Just stopping to introduce myself. I'm a newbie to smoking, but want to take the time to do it right. I'm in the Pittsburgh area (about 40 minutes north) and teach for a living so I've got tons of time to enjoy smoking and want to get more serious with it. I've already done the 5 day e-course and it was a great tool for learning.
I've been smoking meat in a cheap Brinkmann barrel Smoker (should be a clickable link to the Brinkmann website) that I got from Home Depot before I knew anything about smoking. I trusted the label and wish I would have done some research first.
The temps fluctuate pretty wildly because it leaks air everywhere. During the smoke it literally pours out of every crack and crevice. I've smoked picnic, chicken, and ribs in it so far with mixed results. The chicken turned out really well, the picnic was ok, and the last set of ribs I made were too tough but tasted good. My wife purchased me an iGrill for Father's Day and that has helped me to get the temps under control a bit more, but there is only so much I can do with my current setup.
After lurking for the last month or so I've decided to build a UDS. Everything I've read shows that it is a clear step up and can produce some quality meat. My skills for the manufacturing should be good enough to get the job done and my wife's uncle can help me weld anything I might need (like the firebox).
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I look forward to learning from all of you.