I've been an extract brewer for over 3 years and finally took the plunge on a proper all grain setup. I planned out the setup over several months and build time was about a month of weekends. My intention is to build a semi-automated stand eventually, but needed to break the build out into chunks for budget reasons.
I brewed up Yooper's Dead Guy clone
as my first batch. Thanks to Beersmith and these forums, I hit everything exceptionally close for my first batch. Mash temp (1/2 degree low with 1 degree loss), sparge temps (1 degree high)...boil off rates, gravity measurements, preboil volume and final volume were all dead on. It was textbook, which thoroughly surprised me considering it was a new setup.
I woke up on brew day genuinely excited to brew, which it's been at least year since that happened. I can't believe how much more enjoyable it is to brew outside than in my kitchen. There were a lot of "firsts" with this brew, but overall, it was a fantastic experience. I'm really happy with my new setup with only a few minor issues to correct and a couple minor steps that will be required for sub-freezing temperature brewing here in a month or two.
I have a lot of folks to thank on these forums and want to express my gratitude for all those I've learned from on these forums. You're the best! I'm looking forward to many more brews.