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DIY Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator for About $75

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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

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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.
    IMG_0444
  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.
    IMG_0460
  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!).

Troubleshooting

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!




998 comments on “DIY Sous Vide Heating Immersion Circulator for About $75”

@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.
Weird!

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

@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!

Scott,

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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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.

@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.

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.

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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@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.

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

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.

@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.

@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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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:
http://s1124.photobucket.com/albums/l575/AddledProf/

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.

@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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

@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!

You are all awesome! I found this Thermocouple:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004HHU4FS/?tag=seattlefoodgeek-20

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?

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.

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!

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,

http://qandabe.com/2011/02/21/70-diy-sous-vide-universal-controller/

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).

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.

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:

http://www.sandsmuseum.com/misc/sousvide/

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

Archie,
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!

Archie,
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.

@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.

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.

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.

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