You had better start hinting that you want a welder for christmas cause a see a build in your future.
Before you ever purchase meat, i would recommend you do at least 1 or 2 long burns to get the feel for how it will run. I keep a log book with notes. Then start with a single rack of ribs for the first cook as they are easy, and fairly short cook times. Hopefully your plate will help but i couldnt use the first 8-10 inches of rack out of the firebox as it was too hot. Other than that, have fun and remember we all have ruined (and continue to do so) good pieces of meat over the years.