Why don't you start with telling us what kind of smoker are you using? I can see that it's a bullet of some sort, and hope it might be a Weber Smokey Mountain clone, and fear that it might be a Brinkmann, but can't tell for sure from your pics.
There are bullets and bullets. Some are much easier to use than others. If it IS a WSM copy, you should take a look at The Virtual Weber Bullet. It's dedicated to helping people learning to use that type of cooker. If it's a Brinkmann, getting consistently good results is a more complicated matter.
Whichever bullet it is, it doesn't have much in common -- other than the basics of barbecue -- with a ceramic cooker like Dave's BGE. As much as anything else, barbecue is about fire management, and ceramics are sui generis.
Before beginning to speculate on what you're doing wrong, let's find out what you're doing period.
- What did you do in terms of fire management?
- Did you use a thermometer to check your cook-chamber's temp?
- How often did you take off the lid to check progress?
- Describe your basic rib technique. I'm most interested in knowing:
- Whether, how, and how often you baste or sprtiz;
- Whether you wrap or not; and
- What method you use to test for doneness.
Chances are that you can solve the dryness problem by better fire management (which will require some simple mods if it's a Brinkmann); doing a lot less peeking throughout the cook; and by wrapping for most of the last half of the cook -- because those are easy fixes to the most common causes for dryness. But "common" doesn't mean they're yours.
Last, you don't need a hot plate. Not even for an el cheapo Brinkmann.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/24/13 at 3:57pm