One of the kiln-brains out at school is a Kilnminder II, but I got
it from Gesswein. It’s worked like a champ for 10+ years. Had a
psychotic episode a few years back, but a trip back to Gesswein, and
a few hundred dollars fixed that. Definitely worth the money. I’ve
got one on my (mothballed) burnout kiln at home too.
The wonderful thing about them for the small studio is that they
burn out while you’re either busy or asleep. You can cast first thing
in the morning, let the kiln cool all day while you shoot and sprue
more waxes, and load up again last thing in the evening, and you’re
off to the races. Either way, it lets you worry about other things
than where your kiln temp is right now. I’ve run 8-10 hour burnouts
by hand. It stinks. Having a kilnminder (regardless of brandname) is
worth every penny.
One comment though: I always make sure the brain is separate from
the kiln. That way if either one of them blows up, you’ve still got
the other. When my kilnminder at school fried, I had a second burnout
oven to fall back on, but if I’d had to, I could have disconnected
the kilnminder, and run the burnout by hand, the old-fashioned way.
(cursing all the while, doubtless.) If the kiln fries, new kilns
without brains are much cheaper than kilns with brains.
PS–> One more comment re Kilnminders: mine is a Kilnminder II, and
about 10-12 years old. The newer ones are likely different, but one
of the things I like about it is the interface. It doesn’t have one.
You flip switches to set the various modes and temps, and it only
does one day of delayed start. It’s not very ‘friendly’ but it does
exactly what you tell it, and it’s very clear about what that is. My
smaller burnout oven is a newer Kerr with a built-in brain. That
thing has an LCD that displays real words. It tries to be ‘friendly’,
and sacrifices clarity in the process. If you’re not careful, you’ll
end up starting your delayed burn a day later than you planned
because of a difference of opinions (yours and its) about what a '1’
day delay means. I don’t enjoy having semantic arguments with my