Last weekend, I went to the Guangzhou markets with my buddy Matt. There was lots of good stuff there, but one of the things that caught my eye were these PID temperature controller modules. Its the sort of industrial process control gear that is normally inaccessible to mortals. Fortunately for me, this was China, so I plunked down 80yuan and took one home with me.
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Wow, they used solder bridges to connect PC boards. I wouldn’t want to use a device like that to control anything that mattered or where safety is an issue… In other words, I’d never use that device. A $13 controller isn’t a bargain if it costs you your house or life.
I’ve seen a lot of homebrew controller projects that cover barbeques, toaster oven soldering and fermentation applications and that’s great stuff. But I’m a bit disturbed about how few of these makers describe any safety features or failsafes built into their systems. Features like thermal cutoff switches (which are often inexpensive), or secondary sensors tired to watchdog routines in microprocessor code can prevent runaway heating and meltdowns.