I've been poking around and have come to the realization that I'm going to have to build a smoker to get what I want. Some of you guys fab-from-scratch jobs are quite impressive, but I've got 2 young kids and just don't have time for that kind of project right now. However, I have identified a CI XL with the double glass doors on craigslist for $150 that would be a great starting point (I think).
PID control is the way to go I think. The Smokin-It 2D would be just right, but it has a solid door and no window. Come on man! Gotta be able to look in without opening the door.
So $150 for the cooker that may or may not work (supposed to, but who knows with Craigslist), and a $160 Auber PID gets some of the things covered. Specs on this are limited, but looks like 1200 cu in and only a 650w element. That seems a little light to me. But with the notorious failures of the CI elements, I was thinking about changing it out regardless for something that was easier to get a replacement for. Like a couple $12-$15 750w hotplates from Walmart or Amazon. Retrofit the cabinet for an element on each side for more even heating and wire in parallel to the Auber.
I'm pretty electrically knowledgeable so that part doesn't concern me. However, I've never taken a smoker or hot plate either one apart, so don't know if this is even possible. It seems like you guys have done a little bit of everything. Has retrofitting elements been done?