I have been searching around the forum but haven't seen exactly what I'm looking for- is there a commercially available heat stick or similar with temperature control? I'd like to automate that function for my HLT.
I'm no electrician, but with enough guidance, can do basic wiring & soldering etc., if I was forced to build something. I use a 1/2-barrel keg as my HLT and absolutely would not be opposed to having ferrules welded in for a permanent installation.
If you didn't want to go electric, my HLT is automated by a Ranco controller and an Asco valve (ebay ~$50) that controls the propane burn. I set my temp, light the pilot light, and let it go until mash out. Probably cost me $100 to go onto my current set up. I have it controlled as I use a HERMS coil in my HLT. Good Luck!