I have actually moved to mashing in my 30qt kettle using direct heat on the stovetop. I have been able to repeat the fermrentability of worts within 1% of attenuation limit. I heat to the desired temp and wrap the pot in blankets during the rests. Thin mashes help stabilize the temp since the volume is larger. I find it easier to hit the targeted mash temps when I can heat to it rather than doughing in at a precisely determined temp.
But you still need a way to lauter unless you brew in a bag. I'm using my cooler MLT for that.
I think I will be picking up a 5 gallon beverage cooler from Lowes I think. Sounds like that's the better long term option. For this batch I will probably just brew in a bag since I don't think I'll have time to build a false bottom.
Lookin forward to trying out mashing this weekend..