I'm still working on this, and I wanted to share progress and see what others have come up with. My goal is to reduce the amount of startup smoke and the amount of time that it takes to get to gasification / secondary combustion. Here's my current approach: 1) Place a medium sized triangular softwood split on each side of the firebox to make a V in the bottom so that kindling and logs are nudged toward the center as they fall downwards. 2) Crumple two sheets of newspaper and pack into the bottom of the V, above the nozzle. 3) Place two layers of softwood kindling (micro splits) widely spaced on the newspaper. 4) Add two layers of very small (about 3/4") hardwood splits next, also widely spaced - 4 to 6 pieces per layer. 5) At this point, I'm up to the top of the softwood V, so I'm working with the full width of the firebox. Continue with larger sizes each layer, padding the sides with bigger chunks. Fill to about 3/4 full, ending with splits and small rounds that are in the 2" to 3" range. 6) Open the bypass damper and the bottom door, and light the newspaper. 7) Wait 6 minutes. Close damper and bottom door, and switch on controller. Should kick off secondary combustion immediately. Let it burn for 30 minutes, then fill to the gills. Some lessons learned: 1) If you get puffing or pulsing during the 6 minute startup burn, you have too much kindling or small stuff. 2) If you get a big puffback or 'shuddering' when you switch to gasification, you waited too long. 3) If secondary combustion does not happen within 30 seconds, one of three things went wrong: - The wood was too wet or you didn't have high quality kindling - You didn't have enough kindling - You didn't wait long enough I use a cheap magnetic flue temperature gauge. It needs to be about 250 degrees to be sure of secondary combustion. YMMV. What are other people doing?