Archive for Vape

Kanger IPOW2

So recently I’ve had a problem in vapeland. I had everything so I thought, four batteries, two chargers, a bunch of clearmoizers and plenty of liquid as well as the fixings to make more. I noticed something disturbing happening. My batteries were not lasting as long as they should. I’m not talking about thirty minutes or an hour less, I’m talking about 20% or less of their former capacity. Something was amiss. At first, I assumed it was the charger. Such things are made in China and made to be cheap so it’s more or less expected they will fail at some point. A simple failure of it’s voltage reference would cause it to say it’s done charging when it isn’t. Which was exactly what I thought was happening.

Not so in this case. The purchase of a new charger did nothing to revitalize these poor batteries which were in fact just dying as all LiON batteries with too many charging cycles wearing out the battery. So the damage is two of my batteries out of four with another one being about half working. This is kind of scary since I depend on these things.

Having to spend an entire day out of doors an away from my home made AC box mod was rather frightening, I didn’t want to run out of juice. I knew of a brick and mortar on Yonge St. named 180° Smoke so I went there looking to replace with the same old de-branded 1300mAh spinner type battery that has served me so well.

Evaluating my options, it seemed to me that the usual spinner type batteries weren’t so competitive and awesome any more. Sure they can be bought for cheap online, but they aren’t great, and actually kind of a pain in the butt in many ways. They have no display or feedback for the charge state of the battery, they are variable voltage so need frequent tweaks to get a good vape with differing atomizer resistances and battery charge levels as well as the saturation of the clearo itself. Moreover, they have no readout at all aside from the flashy button LED which tells you very little if anything. So I saw the Kanger IPOW2 and thought “ooh that’s shiny”.
IPOW2

The IPOW2

For $30-40 here’s what you get – a variable power (wattage) integrated battery with a nice display and smooth interface. What more could you ask for? The design is nice and sleek and all flush mount, the display is a nice bright (and informative!) OLED display which shows the battery charge, output power, and atomizer resistance all at once. It is a bit longer and thicker than the spinners which is no big deal really. It’s not oversized. It comes in 1000mAh, 1300mAh and 1600mAh models to suit everyone’s size vs. battery capacity taste. The thread at the top is 510 but helpfully comes with an eGo adaptor in the box. Here’s one of my favourite things about it – it charges by a micro USB cable (also included). No more stupid screw in chargers!

Theory of Function

Before, variable power (as opposed to voltage) was only available to the owners of APVs (advanced personal vaporizing devices) for quite a bit more than your standard eGo twist clone. What this means in brief is that you get a consistent output from your device no matter what the atomizer resistance or battery charge level. From first vape to last it will be consistent. With the twist/spinners, one would have to keep adjusting the knob on the bottom to continually tweak to get the desired vape out of the thing which is fiddly and annoying honestly. With this, you can set it and forget it and just enjoy your vape.

The reason variable power (wattage) is so important and why it works is quite simple and just a bit of basic electronics. The atomizer coil is just a resistor by another name. Resistors are just heaters by another name :) . If you apply a voltage across a resistor, it will pull current through it and dissipate heat according to it’s resistance value. Basic Ohm’s law: voltage = current x resistance. So if your coil is 2.2Ω and your battery is set to 3.7V it will draw 1.68A of current (re-arrange the formula: current = voltage/resistance, 3.7/2.2=1.68). Easy. So you’d think you just set it at 3.7 and always get 1.68A through your coil to get a consistent vape, no problem. Catch for young players: what if the voltage changes, or the resistance?

Fact is, the little knob on the bottom of your twist will say it’s set to 3.7V, but remember it’s not made to be a laboratory grade voltage regulator, so it could be off by who knows how much. Not only that, but it could drift off depending on the load you put on it or any number of other factors. It can also drift and even fall off as your battery drains. All voltage regulators have what’s called a “dropout” voltage, meaning it needs a bit of overhead to regulate the voltage to the desired level consistently. If your battery voltage is lower than your dropout voltage plus your setting, you will not get your desired voltage. Likewise, over their lifespan, atomizer coils can increase their resistance causing the battery to work harder for the same output. This, I believe, is through heat expansion of the coil and it being gunked up with e-juice. Eventually, the coil just becomes unusable for a variety of reasons, but one thing variable voltage battery owners find is they have to increase the voltage to get the same vape as the atomizer ages. The point is, it’s the power output that is important. Regulating that is key to a consistent vaping experience.

So what is the variable wattage about and how does it solve these issues? Well, let’s look at what wattage actually is. A Watt is a derived unit of power. It could mean electrical energy, or thermal energy, but always 1W = 1 joule per second. It is a direct measurement of the amount of energy over time that something is outputting. This is why amplifiers, heaters, microwaves, everything uses it as their rating by which you buy them. According to the formulae, 1W = (current)^2 x Resistance, or it is current x voltage. By making power what we want to regulate, we let voltage fly free and allow it to be adjusted as need be to maintain a steady output.

This is essentially what I (and probably you) were doing by fiddling with that bottom knob on the spinners. We knew, by feeling, where our perfect vape was, and would adjust this knob up or down as needed. We were varying the voltage to match the changing resistance of our coil or the battery charge level to get the same power output. The variable wattage takes care of this for us. It’s voltage regulator will sense changes in output resistance and compensate for the battery charge level and focus on keeping that steady power output regardless of these two factors. If the atomizer resistance increases, the device ups it’s voltage to compensate.

The Review

Finally, after my tedious intro rand and technobabble, I’ll finally talk about the device itself.

I’ve been using it about 30 hours and I have to say I’m suitably impressed. It is certainly more fun to use than the boring old spinners and yes I’m quite dazzled by all sorts of electronic technology so having this as my PV appeals to me. It’s thickness is greater, as I mentioned, but I actually find this more comfortable to hold in my hand than the thinner spinners. The controls and display are all nicely flush mounted which to me not only looks good but is less to break when I drop it or knock it against something. Conversely, since the button is flush I have had occasional trouble finding it when not looking at the device which is slightly annoying. Nevertheless, the fire button has a nice tactile click and is not hard to actuate. I imagine it no more or less durable than the microswitches found in other batteries so I would still suggest against mashing it. Oddly, this button is in the shape of a shield, which brings to mind anti-virus software logos. I do not know why Kanger chose this but I don’t mind it either. A clear plastic light pipe surrounds the button to indicate when it is being operated and flashes like you would expect it to when turning it on and off, when it reaches it’s max firing time, and when the battery has run flat. I do note shadows in the oddly shaped lightpipe so it’s not quite as attractive as it could be be being nice and bright and lit up. Unlike some batteries, the LED powers off instantly. Guess they didn’t want to put a cap there to make it fade. Which is neither here nor there.

The OLED display is nice and bright and blue and perfectly flush mounted on the metal tube. One thing I absolutely love is that it shows you all information at once. In one glance you get your power setting, your atomizer resistance, and battery charge level. I’ve looked about and I cannot find a device for a comparable price that does that. Even some higher end APVs only show one of the three at a time and one has to hunt through menus in an awkward operating system to see everything one wants to know. Who wants that? It brings up another point – the user interface. It is dead simple.

All that is involved in using the thing is pressing a button. If one wants to adjust the power level, simply adjust the knob on the bottom. That’s it. Usual 5 click on-off. That’s it. No menus, no bullshit, just hassle free vaping.

IPOW2disp

The knob on the bottom is great too. On the twisters, I was pretty sure I was turning a linear potentiometer and could feel the wipers scraping inside. Those would definitely wear out or get gunky over time and I also had the feeling that really they needed a log instead of linear pot since the control didn’t feel linear at all. The knob on the IPOW2 is great, it just turns endlessly in either direction while the display updates your settings in 0.5W increments. So it’s an endless rotary encoder instead of a pot, grand.

This, the display and the fact it is variable wattage tells me clearly that somewhere in there is a little microcontroller. Your vaping kept consistent by digital micro processor control, what could be better?

Another big plus of this device is it’s integrated charging circuit. I was already frustrated with failing eGo chargers and hated having to buy a specific charger with a specific thread only to have them die on me. The IPOW2 uses micro USB. Done. The little display even shows charging progress.

So here’s the summary:

Pros
  • Consistent power output
  • Sleek design, comfortable to use in the hand, smooth flush mount controls and display
  • Bright OLED display with all information at once
  • Simple operation, button and encoder, no menus to fiddle with
  • Integrated Micro-USB charger
  • Temperature protected, double protected battery, multiple vent holes for heat and battery failure
  • 3-15W regulated output
  • Cheaper than APVs with the same feature set
Cons
  • Flush button hard to find by touch
  • Non-replacable integrated battery
  • Display at bottom, counter-intuitive
  • Battery display not proportional to how long it will last (they all are)

Overall, I’d declare it a winner. It’s a lovely offering a step up from the basic eGo batteries and cheaper than the APVs. I was doing my research into an APV for myself since the batteries seem to die faster than anything else, and I thought it prudent to start using replaceable battery models. This, however, proved to be both a nice stop-gap and convenient solution. For the average vaper, it is a no fuss device that just works. I think I will buy one or two more to replace my spinners entirely.

The EVOD BCC

Most awesome clearo yet.

The Ecig industry has always been driven by this wonderful grassroots DIY innovation, which to me is part of its appeal. Even though they have been around for about ten years, there is this air of it being a very young hobby with plenty of room for new improvements.

When I started, like most, I bought the 510 starter kit. Like most, I found it a sad, leaky, unsatisfying shadow of the analogs I wished to rid myself of. The root of my dissatisfaction was the 510 atomizer and cartridge system. It didn’t hold enough, it wasted a lot of juice, and the atty’s quickly became clogged to the point where, you didn’t want to throw them out, but had no idea how rehabilitate them. So you either put up with a sucky vape, wasted tons of cash on new parts that quickly failed, or gave up entirely (as I did for one year).

Now, with more experience and more products on the market, I feel one particular product has finally hit the sweet spot of vaping. Now, realize this is merely my opinion, and there are as many opinions on what makes up a great vape as there are vapers. Still, I think many have agreed that the EVOD BCC from Kanger finally delivers on the promise of a consistently satisfying, hassle-free vape.

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

Pictured here, you can see its quite a simple device. I believe it is the fourth generation of its kind being a direct descendant of the T3 clearo but delivering a better vape (I wouldn’t know, I haven’t tried the T3). A bottom-coil clearomizer like many others.

It holds about 1.5mL of juice which I think is a nice compromise of size vs. capacity. It features an integrated mouthpiece and although some have said this is a negative feature, I find it quite comfortable especially since I can’t stand loose parts or having it fall off. Its width and height feel in perfect proportion to the eGo style batteries it’s designed for. It has two oval sight windows cut into the coloured tank covering which comes in a variety of colours. Refilling is a snap: just unscrew the base, squirt some juice in (minding not to get it down the centre post) and re-assemble. The construction is solid and the build quality good. It screws together easily with no excessive force, the threads are smooth, and the seals tight. In three months of use I have not had one single leak. Something I cannot say of 95% of the other vaping products I have tried.

The best feature of all is that when the coil is clogged or spent, instead of throwing the whole thing in the bin like other clearos, one simply replaces the coil (called a “head”) and resumes vaping. For the enviro-conscious this is a boon, since there is less plastic waste and in general less of a feeling like you are trashing something that is 90% functional but for the 10% that is broken rendering it useless. Its also for the thrifty-minded, for the cost of one EVOD, you can buy a packet of 5 replacement heads. Though I have yet to “blow” a head (burn out the coil) I find its useful life is about one month due to cloggage and burnt juice (if one is not careful of vaping voltage or dry burning it by accident).

Replacement of these heads is quite simple. Simply unscrew the base, unscrew the head from the base, screw in a new head and re-assemble. Back to vaping in seconds. No fiddly screwdrivers or flaky pressure-fit bits. Performs just like new.

I’ve been using phoenix-style RBA’s (rebuildable atomizers) for some months now at home after ditching the 510 atomizer for good. I love them. I love how a few cents worth of silica wick and kanthal wire, and a couple of minutes of wrapping a new coil, I can be back to vaping. Compare that to the cost of a new 510 atomizer! Even when I started to use clearos for convenience when I was out, I still had this distaste for the thought of throwing them out the day they go south.

A recent discovery, thanks to evelwmn on YouTube, showed me that it is possible to rebuild EVOD heads. Yes – even if your head is clogged or burned out, they can be rebuilt just like new with a bit of wick and wire. I was delighted, it’s even easier to rebuild the EVOD heads than to rebuild a phoenix RBA. Within 15 minutes, I had rebuilt five of my clogged heads and now have a perpetual supply – further reducing cost (down to a few cents per) as well as the amount I need to throw into the trash. I mean, apart from physical damage, or mangling a thread, I can’t imagine how these parts could wear out! Wick and wire are the only disposables. Watch her video for instructions. Anyone can do this.

They also seem particularly resistant to cloggage and gurgling, and I have to try hard to pull enough juice through with dry puffs before I get a gurgle. As a result, getting juice in one’s mouth is a thankfully rare occurrence. Likewise, its difficult to get juice to leak downwards into the battery well, significantly reducing the cleaning required.

If it does get a bit gunky, just rinse with hot water and keep on vaping. The occasional rinse for cleanliness and the odd replacing or rebuilding of a head covers all the maintenance. Gone are the days of blowing gunk into a tissue, getting juice all over your desk (or self), boiling, soaking, rinsing and dry-burning. No need for special screwdrivers, allen keys, tweezers, toothpicks, q-tips or complicated maintenance routines and schedules. Simply fill, vape, and get on with life.

So its leakproof, so its parts are replaceable and rebuildable, so its reasonably inexpensive. That’s all great, but how does it vape?

Excellently. I found that I can consistently produce great big plumes of tasty thick vapour all day, all night – perpetually. Its design, though simple, is quite effective at doing this reliably. The 1.8Ohm stock coil seems perfect for use with 3.7V eGo batteries. I use a variable voltage spinner myself and can dial it in to vaping perfection. The coils last a long time, I have yet to burn one out (only clogged them). The four air holes significantly reduce the possibility of the intake being clogged. Some have complained that this produces a rather airy draw, which I enjoy. For those who don’t, its simple to block up one or more of these air intakes with a drop of glue or a bit of toothpick.

In conclusion, this really is the best product I have found for a consistent, hassle free, easy to maintain vape. I currently own four of them (black, stainless, blue and green) and keep them in rotation with different flavours. I pack enough juice to last a weekend and I know they won’t quit on me.

Happy vaping!

Clearomizer showdown

OK! So I’ve had this stuff for about a week and played with them a bit, so I thought I’d do a bit of a review.

To preface, I was looking for a solution whereby I could vape on the road and not have to drip every four pulls. Normally this would mean using a cartridge and atomizer combination, as is traditional, however I thought I’d take a dip in the cartomizer pool – specifically clearomizers.

I’ve heard a lot of great things about them and there are really some elaborate designs coming down the pipe these days. I pretty much skipped the traditional boge-type fill cartomizers as I never did like the idea of putting my juice in some poly fill, always found it left too much behind and muted the flavour. Enter the clearo.

A clearo (or clearomizer) is a cartomizer without the fill. A clear plastic tank that holds your juice and wicks it to the atomizer part. Pretty cool I guess. They come in two varieties: bottom coil and top coil. As far as I have read, they both have their pros and cons. Top coils, for example, give a rich warm vape and solid throat hit, but have wicking issues. Conversely, bottom coils suffer no wicking issues but the flavour tends to be more muted and the vapour cooler in addition to sometimes gurgling when they flood. I decided, for all my reading, to try a bunch of bottom coils before going to top coils.

In the last month, I have bought and tried three different bottom coil clearomizers and am generally happy with them. Specifically, I purchased the Firebird (phoenix), the Vision Nano, and the EVOD.  I’ll take them one at a time.

The Vision Nano Bottom-Coil Clearomizer

Vision Nano Clearomizer

Vision Nano Clearomizer

This one I wanted to like. Truly. They are thin and stylish and come in an array of colours. Handy for telling which one has which juice in it. Pretty solid construction, hard acrylic-type plastic and a 510 connection. Filling is a snap – simply unscrew the lid, fill down the side, re-assemble and vape. Simplicity. Or so one would think. The day I bought them, I filled one up and gave it a go. It worked, but not well. The flavour was … absent. It crackled and produced vapour but even my strongest juices were wimpy and half-hearted. Not a good start. In my reading, I learned that they required a “break-in” period of a 3/4 of a tank before they really started to sing. “OK” I thought, I’ll give ‘er. I must have vaped two tanks and it was still muted. What’s more is the initial plastic flavouring, which I assumed was the manufacturing oils on the coil, persisted. Disgusting. I tried to like it while my juices tasted weak and acrid. Wondering if it was perhaps a dud clearo, i opened the second one up and filled with my “breath freshener juice”. To my delight, this one worked better and needed only a brief break-in before vaping properly.

Fast forward several weeks. The original one I complained about has ceased to produce any meaningful tasty product. It still fires, but now it tastes burnt, weak and plasticy. Also, I did notice on occasion that it leaked several times for no real reason and the centre post-poitive terminal kept wiggling up preventing a good battery connection. “I’ve had it with this one” I thought, as I chucked it in the bin. The other is still working beautifully.

But for how long? At $4 a pop, these aren’t the cheapest clearos and considering I bought 2 and one did nothing more than put a bad taste in my mouth and waste precious juice… well you get the idea. 50% success ratio is hardly encouraging. I doubt I will buy these again.

The Firebird bottom Coil Clearomizer

Firebird (CE3) Clearomizer

Firebird (CE3) Clearomizer

This one (also known as the Phoenix or CE3 clearo) comes highly recommended, by none other than Steel Jan of YouTube fame (for those who haven’t seen her, check her out, she is a DIY wizard). With its top-coil sibling, they seem to be somewhat of a standard in clearos.

Although a literal pain in the butt to fill, requiring a syringe (thoughtfully included in the package), the pay-off is that they are virtually leakproof. If filled properly (upside down) the juice will stay in there. For real. It seems that no break-in period was required as it started vaping like a champ the moment I started on it.

Though admittedly ugly, being plain plastic and metal, they are superbly functional. I have not used them long enough to test their longevity but hope they live up their claim of “long lasting”.

I like them. They are cheap as in 5 for $8 and the stupid rubber cap mouthpiece can be tossed and fit a your favourite drip-tip – very much unlike other clearos!

I have 10 more on order, I like these.

The EVOD BCC (Bottom-Coil Changeable Clearomizer)

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

EVOD BCC Clearomizer

This one is fresh on the market, apparently the successor to the much loved T3 clearo.  Everything I heard about them was great so I thought I’d give them a shot.

So I get it in the mail, fill it up with my favourite juice and go to town. Result: fantastic.

Despite a built-in mouthpiece, the tip serves well and I find it quite comfortable to use. I guess the trade off here is solid construction versus modularity. Also, the design is quite sleek with it.

It holds more than the other two – about 1.6mL – and fits beautifully atop an eGo style battery. Its easy to fill like the Nano, though this time it fills from unscrewing the bottom rather than the top which stops flooding issues during filling.

The construction is solid as can be, smooth and durable.  Some have complained about its “airy draw” from its four air holes in the atomizer base. Personally I find this ok, and even if I didn’t, I could always plug one or more holes with a dab of glue or what-have-you.

Unlike the other two, it is not 510 compatible as it lacks the threads on the inside, eGo only. This is not generally a problem as I use mostly eGo compatible batteries and can use a 510-eGo adaptor for the rest.

So far, I’ve vaped about 5 tanks through the thing with zero problems – no leaking, dry hits, gurgling whatever. Once I got a bit of juice in my mouth, but that seemed an isolated incident. I guess keep it vaping and don’t pull to hard.

Here is the best part though – even though the unit is $6 a pop, more expensive than the others, it features a coil that is CHANGEABLE. Yes, you can buy new coils for it for a pittance. Instead of junking the whole clearo, just get a pack of coils and pop a new one in. It will even accept a T3 coil apparently though not vape as well.

All in all I’m most impressed with this one. Great all-around performance.

Conclusions

I think it was a good idea to get into clearos. One cannot always be messing with dripping and bottles and tissues all the time when out. It’s too distracting and messy. They sure as hell beat the traditional cartridge and atomizer systems too for both usability and convenience.

As for our three contenders, I would have to say that there is no clear winner in this “showdown”. Both the EVOD and Firebird have performed exceptionally and I will continue to use both for the proper circumstances.

If I were to make a knee-jerk choice though, the EVOD takes it. Convenient, functional, stylish, durable and changeable. It has it all. I’ll be getting more of these, in differing colours, and coils etc. They are a fantastic vape.

 

vapemail! yeehaw!

I just love getting vape-mail. For those of you who don’t know, vape mail is the delivery of electronic cigarette supplies since the best parts and juices can be had for the best price online.

My particular choice is Canvape who have been nothing but stellar. I believe this is my fourth(?) order from them and they always have super-fast delivery, super reliable, best prices and awesome customer service. They should be set as an example of what online retailing should be!

My new vaping tools and supplies

My new vaping tools and supplies

Anyway, here’s my loot.  I now feel I have a complete set of tools to enjoy my vaping and give the proverbial middle finger to the analogs (euphemism for ordinary cigarettes).

Here’s what I have:

  • 1x debranded 1300mAh “spinner” (variable voltage) battery in blue. I already have another in stainless steel that I’ve been using regularly for a month. Good to have two batteries in case one dies. Seriously, the charge on these lasts forever.
  • 1x eGo “mini” battery for maximum portability and stealth-vaping (vaping in places where I don’t want to attract attention to myself). 3.7V “stabivolt” which means its output is regulated, ensuring the last vape on the charge is as strong as the first.
  • 30mL of RY4, classic tobacco flavour Ruyan 4
  • 30mL of 555, classic american tobacco flavour
  • 30mL of Dr. Pepper flavoured e-liquid (i hate pop, but like the flavour of Dr. Pepper)
  • 10mL of TPA Lemon flavouring (for DIY eliquid)
  • 10mL of TPA Earl Grey flavouring (as above)
  • 5g of Ethyl Maltol crystals (for DIY eliquid, its a flavour additive to add a touch of sweetness and make flavours “pop”)
  • EVOD BBC clearomizer, looks like the lexus of clearomizers
  • Pack of 5 CE3 clearomizers, a standard in bottom-coil clears. These last two continue my exploration to find the best clearo for my taste
  • An eGo steel atomizer cover (for looks)

It will take me some time to try and review all this stuff, so I’ll post a separate review for each when I’ve properly tried them.

 

Absinthe Eliquid Recipe

OK! So after a couple of weeks of experimentation, I believe I have developed my first truly awesome e-lquid recipe! I mean, not one I say I like just because its mine and vape it just because I don’t want to waste the ingredients, but one I truly could vape for hours.

I have always been fond of absinthe, for its idea more than its taste or effects. When I took up vaping I sought to enjoy something with as much … class as absinthe in my everyday vape.

Here follows my recipe. Quantities are for a 5mL batch, percentages are given for scaling.

Techm’s Absinthe Vape

Ingredient Volume/5mL Percentage
Base (24mg/mL, 50/50) 2.5mL 50.00%
Vegetable Glycerine 1.10mL 22.00%
Propylene Glycol 0.50mL 10.00%
TPA Absinthe Flavour 0.75mL 15.00%
Liquid Menthol 0.05mL 1.00% (1 drop)
Liquid Stevia 0.10mL 2.00% (2 drops)

Its … awesomely refreshing!