I'm using NEI, but I'm new to it so I keep forgetting that I have to be in survival for it to show me the recipes and little goofs like that. And yes, I've never used any of these kinds of high-tech mods before. I didn't realize that's what it is until I started playing with it. It's like trying to read an unfamiliar language because I don't know the bare basics that lead up to what's being explained. I can't even figure out how to power the recycler... But I feel like if I knew how to do it that this would work beautifully for what I need.
You can use NEI to look at recipes in creative as well. There may be an option disabling it somewhere. Never had that problem before so I am not entirely sure. What also may be causing you confusion is the Minecraft creative inventory menu. If you click the chest icon in the lower right it should toggle to the player survival inventory screen, and that should trigger NEI to show up. If NEI still doesn't show hit "o" when the player inventory is displayed.
As for generating RF using Thermal Expansion look up "dynamo". IIRC there are 6 different types of dynamos for generating RF. Thermal Recycling has a Battery Rack, but that requires and RF charged item to power it (such as an Energy Cell, Capacitor, RF tool of some sort, etc.).
Since this is your first time playing with tech mods and RF it may be helpful to watch a lets play from YouTube to get an idea of the basic mechanics.
When I first tried NEI I messed with the settings while attempting to follow a, (wait for it), "Instructional Video". Dun Dun Dun!
Now it won't let me change many of the settings and all those little icons in the top left don't show during game play and things to that nature. So I screwed it up and I don't know how to change it back. It shows that massive items list on the right when I'm in player inventory regardless of creative or survival, but it won't show me the recipes for how to make anything when I'm in creative. I'm learning and starting to figure it out, so for now it does what I need. I just have to remember to switch to survival when I want to look up a recipe...
I looked up dynamo, some things are starting to make sense. I didn't realize that it's a type of generator or converter. Having trouble wording it correctly, but I understand the definition.
I can tell that this is a great mod and it does a lot good stuff, but the more I learn about this the less this seems like what I need. I’m looking for something that does not require mod ores, because the world would have to be created with the mods installed so the ores can be mined.
If I can't find one already made I’m going to open a thread in map suggestions for a pure survival map of a city in ruins with a post-apocalyptic theme. Thermal would have to be a requirement to download the map if I was to include the Thermal mod. I have no experience with map making so I don’t know anything about including modpacks with maps, but being a suggestion whoever possibly decides to use it might want Thermal.
I was hoping to find something that runs purely on vanilla materials, so the player can add anything they want. An example is someone using DoggyStyle to simulate feral dogs having the run of the city. I wish that I could use the uncrafting table mod, because you can retrieve raw materials from crafted items salvaged from the city, but it is abandoned and unless someone else picks it up it will not progress past 7.10.
And if I can find a map that already exists then there won't be any mod ores to mine for anyway and I won't be able to do anything with Thermal.
Can you recommend another recycling mod or should I include Thermal in a modpack?