Correct me if I am wrong here, but the Mother of all Ugly Drum Smoker threads sort of evolved from handy folks on this site that either grew up around people cooking on drums in one form or another and noticed that the guy at Big Drum Smokers was producing excellent Q in all forms, documenting his cooks, and through trial and error came up with very simple designed drum smokers. And I think people in their quest to find the next big thing in drum smoker technology fail to recognize this fact and overlook the simplicity of the Big Drum Smoker.
OK- so the price and shipping is what drives most to want to build their own, I know it was for me, so at the beginning I dabbled with a couple different designs gleaned from the early days of the thread, but there were a few Brethren and folks from other sites that had BDS's listed in their signatures and I figured they must be onto something so I immersed myself in the Big Drum Smoker site- at the time they had an open Forum, cooking instructions, firing techniques and a chitload of pics of every meat cooked on the BDS lineup. This was a no-brainer! Luckily I copied as much info as I could from the site before it was locked down to lurkers, and there was also a stunning review by Danny Gaulden that basically was a blueprint for the early BDS, this and a little help from BDS owners helped my learning curve on the fast track.
Take a look at this thread: Top 10 Smokers for under $400 for 2011
I admire the ingenuity of all the different Ugly Drum Smokers out there and admit that I have a few ball valves just in case I ever get the urge to stick them on a drum, but so far have resisted the temptation to do so, and that goes for doors, bigass charcoal baskets and such. I've got Weber lids that fit all my drums, but I prefer the stock drum lid overall.
Build yourself one (or three) BDS Clones