Well I'm giving the UDS another shot here, but this time with food. Got a fatty and 4.5# of chicken wings going over briquettes and some apple wood chunks. This time just poured 1/2 chimney of lit coals over the unlit rather than worrying about making a cavity in the center.
I've noticed so far and I don't know if its because of drippings hitting the coals or just because I poured the lit over the unlit, but I'm getting higher temps with fewer vents open. Hope to have some pics to post later (if I can figure out how