A wise man once said, “Why Baketh, when one can Fryeth?” I could be wrong but I believe that was Shakespeare. Ok, actually I just made it up but it’s turkey season and many people will be confronted with that exact question. Now, I’m not sure who started the fried turkey craze but I, for one, am a big fan of fried turkey and I think someone is due a Congressional Gold Medal. Who’s with me?!

The Dangers of Frying a Turkey

If you have ever fried a turkey or have seen it done, then you know how hazardous it can be. What could go wrong when you have a tank of propane, a whole lotta grease and an open flame? A lot actually, if you’re not careful.

Ahhh, that was fun. But as you can see there are many questions that should be answered before you lower that bird into the grease. Is the turkey defrosted enough? Is it dry? Is the oil too hot? Does this shirt go with these pants? Who made the potato salad? All valid concerns, that need to be explored thoroughly. But what if there was a way to alleviate some of these concerns; to take some human error out of the equation. Could that be possible? Oh yes, I’d like to introduce…….the Turkenator (click the link for the full article in Servo Magazine).

Introducing the Turkenator – An Automated DIY Turkey Fryer

DIY Turkey FryerThe Turkenator is an automated turkey fryer invented by Kevin Goodwin. It uses a PLC-controlled motor to raise and lower the turkey into the grease. It also includes temperature sensors (one for the oil, one for the turkey), an HMI for control and monitoring, a proximity sensor and both audible and flashing alarms. All this built into a PVC A-frame foundation. The design allows for careful lowering of the turkey without the risk of serious burns, real-time temperature monitoring, and an automatic raise-when-done feature. While cooking, the PLC monitors the internal temperature of the bird and when it meets the set point, it’s time to eat!

Besides the hands-off appeal of the Turkenator, using automation when frying also allows for safety measures to be built into the process. For example, the Turkenator will not allow the turkey to be lowered until the oil is at the ideal temperature. Once in the oil, the PLC also monitors for hazards such as an over temperature condition.

The Parts that Make it Happen

Kevin’s design uses AutomationDirect parts such as the CLICK PLC and the C-more micro HMI. Both are outstanding choices, but I’ll let Kevin explain, “The cool factor in using this equipment is that it’s not expensive. PLCs can run from $70 to $130, and the I/O modules are around the same. Automation Direct gives you the development software for free, as well as online classes and phone support”. Well said Kevin, well said.

In all seriousness, fried turkey is great but it is also dangerous. If you are attempting your first fried turkey or you are a well-seasoned fryer, take the time to understand the proper procedures. Nothing ruins Thanksgiving dinner like a trip to the ER.

For a quick reminder of the Do’s and Don’ts with Turkey Frying click here. 

For more information about programmable control, click here.

Originally Published: November 2014