I did change the batteries but this was a known problem from the go get.
The mods made a world of difference. What was a surprise to me, was that sealing up the firebox gave me more control of the temps that I would have imagined. I sealed the firebox door with some of that rope made for fireplace doors, and caulk up the other seams. I attached it with rutland sealant, but it only lasts for a few smokes, then has to be resealed. I am thinking about attaching the rope with sheet metal screws. My next mod will be to buy a welding blanket to cover the smoking chamber as the outsidetemps drop.