Thanksgiving 2.0: TurkeyTracker.com

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Get ready to bookmark this, people: Turkey Tracker is a collaborative webcast of a Thanksgiving turkey being cooked in a smoker in Portland, Oregon. The smoking starts at 9am (Pacific time) on Thanksgiving Day, and involves:

• Two cameras trained on the smoker, broadcasting live video (via Ustream)
• A USB thermometer inside the turkey that automatically posts its temperature readings to Twitter (read more on this at MAKE)
• Live chat alongside the video (also via Ustream)
Flickr photos of the bird taken throughout the day
Community photos of other turkey cooking events happening at other locations
• A Turkey Tracker Blog with more details and an FAQ.

This isn't your parents' Yule Log, folks. The turkey revolution will be televised. Now you can talk turkey...online. Okay, the puns will stop now. But I'm telling you, it will be worth your while to check out TurkeyTracker.com on Thursday. Whether you just sit back and watch the Portland turkey smoke or you join in the chat, Twitter experience, or Flickr pool -- this is definitely the wired way to enjoy Thanksgiving. Here's a snippet from the Turkey Tracker FAQ that shows some serious geek cred (pictured: graph from a test run of the USB thermometer):

7. How do you track the temperature?

Turkey Tracker graph - 2007This year, we're using Type-K thermocouples from Omega Engineering in Connecticut--they're a provider of industrial sensors and process control equipment. Our ambient and smoker temperature sensors are bolt-on thermocouples with glass-insulated wire rated to 480degC (900degF). The probe for the turkey itself is a custom ordered probe that has a advanced ceramic insulation made by 3M that's rated to 1200degC (2200degF). The thermocouples generate a current proportional to the temperature, which we amplify with an Analog Devices AD595 chip. The AD595 is then connected to an Arduino microcontroller board that is programmed to output the temperature, in Celsius, over USB. We have a ruby script that collects the data on the serial line and converts it to Fahrenheit. For graphing, we use RRDTool. The data is polled every minute. The steps you see in the graph also depict minute intervals.

Our obsession with high-temperature rated materials is due to events last year that caused us to lose sensors twice during the cooking process in a very dramatic fashion. Besides, we haven't had a chance to buy export-restricted thermally-insulated sensors before.

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November 25, 2008 - 1:02pm
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