I love when I get to entertain my inner geek in the name of more flavorful food. This week, I experimented with sous vide cooking. Even better, I got to build and wire a controller to save about $450 of the cost of buying a fancy sous vide machine.


Instructions

I found an awesome post on Instructables describing how to build a sous vide cooker for less than $40. You can follow the instructions to build your own here:

Instructions for building a DIY sous vide controller (Instructables) »

DIY Sous Vide Parts List

For those of you who aren't completely familiar with electrical parts, here is a list of the exact parts (with links) that I used to build my DIY Sous Vide Controller:

No. Description Where to find it
1
10A 110V Digital Temperature Controller (58°F-194°F) with Sensor*
Amazon
2 C14 Outlet* Amazon
3 C13 Power Cable* Amazon
4 Single Outlet Receptacle Home Depot/Lowes
5 4x4x4 PVC Junction Box
Home Depot/Lowes
6 Wire Nuts ( Home Depot/Lowes
7 14 AWG Female Disconnects  Home Depot/Lowes
8a #4-40 x 3/8 in. Machine Screws
Home Depot/Lowes
8b #4-40 Nuts 
Home Depot/Lowes
9a 14 AWG Solid Wire (white for neutral connections**)- 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes
9b 14 AWG Stranded Wire (white for neutral connections**) - 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes
10a 14 AWG Solid Wire (black for load connections**) - 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes
10b 14 AWG Stranded Wire (black for load connections**) - 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes
11a 14 AWG Solid Wire (green for ground connections**) - 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes
11b 14 AWG Stranded Wire (green for ground connnections**) - 1 ft
Home Depot/Lowes

*Denotes an affiliate link
**Of course, you can get all one color of wire, but the convention of black=load, white=neutral, and green=ground can help keep all the wires straight.

Tips for a successful build

Some items came up during the building of my sous vide controller that weren't specifically mentioned in the Instructables tutorial:

  • Use a combination of solid and stranded wire. Solid wire stuffs nicely into the controller pins, but it's incredibly stiff. It's not easy to stuff all that wire inside the box without everything coming apart. Use more flexible stranded wire for the wiring that doesn't need to be stuffed in the controller pins.
  • Electrical tape is your friend. Tape together wires that need to be connected via wire nuts before screwing the wire nuts on. You'll be happy you did.
  • Be ready to solder. Inexplicably, our thermocouple probes were much too small to fit snugly in their designated controller pins. We had to solder a piece of 14 AWG solid copper wire to the tiny probes to get them to make a reliable connection.
  • If you're not familiar with wiring, get some help from a friend who is. It might seem easy in principle, but if you've never wired an outlet before, you may find yourself super frustrated.
  • Test the functionality of the box before screwing it shut. 'Cause it might not work right away, and you'll have to open it up again. Just be careful not to touch any of the wiring when the box is plugged in!

Sous Vide Chuck Roast Recipe

48 hour sous vide chuck roast recipe

The first thing I cooked with my DIY Sous Vide Controller was a chuck roast. It tasted like prime rib — it was so delicious. Get the recipe here.

Sous Vide Chuck Roast Recipe »