I am currently quite full of some delicious pulled pork; the culmination of my first attempt at smoking. The hardware is a new MES 30 (gen 1) and AMNPS. Software was a 16 lb pack of boneless pork shoulder from costco, which sat one day with a rub I threw together.
I had a variety of mishaps to overcome:
1. I started the meat at 10pm on Friday @ 220, and at 5:30am on Saturday observed that the pellets had quickly gone out. I had a raging coal when I put it in, but hadn't pulled out the filler tube any (had the top port open fully).
2. At 6am I relit the AMNPS and pulled the filler tube out a bit, as well as the smoker tray.
3. At 8:30am I had to run some errands, but smoke was at a healthy rate so I thought I was in good shape.
4. Returned at 10:30am and found no smoke coming out. The reason was the AMNPS had completely burned empty. I found this very curious and thought maybe I somehow have bad pellets that are burning too quickly. I refilled it and relit with lighter & heat gun, and observed something very interesting - a tiny ember starting one row over from the ignition end. Apparently my heat gun blew a spark over there that caught, and this must be what happened earlier to burn through all of the pellets so quickly. This would burn through the fuel at 3x the normal rate, so the previous ~4-5 hours exhaustion makes sense.
5. I started checking the temperature probe at 1:30pm and observed it was starting to climb out of the stall.
6. Kept checking every 20-30 minutes and was happy to hit 188 at 2:45.
7. Next check I was down to 186. I looked at the unit and found I had set too low of a timer value and it had automatically shut off the heat. DRAT.
8. Turned the heat back on and FINALLY got to 195 at about 5:15pm. I was probing the one higher in the smoker and found that the lower one was actually 205. I had swapped positions earlier in the day, but it seems this difference in heat is something I'll have to pay attention to.
So I wrapped them in foil for 45 minutes, pulled 'em apart, and the family scarfed them down with some tasty buns.
I'm fairly confident that they would have more moisture if I hadn't inadvertently added an extra couple of hours at the end. I'm very glad that I chose pork shoulder for this first smoke as I needed every ounce of forgiving attitude that it had to offer. :) It is actually quite delicious and the family was telling me how happy they are that we started smoking.
Thanks for the wealth of info on the forum!