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    Billows

    I purchased a billows from thermo works and the smoke x4 both, almost immediately when they came out. My first billows bit the dust almost instantly, so I sent back everything and they confirmed my billows was bad. Sent new one, I used the billows a few times and it stopped working with in 2 -3 cooks. I just did not even contact them,I was so disappointed, and since I rarely use a fan,I just chalked it up as a disappointment in thermo works. But, about 3 weeks ago,I was thinking of wanting to use it for a cook, and it still did not work. Would not engage fan at all. Sent them a long email about my disappointment in the billows, not the remainder of the items I own of their equipment.

    They sent me a box me a return label. I got it back yesterday,no explanation other then covered under warranty. I called them up today and the problem was not the billows, but, they had admitted they have had a few bad unit’s that are malfunctioning in this mode. So, for now I am still a thermoworks owner and not a firebird with pit viper, yet!. Not sure if anyone else has ran into this.

    #2
    I'm confused. You said Thermoworks said the problem was not the Billows, but they replaced it. Is that right? If the problem wasn't the Billows, what was the problem? Did they replace anything else? Do you now have a working automatic temperature controller setup using the Smoke X4 and the Billows?

    Comment


    • Richard Chrz
      Richard Chrz commented
      Editing a comment
      Not the billows but the main smoke x4 base unit was not working properly.
      Last edited by Richard Chrz; November 10, 2021, 03:43 PM.

    #3
    So was the problem not the Billows, but the Smoke X4?

    Comment


    • Richard Chrz
      Richard Chrz commented
      Editing a comment
      Correct.

    #4
    Curious as well. I bought an X4 over the summer and am thinking of adding a Billows soon for my WSM.

    Comment


    • Richard Chrz
      Richard Chrz commented
      Editing a comment
      If it were me (so far) I would go a different route. I really wish I had.

    #5
    I use a billows with an X4 and a Signals and so far so good. Only problem I had was one of the probe ports on the signals punched itself inside the case and was unusable. I had a new one from TWorks within a week with no issues. The fan has been fine so far.

    Comment


      #6
      I gave my TW Smoke to my son and replaced it with the Fireboard. I didn't do that just out of boredom.

      Comment


        #7
        I bought a Signals and Billows when I first got into smoking early/mid 2020.

        I have had no real problems with the Signals and I do like its performance and its software. Overall, Thermoworks did a great job with that.

        HOWEVER, I have had an almost identical experience as you with the Billows. When it works, it's great. I had the fan fail a few months into owning it. I sent everything back to Thermoworks and they determined that it was the Signals that was faulty. (No detailed diagnosis beyond that was given to me) They sent me a new one and returned my original Billows. This worked fine for, again just like you, 2 or 3 cooks and then failed during the middle of a cook.

        (I thought the initial failure may have been related to water as it happened not too long after a cook that took place partially during a drizzle. After getting the first Signals back, I used the Signals inside a ziploc bag as a precaution. It was certainly not wet for the second failure)

        After it failed again so quickly, I thought I might have a look inside the Billows. I found a wire that was pinched between the casing halves. I sent them a photo and they sent me a new Billows. The replacement Billows didn't work either, so the pinched wire was not the cause.

        I am guessing that it's the Signals again that's having difficulty. They sent me a return label before the end of the warranty period, but I never sent it back. Every time I remember, I have a cook planned where I don't want to be without the Signals. And I'm a little lazy.

        So, the system works great, but I'm fairly sure they have a crappy design for powering the fan that leads to failures.

        Their method of powering all of this is, quite frankly, not great.
        1) They are putting straight 12V over a USB-C cable. This is asking for trouble. A USB-C power connector is supposed to start at 5V and then negotiate higher voltages.Their AC adapter with a USB-A outputting 12V is something you have to be very careful about; someone picking up "a USB" to charge their phone or device is likely to fry it. There are tons of proper DC connectors they could have used, but they're trying to "close" the system.
        2) The power for the fan is shunted from the 12V input to the fan output, likely through a transistor. This is why the fan won't run even a little bit if the unit's not connected to AC. I would bet dollars to donuts that this is the circuit that's failing. I'm less sure of the exact cause (I haven't yet opened up the Signals to have a look), but I would suspect they forgot a proper snubber circuit across the transistor.

        So, maybe I give them another chance to do right by this system if they'll still honor the warranty, but I'm not at all confident in the design at this point. I don't see any point in mailing the thing back and forth to Utah for half its life. It's a shame, because the other aspects of the setup are very well designed and I am otherwise fairly happy with my other Thermoworks gear...

        Comment


        • Richard Chrz
          Richard Chrz commented
          Editing a comment
          Yeah, I have sitting new in box and I don’t even have confidence. I would only use this for an over night smoke, I just don’t believe in it. I love the smoke x4, I highly doubt it was the problem, although I trust they would tell me the truth of what they thought, but, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me… a third time? I have a feeling by spring I will have a new system.

        • Richard Chrz
          Richard Chrz commented
          Editing a comment
          There is a Facebook page on the signals and billows, it seems like it is a nightmare of problems. I assumed it was the signals, not the billows.

        • gboss
          gboss commented
          Editing a comment
          Richard Chrz it's interesting that they have other reports about these failures. Would you mind sharing a sampling of the issues people are reporting? (I am no longer on FB).

          It's also a little surprising that it seems to be happening on both the smoke and the signals. Normally, I would look to the common element: the billows. Unfortunately, I think that thermoworks needs an electrical engineer or consultant that knows about power and not just control.

        #8
        I just received a Signals, and I can’t get it to connect to Wi-Fi. I did disable my 5GHZ band to ensure it was connecting only to the 2.4 GHZ network, but it just won’t connect. Kind of disappointed with this. Was all set to go with a FireBoard, but the review on this site and other forums convinces me to go with the Signals.

        Has anyone else had issues connecting the Signals to Wi-Fi? I don’t really want the Somke X4 as I want the ability to monitor my temps when I’m not at home and ability to to graph the temps to see what’s going on.

        I’m going to call TW tomorrow and see what they say, but these comments and my experience has me concerned.

        Comment


          #9
          I have both the smoke and the signals and a billows and have had zero problems with any of them. Maybe I got lucky or a bunch of people got unlucky, dont know.

          Comment


            #10
            No problem with my signals controller or my bellows,don’t use extensively as others have,but had a 14 hr pork butt cook on my pk 360 on ac power the whole time might have been the difference.

            Comment


              #11
              I ended buying a Billows for my Smoke X4. No issues though I’ve only used it a few times on some short cooks. I’ll use it the net time for a pork butt when the weather warms up.

              Comment


                #12
                This is fascinating...I just had same experience Richard Chrz gboss - purchased my Billows about a month ago, used it very happily a few times with Signals I already owned. Then today it just stopped while preheating to cook. It sputtered a few times after stopping which made me wonder if it was just confused about the temp, but then stopped again. I gave up after the temp dropped 40 degrees or so.

                Did the same thing when I tried it indoors later - started up, stopped after a min, sputtered and turned back on, then stopped again.

                Spoke to Thermoworks support, they sent me shipping label and asked me to send everything - cables, power, Signals, Billows. We'll see what happens.

                It's a shame, I really love both the Signals and the Thermoworks app, and when the Billows did work it did a terrific job both preheating quickly and then holding target temp. I'll certainly give it another shot when they send it (or new one) back.

                Comment


                  #13
                  I have a smoke x4 and billows. Works just fine if I keep the x4 out of the direct sunlight and I have them plugged into an outlet. I can use the x4 only on the batteries, but if I use the billows, I must plug it in. Big deal? Not for me, but maybe a major annoyance for others. Outside of those issues, works great. I only use billows on longer cooks, so I don’t mind using ac compared to batteries. All in all I’m happy with the performance of the units, may irritate others tho. If the led screen gets too warm from sunlight, it is impossible to read. I put it in the shade or under a baseball cap , works fine like that.

                  Comment


                  • Mark The Q-er
                    Mark The Q-er commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thermoworks came out with a lipo battery you can use instead of AC. Very handy and convenient even with a wall plug nearby.

                  #14
                  I have been wanting to test run my billows again, I had not used it since they sent me a new one last fall.

                  changes I have made.

                  I added this adapter to my billows. https://www.thermoworks.com/billows-mounting-kit/

                  I drilled a new hole in my 22nkettle and added this (I have one on all now) https://bbqguru.com/storenav/Index?c...=&&productId=6

                  ran it with my smoke x4, 2 zone 6 hour smoke with kingsford.

                  At first it would not show fan, I did some wiggling, saw it appear twice. Noticed I had a Samsung phone adapter, not the billows adapter. Switched them out, it worked at that time. Set it at 225, highest I saw was 130, otherwise ran solid at 225.

                  I think the additions helped my user experience.

                  What I would like to do now. I would like to get my hands on a signals, I want to be more certain of my recommendations. Knowing I have a fireboard now, I would use it first, may use my thermoworks if it was raining hard. I’ve learned I like the data, guessing signals has good data also. It will make a nice back up, or extra depending on all cookers running.

                  Comment


                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The Thermowork app has graphs, lets you export a CSV file for Excel, allows naming each probe and so on. Probably very similar to the Fireboard app in that regard. I use it with an old Smoke with the Smoke Gateway for monitoring cooks. If it ever dies I'll consider a Fireboard.

                    If its raining I put my Smoke unit at the grill inside a zip lock bag to keep it dry.

                  #15
                  I've had 2 Smoke X4 and a Billows. I haven't used the Billows yet. I guess I should test it soon to see if it even works. I bought it to use on my Acorn, but the thing just runs so smooth on it's own I've never used it. I do very much like the Smoke X

                  Comment


                  • jfmorris
                    jfmorris commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I would at least hook it up and make sure it works, since there seem to be some Smoke X4's that have trouble driving the fan. Thermoworks is great at honoring their warranty, which is usually 2 years. I've had them fix my original model Smoke and Thermopen even out of warranty, without charge.

                    You are right about the kamado's not needing a controller much at all once you learn the vent settings for the temperatures you want.

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