BBQ Day?

Author: Bryan Hansen
Some companies like to incentivize their employees by having a BBQ day. At STG, we fully support this, but doing the status quo has never been our motto.
At STG we have a Bench. I personally like to call it our Dev Center because it really is more than a “bench”. We truly believe in investing in our employee’s career development and our commitment to our Dev Center is a true testament to that. Our Dev Center is focused on projects that help people continue to grow, but with challenging projects that will engage you and also teach you new concepts. Case in point with our BBQ Day.
Sure, we could fire up the old BBQ and cook some hotdogs and hamburgers like anybody else, but where is the fun in that?!? One of our Directors actually builds Ugly Drum Smokers (UDS) for fun. This ties in directly with our Work/Life balance that we firmly believe in at STG. One of the drawbacks with the UDS is that there is no way to control the temperature or monitor the cooking temps of your smoker. Looking at some of the new fancy modern smokers, they really don’t have this figured out very well either.
bryan-hansen-blog-post-pic-1 bryan-hansen-blog-post-pic-2
We challenged some of our developers, while in the Dev Center, to build a wireless device to monitor one of our UDSs and create a truly controllable interface for the smoker. The results couldn’t have been more awesome!
The solution that came out of this was a Raspberry Pi / Arduino build in a box that had four temperature probes and a remote controlled fan salvaged from a PC.
The end result (besides 6 awesome racks of ribs) was a custom built application on the Pi using Java, Spring, Spring REST, Swagger, and an H2 database. All the jokes years ago when James Gosling would talk about Java running your toaster now seem a little more surreal. Java is now running our smoker.
P.S. We will follow up with a more technical write up of what we did with the build out for those wanting the nitty-gritty details.