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This project was inspired by Cooking for Geeks author Jeff Potter’s quick DIY sous-vide hack. My plan, initially, was to just hack the controller into an enclosure with an A/C outlet, the idea being that you could just plug any heater you wanted into the outlet.

Looking around for cheap temperature controllers, however, I happened across the STC-1000 on eBay for $25. It’s not PID, but it has proven to be accurate enough for almost any practical purpose. And since the STC-1000 has both heating and cooling functions built-in, the logical next step seemed to be to split a single A/C outlet so that you could plug a heater or a cooler (or both) into it and use it for all kinds of stuff.

The STC-1000 will regulate at any temperature between the freezing and boiling points of water, which opens up all kinds of potential applications in chemistry, aquaculture, zymurgy, hydroponics, cooking, etc., etc. And unlike most other water temperature controllers I’ve seen around, this one can operate in heat only, cool only, and heat-or-cool-as-necessary modes.

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Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Miller/1178810793 Matthew Miller

    I could build this and use it to cook individual servings of beef stew for lunches. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Bell/756919399 David Bell

    Sean, is the STC-1000 on eBay actually 120 VAC?
    I see in the description section the seller mentions both 110V and 220VAC±10%, 50/60Hz

    Dave

    • http://smragan.com Sean Michael Ragan

      I think what the eBay sellers do is look at your mailing address and include the version of their controller that is appropriate for your national power system. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Bell/756919399 David Bell

    Sean, is the STC-1000 on eBay actually 120 VAC?
    I see in the description section the seller mentions both 110V and 220VAC±10%, 50/60Hz

    Dave

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.sklar Mikey Sklar

    While I like the idea of a inexpensive temperature controller the STC-1000 does not seem to have a food grade probe. Depending on what you want to do this could put you back in the market for a $60 open hardware temperature controller kit that does heating/cooling and includes the stainless steel food grade probe.

    http://screwdecaf.cx/yatc.html

    • http://smragan.com Sean Michael Ragan

      The STC-1000 uses an NTC thermistor temperature probe.  I am in the process of taking the necessary measurements to determine its K value, at which point it should be possible to buy an aftermarket food-grade stainless thermistor probe that will work with the STC-1000, if it is necessary for your application.

    • http://smragan.com Sean Michael Ragan

      The STC-1000 uses an NTC thermistor temperature probe.  I am in the process of taking the necessary measurements to determine its K value, at which point it should be possible to buy an aftermarket food-grade stainless thermistor probe that will work with the STC-1000, if it is necessary for your application.

      • Tim Tan

        Did the author do this so we can use aftermarket SS probe or at least a replacement? Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.sklar Mikey Sklar

    While I like the idea of a inexpensive temperature controller the STC-1000 does not seem to have a food grade probe. Depending on what you want to do this could put you back in the market for a $60 open hardware temperature controller kit that does heating/cooling and includes the stainless steel food grade probe.

    http://screwdecaf.cx/yatc.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikey.sklar Mikey Sklar

    While I like the idea of a inexpensive temperature controller the STC-1000 does not seem to have a food grade probe. Depending on what you want to do this could put you back in the market for a $60 open hardware temperature controller kit that does heating/cooling and includes the stainless steel food grade probe.

    http://screwdecaf.cx/yatc.html

  • Anonymous

    So how does the performance of this compare to a PID approach?  Anyone know just how this is different?

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

    • Derrick Boudwin

      PID uses an algorithm to prevent temp overshoot and undershoot. This rig simply turns the outlet off when the target temp is reached. I tested my rig out last night and since my crock pot has a slow temperature response it overshot by about 2 degrees. If I had a PID on it and calibrated it, it would know to turn the outlet off (or start pulsing it) before the target temp was reached to compensate.

  • Anonymous

    So how does the performance of this compare to a PID approach?  Anyone know just how this is different?

  • Anonymous

    So how does the performance of this compare to a PID approach?  Anyone know just how this is different?

  • Derrick Boudwin

    Is the thermistor that comes with the STC-1000 waterproof?