September 24, 2020

Fireboard 2

FIREBOARD 2 AND FIREBOARD 2 DRIVE(FBX2 & FBX2D)

Complete Testing and Review

After purchasing the Fireboard 2 and using it for a month, here’s my review; complete with pros, cons and what you’ll want to know.

I have other friends who have been using WiFi meat thermometer systems including the Tappecue and Flame Boss, and they keep telling me to upgrade my BBQ game. I checked out some of the recent WiFi thermometers and came across one that stood out for being simple and easy to use. When I found the Fireboard 2 WiFi thermometer system, I immediately felt I had struck gold, and I want to tell you why.

When I fire-up my grill it’s because I have friends and family over for a good time. I also like to be in the kitchen making loads of side dishes too. I always had to run back and forth between my grill to check on the meat. This thermometer system lets me know everything I need to know in a single glance. It also frees me up to do other things while friends are over and that’s a huge help. Not only can I take my time doing all sorts of separate BBQ tasks, but I’m also given more mobile freedom.

The time and energy that I always put into my barbecue have always been an issue of keeping track of the cooking time. Checking and keeping an eye on a continual and consistent temperature is always an issue for me too.

If I had to run to the store, I can check on my meats cooking and get updates if the grill is going off-track. I can activate the grill fan if the temperature drops or set it to automatic settings. It’s literally a smart-grill system with no hang-ups for making temperature mistakes. In contrast, if you don’t do a lot of BBQ the Fireboard 2 may be more than you need, in this case jump over to our thermometer page to discover which type of device would be right for you.

First Impressions

I suppose I didn’t mention earlier, I’m terrible at tech-driven gadgets and I like how easy my iPad is super-simple to navigate. What I never liked about other WiFi thermometers is they all have a dinky little screen that I had to squint at when I was at my friend’s house. Both the Tappecue and Flame Boss 500 have digital displays, but they’re hard to see in the sunlight. The Fireboard 2 and Fireboard 2 Drive are nearly identical to each other but they both have a big-screen display that stands out right away.

I never need to grab my glasses either. The Fireboard 2 controller is a real no-brainer to use and that’s why I like it so much. So then, let me tell you how it works from beginning to end.

How FB2 & FB2DX Works

power_on_fireboard_two

Turning on and off

The first thing I noticed is there isn’t a button for on or off. It’s kind of funny because I think they made this device for idiots like me in mind. It doesn’t matter which button you push in this case. Just hold any button down for a few seconds, it powers the entire unit up and you see the welcome screen. You also get a little green light flashes to let you know the unit is powering-up. You don’t hear any noises or dinging, so that was nice that it flashed as a visual reminder it works.

It then goes to the second screen that just goes to a default screen to select which channel you want to see. This is where you need to use these three buttons to help you navigate the Fireboard 2 device. It’s a big display so you’ll get essentially any smartphone-sized screen showing all your info. Even in the daylight, it shows-up without being washed-out looking. And it doesn’t matter which side you have it facing up or down, the screen self-corrects by itself! No matter if you want to have the thermometer plugged in from the top side or bottom.

The three control buttons

First Button

The first button takes you to a large display of the current temperature of your ambient thermometer. This is usually the inside of your grill to tell you an immediate temperature as it truly is. If you tap the button again you go to a graph screen that shows the temperature at the top and a graph at the bottom. Another tap and it then adds a bar at the top showing all the temperatures of your thermometers at the top in a row. The graph is again underneath that. It’s pretty simple, right?

With one final tap, you get 6 separate (Brady Bunch) boxes that let you see the individual temperatures of each port. If you add a thermometer for each port, it’s a quick look at each of them on this screen. Tapping it again just takes you back to the oversize ambient temperature. Once again, it’s simple and easy to read right away.

Second Button

The second button is more selection to view the oversize temperatures for each channel. Even though the first button has the ambient temp that’s displayed with oversize numbers, this option lets you see all the select channels. If I don’t use my glasses, I like this function so I can see immediately what the real temperature is. I don’t have to squint down to see the numbers and even from 2 meters away it shows up plain as day. The monitor never goes into a default setting so it away stays on no matter what. I like that feature so I don’t have to push a button to see the current temperature reading.

Third Button

This third button is a bit of a misunderstood extra since it just allows you to shuffle between the main ambient temperature and the graph chart. It also tells you the timeline of how long your thermometer probe has been plugged in. It’s important that when you start-up your Fireboard 2 this is when you can plug-in your thermometer jacks. Pressing this lower button just toggled back and forth between the oversize temp and the graph chart temperature timeline.

Ports & The Fan Drive Controller(s)

fireboard 2 kitFireboard drive fan cable

When you purchase either of the Fireboard 2 units with or without the drive port, you’ll also buy some extras that are needed. Each kit comes with the Fireboard 2 unit with the USB charger cable. It also comes with a standard ambient temp probe and a meat temperature probe. There is a grill clip that attaches to the ambient probe and the instruction manual. If you want to get more thermometers they have separate packs just for that reason. I like that I can monitor different sections of meat when they’re bigger slabs.

This way I know when to adjust the meat so it cooks evenly. It also takes away the guesswork and less poking with a digital thermometer. If you get the Fireboard 2 model, you’ll need to purchase the extra Fireboard drive fan cable. The new version has a built-in 12V port already but didn’t seem to worry about leaving the other drive cable input. So here’s what all these ports are doing.

Ports

External fan controller

Only the new Fireboard has the 12V plug that powers your fan blower. This also can power your fan directly from the Fireboard control unit. If you are worried about the power being drained you can add-on an external power block through the USB cable. You know, like the ones you use for playing Pokémon Go… This will go a long way if you plan to do some slow grilling over 12 hours or more. You can use any external grill fan just as long as it has a 2.5mm barrel plug adapter.

Fireboard does sell their fan blower that has extras for attaching it nearly any kind of grill. It can also kick-up plenty of airflow in a hurry. I’m impressed that this tiny fan packs upwards of 20 CFM that can be controlled through the phone app.

Integrated drive controller

Actually, this is where the Fireboard 2 and Fireboard drive gets wacky. They both have this port and it was first seen on the Fireboard 2. This is why you had to buy the extra cable so you could add your fan blower. What I liked about the original fan cable is that you could plug an exterior power source into that cord as well. Kind of a smart design on their behalf but when they introduced the Fireboard 2 Drive they left this extra port. It doesn’t do anything except power the added fan.

The only downside is you need to buy the extra cable if you decide to use this port setting. Now that the newer version came along its really just plug-in and play. This is what makes the new version easier to use and less hassle to purchase a separate cable.

External battery charger block

Let’s say that you need to charge your unit or keep it powered for longer periods when a fan is attached? The USB port is what you are going to charge your control unit with. But it also can have a separate power pack plugged in. Not for charging the unit, since the main controller is running from a lithium-ion battery. It just reroutes the power to your external fan if you need to have back up battery power. The earlier fan cable that was used for the original Fireboard 2 unit had an added port that was meant for adding a power pack.

I do suppose the USB adapter does the same exact thing if you have a power pack that runs off the USB connector. No problem at all, since this unit gives you more freedom if you buy either of the Fireboard 2 units.

The Fireboard Application

How to use FXB2 app

This is an added app download that you add-on to any mobile device. It can be a smartphone, tablet, or even for your home computer. Since I have a tablet it makes this program easier to see on a larger screen. Smartphones will be just as simple, but a little smaller and fitted to the screen size. All you do is connect your phone when pairing the Fireboard unit and you’re all set to go. It will immediately sense the temperature control unit when you activate the app. After that, it will show the Bluetooth signal and then you can connect to your unit right from that point.

How easy is the FXB2 app to use?

I thought it was going to be hard to set the app cooking times and wander through endless control pages. To my surprise, I found the app to be as easy as pie. It’s made for people like me who love to grill but like to keep it simple. If there was something I didn’t know, it told me what was needed to be programmed. I could add personal names to each temperature probe and even what meat was on the grill. It might sound silly but I think learning my Apple iPad had more instruction that took longer to learn.

I have to say if you’re going to step into the future without much fuss, the Fireboard app will help you get there. Just in case you’re wondering, the instruction manual was equally easy to read and I never got confused at what they wanted to say. It’s as if they made this system to be better than fool-proof, it’s simply goof-proof!

Voice Activation

Sometimes I even get my hands messy whipping-up some serious potato salad or hand mixing some coleslaw. I’m not a big fan of techno stuff but when I got this futuristic-looking coffee grinder called Alexa from my grandson, I thought it was crazy. I came to find out this is one of the coolest things ever to control things in my house. I found I could also connect it to the Fireboard 2 thermometer system. It also can be hooked into the Google Home Assistant since Fireboard allows controls for both of them.

Just ask these smart home controllers to check the temperature or cook time. It’s all voice activated so I don’t have to press anything. And especially if I’m doing the messy stuff or washing my hands for the millionth time. It connects just like the free mobile app. You have to check it out to believe it for yourself, so I’m glad I’m using Alexa to help me with my BBQ now. When I’ve got things to do in between the kitchen and backyard, it’s easy to get side-tracked with loads of friends over.

Durability

The Fireboard 2 definitely seems to be built to last. The only questionable part is is the large screen. As with any screen it likely isn’t designed to take a beating, and while I’d like to know how durable it is I’m not about to find out. However, it’s not made of glass so it should be ok if it takes an accidental fall.

It is also one of the only waterproof devices of its kind on the market. The original Fireboard required a clunky case which you enclosed the device in for it to be waterproof. Before purchasing the FB2 I watched a review where the guy saturated the device under a garden hose for about 30 seconds and it stood up. While I haven’t tried it with my device, I feel good knowing its gonna be fine if it gets a little wet from time to time.

Fireboard 2 (FBX2) vs. Fireboard 2 (FBX2D)

fireboard2 vs fireboard 2 drive

Differences

I think that both of these units do a fine job but if you want to have less hassle, the Fireboard 2 Drive is an easy solution. They both work great since the only upgrade is that fan plug-in port. If you’re buying the new unit you might as well invest in their fan blower. My older fan was getting old and just didn’t have the power that this new fan has to offer. Plus I have a couple different grills and I like that I can adapt it to both of them in seconds! Even my smoker can be set-up with this fan attachment even though it’s a converted oil barrel. As for being a simple question, the difference is minimal if you have the Fireboard 2 or the upgraded fan port version.

What extensions can be added to the FXB2 and FXB2D?

You can have the ambient temperature probe that gives you immediate grill temp readings and 5 more ports where you can add meat probes to all sorts of meats cooking. You might just have a couple of big roasts going at the same time. The nice thing is that you’ll have instant real-time inner temperature readings for thicker and thinner areas. This works great for big thanksgiving turkeys and huge brisket slabs for the 4th of July. The best part about these probes is that I can take out smaller cooked meats in time.

The app lets me program all the time settings and also alerts me when the cooking time is done. If I need the fan to stoke the fire, it can be set to do this automatically or I can control it myself. It makes grilling more about multi-tasking and all I need to do is check the numbers every now and then. I also like that I can add an exterior power pack from either the USB port or using the older drive controller cable. My old battery pack needed an adapter to fit the 2.5mm barrel plug, but now these newer battery packs can work right from USB connectors! It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.

The Fan for Pit Temp Control

Fan for Pit Temp Control

If you’re cooking from a gas grill, you’re not getting the most from real BBQ cooking. It’s all about the smokiness and charcoal heat that makes slow cooking a real charm. But sometimes you need ventilation to keep the heat going if you do the briquette stacking method. It’s always one layer of smoldering briquettes with a fresh layer on top to slow burn for hours on end. Adding an exterior fan unit just gives you the added airflow to ignite more briquettes when you need to raise the temperature.

Your heat then slowly drops down when you reduce the fan speed. Another thing I like about the Fireboard app is that I can preset the app to do this automatically. If my temp drops, the fan is auto controlled using a pretty cool algorithm that Fireboard built into the app itself. It senses when the temperature is not at a preset level and corrects it for you using the fan control. Then is brings the heat up to the correct level every time, saving you time and energy all through your cook-time. The industry has had nothing but praise for FB’s PID technology.

Compatibility

I’ve got two different grills and they’re both totally different. I use a Kamado Joe and a standard 22 inch Weber kettle. I upgraded a couple years ago to the Kamado Joe and use my Weber as a back-up. My older fan is the type that you could snake the vent on the Weber with inside clips. With the new fan from Fireboard, it won’t work so easily on the Kettle models. I hear they’re adding a new nozzle adaptor to it fits on rounded kettles. But on my Kamado, it fits like a charm. It also fits most of the newer grills that have a lower slide vent.

It even fits with the Big Green Egg and nearly any rectangle grill vent set-ups. Their fan units give you two attachment plates to fit nearly any size BBQ model out there on the market. I’ve also learned that combo gas grills can fit the blower fan if your grill model includes a charcoal pit with an air vent too.

Can you attach another fan to the FB2XD using the drive cable?

I was thinking about this the other day. My Fireboard 2 Drive has two ports that could potentially be used for powering two separate fans. There are the new port and the older port that needs the extra connector cable. I contacted Fireboard to ask about this possibility. They said I would need to use two controllers that include my Fireboard 2 Drive and another Fireboard 2 controller unit. Through the WiFi app, they can be connected on their own separate app for each unit to control.

So at this time, there’s no way to run two fans from the unit. I was also told that this option will get a firmware update in the future so two fans could run separately from a single account. At least this idea sounds pretty fun if I was doing a bigger grill party with multiple types of meat cooking. All the newest app updates are added pretty often, giving you more options for customizing your thermometer and control applications. Inside the app, some notifications let you know what is new and how it can improve cooking times.

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