After commenting on a few threads recently I thought i'd just start my own and share my methods in case they might help someone else out
Firstly, I do not use RUB's, so I can't comment on the set up of a RUB or other tub. I use wooden vivariums as my animals are in my front room and I like them to look nice, as well as function for the animals.
So, ceramics. This is what prompted me to think about making my own thread. It seems everyone does it differently.
I have my pulse thermostat probe and digital thermometer probe tied together with cable ties, then nailed to the back wall with cable tidies. It means snake can't move the wires, and they are reading from the same place, which I feel is important. Also, they are half under the ceramic bulb itself, sat on top of the substrate (Aubiose). Like this:
Note that for that photo, i'd removed her hide. Her hide is usually here:
I use Exo Terra caves as they are easily washed and last forever (well, until they outgrow them!).
Exo Terra caves are made from a material that holds heat very well, so as I don't want to expose my snakes to temperatures that are too high (in my personal opinion, this means 33C and upwards) I set my ambient temperature rather much lower than what I want the hotspot to be. I have been asked why I don't put the thermostat probe inside the hide and regulate it from there, the answer is that this way works for me, I am able to monitor the ambients whilst still controlling the maximum reachable temperature in the hide.
My ambient is set to 27.5C hot end. Now, remember this is the temperature of the substrate where the probe is positioned. This is not the temperature of the whole hot end. Ceramics are not like mats, they give a much bigger (and better) gradient. To show, I took a picture this morning. The black thermometer is the temperature inside the hide. The white one is the permanent thermometer attached to the viv, the large number is the humidity, the small one shows the substrate temperature.
As you can see, for whatever scientific reason, inside the hide (directly under the ceramic) is more than 4C higher than directly outside of it. If I set the ambient and the thermostat to 32C where they are now, inside the hide could reach 36C easily. Hopefully this also highlights the importance of using a digital thermometer and not relying on the themostat; my thermostat dial is reading 26C, which is almost correct for the substrate temperature, but of course very wrong for inside the hide! If you don't take some time to set the thermostat up you might as well not have one, you could still end up having it far too warm for your snakey.
I don't measure the cool end, in a 4ft viv I know a ceramic will give a good enough gradient, and I see my snakes using both ends, so i'm happy with how it is now.
My corn and leos both have heatmats, as they are small enough animals to receive the full benefit of a mat. They are on mat stats, and for them the thermostat and thermometer probes both go directly on top of the mat, as mats don't affect ambient temperatures at all. Putting the probe anywhere else but on the mat is practically useless
A quick note on humidity, I often see people saying they leave their vivs at 'room humidity'. I don't think anything in a viv receives any kind of 'room' benefit. My corn and leo vivs are at about 25-30% humidity usually, as the water source is nowhere near the heat source. This is much lower than 'room' humidity, given that the environment inside the vivs is nowhere like the environment in the room! They are a lot warmer for a start
For this reason I always place a large water bowl near the warm end for my royal and boa (who have ceramics) to assist with shedding etc. It currently sits at between 45-55%, when I see they're shedding a quick mist brings it up. If you don't use a hygrometer don't assume room humidity will be ok, a lot of the times a viv will be less humid than your room, unless you keep humid species and are purposefully creating humid enviorments.
Hope it helps someone!