With the summer heat giving way to the cooler temps of fall, don’t be too hasty to put away that grill. It’s not yet too late for some good barbecue before the snow really starts flying.
As an engineer, you might be interested to read about how some National Instruments’ (NI) employees recently elevated their barbecuing technique with wireless sensors networks (WSN).
More than 5 years ago, a group of NI employees formed BMF Cooks, a non-profit organization benefiting an Austin-based youth scholarship fund. The 2010 barbecue competition at the Austin Rodeo marked BMF Cooks’ fifth year in the competition—and the group attributes it highest finish yet to the help provided by NI’s wireless sensor technology.
For this year’s contest, BMF Cooks developed a LabView-powered application using a combination of WSN-3212 thermocouple measurement nodes and WSN-3291 outdoor enclosures to monitor eight temperature channels on each of the two barbecue pits they used. An NI 9792 Programmable WSN Gateway was connected to an integrated Web server to publish the temperature data to the Web, so that patrons could monitor the status of the meats on their smart phones while roaming the fairgrounds, alerting them when the freshest round of barbecue was ready to be served.
Since the secret to excellent barbecue is using the method widely known as “low-and-slow”, this high-level ability to monitor meat temperature and the temperature gradient inside the pits via the NI WSN measurement nodes provided BMF Cooks with the edge they needed to win second place in the Austin Rodeo BBQ competition.
As a big barbecue fan, it’s hard for me to think of a better use for the technology. Save me some pulled pork and brisket!