea what this means? Does it matter?

    I’ll check with the multimeter next. Hopefully I didn’t burn out the coils, I’ve only turned on the device 3 times, and each time they were definitely in water.

    Thanks again!

  67. Pete W


    Make sure you test the output from the PID as well. Despite my earlier exclamation of success (My heaters came on for the first time and I thought I had it, I didn’t). It turns out my PID was only putting out about 6.5V and it was not enough to power the magnet in the relay. I had to change over to a SSR (the Radioshack relay is actually mechanical). Now it works fine.

  68. Pete W


    One last question: if I’m getting lots of variance at different locations in my water bath as it’s warming, should I just cut up the speed of the pump or will the system just stabilize once temp is reached?

  69. 19/03/2010

    @Pete W
    Yes, it’s normal for the temperature to fluctuate by location while the bath is still heating. But, once it has reached temperature (and held it for a minute or two) you shouldn’t see variances greater than -1C. Now, some variance will be inevitable: if you put a frozen steak in a warm bath, the water right around the steak will be colder. But these differences will even themselves out during the cooking time.

    If you are observing major temperature variances once the bath has come up to temp, consider the shape of the bath and the placement of your machine to optimize water flow. Also, it’s not a bad idea to keep the flow of the pump set to maximum.

  70. 21/03/2010

    Could somebody clarify if the temperature controller stores away things like the PID coefficients and other settings to non-volatile memory so they don’t need to be re-entered after power-up every time? Thanks in advance.

  71. 21/03/2010

    @DeKay Yes, all of the values settable in the PID controller are stored in non-volatile memory. Power-up remembers the previous settings.

  72. 24/03/2010

    Pete W – I had the same problem as you – I was looking at the relay as if the pins were facing me.

    I changed the wires and now my heaters turn on, but now I have a new problem…My heaters won’t turn off, lol. Even though OUT1 turns off on the PID, the heaters continue to heat the water.

    Any ideas?

  73. Alvin Schultz

    I think i blew out my internal relay… multi-meter has NO contenuity over 4/5/6 at all!
    May need to swap my controller with a 12v relay out…
    going to confirm with some more testing…

    FYI- had at least 60 hrs on my system.

  74. 25/03/2010

    Alvin – So the PID you have has an internal relay? that’s where the clicking comes from when my OUT1 is turning on and off.

    So you are going to replace the PID?

  75. Alvin Schultz

    yes my PID has an internal relay. it is what clicks when out1 comes on/off…i can still hear it clicking, but I have no continuity across any of it’s terminals (no or nc)
    going to try and find a replacement relay first if that’s no go, then off to a new PID…I have become to acustom to Sous Vide to give it up!

  76. Pete W


    That’s the exact progression of my problems (No Heaters, Heaters on all the time). Your PID is probably not sending a strong enough signal to flip the relay. You need to get a solid state relay. They can run on much weaker signals (mine can be tripped with only 3V).

    Auber has a 25A that works well (it is considerably more expensive at $15).

  77. Pete W

    Also, the Auber relay is nearly impossible to miswire because it is well marked and it only has normally open posts (as opposed to the Radioshack which has both normally open and normally closed).

  78. 26/03/2010

    Pete – I may check that out, though I’m going to continue to mess with this in the meantime. A friend of mine is using the exact same PID and his is working. However, we can’t figure out what’s different in our setups. I have checked for continuity and everything seems to be good.

    Right now I believe am connected to the normally closed post. If I am looking at the relay, with the pins facing up towards me, the bottom three pins are all connected, and only the top right pin is connected. I am thinking I should be connected to normally open instead?


  79. Pete W

    You should definitely be connected to the normally open which is the top left if you are looking at the pins.

    It’s pretty easy to check your signal from the PID with a multimeter. Just make sure you disconnect the heaters first (or have them in water). Then just turn the PID on and check to see how much voltage you are getting off the SSR posts. If it’s less than about 7V, the relay won’t work. Mine would click a lot when the system first started up but I finally figured out that it was moving the contact but not enough to complete the circuit.

  80. David

    Mounting this whole thing hanging over the water bath seems just plain silly to me. Put the controller & relays in a water-resistant enclosure that sits on your counter. Mount one or more outlets on it for your heating element(s), and use a temp probe that has a couple of feet of cord on it. Make a small aluminum u-bracket mount to hold the heating element(s) in position over/in the water. As for GFCI, you don’t need a GFCI outlet in your controller box as some have suggested. If you are using this in the kitchen, you will already have GFCI protection on the circuits, assuming your house was built to code. You really can’t chain GFCIs together. Most won’t work at all of they are daisy-chained. Separating the control unit from the heating until gives you infinitely more flexibility.

  81. David

    On a separate note, what about using an insulated cooler rather than a plastic storage tub for the water bath? Would that make it easier to maintain temp, due to less heat loss to the surrounding environment?

  82. 31/03/2010

    Hi David,

    The separate controller solution seems to work well for a lot of people, and certainly has some advantages from a practical point of view. For example, as other folks have noted in the comments, you can use a crockpot as your heating source. That’s a good point about the GFI outlets, too.

    I tend to prefer this design because it keeps the heating elements, temperature probe and pump nicely secured in the water bath without me having to rig something up to hold them in place. As you may know, this design is similar to how professional heating immersion circulators are built.

    To your question about using an insulated cooler, it may help, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Even in a metal hotel pan, which has a large surface area and is anything but insulated, the controller is able to hold the temperature extremely stable with a very low duty cycle (the heaters are turned on briefly and infrequently). To conserve a little power, sometimes I put my hotel pan on a cooling rack so my granite counters don’t act as a heatsink. If you wanted to make the water bath much larger, perhaps 5 gallons or more, then the insulation might become more of an issue.

    Hope this helps.

  83. PedroG

    Scott, you have done a professional job, I am amazed!

    How many hours did that take you to build? What would be the price of your SV-rig if you charged 50$/h?

    I wonder how long the relay will work as it has to switch on and off every few seconds. SousVideMagic or Auber PID-controllers use Semiconductor Controlled Rectifiers (SCR) instead of a mechanical relay. If your relay should wear, you might get a SSR e.g.http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=9 at 15$.

    Indoor fountain pumps in my experience will withstand 60°C
    although specifified for max. 35°C. From the experiences of a friend of mine I know they will not withstand 80-90°C. For temperatures above 60°C you may use an aquarium bubbler.

    If your container is not well insulated, PID-control is easier than with e.g. a well-insulated rice-cooker, as heat loss counteracts overshoot after initial ramping up or after a disturbance load.


  84. Elijah

    Does the CD101 PID have an internal relay? I just ordered one and am worried that Alvin’s result (blown internal relay) will will happen to me after ~60 hours. If I hook up the Auber relay is there a way to bypass the internal relay, if indeed it does exist?

  85. Kyle Emerick

    I saw earlier on this post about selling these once you have it refined. Is this something you are going to do?

  86. MikeJ

    Scott, very nice work. You should be proud of all the geeky foodie DIY-ness you have inspired. I just finished building and troubleshooting one for myself using a mix between your design and Alvin’s modifications.
    I’ve built similar temp control circuits in my grad school research, but I hadn’t thought of applying such knowledge to my hobbies. Now you have me brainstorming how to make a DIY chamber vacuum bag sealer. The FoodSaver systems wear down so fast, while professional sealers are so expensive. It seems like one could put a cheap impulse bag sealer inside a high-density plastic bell jar evacuated by a surplus scientific vacuum pump and you’d have it. The problem I hit with the idea though is you’d need some sort of vacuum feed-through to press down the sealer bar inside the chamber. If anyone tries this idea remember: Safety First!
    My first 64.5C eggs are cooking now.

  87. 08/04/2010

    Win a Sous Vide rig !

    For lack of contestants, FreshMealsSolutions have postponed the deadline of their “Most Innnovative SousVideMagic Sous Vide Cooker Contest”, so you still have the chance to win a SousVideMagic 1500D plus FreshMealsMagic.

  88. Anonymous

    I built the thing.
    The temp controller is near impossible to program. Find a smart buddy and pay him royally. Once you get it right it works amazing. Within .1 deg C for approx 4 gallons of water.
    Use an igloo cooler to keep the heat in longer. Also, I put the pump on the opposite end of the cooler to help move the water.
    Bed Bath and Beyond has the immersion heaters for $8 each in store.
    Nice design.

  89. 08/04/2010

    I’m so thrilled that so many folks have taken on this project! Congrats to everyone who completed it succesfully, and welcome to sous vide cooking!

  90. Elijah

    Since the aquarium pump may not be able to handle hot water (180 for duck) for long periods of time, it may be best to create a “reserve” supply of cool water to place the pump in, and use the plastic tubing for the pump that comes with it to feed into the hot water.

    A better solution might be to use a regular air pump in the dry unit with the PID, and just feed a steel tube into the hot water. Any suggestions on a non-submersible pump that would work?

  91. Elijah

    Sorry to post again. If there’s a forum or email you’d rather I use please let me know. Why do you suggest the pt100 over k type thermocouple? Is it because K type has a 2.2 Celsius accuracy buffer whereas the pt100 has 0.3? Or is it something more horrific like “k type is made of lead”? :-)

  92. 09/04/2010

    @Elijah – This is a fine place to ask questions. This way, everyone else can see the answers posted here.

    Regarding the aquarium pump, I’ve tested two different models and both performed well during sustained high-heat cooking. So far, I haven’t had a single pump break down.

    Non-sumbersible pumps are a little harder to find and are more expensive due to the type of construction they require. But, one alternative I’m looking into is putting a motor in the housing to drive an impeller in the water. This would definitely be temperature safe.

    With regard to the thermocouple, I recommend the pt100 purely for accuracy. I don’t know of any food safety issues associated with using a different type of probe, but with most PID controllers you must use a pt100 if you want to control temperature with an accuracy of .1C or more.

  93. mpj

    Regarding pump breakdowns.

    My first pump broke. It was an ‘indoor water fountain pump’ from eBay (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290383806514). It was working fine around 65C/150F but broke at 83C/180F. At that higher temperature the epoxy resin within which the pump is enclosed swelled to the point where the propeller shaft jammed solid.

    I have since ordered a marine aquarium ‘powerhead’ (http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=300413152308), as recommended by some DIYer. I’m not sure if it will be any better, as AFAIK all submersible pumps share the resin-enclosed design.

    Perhaps the safest thing is to use the pump only for meat and eggs where the temperatures are lower and more exact. Next time I try to cook apples, I’ll leave the pump out and allow a small temperature gradient.

    My in-progress implementation of the PID controller is here: http://q-m.org/2010/04/08/diy-pid-controller-for-sous-vide/.

  94. Elijah

    Hello again. I got my PID on eBay (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=180411290166) and it says it’s good with a SSR. I bought the Auber SSR mentioned in an earlier post, but it doesn’t seem to trigger. The internal relay works fine, but I’d like to use the SSR to limit the amount of wear on the internal relay. The ebay listing says the PID supports Voltage Pulse Output, but I can’t seem to find any setting to use this!

    Also, does anyone have a complete listing of the CD101 setting code explanations? For example “SL 2″ is the setting for Centigrade or Fahrenheit (0000 for celsius, 0001 for fahrenheit). I can’t seem to find info on the others though (SL 3,8,9,10,11).

  95. Elijah

    Since the SSR setup isn’t working, I reluctantly rigged this with the internal relay (posts 4/5) to a GFCI outlet. Last night I tried with a pre-seasoned (teriyaki) and already vacuum 1lb sealed beef shoulder from Publix grocery. I left it in for about 2 hours at 135F. AMAZING texture and flavor after I pan seared the cuts for about 10 seconds on each side. I did eggs at 148F (64.5C) for an hour, but they were kind of slimy. I think I’d increase the temp a few degrees or the time by 15-20 minutes. I also picked up a FreshSaver (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002NGNBR8/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20) from Walmart for about $16. I’m trying my own garlic pepper & Worcestershire seasoned steak right now!

  96. jimmy

    Elijah/Anyone else –

    So using the SSR didn’t work? That was going to be my next step. I’ve been stuck for the last 3 weeks, I just can’t figure out how to finish this thing. I never hear any clicking in my external relay, just the internal relay.

    This is all way new to me, so I don’t really understand why there is both an internal and external relay. Why is an additional relay needed?

    Can you explain how you set your unit up without the SSR?

    I believe Pete W used this SSR and it worked (http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=9) any idea why yours does not?

    At this point I’ll pay for help! :)



  97. Pete W


    If you are hearing your internal relay click then your PID settings are wrong. The internal relay should be inactive when you have the PID set up to run an SSR. Check your manual and change the mode to external relay.

  98. Elijah


    I don’t think that’s possible with what I have. On this particular ‘build’ of the CD101, it is set to Relay only, the guide doesn’t mention changing over to SSR, and the company I bought it from admitted they sent the wrong one. In case this happens again, do you know which setting controls SSR and the internal relay?

  99. Karen

    I love this!!! I have already started my sous vide project using our plan. I am a student chef and I have been looking for a cost effective way to cook using sous vide. I attended a wonderful chefs’ seminar where we discussed the requirements for sous vide. It is important to remember the vacuum bag part of the equation. The ‘Food-Saver’ is universally accepted as sous vide worthy. Zipper bags are NOT. The worst case scenario is the introduction of bad critters into the slow and low cooking method causing the eater to suffer nasty illness.

  100. Pete W


    I am using a different PID than you are so I can’t help you with the setting. Mine has an output setting that you have to change to disable the internal relay and enable the SSR controlling signal.

  101. Alvin Schultz

    i replaced my PID with a JLD612, still using the PT100 probe, but I cannot find the setting for 0.1 degree accuracy, anyone know how to set this on the JLD/TET612?

  102. Erik

    Hey Scott, thanks for doing the writeup!!! I was just looking at the specs for the PID and it says that it is a 24V output, if this is correct how is this working with 120v heaters?

    thanks in advance


  103. Alvin Schultz

    the output of the PID is simply activating the coil on the relay…120v heaters work fine. (off of 120v switched by the relay)

  104. Rodney Sparks

    Have you run a test yet to see what the maximum attainable bath temperature is with these three heaters? At some point, is insulation needed, or can make the water boil?

    Awesome setup. I’m going to build one at some point for sure. I’ll likely mount the heaters and temp sensor in a plate that is separate from the controller housing. I’m thinking I might then cut the lid in thirds or so, and then permanently attach the heater/sensor plate to that 1/3 chunk of the lid (leaving a notch in the edge of the lid for the pump power cord). I’d then put the controller in an external enclosure that has a 4-position AC outlet on it (can one be independently wired, or are they all wired in parallel?) and tall rubber feet to get it up off the countertop. I personally don’t like the idea of precariously perching 110V electrical components over water, only being secured by a layer of glue… ;-)

  105. mark n

    Hi Scott,

    Just make the cooker.
    The element stays on for some strange reason. The displays flashes when the temperature goes over the set point. I have adjusted the pid for the pt100 but can’t find where to change the decimal setting.

    Can you help?

  106. Ricardo de Freitas

    Hi Scott, first I want to congradulate you on this DIY and how of a great success and fun project it was to follow and built myself. I made a replica of what you have made to kinda feel how it works. I have a basic prototype, nothing is set in stone if I’ll keep your setup to have everything included as one system, or use Alvin’s idea on it.
    I have 2 questions regarding my setup. Thermometer and Relay clicking noise.
    I have my system set to 60, both green and orange are at 60, continuously every 1-2 seconds intervals the relay keeps clicking on and of. Is this perhaps on the degree of accuracy that I have set it up or is it normal? Also my PID says the temp is at 60, but when I use my digital thermometer, it shows that I’m at 63, so I have a 3 degree variance that isn’t being read properly. Do you have any idea for a solution, or my pt100 might be dead?
    Thx in advance!

  107. Ricardo de Freitas

    Also, clicking noise occurs and the OUT1 light keeps blinking together with the relay.

    Thank you,

  108. Phillip Kramer

    @Alvin I have the JLD612 PID as well, and I have not yet figured out how to enable .1 degree accuracy either, but I found a “manual” for it at http://fhupiora.fhupiora.home.pl/JLD612Manual.pdf
    It isn’t very well written, but it does have some useful info, and you might be able to glean enough to figure out the accuracy setting, I couldn’t seem to find it.

    I went with the receptacle build that is similar to yours Alvin, but my problem is with the SSR, I don’t know if the SSR is faulty or what, but after wiring it in, I am finding that there is always voltage applied to the receptacle. Using the multimeter I am finding continuity between contacts 1 and 3 which does not make sense since 1 is supposed to be the load side of the relay and 3 is supposed to be the control side of the relay, shouldn’t these be isolated from each other?

  109. Pete W

    Phillip & Ricardo,

    You’ll need to go through the settings. INTY will be the one where you can choose the probe you have. There are two different settings for the PT100 in the PID. One is listed as PT100 and one as PT10.0. One of those will be the settting with the extra decimal place (I believe it is PT10.0 but I am not home to check right now).

    There is also a setting that will apply a variance adjustment if your temperature is incorrect. However, I wouldn’t automatically assume that the PT100 is the one that is incorrect unless you are using a high accuracy thermometer to calibrate against. Most kitchen thermometers are not very accurate. If you don’t have access to a laboratory level thermometer, the cheapest substitute is a basal thermometer which you can get at most any drug store for about $10.

  110. mark n

    I also noticed that as the temperature reached the set point the out 1 light flashed a couple of times but there was no clicking sound. Is it the relay that is not working properly or the PID controller?
    I can hear the relay click on once when I turn on the unit at the beginning and also when I turn off the unit. The alarm light comes on once it has gone a couple of degrees over the set point and then the temperature reading starts to flash.

  111. Ricardo de Freitas

    Hi Pete,

    Thanks for the tips. Where can I see those settings? The way I set it up was with the provided pdf file that Scott provided. There I think it was SL1 you can set the codes for the thermometer. I used 1100 for the PT100. I did check my kitchen thermometer that I use. I boiled water and stuck it in and it stayed at 100.7 C which is pretty close to perfect I guess. I will take a look as soon as I get home and see if I can find the variance configuration and see if I can play around with that. Also if possible Pete, can you provide me with the settings you used in Cod0000, 0001 and 0002? Thank you in advance.

    Also for everyone else. I found a great discussion about sous vide or cooking with low temps. http://www.cookingissues.com/2010/02/12/sous-vide-and-low-temp-primer-part-i/ is the link. Its very informative and will start giving you some basic principles and ideas on cooking in the water bath.

  112. Rodney Sparks

    I just looked at Alvin Schultz’s blog:
    and that’s EXACTLY how I want to build mine, with two exceptions:

    1) I’m going to use a 2-piece sheetmetal enclosure for the electrics, with safety ground connected to it.
    2) I’ll likely just put the heaters and sensor probe in an acrylic or ABS plate that sits across the top of a storage bin and has #10 screws hanging down that engage with mating holes in the rim of the storage bin to make it stay put. If I end up wanting a more generic solution like he built, I’ll do what he did… For now, I just want a nice, stable setup on a specific storage bin that can’t tip over, etc.

    Good stuff! Can’t wait! Just bought most of the parts!!! ;-)

  113. Pete W


    There is a really in depth discussion on eGullet. It’s over 3500 replies so there is a lot of information there.



    Sorry, I misread who posted above and thought you had the same PID as Phillip (I see now it’s Phillip and Alvin that have the same). The manual he posted looks a lot like mine and so I knew how to fix the issue on his. Looking at the manual Scott posted, I am not sure how to fix your decimal place issue. Perhaps Scott will chime back in.

    As for the thermometer issue, keep in mind that water’s boiling point can change depending on altitude and whatever minerals or additives are in the water. Your calibration method is probably good enough if you are not going to play with the edges of safety (for instance around 132F for over 4 hours). If you are going to do long term cooking at the low range of temperatures, I would invest in a basal thermometer.

  114. alvin schultz

    Just wanted to thank Scott again for doing the leg work on this first DIY….truly revolutionary stuff we’re doing here. I had a commenter on my blog from Australia wanting to bring Sous Vide to his restaurant.

  115. Ricardo de Freitas

    So i’ve contacted RKC for original manuals for the CD101. Anyone cares if I email them and they can upload it for future references?
    Pete, I fixed my issue with the temperature. Just ad my variance in it and now it perfect.
    I’m pretty close to sea level so the digital thermometer works great, but I took your advice on the basal thermometer and its same as my digital one.
    Happy cooking :D

  116. peter

    Greetings from Sydney Australia!

    I just saw this on Craigslist:


    I knew I’d seen the photo before – Unless this is you selling off your own device it looks like somebody is scamming you.



  117. 26/04/2010

    @Peter Thank you for bringing this to my attention! It looks like whoever posted it has deleted the posting, but I’ll keep a look out for scams like that. Thanks very much.

  118. jc

    I’d like to offer one comment on an other excellent design. That rocker switch is rated 6 amps at 125VAC. Those three Norpro 559 heaters are 300W each, for a total of 900W, plus 2.7W of the pump and whatever power the pump and PID controller pulls (unspecified, but lets say 7.3W for fun).

    Assuming 125VAC, that’d be 7.28 amps. At 110VAC (more likely), that’s 8.2 amps. I think I’d consider looking for a heavier duty switch. Turning on the unit isn’t much of an issue, because you’re not switching the full current (the PID controller is keeping the heaters off). The switch is less likely to fail while it’s running. However, when turning it off, if the heaters are powered, you do risk arcing. You may want to consider turning off the heaters via the PID controller first, the powering it down.

    Nonetheless, I would strongly recommend upgrading to a less sexy higher current rated switch :)

  119. bonafidebob

    Your design is just what I needed to get off my butt and build this. Thanks for the great writeup, and for all the helpful comments. I’m going to go with the standard 120V outlet on the controller, so I can use it with any immersion heater, or crock pot. Hopefully this will also make it easier to move between coolers or other containers.

    With a sufficiently large and insulated water container (20 or 50 gal cooler) would the pump even be necessary? I’m kind of thinking that once the water was up to temperature, a single immersion heater should be enough to keep the temperature constant.

  120. bonafidebob

    Given jc’s comment, I think I’ll add a 6A slow blow fuse too, just to be safe.

  121. 27/04/2010

    @JC Great comment! Yes, if you’re building one of these, you may want to invest in a heavier-duty switch rated for 10 Amps or more. Since this was a DIY project done on the cheap, it’s not without shortcuts, hence the big safety warning. Using a lower-rated switch, at the worst, you may trip your kitchen’s GFI outlet or circuit breaker. But if you can find one that fits your budget, I agree with JC: get a bigger switch.

    @Bonafidebob Yes, you can certainly get by without a pump for circulation – in fact, the Sous Vide Supreme doesn’t have a circulator and relies only on convention currents for circulation. But, you will end up with pockets of hot and cold areas that will vary as much as 2 degrees C, depending on the shape of your contianer. If you’re cooking for many hours, the temperature will even out over time. But, if you’re cooking eggs, which only take an hour and are very heat-sensitive, you may want to spring for some type of circulation mechanism for best results.

  122. Erez

    Idea for circulating hot water: stirring.

    Instead of using a water pump, try dipping a stirrer. Eliminates heat sensitivity.

  123. jc

    My spelling/typing in the previous post was an atrocity…

    Regarding the switch: If it fails, it won’t necessarily trip a breaker. It may just burn up. It’s unlikely to get hot enough to ignite the plexiglass/acrylic, but because it’s in series with the load, it probably won’t trip the breaker.

    I’ve found a source for heat tolerant pumps on eBay @ http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260590353981 They’re good to +80C (or they’re claimed to be) or 179F. They stand a better chance of surviving the higher temperatures than the aquarium pumps. The draw back is that you will need a 12VDC power supply for them. eBay to the rescue again: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=260593436015 (Sorry about using absolute auction numbers, I know they’ll go away eventually. However, a generic search turns up too many wrong results).

    My current plan for a sous-vide cooker is using a half-size steam pan, 2 2000W water heating elements in series, the PID controller and PT100 probe, and the above pump. I’m going slow, since I’m doing it on the cheap. The web page is located at http://www.tinymicros.com/wiki/Sous-vide_Immersion_Circulator Email is jcwren jcwren.com if you have questions or suggestions.

  124. 28/04/2010

    @JC Sounds like a plan! FYI, I’ve played with those Camco water heating elements and they are very powerful. The NPT threaded base of those elements gets nearly as hot as the coil itself, so make sure that it is mounted in a metal enclosure using a metal nut.

  125. Yish

    @JC I used full size 6inch hotel pan i got in chinatown for $18 and a single 1500 watt 120V water heater element (from grainger) mounted in a hole i drilled on the side of the hotel pan. This setup is working great for me and I was worried the 1500 watts might be too much but turned out to be perfect from what I can tell. My accuracy never fluctuates beyond +/- 1 degree and usually stays within 0.4 degrees.

  126. Alvin Schultz

    for those using SSR. I ordered this SSR from virtual village:

    they sent this relay:

    a meter on the SSR output measures about 18v when out 1 goes on, which means it isn’t out puting enough to trigger the relay, right? the second link shows on>45v

    So for now, I’ll connect to the J2 output and set OutY to 1 on the TET/JLD 612 PID.

  127. jc

    @Alvin, the relay they sent you requires an AC input in the 80 to 250 volt range. It’s basically an AC operated relay for the purpose of switching heavier loads on the high side (don’t know about your electronics knowledge, so if this is dumbed down too far, sorry about that). You might think of this as a relay where you want to switch a large load (like the heaters) with a small switch that can handle only less than 1 amp. You definitely want the SSR-40DA. Unfortunately, Googling around for these models reveals a bunch of conflicting images and data. These are made in China, and subject to translation problems. There are some on eBay that are about the same price with shipping, and generally the pictures more often reflect what you’ll likely get (eBay is my first stop for shopping for a great many things!) Search for “40a ssr” and check the control voltage for being 3-32VDC.

  128. Erik

    just placed my order for the PID and the thermocouple on ebay, I can’t wait to get the parts so I can get started!!!

    BTW I have an idea for using one of the 1500W screw in water heating elements, I will post pictures of my progress.

  129. sam

    I ordered a PID from ebay earlier, and I think I have goofed as its got the internal relay rather than voltage output. The issue with the relay is that the current support is low (3A), so it probably needs an external relay anyway.

    My electronics is rusty, but couldn’t I use a 120v ac relay instead of the low voltage one you used, and then just use the internal relay to toggle mains power to a higher current relay, say something like: http://www.alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=8500190
    which should be able to handle a 1.5kw heating element?

  130. 30/04/2010

    @sam Yep, that relay will work instead of a low voltage relay. I’ve tested one with another contorller I’m using. The only “drawback” is that these relays make a pretty loud click, and if I turn the lights off, I can see a blue spark every time it clicks on and off. That said, I’ve got 150+ hrs logged on that relay already and it seems to work like a charm.

    I’ve ordered a batch of SSRs (solid state relays) which should be the most durable and long lasting. They’re expensive, but if you order them in quantity, the price isn’t too bad. I can’t wait to see how they perform.

  131. sam

    Are you using PIDs with the relay output or a low voltage signal?

    So, it looks like http://www.alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=6910503 might be an SSR that will switch 10A load from a 120AC signal. If there was a lower voltage output from the PID, I’d prefer to use that for signalling, but I don’t know if that will be available on the one I’ve bought.

    Where do you get components – I’m originally from the UK, and it seems allied is the US version of RS (not radio shack) which would be a natural choice there.

  132. 30/04/2010

    @Sam The PID controllers I’m using have both a low-voltage output and a 120AC output. The SSRs I ordered are designed for use with a low-voltage input. I sourced them from eBay from some company that ships from Hong Kong. Still waiting for them to show up…

  133. Jusitn

    I built this, pretty much exactly following scotts plans, and so far (i’ve only tried it for about an hour so far) it works GREAT (thanks to whoever commented suggesting using AT, i was so confused till i tried that)
    i happened to stick a stem thermometer into the water just to see how the temperatures readings compared (my change was to use an enclosure from radioshack, i was worried i have the pt100 too close to the heaters. when i did so i happened to be resting my other hand on the faucet and felt a zap…so i started testing everything, and the current isnt coming from inside the enclosure, im 100% sure of that…so its down to the heaters (or possibly the thermocouple somehow??) also…the current is only present when the heaters are off…
    anyone else experience anything like this?

  134. 01/05/2010

    I just built this one after googling around and stumbling upon your article.

    I already had a PID controller from auber instruments, thermocouple and other stuff so I could try this out for extremely cheap. I’ll be doing my first sous vide steak tonight, should be interesting :)

    PID controller and thermocouple from auber instruments
    2000w element from a water heater
    20A solid state relay and heatsink (big black thing on left of the controller)
    10l box as a reservoir and a small box to keep the components
    600l/h eheim aquarium pump for circulation. Turned it down to lowest setting for this tho.

    Did a few trial runs and seems like all components can handle this beautifully. I’m pretty proud of it given that I put it together the same day I read your article. Takes about 5 minutes to get cold water to 60 degress celsius and everything can be unplugged and put in the box for storage.

  135. jc

    @Gleraugu, do you have any more details on the heating element you used (manufacturer, part number, price, etc)? I’ve been going through Google looking for circular heating elements with little success.

  136. 01/05/2010

    @jc: I’m in Iceland so prices are probably not relevant, but I got the element from an electric kettle. Most cheap kettles have elements that look exactly like the one I used, and come with a handy silicone gasket you can reuse. I paid about $20 for my kettle, but I’m sure you can get it for much less in USA.
    Another handy thing about these elements is that you can connect them with the same cable as goes in the power supply of computers. Connector is called YC-12 according to a quick google query. I used an old power supply cable, cut it in two and connected inside my wire box.

    Beware that some kettles have elements embedded in the bottom and are hard or impossible to scavenge. You want the cheap looking plastic kettles :)

  137. BobW

    Came here via a link from seriouseats.com. Followed the clear storage container link to amazon.com. The immersion heater and the PID Temperature Controller are listed as frequently purchased together.

  138. duncan

    I like this design, but I wonder why you didn’t use a water-heater element. They’re designed to heat larger amounts of water and are cheaper than the heater elements you selected. I’ve seen ‘em as low as $10.

    Just my $.02

  139. 04/05/2010


    A water heater element (or something very much like it) was tried by Scott, and it melted the case. It would require a special screw-in mount, and I think just for the sake of not re-designing the entire thing the others were used. But you are right, they are more powerful and economical.

  140. LanceW

    Has anyone tried to take apart a CD101 in order to either replace the internal relay with a more stout unit, or just to bypass it in favor of an SSR?

  141. Matt S

    I’m not 100% sure, but this seems to have the same settings as the CD101 -> so you should be able to set it up for a PT100 RTD type sensor. It seems that Jon Trickey got it working (he didn’t mention going through the menu though!).

    Anyone got any more info on the CD101?

  142. Matt S

    Sorry: link missing above – possible settings for the CD101


    Someone took one apart:


  143. Matt S

    Gah, sorry for the flood: the first pdf in my post above is junk: use the one in Scott’s blog post!

    But to make up for it, here’s another manual that offers advice on how to set up the autotune and selftune for the CD101.


  144. Erik

    here is another option for the heating element, it is for a water heater but it has a universal “flange” type mount, I got a 1500W one from ACE hardware for ~$11. I am waiting to get all the rest of my parts and I will post pics of the build.

    BTW the element from ACE is about 6″ long, I just used the link for image reference


  145. sam

    So I’ve been playing with a crock pot waiting for the other parts to arrive. It seems to operate in the right temperature ranges, but is very slow to get there. I think the heater is in the 300W range.
    The power of the heater will affect how fast it heats up, but once at temperature, how much does that affect the ability to control the bath – how often is the controller cycling the heat on/off?

  146. Pete W


    Crockpots are very well insulated so they don’t take a whole lot to hold at a temp (very few cycles)though it will have a longer recovery time (right after cold meat is introduced) than other SV rigs because of the weak heater. It’s also important to tune the PID before you start to use it.

    Convection is the biggest problem with crock pots as they are usually heated around the sides. Adding the pump should solve that problem though.

  147. Matt S

    Ricardo: I think the RKC website has a the CB100 series on their site which is a close (exact?) match for the CD101 knockoff.


  148. LanceW

    I have the CD101 and using several of the posted manuals, I was able to set it to Fahrenheit with a 1 place decimal. I also was able to change it from a K thermocouple to PT100. I ordered a PT100, but my thermocouple is labeled PT100+, don’t know if that matters.

    My problem is that it is reading 30 degrees low. I have a glass of water at 100, and the unit reports 70. When the glass is at 72, it reads 44.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how to fix this?

  149. Jan Willem


    You can compensate the reading if that is really the problem.
    Press SET for a few seconds until you reach the menu items.
    Keep pressing set a few times until its reading Pb, here you can compensate the sensor
    Pb means PV bias and the description says sensor correction

    Jan Willem

  150. LanceW


    Thank You. as long as the error is fairly constant across the board, that should work perfectly. I guess I will find out tonight.

  151. sam

    I was trying an apple recipe that involved 85C water, and it was taking forever with the crock pot, so I switched to a pan on the stove, using the PID as a temperature guage. The mistake was to also use the aquarium pump – the water got too hot and the plastic warped. — conclusion – aquarium pumps are not made for that kind of temperature.

    I’ve ordered the barrel heater listed earlier and am going to try the in a plastic tub method, but need something for the circulation. What do the commercial units use?

    One pump idea is something like http://www.pexuniverse.com/store/product/taco-005-circulator-pump-ci which is for radiant heating and is good for 110C water which should work? but that blows past the $75 budget concept.

  152. Erik

    hey all, I just got done building my unit and, of course, its not working properly. when I plug the unit it and turn it on, the heater just starts going, like the relay is doing nothing, I tried switching the wires on the relay but that didn’t change it. Also my PID is clicking on and off (out 1) about every 10-15 seconds.

    some help would be greatly appreciated, if someone has a pic of how they wired theirs for a SSR that would be great


  153. 16/05/2010

    You may not want to use our SousVideMagic controller, but you should look into our FreshMealsMagic (submersible heater with integrated air diffuser).
    With FMM
    1. Your controller does not have to be mounted on top of the bath.
    2. The heater is completely submersed at the bottom of the pot giving you better heat distribution via natural convection.
    2. FMM comes in two versions (110V/1500W and 220V/2000W).
    Again, job well done!

  154. Double H

    @Erik – I had the same problem. Turns out that there were 3 problems. (1) even though I have the same relay as Scott, mine has to be wired differently than the schematic above. (2) My controller would not output voltage across pots 5 and 6 and (3) my unit has Autotune set to “0000” by default, and after I switched to using the the internal relay, I found that it MUST be to “0001” to work correctly.

    @Scott, you may want to check on this issue – my Normally Open and Normally Closed poles (the pole where you connect the heaters to the relay) are opposite to what you have. When I followed Scott’s schematic (with the correct orientation of the poles being placed as if you are looking at it from the top) my heater was wired to the Normally Closed pole.

    Back to Erik – if you have the CD101 controller, you may have to manually set Autotune to “0001”. The factory default is “0000”. Without autotune, it will heat way past the set value. You may notice that there is no button to push to get out of settings mode, but the controller will automatically back out to the normal PV/SV display mode if no buttons are pressed for about 30 seconds.

    It turns out that my controller just never put out adequate voltage from output 5 and 6 to trigger the relay. I compromised and disconnected 1 heater, and used the lower power rated CD101 internal relay. To wire it up I followed the wiring diagram from Alvin’s blog. (just search above for the link to Alvin Shcultz’s blog post about his own variation of Scott’s project. Having only 2 heaters makes warm up from tap water relatively slow, but it maintains temperature perfectly once it gets to the set value.

    On a side note, @Frank -people are here to DIY, not sort through spam.

  155. Erik

    thanks for the tips, I set the auto tune to 0001 and the OUT1 light stays lit however there is still no signal from any of the (3,4,5,6) posts, I am starting to think I have a defective PID.

  156. Double H

    @Erik – so has the behavior of the heaters changed at all, or do they just stay on continuously? If you get no voltage or current across 4 and 5 when out1 is on (make sure you bridge 1 to 4), then you probably do have a bum controller. Mine output on 6 was busted. QC on these things is ridiculous! Guess you get what you pay for.

  157. Erik

    yeah I opened the PID up and it is easy to see why these are so cheap. my controller is definitely not working, it is now completely switching on and off.

  158. Phillip Kramer

    @Erik I ran into a similar problem with my build as well. What I found however was not that the PID was faulty, but rather I received the wrong solid state relay for my unit. I ordered a SSR that was supposed to be 8-32 VDC control input and 120 VAC load output, but what had arrived in the mail was an AC control input SSR. After contacting customer service, I received the correct replacement and everything worked just fine, and I have been cooking sous vide since…It can be hard to effectively communicate through the comments here, but hopefully something someone writes here will be of some use to you.

  159. nick

    Hi Guys,

    I want to purchase the PID controller domestically to get it sooner and i was wondering if this one will work. (Seller ships from Brooklyn)


  160. bonafidebob

    Thanks again for the inspiration. I’ve completed my build and it works! Steaks were excellent. Here’s some feedback:

    There appear to be two different PID controllers, one with relay output (mine) and one with current output (described here.) I got the opposite one from the plans here, so I had to change my build. With the “Relay Output” version, instead of switching 12V on and off, it has the relay built in. This would be great, but unfortunately the built in relay is only rated at 3A which is only enough for one immersion heater. So I got a 120V 10A relay from Radio Shack and use the PID controller relay to switch that exterior relay on and off.

    I tried programming the PID to use F instead of C, but the temperature input from the PT100 was very wrong in F mode, it was 30 degrees low at least. Rather than try to figure out why, I just switched back to C.

    Instead of making an all-in-one unit, I built a dry box and a wet box. The wet box is built into a 4″x4″x2″ outdoor conduit box from the hardware store, and it contains two immersion heaters and the PT100 sensor. The dry box contains the PID and relays and switches, and has a standard AC outlet to connect the two.

    I also bought a 40 Gal/hr pump meant for a water fountain, and use that to feed the inside of the wet box. This keeps the box full and keeps the water circulating nicely. Even with only 2 immersion heaters, my 8 quart cooler heats up quickly, a couple of degrees C every minute.

    With the extra relay it made it easy to have two outlets on the dry box. Both are standard AC wall outlets, but one is switched by the main switch, and the other is controlled by the PID. So I plug the pump into one and the heating elements into the other, and get constant circulation but correct heat.

    This way I can use the “dry box” with pretty much anything that plugs in, so I could use it to control a croc pot or play with other immersion heaters.

    The PID programming is painful. Thanks for all the tips here.

  161. JohnP

    @bonafidebob: Your solution is intriguing. I would love to see some pics of it, please.

  162. simulacrum

    The good thing about these plastic containers is they are designed to stack into each other, usually leaving a gap of an inch or so in between the two walls. So If you line another container with an insulating material on the inside and place your sous vide, water bath container inside it, you’ll end up with a more rigid, and better insulated water bath for an extra 5 bucks.

  163. simulacrum

    Oooh I found a water pump that is apparently able to handle temperature of over 100C over longish periods of time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46U6Owh9pok

    there’s a few on ebay.

  164. 25/05/2010

    I’d been hoping to find plans like this for months! I just finished my build and finally got a post up about it.


    Thanks for the all the fantastic information!

  165. 25/05/2010

    @Jason Congratulations! Wonderful writeup on your version of the controller. Great work, and thanks for posting the link to your article!

  166. Eric Lewis

    Would you consider building these units and selling them to the public? I’m currently searching the market for about three circulators, but have no ambition to spend the $3000 to buy them, nor do I find myself with the time to build them myself. Think it over and let me know, I’d be happy to talk price.

  167. jc

    Check these pumps on eBay: http://shop.ebay.com/?_from=R40&_trksid=m570&_nkw=p-25a+pump They’re only 24 GPH (about 1.5 quarts per minute), but my feeling is that a high flow rate isn’t really that necessary. The solarprojects.co.uk pumps mentioned in the video look nice, but they’re expensive, at USD $42 shipped. I did find a vendor of them on eBay, but they’re also $42 shipped. Still looking…

  168. CW

    I finished building this this past weekend using exactly the parts in your list. I am afraid I am pretty inadequate at programming anything, even a watch! Is there a simplified way to program the controller?

  169. SJW

    I made my immersion circulator with these plans, and it turned out great. It kept 15-gallons of water @135F for the weekend, with .1 degree accuracy. I used the PT100 probe listed here, but I got my PID and a solid-state relay from Auber Instruments:


    I didn’t use a heatsink for the SSR, since once the tank is up to temperature, the SSR is only on for short bursts. The Auber PID is super-easy to program. I upgraded my power-switch to a high-current 12-amp one, and used plastic epoxy that is waterproof and withstands 200C. Not as pretty as clear silicone & hot glue, but much safer.

    Made 3 racks of beef back-ribs for 48-hours @135F. They were amazing after a sear on the grill.

  170. John

    I saw this site and was overjoyed.
    I had found a precision waterbath in a local goodwill – the controller circuit was shot but found that the pump and the heating pad is working fine.

    So after purchasing all of the parts (apart from the heating elements and the pump I proceeded to assemble a controller. I found a really nice clear acrylic case that I installed a switched (but non pid controlled) ac outlet – for the pump.

    I assembled the control unit following direction and briefly toyed with the idea of a higher rated SSR – but the distributor advised against it as the unit I purchased was not set up for an SSR.
    Following multiple web sites/pdf’s I programmed the unit (hopefully correctly)for an RT100 selecting SL6 to be a 1 for heating. It would display the correct temp in C the out1 LED would light the internal relay would click …. but Nada.

    I checked the RAdio Shack relay for operation (it would click when voltage applied to its terminals. and Continuity would be between the terminal that did not contact before
    I even tried replacing the relay using the internal relay (re wiring so the AC would be switched by the internal relay)

    But I am missing something ….
    Help !!!!!!

  171. Matt S

    John – use the RKC pdf above to work out what output your unit should be: mine’s a “VM” unit so should be 12v output.

    Weirdly, I have the opposite problem to Bob: my unit reads out on Celsius but Fahrenheit is fine (or at least, closer to the correct temperature). I’m trying to work out if it’s consistently wrong but I don’t have anything to test it against apart from an IR thermometer. I’m worried that I’ve managed to miss-set a function now, but I don’t know what it could be. Does anyone else have a setting “CTr” under “Code 0001″ in the initial settings menu (where you can change F/C units)? What did people set the SLL/SLH settings to?

    Many thanks for any help

  172. John

    Success – I think
    Just realised that the circuit diagram is a Birds Eye view not a “worms eye” and after trying 2 GFI’s I tried a regular outlet…. I got power I got heat I am now running a small test to see If I can bring it up to temp ……

  173. John

    So close but so far …..The relay contact I had used was the NC so of course the heater would come on.
    I checked the terminals 5&6 and even when the internal relay was clicking away there was 0 volts coming out – hence the relay would not trip.
    Any other suggestions Is there a software parameter that needs to be adjusted?
    I did select the correct Temperature sensor – the display is pretty close to a digital thermometer next to it. The OUT1 LED comes on the Internal relay clicks…..

  174. Matt S

    What’s the model number? Mine is a FK02-VM-AN meaning:
    K02=K thermocouple (can change in settings)
    V- Voltage out1 primarly heat-side output
    M – relay output 2 (cooling side)

    Don’t test for voltage across terminal 5&6, check for continuity (obviously, disconnect the load!). If there is, you connect it much like you would a switch. Otherwise- if there’s no continuity for 5&6 and no voltage across, then it’s a faulty unit!

  175. John

    Mine is labelled FK02 M* AN NN
    So reading that list it is a Relay out with no Out2?
    And excuse my addled brain here
    connect the line power directly to 5 with 6 continuing out to the heater?
    I shall try that this morning.
    Assuming it works (I know what assume means)
    My question here is how can I then isolate the internal relay and use a greater power demand heater – I think the internal relay is rated only for 3 amps.
    Thank you

  176. John

    OK I just checked when OUT1 is lit there is no change in continuity (it is open). I checked there was no voltage either.
    So it does look as if the unit is defective?

    One question. – which is probably obvious. Would previously connecting the control side of a SSR damage those contacts?
    (this was my first configuration)

  177. Matt S

    In theory, no, it shouldn’t: the SSR input won’t generate any current so it won’t be able to damage anything.

    Checking the manual, it’ll be 4/5 and 4/6 that will have the continuity between then. One will be on-when-out1-light-on, the other will be off-when-out1-light-on (it’s a single-pole-double-throw relay). So there will never be continuity between

    If it was a relay output, you could use the switch 110v output to connect to a higher ampage 110v input relay which would switch the load.

    So – connect 110v live supply to 4, connect 5 (*) to one side of a 110v relay input and the 110v neutral to the other relay input terminal. On the output of the relay, connect one side to the 110v live supply, and the other side to the live supply of your heating coils. So the internal relay is switching a live current to the input of a 110v relay, and this relay is switching the input to your coils. Be _very_ careful with this setup as if you get it wrong you’ve got 110v going where it shouldn’t. I can draw a diagram if you need it.

    (*) Connect 5 if 5 is continuity when on light is on, otherwise if 6 is continuity with 4 when on light, use this instead.

  178. John

    Thank you – I think it is working….
    I connected terminal 4 and yes we have connectivity when OUT1 lights up.

    So Getting brave I re inserted the SSR but I used an old 9 volt “wall wart” to drive it – the internal relay switches the SSR On – which in turn turns the power to the heater element. I am now running a test to see if it comes up to temp and stays there – wish me luck – No doubt I will have a thousand more questions Before I can get down to Actually cooking.

  179. John

    Woo Hoo Successs.
    I cooked two Mahi Mahi Fillets
    Recipe approximately follows
    “poaching liquid” about 3 oz white wine
    Small amount of Fennel seeds
    Small amount of Herbes de Provence
    Splash of lime juice – to increase acidity
    3 oz butter per fillet (cut into 1 tablespoon chunls & positioned either side of the filet
    Small amount Olive oil
    The liquid was blended with a fork.
    Fillets had been defrosted.
    Placed in Vacuum bags
    Put into the bath @ 58.1 C cooked for about 30 min (temped was at 58.1)

    Served over garlic smashed Potato (Yukon golds with skin on boiled with garlic cloves & tumeric mashed with sour cream)

    Sauce was about 3 oz butter 3 oz heavy cream 2 oz white wine tablespoon red peppercorns 1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract.
    Just reduced a small amount

    Top level cherry tomaoes sauted Olive oil & garlic then adding some fresh basil at the end of cooking.

    It was Very good!

    Tomorrow a Top Round beef cut!!!

  180. Matt S

    Bah, I’m having a miserable time with my unit – I suspect it’s faulty – the F reading is a bit wrong and the C reading is completely whacky. Anyone had and fixed this issues?

  181. John

    I found that the temp in C was starting to go wildly off of what I had programmed in (ok wildly and exaggeration but 2 -3 C) I then found that Autotune had reset to Off when the unit powered off (from the previous day) I selected turning on the autotune and the temp then stayed within very tight parameters.

    I also found that the display was off a degree or two from thermometers I had inserted to monitor the temp – rather than adjust the unit (next time) I just adjusted my set temp accordingly.

    One big thing is use a lid – It really makes a difference not only in reaching the set temp but also helping to maintain temps.
    I have not explored converting Display to F (most of my thermometers are “bi lingual”.

  182. Matt S

    Autotune shouldn’t stay on 1, it should run once (takes ~1hour) and the AT light will go off and the parameters on the PID (P, I, D, r etc) will be set correctly, and should save in memory after poweroff.

  183. 16/06/2010

    @John Looks like you solved your problem. The only time I turn Autotune on is if I’m cooking in a different basin. Once I run autotune when the unit is attached to my hotel pan, it will remember the correct settings for good. However, if I switch to a smaller or larger pan, or if something enviornmental changes to affect heat transfer (ex. not using a lid) I’ll run autotune again as I’m pre-heating the water.

  184. Terry

    I’ve been following the directions as closely as my non-electrician mind can – and I’m close. Very close. My PID model is JLD-612 which has SSR output only. I’ve wired that to the relay & then from there to an AC outlet.

    My problem is that the power to the outlet never turns off at all. As the temperature changes the out light turns on & off correctly, but it doesn’t seem to have any affect on whether or not the AC outlet turns off. I’ve tried reversing the SSR output – and even disconnecting them altogether. No matter what I do the AC power is always on. Do I need to change the output to one of the jumper settings? Or can I do this with the SSR output?

    Any ideas as to what I’m doing wrong?

  185. John

    Now being an “expert” – waits for laugh track, Check your out put if your PID is set for cooling operation?

    Check your wiring… Using a Multimeter first disconnect the AC side of the SSR see if continuity is maintained or dropped when the output light is lit.
    My ssr has a red led that lights up when it is actuated – does yours… (that way you can see if the PID is sending out a pulse.

  186. JohnP

    @all. Have any of you found the need for a sacrificial electrode? I recently used some (nice) stainless steel saucers for espresso cups as weights, and after doing 151° F for 24 hrs, I found them to be caked with calcium deposits. Plus I am using a wire grate for my half size hotel pan (http://bit.ly/bOuCyD) and it is starting to rust. Any thoughts?

  187. john

    The manual for the precision waterbath (the “guts”) of my install recommends Distilled / De Ionised water for the bath. THis would rule out any of the chalk deposits….

  188. JohnP

    @john. At roughly $1.75/gln of distilled water, I’d have to spend $3.50 every time I use my half-size hotel pan ;-(

  189. John

    I just said the manual says … but then again my manual didn’t say anything about the “brain” transplant I did The use of White vinegar or CLR should help remove any chalk build up ……
    For the record I use tap water carefully “harvested” from the Might Mississippi …. this almost leaves a white chalk film on a drinking glass. ))))

  190. jim casey

    Hi Scott,

    I have built my machine, thanks for the idea! I cannot, however, get my PID controller to work properly. I continue to get an error message of all zeros, which my manual tells me that the polarity is connected inversely or above input range. Maybe you have some ideas, any help would be greatly appreciated as I have tried everything I can think of.

  191. Terry


    Thanks so much for your input. I’ve tried your suggestions & here are my observations.

    I have the PID set for heating – not cooling (although I’ve tried both).

    After disconnecting the AC I’ve tested leads 6&7 for continuity for the pulse – and when the output light shows there is continuity. There is an output light that shows – and it correlates directly to when there is continuity on 6&7.

    I’ve created a diagram of my wiring if it is helpful. It can be viewed at: https://docs.google.com/drawings/edit?id=1YhjBDe2zNMK3o0rZ6Zd2MsMb8Je2DbQW1HyZ2I7uvKM&hl=en

    Thanks in advance for everyone’s help.

  192. John

    With my new “expert” hat on here.
    Your PID has an SSR output (at least that is what the diagram says.
    But you appear to have it connected to a relay …
    Just my guess here is the relay an SSR or is it a relay?
    (the ssr I have seen (see previous reference to expert) Have 4 terminals 1 pair in one pair out) the one I bought had the pairs opposite each other.
    What are the voltage specifications of your ssr?(does it match the voltage output of your PID)
    I tested my SSR with a 9 volt power wart (from an old cordless phone) 9 volts from a 9v battery were not enough.
    So in your case my testing scenario
    Disconnect the SSR from the PID (keep the ac connected to the light bulb controlled by the ssr).
    Power the ssr (at whatever voltage & power it needs) if the light comes on ok … disconnect power to the ssr if the light goes out … well ssr works)

    Next measure power coming out of the PID does it fluctuate with the out1 coming on/going off? If it does measure actual voltage output (check manual) is that sufficient to power the ssr you have? If not you will need a new ssr at the appropriate voltage input and controlling amperage output.

    Just some “expert” suggestions.
    Defn Expert X=unknown quantity. Spurt=drip under pressure.

  193. 21/06/2010

    I’ve gotten a few emails recently from folks reporting that eveything is wired up but the heaters just don’t turn on. Here are a set of troubleshooting steps to help. If you answer Yes to a question, move on to the next one.

    1. Make sure the OUT1 light turns on when the unit should be heating (when your set point is at least a few degrees above the measured temperature. If not, check your PID settings to make sure you’re in heating mode (not cooling).
    2. Does your relay click when the OUT1 light goes on and off? If not, your relay may be wired wrong. It’s unlikely (but possible) that you burnt out your relay.
    3. Is there voltage across posts 5 and 6 (might be different numbers on a different model relay)? You should read 3-12V. If so, and your relay still doesn’t click, your PID controller might not be pumping out enough juice. You’ll need to use a relay with a lower contact rating (like 3V) or an SSR (solid state relay).
    4. Is there a voltage across the output of your relay when it is clicked on? You should be able to read 120V (give or take) between the middle pin on your relay and post 2 on your PID controller.
    5. The problem is with your heating coils.

  194. Søren

    Hi Guys
    After about a month of waiting for parts I finally finished my DIY Sous-Vide cooker. I used the heating element of an old water boiler. 2300 W makes it pretty quick at heating up large portions of water, plus it can be mounted in the wall of the container i use. It’s really amazing how well it works, takes about 5-10 mins to get it heated to cooking temperature depending on how much water I use. Temperature is accurate to .1 degrees! :D

    Thanks for a great post for amateur cooks :)


  195. jim casey

    Okay, I have confirmed that I have wired the unit properly. I cannot, however figure out how to program the PID controller, it heats the water but it still see a error. If anybody can help, I would appreciate it. I am using the CD101 PID controller.

  196. John

    OK what error are you getting?
    WHen you say that you are getting heating … is it controlled heating? (does the heat cut out after a certain point?) or does it just keep heating ….
    Most of the programming is “automagic” You just have to make sure you have set the PID to heating mode (SL6 I think) and also select the correct temperature probe (forget which one that was). I also selected the Auto tune and all seemed well …. (stable temp for 6 + hours.
    I did find putting a lid over the waterbath made the controllers job easier (maintained temps).

  197. Andre

    Very interesting Guide, i will definitively make my own, Thanks for this well detailed guide and parts list!

    One Suggestion:
    To avoid burning out the elements, you could install a small switch and floater located under the device that would only activate the elements if the elements are in the water. this way, if for any reason water is low, the element will shut off and not burn out…

  198. Didier

    I got my DIY contraption up and running and over the last month cooked steak, chicken and turkey breast with no problem.

    Today, however, I realized the temperature and dropped considerably from where I had it set. Further investigation revealed the PID overheated and the outer plastic shell near posts 4 and 5 warped and melted slightly. Needless to say the thing is toast. Could anyone wager a guess as to why this happened?

    I used the wiring diagram from this set up:

  199. 28/06/2010

    I finished my project over the weekend, meant more to be a universal temperature controller, but managed to do some sous vide Sunday dinner – details here:


  200. Caleb

    Didier, you probably totally overloaded the contact amperage rating for that internal relay. Mine is the same, so I used it to pass through 120 volts to an external relay that is rated for 15 amps.

  201. Greg H


    I too feel an electrical shock when I touch the water. I happens ‘sometimes’ when I touch the water without touching anything else, but if I touch put my finger in the water then touch my metal faucet, I get a significant jolt. When it happened to me, there was no light on OUT1 and it is currently in AT mode. Can anyone speak to this?

  202. Greg H

    Hello all! First time builder, long time listener. I just plugged this device in tonight for the first time and am very impressed! (Thanks Scott!) I purchased everything as listed and I believe it is working as expected. However, I’ve combed through every post and am still having trouble with the PID settings. I know that this is a common question so if there is a link to describe the exact settings for this exact build that would be awesome. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed/questions I have. (Posted in part II)

  203. Greg H

    The site keeps rejecting my posts…trying in pieces.

    1. How do you set it to Fahrenheit?
    2. What does auto-tune actually do?

  204. Greg H

    3. When I go set it to 1100 for the PT100, the Alarm1 light comes on and doesn’t go away until I set it back to 0000. Any ideas?
    4. It seemed to be heating fine and the water was getting very hot but before it reached the target temp of 50, I could hear the relay clicking on and off in unison with the Out1 light flashing on and off. The temperature did, however, continued to rise. Is this normal as it regulates temperature, is something wrong with my setup or can this be addressed in the PID settings?

  205. Manfred

    I am partially through collecting all the electrical parts to replicate the sous vide apparatus, however, the idea of using a plastic container did not appeal to me albeit the cost benefit. I chose the Ashland 15 Qt Stainless Steel Canner from http://www.wisementrading.com/canning/canners.htm . Granted, at $120 it is a lot pricier than a plastic container, but I want to get serious about sous vide and your electrical/electronic control solution together with a more solid “bath tub” appeals to me.

  206. Greg H

    After my post above about electricity being detected in the water I’ve done some more research and the results are disturbing. I’m am by no means an electrician but have consults with friends and feel confident enough in my results to bring it to the forum. To keep it short, there are two things I’ve been able to determine. Using a multimeter on the 20M setting I’ve been able to detect resistance when I touch one of the power wires and the metal heating coil. According to my friend, this is bad. Second, when I wire each coil individually, place it in the water, plug it in and measure the amount of voltage in the water I am always detecting some voltage (from 3 – 50V). I can’t believe that all three would be defective.

    Does anyone have some thoughts on this subject?

  207. 05/07/2010

    @Greg H – Greg, Thank you for raising this concern and for your testing so far. I’m aware of a few dozen folks who have built this design, but so far this is the first report of electrical current in the water bath.

    Can you send me detailed photos of your machine and show how it’s situated in the water bath? Also, did you use the heating coils linked to in the parts list, or some other source? I’m thinking it may not actually be your coils that are leaking current, but perhaps a poorly-sealed water pump. You can email photos to scott@seattlefoodgeek.com. In the meantime, can you try disconnecting the water pump and testing for current again?

  208. boogie

    Hi scott,

    i really appreciate your effort to make affordable sous vide appliance. I am from Indonesia..a big nation that perhaps you ever hear before..a question..is it possible for you to build a sous vide appliance like you have for me..I will replace all cost and the shiping to Indonesia.thank you very much



  209. zgss29er

    Very inspiring all and all. How about pushing the envelope here a bit: I recall seeing a TV episode (with Keller I think) in which an immersion bath was set up with grape seed oil and the bath temp was around -15c. Not too dissimilar from the idea of the “Negative Grill”.
    How about a parts list for this??

  210. 05/07/2010

    @zgss29er Yes, or often called an “antigriddle”. I’ve played with the poor-man’s version, but since you asked, I’ll work on getting a video post on cool stuff to antigriddle up soon!

  211. John

    Would a Peltier (sp) device be usable… I remember seing one covered in Ice. I think that they are a sadly under utilised device. Perhaps cobble one to gether using a Stainless Steel plate Attach one to the back and then via Transformer power it appropriately?
    I am not sure if they get cold enough … THis is starting to sound like another personal experiment.
    I know – just get my recirculator working I have a DIY chamber vacuum sealer also to be made (Have the chamber have the lid have a sealer I might be able to use just need to find a vacuum pump.

  212. Peter

    Looks really neat. I’m using a system with those norpro heaters, and I’m not looking forward to the day when mine burns/shorts out. Did anyone come up with an alternative heater option that won’t melt the plastic?

    Great project Scott!

  213. Caleb

    Melting plastic?

    As long as the coils are always immersed in water the coils should never get hot enough to melt plastic. Unless the plastic has a melting point less than 100C.

  214. 13/07/2010

    @Caleb Actually, I tested a few other types of heaters witht the same assumption, and I was wrong – in a melty, smelly, fire-y sort of way.

    For example, I tried using a heating element that was designed for a household water heater. The element gets really hot, really fast, and motion of the water isn’t fast enough to disperse the heat. A “shield” of steam built up around the heater, allowing the element to get hot enough to melt it’s way through the plastic housing, drop into my pot of water and pop the circuit breaker.

    For my new design, I have custom-made heating coils that don’t get (very) hot at the base. But these types of coils are hard to find off-the-shelf (I know, I tried!).

  215. Peter

    Nice work finding a solution. Unfortunately for my copy of yours, I’m not sure many places will custom make me a single heater! I’m looking forward to undertaking this project with my dad, since this should be a great way for me to learn some handy skills I’d like to have.

    I had tried a few aquarium heaters that I opened up and modified to override their built-in thermostat, but turns out they don’t get hot enough to keep the water above about 120 degrees. Dang.

  216. Peter

    I think I’ll try the bucket heater referenced near the top – hopefully it will work well!

    I’m also thinking of using an SSR relay, and it looks like this PID should work with it, right?

    Looking forward to giving it a go!

  217. Greg H


    Could you do me a favor and post how the bucket heater works out? I too am looking for a Norpro alternative. On that note, has anyone found a successful alternative to the Norpro heating coils?


  218. Peter

    I sure will. I heard from someone else using it that it works fine. It’s 1000W, close to the 3x300W Norpro heaters. It also has a metal guard around the heater and shuts itself off if it runs dry (presumably not shutting itself off permanently like the Norpros). I’m looking forward to giving it a try!

  219. John

    After being quite happy with my set up (It was a modified water bath whose logic circuit had fried) I looked at its original construction and thought that perhaps a roaster could be used as the heat source & containment vessel http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=&q=electric+roaster&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS238US241&um=1&ie=UTF-8&cid=13178541258608152805&ei=J6JBTNC0BMLhnAe5xoWjDw&sa=X&oi=product_catalog_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CEIQ8wIwAQ#
    is the result of a quick google search. They are also readily available at Goodwill stores. Set the internal thermostat to Maximum and use the PID to control the actual. They are designed for long power cycles some have a separate inner liner that can be filled with liquid and all that will needed to be added is some form of water pump aka aquarium pump.

  220. DanielC

    Has Anyone tried a bog standard element out of a cheap kettle?
    Or are they to powerful at around 2000w?

  221. DanielC

    Looking around for a heater for that can be sent to the uk i found these on ebay.uk Portable Immersion water heating element 500Watt 220V
    Beware they are dangerous and banned as I found out when I tried to get them cheaper elsewhere.(who says its bad to be tight!)

  222. 27/07/2010

    I’m tossing up the idea of starting one of these, or waiting for you to offer your v1.5 for sale.

    More specifically, have you done one with the receptacles for the heating elements and items (I love multitaskers). I saw a viewer put one together, and assume its wired much the same way as the heating elements in your wiring diagram. The plugs are more ideal as I’d like to use same unit for doing larger events (using a cooler/large container for instance) with a drop in caged heating element/circulatory device So the circulation and heat is emanating from the lower elevations of the water supply encouraging more of a convective flow.

    Have you found a bucket heater you can recommend?

  223. John

    I was thinking of the water circulation problem that others have encountered. I thought of a source of pumps able to handle hot liquids and came up with the Pumps used in a Dishwasher. They are designed to handle hot corrosive liquids (dishwasher soap solution) They should be readily available. The only negative I could see is they are perhaps too efficient in circulating water for the water bath.

  224. DanielC

    @John Dishwasher pumps are very powerful and all that Ive come across external to the tank. If this is the route you want to take Id suggest a dishwasher rinse pump a lot less power but also external. Ive been looking at these:
    http://www.whalepumps.eu/documents/submersible_data_sheet_old_and_new_codes.pdf Cheep, submersible and some websites say can be used with hot water. Although no mention of it on their site?

  225. John

    Another success. I used a dry rub Paprika, Mustard powder Sugar and sage on a Pork But. Smoked it for about 2 hours then packaged it and cooked 165 for 6 hours. Absolutely melt in the mouth pulled pork. (served with a BBQ sauce).

    Next experiment is the treacherous path of chocolate melting & tempering using the recirculator and obviously keeping the chocolate & water separate.

  226. Mike

    Hi Scott,

    Trying to build this, and I’m waiting on parts.

    My PT100 came with just a Blue and Red wire, DEFINITELY no yellow. What does this mean? Did they slip me a mickey at Virtual Village?



  227. John

    I also bought a couple of Spare PT100’s from Virtual Village – I am going to use them to control differing devices than the re circulator. However If you look closely at the probes that wo of the wires have the same value – so I think it that the only one that matters is the one that is labelled Red (or the plus) the others I think are interchangeable.

    – Shoot me down If I am wrong here!

  228. Greg H

    @Mike Mike, are you saying that there aren’t 3 wires, or that there isn’t a yellow one? I believe my PT100 had three wires, one red, one blue and one black (with a yellow connector).
    @John I’m no electrician, but it was my thinking that the two wires that have continuity might be positive/negative. I have also noticed that I have continuity when testing the blue/yellow wire with my multimeter.

  229. Greg H

    I’m am still in search of appropriate PID settings. I have used the autotune, but I’m still about 20 degrees off. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I change the PID settings for a PT100 (code 1100) instead of default, the alarm1 light comes on and the output light goes off. Can anyone speak to this?

  230. Greg H

    Nevermind, I figured it out. When you change to PT100 it changes the maximum range of the SV to 40.0. You can change this to a higher threshold a voila! Obviously, the alarm1 was coming on because the ambient temperature was above the max temperature of the SV. We learn as we go!

  231. Mike

    @ Greg
    There are only two wires, one red and one blue. The put a plastic collar on the red one with a “K+”.


  232. 01/08/2010

    @Mike My suspicion is that you got at K-type thermocouple, instead of a PT100. The K-type thermocouple will work fine (just set your PID controller to use K) but you will only be able to get a resolution of whole degrees, not 1/10th of a degree Celcius. To test this theory, set your PID controller to K and see if you get an accurate reading. Then set it to PT100 and see if any configuration of pin settings will give you an accurate temperature. If not, check your order and see if Virtual Village may have goofed.

  233. Mike

    I just checked my emails, Yup, they goofed. I ordered a PT100. However, I can live with only 1 degree of accuracy, maybe… It’s threaded, you don’t happen to know the size do you?

    Thanks Mike

  234. Jack

    Hi Scott,
    I was in the middle of wiring my PID when I noticed that mine only has 10 prongs on the back (whereas the wiring diagram has 12) and is the model cxtg 3000. Did I order the wrong part and need a new one shipped or am I still able to work with this one?
    – Jack

  235. 02/08/2010

    @Jack You might be OK. Check the pin diagram that came with your controller (or is printed on the side of the controller) against the pin table in the instructions. If your controller has the same pins, you should be good to go.

  236. Jack

    Checking the pins on the side the PID I have 1 & 2 for AC
    3,4,5 for the alarm, 6 & 7 for out SCR SSR. 8, 9 , and 10 seem like they are for the thermocouple. I did not see a designated spot to wire the relay unless I missed understanding my controller’s diagram.

  237. 02/08/2010

    @Jack – Try measuring the voltage across 6 & 7. If it’s 7-12V, you should be able to use your relay. If not, you might have to buy an SSR. They’re more expensive, but they’ll work better than the relay listed in the parts list. Check VirtualVillage.com for a 40A SSR.

  238. Jack

    I just measure the voltage across 6 & 7 and it read zero, however when checked the other pins 7 &8 measured 25-30v. I’m not sure if that will help me though.
    – Jack

  239. 02/08/2010

    @Jack, Sorry, I should have been more specific. Set up your PID controller with the thermocouple attached, and set the set point to a higher temperature than the measured temperature so your OUT1 light comes on. Then measure the voltage across 6&7.

  240. Jack

    I set up the controller and the out light came on. I checked the voltage for 6 & 7 and it read 13.5v. Am I still good to go even though its a bit above 12v?

  241. 03/08/2010

    @Jack You should be just fine with 13.5v. Happy tinkering!

  242. Jack

    I set up everything up plugged it in and things went well. I my controller lit up and heat was going to my heating unit. When I turned it off at the rocker switch however I blew all the power in the house for about a second…. I take it this is bad. The rocker I’m using is a SPDT rated at 30amps and the heating source is an 1130 watt by Electra. Other than that I’ve followed the shopping list. Any ideas as to what I did wrong?

  243. Jack

    Things this afternoon went better. Everything is up and running with out shorting anything out. However after setting up my controller it is still 10 degrees off when I tested it in an ice bath. any thoughts?
    – Jack

  244. Matt

    Thanks Scott for putting up these instructions and all for answering questions. I got all my stuff a few days ago (exactly as specified) and just finished wiring everything up. Seems like my relay is not working. Or I killed my PID by hooking it up wrong.

    I initially hooked up all the wiring to the PID backwards, so, pins (Power) 1 and 2 were on 7 and 8, (Relay) 5 and 6 on 11 and 12, and (Probe) 10, 11 and 12 on 4, 5 and 6. I didn’t realize this until I set it up and plugged it in, the PID did not power up, but the pump and heaters did…

    I discovered my mistake and made the correct connections. This time it powered up fine. I was able to get the PID configured for the PT100 probe. The temp reading seems accurate and the Out 1 light cycles as expected, accompanied by a relay click. I can’t tell if it’s the internal relay or the external one. However, the heaters do not cycle, they are always on, and the pump works.

    I’m guessing my relay is bad, but also wondering if I have it wired correctly. In the diagram I’m not sure if I’m looking at the bottom of the relay and the pins directly, or at the top of the relay and it’s “x-ray” vision to the pins. I’ve tried both ways with no change in results.

    Reading through the other posts, I did check a few other things. I get no voltage across pins 5 and 6 on the PID.

    Any help is greatly appreciated. I’m so close…

  245. 04/08/2010

    @Matt The wiring diagram assumes that you are looking at the bottom of the relay. Sorry for the confusion, I actually get that question a lot.

    Your relay *may* be fried, but it’s worth testing. First, put your multimeter across the two low-voltage pins for your relay (5 and 6 in my diagram). When the OUT1 light is on, you should get roughly 12V across those pins. If not, check that your PID controller is set to Heating mode (as opposed to cooling). If you’re still not getting 12V, your SSR output might be fried.

    If your PID controller has a 2nd relay output, specifically a 120V relay output, you can use that instead. Don’t connect your heaters directly to that output as they’ll pull to much power and fry it quickly. Instead, go find a relay with a 120V coil rating. Sometimes they’re called ice cube relays. Then connect the coil posts to the PID controller, and pass through 120V from your input power on the switch side. The wiring is a little messier, but it works.

  246. 04/08/2010

    @Jack Check the manual for your PID controller. There should be a setting deep in the menu somewhere for a temperature offset. If your controller is reading 10 degrees off, just set the offset value to 10 (or -10) and you should be good to go.

  247. Jack

    Thanks I was able to adjust the calibration. However now my heater does not turn on. I read your post above about the trouble shooting and my relay and my heaters are working. However before I hooked up the heater and relay I was getting 13v and now theres no reading between pins 6 & 7. I also tested the between the relay output and pin 2 to see if it was at 120 and no such luck. Is it possible I fried a component inside the controller?

  248. 05/08/2010

    @Jack – For testing your relay output, instead of looking for voltage, you should check for a closed circuit. Suppose your relay (not SSR) pins are #A and #B, just put your meter across them and look for continuity. Also, make sure that this output (probably OUT2) is set to Heating mode in the settings.

  249. Jack

    I checked my relay for continuity and it’s good. My controller is set for heating. When I wire everything together and turn it on the relay clicks on when the out light comes on (my model only has a single out light) and should be heating and the opposite when my set temp is lower than the reading. Yet still no luck. In regards to your trouble shooting advice above what happens when it does not read 120v between the relay output and ping #2 of the controller?

  250. 06/08/2010

    @Jack Think of that relay as a switch. All it does is open and close. In order to get 120V out, you’ll need to pass 120V in. To do this, (referring to my wiring diagram above) jumper pin 2 to pin 3 and move the heater lead from the relay pin to pin 4.

  251. Mike

    Just got all my parts and, of course, I’m leaving for the beach for a week.

    Scott, What is your PID model code? The one I got through your link is FK02-M * AN-NN

    I’m asking because of all the comments about relay vs no relay. Fairly certain I need the Radio Shack relay.

  252. Matt

    I got mine working! I had to get a replacement PID, since mine was not activating the relay and the internal was most likely fried. I went with the PID from auberins.com, and the SSR, same as commenter “SJW” above, so I blew the $75 budjet. I’ve made “sous vide” steaks before using the cooler method at seriouseats.com, the ones made with this setup are by far one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Next up, eggs!

    Thanks Scott, without your article I would have never had the inspiration to attempt this.

  253. Jack

    It works! It finally works. Thank you for your advice and directions. My problem turned out to be the common pin on my relay was broken at the base but the solder held it in place and was still giving me a 120v reading when I tested it instead of the wire

  254. Ted

    Any issues with this, for Australia?


    2kW @ 220V (not 240?) seems kind of close to the 10A limit of a standard wall outlet…

  255. Steve Platt

    i would love to make this but i have never did anything like this before on a scale how hard is it to make. thanks Steve

  256. Greg H

    @Steve Its not hard to make. Once you understand the concept behind it, it gets a lot easier. Some takeaways from my experience are as follows.
    1. Consider using a different heating element.
    2. Make a modular design so that replacing parts is easier.
    3. Use an SSR instead of the mechanical relay.
    4. Ask lots of questions!
    Here is a link to my design, taking from the best of all the posts plus a few ideas of my own.

  257. john

    Following the charts on cooking times (http://amath.colorado.edu/~baldwind/sous-vide.html). I had great success this weekend.
    Using Lobster tails I removed most of the shell (apart from the piece at the end – for appearance). I placed each lobster tail in a vacuum bag added about 4 ounces of butter about 1 ounce of sweet white wine and about a tablespoon of vanilla extract (didn’t have any pods or I would have used that).

    So essentially poaching in a beurre blanc sauce 61 C for approximately 45 minutes.
    Wonderful !!!
    Lobster was poached just perfectly the cooking sauce poured over it

  258. Josh H

    Hey guys I’m about to try to build one of these beasts. I’m going to start off building a modular PID controller with plugs in the back to attach different heat sources.

    For my PID controller I ordered the D1S-2R-220. Here are the specs.

    I’m not very experienced with electrical and the schematics and broken english confuse me. I am wondering if you can wire a SSR to the D1S-2R-220 model or if it has something internal? I bought this without thinking and just assumed all PID’s were similar.

  259. Josh H

    Also, has anyone thought of using air stones?
    It looks like that is what the freshmealsmagic from freshmealssolutions.com uses to circulate the water.


  260. jd

    Any advantage of this method over, say, connecting a PID straight to a rice cooker, as others on the interweb have done?

  261. Benwa

    OK – got this thing wired, heater coils are operating and have Temp controller set up according to instructions. Set the temp for a test run and when the set value temp was reached the Out1 light went out but the heaters remained on. Any ideas?

  262. 25/08/2010

    @Benwa If the Out1 light is dark, then 5 & 6 should no longer be sending a signal to the relay. Verify:
    1) There is no DC output from 5 & 6 when Out1 is off.
    2) The relay is wired correctly.
    My guess is that the wiring is incorrect and the heater coils are simply on all the time and the PID isn’t really “controlling” them. Just a guess.

  263. Benwa

    I’m showing no output on 5&6 with Out1 light on OR off. I think I have a bad PID.

  264. Benwa

    When I had the 10A spdt relay wired originally with the rocker switch power attached to the N.O. post there was no power to the coils regardless of whether or not the Out1 light was on or off. I connected the rocker switch power to the N.C post and the coils came on. I thought perhaps I needed a Solid State Relay due to low voltage output. Now with the SSR connected I have power to the coils but they won’t turn off. I think the relay in the PID is burned up and i guess i’ll have to replace it.

  265. 25/08/2010

    @Benwa Did you check for both AC & DC off posts 5 & 6 of the PID? Some come with internal relays and some do not. I’ve seen people mention in the past where thought their hardware was faulty only to find a wiring issue. Specifically, some of the CD101’s come with an internal relay (from what I hear) and, therefore, there is no need for an external mechanical relay or SSR.

  266. John

    While it is true that some PID’s come with relays rather than output for SSR. My understanding is the relays are only for about 3 amps controlling power. Most heaters are require much more. (Watts=volts*amps thus amps=watts/volts 1100w/110v=10 amps) so your 3 amp rated contacts will burn out really quickly.
    My PID had a relay output so I extended the circuit by using a 25 am rated SSR. I used the relay control to energise the SSR using power from a 9 volt wall “wart” transformer.

    This means I can now control bigger & better heaters without concerns of burning out my PID.

  267. mike42

    Re agitation: haven’t yet built anything, but it strikes me that the very cheap “milk frother” or “cappuccino frother” devices you can get for next to nothing might be OK. They’re powered by 2 AA batteries, and are essentially a DC motor turning what I would describe as a tiny whisk head very fast. Replace the batteries by a 3V supply, extend the metal shaft, and you have a low-power agitator which will work at any temperature. Maybe it could be moved to a different position from time to time. Maybe replace the whisk head by a propellor to move the water further (like an electric paint stirrer on a small scale). Picture here:
    Scale: 2 AA batteries fit in the handle.

  268. mike42

    Re sparks, mentioned as sometimes happening: any mechanical switch circuit (including electromechanical relay) can be suppressed by connecting a small capacitor rated for an appropriate AC voltage (typically 0.1 microfarad, 630VAC) in series with a small resistor (typically 100 ohms) across the switched contacts. Instead of worrying about getting the right values, you can buy inexpensive ready-made snubbers or interference suppressors. Theoretically values should be matched to the application, but I have used those given with total success to silence switches that produced interference due to sparking.
    E.g. http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=498

  269. chip

    what about a float switch to eliminate the burn out problem? it could be on the bottom of the enclosure, or on the mounting clip with a right angle float switch.

  270. Deeg

    @Greg H: I see you used the Marshalltown bucket heater; is it completely submersible? I.e. could you lay it down in the pan of water?

    Thanks to Scott for putting the original idea together and everybody else for adding their tweaks. There’s a good chance I’ll be making one of these.

  271. Greg H

    @Deeg No, unfortunately it is not completely submersible.

  272. Benwa

    @ GregH,

    Checked for conductivity on 5&6 – no power. Sent back and replace dwith a new controller and unit is working fine now. As I suspected I just got a bad controller.

  273. Jerome S.

    Hi there!

    I am currently making my mind about building my own DIY sous-vide cooking station.
    I am thinking about an ‘all-in-one’ appliance, or at least something that could be self-containing all the parts for easier storage in my tight kitchen.
    I am thinking about turning a compact beer cooler into a 2 uses bucket : first as a vacuum chamber, and then as the bucket for hot water cooking. After usage, all the parts should fit inside the cooler: vacuum pump, hot sealer, PID and water heater/circulator.
    Has any body ever tried that? I am thinking especially about using the beer cooler as a vacuum chamber: would it suppport the pressure?

  274. adam

    Based on Alvin’s solution – can we replace the heating elements with a grounded socket outlet (same wiring diagram, with neutral connected to the outlet as well)?

  275. SimonR

    Hi Scott, thanks for publishing these plans, great work. I have built the unit as above, and I am using the Marshalltown bucket heater, but seem to be having some problems. When the heater gets current to it the temp reading on the PID starts to go crazy, when the current is off it starts to read normally again. When I stick one probe of my multimeter into the wall and the other in the water I get 120 V potential and 3-4 amps (AC). It seems that the heater is causing a current in the water, which would obviously mess with the thermocouple. My wiring is per the plans, except that I am using a SSR. Any ideas on what is causing this? A faulty bucket heater? Thanks.

  276. 09/09/2010

    @SimonR I’ve heard a few reports of similar behavior before. As an experiment, please try this: switch the two power leads coming in to the machine. That is, swap the wire connected to the switch with the wire that connects directly to the controller. Then test the unit again. I’ve heard reports that the polarity of the wiring can actually cause this type of behavior, though (given my limited knowledge of wiring) I didn’t think polarity was such a concern for AC power.

    Also, with that kind of current, be sure to test the water again with your multimeter before sticking a finger in.

    All that said, the bucket heater _shouldn’t_ be leaking electricity into the water. It is possible that it is faulty.

  277. SimonR

    Thanks for the reply. I switched the wiring, same thing. I am using the JLD612 for the PID with a SSR. I think the thermocouple wiring is correct as it displays the right temp when out of the water. I also installed outlets for the pump (always on) and the heater (relay activated). Whether I plug the bucket heater into either of these outlets, or a completely separate wall outlet the same thing happens. I replaced the bucket heater and still get the same results with the temp reading going wild. It must be the thermocouple I guess. I’ll order a new one and wait and see. Thanks again.

  278. Mattch

    Hello… Thanks for posting the information and hosting this forum!

    I’ve almost got mine working. My OUT1 light turns on and off when going above or below the set temp, but my output is always 120v. I am not sure why it is not cutting the power when reaching temp? Bad relay perhaps?

  279. Bob

    wow… very cool. I think this is my next project. So far I’ve bodged together an old Haake circulator w/o thermostat with an old watco pid, and just yesterday ripped the guts out of a broken Lauda MT and replaced with the same PID kit you have up there. Any more news about the long term survivability of that pump? That’s the only part I see as a possible weakness.

  280. Mattch

    Tested my relay and it is working. When I use a 9v battery the relay switch clicks and 120v is sent to the heater. My 5 and 6 pins are not producing the 12v needed to click the relay switch… any thoughts?

  281. 13/09/2010

    @Mattch You might want to try a Solid State Relay, if that is indeed the issue. SSRs don’t have the voltage requirements of mechanical relays. If you search this page you find links to ones that will work at decent prices. Hope that helps!

  282. 13/09/2010

    @Bob Pump is solid. I’ve been using mine for a while now without issues and have talked to others that have had the same positive experience.

  283. Mattch

    Thanks for the feedback… got my issue resolved. This PID also has the internal relay. I wired hot from the rocker switch to the #4 pin and out from the #5 pin to my outlet where the heater connects. Same as Alvin mentioned above.

    Great stuff… looking forward to trying out my improvised version of this on my electric smoker!

  284. Greg H

    I have a question for the group. I constantly have to re-calibrate my PID (cd101 & pt100 thermocouple). I auto-tune every time but it marginally helps. Also, I have to offset the temp about 30F degrees. Anyone else having this issue?

  285. 14/09/2010

    @GregH No, I’ve never had to recalibrate my unit. Is it possible that you’ve got a bad thermocouple?
    However, I noticed that you’re not using Celsius. I found that my PID controller is ONLY accurate when set to Celsius. I have no idea why, it should just be a mathematical coversion to F. But perhaps this is part of the problem?

  286. anthony s

    Is anyone using the CD101 with internal relay? I’m pretty sure that I need to run an external relay to control the heater. How are you powering your relay? I’ve been stumped for a few weeks, as this is the first time I’ve ever messed with creating something like this. Any help would be really appreciated. Thanks.

  287. 16/09/2010

    @Scott Thanks, I’ll switch it back over to Celsius and give it a try!

  288. 16/09/2010

    @Anthony Are you sure you have an internal relay? If so, you shouldn’t need an external one. Remember, all the relay does is complete the circuit to your heating element when it needs to and breaks it when it doesn’t. If you have an internal relay, then do a continuity check with a multimeter. When the Out1 light comes on, then circuit should complete.

  289. anthony s

    @Greg H. I’m 95% sure I have one with the internal relay. I’ve done a continuity check with my multimeter. However, it says the internal relay is only rated for 3A, and I’m using the Marshalltown bucket heater. So I was trying to run an external relay because I’m afraid the current from the heater would be too much for the relay built into the controller.

  290. Greg H

    @Anthony Ah ha, I see your issue. If you search this site for *facebook* you’ll find a post by Alvin. He talks about internal relays a bit and his info might point you in the right direction. Sorry I couldn’t be of more assistance.

  291. John

    If you have a low amperage relay in your PID unit you might want to take the path I took.
    Use the internal relay to control power to a higher rated SSR. There might be an infintissemal delay in control But you can get a SSR that will happily switch 25 amps.

    I used a wall wart power brick for an old cordless phone.

  292. Anonymous

    @Greg and John. Thanks for your help. I was wondering if I could run hot from the switch to the common in the relay and control an AC relay. Do you think that would work?

  293. m

    I have the JLD612 PID controller. It’s supposed to be able to use the internal relay to control one heater (ie < 3A), but I can't get this to work. I can see approx 8V DC switching on and off on the internal relay.

    Does anyone have instructions on how to make that work?

    Thanks, M.

  294. 18/09/2010

    @Anthony and @m I strongly advise you NOT to use the internal relay in your PID controller. Those relays are only rated for 3A. However, your heaters will pull over 7A. I’ve personally burnt out the internal relays on my PID controllers testing this method – they’ll work for a few hours, give or take, but invariably the extra load on the internal relay burns it out.

    Either use the DC output to control a relay (as described in the instructions) or use the internal relay to control a 120V relay that is rated for at least 9A.

    I don’t mean to be a downer about this, but as enticing as it sounds to use the internal relay, I promise it’s not going to last very long.

  295. anthony s

    @Scott Thanks a lot for the confirmation. I knew I should avoid using the internal relay. I just wasn’t sure how I was supposed to provide power to an external one. Seems like I have two options.

  296. m

    @Scott – the heater I have is 300W, which is < 3A, I promise ;-)

  297. kris

    Hey guys,

    I’ve been having a few problems. First, my heaters weren’t working and then I realized i wired the relay looking at it from the bottom per Pete W on 3/15. Then my heaters were always on (left top post when looking at it from the top) and I saw somebody said that I had the wire going to the pump/PID #2 on the wrong post. So, now when I put it on the other post (the right side when looking at it from the top), I don’t get any heat at all. Please help. I do have a multimeter, but I have no idea how to use it. Everything is using the exact parts/wiring as the original diagram other than my expirement with changin the wiring to the on the top 2 posts of the relay.

  298. kris


    Hey guys,

    I’ve been having a few problems. First, my heaters weren’t working and then I realized i wired the relay incorrectly where I had it wired looking at it from the bottom per Pete W on 3/15. Then my heaters were always on with the wire from the pump/PID #2 connected to the left top post when looking at it from the top and I saw somebody said that I had the wire going to the wrong post. So, now when I put it on the other post (the right side when looking at it from the top), I don’t get any heat at all. Please help. I do have a multimeter, but I have no idea how to use it. Everything is using the exact parts/wiring as the original diagram other than my expirement with changing the wiring on the top 2 posts of the relay.

  299. mattymonkey

    Thanks for the instructions. Found this after developing an interest in sous vide, but no interest in the cost.
    Just to let you know, I done this over in the UK but have made a device with a plug socket outlet to control a crock cooker.
    After a bit of fiddling, and confusion trying to interpret the pid calibration settings from Hong Kong, I managed to get it working.
    The only thing I dont have is the three terminal thermocouple, but it seems to be accurate enough using the two terminal on the autotune function.
    It cost me around £40 (inflated by having components shipped from the Far East).

    Good work

  300. Aaron

    Having a hard time finding the PT100 thermocouple probe, any ideas on where to get one from? I am really looking forward to completing this project.

  301. Deeg

    Aaron, I bought this one on Ebay: http://cgi.ebay.com/2m-Thermocouple-Temperature-Control-Sensor-PT100-EL12-/170541521785?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27b5111b79
    I haven’t finished making my controller so I can’t tell you how accurate it is but it *looks* like quality construction. NB: it’ll take a week or two to get to you if you’re in the States.

  302. anthony s

    Thanks all for the help. I finally got my system working.

  303. Phil

    I was able to get mine working using a JLD612. I ending up setting it to have the internal relay as the PID controlled output. I have the internal relay hook up to a 12V DC power supply which is connected to the control side of the external relay Scott uses in his build. I have the heaters controlled by the external relay. So the internal relay clicks on which sends the 12V signal to the external relay which clicks the heaters on. It’s a little bit of a convoluted set-up but I was worried about burning out the internal relay. Also it gives me a 12V source which I will use to power a motor with propeller when the pump burns out.

  304. 09/10/2010

    so i had my electrician friend make all the connections and we are all set up correctly, BUT… my PID is not putting out enough power to flip the relay on. it is only putting out 6.9 volts when out1 is fully lit. Im using a JLD-612 PID and am wondering if there is a problem with the programming as the manual says it should be putting out at least a constant of 8volts. i will begin looking for a smaller relay in the meantime, but if anyone knows if i can fix the relay power issue with some button pushing… that would totally rock

  305. Aaron

    HELP… I got my unit fully assembled and wired up to the point of hooking up my PID, the PID I got from the above link is the JLD612, does anyone have a pin out diagram that i could use? Having a hard time figuring out where to hook all of the wires into. Thanks for your time. I am so close to completing this project I can taste it!

  306. Aaron

    Also how do I program the JLD612 to work with scotts set up?

  307. duncan

    Ok, so I just ordered my parts for this but I made a couple of modifications and I thought I’d put them up here to see if anyone thinks they’re totally stupid or maybe worthwhile.

    1) Instead of the relay above, I went with a solid state relay to eliminate mech. failure. It was cheap, but I bought a heat sink for it too, just to give a lil’ thermal protection.
    2) The one part I haven’t bought yet is the heating element. I think I want to use one from a whole house water heater and just feed it 120V. Hopefully this will allow it to be changed out easier.
    3) To avoid burning the element out, I want to put 2 stainless steel rods into the bath. These will be close together, but not touching, and be connected in series with the relay control. I think as long as the bath is not grounded this should work fine. Maybe I need some kind of amp. on this circuit to push it thru the water?

    I think this is everything, thanks.

  308. 19/10/2010

    wow. nice DIY. will have to try.

  309. Greg H


    I too am having trouble getting the JLD612 to work with an SSR. I am using pins 6 & 7, which are labeled as SSR Output and it is working, but the temperature readout is jumping up and down a couple of degrees every second. It is also showing alarms on AL1 and AL2. Does anyone have any information on how to wire and program a JLD612 correctly with an SSR?


  310. Deeg

    I finished mine tonight and tried it for the first time. It rocks! It needs a few tweaks (e.g. the thermometer is off by a degree or so) but otherwise works great. Thanks Scott!

  311. 22/10/2010

    Hi Scott,
    can you provide a wiring digram for using an internal relay to control an external 120v one? would the same arrangement work for a SSR?

    I have blown out my second PID, so i am revamping the case and relay system…thanks for your help!

  312. 24/10/2010


    Just thought I would mention that I found out what was causing my reading to jump around on the JLD612. It turns out that you can fix this issue by grounding the outer wire-mesh shield of the thermocouple to pin #10 on the PID. If anyone else has this issue, give it a try!

  313. 25/10/2010

    Hello everybody!! Buah, so close. So I don’t know how to enable the external relay on my PID. I’ve looked at the instructions a bunch but it’s foreign language. I changed the settings to those of Alvin Schultz’s but he uses the internal relay. Any help would be appreciated!!!

  314. mattymonkey

    is the system up and running but it is not switching on?

    If so and you are using a sloid state relay, make sure you are using the autotune setting on your PID and it should activate.

  315. 27/10/2010

    Allright, system is up an running when using the internal relay. now i want to put in the ssr relay but can’t figure out the setting on the CD101 PID to change it from internal to ssr, or should that be taken care of by the autotune setting???

  316. 27/10/2010

    @John Connect the SSR to pins 5 and 6 as shown in the diagram. In the PID settings (see your manual) set OUT1’s function to Heating. You should be good to go.

  317. 27/10/2010

    Hello All,
    The connections are correct for the ssr relay, I get continuity over the ssr relay. My problem is with the PID settings and my manual which I can’t make much sense of. I don’t know how to set OUT1’s function to Heating, and the AT doesn’t seem to do it either. Thanks again for everyone’s patience.

  318. Dov Barak

    Hi All,
    thanks for the trigger..
    I just finishe dbuilding my unit. used a 612 PID from ebay (coldfusion), with 25A SSR and PT100. heating element: 500W cup heater.
    no stirring so far.
    the results (chicken breat, chicken thigh and piece of tenderloin) were GREAT.

  319. Aaron

    How long does the Auto Tune take to complete? I have been working on this project for at least a month and still cant get this working right. Do I have to use a SSR while using the PLD612? Why are the AL1 and AL2 lights always on?

  320. JD

    Hey all, I have been trying to get my system up and running for a while but cant quite figure it out. I have a 25a ssr and a CD101, everything turns on except for the heaters. I have tried putting autotune on and I am sure it is set for heating so I think i might have wired the relay wrong. Can somebody please post how they wired theirs? Thanks.

  321. Deeg

    JD, post a link to your SSR. They come in different formats.

  322. JD

    This is what I was sent, except it is a mager brand (I wasnt able to find info on the mager part itself for some reason) http://parts.digikey.com/1/parts/758016-relay-ssr-25a-480vac-dc-d4825.html But this is the one that i ordered http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=9

  323. Deeg

    JD, here’s the datasheet for your relay (assuming the digikey link is correct): http://datasheet.octopart.com/D4825-Crydom-datasheet-20575.pdf
    It looks like polarity matters on your SSR and Scott’s wiring diagram has the polarity reversed–pin 5 on the PID is +12v and pin 6 is -12v–so you may have them reversed as well. So you should have:
    PID pin 5 –> SSR pin 3
    PID pin 6 –> SSR pin 4
    AC power –> SSR pin 1
    line to heater coil(s) –> SSR pin 2

  324. JD

    @Deeg I have continuity between pid pin 4&5 with out 1 light on. Should I assume pin 5 to still be + and make pin 4 -? And should i still have the line to the other heating coils going to pin 1 on the pid like in Scotts original wiring? Thanks

  325. Aaron

    Is anyone else having success with the JLD612? do you have to use a SSR? I have been working on this for a while now and would love to get going. Any help would be great!!

  326. Deeg

    JD, I’m not sure I understand you. If you’re using the same PID as Scott then you should be connecting the SSR to pins 5&6 on the PID, not 4&5. For the AC power, yes, you can have the other heating coil wire connected to pin 1 on the PID.

  327. JD

    I will try on 5&6 but mine has an internal relay which Scott doesn’t have and others have had success using 4&5. I will give it a shot though.

  328. Deeg

    Ah, I didn’t realize you have the internal relay; my bad. That makes it more difficult. If your external relay is the D4825
    then you need a separate DC power supply which you will connect to your PID and the external relay (I suggest something between 5v to 15v). You can use a cheap wall-wart; a thrift store near me has tons of them for 50 cents. (Alternatively you can exchange your D4825 for an A4825, which accepts AC power for the control signal.)
    I don’t have the PID with the internal relay so I don’t know what PID pins to use (it may be 4&5 as you said) but your wiring should look like this:
    DC +V –> PID relay “in” pin (pin 4?)
    PID relay “out” pin (pin 5?) –> External SSR pin 3
    External SSR pin 4 –> DC -V
    Pins 1&2 on your external SSR will stay the same as before. Does that make sense?

  329. Frank

    Having the same issues as Aaron above, have the JLD612, wired everything up like Scott directed and am not having any success. the AL1 and AL2 lights are always on, I can get the PID to recognize the PT100 the temp starts going up then stops and the pid clicks, do I need to go to the SSR, if so what do I need. How do I program the JLD612??

  330. Cliff

    Hey Scott,
    Old thread, I know, but I’m hoping you might still check this; I found these instructions ended up building something similar to Alvin’s with a separate controller box and heating/flow box. I have everything wired up (PID is a CXTG-3000 that’s similar to your model and a PT100 probe) and everything works fine EXCEPT I can’t get the temperature to read the correct values, I’m testing it against another thermometer (and room temperature) and it’s reading a good ~30-40F lower than it should be. I’ve tried swapping the wires on the controller to all 6 possible positions but I’m having no luck… If I swap the positive and negative wires I get the exact same temperature reading but if the third wire (I assume ground?) is in any other slot the PID reads an error so I assume it’s a setting. I have SL1 set to 1100 and I’ve tried all of the other probe values in the manual but it never gives me the right reading. I’m thinking it might be a faulty probe but I have no way of testing this.


  331. 04/11/2010

    @Cliff – I’d check the manual that came with your PID controller. It’s entirely likely that the SL1 value for a PT100 probe might be different for your model.

    Also, if the temperature is always off by the same amount, you can adjust the Offset parameter to compensate.

  332. Cliff

    Unfortunately I have, several times actually, which is why I ultimately ended up cycling through all the available settings.

    Also, it’s not a fixed value delta, it’s definitely a sliding scale so I can’t just set the offset. It did just occur to me that I had set it to Fahrenheit though so I think I’ll collect some new data points to see if it’s a static offset in Celsius…

  333. Cliff

    Nope, looks like the thing is just giving me low readings no matter what I do, and not by a set amount. Time to curb it for the night and try again tomorrow… unless someone in the Seattle area is awake with a PT100 I can borrow, heh.

  334. MattS

    I had the exact same problem – it read wrong in Fareinheit and Celcius – the Celcius reading was more wrong! Turns out to be a faulty unit – contacted the seller and got a replacement that’s been fine.

  335. Cliff

    @Matt: Faulty PID or probe? I’ve done a few tests on mine, at extreme temperatures (0C or 100C) it gets pretty wildly off, for my normal cooking range (55-85) it’s only a little bit off so I just set the bias (Pb) so that my medium rare comes is “actual” and I’ll probably put a label on the unit with a lookup table. Not elegant but I’ll probably be building my own controller out of an Arduino board for V2 of this which I’ll have total control of…

  336. kris

    I’m gonna try this again.

    Hey guys,

    First, I’m using the exact setup/parts that Scott has links to. I’m not sure if I have an internal relay or not.

    I’ve been having a few problems. First my heaters were always on with the wire from the pump/PID #2 connected to the left top post when looking at it from the top and I saw somebody said that I had the wire going to the wrong post. So, now when I switched the Top Left to the Top Right, I don’t get any heat at all. Please help. I do have a multimeter, but I have no idea how to use it. Everything is using the exact parts/wiring as the original diagram other than my expirement with changing the wiring on the top 2 posts of the relay.



  337. kris

    Also, my PID is set for heating. I checked that.

  338. Abe

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks so much for this article–very helpful in putting my own sous vide together. However I think a lot of people don’t have access to a laser cutter/dremel/soldering iron and could use a DIY sous vide. At the same time I think I made some improvements to your design. I posted it here:


    Thanks for the inspiration, send me your thoughts!

  339. john

    Latest success,
    2 T bone steaks 60.5 C for about 41 minutes – Lightly seasoned Garlic powder and salt. Then Surface browned (re thermalised) using ribbed cast iron pan – gave nice grill mark hatching.

    Melt in the mouth tenderness!!!,

    I read a book that said that all Sous vide cooked items should start at chilled temps – any comment on this?

  340. Bob121

    Just wanted to say thanks, Sous Vide box is complete and my first heating is going on right now.
    Thanks for the awesome info!

  341. Ian

    I have built this according to the directions and using almost all the same parts. I have a JLD612 PID. The PID shows EEEE (out of range) on PV if I have it set to pt100 or pt10.0. I have tried switching the wiring and with and without the yellow (3rd) wire attached. I also accidentally ordered a pt100 that wasn’t long enough at first, so I tried to wire that one in and I still got EEEE. Do I have a faulty PID?

  342. 29/11/2010

    Thank you Thank you Thank you! I know what I’m getting for Christmas now,,,,,

  343. mattymonkey

    you dont have to use chilled foods, but you cant use hot food.
    The issue is the vacuum sealing. Lower atmospheric pressure lowers the boiling point of water. If you put something that has been heated in a vacuum, the water will start to boil, destroying your hard work.

  344. John

    OK I realise as the the pressure drops then the “boiling” point also drops.

    But after the package is sealed and placed in the sous vide unit isn’t it also going to encounter the “boiling point” temperatures?

    Or is the concern that the water vapour is going to be lost to the vacuum pump during the evacuation process?

    I read where the purpose of the vacuum bags was merely to ensure contact of the bag to the surface of the item being cooked (the article suggested immersing item, to be cooked, in an open bag, into a water bath and using water pressure to ensure good surface contact sealing the bag and then placing in the heated water bath to cook).

    Has anyone researched the importance of the “sous vide” to the process?
    I have also seen sites in search of the perfect boiled egg – this uses no sous vide but just places the whole egg into a re circulator.

  345. Ely

    Hey guys, this all looks awesome and I can’t wait to get into sous vide cooking. I’ve spent the past two days reading through everything carefully and reading all the comments and I just have one question to the veteran/finished builders. What’s the longevity of this device? The sous vide supreme’s price is not prohibitively expensive but I’d much rather save some money and build something that could ultimately be much better, but not if it’s not gonna last. If I follow Scott’s directions and parts exactly, will this thing last me long enough/be fixable easily and cheaply enough, to be worth the cost and effort?

  346. 03/12/2010

    @Ely – I can tell you that the longevity of the device is increased by not accidentally baking it in your oven :-) (terrible day in my kitchen). But, between the original machine and the replica that I rebuilt for MAKE Magazine, I’ve logged well over 250 hours on this little box, with no signs of deterioration. The component that is most at risk is the aquarium pump. It performs fine up to 80C, but at 85C you risk melting it. Luckily, very little sous vide cooking requires temperatures quite that high.
    If you’re considering the Sous Vide Supreme, be sure to check out my review – it has it’s strengths and weaknesses.

  347. Ely

    Thanks for the reply, Scott, that was exactly what I wanted/needed to get my hands (and credit card) working. Just to make sure I beat this horse to death, and then keep beating away, the parts and description listed above is the finalized version that should get me where I need to go? This absurd string of comments regarding relays and heaters failing got me a little paranoid that this thing is gonna be dead on arrival.

    I envy your notoriety, Scott, but I do not envy having to answer inane questions like mine. Thanks again for the help, you’re clearly a more patient man than I

  348. 03/12/2010

    @Ely – not a problem. Yes, these parts and instructions are accurate and up to date – I’ve made revisions based on the comments thread (including just now!). If you’re still nervous, I’ve written a more detailed and more photographed version of the same build, which will be printed in January’s issue of MAKE Magazine. It’s all the same parts and steps, so you can feel free to start now. If you get stuck for any reason, the details in the article should help get you going again. Also, my inbox is always open for questions :-)

  349. Aaron

    I have been working on this project on and off for the past few months, I really want to get it working. I am using the JLD612, do I need to use a SSR with this, does anyone have a wiring diagram for this. THank you for your time

  350. 06/12/2010

    I found your blog and went at this project a little differently. You can read an article I wrote for my cooking club at http://www.lesmarmitonsnj.com/links.html The article is second from the top.
    I prepared eggs for 100 people and they were really good. I am just getting started but the results have been great so far.

    Thanks for all your comments. They helped me to quickly design and build my own version.

  351. mattymonkey

    As far as i am aware, the type of vacuum pump available to the home chef can’t create a significant enough vacuum unless the temp of the food is very high. If you have cooked a steak to 90 degrees c and then vacuum it, I am sure it will boil, but at 60 in the water bath, it will be ok.
    The type and strength of vacuum used, depends on the desired results. Some dishes require a strong vacuum to create pressure on the food, but others only require the vacuum to remove the air to ensure good contact with the water and ensure effiecient heat transmition. For most home requirements (basic meat recipies etc) a ziplock back and a straw will suffice.
    If you want to see the geeky extreme of sous vide and explore the possibilities, get “Under Pressure” by Thomas Keller.

  352. Jay

    Hi Scott,

    Firstly, fantastic article, cheers!..
    Having read your tutorial i was inspired to build a waterbath myself, which i have duely done. However after soldering the last wire and programming the temp controller i’m having some problems:

    I have set a temperature to achieve (50 0c), the out1 light comes on, a click is heard from the controller but not my relay. On testing with a multi meter there seems to be no power reaching the relay and so the element doesn’t heat up, dispite the out1 light being on.

    I was wondering if there were any settings you had troubles with, as i couldn’t get my head around all of it… any suggestions would be really greatefully received!


  353. 09/12/2010

    Hi Jay,

    The most common reason for this (you’re not gonna like it) is that your PID controller has only a relay output and no SSR (voltage) output. I’ve heard reports of some sellers misrepresenting their PID controllers as supporting an external SSR, when in fact, they do not. The click you’re hearing is almost certainly an internal relay.

    What model of PID controller are you using? If you look at the sticker on the side of the controller, it should say “Relay”, “Voltage”, “Relay + Voltage” or “Relay + SSR” or something along those lines. If your PID controller does in fact have a voltage/SSR output, make sure that’s the output that your external (blue) relay is connected to. Also check that the voltage/ssr output is set to Heating mode (in the settings menu for your controller).

    If your PID controller only has a relay output, you’re not totally SOL. You can return it, or you can use it’s built-in relay to trigger an external relay capable of withstanding the load of the heaters. I’d recommend getting a relay with a coil voltage of 120V AC, like this one http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002KL0A1G/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20. Use the internal relay of your PID controller to trigger the external relay. DO NOT simply connect the heaters to the internal relay – it will burn out within a few hours of use.

    I hope this helps!

  354. Max

    Hey scott,

    I’m in the process of building. I have everything together, and wired in what I believe is the correct way. My only problem is that my pump does not turn on and it seems like the coils are not heating up. The probe is monitoring temperature correctly, but the pump and coils are just not working. I don’t have much experience with wiring, so I think that might be my problem and I might just need to rework that a little. I was wondering if you had any insight about what my problem might actually be. Thanks a lot.

  355. 09/12/2010


    What your pump and heaters have in common is AC voltage. Depending on how you made your wiring connections, there’s probably a bundle of wires that starts with one of the wires from your power cord, then branches out to one side of the pump and one side of the heaters (or to the relay for the heaters). I’d double check that connection.

    Your PID controller doesn’t, by any chance, use a DC input (from a transformer or a “wall wart”), does it? If so, you’ll need to separately run AC power to the pump and heater connection points.

  356. Jay

    Ahh… Thanks for the help Scott. Indeed, the sticker on the side of the controller states: Output – relay. So i guess i’ll use the internal relay to control an external one. Will be 240v though as i’m in the UK! Will let you know how it all works out.


  357. Rachel Gerrits

    Hello, I built this cooker for a lab project. I am having several troubles making it work and I was wondering if anyone could help me. First of all my heating elements are not coming on. The temperature of the water bath is lower than my set temperature which should trigger the heating elements to kick on, and they are not. I hear the relay clicking which make me believe that is still working. I am not sure what is going. I wired it EXACTLY like the diagram said to and have checked everything like 4 times. I even tore apart one of my solders and redid it just to make sure they were all connected. Also, my PID is reading the wrong temperature. The manual is little to no help so I wasn’t sure if anyone could tell me how to calibrate it. Thanks!

  358. Max

    Thanks for the help, I’ll work on the wiring and get back to you.

  359. Mike

    Just FYI for the guys with PID controllers with built-in relays. You don’t need an external relay (and can thus connect the immersion heaters straight to the PID) SO LONG AS you make sure the total draw on the PID is not more than it supports.

    For example, I bought a CD101 off ebay. Listed in its spec sheet, it says the relay contact output supports 250V @ 3A. Total power is VxA, which gives 750 watts. Just make sure the heaters you connect draw less than this amount, and you’ll be fine.

  360. superrooster007

    What would you recommend in place of your PID controller that would allow me to set a program for fluctuating the temperatures at different times? I currently have a homemade coffee roaster, but I have to stand there and control the heat at different times (ex: 375 degrees for first 4 minutes then raise it up to 430 degrees for 8 minutes). I am going to build your immersion circulator, but I was hoping I can make the control unit dual purpose.

  361. Abe

    If you’re up for moderate soldering and programming, I’d recommend using Arduino, there is a great instructable here, http://www.instructables.com/id/Temperature-Control-For-Kitchen-Appliances/ . If you are in the NYC area there are lots of people (myself included) who would be happy to help you out. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

  362. Joe

    Just finished my first quarter of culinary school which got me even more interested in sous vide; I just ordered the parts on amazon and am excited to get started; anyone in San Diego that wants to see this done, I hope to have this made by the middle of January.

  363. John

    My latest experiment for Christmas isn’t strictly Sous Vide.
    However I am using my previously constructed PID Controller.

    I am attempting to emulate a “bargain basement” Alto Sham.
    This is an oven that is used in restaurants etc to make that wonderful carving roasts etc.
    I have used one and I have improvised one before but now I will use my controller to be even more accurate.
    Using an electric Roaster. Firstly “crank up the heat to about 400 F and let the unit pre warm. Prepare your Roast of beef (standing Rib aka “prime Rib”). I usually Stab it and insert slivers of Garlic & Rosemary. I rub salt and oil on the surface. Put it in an aluminium foil pan that fits inside the roaster (to help clean up & capture the juices for gravy). Put the foil pan into the roaster and put the lid on. wait 30 minutes (this does have a purpose apart from causing the wonderful Maillard reactions on the surface – it is recomended as a means of killy any Surface bacteria).
    Then unplug your roaster from direct power and now use your PID to control the unit. Using one of the vent holes in the lid put your temperature probe and use it to meter Air temps in the roaster. Dial in about 57 – 60 C and let the unit “do” its thing. As a counter monitor you can use a remote sensing probe thermometer to measure the internal temp of the meat. After about 2 -3 hours the meat should be perfectly rare – increase the temperature if you want to “murder” the roast to medium or even shudder well done.
    You can also use some hot au jus to cook the sliced meat for those individuals who insist on well done (keep the aujus just below boiling dunk the slice of beef into the au jus for about 45 seconds and viola they have a well done piece of beef while the rest of the roast is still done rare. Similarly Medium can be done by dunking for about 15 seconds.
    After the roast has come to the desired temp switch off and let the roast sit for about 5 minutes covered in foil…
    Carve & enjoy.

  364. 24/12/2010

    So, perhaps in the 300+ comments somebody has already said this, but I didn’t have all day to read all the comments. Anyway, I think it would be really super awesome cool if you did a workshop for this project in the Seattle area. I totally want to make this, but I find it a little daunting without my PhD chemist dad looking over my shoulder. You could charge a fair chunk of change, and I’d still be better off than if I bought a “Sous Vide Supreme.” Since your article in Seattle Weekly, I’m sure there are a handful of us who would participate in a weekend workshop, and it would probably be pretty fun! (I guess the moral of the story is that I’m nervous that I’ll get a bunch of money and time invested in the thing and it won’t work because of some silly mistake I make. Then it’ll sit in my project room staring at me, making me feel guilty and sad, until finally I hide it in the closet to collect dust.)

  365. Patrick

    found the warm water pump on ebay:


    just search for:Hot Water Circulating Pump (it’s shipped from Tailand), and no I am not affaliated with the company, just trying to source the best items for this brilliant project. Looking forwards to my first real sous vide dinner!


  366. john

    Interesting observation.
    When using the Roaster and measuring Air temps.
    Although the PID would switch on the heating elements when the air temp would be at 57 C and switch off at the same temps as there was less thermal mass (water) the actual air temps would “bounce” 5 – 10 C. (the heating elements were switched off and on under PID control).

    Would there be some form of fine tuning that could be done to cut down on this variance?

    The Standing Rib was done perfectly though – I used a probe thermometer in the “thickest” part to confirm internal temps.

  367. Eric

    I am using the CD101, but I cannot for the life of me get it into auto-tune mode. I set the ATU to 0001, and go back into Run mode, but the AT light never comes on and the P/I/D values never get set. *bangs head against wall* I also no longer have the Self-Tune option at all. *bangs harder* Any ideas?


  368. 01/01/2011

    @John, I’d recommend running an auto tuning cycle to see if that helps.

    @Eric, that’s strange. Try setting the Ar value to 25 (factory default) and see if that helps.

  369. Eric

    Set Ar to 25, no change.

    Any chance I could get a dump of your parameters, including the “secret mode” ones? I’m finding both the Graco and RKC manuals less than optimal.

  370. Ixxorn

    Dear Scott, did you consider using the insides of a normal bathroom electric water heater (they call it boiler in hungary) it seems to be a natural choice for hating water up to 100 C. Also they come relatively cheap, and you can find lotsa used ones. Coupled with an aquarium pump you might be all set.

  371. 02/01/2011

    @Ixxorn You’re right that a household hot water heater element is cheap and great at heating water. Unfortunately, the heating element is very poorly insulated from its housing, which means that the base of the heating element gets extremely hot. So hot, in fact, that it will melt straight through the plastic enclosure.

    However, if you mount the heater through the side of a metal hotel pan, so the entire heating element and its base is in contact with the water, that may dissapate the heat enough to make it safe. This would be a great design for heating very large basins.

  372. john

    Good idea for the large volume water heater, but I think another addition would be a piece of metal that would sit above the element and keep the bags away from the surface of the heater. Ascii Picture

    – – – – Plate
    Water Gap
    ======= Heater

    This would make sure the sous vide plastic pouches don’t end up in contact with the heater (maybe melting).

  373. Abe

    Am I correct in seeing that you use the SSR output on the JLD 612 PID controller to switch a mechanical relay? It does not seem like it is rated for driving this kind of relay, although the voltage does match up. Let me know if you’ve had positive results with this combination. Meanwhile, I will be using the internal relays to drive a smaller power load (see http://qandabe.com/2010/11/21/the-cheapest-and-easiest-sous-vide-machine-ever/).

  374. 03/01/2011

    @Eric unfortunately, I don’t have a CD101 connected to a machine right now – I switched to a more expensive controller for future builds. However, take a look at page 2 of http://seattlefoodgeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/CD-101-Instruction-Manul-including-PV-adjustment.pdf
    The factory values in the right column should give you a good starting point.

  375. mattymonkey

    After building a version with a plug to power a slow cooker, I am currently building mark II.
    New version will comprise of two main parts. This time using a direct water heater, but will be plugging it in to the seperate unit with a plug, just in case of unfortunate burn out accidents.
    Making a case to hold the heater, probe and circulator out of angle aluminium and stainless mesh to protect the bags from the element. Will post pictures when complete.

  376. Dan Brown

    Since I hadn’t seen this link posted here, here’s the manual I found for the JLD612 PID controller. Still waiting on the PT100 probe, so I’m sure I’ll have some questions after that comes in…


  377. 07/01/2011

    @Olivier Yep, that should work just fine.

  378. glassguy213

    Hi Scott,
    Great post. I have a few questions- I bought a PID controller that looks exactly like the one you show in your picture on ebay. It came marked as RKC brand but I suspect it is a Chinese knock off. Anyway, after reading your post I see that is says “RELAY” in the box meaning there is no SSR output. The instructions say there is an SSR output on pin 5 and 6, but alas I get no DC output there. So I was wondering which model PID you actually bought? I suspect that some of the models for sale on ebay are not suitable for SSR output, but mine is IDENTICAL to your photo so wondering if there are different models of same PID.
    I later bought one from lightobject.com (the link you have) and it works perfectly.

  379. Deacon

    Have you thought about adding a float type switch inline with the rocker so as not to burn out the elements out of water.

  380. 08/01/2011

    @glassguy213 Unfortunately, a lot of people have fallen into this trap. Here’s the problem – the CD101 model comes in several flavors, all of which look identical, and all of which use the same instruction manual. Take a look at the Troubleshooting section at the bottom of this post to see why.

    @Deacon Yes, a float switch would certainly help ensure you don’t accidentally burn out the heaters. I considered one for this project, but it added a little cost and I didn’t see an obvious location to mount it safely. If you want to add a float switch to your build, just take one lead of the DC output that would normally go to the coil side of the relay and connect it through the float switch. DO NOT connect the 120V AC leads going to the heaters through the float switch. They aren’t rated for that kind of load, and passing 120VAC through the water bath has lots of other bad consequences (like injury or death).

  381. Weston

    First of all, Scott, thanks for the great guide!

    I just finished putting mine together and it is working really well. I can get very stable temperatures (+/- ~0.2 degrees) with a heating rate of ~2 degrees/minute. For those of you with the JLD612 (which is what I used) here are some solutions to a few issues I’ve seen in the comments.

    # Issue: AL1 and/or AL2 lights are always on.

    In order to fix this you need to change the settings in the “temperature and alarm parameter setting mode”.

    Hit “Set”, then enter “0001”, then hit “Set”. You’ll want to scroll through the list and set the “AH1″ value to the same value as “AL1″. By default “AL1″ is set to 90.0 and “AH1″ is set to 80.0, so change one or the other so that they are the same. Do this for “AH2″ and “AL2″ as well.

    # Issue: PT100 Probe is showing “EEEE”

    This took me a bit to figure out. Go into the “0089” settings menu (by hitting “Set”, entering “0089” and hitting “Set” again). Put “Inty” to “pt10.0″. Exit the menu.

    Then double check your wiring. My PT100 thermocouple didn’t have red, blue and yellow like Scott’s, and instead had red, blue, blue. Plug the red connection into port 8 and then the other two blue connections into ports 9 and 10 (it doesn’t matter which one goes where). According to http://mythopoeic.org/sous-vide-cooking/ you might need to modify one of the blue connections such that it connects to the metal sleeve of the thermocouple cable if your temperature reading is unstable. I didn’t have this problem with my setup.

    # Issue: Relay isn’t turning on (or off) and you are *positive* you have it wired correctly.

    As far as I can tell, the relay that Scott uses here doesn’t work with the PLD612; at least it doesn’t work with my setup. I checked that the relay was working properly by manually switching it on and off with a 9V battery and everything worked exactly as expected, but the PLD612 just wasn’t outputting enough voltage to properly switch the relay (in my case it was outputting about 7V across ports 6 and 7 and not 8V as stated in the data sheet). I’m still looking for a better relay, but in the meantime I’ve put together a very hacky solution; I’m using the built-in relay (J2) at 120V, through a 120V AC to 9V DC converter (from an old cellphone). The ~9V put out by the adapter is enough to actually switch the relay used in this guide. Again, I’m only using this as a temporary solution, but it works as an interim solution.


  382. 09/01/2011

    @Weston Thank you so much for this! That information is most certainly going to help out a lot of folks. Very clever workaround with the 9V transformer as well! My advice for a permanent solution is to buy a Solid State Relay (SSR). They typically have a much lower activation voltage. I’d recommend either of these:

  383. John

    I was reading about the concerns of overheating. Perhaps the use of a thermal fuse (Radio Shack). A catalogue number I have is 270-1321 (this is rated for 229C 10A 250vAC).Put this in series with your heater element – attached to the underneath of your heating pan. This will then cut out before any real damage happens.

  384. David

    I see that you have upgraded your equipment for version 1.5. I was wondering what PID you selected as well as what your other internal upgrades were. I’m looking at using a commercial immersion heater and MAYBE an Omron PID. Is it necessary that I go the commercial route? Have you had matched sucess with cheaper elements? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

  385. Archie

    Just wondering if anyone had used four elements in thier buildup. I accidently ordered four and got to thinking the extra heat might be nice for larger baths.

  386. Abe

    I’m so excited for the next issue of MAKE, especially the sous vide article. I have to say though, the rocker switch could be dangerous. A cheaper and safer solution: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/8837

    BTW, we hacked up a roaster sous vide/cheese vat using the JLD612 and a SSR, http://qandabe.com/2011/01/10/100-diy-cheese-vatsous-vide-circulating-bath/

  387. 13/01/2011

    @David The PID I’m using for my newer models is from Novus Automation. (http://www.novus.com.br/site/default.asp?TroncoID=621808&SecaoID=904553&SubsecaoID=0&Template=../catalogos/layout_produto.asp&ProdutoID=546177) The temperature performance is the same as the CD101, but the buttons, display and menu system are a little more friendly.

    For the heating elements, I don’t think it’s necessary to go commercial. These immersion heaters actaully do a great job!

    @Archie I haven’t tried 4 elements, but if you do, I’d suggest using a solid state relay (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HZN628/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20
    ). The additional heater will put extra load on the relay, so you’ll want something beefy to stand up over time.

  388. Julian

    First of all, I’d like to thank Scott for the plans and troubleshooting as well as everyone else who posted information here; I wasn’t sure if I could tackle this project but I’ve started gathering the parts and I’m very excited to build it!
    Now, a question:
    I just received my PID from LightObject (the JLD612 that you link to) and noticed that at contact #11, instead of a screw, it has what looks like a resistor sticking out of the hole. Because the sticker on the side describing the contacts showed a screw next to #11 as well, I was concerned and called LightObject. The fellow I spoke to there assured me that this is in fact the way is is supposed to be and what looks like a resistor there is a small temperature sensor used for the auto-setting functions and that I would be able to attach a PT100 thermocouple without problems. However, on your (Scott’s) wiring diagram, it shows one of the three leads from the thermocouple going to that contact point. Should I be concerned? Should I just not attach that wire? What function does that temperature sensor serve?
    Thanks again!
    – Julian

  389. Julian

    Congratulations on being boingboinged!
    Also, Scott, where is it possible to obtain one of the Novus PIDs and how much are they? I can’t find a price and site to buy it from anywhere.
    – Julian

  390. Jay

    Hey everyone,

    I built one of these with the CD101. It’s working but the PID seems to hold the temperature 1 or 2 degrees above my SV. Anyone else seeing this? I’m using a small container… could that be the problem?

  391. 14/01/2011

    @Julian Not sure on the resistor on your PID… If you can remove it, try that, then connect the PT100 as normal.

    Regarding the Novus PID controllers, they don’t sell direct to consumers. I called and placed a (small) bulk order.

    @Jay, the small container may very well be the problem. Try running an autotune cycle in the small container and see if that fixes it. If not, I’d try using something slightly larger – at least 1 gallon.

  392. superrooster007

    I built one following your plans and have done my first cook and it worked great! However, I’m unclear at one thing… Do I have to do a new Auto Tune everytime I change the temperature? For instance, I just auto tuned it for 131 degrees. Now if I want to set it to 185 degrees do I need to do an auto tune again? Just wondering because the auto tune seems to take so long (several hours). Any recommendations on speeding up the auto tune (smaller water bath, etc)?

  393. John

    Just saw an add for a Hamilton Beach crock pot (the Set & forget models). They appear to be temperature programmable using an external probe.
    I don’t know how stable they are, How accurate etc etc.
    It wouldn’t solve the problem of water circulation … but they might be another tool to try hacking?

  394. 17/01/2011

    @superrooster007 Nope, you only need to re-run autotune if you change the size of the water bath (by a lot). Depending on the amount of water you’re heating, autotune can take a few hours. Typically, I run it once for a new machine in the tub I’m planning to use for most of my cooking.

    @John My wife got one of these for Christmas. I’ll run some tests and see how it will perform as a sous vide machine.

  395. Deeg

    John and Scott: sous vide build can control anything that can be plugged into my controller. I’ve run a few cooks with a cheap crock pot that I got from a local thrift store. In general it works great but my crock pot is a little small. I was able to cook 8 steaks at once but it took some creativity to get them all in (a coat-hanger was involved).

  396. Deeg

    bah! You should be able to edit. That should be “*My* sous vide build….”

  397. Brandon

    Hi Scott, Again… Thanks for all the help with this project here.

    I too have the JLD612 PID, and I just got her up and running today. I’m having an issue with the heaters not coming on. Ive narrowed it down to the settings not being correct on the PID, or an issue with the relay wiring.

    Im an uber novice when it comes to electrical wiring, I wired the relay exactly like you showed. So the problem may lie with how I have the wiring connected to the PID. Could you take a look and see if you can shed light on this pleasee? http://www.lightobject.info/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3

    TIA, Brandon

  398. 17/01/2011

    Make sure the coil on your relay is connected to pins 6 & 7 (the SSR output) on your controller. [5 & 6 shown in the diagram are for a CD101 controller, not the JLD612]. Also make sure the OUTY setting is set to 2 and RD is set to 0. The OUT1 light is on, you should get ~8V DC across pins 6 & 7, and your relay should click.

  399. Brandon

    Ok. Now I hear the relay clicking. I had the outy and rd settings correct already.

    Now the al1 light is always on. And the out light is blinking in relation to the relay clicking. So now I’m assuming theres a problem with my temp “0001” setup. Any pointers there?

  400. Brandon

    switched over to a 25a ssr relay, seems to of fixed my problem so far

  401. Chris


    I followed the instructions with my contractor buddy, I would have been lost without him but I have a problem. Pump is on, Out 1 is on but the pid reads 25 on top and the bottom numbers start at around 200. The water bath was measured at about 60.


  402. Chris


    A couple more things. The wires to the thermocouple didn’t have yellow or blue only red. Should I reverse them? Or is it a matter of setting the PID? I cannot understand what the instructions mean. I’m just a Chef with two nice Polysci machines at work and would like one for the home. Good job, you’re the best.

  403. Chris


    One more. My buddy had to unscrew the connection points 7,8,9 and put them down to 10, 11, 12. Any thoughts.


  404. 20/01/2011

    @Chris: what model PID controller are you using? Do your heating coils get hot (touch them carefully underwater – you’ll know if they’re on)? When you say your thermocouple only has a red wire, does it have any others as well?

    My guess is that you don’t have a pt100, but instead have a K-type thermocouple. That is fine (the machine will work, but with less accuracy) but you’ll need to set the thermocouple type to K in the menu. Then you should get accurate temperature values. Or, order a pt100.

  405. Paul Miller

    Scott – I was sent to your site by a friend who is a chef at my favorite restaurant. I’m building him one as a gift. I’m going to do something similar to what andrew did, with the plugs so the heating coils/probe can be swapped out to keep the box away from water.

    Any thoughts on this heater? http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BDB4UG/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20

    Also I have the same PID as Julian, with the resistor at #11. Anyone figure out how I’m meant to connect the 3-connector probe with this there?

  406. 20/01/2011

    @Paul I haven’t used that heater personally, but I’ve heard good reviews from other folks.

  407. Paul Miller

    @Scott I was wondering if just one of those would do the trick rather than trying to rig/wire up 3 of the smaller ones. It says it’ll do 150 and up near boiling. But, I just read a review on Amazon that said it didn’t work well for sous vide. Guess I’ll stick with the 3 you’re using, but I want to think about how to make them replaceable.

  408. Abe

    @Paul Miller
    We’ve had great results from using only one of the heaters, rather than 3. An added benefit is no external relay is needed, saving a chunk of money. Check out our how-to at http://qandabe.com/2011/01/15/50-diy-sous-vide-immersion-heatercirculator/ .

    We also have comments on wiring the JLD 612 controller at our blog, http://qandabe.com/ .

    @Scott, thanks for this great open forum!

    Let me know how it goes!

  409. Abe

    @Chris, if you have a PT100 with two wires, connect them to terminals 8 and 9 on the JLD 612. These correspond to terminals 10 and 11 on the CD101.

  410. Chris


    I got the PID straight off the link to amazon link. There is no name but a model CD101. I did check the coils and alas no heat. I did have to search for the thermocouple and it does have three wires but only a red and two blacks. I really appreciated the quick response.

  411. Paul Miller

    @Abe thanks looked over your site and looking very straightfoward. But I have the (more accurate?) PT100 with 3 connectors, and just ordered an SSR last night. Was wondering if just one of those heaters would do the job – looks like it should. @scott any input on using ONE of those heaters?

  412. Patrick


    thanks to the great explanation of Scott and the help from all above I have managed to get my sous vide working like a chame with indeed .1 deg accuraccy!! One question though that I couldn’t find. What is the best way to do a callibration of the unit? I have the tet612/jld612 version. Is the best way to set the input at 110 wait till it stops increasing i.e. 100 deg c. and then see what the temp says? 102, i.e. adjust the unit with -2?

  413. Julian

    I’ve managed to get it together finally (I’m using it to control a rice cooker) and ran the auto-tune function (at 35degC) and it held at that temperature perfectly. Now, I’ve set it to 55.5degC and once it got close, I put in a steak. it has since climbed to over 57 and keeps pulsing the heater rather than stopping. Any idea why this might be happening? I added some cold water to bring it back down and it did it again (and again). Did the autotune not work properly?
    Thanks very much!

    PS: For those with the JLD612, you don’t actually need contact 11, your pt100 connects to 8, 9, and 10 with red, yellow, and blue respectively.

  414. Julian

    An update: after deciding to just let it run without trying to control it, it seems to be hovering within .3 degrees of 57, still pulsing the heater.

    @Patrick, the JLD612 has an auto-tune function that can be run by holding down > until the AT light starts flashing. It will take maybe a couple of hours, but it stops flashing once it’s finished. I can’t guarantee that this is correct though given that it doesn’t seem to be working well for me.

  415. 23/01/2011

    It sounds like a lot of folks are having issues with the JLD612 and autotune. I’ll order that model controller and test it out. In the meantime, remember to run the autotune routine under the same environmental conditions in which you’d actually use the machine. It learns how much “ON” time it takes to raise the temperature, and how quickly the temperature falls afterwards. Using more or less water, taking a lid on or off, etc. can mess with it’s accuracy a bit.

  416. Sachin

    Hey Scott,
    Thanks a bunch for this design. I went Alvin Schultz’s route and built a modular brain with plugs that (once it is summer and not -20 out) I am going to use as the controller for an Alton Brown-style smoker. I just got the box and stuff, but so far have just duct taped my heating elements and thermocouple to my bin.
    Tonight, I finally assemble it fully, I am very excited!
    So far, I’ve done 48 hr sous vide beef shank that was more tender than my favorite braised short rib recipe & last week my friends told me that the sous vide rack o’ lamb was the best they have ever had.
    I am thinking of using the design to control some other things too….
    Any idea if there are plug-in cooling elements that might be analogous to the immersion heaters?

    Thanks again!

  417. Patrick

    The autotune on the tld612 actually works perfetly. Just press and after some time the blinking stops and the autotune is finished. mine actually stays within +- 0.1 deg after auto tuning in a new environment. The question I still have is how to calibrate the unit. Seen the temp is so critical and having a unit being acurate to within 0.1 of a degree, it would be unfortunate if the temp is 2 deg off (which it was in my non scientific method..)

  418. Paul Miller

    @Julian I was told by a friend familiar with the PT100 is the yellow lead isn’t actually needed at all. It can be used in higher-end environments for calibration but is the JLD612 actually using it for that?

  419. 25/01/2011

    ;`- I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information -*;

  420. Ray

    Would it be possible to make a 12 Volt version of this??

  421. Patrick

    If you can get a 12v temp controller, I don’t see why not. the pump and SSR are both operated by appr. 12 volt. you will still need higher voltage for the heaters, although you might even be able to use those 12v car water heaters. don’t know what that would do for the total current. you might need very expensive SSR’s for the high amps…..

  422. Brent

    i have used the 25A SSR supplied by lightobjects for my unit and noticed that it gets pretty warm during use over extended amounts of time…I noticed on their website it recommends a heatsink be used in conjunction with this unit. Should i be concerned since i’m well below the 2000W rating for this unit or should this box be ventilated to alleviate the heat generated by this relay? Thanks in advance!

  423. 26/01/2011

    I’ve noticed that my SSRs get warm as well, but I’ve never had a problem with them actually overheating. A little ventillation could help, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much unless they start approaching 100C.

  424. Etienne

    Awesome idea and build Scott. Just afew questions. Have you or anyone else pushed the upper temp limit of the norpro coils? Do they get the water hot enough for any sous vide use? Also i was just curious if having the sensor so close to the heating e

  425. Etienne

    Oops hit submit by accident…
    Elements would give a false temp reading?

  426. 28/01/2011

    @etienne the nopro coils will get the water plenty hot, right up to boiling. I limit the upper temp range on my controller to 85c to protect the pump from damage. Because of the water circulation, the distance between the coils and the probe isn’t a problem – on commercial machines, they’re even closer.

  427. Abe

    @Brent, SSR current ratings usually include a generous heatsink. You need to derate them if you do not use one–a 25A supply might only be rated to 7A at room temp without a heatsink (see http://www.auberins.com/SSR%20Series-RS1A.pdf ). It will be derated further at higher temperatures (ie, in an enclosure).

    If you want to keep your SSR within ratings (and I highly suggest you do), move it out of the enclosure and add a heatsink! Here is one for only $10, http://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=45

    Good luck!

  428. Abe

    @Brent, sorry, the SSR spec I intended to link to is here, http://www.onlinecomponents.com/productfiles/mf-ID/rss.pdf

  429. Etienne

    @ Scott Thanks for the info. I’m ordering all my parts today and am looking forward to getting into sous vide. On a side note, i was telling my dad(who happens to be french) about this and he’s quite sceptical. I looking forward to broadening his horizons.
    P.S. Congrats on getting into Make mag. A worthy accomplishment.

  430. Bryan D

    HI Scott, Thanks! I have gotten most of the parts, still waiting for the PT100 probe.
    I have : TLB612 PID, 1 GIF 15a-125v outlet, 1 15a-125v outlet, 1 15a switch, 3 Norpro 559 heaters, SPDT Relay. But want to get a SSR and a heat sink not sure what will work with this PID. I am a chef and have read over the blogs over and over and just confused. Please help?

  431. Zack Baker

    Do you think there is a way to wire the alarms to sound if the temp gets to high? And i was also thinking about a built in timer. All in all a awesome plan and I can’t wait to build mine!

    Zack Baker

  432. Jonathan

    Hi Scott, thanks for the excellent tutorial!

    I am having some trouble: I was not able to get a CD101 with SSR out, only with relay out. I purchased the Omron LY1AC110 relay that you suggested and followed the alternative wiring schematic. The temperature is assessed by the CD101 and themocouple fairly accurately and when the temp is below the set temp, the green OUT1 light does go on.

    The problem is that the heater coils do not go on and the LY1AC110 seems to not “click” on. I’m going over every contact and make sure it’s wired correctly. I’m not sure of a safe way to test the relay with AC, so I’m open to suggestions. Thanks! =)


  433. Jonathan

    I forgot to ask: would you mind going over the pin-outs for the LY1AC110? And are you positive that I should be using pin-5 on the CD101 to trigger the relay coil?

    Thanks again! :)

  434. Zack Baker

    Do you think running a single Marshalltown 742G Bucket Water Heater instead of the three heater units would turn out better?

  435. Jonathan

    Ok, sorry to spam your blog with my problems, but I tested the relay with AC from the wall and it works fine. Somehow it’s not being triggered by pin-5 (which I /think/ is the CD101’s NO pin for the internal relay). Open to suggestions! I also just donated if that helps ;)

  436. Jonathan

    I don’t know what I did, but it works now! wahoo!

    Now just one more problem: I can’t seem to set the temperature higher than 40ºC and I haven’t been able to decipher an temp limit in the manual. Thanks for any help!


  437. Jonathan

    k, last post, i promise. IT WORKS! SO EXCITED!!!!! =D

  438. Don

    @Jonathan, I take it you figured out how to change the upper temp limit?

  439. Archie

    I used the Jld612 controller, but only get 6.48V going out to the SSR. Any ideas on why this may be happening? I don’t get any of the clicking you describe, other wise the unit seems to be working. thanx

  440. Jonathan

    @Don Yes, it was part of the Code 0001 submenu. This was my first real DIY electronics project and i’m incredibly happy with how it turned out.

  441. 31/01/2011

    @Archie SSRs don’t make a clicking noise. 6V should be plenty to activate the relay. Is it working for you?

  442. Archie

    I tested the relay using a 9v battery and it kicked the heaters on, so I’m not getting enough juice to the relay. I’ll try and pick up a new relay on the way to work today. I also contacted the seller of the PID to see if there’s a way to increase the output for the relay.

  443. 01/02/2011

    @Jonathan – Very happy to hear you’re up and running. Thank you so much for the donation – it will help me continue to produce new projects like this one.

  444. Zack Baker

    Would three 500 water immersion heaters work just fine? I am thinking the extra wattage would be a nice upgrade?

  445. Paul Miller

    Got mine up and running, complete with lighted power switch and I converted the probe connector to a three-prong audio jack so I can swap them out.

    BUT – I might have damaged my probe. During testing I accidentally dropped the probe into a cup of water. When it is in liquid, the temperature jumps around all over the place. When it’s not in liquid it’s stable, but the wrong temperature. Does this sound like a shorted out probe?

  446. 01/02/2011

    @Zack – yes, just make sure your relay is rated for the extra power. Shouldn’t be a problem.

    @Paul – Never heard of that issue, but I’d be more inclined to think the connector might have something to do with the problem. Perhaps try getting the end of your probe really hot (with a lighter or a small torch) to try to evaporate any water left inside. Then, try testing with and without your connector.

  447. Paul Miller

    @Scott – will try that. The reason I think it was dropping it in the water was it seemed to work properly until I dropped it in.

  448. Paul Miller

    @Scott – ok figured it out. The fluctuations only happen when the heater is plugged in so it must be some kind of interference, either with the heater or the wiring in the box.

  449. Paul Miller

    @Scott – haha here’s an interesting one for you. The probe is fine in the water as long as the heater is not in the water. If I put the heater into the water – EVEN IF THE HEATER IS UNPLUGGED! – the probe temperature starts to fluctuate. I’ve even tried grounding the probe and the heater.

    I’m going to try the non-PT100 probe that came with the PID and see if that makes any difference.

  450. cash clopton

    i just ggot a used MGW Lauda T-1 immersion circulator on e-bay for $50, and iit works great. i have a JLD612 that id ilk to use a the temp control instead of the analog. i don,t want to remove anything else from the unit except the term probe. i will use the PT100 that I have. I’m nott that good with figuring out the electronics on this. I can send you pictures of the gutss of the unit. hit me back if you can help. Thanks

  451. 02/02/2011

    If anybody wants to build me one I’ll buy it form you, with a premium price of course :)

  452. Paul Miller

    @Scott – found a work-around for the probe stability issue on another site, and thought you might be interested. This is when using the three-connector PT100 probe many people here are finding. The trick is to jump the probe SHIELD to either the yellow or blue connector (doesn’t matter which). Turns out my plug-in jack wasn’t causing the noise, and I was able to add the jumper right inside the audio plug connector I had soldered the probe leads to.

    Also here is a tip for people just starting on theirs. During testing, you may be tempted to test the probe in a small cup of water without circulation. The probe picks up the temperature near the tip, so if you have it immersed deeply in the cup, and are heating it with one of those tea heaters, the temperature reading at the bottom of the cup will be vastly different than the top. I had the water temp at the top of the cup up to 170F (had the temp set to 90F) before I figured this one out!

  453. Dave


    Thanks. I’ve copied a lot of your ideas, and have a Sous machine that gives superb results at a fraction of the price of a “store bought” system.

    The basis of my cooker is a 22 qt Rival roaster oven that I bought two years ago at Sam’s ($30). I built your controller system with a couple of modifications.

    I used a heavier duty 25 Amp solid state relay. I wired the output of the relay to the top half of an ac wall outlet receptacle and mounted this in the side of the plastic box. I think constantly circulating water gives more uniform temperature control, so I wired the bottom half of the plug to the ac input wire and plug the water pump in to this receptacle. After a little bit of a learning curve the system works superbly.

    A few lessons learned. Water takes a lot of energy to heat. If I put cold tap water into the roaster, it takes a long time for the system to heat the water and stabilize. Since my tap puts out 128 F hot water, it’s easy to partially fill the cooker with hot tap water and then add boiling water to get to the desired cooking temperature. I then auto tune the PID controller at and it keeps the temperature +- .1 degree. My thermocouple/PID was 12 degrees off out of the box. Be sure to check your system in boiling water and adjust your display.

    My total cost, including the roaster oven was $108. Not bad for a system that can cook a 4 rib prime rib roast to perfection.

    Thanks again for the great work on this project.

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  455. timlednik

    for a cool effect some type of led light could be installed to light it up when on. most likely coming off the 12 volt contacts. just thought that would be a nice touch.

  456. Joey

    Can someone help me with this? I need a diagram with the SSR relay and not the little blue one.

  457. 06/02/2011

    ,`- that seems to be a great topic, i really love it ‘`:

  458. Etienne

    @joey i havent actually built this yet, parts are on order, but i would guess that posts 3 on the relay gets wired to Post 5 on the pid and post 4 on the relay wired to post 6 on the pid, this powers the relay. The switch is on posts 1 and 2 on the relay. One side to post 2 on the pid and one side to the heater coils. As i said, i havent actually built this yet just using a little deductive reasoning.

  459. thuiskoker

    Dear all,

    i am ready to go and try this project too.

    My list

    -pt 100 probe

    which solids state relay, pump, and heating can you suggest
    (please be aware that amazon is not sending to netherlands :-(

    thanx for the help

    best regards


  460. ulika

    I am having the same issue as Nick

    “my PID is not putting out enough power to flip the relay on. it is only putting out 6.9 volts when out1 is fully lit. Im using a JLD-612 PID”

    if I use a 9v battery everything works fine, but I can not get the PID to control my relay. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  461. Anonymous

    So… Why so much wattage heating capacity? If one fills the unit with water that is close to the desired temp. I would think it would take substantially less to maintain said temp…

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    Just good friendly service.

    My number is on our website. Give us a cal or email.

    Ask for Michael, Derek, Amy or Tim

  463. 10/02/2011

    @thuiskoker @ulika I’d recommend using this SSR in place of the blue relay in the parts list:

    I just got a JLD-612 in the mail, and I’ll test and document how to use it in this build. The post numbers will be different, and it sounds like it doesn’t produce enough voltage to trigger the blue relay, but an SSR should work beautifully. Stay tuned.

  464. 10/02/2011

    @Anonymous the heating capacity really depends on the conditions. I’ve found that 750-1200W is about right for cooking in a 3-gallon container. I still fill the basin with hot water from the tap, but that is only about 48C in my house. It takes about 15 mins to reach 65C from there with 3 heaters.
    If you’re using a much smaller amount of water, and you keep a lid on it, and your basin is pretty well insulated, 1 heater will do the trick. But remember, these heaters were designed for a single mug of coffee, not a gallon of water.

  465. thuiskoker

    Hi Scott,

    thanx for your help.
    I will wait till your new config is up and running, so i can copy :-)

    Any idea when you think you will have it finished, so with the 612 and SSR relay?
    (no pressure at all..)

    thanx Thuiskoker

  466. Tim S

    Just built a similar unit, hardwired for neatness’ sake, using a bucket heater (see http://www.tractorsupply.com), a fountain pump, and a Pt100 sensor. The cable for heater, pump and sensor is about 5′ long, and sits comfortably in an Igloo water cooler (the big orange thing you see on road crew trucks). The PID controller is built into the small end of a single-gang grey plastic junction box, which is zip-tied to the cooler’s handle; the relay and electrical connections are mostly inside a second grey junction box just below the PID box. Clean, workable, and can be moved to a different container with two snips. Keeps 4 gallons of water within 0.1 degrees F, and holds heat beautifully due to the insulation.

    The only problem I have is with the thermal overload protector on the fountain pump: it shuts down around 150 degrees, so I’ll have to come up with a ‘Plan B’… which I’ll post here.

  467. Joey

    @Scott , yeah that’s the setup that I have. I need to know how to wire up the 612 and an ssr relay. New diagram would be awesome! I been trying to get mine going for about a week and I have had no success.

  468. Brent

    Joey, I used this wiring diagram in conjunction with Scott’s to wire up my SSR. Good luck…


  469. Paul Miller

    @Tim S (or anyone else using a 1K bucket heater) – how hot does your SSR get? I’m concerned about putting all the electrical components in a sealed box if the SSR (with or without a heatsink) is going to get very warm.

    My chef bought a pretty large container (prob 7-8 gallons) so I’m rethinking how to get it warm without burnout out the relay.

  470. 13/02/2011

    Hey Scott, thanks for all of your hard work on this. I am starting the wiring on mine today and had a quick question for anyone out there, on the diagram, is the rocker switch on the neutral wire? Some of the other diagrams i have seen have wired the switches to the hot wire. Maybe I am just reading it wrong. I have the 612 and it has the hot labeled 1 and the neutral 2. Thanks for the help, I cant wait to get this thing going!

  471. 14/02/2011

    OK, I have checked my wiring about a dozen times now and I’m pretty sure it is the same as the diagram, still no power to the heater. Here is my set-up: 612 pid, type k probe (for now, will be getting pt100) 1500w bucket heater, radio shack SSR. PID settings: Inty-backwards 4 shape, outy-2, HY-0003, PSb-0002, rd-0, CorF-1, Any ideas would be awesome.

  472. diy newb

    Begining to think I’m talking to myself a little here, but here it goes anyway. I did all the steps listed by Scott upstream, and the curents are all good, PID is set to heat, but I’m not sure if my relay is clicking the way it should, I hear a faint click if I try really hard, nothing like the sound the internal relay makes, Is this right? or is that the sound of the relay trying and failing? BTW I mispoke in the comment above, my relay is that little blue turd from radio shack, apperently not SSR. Is that what I need, a SSR? if so which one? anybody out there?

  473. Anonymous

    @diynewb-if you look back through the thread you will find several comments that will answer the majority of your questions..you can use this SSR: http://www.lightobject.com/25A-Solid-State-Relay-SSR-DC-In-AC-Out-P61.aspx

    and use this wiring diagram in conjunction with Scott’s for the wiring it: http://qandabe.com/2011/01/10/100-diy-cheese-vatsous-vide-circulating-bath/cheesevat/

  474. 15/02/2011

    Thanks Anonymous, I ordered that SSR today, however I missed this link for the wiring- mochas gracious! you are right there is tons of info upstream, and I have been over most of it twice, but my brain likes to jumble this kind of info sometimes, so the help is much appreciated.

  475. AddledProf

    I’ve had the parts for over a month and finally found the time to put everything together. I made a separate control unit with a fuse to protect everything. The thermocouple probe (connected with a stereo jack) and the power cord can be removed. On the back, there are plugs for a circulation pump and a heater. I used a SSR instead of a relay.

    Pictures are posted at:

    So far, I’ve just tried the control unit with a crockpot, but I’ve got some immersion heaters to use later. I’ve only cooked an egg (at 63 deg. C for an hour), so I’m looking forward to making some steaks this weekend. Thanks Scott for posting your plans.

  476. Deeg

    Here’s my version of Scott’s controller on Instructables:

  477. diy newb

    @scott, got mine working tonight, thanks for putting all this together. Tomorrow I sous vide! Something that will help the next guy out: the PID linked on your shopping list is the 612 and does not work with the relay (blue turd) linked, you need a SSR with the 612. I know you used a different PID originaly that did work with the blue turd, but the link takes you to the 612, so I think it would help the next gen out if the relay link took them to a SSR. Not trying to be an ingrate here, without your mad scientist ways, I would not have a boss new SV cooker, and for that I thank you. good luck everyone.

  478. John

    A student in my class just purchased a Sous vide supreme … It does not have ANY water circulation! It does come with a nice rack to ensure the food is kept under water … (I would like to deconstruct it to see what they are using for heat etc …
    The Student is entering a competition and I have helped him with ideas and Temp cooking times. Will keep you posted.

    How were the experiments with the Hamilton beach unit?
    I also saw a web site where they dismantled a roaster to control it via a PID… My question here is why not just have the roaster set on maximum and the PID control it externally?

  479. Adam

    Hi, love the plans. I just had a quick question:

    If I use this pump, (Rated to 105C):


    Do I have to purchase a 12V adaptor as well?

  480. Deeg

    Adam, I saw that pump too, but I think its max temperature when submerged is 50C. And yes, you’ll have to add a 12v power supply.

  481. Adam

    Deeg, the reason I said 105C was this spec in the description, which is the same on several websites:

    Working temperature:
    -35C ~ +105C

    Thanks, I wasnt sure that pump would directly connect. I would prefer having a very high temp pump and pay the extra money to make sure I dont have to worry about it failing on me.

  482. Adam

    scott, can you update the original post on how to build this? I read through the entire page, which is a lot of posts, and it took a lot of reading to find out which parts you now recommend, such as a better toggle switch, a better SSR relay, other options for the heater, the problems with pumps at high temperatures, etc.

    It would be nice if you could update the original post, which, yes, would make it more expensive, but more reliable, and make it easier for someone to follow the directions without reading the whole page to find out what the current best options are.

  483. 20/02/2011

    Hi All,

    I’ve just updated the post to reflect the specific instructions for using the JLD612 PID controller in the parts list.

    Originally, I built the sous vide machine using a CD101. However, the supply of these machines has dried up. The JLD612 works just as well and is readily available through Amazon.com.

    Note, also, that the build now calls for an SSR (Solid State Relay). The voltage output from the JLD612 isn’t enough to power a mechanical relay, so you must use an SSR (bonus: it doesn’t make a clicking noise!).

    I’ve updated the wiring digram and programming sections as well. Happy building!

  484. Anonymous

    @adam. I am using that exact pump, and used it to 70 deg for 72 hours without any problems. I have also used it with 100deg for short time, not yet extended. Only things is indeed it needs 12volt to function. won’t work on the PID. I just used an old transformer, works great!

  485. Adam

    You are all awesome! I found this Thermocouple:


    but every picture I have found only shows Red and Blue connectors, no Yellow. The link to eBay has Red, Blue and Yellow, as does the wiring diagram. Do I have to buy the ones from eBay, or does the one I linked from Amazon work the same way?

    Basically, are the pictures wrong and it really does have a yellow connector, or is the yellow connector not necessary for proper function in this application?

  486. Anonymous

    No I also use a two lead pt100. works perfectly. just connect one of the wires to the connection point where you would also have the yellow. i.e. short i think 10 and 11. but I’ll have to check which I connected once I get back home friday.

  487. valentine

    awesome! this all rules so much
    i have mine running and everything seems perfect. the autotune(no t-pain) function works correctly and heats it above the setpoint and lets it cool below for a few cycles. but when AT is done and it cools below the setpoint, the OUT light and the SSR will blink but never fully turn on. i have the jld612… any ideas? thanks! aces!

  488. Abe

    I just posted a guide to making a universal PID controller for sous vide, which you plug anything into to control. It uses the JLD612 and a SSR, so the wiring is pretty much identical to what readers should be making,


    Also, I use a heatsink for the SSR–I really think you should include it, as the SSR must be derated if a heatsink is NOT used. That usually works out to 7A or less (depending on ambient temperature).

  489. Chris

    Is anybody having this issue; I have my setup wired exactly like Abe’s. When I turn it on the light on my SSR comes on like it should when it is closed and when I check the voltage coming out of the outlet it reads just under 120. But, the second I plug something in to the outlet, the voltage drops to nearly nothing and whatever is plugged in doesn’t work. Any idea where I might be going wrong here? I feel like I’ve tried everything and I want to Sous Vide stuff! Thanks.

  490. 26/02/2011

    Thank you, Scott, for creating this inexpensive sous vide controller. Due to the low cost, it gave me an opportunity to try this new method.

    I decided to create a version that does not include the heaters and sits on a shelf. It is versatile and can control any number of heaters and can even be used to control our smoker.

    I wrote an article and it is published on my website:


  491. Archie

    Thanx for posting these great instructions and the new diagram for the jld612. Mine is working great except for two issues, minor really. I have melted two pumps so far, has anyone come up with a pump that’ll handle 180 deg F? Last night I tried the butter poach from the Keller book and my temps were at a 20 deg variance. This of course was right after I fried my second pump doing veggies at 180, so this might have been the problem. Also the coils became coated in the butter fat, but I can’t imagine that was the problem. Any thoughts?
    Thanx Archie

  492. Ken W Boston

    I have the same issue with submersible pumps not suited for high temp cooking. That’s why I’m sticking with an air bubbler for now. Further up someone mentioned a high-temp submersible, but it’s quite pricey and ships from Thailand. If your coils are getting coated with butterfat, I can only conclude that your meal isn’t properly sealed.

    This great thread inspired my own project. I’m using the Allied precision 1000W bucket heater and a remote PID controller (CD101). It’s working great in its breadboarded state and will soon be in a nice, pretty aluminum box that’s big enough to heat-sink the 25A SSR. I agree 100% with Abe on the heat-sink issue. Also, these circuits should be equipped with a fuse. I usually see people installing a 15A fuse for the whole circuit. It would be more prudent to install a much smaller fuse just for the PID unit (the CD101 recommends a 1A time delay fuse). The power pass through on the SSR, IMO, really doesn’t need a fuse, as the heating units are designed for direct wall current anyway.

    Thanks, Scott, for sharing this amazing project!

  493. mattymonkey

    If you are going to poach in butter, I would set up a slow cooker device. That way the heating element is never in the butter. I found that the circulator was not so much of an issue in a crock cooker device.

    It is also useful for making cheese, icecream and any other dairy temperature sensitive food.

    Still in progress with my Mark II. Just having trouble finding the time. Will post when I am done.

  494. Adam


    I found another high-temp pump, it is cheaper and ships from Amazon. The only problem is that you have to have a 6V adaptor, which does raise the price. But not by much, since they are pretty cheap on Amazon.


  495. Abe

    @Ken, I also agree on the pump–I’m not ready to use a submersible pump at 100 degrees above the manufacturer’s suggestion, I think the bubbler is the way to go.
    @Adam, do you have experience using that pump in sous vide? It seems like it is a really low flow pump (it is 1/6 the flow rate of the one Scott suggested). I’m not sure it would cause enough mixing.
    @Archie–instead of heating up a tub of butter, try putting the butter in a bag with your meat, and then putting that bag in the water. Saves butter, saves your pump.

  496. David

    Sorry to ask such a simple question, but how did people here cut the plastic boxes? My first attempts have been total disasters; it’s a good thing the containers are cheap. I don’t have a Dremel, but I’ve tried with a drill and coping saw with very poor results.

    Any suggestions? I’d be wiling to pay someone to cut the plastic for me, I know it’s my rate-limiting step in getting this thing done.

  497. Archie

    Abe- I was trying to use the technique in the Keller book, unfortuantely unsuccessfully. Keller talks about health concerns of using the butter/shellfish in the bag.
    David- I bought the dremel for this project and can already see potential uses in other areas- ie it’s worth the investment for other things as well.

  498. Jonas

    Thanks for a very inspiring project.

    I bought these elements http://cgi.ebay.com/Water-Coffee-Tea-Immersion-Liquid-Heater-Element-500W-/320638709212?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4aa78e6ddc#ht_1314wt_1139 ,but they start to rust if I leave them in water. Is this a problem with other heaters?

  499. mike

    How much circulation flow is needed?

    I found a high temp pump for $15 but it only does a liter per minute. thats 1/5 the flow of your 79gph rated pump. Is that enough???

    Is circulation still needed after the food has been in there for an hour or two and the surface has come up to the temperature of the water?

    I noticed some people use an air pump and buble the water for circulation. The solves the pump temp issue but i wonder how much extra evaporative cooling that causes? How much electricity do you use when cooking something for 48 hours? How much would i use with a well insulated and covered container??

  500. mike

    I just found that dishwasher pumps are very cheap on ebay. Sometimes less than $10. They can handle 180F. However they have 5 or sometimes 10 times the flow than your aquarium pump. Is that too much?

  501. David

    I bought a PT100 RTD probe but it has one red and two blue wires. Any help here or do I just try it and swicth the wires if it does not work?

  502. 12/03/2011

    If you are using an RTD probe, check the connections on the PID controller. That will give you an idea of where and how to connect which wires (blue or red) to the controller. The RTD probe is an excellent choice, and very precise. How much did you pay for it?

  503. tward

    FYI, I got this rocker switch for the same price as the one recommended in this post: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062523

    It’s got a higher amp rating.

    Also, it’s only got two contacts in the back which will eliminate the need to use a multimeter to confirm which contacts open and close the switch.

  504. tward

    Scott wrote “You can also verify the accuracy of the temperature by measuring the temp of boiling water (which should always be 100C)…”

    I’d put an astricks there that pure water at sea level boils at 100C (under average barometric pressure). If you’re above sea level, the water boils at a lower temperature. As a rule of thumb the water boiling temperature decreases by 1 degree Celsius per 1,000 feet of increased elevation.

    The calculator at http://www.csgnetwork.com/h2oboilcalc.html allows you to adjust for altitude or for barometric pressure. (Even if you’re at sea level, why not check the local barometric pressure at the time you’re calibrating so you can be more precise?)

  505. tward

    Does anyone know whether the Sous Vide Magic uses multiple heating zones to compensate for the lack of forced convectiton? In other words, does it have a separate temperature reading and heating element in different locatitons? Otherwise, does it have its heating elements covering a large section of the surface area?

    Scott wrote “Sous Vide Supreme doesn’t have a circulator and relies only on convention currents for circulation.”

    However, the natural convection currents may be sufficient in the Sous Vide Supreme if the heating elements are dispersed around the water bath. However, the design we’re discussing here only has a single point (small zone) of heating. I don’t think we can conclude that because natural convection works for the Sous Vide Supreme it would work with our design.

  506. tward

    simulacrum – Did you get your hands on the non-submergable high temperature fluids pump you’d writen about last month.

    You wrote “Oooh I found a water pump that is apparently able to handle temperature of over 100C over longish periods of time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46U6Owh9pok
    there’s a few on ebay.”


    Hi Scott,
    Have you encountered cases where the cd101 PID would just keep turn on and off OUT1 (in heat mode) when the sensor temperature is near the target temperature? My PID would just have an flickering OUT1 and then my heating element (a crock pot) would either keep dropping in temperature if I use low heat or keep heating past target temperature (and doesn’t stop) if I use high heat. I always have autotune on since the beginning and when AT is working the temperature is very stable. But after a while AT would turn itself off and then my temperature starts going crazy.

  508. bryan

    i’ve gotten this all assembled, but can not change the temp above 40 degrees, as @jonathan. if you are reading thism can you tell me how you raised the temp? i can’t find anything on the net that helps, and can’t read the technobabble in the manual. any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

  509. Ken W Boston


    Are you using a CD101?
    I had the same issue and soved it. Here’s part of my corespondence with ebay seller rogersdini:

    “Regarding the problems I wrote you about with RTD use, I slept on it and took another look. It turns out that with these units the Upper Limit of Setting value (LCK=1000 > Cod=0001 > SLH=40.0) is preset at 40.0 All I had to do was change the preset to 100.0, I suspect that the preset was actually 400 with the default K-type setting, but when I switched to PT100 a decimal point was added, which lowered the SLH setting tenfold!”

    I hope this helps!

  510. Deeg

    Regarding a heat sink for the SSR: I updated my controller to use an SSR (I updated my instructable as well) and did some tests. When I hooked up the controller to my crock pot the SSR didn’t get a bit warm, even at the beginning when it had to bring the water bath up to temperature. I hooked up an electric heater (1200W, I think) just to see what would happen and the SSR got very hot. So if you’re using just a crock pot I wouldn’t think a heat sink is necessary. The 1000W bucket heater probably requires one.

  511. Bryan

    @Ken W Boston thanks. Worked. Should have stated that I have the 101. Thanks a lot

  512. Paul Miller

    I’ve finished my new and improved version for the 30 liter bin my chef gave me. I’m controlling an SSR which then drives a 120V coil reed relay which switches a 1400W water heater element. I added the coil relay to avoid the SSR getting hot, so I could enclose all the parts in a water-tight electrical box. The heater/probe unit is in a separate box which “floats” on vertical rails so it will adjust automatically with water level.

    Okay, it’s working, but some observations:
    1. it took over 2 hours for the 1400W water heater element to heat up the 30 liters of water – the relay/light was switched on almost the entire time. Are they really that inefficient?

    2. it got to my target temp of 148.1F and stabilized for a few minutes, but since then it’s been hovering at about 150.x for awhile. Why hasn’t it dropped back down? Note I haven’t done the auto-tune thing yet or made any adjustments to pulse length and things like that.

    Any ideas?

  513. Paul Miller

    @David – my advice would be to throw that transparent plastic box away. You need a plasma ion laser cutter from the planet Nebulon 12 to cut holes ion that thing without cracking it.

  514. David

    Finished my build (CD101, PT100, SSR) this afternoon, after working on it in stages over the last few days. I was able to cut the holes with a Dremel, which spared me having to rent a plasma ion laser cutter from Nebulon 12 (the hourly rate on that thing is steep).

    I filled the bin with hot tap water (usually around 50 degrees C), turned the thing on, programmed the initial setup (including @Ken W Boston’s hint about resetting the upper temp limit), set it to 60 degrees, and watched it reach that temperature and then overshoot it. I measured the water temp with three different thermometers (including a Thermapen) and found it to be almost 30 degrees cooler than the reported temp.

    I went into the Pb menu (following @Jan Willem’s advice above), programmed in a negative offset, and now the reported and actual temps match.

    I think it finally works.

  515. Paul Miller

    @David – yeah in all seriousness my first build had that transparent plastic box and I ended up taking an hour and a Dremel tool to *melt* the required holes in the thing.
    My new build uses waterproof hard plastic electrical boxes which cut easily with a drill press and jigsaw.
    I got lucky – my temperature didn’t require any adjustment.
    Tried some soft-boiled eggs and pork chops tonight and they were both perfect. Now if I could just figure out if the 2-hour heat-up time was “normal”.

  516. tward

    @Paul, Re: “it took over 2 hours for the 1400W water heater element to heat up the 30 liters of water – the relay/light was switched on almost the entire time. Are they really that inefficient? … it got to my target temp of 148.1F…”

    I don’t know what your starting water temperature was, but for an example, I’ll assume it was 50F (*).

    If that 1400W element received (delivered) full power (1400W) constantly and the water bath were perfectly insulated (no losses from the sides and no losses from the top, including evaporative losses, which really cool things off) then it would take 1 hour and 21 minutes to get from 50F to 148F. This is not a matter of efficiency (**), but rather of thermodynamic properties – water has a very high specific heat.

    It’s been a while since I’ve done estimates of passive heat transfer and evaporative heat losses, but that could account for the additional time over 1 hour and 21 minutes.

    I know I’ll be filling mine with hot water to get started. (The house water is gas heated, which costs less than electric heating, so giving it a head start not only saves time, it saves money (***).)

    * It’s cold in much of the northern hemisphere this time of year (some folks’ tap water is colder still).

    ** As long as the element is fully submerged it’s efficiency is basically 100%. The efficiency of the element is just the amount of heat energy transferred to the water as a percentage of energy lost by the heating element. However, if we define efficiency across the entire circuit then maybe there are some real losses (that would appear mainly as the relay getting hot) such that the heating element is not delivering 1400W.

    *** Yes, the economics do also depend on whether the only reason you’re using the house hot water is for the sous vide (e.g. not also doing some dishes; since you’d have to account for the wasted energy of the hot water left in the pipe) and how long the pipe run is.

  517. John

    Tp the people who are experiencing long preheat times.
    Do you have a lid on the sous vide vessel?

    THe sous vide supreme units require a lid and an insulating pad on top to maintain temps… My DIY unit doesn’t function as well without a lid.

    Lastly Start off with hot tap water – It will make your “waits for ready” much shorter … If by some chance your tap water is too hot … leave the lid off off your unit – it will cool off fairly quickly.

  518. Paul Miller

    @tward – THANKS!! I was hoping someone who understood this stuff would pipe in. There was no cover and though this is an “industrial” food-grade bin it is thin plastic and the sides were also hot. This is good to know!!
    I plan on doing a V2 based on a double-lined beer/soda cooler which should fix things. Thanks again!

  519. David

    Floating a single layer of cheap ping pong balls on top of the water will prevent a lot of evaporative loss as well as provide some insulation.

  520. tward


    FYI, I took a look at some experiments I’d done last year with an insulated, covered pot (*). If the pot contained water in the 140-150F range it lost heat at a rate of around 20W. That rate of heat loss is negligable compared to your 1400W heater rating.

    Thus, by my previous calculations you should be able to heat your water from 50F to 148F in less than an hour and a half if you insulate and tightly cover the container. (Practically the cover won’t be really tight due to the penetration for the heater element and thermocouple and pump power cord. So that will increase time. Also, my experiments did not agitate the water. The pumping may increase the heat loss rate a bit further.)

    That said, the real time saver is starting with hot water. My tap water is 110F. If you start there, then it should take just over half an hour to reach 148F.

    So it seems that best case you’ll have to budget a half hour to pre-heat your water.

    * This was ‘custom’ insulated with a hard foam container. It was a round pot. A rectangular pan will have a higher surface to volume ratio, but the rate of heat loss shouldn’t be too much different.

  521. David

    I’m in the middle of a calibration run on my setup (CD101, PT100), recording Sv, PV, and actual temperature as measured with a thermometer. As I mentioned above, I had to enter a negative offset to get Pv to agree with actual temp, but it doesn’t appear to behave as a constant.

    I noticed today that when I turn on the CD101 that the upper display reads “InP” as expected, but the bottom reads “°FPr” instead of “°CPr” i.e., degrees F instead of degrees C. This might be the source of my calibration problem, but I have no idea how to change the input from Fahrenheit to Centigrade. Can someone tell me how to change the value?

  522. David

    Answered my own question by searching above. Changing SL2 from 0001 to 0000 switched the input from F to C. The temperatures are now off by only a degree or two, which I can adjust with the offset. I’l continue to check the temps in 5 degree increments to verify the probe’s behavior.

    If someone was motivated enough to start writing a thorough stepwise troubleshooting guide, I’d be happy to contribute what I’ve figured out.

  523. David

    Good news and bad news.

    Good news: My temperature measurement test worked, the Sv, PV, and actual temperatures are al the same.

    Bad news: After stepping the circulator through five degree increments starting at 60 degrees and ending at 90 degrees (most vegetables need to cook at 85 degrees), sometime after shutting down for the day after the 90 degree test, the pump cover melted and the case began to distort (photo here: http://belm.com/misc/pump.jpg)

    This was the Catalina Aquarium pump specified in the Make article. I’ve ordered a replacement, the Via Aqua specified above, since Scott said he tested it.

    I like having the pump attached to the rest of the circulator (everything controlled by one switch), but I may have to mount it at the opposite end of the tub.

  524. David

    Also worth mentioning: If you want to get temperatures above 75 degrees C, you absolutely need to have a cover over the water bath, or my ping pong balls solution. Otherwise the circulator and evaporative cooling reach an equilibrium point.

  525. RobertB

    I’m working on setting up a version of this (separating out the temp control unit from the heating elements though). I’m worried about the accuracy of my thermocouple. I stuck the probe in a pot of boiling water, and the temperature was jumping around in a range of ~98-103, very erratically (like, 99, 102, 100, 105, not any kind of smooth variation). Is this supposed to be happening, and, since I’m assuming it’s not, what should I be troubleshooting?

  526. Maurice

    The instructions refer to a “mounting ring” for the PID controller, but I have the JLD612 and there doesn’t seem to be any such thing. JLD612 users, how did you affix the unit to the box?

  527. RobertB


    I just slid the unit into the hole I cut, and it held perfectly. In fact, I was just test-fitting the part, and it fit so well I had a hell of a time getting it back out to make all the connections.

  528. Dustin

    In my manual for the PID cd101 it states terminal 5 is positive, and terminal 6 is negative. Your diagram shows the reverse. Which is correct?

  529. Dustin

    Okay, one problem down. I switched 5 & 6 on the CD101 PID and now I’m getting heat. I found somewhere that you can switch it to Farenheit by changing SL 2 to 0001 but that is what mine is set at already and I assume it is in Celsius. If I change SL 2 to 0000 the PV gets lower, but I can’t go to 0003. Also, my menus are much different than the instructions you gave, I cannot find how to change the decimal place. Any help would be appreciated.

  530. Dustin

    I should also note that I am using a ssr. Also, even though I have a 15A switch it kicks my breaker. Would this happen if the power switch wires were reversed? Right now it works when the switch is in the off position.

  531. Mr_Edinburgh_Foody

    I have built a version of this using components available to UK residents based around a JLD612 – details on the web link. I have found a number of things while building / commissioning:-
    1. I have found the PT100 temperature probe can give spurious readings – it can be out by at least 10° C on occasions. I have found that the wires are crimped on to the spade terminals, but do not give a consistently good contact. I have now stripped them all back and soldered them into position.
    2. I have calibrated my set up using ice and boiling water. I have found that there is a 0.8° C discrepancy between 0° C and 100° C. I have used the temperature offset setting in the JLD612 to average the reading out to hopefully be close to accurate around the middle of this range. It now reads 99.6° C in boiling water, and 0.4° C in ice water.
    3. I have found that which way around the connection of the blue and yellow wires from the temperature probe can affect the total discrepancy between boiling and ice water. I have found the least discrepancy is by connecting the blue and yellow the other way around to the wiring diagram shown here (ie blue to terminal 9, and yellow to terminal 10 on the JLD612).
    4. I have tried 3 different types of conventional relay, but none have worked. I have now fitted an SSR which works fine.
    5. I am using an 11 L (2½ imperial gallons) container (old cool box) filled with hot water from the tap at about 50° C. This takes about 15 minutes to get to a stable 60° C using a 1kW coffee cup heater.
    6. I have found the autotune on the JLD612 works best if the whole set up is allowed to stabilise for about 15 minutes at about 5° C below normal operating temperature before starting. Then set to the normal operating temperature, and start the autotune straight away.
    7. The autotune finds different values at different operating temperatures. I have done mine at the temperature I use most often (60° C) and have not changed it for other temperatures, and found it still works well.
    8. The coffee cup heater I bought from ebay went rusty after only being used twice.

    We have used this set up many times since I built it after Xmas. The most recent was a really moist bit of swordfish (which often comes out dry in conventional cooking), which was superb with a nice teriyaki sauce.

    Thanks Scott for doing all the hard work in the first place for us all to enjoy!

  532. Mr Edinburgh Foody
  533. 05/04/2011

    Thanks for all the tips Scott! I tweaked the directions to make a universal temperature controller. So I currently have my rice cooker attached in order to cook sous vide. I wrote up some directions and tips at http://www.eggchowfun.com which might help others. Good luck!

  534. Adrian

    Hi all, just finished my device and I love it. However I found some current leak in the water bath when I poked my test pen in the water. The current leak only happens with the heating element is live, this is a commercial 1500W coil.

    My question is, is this normal? Is there a way to ground this?

    I’ll be testing the voltage with a multimeter later. And no I haven’t put my hand in yet either.

  535. Keith

    Scott- Which model of the Novus N480D are you using? The link is the general catalog page. Thanks!!!

  536. Adrian

    I’m back, so I’ve grounded the heater and retested the current leak with a multimeter. It didn’t trip my electrical system and measured approx.. AC 1V. That was safe enough for me to test the water with my finger… and nope, not buzz of jolt. Been playing with the machine since and I love it.

  537. tward

    Hey, I just noticed that there are no photos of the unit using the JLD612 and the SSR. Does the SSR even fit into the original enclosure? Heat venting?

  538. tward

    I’ve built this and it works. However, I’m curious about the need for the external SSR. It seems that early in this project @Scott did not use an external SSR. It seems that as long as the heating element power is below a certain threshold the heating elements could be powered directly from the PID Controller. Is this correct? Does that hold for the JLD612 (or only for the CD101)? If so, does anyone know which terminals would be used and the power limit (in watts or amps at 120V)?

  539. 07/04/2011

    @tward the SSR is not because of the coil rating, but because of the activation voltage. Unilke my original CD101, the voltage output on the JLD612 is not quite enough to flip the switch on most mechanical relays. With SSRs, though, you can get away with a much lower activation voltage.

  540. tward

    @scott, thanks, for some reason I thought that with low enough heater loads one could power the heater directly off of a set of PID controller terminals without any external relay whatsoever, whether mechanical or SSR (e.g. the PID controller has a (120V) relay with enough amp rating for smaller heaters).

    [Also, I see now that you do have a diagram that must be for the original design “Wiring for Relay-Only PID Controllers” and even that uses an external relay.]

  541. tward

    @Paul Miller or whomever knows the answer. To deal with the temperature fluctuation when the Norpro heater was in the water Paul wrote that “the trick is to jump the probe SHIELD to either the yellow or blue connector (doesn’t matter which).”

    I’m not sure I understand that. Could someone explain?

  542. tward

    All, FYI, Opto 22 has a really good datasheet that includes FAQs and derating curves for their SSRs. I found it educational. It can be downloaded at: http://www.opto22.com/documents/0859_Solid_State_Relays_data_sheet.pdf

    Pages 3, 5, 15-16, 19, 21-21 are probably the most interesting and informative general information.

  543. 09/04/2011


    We are building this device and have a question: The PID we are using is from RNK Instrument Inc., Model CH102 No. 07E02100 – It seems that the polarity of pins 6 and 7 are reversed from the schematic in this article. Should we go with the pinouts tht are printed on the PID or should we over ride those and follow your diagram?



  544. Anonymous

    @Patrick – I’m not familiar with that particular PID, but you should go with whichever pin configuration will activate your SSR (or relay). In general, you want to connect the positive PID output pin to the + side of your SSR and negative to negative, assuming your SSR is labeled.

    My advice would be to test activating your relay with the PID controller (heaters not attached) or with a battery to determine the correct polarity.

  545. Marco Martínez

    Hi!!! im a huge fan of your work. im really astonished about your skills and dedication making the circulator. i live in mexico city, ive tried to get my cirulator but here they are three or four times the price they are in USA. I want to ask you if there is a posibility to sell me a cirulator already assembled and working, you put the price. Please think about it, it is really hard to get the parts in mexico and i dont have enough skills to complete the mission. Again i really admire you!!!

  546. dave

    OK, so you’ve been fooling around with this for awhile now and still haven’t electrocuted yourself by knocking it over. Had any close calls? Seems like a great idea but electricity and large water spills scare me a little.

  547. tward

    I am looking for some straight-forward advice.

    I cannot get stable enough readings using the Norpro heating element in the same water bath as the PT100.

    In particular I’m looking for advice on a thermocouple (PT100) model and heater that work with the system such that readings are stable and the temperature can be calibrated using ice water and boiling water.

    I assembled the device (but instead of hard-wiring the heating elements, I used an outlet into which anything can be plugged, and I crimped instead of soldering) and it seemed to work well. My first tests used an electric kettle – I inserted the PT100 into the kettle water and plugged the kettle into the device. I tuned the PID settings and things worked quite well. [I settled on Filter on (=1).) Note that this kettle uses a separate base onto which the kettle itself sits.

    When instead of the kettle I used a pot of water and the Norpro heater I got rapid fluctuations in a range of 5F. (Even if filtering is turned to 3 the underlying temperature that the relay runs on still fluctuates wildly.) This happens even if the heater is not on, but is just plugged in.

    I tried jumpering the metal shield over the PT100 wires to #10. This stabilized the temperature, but made it rise several degrees. With boiling water that reading was in the 240F area and fluctuated (without the Norpro installed), but without the jumper the temperature was more stable near 212F.

    The bottom line is that the thermocouple + heater combination is not stabile and cannot be reliably calibrated.

  548. Orlando

    So, as a professional chef, I am very impressed with this contraption, and how well it keeps the temperature constant. Now a couple of things I noticed:

    First,I purchased everything that was listed at the top of the web site and everything came to the east coast in a period of 5 days… Very impressive.

    Second, after assembling the machine, it would keep heating past the set point. I found out that the wire gauge I was using was not thick enough and was not getting enough current to the relay to shut it off. Make sure you have a thick enough wire and a good enough connection before you start pulling your hair out.

    Third, and a question I hope someone can answer. After cooking a short rib for 60 hours with no problem at 132.5, I turned the temperature up to 180 to cook carrots. I had one of the best dinners I have had for a while. After cooking, I shut everything off and let it cool down in the waterbath. Ready to cook my next round of baby back ribs, I turn the machine on and the PID is giving me an thermocouple reading of eeee.e Obviously there is a problem. All the wiring is solid. I need to know if I should be looking at a bad thermocouple or a bad PID?

    Any ideas?

  549. Jack

    Does anyone know if the E12 controllers that are being sold on ebay would be a good replacement for the SSR model listed above @ $38? http://cgi.ebay.com/Dual-Digital-F-C-PID-Temperature-Controller-Control-E12-/260768830070?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cb7089276

  550. Jack

    Also, the ebay item comes with a K type thermocouple, can that be used as well? thanks

  551. tward


    I can only take a guess that maybe after shutting down the PID memory somehow lost (“forgot”) the type of temperature sensor you are using.

    If you don’t have the manual, it’s at: http://www.lightobject.info/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3
    See page 2-3 to set the temperature sensor type.

  552. 15/04/2011

    @Tward regarding the fluctuations, there have been other such reports on the thread. Try switching the blue and yellow pin positions and see if that helps. I haven’t been able to reproduce that issue myself.

    @Orlando – I’d check for a loose connection on your pt100. Or, check to ensure that the insulation on the thermoresistor wires did not overheat and melt. I’ve had thermoresistors go bad on me in the past.

    @Jack the E12 controller you linked to looks like it will work just fine. Good find! You can use a K-type thermocouple, but you’ll only get a temperature resolution of 1C. Using a pt100, you can get a resolution of .1C. The E12 doesn’t explicitly say that it supports a pt100 but the wiring diagram makes it look as though it does. I think you’re safe.

  553. Orlando

    Where are the thermoresistors? How would I test them?

  554. tward

    @Scott Re: Fluctuations
    I think this is an interesting topic. I and some others have experienced this issue and have had difficulty correcting it. You and many others have not experienced difficulties.

    Based on your Shopping list link to eBay I think you also purchased your PT100 from Virtual Village (like I did). So there’s something else. (I’ve tried switched blue and yellow.) We (all of us collectively) are missing something from a design specificity or diagnostic perspective. Could wiring nuances matter (crimp vs. solder)? Hmmm…

    Anyway, more of a deep dive on the fluctuation issues can be found at the following places:
    (the lightobject thread has links at the beginning to three other related threads)

    Based on all of that I’ll be installing capacitors. We’ll see what happens…

  555. 15/04/2011

    @Orlando – the thermoresistor is your pt100 temperature probe.

  556. Dave

    Just finished builidng my cooker and have started testing. All is going well so far. Overall the instructions were great and when I plugged in the cooker, everything worked first time. Thanks Scott for idea and designs. Great work. Off now to try the 72 hour short ribs.

  557. Adam

    So, I got mine built and working. Had to change the alarms and do the autotune, but otherwise no problems.

    I did use this pump: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HHW0FU/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20

    There are three things to consider if you want to use that pump. The first, is that you must buy a 120-6v adapter. (A wall wart adapter works great, just make sure it has a 6V/.3A output) The second issue is that the pump is not self priming, so before use you must inject a little water into the pump so it starts up. Lastly, the pump puts out 1/5th the flow of the aquarium pump. I felt these detractors were worth the fact that it is certified up to 105C, so it wont break at high temperatures.

    Thanks Scott for the great plans! Going to make some sous vide eggs for Easter breakfast!

  558. Race

    I’m having an issue with my unit reading the right temperature. I have the CD101 with the pt100 thermocouple and I have it wired as shown red -10, blue -11 and yellow -12. This is actually my second pt100 thermocouple because I thought there was something wrong with the first one but they both give similar readings of about 40 degrees Celsius higher that the actual temperature. Has anyone else experienced a similar problem? I would be grateful for any assistance. :)

  559. Rawan

    YESSSSSS!!!!! this is what I’ve been dreaming of, luckily as an architecture student i have a laser cutter nearby, me thinks a project is in the making. Thank you so much scott :)

  560. Caleb Fischer


    I have tried and tried to get my circulator up and running and greatly wanted to troubleshoot and correct everything on my own. It seems, however, that I am unable to. I have a JLD612 and am using an SSR to control my heating elements. I have everything wired up just like on your diagram and yet I am getting no heat to my elements. I checked my elements by wiring them directly into a hot line and they are in fact working. It just seems that when I have my SSR set to control them they do not get any power. Any Suggestions? Thanks for your help.

    -Caleb Fischer

  561. Tom

    Just finished building my box.
    SSR-25 RA

    The PID works and the output works fine, but when I set the display the Fº and the display to PT10.0 the PV=Fº and the SV=Cº. When I set to PT100 they both display in Fº. Is there a whay to display both in Fº using the PT10.0 mode to display the tenths of a degree?

    Any tips on calibrating? My pt100 is reading 41º ambient temp when it should read 75º.

    Thanks and GREAT JOB ON THE DESIGN!!!!!

  562. 02/05/2011

    @Caleb Try switching the DC wires to the SSR. Some SSRs have their polarity reversed. Make sure the little red light on the SSR turns on. Also, ensure that your PID is set to heating mode (as opposed to cooling) and that the voltage output is enabled. (See the troubleshooting steps at the end of this blog post)

    @Tom – I don’t trust F on the PID controllers. Even though it’s a simple mathematical conversion, I’ve never been able to get a stable or accurate temp reading with a PT100 unless I’m using C. I don’t think you can use F and show a decimal on the JLD612.

  563. Zukie

    Just ordered all of the parts on your list and am very anxious to build this project. Thank you for all of your research and information on this subject Scott. My brother is a Sous Chef in Atlanta, and came home for the holiday and told us about this method. He stood over a gas stove on low for 5-6 hours with a pyrometer and ice cubes to control his temp. Talk about dedication! It was the BEST steak i have ever had. He told me about your writeup and i just had to take a stab at it. Il let you know how things turnout. Thanks again. Jason from VA.

  564. Denny

    Very discouraged… Finished my sous vide project yesterday and it doesn’t work. Can someone give me an idea of where to start (again). The power works fine. The OUT1 light clicks on but then clicks on and off. I cant tell whether the heaters are working because I figure the OUT1 light doesn’t come on for long enough to get them to put out any hear. The OUT2 light occasionally comes on too. I had th esame issue as some others where the temp wouldn’t adjust to over 40 degrees. The display then flashed because the PV was warmer than the SV. I have a feeling I’m gonna have to desoldier and start again but… There must be an error in the instructions and I’m wondering if that could be my problem. Read the following:

    Cut and strip 3 short (about 4″) lengths of 14-gauge wire. Twist-bundle 1 wire with the free power cord lead, 1 lead from the water pump, and 1 of the 14-gauge leads from the heaters. Secure the bundle with a wire nut, and screw the short wire to terminal #1 on the controller.

    EditStep 13
    Solder the other 4″ piece of 14-gauge wire to the unconnected leg of the power switch, and then screw the other end to the #2 terminal on the controller’s.
    Make a new bundle connecting the free lead from the water pump, the wire from the #2 terminal, and the third short length of 14-gauge wire.

    This last sentence is confusing. What wire from terminal #2?? The only wire at terminal #2 to this point is the one from T2 to the power switch. I guessed and ran one of the 4″ wires from t2 to this bundle. Is this correct or should it be spliced into the wire from T2 to Power? If so, what to do with the 3rd wire?

    Any suggestions out there?

  565. 04/05/2011

    @Denny – Before you take your machine apart, you may be closer than you think. The OUT1 light clicking on and off is totally normal. During operation, this light won’t stay on very long when the unit is holding temperature. However, it should stay on pretty much all the time when the water is heating up from cold.

    A few things to check:
    1) make sure your OUT1 is set to heating mode. You can find out how in your manual, or one of the manuals linked to in the article.
    2) It sounds like your PID has a factory preset setpoint upper limit of 40C. You should also change that to 80-85C. Again, refer to the manuals in this article.
    4) check to see if your SSR is lighting up when OUT1 is on. If not, check the troubleshooting steps at the end of this article.

    My guess, based on your description, is that you just need to adjust some of the settings in your PID’s menu. Let me know if you’ve walked through the troubleshooting steps at the end of the article but you’re still struggling. We’ll get you up and running :-)

  566. Tom

    Well I did my first batch of “Soft/Medium Boiled” eggs tonight.
    I set the PID for 160ºF and let it come up to temp. As I was watching it go up to temp, I noticed it was running 2.5ºF HOT. So I adjusted the temp down to 157.5ºF. I did 1 egg for 30 min and the other 3 for 45 min. At 30 min the whites were solidified, but smooth and melt in your mouth. I didn’t try one of the 45 min ones because I figured they would be about the same, but my daughter will let me know in the morning for breakfast.

    One thing I am wondering is how to calibrate it. Do I adjust the temp the 2.5ºF and then > hold to calibrate???

    Please let me know what I need to do. I did notice it overshoot the temp a bit by a few deg and then undershoot by 1º or so on the way back down. I’m guessing this is what the > hold to calibrate is for, RIGHT?

  567. Tom

    Scott. Here is a link to my build if you would like to see it. Thanks for all the help and advice.


  568. Caleb Fischer

    Hey Scott,

    I have my circulator finished thanks to your directions, but in my final stages I am running into some trouble, I have power from my PID to my relay, but my relay is not staying on, it just continues to flash on and off. I checked my output on my relay and it is showing 120 whenever the light is on but is never on long enough to heat up the elements. Do you know why my relay is not staying on? Is it itself messed up?


  569. 06/05/2011

    @Tom VERY Impressive build! It looks fantastic!

    @Caleb – Your relay will flash, and this is normal. If you’re using a tub with 2-3 gallons of water, you should expect to see the temperature rise about .1C every 2-3 seconds. It sounds like you probably want to run Autotune on your PID so that it performs better in your setup. Instructions on how to do that are towards the end of the article.

  570. 06/05/2011

    @Tom If what you’re saying is that the measured temperature (PV) is different than what you’re reading from another thermometer, you can fix it by setting the Offset value in your PID settings. See the link to the manual for your PID, at the bottom of this article.

    If your PID is not holding temp to SV, try running autotune.

  571. Tom

    @Scott thanks. It did hold the temp, but overshot it a bit and then undershot it going back. Will the auto tune adjust it to not overshoot and undershot a bit better? Have you had any issues with the SSR overheating? Mine was at 152º after an hour. I did start with hot water 120º to help. Just curious if I need to add a fan to cool it down a bit.

  572. 06/05/2011

    @Tom autotune should fix the undershoot and overshoot. When you run autotune, start with a basin of cold water and make sure you’re using the same basin you plan to use for cooking. Set a set point of 65C or so (something in the average cooking range) and let autotune run, undisturbed, until it completes, which make take a few hours.

    The SSR will get hot for sure, but I haven’t had an issue with one overheating to the point that it caused problems. Adding a fan or a vent would certinaly help, though!

  573. Mary

    I built my sous vide circulator. I started with info on Scott’s build. I spilt into two parts, controller box and heater panel with plug-in probe. The small pump did not do well at higher temps and warped. I “fixed” it with a glued on piece of plexiglass. I am ordering the one from Lightobject above. My first PT-100 didn’t work right. I sent it back and ordered one from ebay. This one is working. I have cooked eggs more than a few times, I cooked chicken legs, and asparagus. The eggs are coming out wonderful. The asparagus was not cooked right so I am still learning about veggies. I will venture into steaks tomorrow.
    Very nice build Tom. I wish mine looked as neat.

  574. tom

    amazing! not only did you save me $600 but i enjoyed this little project. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. the hardest part for me was programming the cd101 pid controller. the manual only mentions settings 0, 1, and 2 but the setting that works best is 3!. anyways i plugged it in and BOOYA! works like a dream…
    thank you


  575. tward

    Regarding the issues I was having with wide temperature reading fluctuations (whenever an immersion heater was in the water whether plugged in or not, see above posts and links):

    Jumpering the shield did not work.
    Putting capacitors between 8&9 and 9&10 did not work
    Replacing the PT100 worked. I had ordered more than one PT100 from Virtual Village. It was just my bad luck that the one I started with had this electrical noise problem. When I used another one the problem went away.

  576. tward

    @Tom – That (*) is a great looking rig! Scott has really inspired folks with this. I like the always-on socket and was considering adding that to mine. Everything on yours looks really tight.

    If you ever get the time, would you consider adding your ingredient [parts] list to your page (maybe after you add the fan and show us what that ends up looking like)? I know it’s a bit tedious, but it would be helpful when others search for parts.

    FYI, I have not experienced such hot temperatures with my SSR (I use the same make and model). (I am using a thinner, wider, longer piece of aluminum.) I think this is because I always start my set-up with hot water. This gets things going quickly, avoids putting such a toll on the SSR and, I hope, extends its life (along with that of the heating elements).

    * Tom’s device: http://www.tomordway.com/PID_Controller/SousVideController.html

  577. zukie

    I got all of my parts in this week and began work in my machine yesterday. the T/C i ordered is a PT100 but has 2 blue wires and one red (no yellow). so i put the fluke meter on it to find out which of the 2 i needed to use to get an accurate reading. i got a reading between a red and a blue wire. now were up to the point of testing. i put some heat on it and the temp reading never went up. so i tried all possibile wire combinations and still came up with the same results. im thinking i might have just got a bad probe.
    im wondering if i can use a 2 wire thermocouple instead of a 3 wire PT100. We use them where i work all the time. im wondering what the 3rd wire in the PT100 is for anyway.
    i shud have gotton some type of temp rise on the meter within all possible combinations i tried. Do you think the resistor on the PID might have to be in the circuit to make it read? like I said, I just bench tested the T/C and didnt get the right readings on my multimeter temperature function. Any insight will be much appreciated.

  578. Ken W Boston

    @zukie- You can use a thermocouple, but I’d try to get the PT100 working. They’re much more accurate and stable, which is particularly important when cooking within a few degrees of the safe range, like 48 hr. medium-rare beef. Make sure that your PID is configured for PT100. My CD101 needed to have a setting changed. Mine didn’t work at first, either, but only because of mis-wiring.

    PT100 probes are named thusly because of their resistance. (100 ohms at 100C, if I recall). Try connecting your Fluke and seeing if the resistance makes sense. Put the probe in boiling water, then in the freezer and see what happens (just the probe tip, not the Fluke :LOL:).

    The third wire is for compensating for the resistance of the leads. The pid measures the resistance across third lead (the red), and one of the leads to the actual sensor device (one of the blue). I bought some two lead PT100s with short, 30 cm leads and made five foot, three wire extensions for them. This is called a Wheatstone bridge and there’s a good wikipedia entry on the subject. The entry on RTDs, like the PT100 is also a good read.

  579. Ken W Boston

    Just saw Tom’s rig -GREAT WORK!!

    zukie- Look at Tom’s link. He discusses issues with what is probably your probe.

    Also, I just wanted to share a great deal I found. ZESCO.com has the best price, by far, that I’ve found on Cambro polycarbonate storage boxes. I got a couple 12x18x9″ 4.5 gal. at $18.90ea. The lids were $6.90ea and the shipping was very reasonable. I usually see these for twice the price or more.

    I cooked up some beets at 85C last night to test one out, and it’s great how they hold up to the heat without distorting, plus they’re glass-clear and look very professional. It’s just big enough for my Allied Precision bucket heater. Link:


  580. David

    Thank you so much for putting this together. A friend and I made one…it took about 6 hours. You can speed up the process by:
    1) Making the correct cuts and not prematurely draining the Dremmel battery
    2) Having plenty of beer on hand, so you don’t have to stop mid-project and buy more.

    Works GREAT, but I did have to get the pump working correctly. It seems to get some sort of air lock, or something. But once everything is on and running, I have to reach in and open the bottom of the pump cover, which kicks it into action.

    I used the JLD612PID and had to run the auto tune before it would correctly hold temperature. Also, I can switch it into Fahrenheit, but only the top readout takes; the bottom/target temp remains in Centigrade. If anyone knows how to change, I’m all ears.

    For iOS users, there is a handy Sous Vide app in the App store now. I think I’ll make some temp ranges and just adhere them to the side of the unit or my water tub.

    Best recipe yet was cooking chicken pieces in buttermilk for a few hours. I then removed the chicken, rolled in flour and fried at a temp higher than I normally do. Nice, quick browning and crisping of the skin, perfectly cooked thighs and breast, all without cooking in oil for 15-20 mins like a typically chicken fry. If I had to repeat, I’d just soak them in buttermilk overnight…no need to include that in the vacuum bags; it was a pain to seal and messy.

  581. Zukie

    Put it all together today. the T/C seems to be working. must have had something to do with the resistor on the PID. cooking steaks as we speak.

  582. Derrickjp7

    I just got all the parts in to start assembling the sous vide and had a question about the heating coils. I would assume its fine, but I was curious if it would be ok if the wire from the coils were submerged in water for an extended amount of time. I’m actually using the sous vide for a developing tank for film and wanted to place the coils and multiple pumps in different locations in the tank. I guess I’m concerned about the seal between the heater handle and its cord. Has anyone had issues with shorting out the coils this way?

  583. 16/05/2011

    @Derrickjp7 The coils should not be submerged far enough that the handle or the cord come into contact with the liquid. Submerge the coils far enough that the loop is covered with liquid, but not far enough that the handle is touching. Submerging them too far can cause shorting and serious injury.

  584. Derrickjp7

    @Scott Thanks for the reply, I’ll go with plan B and place the coils at different places on the lid of the tank. I saw your sous vide in Make and thought “Awesome! I can use this for something completely irrelevant to food!” I always like applying things in ways they were never intended, like film developing. Thanks for coming up with this awesome project!

  585. Orlando

    @Tom What are the boxes you are using? I googled aluminum box, and didn’t see what you are building yours out of. Maybe I am just entering wrong search.

  586. Tom

    @Orlando – I used Project boxes from a local electronics store (SUPPORT LOCAL if you can or there won’t be any small mom & pop shops around in the future.). I have seen some at Radio Shack, but don’t know the sizes they carry. The two sizes I used were:
    8.5″L x 5.5″W x 3.25″D for the main box
    7.5″L x 4.5″W x 2.625″D for the heating, pump, and thermocouple

    I will try to put a parts list up this weekend.

  587. ZUKIE

    Does anyone else have trouble with the JLD612PID getting the temp to settle out. The last 2 times i have used my machine, upon startup the temp will rise 4-5 degrees above my setting. I usually throw a few ice cubes in the water and bring it back down. Then it will creep back up a few degrees above the set temp again and il throw a few more cubes in and lower it again. After doing this a few times, it will finally settle out at my desired temp. Im just hesitant to throw a good cut of meat in there and just walk away for 3-5 hours. I kinda feel like i need to “babysit” it until i figure this problem out. Im just wondering if this is normal or is anyone else experiencing this? Thanks in advance.

  588. Deeg

    Zukie, that’s just normal PID operation. It can sometimes take a while for the algorithm to figure out the right combo of turning the heaters on and off. Throwing in some ice cubes may help in the short term but it fakes out the controller and will keep it from adjusting correctly. Just wait until the temperature settles down. You can minimize the overshoot if you run autotune.

  589. Tom

    I added the parts list to my build page.

  590. Abe


    Try using these settings for your PID, you will see that it reaches the right temperature faster and stays there: http://qandabe.com/2011/04/02/revised-sous-vide-pid-calibration/

  591. Nes

    Will you share with us the origin of the actual heatsink. Is it a home brew with the four little legs??? Fins on the bottom of it, with a circulating fan will definately do the trick. Thanks

  592. Tom

    I made it at my dads machine shop. It is a solid piece of metal with computer type standoffs as the legs. I tapped the holes with the proper threads for the standoffs, and the screws to hold down the SSR so I didn’t have to use nuts and washers. The last go around the temp on the heat sink was 135ºF, and it was running for 3 hours. I did notice that if I use hot water to start then the temp on the heat sink is a lot less. The one time it got up to 150ºF, I was cooking eggs at 165ºF and started with hot tap water. I haven’t installed a fan yet as it will add about $20 to the build and a couple of hours of fabrication.

  593. 27/05/2011

    I don’t know about that technique use to preparing sous vide but your project that mentioning is fantasists.

    vacuum machines

  594. Robert Reid

    I was going to build Toms version of this box serendipitiously I andered into my local Lab Surplus store today and found 3 immersion circulating heat pumps. So I bought all three. I do not need all the pieces now and would like to pass hem on. I have:
    3 norpro heaters $18
    79 gph aquarium pump $14
    the PID $40
    The SSR $12
    2-rocker switches $6
    heat sink free
    2-pt100 thermocouples $39
    Small hi-temp pump $15
    2-Radio shack project boxes $18
    various grommets, brass tubing and fittings, wire, washers, gasket rubber for washers etc. $17
    Totaling $179.
    According to Toms list all that is needed for his build is an additional $37.66.
    all my prices do not reflect shipping to me and som Tax when applicable.
    It is all stuffed in a bulging flat rate $10.95 box. I would like to get $150 for the lot and I’ll pay shipping. I will not guarantee a perfect arrival as I said the box is super full(it will probably be ok but I won’t guarantee its safe arrival). If you want a guarantee safe arrival you pay shipping and insurance. There are some reciepts in the box.
    any interested parties email me:

    I’m a bit disappointed not making it but I couldn’t pass up the 3 I bought.

  595. Matt Hartman

    Hi Guys,

    I have built the original version without the PID controller as I had an Auber Instruments smoker temp controller. One thing that did happen to my version, was the accumulation of condensation inside the box. I thought that I had it really sealed up, but the tub & tile caulk I used broke down under the heat/steam and allowed a lot of moisture to enter the enclosure.

    Tom: How have the grommets that you used for the heater seals and mounts worked out? Have you experienced any accumulation of moisture on the inside of the enclosure?

    Thanks to all for the advice and instructions. This has opened up a whole new world of cooking for me and my wife. We are thrilled to never have to worry about dry chewy chicken breast again!

  596. Tom

    @Matt Hartman – It’s funny you say that, I was going to check that after the first time I used it and forgot to do it. I just took it apart and I couldn’t find any signs of moisture inside the box what so ever. When I first thought about the grommets, I thought I was going to have to file down the top edge and put a C-Clip on the top to hold them in, but when I did a dry fit of the heating element, it was so snug that I didn’t think it would leak at all. I was right, it didn’t!!!! Yeah :-)
    And the other fittings with the rubber washers are so tight I knew those wouldn’t leak.

  597. archie

    Just wondering if vent holes/slits were beneficial? I built mine in a radio shack project box, and it has been working well for the last couple of months. Just a thought.


  598. Tom

    FYI – I was looking for a way to hold the bags as I was cooking them and couldn’t find anything at the local stores, so I started looking on the internet.
    On the Sous Vide Supreme web site they sell a rack that fits perfect in the Half-Size Cambro Food Storage Box and its only $12.95.


  599. PJ

    @Tom – Do you have a picture of your whole rig set up? I love the idea of the separate controller box, especially since I have an Alton Brown-inspired smoker that I use an electric hotplate to run, and using this to manage that temp is truly appealing, but my brain is having a tough time picturing this in action. Also, I figure if I just want to so something small, I can use it with my ancient crock pot. Do you have 3 plugs from the heaters to the outlets that are managed by the PID, did you wire them all into one standard plug, or is there some other connection carrying the current between the PID and the Heat/Pump rig?


  600. Tom

    @PJ – Yes the post above has the link, but here it is again.

  601. Deeg

    For those interested, I’ve also tried out the controller with the Marshalltown bucket heater and a cooler. Works great. I’ve updated my Instructable with my experience:

  602. Orlando

    I took your modification and put it into one box, and it works great. This is the third I have built and am making it leaner and meaner every time. I can not though figure out for the life of me how you attached the pump to the brass tube. I can get it attached to the box no problem, but not to the pump itself.

  603. Tom

    @Orlando – I used some small heat shrink over both wires and slid it down to the base of the pump where the wires go into the molded epoxy. If that fits inside the brass tube and is loose then add another layer of heat shrink, but make sure there is enough room to fit tightly into the tube. Next, I used a Dremel tool to notch out a flange in the brass tube to use as a support to hold up the pump. After mounting the brass tube over the wires, I slid 2 pieces of a slightly bigger heat shrink over the brass tube and the wires on the bottom to seal it completely.

    Layout illustration of assembly

  604. Orlando

    Thank you so much.

  605. Grundfos

    Grundfos well pumps is help you deliver fresh water for boil


  606. MrDEB

    Just curious why not just use an electric hot water heater element.
    Found one at Ace Hardware 1440 watts for $10
    Designed for 110v.
    I like your design using the pump but wonder just how long it will run in hot water (100+ degrees)
    Found a hot water recirculating pump on EBAY foe $35.
    Plan to build a Souis Vide cooker but building a DIY PID controller. A guy I met on the internet has a PID controller he bought from ? for $35 but it went berzk and stayed on (overcooked eggs)
    Need to purchase heater, locate vessel and get PID working.
    Will update as I go.

  607. MrDEB

    Yo Tom, I just looked over your description and am impressed!
    Looks like you spent a-lot of time on layout design.
    Looking at your PID controller, am now contemplating just buying on.
    My plan was a DS18B20 temp probe instead of a thermocouple.
    Still plan on using an electric hot water heater element rated at 1440 watts / 110v.Only one element needed.
    I like your pump find. Was looking at one on Ebay for $30 or so but $14.50 is better.
    I see your using a clear plastic tub, won’t the warm/hot water affect?

  608. Jeff Pelot

    Loved the detailed plans and the project overall. Unfortunately the end of the project has left me with a non working sous vide. I have the jld612 PID the 25A SSR recommended in the plans. When I fired it up for the first time the lights came on, the pump was pumping water and the heating coils came alive. Yahoo…
    But, when I programmed the PID for Fahrenheit, heat etc. and set the temperature the device went beyond the set temperature of 118 F, and kept on going. So I attempted to go through the programming steps again and the PID is now in an alarm state (solid AL1 and flashing AL2) and I can’t get it out of alarm. Shutting it down does nothing and if I attempt the self calibration it will never finish. I can change the desired temp settings but to no avail.

    Looking for a little help please.

  609. 15/06/2011

    @MrDEB I did a build using one of the 110V heaters meant for a household water heater. You’re right that those heaters work incredibly well at heating water and you can expect a much longer life out of the elements. The problem I found was that all of those elements are meant to be inserted fully into a water heater. As such, there is no “cold zone” on the heating coil. This means that the entire heating element, including the metal bushing at the top, gets REALLY hot. In my test build, the heater melted straight through the plastic enclosure. Even in an aluminum or steel enclosure, the box would get so hot from the coil that it would be unsafe to touch.

    HOWEVER, if you wanted to alter the design of the project so that you used a dedicated water basin with the heater integrated, you could poke one of those heaters through the side of a stainless steel hotel pan and build a cage around it. This would be a great approach particularly for large volume cooking.

  610. 15/06/2011

    @Jeff Pelot First, I’d recommend keeping your unit in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit. Although the conversion should be simple math, every PID I’ve tested has had problems accurately representing temperature in F.

    About the alarms, they’re no cause for concern. The alarm values are temperature settings that you can configure on the PID and which will trigger internal relays to close or voltages to activate. This is, for example, if you want a buzzer to sound if your bath reaches some upper limite temperature. The alarm thresholds are settable in the PID configuration (see the link to the manuals in the body of the post). I set my alarms to 0, which disables them.

    The first step I’d advise for troubleshooting is to ensure that your heaters only kick on when the OUT1 light is on on your PID. You should be able to tell by watching or (carefully) touching the heating coils in the water bath. You’ll know when they’re on, and when they turn off, your temp should level out after a minute or two. If the heaters are clearly always on, even when the OUT1 light is off, it means that they’re not being switched by your SSR. Retrace your wiring and ensure that one lead from the heater bundle is connected through the relay end of the SSR. Also check to make sure your SSR light is turning on and off with the OUT1 light.

    If you still experience problems, leave the symptoms in the comments or feel free to email me directly.

  611. spc

    Scott, put mine together last night and seems to work perfectly. Thanks so much!

  612. spc

    PS — can you now help with a 75 dollar do-it-yourself chamber vacuum sealer, haha?

  613. Tom

    Hi there..

    I’ve build the heater per spec, PT100, SSR etc..

    Also getting a current in the water. Did anyone ever get the bottom of why this was occurring in some builds?


  614. Tom

    Just a thought on this.. I’m using a PVC bowl for testing. I’m no physicist, but it just stuck me that the circulating water could possibly be generating enough static to cause a discharge? I’m unable to correlate the charge to the heaters being on. Are other people also experiencing a charge off the water also using a PVC, circular bowl?

  615. 16/06/2011

    @Tom, I’m doubtful the static electricity is causing the current you’re experiencing. Try switching the AC input leads so that the lead going through the switch now goes straight to one bundle, and the other lead goes through the switch. I can’t say for sure that this will fix the problem, but I’ve found that switching the hot lead rather than the neutral lead has fixed the issue for me in the past.

  616. alex

    Where can I find more information on the wiring. For the most part I understand the diagram, It would help me a lot more if I saw actual pictures of the wiring rather than a map.

  617. alex

    can I use stranded 16 gauge wire for the entire setup?

  618. Tom

    @alex Yes. 16 gauge is fine throughout. It’s OK to go high (thin) to low (thick), you just don’t want to use higher (thinner) than the lowest gauge in use.

  619. Tom

    I found some hugely improved instructions for the JLD612. It looks like this device is heavily OEM’d and the original instructions posted are not the original.


  620. Lachy Groom

    Hey Tom,

    Would you be willing to post your wiring details / more instructions on your build? I’ve bought all the parts except the power inputs / outputs, the audio in / out and the spades. I was curious why you listed mic jacks when you used different ones in your build (from the images).

    Also, how does your power input work? I see 4 slots (2 x 2) but can only think you’d need 1!!

    Thanks so much.

  621. Stealth Camper

    RV cooking. RV kitchen appliances. Thank you for the wonderful plans and ongoing discussion. As a sledge/tent snow camper, I’ve long focused on fine eats in the Colorado mountains in winter. Now that I’m doing a truck camper conversion, I’ve been researching kitchen ideas and am reading up on sous vide. With space in a truck camper at a premium, I’m thinking of using a collapsible cooler for the cook pot, and hope to impress those invited to camp dinner. First, I’ll spoil my cats testing here.

  622. Tom1

    @Lachy – I’m going to post as “Tom1″ now. There is another Tom posting, so I didn’t want it to get confusing.

    As for the Mic Jack. During the build, I found it difficult to solder the tinny pins on the one I chose. After the build I realized that screwing and unscrewing the jack was not needed. The 1/4″ Mic Jack is much more convenient.

    Click on link for wiring diagram.

  623. TomP

    Will post as “TomP” to avoid confusion also..

    So – through a process of elimination, it seems that the polarity to the heaters does make a difference. I’m still scratching my head as to why, but they’re no longer emitting a current..

  624. DavidK

    Hi All,

    I’m having problems with the temperature leveling out. I’ve tried using the auto tune several times and let it run in excess of 4 hours. It constantly fluctuates .2 degrees in either direction. How can I get it to hold temp?


  625. Lachy Groom

    How has everyones NORPO heaters been holding up? Everything fine in that regard?

  626. Andrew Shults

    Just found that Light Object is now selling a water resistant version of the PT100 for not much more than they charge for the regular version (which, to be fair, is almost double what the ebay ones go for). http://www.lightobject.com/Water-resistant-PT100-RTD-01-degree-Sensor-Probe-P592.aspx I just ordered one after my regular PT100 went bad (I think it got water in the back from steam condensation). Hope that it lasts longer than the regular one!

  627. MrDEB

    Got to thinking about this PID controller in same enclosure as the heat sink.
    The PID controller uses a temperature compensated chip that measures the ambient room temp and subtracts this from the thermocouple temperature. Saw this several times while reading about PID controllers etc.
    The PID is in the same enclosure as the heat sink thus the temperature is not correct?
    something to think about

  628. spc

    for the most part it’s working fine but last night cooked some vegetables and per Keller target temp was higher than i’ve tried before: 85C — took forever for it to get there (despite me heating water on the stove and pouring it in) and then I think my J-shaped holder piece got a little warped due to the heat. anyone else experienced this? could one of my heaters be burned out?

  629. 29/06/2011

    Just read about your problems with heaters. We’ve been using this one (or something very similar – can’t remember) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000R051DE/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20 for the past 2+ years and it’s still going strong. Plenty of power to spare, too.

  630. Adam

    Where can I buy the piece of acrylic from?

  631. Lucas Patzek

    Would the heating coils from a steam-producing wallpaper remover work better for this cooking unit? Maybe look into the Wagner 705 128 oz. Wallpaper Steamer: http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100532752/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053. It’s relatively cheap at Home Depot.

  632. RichyRich

    Anybody interested in building me one customed out? For a couple of bucks of course … Pros need respond only please …

  633. zukie

    @ ADAM. you can the acrylic in 8×10 sheets on Ebay for a couple of bucks a sheet. You may want to check with a local glass shop.

  634. zukie

    Scott, Just want to say thanks again for all your hard work building a DIY sous vide machine on the cheap. I have built 3 so far and they all work perfectly. Ive got the build time down to about 3 hours now. Also congrats for producing awesome website in general. I have told many people about it and they love it! Keep up the good work!!!

  635. Lachy Groom

    Zukie, any chance of some pics of your builds?

  636. RichyRich

    @ZUKIE care to make a 4th or sell one of yours ?

  637. ZUKIE

    RichyRich and Lachy Groom, if yall will give me your email address i will send pics and discuss building another machine as well.

  638. MrDEB

    Got to wondering if the temperature control is really all that crucial?
    The vacuum bag holds in the flavor and moisture but the heat control is the expensive part.
    Going to cook some cheap cut of meat in a standard crock pot all day on the LOW setting in a vacuum bag that was prepared the night before with dry rubs or wet marinade.
    Will need to measure the temperature of the crock pot on LOW first.

  639. Tom1

    @Zukie – Can you post some pictures somewhere so we can see your builds?

  640. nick1

    I’m planning on building a remote unit. Would it be safter to use gfci sockets?

  641. MrDEB

    Well the Swiss steak was very tender, fell apart BUT it was dry.
    Maybe due to no temperature control and when I froze the marinade it all ended up at one end of the bag.
    Next plan seeing how I have a basic DIY PID and a relay.
    The PID I can build using either a TMP512/ thermocouple or a DS18B20 temp probe.
    Have several bugs to get sorted out first.

  642. Lachy Groom

    lachygroom@gmail.com is my email :)

  643. PDA

    Awesome article I would love to build this, but I dont have the skills…. Would anybody build me one??? You will be compensated, of course

  644. Ben Burns

    Pololu does really cheap laser cutting for these sorts of projects. I’ve used them a lot for prototyping at work. I intend to use them in a few weeks when I do this build. If anyone is interested I’ll post back here and let y’all know how it went.

    http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/749 – details on their laser cutting services

    http://www.pololu.com/docs/0J24/3 – materials they’ll work with – acrylic being the cheapest. I think I may go with ABS, though.

  645. Brianv512

    I just finished my unit last night. I originally built it as one unit but then decided to separate into two units. I used project boxes from radio shack. One box contains the 3 coils and temp probe. I used the power cord from a computer to wire the coils to and have that and the probe wires exiting the box. i used JB weld putty to seal everything, this sets up quickly and is waterproof. Just for extra caution I sealed the inside with silicone and will seal the top with silicone. I plan to either fill the inside with spray foam or glue Styrofoam to the bottom. This will allow me to float this unit in the bath and therefore use any size container that I need. The second box has a socket from an old computer supply and a female stereo headphone jack socket to plug the firs box into. Last night I tested it and everything works. It took a lot of fiddling with the controller to get it working. Here is my one concern, the solid state relay gets pretty hot (about 170 f). Is this normal or is there an issue? The initial heating cycle takes a while and I wondering if the initial cycle should be intermittent (this will defiantly extend the heating time) or if it is ok to be continuous. Also, how do you use the Auto tune function and what does it do? I used all the parts listed in the original build list. Can’t wait to cook some meat!

  646. 24/07/2011

    Many thanks!

    I made one. Works Great. Link: http://www.westmouthbay.com/nerd-stuff/sous-vide/

  647. 24/07/2011

    Many thanks!

    I made one. Works Great. Link: http://www.westmouthbay.com/nerd-stuff/sous-vide/

  648. Abe

    Hey, it is a bit more soldering than shown here, but we have a new kit for building your own sous vide using an Arduino controller here, http://lowereastkitchen.com . It’s based on a circulating water bath rather than an immersion circulator. But it’s all open source, so it could be a good resource for those working on their own versions!

  649. PDA

    @ZUKIE Would you consider building another one?

  650. 27/07/2011

    Hi thanks for the info.
    Your post is give me some inspiration.
    Keep on your post because I was subscribed your blog

  651. john long

    hello can some one help me I am trying to wire my cd101 and i see in the diagram above there is 3 wires coming from the thermocouple and the one they sent me has only 2

  652. rwhite

    Hi, great detail on this post. It’s inspiring even a relative non-techie like me to consider using sous vide for my startup biz. Does anyone have an idea what kind of equipment I’ll need for a setup that can sous vide 25 whole 2-3-pound chickens at a time? For example, how big would my container have to be and what kind of pump, heater, and SSR would I need for that volume? Also, I see from the picture you’re using a clear plastic storage bin for the water bath – is there any specific bin of this type that will stand up to around 170F temperatures, or will any plastic bin of this type do? I’m buying something like:


  653. ZUKIE

    @PDA. Yes

  654. ZUKIE

    @Tom1 , did you get the pics i sent you?

  655. Tom1

    @Zukie – I didn’t want to sign up for photo storage link you sent so, No I didn’t.

  656. rwhite

    @Tom1, thanks for the input. do you think the pieces (pump, heater) in scott’s setup will be enough for the scale I’m planning to try?

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  658. Tom1

    @rwhite – I love Scott’s design. I followed it and and just split it into 2 units for more versatility. The pump I used was rated for the high temperatures of cooking. I read many posts and other blogs where their pumps were melting, so I went with one from LigtObject (its also FDA approved).


  659. 06/08/2011

    Hey Scott,
    Have you posted your idea on kickstarter.com? You should. I believe that, with the proper video promoting your idea, set a goal for a couple thousand and have the public pay for your invention to be professionally made. I hope that you are the first to bring a sous vide under $100 dollars to the home cook on a mass market scale.

  660. Jack Hutcheson

    I have put the unit together, but the PID setting diagram in the manual seems to make no sense. After I enter the setting mode and the readout is INTY, then I set the P10, but I cannot get any other readouts. Have you any suggestions for a clearer set of directions?

  661. Don McIntyre

    This wekend I completed the Mk1 version and succesfully cooked chicken and steak. Greatest compliment from my wife was that the steak was as good as the ones we order in Brussels (Belgium)! We have never achieved that level of perfection in the UK to date. I made a few mods to the original design to suit waht I had availale and will post picturs and details in the next few days. Pricipally I use an portable Ralson electric griddle as the heating source and a fish kettle for the container. Owing to the large surface area of both there are no hotspots and water circulation is not needed.
    I did find that the thermocouple used had different wiring to that indicated in the supplied instructions which caused an hour or so of pondering. Im off to source a larger container to the fish kettle now and am looking at purchasing a Buffalo Baine Marie and putting a PID controller in that and bypass the original water temperature control. Used ones are around £40 GBP, with a 1Kw element it should be sufficient to provide a large sous vide and no hot spots.

    If any one has any more ideas for development all suggestions welcome as this would not have happened without all you guys.
    Thanks to all

    Don McIntyre

  662. Don McIntyre

    Hi Jack,

    Can you expand on the specifics of the problem with your PID? After setting the code to 0089 and then using the arrow keys you should be able to get all the options.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/47121137/80805437-XMT7100-Temperature-Temp-Controller-SSR-Output-Drive-Arizona-Phoenix-3 is a link to a PID which will help you in the settings.
    If your still in trouble post here and we will sort it out.


  663. Don Mallory

    Hello all! I have successfully completed this project twice now and have bought the parts to build about 5 more machines…Unfortunately, I am relocating across the country and selling off most of my belongings…As such, I am trying to sell the parts I purchased at discount to recoup some of my losses. I will take detailed pictures of what I have in a little while if anyone is looking to purchase materials for this project.


  664. victor

    Scott, I was wondering if you would build me a sous vide machine, and ill pay. I have a sous vide supreme but like you said it is big and takes a lot of space, i’m even considering doing a swap with you if that were the case.

  665. Lachy Groom

    Hey Don! Hit me up with an email: lachygroom@gmail.com. I’m interested!

  666. Justin Uy

    Hey all!

    So I’m very interested in giving this project a try, and the circuit diagram looks fairly straight forward…but I’m not sure what the “J1″ and “J2″ refer to on the 3,4,5 and 13, 14 posts refer to. Can someone help me out?

  667. 15/08/2011

    @Justin You can ignore that. It’s part of the PID’s diagram and won’t affect this build. No work necessary for those pins.

  668. Daniel

    Don…shoot me an email as well. I’m interested daniel.lee.vincent@gmail.com

  669. Justin Uy

    Thanks Scott! I put down an order for components this week. Hopefully a friend and I will be starting this weekend.

  670. Don Mallory

    For anyone who didnt see my above post, after successfully completing my 3rd build following this outline (but with a GFCI for modularity), I am selling the following (hopefully together….if someone takes it all off my hands it’ll go for less $$$)

    4x GFCI Outlets
    4x SSR
    4x Heatsink rated for SSR
    4x JLD612 PID w/ SSR Output
    6x Norpro Heating Coils
    5x PT100 Thermocouples (2 3meter, 3 6 meter)

    Email me dmm333@gmail.com if interested as I am looking to ship these to someone this weekend.

  671. Don Mallory


    And 4x SPST Amber-Lit Rocker Switches

    Not trying to haggle around with people on price….$300 gets it all, shipped to you anywhere in Continental U.S. I will allow contact by phone# or through my eBay account if necessary.

  672. JRoy

    Hello all,

    So I’m getting ready to put my first build together, and I had a quick question about the polarities.

    Do any/all of the standard components care about polarity? I’ve got a pretty firm grasp on how to actually wire everything, and I’ll be using a polarized plug for the main power, so I should be fine as far as the unit’s wiring is concerned. But I know one or two sockets in my home were incorrectly wired in reverse polarity when some remodeling was done, so I wanted to find out if anything catastrophic would happen if I accidentally plugged into one of those sockets.

    Thanks much!

  673. Don Mallory


    Above is a link to an eBay Auction where I am selling a lot of parts to complete this project..As detailed above, I have successfully built 3 circulators but am moving across the country suddenly and am selling off my assets…Please help me out by taking these off my hands…It’s a great deal!

  674. Jay


    I just discovered this. Cool project. I’ve done something similar, but not removable, and it is part of my larger brew kit. I might have to do this so I have a smaller, portable unit to take to parties and the like.

    One improvement suggestion – it has saved my system numerous times – add a liquid level sensor like the one here: http://sensing.honeywell.com/index.cfm?ci_id=140301&la_id=1&pr_id=109194

    There are significantly cheaper options out there, but this one is food safe, has a wide temperature range, and has proven reliable (unlike others I have used in the past). Of course, if you want to wire your own circuit together, you can set one up that triggers when there is a current flow between two wires.

    You can look for others here: http://www.onlinecomponents.com/parametricsearch/sensors-transducers_sensors_sensor-misc.html?p=1

    Let us know if you choose one and if so which.

  675. Laraine Agren

    My husband is wondering how and where the SSR mounts. Any help would be appreciated.

  676. 25/08/2011

    @Laraine You can mount the SSR to the side of the enclosure on some standoffs so the metal bottom of the SSR isn’t directly touching the plastic (it can get warm). However, for most of my builds (using solid core copper wires) the tension from the wires usually just holds the SSR in place, floating inside the enclosure.

  677. Laraine Agren

    Also, our thermocoupler does not have a yellow wire. It has to blue wires. Any advice out there?

  678. 25/08/2011

    trial and error. keep thr red wire as indicated on the diagram and try connecting the blue wires to the other two posts. Be sure to power off whenever changing the wiring.

  679. PDA

    @ZUKIE. Thank you for your reply. Please contact me through email to discuss the details. My email is sbkorea@gmail.com

  680. Laraine Agren

    Scott, thanks for your help. Another question. We have a JLD 612 temperature controller. For the first 5 minutes, the heaters are cycling on and off at approximately 1 second intervals. After 5 minutes, the heaters stay on. Is this normal?

  681. 27/08/2011

    @Laraine This is normal, as long as it keeps holding the set temperature.

  682. Laraine Agren

    Thank you for all your help Scott. I think everything is working properly. I have my Polder digital probe in the water and it seems that there is a 4 degree difference, the Polder reading higher, which I believe is the more accurate. I am testing this baby out tonight. I have everything prepared and am waiting for the correct temperature to get started. Will let you know how things turn out. Thanks again. Aloha

  683. Laraine Agren

    Hi again Scott. Used our unit this weekend. It worked perfectly! Held the temperature to within .2 of the set temperature for hours. Made chicken (absolutely delicious) and vegetables. Cooked the veges at 183 and the glue on the mount did not hold. Any recommendations for a heat resistant glue? We are considering making another unit, this time out of plexiglass and would not want it to come apart during use.

  684. Chan

    This has been an awesome build. I know I am almost there.
    I saw someone else had this problem and noone answered, so maybe I will get lucky this time.
    I have the JLD612. After running autotune. It goes through about a 20 minute cycle, then AT shuts off. The temperature falls and falls. The out1 light is not staying on long enough to bring it back to the set temperature. PLEASE HELP.

  685. Justin Uy

    Hey all!

    A friend and I just finished our first build based on this one.

    We modified it to run a standard wall socket, one straight from the AC to run the pump and one to the SSR that is controlled by the PID to power a crock pot or rice cooker:


    I tuned it to that container and we’ve dropped a couple steaks in and it’s worked like a dream for those.

    Our only issue so far has been with the overshoot. Whenever the water reaches the setpoint and we drop an item in, the temperature overshoots anywhere between .8 and 1.2 C before it stabilizes again. Not a big deal at all for steaks or most other items, but eggs are really touchy. Does anyone have any good advice for manually tuning the PID to correct the overshoot? Or do I just need a larger vessel? Or just a non-ceramic one?

  686. 31/08/2011

    I finished fabricating 90% of my sous vide cooker with similar parts, using a Marshalltown 1000 W bucket heater. I’m using one of the 4.75 gallon Cambro polycarbonate food storage tubs for my vessel. I’m terrible at fabricating physical devices, but I took my time with a drill and a nibble notcher and a Dremel, and ordered the switches and parts I wanted (not just what was available at my local hardware store) and it came together fairly well in a little black steel file box, modulo a lot of blood and repeated trips to the hardware store for horribly expensive bits.

    My first experiment was surprising, though! I put in 3 eggs and set it for 144 degrees F (62.2 C) and gave it an hour. The first egg I cracked was totally liquid! A little experimentation with the thermocouple showed that there was *at least* a 17 degF temperature gradient between the top and bottom of the container (the eggs were at the bottom!) The bottom was only at about 127 F. Wow! I knew there would be gradients, but I didn’t expect them to be that large. The actual temperature differences were probably even higher than that.

    I then manually stirring every couple of minutes while the remaining 2 eggs finished cooking. The last egg was cooked at 148 F (64.4 C). They came out about as expected!

    The remaining uncompleted 10% of my project is, of course, my circulation pump. Unfortunately, I thought that I remembered it running at 12 V (which I’m providing) but when I went to hook it up, I realized that it was actually 5-6 V. I’m awaiting a 7806 voltage regulator IC to provide 6 V off my internal 12 V power supply (that runs the fan for the SSR’s heat sink.)

    I also noticed that the PID controller did a horrible job of learning proper temperature adjustments if there is no circulation. You can see how the integral term of the PID control algorithm would learn very badly without seeing effects of the power it’s putting out.

    So, circulation, circulation, circulation. The missing part should be here in the next couple of days, and I’ll see if the situation is improved. I’m ready to break out my research-grade meats.

    I will post some pictures of my build once I get it all put together.

    By the way, I think that the price tag for my build will be at least $175, without anything fancy. Lots of little parts add up, especially if you design for serviceability and part replacement.

  687. 31/08/2011

    I installed my voltage regulator and pump today, and made a few research-grade eggs in the short time I had available. Temperature control works much better now, and the temperature gradient has mostly disappeared. Optimally placing my pump’s intake and outflow tubes should improve this even more.

    The pump is a small but high-temperature-safe, FDA-approved pump that only moves about 1 liter/minute. Since my vessel can hold up to 4.75 gallons, it would take a minimum of 18 minutes to move all the water in the vessel through the pump even once. This is obviously too slow to provide adequate circulation if it’s the only effect we’re counting on, but in practice, it seems to provide enough movement of the water to prevent it from stratifying like it did before. (I take water in from the bottom of the vessel and expel it (at fairly high velocity) at the other end at the top of the vessel.)

    As my vessel is clear polycarbonate, you can actually see convection patterns in the water due to varying densities of different temperature water. Neat!

  688. Robert

    I don’t know that much about wiring and electronics. Stating that I have everything but the PID controller which is on order and a 25a relay, but I do have a 40a relay from something else, would that work? I’m using the 742g bucket heater instead of the coils

  689. 04/09/2011


    Is your 40 A relay a mechanical relay? With proper voltage rating for the input coil? It may work, but mechanical relays are probably a bad choice for this application. Your temperature controller will switch it on and off typicallyevery 2 seconds (but this is configurable if you want bigger temp swings). At these power levels, your contacts will arc and wear out rapidly. I’ve heard people state that their mechanical relays fail within 50-200 hours in a sous vide setup. I’d recommend the solid state relay, a heat sink, and heavy wire.

  690. pbarron

    Question about DC powered pumps. I keep burning out my DC transformers. I purchased a few DC transformers plus I have an endless supply of wall warts. My pump (and backup pump) never burn out, just the DC transformer. My pump is 12V 600ma. I’ve used 12V 500ma; 12V 1a; 4.5V 100ma; 4.5V 400ma; etc. Should I be paying attention to the voltage (as long as it’s under 12V – although I’ve tried 18V)? Should I go use transformers with higher current (+600ma) and use a resister? Anyone else having this problem?

  691. Maurice

    Any suggestions on how to connect the wires to the terminal block on the PID (and the SSR)? I’m concerned just screwing them in isn’t the most secure, and would like to avoid soldering them in so I can change things if I need to. I bought some of these crimp-on ring terminal connectors http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103306 suitable for 16-gauge wire, but unfortunately they don’t fit onto the PID terminals! Just wondering what people have done…

  692. Justin Uy


    I used spade connectors for mine. Maybe not quite as secure as ring connectors, but I’ve had no issue with them pulling out and it made the assembly really quick

  693. Maurice

    What size did you use and what gauge wire? I assume if I use the spade terminals in the same size as I used for the rings (made for 16 gauge wire), they’ll still be too big for the PID terminals.

  694. Justin Uy


    I’m afraid I can’t really help you with the sizing…I just went to my local hardware store and bought a plastic container full of an assortment of various sized spade connectors and sifted around until I found ones that were the right size.

  695. Keith P.

    Tom1/TomP (I think same person???). Just a quick question; on your site, could also post the wiring diagram for the heater box? Also does the current diagram on the site reflect/address what you found regarding discharge of current in the coils?

  696. Tom1

    Hey Keith P,
    I added a quick wiring diagram that I threw together. Sorry it’s not as nice as the other one. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

    As for the discharge on the coils… All I found was that when you test for shorts in the loop, the meter will beep as if there is a short, because if you think about it, a heating element is actually shorting out to heat up the element between + & -. Other than that, I hooked it up just like Scott’s diagram.

  697. 12/09/2011

    To connect to the PID terminals, I used spade lugs that fit a #4-#6 stud. These are only big enough to fit 22-16 AWG wire, but that’s all you need for the PID. Nothing on the PID is running high current. (If you’re trying, you’re doing it wrong.) Model number, Ace Hardware 34549 (I’ve seen some of these with the same part number that say they’re for 22-18 AWG. Mine are labeled 22-16 AWG.)

    For the SSR, (25 A) I use a spade lug that fits a #8-#10 stud. (Ace Hardware 34556). These can take 12-10 AWG wire. All of the power-carrying wires in my project are wired with 12 gauge wire, which is plenty for the short lengths in your project box.

  698. 12/09/2011

    About thermocouples:

    I’ve seen several builds here that add various connectors between their thermocouple and the PID. You don’t want to do this, unless you know exactly what you’re doing. This will introduce errors into your temperature readings. From the original manual from the manufacturer of the most common PID controller,

    http://auberins.com/images/Manual/SYL-2362%20instruction%201.6.pdf :

    “The thermocouple needs to be connected directly to the controller unless
    thermocouple connector and extension wire is used. A copper connector,
    copper wire, or thermocouple extension wire with wrong polarity connected on
    the thermocouple will cause the reading drift more than 5 °F.”

    These are sensitive devices that read resistances very exactly. Adding wrong wire to the circuit will give you bad readings.

  699. Chan

    During autotune, the JLD612 overshoots and keeps going. I’m afraid that if I don’t shut it off, it will ruin the pump. Any suggestions?

  700. Brad

    Finished my first build last week! Cooked an amazing pulled pork roast, lamb steaks and 7 bone roast. Last weekend 10lbs of meat went in, pork roast, steaks, short ribs. The next morning I woke up to find the pump had overheated and stopped circulation, I had hot spots above 170F in the bath. All the meat had a taste of melting plastic, and into the trash it went. A very sad day. I have since ordered the high temp pump to try to fix that problem, should be back up and running by next week.
    *Problems that I have had
    -I ordered the K type thermocouple and it is not very accurate, even after changing the values on the PID. Stick with the PT100
    -Pumps melting, I have gone through two pumps so far and have not cooked anything about 160F. I’m working on this problem.

    Thanks to Scott and everyone who has contributed to this!

  701. Keith P.

    Tom – Thanks for the quick reply!!!! I will be doing this shortly. Let you know how it turns out. Thanks again!!!

  702. Brian F

    I found this model XMT612 available from AliExpress from China. I’m a poor student, so every dollar counts. The pin layout and specs looks identical to the JLD612. Anyone had any experience with this model? They even have the 2 same power input models (ac & 24dc)

    You can see them on Google Images.

  703. Justin Uy

    @Brian F

    I don’t have firsthand experience with that controller, but I would strongly caution you against doing any business with AliExpres/AliBaba. A great number of the vendors on those sites sell counterfeit/questionable quality products, and if you have an issue with what you receive, they do not honor their refund “guarantee” and the website always finds in favor of the vendor.

  704. Bryan D

    Any suggestionsI started with info on Scott’s build and Orlando’s. I spilt into two boxes, controller box and heater box, probe,pump like Mary. I have a JLD 612 temperature controller, ssr25, pt100, GFI everything seams to be working but it seams to be running high right around 10F or 4C have tried setting the
    inty: PT100 and TP10 0
    conf: both in C & F
    should the digital filtering be disable or weak, strongest?
    or should i try another probe like others have have gotten a lemon
    I have gone over the all the post till i can’t see strait.Please help.
    Thanks to all.

  705. 19/09/2011

    @Brian D When you say its running hot, do you mean that it’s overshooting the set temperature, or that it is reading the wrong temperature through the probe? If it’s overshooting, you can compensate by adjusting the Offset value in the PID. If it’s reading wrong, I’d connect the probe directly to the PID and see if that changes the reading. If you’ve attached a plug of some sort to the thermoresistor, different metals can mess up the temperature reading.

  706. Bryan D

    Thank Scott i think its overshooting when i 1st tested it it seemed to be right on temp. when i set the programing like setting for ssr, probe, and auto tuned and then have been off. I have put a plug in.
    1st i have a spare probe i will try later to day.
    2nd and will try to offset the overshooting any idea how much I should try or a starting point the default is set 0.2 when i auto tuned it i set it at 65C and with other thermometer it was 72C
    and do i need to run auto tune again ?
    what about Digital filtering ?
    Thank again.

  707. Brad

    Has anyone had dielectric problems with the Norpro 559 heaters? I measure resistances (across the heating elements) of 42-58 ohms, which is ok. I also measure lead-to-case (the metal coil) of 600K to 4M ohms, with coil voltages around 30V (measured from coil to ground) when plugged in and heating water. This is consistent with all three I purchased. I would imagine this might make it difficult to run off a GFCI outlet, as it might keep tripping. And contact with the water may give you a shock, too.

    Any thoughts?

  708. BradP

    Oops, thought I should clarify that I’m not the previous Brad. I’ll post as BradP from now on,,,

  709. pbarron

    I noticed a plastic taste with the Foodsaver bags on my first meal. Since then I’ve been using these bags with no plastic taste issues:
    I”ve never cooked at temps as high as 170°F, though. You may want to find thicker bags (bags are usually measured in mil gauge). Just google it.

  710. 26/09/2011

    Hi, just bought an SSR PID unit and thought I was getting something more than what I received as far as it being ready to go. Do not want to go through doing what you did but is there any way of wiring this thing to a hot plat to regulate the current that goes into the heating element?

  711. 26/09/2011

    I want to mount it with a male plug on the one end and a female on the other so I can plug it into a hot plate or induction unit to regulate current flow then have the sensors to go into whatever I have plugged in. Think it would work? (I’m a chef not a tech guy.) Feedback please! ;-)

  712. Aaaron

    Finally started work on mine today… couple things to share:

    1. Dremels aren’t really meant for cutting acrylic. Its a long process of cutting, melting, and sanding. Also, there is a lot of acrylic dust flying around. I probably should have started wearing a mask sooner in the operation :)

    2. I couldn’t really get the J piece to form easily. Seemed no matter how long I heated it up for, it would fairly strongly resist bending. So I ended up having to simply use a wet rag and firmly press it into the shape I wanted while holding it under running cold water. Came out alright, but not quite perfectly shaped. Meh, more sanding and it looks fine. Also, if you drill the hole BEFORE heating it, you’ll end up with a lot of heat bubbles. I found it quite easy on my second try to just drill it after.

    Unfortunately I ordered a k-type thermocouple by accident… and while I guess it’ll work okay, I figured I’ll just spring for the 19$ waterproof PT100 on amazon by LightObject. Meh. So I’m up to like $150 so far, with shipping costs. Not quite 75, but not $4-600 for a retail product.

  713. Justin Uy


    congrats on starting your build man!

    Just an FYI, the waterproofing on that Lightobject PT100 is only rated to 150F (65.5C) I haven’t tried pushing mine past that to do vegetables, but it’s just something to be aware of.

  714. Aaaron

    I didn’t notice that… well, I’ll keep that in mind! I suppose I have that Ktype as backup if needed, in that case…I’ll probably push the rated limits on temp and get back on my results.

  715. brianC

    I followed most of the steps listed in the post, however, instead of connecting the heating elements in directly, I installed an electrical outlet and have them plugged into the outlet instead. So I have everything working except for some reason I am getting some noise in my actual temperature reading but only when the heating elements are plugged into the outlet (readings fluctuate +/- 8 degrees). When I unplug them my reading stabilizes to the correct temperature. Any ideas what could be causing this?

  716. Toby

    Hi all,

    Just rigged up my shiny new 60A SSR to my CD101 and I have a small problem. Well, actually, a big problem. When running a largish current through it (a little 2000w fan heater I have) the SSR started to smoke and leak brown oil out the side :(

    Anyways, its now toast I think and only stays open.

    I have no idea as to why this would have happened. I checked my wiring and its pretty good. The only thing I can think is that Im switching the neutral instead of the hot wire. Or, alternatively my SSR was faulty.

    I have ordered another two 25A SSR just in case.

    Any ideas on what may have gone wrong?

  717. Bryan

    How much heat does the SSR generate? Should there be AirTunes or a fan for a sealed case?

  718. Bryan

    Stupid autocorrect…AirTunes meant air holes

  719. Aaron

    So I finished my assembly, and the temp readings were way off, the OUT would never turn off, and AT light was permalot. I have a PT100 with 2 blue and 1 red… I swapped the blues and everything works great.

    I did find that I think I have 1 DOA heating element… maybe 2. They’re all wired up together so I don’t know why 2 wouldn’t work unless they are doa, but it still seems to do a decent job heating the water. /shrug

    I did make the same rookie mistake several times in wiring it up – I would attach and solder up the wires before putting them through the proper holes, so I’d have to undo it all and put it all back together again. So if you read this… pay attention to what you’re doing.

  720. Keith P.


    Check out http://www.newark.com. I purchased the power supply for the pump through them. It’s not a variable voltage selector like the one from radio shack but its 6V and 1A (6W)for $7.36. You can get a 6V, 300mA (4.5W) for $5.57. A little cost savings for you.


  721. Awesome information it is really. I�ve been seeking for this update.

  722. DaveK

    Love the info on this site!

    Regarding the high temperature pumping issue… Any thoughts about a simple air-lift pump? Use an aquarium air-pump, tube the airflow to a diffuser mounted inside a tube, and let the bubbles pump the water flow. No, not really high-volume flow, but would it be enough? I would imagine that 20-30 gph would be enough and easily achievable.

  723. StevenD

    I was getting accurate temps with my PT100 hooked up directly to the CD101. I wanted to make my controller more “modular,” so I spliced in an XLR plug about 6″ from the end. Could I have destroyed the PT100?



  724. 26/10/2011

    @StevenD I’m not 100% positive on this, but I think the issue has to do with the metal involved when you attached the XLR connector and plug. The PT100 works by changing its resistance in response to temperature. The resistance measured by the CD101 is dependent on the type of metal used not only in the sensor part of the PT100, but also in the wiring. Can you tell if the temperature reading you now get is off by a constant factor (ex. always 5.4C too hot)? If so, you can adjust the Offset value on your CD101 to compensate. However, if it’s off by a variable amount, you may want to experiment with different connector types. Perhaps a 3.5mm stereo jack would yield different/better results.

  725. StevenD

    @Scott Thanks. Unfortunately, it’s quite variable. I think I will just hook it back up directly for now. I found some “thermocouple” plugs and receptacles that i will probably order. I really liked the XLR plugs though.

  726. StevenD

    I found this: http://www.omega.com/Temperature/pdf/TPJ.pdf

    It would work perfectly. However, I have no idea which one to buy to work with the PT100. Anybody have any idea?

  727. Ken L

    Scott, I have the JLD612 PID and my tempature just keeps rising, I ‘am using ST Relay. I switched the blue wires from the probe and still the tempature keeps rising

  728. Justin Uy

    @Ken L

    Sounds like a tuning issue, did you run the autotune on the PID already?

  729. StevenD

    Well, according to http://www.omega.com/pptst/PR-17.html it appears I need the WHITE (uncompensated) connectors. So, that’s what I ordered. I also ordered a new PT100. I’m thinking the one I have got wet inside and that’s why it no longer provides accurate readings. I will let y’all know how it goes.

  730. Ken L #2

    Hi! Thanks for this page – I just finished my version of this on Sunday and have made a few really good meals already!

    I had a few questions:

    1) I ran autotune, but the temperature control seems a little weird. When I told the controller to go to 65C, it overshot by quite a bit (68). I have a fair amount of water, maybe 3.5 gallons, and it takes maybe 30-40 seconds per degree. I could watch the relay power on and off even at 66, then 67 degrees, and the temp kept rising. I turned off the power (in order to put my food in), and when I turned it back on, it quickly settled perfectly in at 65 and held it just fine. I had a similar experience yesterday as well, with the water shooting past the targeted 55 to 57, then after turning off and on again, it held perfectly.

    Are there any settings on the PID I should be tweaking? Should I run Autotune again? Or does this seem like normal behavior?

    2) I also had the thermocouple fluctuation issue (about +-5C), but only when the heaters were in the water and OFF. When the heaters were ON, the thermocouple was exactly accurate according to my other thermometer. I tried grounding the metal shield to the various pins as described in earlier posts, but not only did that not fix anything, but it simply errored out (the controller read “EEEE”). I tried various other things, but eventually had to swap it out with a K thermocouple I had, which is only accurate to 1 degree C but works.

    Just wondering if there were any other fixes people had for that issue, or if I should just try another thermocouple (looks like tward’s similar issue was that his thermocouple was simply bad). But I wonder if I have some other kind of wiring issue since the fluctuations are different depending on my heaters being on or off.

    Anyway, thanks again – the project was really fun to put together, and the food is good! I ended up splitting the thing into two separate boxes, one with the electronics, and one which was just a structural box for holding the heaters and thermocouple and pump. I left the 2-prong plugs on all of those devices and wired in electrical outlets in the first box, so I can easily replace the various pieces if they go bad. Plus, I can keep the scary electronics well away from the big box of steaming water :)

  731. Sparky

    One quick question… Does it matter if I purchase a SSR much larger than the 25A? Is there a down side to using a 60A SSR? I’m just at the ordering parts stage :(

  732. 04/11/2011

    @Sparky Nope, 60A should do just fine!

  733. DaveK

    I’m getting ready to order parts for this project, but need a little feedback on suppliers.

    There are a couple of online suppliers (Lightobject and Auberins, e.g) who seem to have somewhat reasonable prices and customer ratings. On the other hand, there is E-Bay, where prices are a lot lower… but when parts aren’t right you are often stuck because it will cost more to return/exchange the item than to buy another one.

    Can you (or anyone else, for that matter) provide any thoughts on the reliability and risks of using the e-bay suppliers?

    Also, many of the e-bay suppliers are sourced overseas. Are their shipping time estimates reasonably accurate? Also, will I be hit up for import duty fees when these things come from overseas?

    Many thanks for any thoughts you or other contributors can provide on these issues.

    PS: This is a really great site!

  734. DaveK

    and another dumb question…

    What is the “fail-safe” fallback for all these controllers?

    When the temperatures go out of range, when the temperature input disappears, when other things go wrong, what will the controller do?

  735. Ken L #2

    DaveK: I purchased my thermocouple through Amazon, but it came from some random overseas supplier in Hong Kong, and the shipping estimate was pretty spot on (2 weeks, something like that).

    When I was testing my thermocouple calibration issue occasionally I would provide bad input to the controller and would error it out (“EEEE”) and the controller would shut off the relay and the heaters, so that was good. However, you still need to be careful – if your thermocouple loses contact with the water, for example it can read room temperature, which is a valid reading, but would result in the relays turning on constantly, boiling off all your water or doing something else bad.

  736. DaveK

    KenL #2:

    Thanks for your input on that. After looking more closely at the PID controllers from e-bay, very few have the features I want. Looks like it will be Lightobject or Auberins for that part.

    Very good to hear that the relays shut down when the sensor goes to EEEE. As far as other failures are concerned, I’m going to eventually want a low-level alarm/shutdown for my final build.

  737. jeff seattle

    Wow! U rock. I live in Seattle and was wondering if you ever thought about making the acrylic box pieces and selling them….and or a kit with everything ready for assembly…..or premade units. When will you have version 2 with upgraded heating unit ? Contemplating making one ..or 4 of these as gifts…THANKS JEFF in Seattle.

  738. 10/11/2011

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  739. I do not even understand how I finished up right here, but I thought this put up was once great. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a well-known blogger if you happen to aren’t already. Cheers!

  740. JDR24

    Will be starting my project shortly excited to see how it works terrific idea Scott.

  741. Anonymous

    Great idea.

    I would also suggest that you use a small to medium cooler. Better thermo stability (more consistent temperature control).


  742. We’re a bunch of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to work on. You’ve performed an impressive task and our whole group will probably be thankful to you.

  743. 13/11/2011

    Thank you for any other great article. The place else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I’m at the look for such info.

  744. 16/11/2011

    A note about using an insulated cooler for your water vessel: I researched a bunch of different cooler manufacturers, and all of them said that most of their coolers are not intended for use with hot liquids. I went with a Cambro polycarbonate container which was rated to boiling temperatures. It’s not insulated, so it will tend to lose heat more rapidly.
    Losing heat is good and bad in some ways. Since most sous vide rigs don’t have any way to cool if they overshoot, a bit of heat loss is actually good to keep the temperature from staying too high for too long.
    On the other hand, I found that when temperature stabilized, putting some insulation around the container both significantly lowered my average power input and helped maintain a good constant temperature.
    In response to KenL #2, I’d suggest that if you’re still significantly overshooting, increase the value of the “souF” parameter on your PID controller (this is the damping factor.) I find that for my controller parameters, (p=0.1, i=250 s, d=0) that a value of 0.6 minimizes initial overshoot when heating up from cold temperatures (it’s still sometimes about 0.5 F overshoot). Increasing it any further (to 0.7) causes it to undershoot and doesn’t warm up as quickly as it should. Note: I have a large vessel (approx. 4.5 gallons) and a 1000 W bucket heater that actually delivers closer to 880 W of heating power.

  745. Bryan

    Hi Scott,

    Do you see any problems in using this thermocouple? http://www.ebay.com/itm/Teflon-Insulated-PT100-Thermocouple-Temperature-Sensor-/260890626250?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cbe4b08ca#ht_2573wt_1396

    Teflon coated so the whole wire is essentially waterproof.

  746. 16/11/2011

    Bryan, that looks perfect! I wasn’t aware that teflon-coated pt100s were out there, but this looks like a great part to use!

  747. DaveK

    WOO! HOOO!

    SUCCESS! (Sorry for shouting, but I couldn’t help myself!)

    Just put together my Sous Vide cooker, and managed for less than $100. And it worked on the first try!

    Bought PID, SSR and heatsink, and Pt100 sensor from Lightobject. Picked up a 1500 Watt, 8-quart cooker/deep-fryer from a local thrift store for $10. Rummaged in the shop for a switch, old extension cord to mutilate, some other wire, and then into the computer parts bin for some leftover thermal paste for the heatsink.

    Put everything all together, set basic parameters, and then did Autotune (followed by a little tweaking of the PID settings). It’s holding at 65.0C, plus or minus 0.2C or less.

    I am a very happy camper! Next comes the obligatory soft-cooked egg, and from there the sky is the limit!

    Thanks, Scott, for all the info you have put together on this site, and your patience with all us noobs.

  748. StevenD

    Thats the thermocouple I am using. It works great. I like it better than the all stainless one.

  749. 18/11/2011

    Hello Scott,
    what adjustments do i need to make if i want to
    use it with 220V?

  750. 18/11/2011

    @Tomas Make sure that you are using a PID controller and heating coils that support 220V input. I’d also recommend using a 60A SSR instead of 25A. Finally, you’ll only need 2 heating coils instead of 3, since the energy output of each coil will be doubled by the double in voltage.

  751. DaveK

    Scott, and Tomas:

    Power output (and amp draw) for a constant resistance load is proportional to the Voltage Squared. If you try to use an immersion heater designed for 110V, you’d 4x the amps (and 4x the power output in watts) for a little while until that heater failed spectacularly. If you could use the 300W, 110V immersion heater at 220V, you’d be putting out about 1200W and the amp draw would jump from a little less than 1.5 amps per heater to closer to 6 amps.

    220V immersion heaters are (if I remember correctly) designed more typically at 500W, so if you used just two, you’d be drawing a total of around 4.5 amps. The 3x 300W heater setup at 110V (would be putting out 900 Watts and drawing 8.2 amps).

    The 25A SSRelay should work fine with a 220V setup, unless you are putting a huge heater in your system (and presuming it’s rated for the higher voltage).

    ALWAYS do the math when you modify these setups! Mistakes can be spectacular and deadly.

  752. DaveK

    Oops! That single-heater calculation was wrong… The 110V heater would draw 2X the amps, but be putting out 4X the watts, going from a little less than 1.5 amps to a little less than 3 amps.

    Another lesson… always double-check those calculations!

  753. Bryan

    @StevenD @scott Thanks! I’ll be picking this up for my project. Can’t wait!

  754. 26/11/2011

    I’ll immediately seize your rss feed as I can’t in finding your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any? Kindly allow me recognize in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  755. Jeremy

    where did you mount your SSR in the acrylic box. I don’t see it anywhere in the pics. thanks. Jeremy

  756. Justin Uy


    It looks like the pictures that are on this page are the older build using the CD101 PID with a mechanical SPDT relay (small light blue cube suspended by wires above the heaters). There isn’t an SSR in the pictures.

  757. Jeremy

    so does anyone have a suggestion on where to mount the SSR since it gets warm/hot? would you put the metal plate attached to the bottom of the SSR against the acrylic or would you put it towards the interior of the box? thanks. Jeremy

  758. Jeff

    Hello, I noticed in the pictures that the jld612 unit when mounted into the acrylic box has a white plastic sleeve that fits around the body of the unit when inserted, my unit showed up today, and did not have that sleeve, was it missing something or is that a separate purchase
    thank you

  759. 29/11/2011

    @Jeff Hi Jeff, Some units have a sleeve, as shown in the images above. Other units have tabs built in that keep the PID pressed tightly against the opening in the enclosure. If yours has neither, a bead of hot glue will likely do the trick!


  760. Philip

    I just found this site and am so excited to start work on my Sous Vide. I was all set to have my wife buy me a Sous Vide Supreme for XMAS but this is a much better option (now i can have her buy me a $400 vacuum sealer instead). I have read every comment and think I have most of my project planned out. Like many people my biggest concern is using an aquarium pump in these high temps.

    I am leaning towards getting the high temp 10L/min pump from LightObject but it requires a 12V DC power adapter. Not being an electrician, and not wanting to spend $50 on the parts if it wont work, Im wondering how complicated it will be to connect the bare wires from the pump to the power adapter. Under this setup I would likely have the pump powered seperately from the rest of the unit and set it up outside the tank with tubes circulating the water in the tub. Will attemp to find a way to make it pretty once i start putting things together. Thanks to anyone who can provide guidance.

  761. 04/12/2011

    Good to know. Excellent website especially on topics like bird repellers.

  762. StevenD

    I’m finally ready to declare my sous vide success! I did my Thanksgiving turkey and 72 hour short ribs this week. They were both beyond excellent! I used my controller with a 22qt roaster for both preparations and the temp never moved. I also used a $6 aquarium pump and its still going strong.

  763. 05/12/2011

    Magnificent web site. A lot of helpful info here. I’m sending it to some pals ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you in your sweat!

  764. 06/12/2011

    thank you scott, that was very helpful, was not sure if I was missing a piece or not, the post following yours it talks about water pumps for high temp liquids, there are tons of them on ebay, or you can just go to goodwill, get an old coffee maker for 2 bucks and yank it out of there, think that would work

  765. Philip

    Rather than use the cord and plug you cut off the water pump, could you cut the cord with safety plug off a hair dryer? Any reason this wouldn’t work? Do you think this would make the unit safer around water?

  766. 08/12/2011

    Hi Philip,

    That’s a great idea. Those plugs contain a GFI (ground fault interrupt) circuit and are very useful if the outlet that you’re connecting to doesn’t have it’s own GFI built in.

  767. Laraine Agren

    Our unit was working perfectly. We did not use it for a couple of months, and then today got it going, but the temperatures were not calibrated properly. The temperature was over 20 degrees hotter than the actual temperature, which I took with my Polder probe. We attempted to reset the parameters, but only achieved getting more and more frustrated. Any help would be great.

  768. Normally I do not learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great article.

  769. Jeff

    help, I have put the whole thing together using a JLD612 and a 25a ssr, a pt100 rtd thermistor, coupling, when I first got everything hooked up, I got heat to the norpro units, but when I tried to program it, as mentioned, I am still getting power, but no heat, the top red line on the PID is EEEEEEE , I have checked the online manual which is relatively useless, there is also po

  770. Jeff

    also possibilities to set other parameters that are not listed, such as ‘Hy’ I dont even know what that stands for, and p56 in which I have no clue either, can anyone help me
    thank you

  771. 11/12/2011

    @Jeff my best guess, based on the symptoms, is that either you need to set the input type to PT100, or you need to switch the order of the wires where the pt100 connects to the PID.

  772. Jeff

    thank you scott, I will give it a try and post the results,

  773. Todd

    Got it all set up, plugged it in, hit the switch it came on for a second then there was a small pop and everything went off? replaced the switch plugged it back in, the lights in the room dim and it humms???? any thoughts (electrical noob here)

  774. Jeremy B

    I got my pt100 probe today and it has two dark green wires and one red. Any suggestions about which order to attach them to my jld612?

  775. 17/12/2011

    I do not even know how I ended up here, however I thought this post was good. I do not recognize who you are but certainly you are going to a well-known blogger if you happen to are not already ;) Cheers!

  776. Steve W.

    Scott, I’m half way there. Heaters wired,power switch wired. My question concerns my pt100 thermocouple. It has one red lead and two blue leads. Your diagram is for red,yellow and blue. Any idea which ones go on posts #9 & #10? Will it work fine as long as red is on post #8? I am using the JLD612 PID.

  777. William Potash

    Do you think one or two of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BDB4UG/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20 would work instead of the six Norpros?

  778. 18/12/2011

    Steve W.,

    For a PT100 thermocouple, the red lead goes to post #8, and the blue leads go to #9 and #10. (The order shouldn’t matter for the blue leads, but if they behave badly, try switching them.)

  779. Dave Brown

    I have not read all the comments, but has anyone thought about using an automotive circulating block heater for heating and circulation in one unit?


    It might simplify the project a bit and still keep the cost down.

  780. 19/12/2011

    Dave Brown,

    The block heater idea is interesting, but at least that model uses passive (convection) circulation. It will almost certainly give you very bad temperature gradients or no effective circulation for sous vide. In my experience, the water in your bath needs to be somewhat actively circulated. (See my comments above about the temperature gradients you get if you don’t!) It also has its own thermostat, which may cause issues unless you can set it high enough that it is always effectively “on.”

  781. 19/12/2011

    William Potash,
    That bucket heater is what I use. It works great, and is very likely more robust than the Norpro immersion heaters. (The Norpros will burn out *instantly* if used out of water, and there’s lots and lots of notes about them burning out even when used properly.)
    The shield on the bucket heater keeps plastic from melting against it. It’s designed to be used in plastic buckets. The only drawback with this heater is that it’s pretty long and wants to be used in at least 9 inches of water. I have to lay it down diagonally in my 18″x12″x9″ Cambro polycarbonate container to submerge the heating element to a proper depth, but it works great in there. A smaller container wouldn’t be as good. It’s just long enough that the top won’t fall in no matter how you orient it.
    Read the notes from the manufacturer. I recommend spraying down your bucket heater with some white vinegar after each use to prevent scale buildup. Just get a $1 spray bottle and fill it with vinegar. Scale buildup can crack the heating element if it gets too thick. A little vinegar keeps it clean and shiny.

  782. 29/12/2011

    I know this is going on 2 years old but it looks like the info given is still bringing people and comments to the post. Good job!!

    The reason for my comment is I need to make a water bath that will maintain a temp of 102F for developing color negative film. I would like it to be programable so that I could also work with b/w and color slide as well. This is built for cooking food so temps are much higher, do you think there is a way to scale this down for the temps that I need? Thanks!

  783. 29/12/2011

    @Chris Absolutely. You can build the device as-is and it will work just fine at holding 102F. In fact, this machine will hold any temperature above ambient (room temperature) with the same precision that it will hold hot cooking temperatures. I had no idea that film developing required temperature controlled water baths, but I love hearing how this technology has so many applications!

  784. Laraine Agren

    We are still unable to reset the parameters. The temperatures need to be recalibrated. We are at least 20 degrees off. Any help would be appreciated.

  785. Raffi


    I’ve just built a similar circuit, using a rice cooker instead of a crockpot but using the identical CD101. Oddly, setting SL6 to 0001 (i.e. heating mode, time scale output) results in OUT1 never being turned on; setting SL6 to 0000 results in OUT1 turning on and staying on (and eventually bringing the rice cooker to a boil, independent of the value of SV).

    What are your settings for the CD101 on sous-vide?

    Thanks very much,
    – Raffi.

  786. Kyle

    Hey Scott, I’ve read through the instructions so many times and tried to comb through the comments, but I’m still having a hard time with the wiring, specifically where the water pump comes into play. What is physically being soldered together under the two black circles on the wiring diagram?

  787. 30/12/2011

    @Kyle – you want the water pump to run all the time when the unit is turned on, so it will be wired (logically, not literally) to the neutral lead input and to the rocker switch.

  788. 30/12/2011

    @Raffi – is your temperature reading correct? SL6 should be set to 0001, but after it reaches the SV, OUT1 should go off. Does the PV look correct? Another thing to check is that your relay itself is turning on and off – most SSRs will have a red light on them. The red light should turn on and off with OUT1. Does this happen?

  789. Kyle

    Ah so when I cut off the outlet plug, Ill have two wires to work with? I just didnt want to cut it off in case I wanted to just run it separately, thanks very much.

  790. Raffi

    @scott Thanks very much. The temperature does indeed look right (at least to within 3º).

    In SL6 =0000, OUT1 lights up (solid light, not blinking), as does the relay, and the rice cooker does heat, but it never stops heating, no matter what the set value. In SL6= 0001, OUT1 never lights up, and neither does the relay, no matter what the value of SV.

    Thanks again!

  791. 31/12/2011

    I’m starting to build this crazy thing. One more hardware shop trip to go. My wife has liked the Kenji style ice-chest sous vide, so we’re moving forward.

    One suggestion – on the full size 1:1 pdf templates, it would help people if you included size references, such as a ruler (either inches or cm). Many printers scale things up or down and having an absolute reference, would help. Especially since some folks might not have the same box you used.


  792. Kelly

    We have made so many great meals from this guy! Carnitas are special treat sou vide. Unfortunately while trying to cook lobster this evening the PID kept climbing above the set temperature. Though the temperature of the water remained less than the set amount. After turning machine on and off the PID only shows EEEE now. We have checked all the settings and set them to the listed default. We tried PT at default 10 and 100 as well. No luck. Any suggestions?

  793. David

    Having trouble with probe reading temp-seems to be jumping, range of aprox 5-8 degrees when in water (?)

    Anyone else experience this and able to resolve it?

  794. 02/01/2012

    @Kelley – make sure that your relay is turning off with your OUT1 light. There’s a red light on the relay that will tell you if it’s on or off. It’s possible (likely) that you may have a short in your wiring. It could be sending current through the water, which would explain your temperature reading. My recommendation is to dissasemble the unit, check all your connections, and make sure that all contacts are covered with electrical tape to avoid accidental shorts.

    @David – Double check the wiring of your probe to the PID. If your probe has 2 blue wires, try switching them. Also, is your probe connected directly to the PID, or is it wired into a plug or onto any connectors using different materials? Since the PID measures the resistance of the PT100, using connectors or different materials can interfere with an accurate reading.

  795. David

    Changed the 2 blue wires-temp is still jumping.
    Probe is connected directly to the PID using factory installed “connectors”-out of the water it settles at one temp. Any other suggestions?

  796. David

    Just D-checked, it is now working…operating it w/o the storage box-may have got water in the probe (?) and now it has dried out (Accidental 100% submersion); regardless, thank you for your immediate feedback

  797. Robert

    I have ordered pretty much the same setup that you have here. I have found a Premium Stainless Steel Waterproof PT100 RTD Temperature Sensor Probe that is designed to be submerged for $24 http://www.lightobject.com/Search.aspx?k=ETC-PT100SS2M
    I really didn’t want it to look cheap in a latex glove finger or rust from the water vapor coming off the bath. This waterproof one should last me forever.
    I ordered an 18 qt storage bin for the bath. I will use a separate flat piece of acrylic to mount the elements and probe to(the rest of the piece that I will cut the J clamp section from). I do not plan to mount the acrylic control box directly to the heating elements right over the water bath, but a modular design with a GFCI plug mounted in the acrylic box instead and then just plug all the stuff into it without cutting and soldiering all the wires together and I plan on using a 3 way power splitter to give me the outlets i will need. This way it will be easy to replace 1 heating element if it goes out, or the aquarium circulation pump http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004LOBS20/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20 if it can’t take the heat. This is a 90gph pump, but it is adjustable so I can turn it down if it is blasting my food around too much. I have a feeling i won’t need it to pump wide open but I can vary the power for different size containers since they claim this 3 element bath can handle up to 15 gallons of water. For the circulation pump I guess I will have to plug it directly into the wall outlet so it will run all the time unless I put 2 GFCI outlets and wire one of them directly off from the switch on the unit. Also, leaving the temperature control unit separate and putting the power outlet right on the unit, it gives me the option to control other devices such as an electric smoker or beer keg refrigerator.

    I have a few questions while I am waiting for my parts to arrive.

    The PT100 probes look like they have a red wire and two blue wires now unlike your diagram. Is there anyway to know which blue wire goes where since it looks like they used to have 3 separate colors for the wires? I am assuming the red wire will still go to 10, but there is no yellow wire anymore. The ones on eBay look like this as well as the expensive submersion one that I ordered.

    Do you see anything with my design that you think might cause me problems that I may be overlooking?

    Any other way to keep it modular without needing 2 GFCI outlets on the unit to run the water pump all the time the switch is on short of wiring it directly? I have thought about using 2 standard outlets and putting the GFCI in the wall, but this will not give the safety of the GFCI if I decide to move the bath or take it with me somewhere. I don’t mind spending the money on another $12 GFCI, but the $75 project is going to be at $200 if I do, i’m already at $180 with shipping and the plastic container i’m using for the water bath.

    Why do you not hear about many people using an aquarium circulation pump to move the water around more efficiently like a laboratory water bath does? It does not seem like just bubbling the water will keep it nearly as accurate. Have you heard these cannot take the heat associated with sous vide? I decided to give it a try since they are not that expensive and see how it holds up. I will report back in the future with personal observations.

    Will I have any problems mounting the GFCI right in the same box as the causing interference with the temp controller or probe?

    I don’t think this can be done for $75 anymore unless you only count the main components and no shipping charges. Actually, i just added it up and the main parts not counting the PT-100 came to $121 with shipping so with even a cheaper PT-100 one from eBay it would be about $133. Still, even with $200 in it, I will have a better product than the sous vide supreme “water oven” with a better controller and circulation to keep the temp more uniform. I would compare this more to the $799 unit that you can move from bath to bath as well. This is probably overkill actually, but since I used to be a bench chemist and used to use high end laboratory water baths for testing the last 20 years, the thought of the water just setting there being circulated by convection really bothered me.

    Thanks a lot for your input and ideas.


  798. Robert

    Got my first parts into today and decided to test out the immersion heaters norpro 559. I filled a coffee mug with water,inserted the heater into the almost full cup and plugged it in. After about 4 mins the water was boiling. I thought that was pretty quick. I got my camera phone and was going to snap a picture and send it to a friend with the subject Success when at about 5 mins it quit making noise and stopped boiling. It appears it has burned up in the first cup of water. Is this normal? I have read a lot of hit and miss reviews for this thing now that mine broke. The water was at least an inch over the top of the coil part. Can you not just let it keep it hot like that? In the sous vide bath I will not be heating to nearly that hot, but I figured it would be ok if I was sure it was covered. Anyone have any insight? Any higher quality brands out there?

  799. Justin

    @Robert I built two of the diy immersion circulators both following the plans scott laid out. i would consider both of them a success. I did accidentally fry one of the aquarium pumps buy taking the temp too high (I’d say 70c is about the limit). A little solder removal and a new pump I’m back in buisness. I finished both of my machines just before Christmas. I decided to make the housings out of plexiglas and bought the SSR relays. All told I was barely over $225 for both of them. I looked for the best deal on each of the components and I could have built it for just over $75 (I am and amazon prime member so I did save some on the shipping). All in all, this is a great product and I am looking into a more robust circulation system. I am thinking propeller or paddles to circulate the water instead of submersible pumps. I have been unable to fine a big enough high-heat submersible pump that doesn’t need priming.

  800. Justin