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Automation with the Tappecue Cruise Control and Hunsaker Vortex Plate on a Weber Smokey Mountain

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

by customer Shand Glenn

Like many of you, I have been tweaking my BBQ toolset ever since I got my first offset cooker 20 years ago. Now that I have settled on using the Weber Smokey Mountain family of cookers, I have spent the last 10 years trying to get the most out of this fantastic cooker. I have settled on using Tappecue's product for temperature monitoring, and with the creation of the Cruise Control, I have achieved fantastic temperature control.

My next challenge was to get the longest burn time possible without the need to add more fuel to the fire. That's when I discovered the Hunsaker vortex plate. Combining it with the Tappecue temperature monitoring system gave me more burn time by removing the water pan from my 22.5 WSM. Adding the Hunsaker vortex basket to my 18.5 WSM gave me even longer burn time on less fuel. However, this is where I encountered an interesting challenge.

During the cook with the Hunsaker vortex basket, I noticed very large swings in my cook temps. Using the Session Book feature on the Tappecue app, I found that the abnormal swings in temperature started when I added the vortex basket into the mix. I played around a little with the amount of fuel I started the fire with and the amount of fuel in the smoke, but that did not make any difference. I first thought the problem was due to the amount of time that the Tappecue fan ran after it reached the target temp. I spoke with Gina and her team, and we decided that I should adjust the target temps. However, the swings still persisted. Upon further investigation, I found that the temperature dropped 10-15 degrees when the Tappecue fan kicked in.

Noticing the 10-degree drop in the Tappecue, I broke the smoker down to just the basket and firebox of the WSM and the fan. I kicked on the fan and noticed that a large majority of the air bounced off the vortex basket and up to the temp probe area. I positioned the vortex basket in the WSM such that the largest opening would be on the same side as the fan coming in from the bottom of the WSM. That did lessen the swings of the temps, but we still had approximately a +-10 degree swing. This may not sound like a lot and would be in tolerance for many, but I wanted to see if I could make the swings less than 5 degrees.

I decided I needed to change the cubic feet per minute (CFM) coming out of the fan. I was unable to turn down the fan or make it run slower, so I decided to start restricting the airflow in. I used metal duct tape to cover the inlet of the fan, cutting down the amount of air being brought into the fan. Unfortunately, I do not have the tools to measure CFM, but I did lessen the swing on both my 18.5 and my 22.5 to under 5 degrees. This simple little modification to the inlet of the fan being run by my Tappecue Cruise Control allowed me to fully utilize the set it and forget it feature of the Cruise Control and take full advantage of the great flavor and fuel consumption of the Hunsaker vortex basket.

Future updates will be coming as I start to fine-tune this process even more. I would like to thank Gina and her crew at Tappecue for helping me get to the bottom of this. I would also like to thank Mark Hunsaker of Hunsaker Smokers for his basket and the ability to bounce ideas off of him and his team. The customer service of both companies is second to none, and without them, I would have never come up with a solution

NOTES by GINA with Tappecue..

1) Shand was using another blower model with the Tappecue and Cruise Control. Most blowers will work with the Tappecue Cruise Control.

2) Because of Shands testing, we are working on an adjustable adapter for the blower opening that can be used as a vent to control the air input.

3) Shand uses three cruise controls at the same time with his one Tappecue (see his photo below)


Hunsaker Smokers have created a 10% discount code called vortex. The discount is 10% off for the vortex charcoal basket and for the WSM vortex plate. Click the button below for more details.


What makes the Tappecue Cruise Control Different from all the others

1) Control up to 4 pits at the same time since the blower is ran through the probe ports.

2) The only unit that allows wireless (no cables) and/or wired meat temperature monitoring.

The Tappecue has 4 probe ports and each port can have either a cruise control, a wireless probe or 2 wired probes For example, You could run 2 blowers and 4 meat probes on two different smokers with one unit.

3) Touch screen with color coding, the ability to enlarge for easy reading, and turning ON/OFF the blower from the display.

4) The blower is not proprietary. If you have another blower, it might work with our system, or ours might work with your other system. The blower adapter is made in house in Belton, MO

5) Control the setup point from anywhere and get alerts that are push notifications that can alert multiple phones.

6) Save your cook with notes and images for your session book history.

Click the button below for more details. Use the Coupon Code cruise10 for 10% off.

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