Homemade Drum Smoker




Update May 28, 2013: I'm working on a new temperature controller that runs on an Android phone.  You can see the project here: https://www.instructables.com/id/E5X914VH7UR7LEK/?ALLSTEPS

I have built a new UDS with adjustable shelves that you can see here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Build-Your-Own-Ugly-Drum-Smoker-UDS/

I made a drum smoker with a friend of mine who happens to be a very good cook.  In the past he's slaved for hours over a gas grill and smoker boxes trying to get his ribs just right but now it's much easier to cook them.

The smoker has a controller that spins up a fan to keep the temperature inside the smoker at the desired cook-point.  The controller is an Arduino running the standard PID software.  The hardest part for us was creating the charcoal basket.  I taught myself to weld (poorly) and made the basket out of expanded steel.

There are other Instructables on making a drum smoker (I based some of my construction on this one) so I'll just post my pictures.

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    5 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Would like to know the program that you used with the arduino? Is it one that is out there or did you write it?

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I wrote it myself, although I cribbed a lot from other people. It doesn't look like I can attach a non-image to this Instructable; if you PM me your email I'll send it to you.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Nice project. And I am surprised that you can control the heat with just a small fan. Are you not loosing too much smoke in this way? And how good is the heat control? Can you just through in some coals and let Arduino take control or do you start with about the right temperature by adding or substracting coals?

    2 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    It took a little practice but at this point we can control the heat fairly well. The trick is learning the size of the ball valve opening. If it's open too much then it allows too much air in and the smoker gets up to 300 degrees or more. If the opening is too small then the fan isn't powerful enough to draw in the air needed.

    We think that it would be easier if we installed a blower instead of a fan. In our tests the fan can't create enough static pressure to draw air through a small opening but a blower should be able to do it. The fan works well enough so we haven't gotten around to replacing it (and we probably never will).

    The fourth-from-last picture shows you how we start the smoker. We light ~8 pieces of medium-sized charcoal pieces in a chimney. Once they have started we dump them on top of the rest of the charcoal in the basket and drop it in the smoker. With the ball valve all the way open it takes about an hour for the smoker to come up to temperature and stay steady (the temperature will fluctuate 10-15 degrees while the PID figures out the correct settings). After about 30 minutes we close the valve to about half way.