I have done a lot of smoking in my weber kettle, pork butt/shoulder, ribs, brisket, etc. I use one digital remote probe, and my gas weber's dial thermometer. I use cork plugs with holes drilled and insert the plugs in the top vent to hold the probe and the dial. The probe can at first be used at grate level then later in the meat, the weber dial has a 6" stem, and that is almost down to grate level.
I have played with several methods of charcoal, from starting with a heap in the starter can then adding unlit charcoal, now I use a electric hot plate with an old heavy duty pot and I throw the charcoal I want to add in the pot to get lit. I think adding unlit charcoal gives off some chemicals that can affect food. However for years before the internet, I did this for in-direct turkeys and never noticed it.
Smoking with a weber kettle requires a lot of tending. It's hard getting the temps right. I pre-heat to about 250-300 before adding meat. Then I start closing the bottom vents until achieve the desired temp range 225-250. The bottom vents on my model each close individually. I always keep the vent close to the charcoal closed and adjust the other two. One way to prevent losing all the heat when adding wood or charcoal, instead of pulling the lid completely off, slide the lid and rest on tray, and quickly add wood or charcoal. I have the hinge open always to do this quickly when opening lid.
Don't forget to either use drip pans or line the inside with alum. foil. You can also use alum tray with water, like a water smoker, but I'm not sure how effective this works, since the heat source isn't directly under the water pan.
I now happily own a MES and no longer worry about temp control, and get sleep now when cooking in the wee hours.
Hope this helps...
I fashioned my own smokenator out of a heavy duty baking tray. Note, this was done one night in the wee hours in haste, I have been using it for a couple of years, always intending to improve it, but never did.
*You must have the newer top grate that has the flip up sides so you can easily add charcoal and wood.
Step One: Use a tape measure and the approx. length necessary to push through both grills and and still clear once the lid is on the kettle. My length is 13"
Step Two: Cut a 1/4 " about 7.5" or 8" up the center. This is so you can insert through top grill. You will notice my cut is too wide. This was a result of too much beer.
*I insert my tray at an angle 1 row behind the top grate hinge, and angle down toward the charcoal grate two rows in toward the center. If you insert tray straight the width of tray is two wide. I wanted to insert tray as close to hinge as possible, leaving me maximum cooking space.
Step Three: Measure the bottom grate opening. The bottom charcoal grate on my kettle has two center cross supports about 1.5" apart. The side opening is the one you will measure, measure same from outside of baking tray toward center and mark (less 1/4 to 1/2"), do same on other side of tray. Now cut out between the two marks about 1" high.
Now test your cuts, trim where necessary, make sure lid sits on kettle without touching tray.
Because my cuts were so bad after I insert through top grate I wrap the tray with several wraps of alum. foil and then insert into charcoal grate. This forces the heat around the sides and top.