New to smoking and have bought a MES 30 inch digital electric. Used it for the second time yesterday smoking some summer sausage that I had made. After that experience I have a couple of questions: 1. I set the temp at 170 degrees but noticed that it would heat to about 178, then the heat element would shut off and stay off until the temp dropped to around 162, then it would heat up again...so, wasn't able to hold a steady 170 degree temp. Is this normal? When a recipe says to smoke at 170 degrees are you really smoking at an average temp of 170 but it is constantly fluctuating +/- 8 degrees or so during the process? 2. I took the advice of many of you and purchased a second thermometer...A Maverick ET model. The Maverick registers about 7 degrees cooler than the one built into the smoker. Should I assume that the Maverick is more accurate than the one that is built into the smoker? The food probe that comes with the smoker registered about 5 degrees cooler than the Maverick...again, is the advice to trust the external thermometer or the one built into the smoker? 3. I was smoking 5 summer sausages (20 inch in length) and wonder if that is too many to smoke at one time in the 30 inch smoker. The entire process took 13 hours to reach an IT of 156. 10 of those hours was smoking at 170. Air temp was in the 60's. Didn't expect it to take that long, but the results look good. Also do you test the IT of each sausage or just have one as your temp test. I ended up putting an instant read thermometer in each one at the end but it did cause juice to escape from the holes made by the thermometer. So, do you need to test each one or is one good enough. Maybe I'm sounding paranoid...just don't want to make anyone sick by undercooking something. Like I said, I'm new to all this. Thanks for the input!!!!