FireBoard Spark: Igniting Next Level Grilling
by Jerry Crespo, ATBBQ.com Product Expert
|Influence of technology
There’s no question that technology is constantly influencing the way we interact with the equipment we cook with and the food we cook. I speak every day with aspiring pit masters who are seeking new tools and techniques for the sake of better food production. I’m a firm believer that the more information you can gather and use, the faster you will improve.
Every now and then a new item shows up that closes the information gap and helps people become the barbecue legends that we all desire to be. This week I was allowed to test the new FireBoard Spark and I must admit that it surprised me with how well the features I expected it to have worked, but it also surprised me with some features that I have never seen on an instant read thermometer. This device truly has the potential to make people better cooks.
If you aren’t familiar with FireBoard Labs, they are producers of Cloud connected digital thermometers that can monitor up to six probes at once and multiple units can be monitored simultaneously through the FireBoard Cloud. All FireBoard products are also designed and assembled in Kansas City, MO. Their app is full of features provided through a very clean and easy to use interface. They are also the thermometer and app that is used in Yoder Smokers ACS Control Boards.
|Connectivity and Feedback
The FireBoard Spark is a WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, and FireBoard Cloud enabled instant-read probe thermometer that uses a Type K Thermocouple Probe and is accurate to within 0.4°C/ 0.7°F. When the Spark captures a temperature, it provides haptic feedback and a flashing yellow LED so that you are sure you have captured the correct temperature.
It also saves your last three temperature reads for up to 30 seconds so that you can probe several parts of your cook and easily remember them. If you have the device connected in the FireBoard app, it will also store all temperature results in the app as well so that you can go back and view them later. A typical temperature read takes about 2-3 seconds which is quick enough for most applications.
In addition to being a great probe thermometer, the FireBoard Spark is also a single probe leave-in temperature monitor. Connecting the device in the app is a simple process that requires just a few easy-to-follow steps.
Once set up, you can plug an external Thermistor probe into the port next to the charging port and then insert the probe into your cook and chart temperature information through the FireBoard Cloud just like you would any other FireBoard device. While monitoring through the leave-in probe, you can still use the instant read probe as well. In the Cloud, the two probes are shown as Channel 1 and Channel 2 and can be renamed in the app to suit your needs.
Another feature of the Spark that sets it apart from every other temperature monitoring tool is the ability to monitor multiple FireBoard devices at the same time using the SyncMode™ function. This allows you to use the spark as a separate display to continuously scroll through every temperature on all your FireBoard Cloud connected devices.
Using this tool, I was able to set up the three channels on my Yoder Smokers YS640s and six probes on a FireBoard 2 device and monitor them all through the scrolling display on the FireBoard Spark while working in my kitchen. It can be set up as a workstation display or attached to a metal vent hood or refrigerator using the magnets in the back of the device. It was nice to not have to leave the app open in my phone or on a tablet and I didn’t have to constantly stop what I was doing to go back to my devices to check progress.
Information from all the devices I was using was constantly available which helped me stay focused on other tasks. I’m sure this will also be very handy in professional kitchens or competitive cooking situations where there are often multiple cooks going on at the same time.
Other features that will prove useful in professional kitchens is the ability to read NFC tags and save new data in the app for temperature monitoring necessary both for time efficiency and food safety verification in health department inspections. This may not be as useful for the home cook but could prove more useful in the future as technology advances and it shows forward thinking on the part of the FireBoard team.
The Spark is also IP66 Waterproof rated meaning that it can handle splashing and cleaning but should not be submerged or run through a dishwasher. The battery lasts up to 12+ months of use which includes normal instant read use and the occasional long cooks using an external probe. Charging is easy through a port for a USB -C cable on the side.
The FireBoard Spark fits well within the FireBoard family of products and works well with any Yoder Smoker with the ACS Control System making it one of the most intelligent and useful instant-read probe thermometers on the market today.