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Whygee

Sous vide setup: Dorkfood vs Auber vs SousVideMagic vs SideKIC?

22 posts in this topic

Hi,

I'm putting together my first sous-vide setup. I'm trying to keep the cost as low as possible but I'm wondering if there's a noticeable quality difference (in terms of durability and precision) between all the different controller options:

- SousVideMagic 1500HD (170$)

- Auber WS-1500ES (150$)

- Dorkfood DSV (99$)

- SideKic (I've read the thorough review on this board so I'm also including it here as an option since it's in the same price range.)

- I also liked this design from a board member, but I'm not sure I would save much by putting it together:

I'm planning on combining one of those controllers with a bucket heater and a pump. You're welcome to chime in if you can make a recommendation on the Electra heater (40$) vs the Norpro (7$).

Should I just go for the cheaper options?

Thanks.

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I built one too. You can see a bit about it here (the post is tongue in cheek, but the DIY controller is real). Although it is very good, and accurate, it does involve mains wiring + proximity to water. So, I probably wouldn't go down that path unless you know someone who can wire it up for you. It is a cheap way of getting into sous-vide - you can build one with parts from eBay for around $30-$40.

Another option, aside from an element is using an old slow cooker or rice cooker. They're very cheap too.


Edited by tsp. (log)

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I researched all the options extensively before purchasing, the Sous Vide Magic is definitely the best bang for the buck.

I've built PIDs for the BBQ, charcuterie fermentation and curing chambers, an off the shelf PID is not as accurate as the SVM.

~Martin


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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Yeah? Is it because they're tuned better for the bath? What about the PIDs used in industry with Pt1000 probes, they would be extremely accurate if the parameters are tuned correctly for the bath. I've calibrated mine with a Thermapen, and although I don't have the SVM I'd guess it was just as accurate, if not more so.

I just had a look at the specs for the SousVideMagic 1500D HD Temperature Controller, it does look good, has a timer and stuff. For the extra $100 or so dollars, you're better off buying that than making your own IMHO.


Edited by tsp. (log)

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Thanks for your replies. I like your design too tsp! Where did you get the enclosure? For me that would probably be the biggest challenge since I don't have the tools to cut plastic.

Another option, aside from an element is using an old slow cooker or rice cooker. They're very cheap too.

I only have a "fuzzy logic" rice cooker and no crockpot so I figured out that since I have to buy something anyway, I might as well go with the better option (immersed heater).

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I bought the enclosure from a seller in HK on eBay, it was around $7 from memory. My cutting isn't as neat as the other DIY SV set up that you linked to, but you can't see it anyway because it is behind a bezel (that's how the PID locks in). I did it by hand with a jewelers saw and files. Actually, my setup is a little bit simpler too, I've hard-wired the mains wire in with a fuse, so there is only one plug on the side for the slow cooker. I've also put a pump from an espresso machine in to circulate the water. And like I said before, I've calibrated it with a Thermapen and it works well, especially with the Pt1000 probe.

If you do go down the DIY path, there are a lot of cheap PIDs out there that will need some modification to drive an SSR. They have a relay output which you can't use to switch the element. This is what happened to me, but I pulled the relay out and rewired the output to drive an SSR.

I got quite into if for a while and actually made my own PID with an LCD display and temperature setting control with a rotary encoder like an iPod, it was really cool, but never got the motivation to put it in a nice enclosure and test it. It was basically a DIY SideKic, but there are a few of these things now. There is even a fully opensource hardware/software PID which you could base a DIY one on.

This is also cool http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nomiku/nomiku-bring-sous-vide-into-your-kitchen

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I have the marshalltown in an "extreme" cooler with a bubbler and two large circular bubblers. will try the Harbor freight pump at < 150 degrees IF I surfive this storm

its a hum dinger!

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I have the marshalltown in an "extreme" cooler with a bubbler and two large circular bubblers. will try the Harbor freight pump at < 150 degrees IF I surfive this storm

its a hum dinger!

Thats my home town, Marshalltown Iowa..interested how that name came about!!

I have the Auber and like it.. But I bought a Poly Sci Immersion.. that I like now


Its good to have Morels

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try the Harbor freight pump

I shop at Harbor Freight; anything at half price is worth considering, but do you really want an item bought at Harbor Freight within 50 feet of food?

Wheels for moving an outdoor table twice a year, that can off-gas in a back shed? Fine. Ratchet straps for repairing compost frames? Fine. Disposable gloves? Don't kid yourself. I have the impression that anything that plugs in is going to smell like 9/11. The "no implied suitability" software warranties come to mind here, although I have successfully made returns when there was an obvious and immediate failure. Most of what they sell is suitable for a movie prop. ... if you're shooting Super8.

Harbor Freight is a resource to use with caution. I admire my European friends who buy fewer things but never buy junk.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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the pump has been used by another member with success if you keep the T < 150. it was only 8 bucks so well worth that gamble. it never touches the food --- thats in a bag.

but I agree their stuff is for "occasional use"

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Thank you for all your feedback. So is the general consensus that the SVM is the best device?

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I have had a great experience with the SideKic and use it frequently. I turned on 3 of my friends to it and they all have worked out great.

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Do all of these controllers have an "autotune" which automatically determines good values for P,I,D? In my experience, setting these values can be time consuming, and although I'm no expert isn't the tuning essentially what makes a stable bath?

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tsp.

Did you read the posts over in the main SV topic?

Auber and SVM do have autotune functions, DSV seems to be simpler, no PID-tuning at all.

I'm at a loss as to what to use for a bath.

As Pedro noted, the above coffee urn is rather small, the largest slow cookers are no bigger.

Today, I looked at larger 100 cup coffee urns, the best option was a stainless 1650 watt model.

All circuits in this very old house are 15 amp and of unknown integrity (they may have been installed by who knows who before codes came along) so I don't think it's wise to max out the circuit.

The hot plate and stock pot option also makes me nervous since we have a couple cats and while I think it's unlikely anything bad would happen, you just never know, they do go wild, running and playing, from time to time.

What would you do?

Thanks!

~Martin

re: hot plates

I priced some of the best options with burners large enough to hold a stock pot in a stable fashion, but they're all quite expense.

Another issue, I don't have a large stock pot, so that would be another required purchase.

It's looking more and more like the FMM is the route that I should go for what I mostly want to do at this point, but I'll certainly keep the hot plate/stock pot option in mind in the future. The immersed bean pot is a good idea.

Thanks!

~Martin

If you are concerned about your wild cats, the best choice might have been a SousVideSupreme, no cables and tubes that can be pulled out by your cats. But as you already have the SVM controller, the FMM might in fact be your best choice for several reasons:

An immersion/submersion heater has minimal thermal inertia, making PID tuning very easy, see the last post in the old SV topic; any system that heats the container before the water has more thermal lag with more overshoot, requiring a broader proportional band and leaving you with extensive tuning experiments to find the best Integral and Derivative values (autotuning values are not the best possible values).

The new FMM has the sensor cable buried in the silicon hose, leaving less free cable for the cats to pull out; in fact it would be virtually impossible to pull the sensor out of the water bath, and if your cats pull out the sensor's plug from the SVM, the controller stops heating.

As a container, I would recommend a tall beverage cooler where you can lock the lid so the cats can't remove the lid and jump into the water (you would be very sad, and you would not appreciate medium rare cat's meat without proper post mortem aging). I run my FMM in a 28L Campingaz beverage cooler with P=0.5 I=0 D=0 with only ±0.045 °C oscillation.


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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When I was doing research before purchasing the Sous Vide Magic, I asked the folks at Dorkwood if the DSV is a PID and this is the response I got:

"Yes, the DSV uses an advanced PID algorithm to maintain stable target temperatures. However, despite the core of its functionality being a PID algorithm, it requires no configuration and is designed to work with all different types of water baths. Our goal was to keep it simple and "plug and play"."

Take that for what it's worth.

From the DSV spec page, Temperature set increment: 1°F and Temperature stability (once settled): ±0.25°F

I decided to go with the Sous Vide Magic because it's more accurate and it's a true PID.

When you add in the shipping cost for the DSV, the Sous Vide Magic (with free shipping) is just ~$60 more.

~Martin


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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"Thank you for all your feedback. So is the general consensus that the SVM is the best device?"

I would go with the SideKIC, it has the heating element and a pump together for $10 dollars more than the SVM. I didn't like having to lug out my slow cooker or rice cooker with an external temp controller, and having to buy and plug in a separate pump just didn't make for a compact device. The pump is necessary for accurate temperature control (see other threads about this topic). There are a few improvements that could be made (see the sideKIC thread for a thorough review) but overall the sideKIC is thus far the best device for the price, I would wait for them to restock on amazon.

The market for these devices is becoming much more affordable, the sideKIC is cheapest and it has great temperature control and circulation in one device, I know ANOVA is coming out with one for $300 that will probably rival the polyscience just in terms of their experience in the temperature control gadgets.


Edited by Beusho (log)

“...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

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I decided against the SideKIC because bath size is limited to 9.5 liters and I couldn't get a definitive answer on it's accuracy.

In the future, I may go with the Nomiku or the Anova for small batches and portability.

~Martin


~Martin

Unsupervised rebellious radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader and adventurous cook. Crotchety cantankerous terse curmudgeon, nonconformist, contrarian and natural born skeptic who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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That's true, the bath size is limited to around 10qt which is more than enough room for home use, it probably wouldn't work for catering for large parties or a busy professional kitchen. I cook for 2-10 people and the 10qt container can hold all my protein just fine. This is where the pump is key, it keeps the temp consistent throughout the vessel, without it would be overcrowding which is what I didn't like about the SVM you pretty much have to buy the pump to get accurate sous vide results. Also starting with water temp that's near the set temp makes things very simple.

The sideKIC thread has replies from the company owner (it's the device with the best customer support from what many others have commented) and others on this board about temp accuracy, it keeps it to almost 0.5C which is better than needed for the home cook.

I too can't wait for the Nomiku and Anova!


“...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

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I decided against the SideKIC because bath size is limited to 9.5 liters and I couldn't get a definitive answer on it's accuracy.

In the future, I may go with the Nomiku or the Anova for small batches and portability.

~Martin

That is what the manual says but I have a 19 quart cooler (something like that) and it works great (I also put Styrofoam on the top)....some of the big contributors on here who reviewed the product also use larger container. It has a pretty strong pump. I don't know factually the temperature if the temp is maintained in every square inch of that though.


Edited by kryptos1 (log)

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I've used the SideKIC in a 12 qt and a 18 qt container and it held a steady temp confirmed with a Thermapen. Just took a long time to come up to temp without the addition of heated water. Did pork belly at 75C in the 12 qt which turned out great and brisket at 65C in the 18 qt that was dry but the SideKIC did hold a steady temp once up to temp

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I have the SideKIC and a homebrew setup controlled by the DSV. Can't speak to the others.

The SideKIC does indeed have a very strong pump. I find that its primary limitation is that it can't get to the temps required to sous vide most vegetables (180+ F) without assistance. But I regularly use it for proteins. The other limitation is that its hook-over design means you have to get the water level near the top of the vessel, which seems less ideal than heating from below.

The DSV's primary drawbacks, in my experience, are the fact that its mechanical relay clicks frequently and its single line display. It also lacks the programming mode, but in my experience, it never shows a temp more than a degree above my set point. I'd probably go with the SVM if I were doing it again, but if the cost savings justifies the DSV for you, I wouldn't worry too much.

FYI, I finally posted pics and full description of my homebrew setup in the main 2013 thread.


Edited by jmasur (log)

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