Simple Temperature Controller – Sous vide

So a couple weeks ago I started experimenting with sous vide cooking – simply using ziplock bags and the store by turning it on/off. Wanting to do more and manage it less, I’ve decided build myself a temperature controller that’ll turn on/off a cooking element.

A sous vide controller is essentially just a temperature controller that turns on/off a heating element when the temperature is below a certain threshold and turns off once it reaches that temperature. What I’m going to do is take the STC-1000, which is a pre-assembled temperature controller from Amazon (priced similarly on eBay but faster shipping on Amazon), and then run it to a power outlet.

Parts list:
STC-1000 ($28 or another temperature controller)
Extension cord (rated 1000W or higher – that’s 8.5A or more – at most $8.50 for a 10-foot or 15-foot cord)
Twist wire connector (Marrette) (minimum 3 yellows) ($3 for 20 or Amazon has them for $7 for 75)
Electrical tape (optional but recommended)
Case (optional but recommended)

That’s it, spending about $40 plus tax for a pre-made controller, that will be easy to implement in our design.

For my controller I opted to use the cardboard box the STC-1000 came in as a temporary thing – As I forgot to look for a case when  I was at home depot – but shouldn’t be a problem so long as it doesn’t spark while in use.

I know it’s obvious but here’s the blurb from the cord:

DANGER: Electrical cords can be hazardous.
Misuse can result in FIRE or DEATH by ELECTRICAL SHOCK.

The label will also say not to modify the cord… but oh well. Anyways, here’s a poorly designed schematic created in MS Paint.

Modified for school project
Modified for school project – Temperature Controller Schematic

You also want to cut out the shape of the controller on the case (in my case the cardboard box it come in) and slide the controller into the box then wire everything together as shown in the schematic. If you don’t have any electrical tape try to expose the least amount of copper wiring while still getting a good connection. I also used some extra cable from the original extension cord by cutting the cord into thirds. The middle third was extra wire used to connect to the temperature controller. Don’t forget to connect the temperature probe.

Look forward to another post about a controller that costs under $15 or an immersion circulator in the future.

ESXi Server

This is just a mini work-log of how I got my ESXi server running for use at my home.

Hardware specs:
Motherboard: Jetway NF9G-QM77
CPU: Intel i5-3320M SR0MX 120
RAM: 2 x Corsair Vengeance CMSX8GX3M1A1600C10 8GB
HDD: Plextor PX-128M5M 128GB mSata
PSU: Seasonic 350W 1U PSU (doesn’t fit the case, but good enough)
Case: U-NAS 8-bay with USB 3.0 front module

Extra specs:
Realtek 4-port GigE daughter board
LSI 9650SE-12ML RAID Card (3ware 9650SE)
4x Seagate 3TB Drives
1x WD 3TB Green Drive

ESXi 5.5
Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard (NAS and DLNA server)
Pfsense (To be installed)

Initial incompatibilities:
Out-of-box I believe ESXi detected the Intel GigE NICs but only mounted one of them. It also didn’t detect the Realtek daughter-board nor the RAID card.

An aside: ESXi 5.1u1 seemed to get some of the functionality working for the Realtek nics.

Overall problems:
– Realtek ports not detected
– LSI Raid card not detected
– LSI Raid detected but no drives found
– 3TB showed as 750GB

Found out that the Realtek daughter-board needed the Realtek 8168 driver package from ESXi 5.1/5.0, the LSI 9650SE also is an async driver which means I have to load it into the ISO or afterwards as well.  After creating a new ISO including the new Realtek drivers and the LSI raid driver, I managed to get the NICs working but the RAID card wasn’t detected still… Actually, the RAID card was shipped and I figured maybe the battery was dead or something wasn’t letting it detect properly. After 24 hours of letting it sit in the desktop with the power cord connected (still off) it was detected but didn’t load anything properly (no drives). After some tinkering I managed to get the RAID drivers loaded, had to load a newer aacraid driver in addition to the LSI drivers.

Later I found out, that the drives weren’t being detected properly as they showed as 746GB drives. I thought it was weird so I put in a WD 3TB drive that was known for sure to be compatible (although I found someone using the Seagates), but it was the same.  I realized I had misread the firmware number and I had one just before the 2TB+ compatibility, so I had to update the firmware to FE9X to work. All detected A-OK.


Beginning to end in a summed up form would be….

Driver list:

Installing ESXi 5.5 with drivers
1) Download the drivers to load (Realtek 8168, LSI 9650SE async, aacraid)
2) One-by-one load them into the ISO using ESXi Customizer (I believe I loaded the vib files but I’ve included the offline zips as well)
3) Create a USB using rufus
4) Install to the server
5) Configure network access to connected NIC
6) Log into ESXi server on remote machine
7) Setup and install a guest OS

Configure RAID card
1) Ensure firmware (FE9X is what I used) or higher is installed on the RAID card
2) Create your array, or configure single drives to use windows to create an array
* Note: there are two ways to configure the array, one is through the RAID cards bootloader but you need to be in BIOS mode  the other way is through the 3DM2 interface.

Configure windows
1) Install RAID Drivers, ensure the latest 3DM2 is installed to work with Windows 2012 R2
2) Setup RAID using Disk Manager (for Software RAID) or 3DM2 (for Hardware RAID)
3) Configure file server (initialize the disk)