As suggested, here's my first post, here in the Roll Call forum.
First, thanks so much for everyone's advice. I've read many bits and pieces as I've come to educate myself on smoking these past couple years, and can't express enough of my thanks for everyone's contributions.
I live in Colorado, USA, in the foothills about 20 miles west of Denver, at 7,400 feet, so high altitude and often low ambient temperatures are realities of my smoking life.
I'm also a data geek, so I like to experiment and keep logs of my smokes, taking notes of what works and what doesn't (times, temps, rubs, brines, etc.) so I can get better.
I firmly believe in low and slow. 170-225 is where I cook the most, and will only go high at the end of the cook if needed, e.g., to get a chicken skin more crispy / less rubbery. If I need high temps, I have a Napoleon grill that I love.
Finally, pork butt, chicken, salmon, and trout are my go to dishes. Not really a brisket guy ... if I'm going to go with meat, I just can't pull myself away from a pork butt.
I've had an MES 40" for about 2 years, and I've smoked on it probably 20 times. The food is delicious, but I've not been thrilled with the amount of smoke. I've added an AMNPS, and tried EVERYTHING to get pellets to stay lit without futzing too much, to no avail. By everything, I mean removing pellet loader completely, top exhaust fully open, torching pellets for 2 min, letting flame burn for several min until I blow it out, microwaving pellets, roasting pellets in the oven (300 deg), letting pellets bake in the sun on a hot day, occasionally spritzing meat with liquid to increase absorption, installing an exhaust fan atop my MES and prayer. Nada. Usually get 20-30 min before they need re-lighting. I very recently read at this altitude, others have similar troubles and the A-MAZE-N tube works much better, but I've not purchased one. Apologies if that's too much info for Roll Call, but thought you'd like the background. Also, I'm not looking for a answer ... I'll post an actual question in the right forum for that.
I'm also considering upgrading to a MAK 2 Star ... they look amazing. I'd love to be able to do an overnight smoke without having to worry about pellets extinguishing.
So that's me! Thanks again, and a hearty "hello" to the group!