Scout & VictorOps: Making BBQs Suck Less

Tara Calihman - June 18, 2015

This is a guest post from our friends down the road in Fort Collins, Scout. We have a monitoring integration with them but the integration they’ve created below is possibly the most awesome one ever. Read on and if you’re in the area, join us for a Scout/VictorOps Rooftop BBQ next Tuesday!

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A couple of weeks ago, I got to meet some of the team members at VictorOps. If you don’t know, VictorOps is great product for routing, managing, escalating and documenting IT incidents. Their motto is: “We make on-call suck less”. Brilliant.

Scout is in the server monitoring business - and we generate those alerts for VictorOps to route/manage/escalate & document. With that in mind, an idea formed. What if I twisted VictorOps motto around a bit - “Being on call sucks - until it doesn’t.” What if we could generate “positive” alerts that VictorOps could intelligently route?

First, a little context. I love to cook - in particular, I love to grill. But one of the things that I don’t like to do is hover over a grill while waiting for my tasty meatz to be done. I’d much rather be socializing with friends, knocking back a cold one or hacking on something sweet in my lab-o-doom™.


One of the things I’ve been looking at for my grilling activities was a wireless thermometer. In my search I stumbled across what I consider the holy grail of thermo-monitoring-technology - theHeaterMeter project!

So what’s the HeaterMeter project got going for it?

  • Not one, not two - but three ports for thermo-monitoring probes.
  • Wireless broadcast of probe information via JSON and decent looking default graphs.
  • Open source project - I can hack to my heart’s content!
  • It uses a Raspberry PI for it’s brain. Yum.

Suddenly, an inkling of idea appeared.. “What if… instead of bad alerts, I could generate alerts when the tasty meatz was done, or the beer was cold.. GOOD alerts! Wouldn’t that be cool?”

Shazam! I was on to something.

The Build

The build list: – Parts for HeaterMeter: Parts – Raspberry PI: PI – USB Wireless Adapter: Adapter – Power Supply: Power Supply – 8GB SD Card (class 10): SD Card – Probes: Probes

As for a lab-o-doom™ complete with soldering station, tools and other implements of creation/destruction - you’re on your own (or better yet, check with your local makerspace).

I’ll be the first to admit, when you add up all the parts, this isn’t the cheapest of endeavors - but if you need any justification, just tell yourself it’s for science; or geekdom; or the chance to spend more time with your honey while your food is cooking.

You’ll get a bunch of parts that look like this…


Sort the parts, follow the directions presented here, take your time soldering and everything should be ok. If you run into trouble, well, as mentioned, a local makerspace is a good start or check out this forum for some helpful tips.

After about 3.5 hours of soldering, I ended up with something that looks like this:


Follow the directions for installing the software on the SD card, and power up the Pi. The first thing I had to do was adjust the voltage on the potentiometer to get the LCD to light up. If you see “- NO PROBE FOUND -“, you’re in business!

Next follow the directions for finding the HeaterMeter on your network, and setup the WiFi connection. Once completed you should have a fully functional base HeaterMeter ready to roam within the confines of your local WiFi network.


Test #1

Build list:

– A small cup, several pieces of ice and bit of water.

Plug a probe into the HeaterMeter. Plunge the probe into the ice slurry. Go to the IP address presented in the LCD and check the values. Make sure your probe is reading near zero - enter any offsets in the configuration UI if not. Bonus points if you have another thermometer that you can check against. Move the probe to the other ports and update those offsets as well. Once satisfied that the HeaterMeter is working properly, move onto to step 2.

Test #2

Build list:

– A Big-Honkin’ Hunk o’ Meat.

Fire up grill or oven. Plug a probe into the HeaterMeter. Plunge the probe deep into the hunk o’ meat. Place meat in heating device. Go to the IP address in the LCD on your favorite browsing device (phone, table or computer) and watch as your meat cooks - remotely! Sweet!


Well, we’re really just scratching the surface as to what the HeaterMeter can do. It’s got controls built in for servos and fans that will automatically kick-in when the temperature drops on the grill. I haven’t had the chance to wire that up on my grill yet, but it’s on the list - especially once I start getting into more smoking.

Additionally, with a tool like ngrok, you can extend your reporting outside of your internal WIFI network. Go for a bike ride and check your grill’s status on the road.

Well, I hope you see the same benefit as I do with this project. With summer here, it’s great being able to grill up some monster food without being stuck at the grill. Cheers!