Saturday, January 27, 2018

REVIEW: Vcigo Moon Box Kit

Remember the Moonshot RTA? I think it came out in 2015. It was a flavor monster with decent airflow, but a sad, tiny build deck that would not stay in the base unless wedged in with a spare, tiny hex wrench or screwdriver. To say that it was a pain in the nethers would be an understatement, but many thought that the flavor off of it was worth the trouble.

This review is not about that tank, but the tank is involved, here... sort of... kinda...

The tank came in a nice, colorful tin box, and a lot of people converted the boxes into tiny, single 18650 mechanical mods.

This review is not about the tin. But the tin is involved here... sort of... kinda...

Fast forward to late 2017. Now, Vcigo - a designer - has teamed up with Sigelei to create the Vcigo Moon Box. This is a dual 18650 box mod that is rated from 50 to 200 Watts. That's nothing special... dual 18650 200 Watt box mods are everywhere these days. This mod doesn't use a screen or up and down arrows to control the wattage. Instead, it uses a potentiometer to dial in your vape - literally, and figuratively. That's not the unusual, either. There are a lot of potentiometer mods on the market - the Wismec Noisy Cricket V2, the Tesla Invader III, the iJoy Zenith to name a few. No, what makes this different is the box... It's a tin shell, no doubt inspired by the modders that made devices from the original Moonshot tin, on a plastic frame with the control board, potentiometer, USB port, 510 connection, and a couple LEDs tucked inside.

The Vcigo Moon Box potentiometer is marked from 50 to 200 Watts. I do not believe that is the case... the potentiometer is mislabeled. The specs say that it wall output between 2 and 7.5 Volts. I do not believe that is the case, either. In a test done with a 1.7 Ω build (yes, 1.7, not 0.17 - a friend asked if it was suitable for older tanks with higher resistance coils), I was reading 6.5 Volts at the lowest setting. That would have yielded roughly 25 Watts. This is both lower than the potentiometer goes, and higher than the minimum voltage. Hmmmmmm... I'm sure, though, that at some undisclosed resistance, the mod is spot on accurate.

Speaking of specs:
  • Size: 94mm x 55.5mm x 27.5mm
  • Wattage: 50 to 200 Watts ± 10%
  • Voltage in: 6.2 to 8.4 Volts 
  • Max current: 40 Amps
  • Voltage out: 2 to 7.5 Volts
There are two LEDs on the control face of the device. One is positioned right above the firing button, and another is sandwiched between the potentiometer and the MicroUSB port. The top LED simply lights up when firing or will flash in the case of an error. The bottom LED flashes when the device is powered on or off, and when the device is charging.

Charging? Yes, according to the specs, it'll charge at 5 Volts / 3 Amps. I would not recommend using the onboard charger even if I knew it was safe and balanced as 3 Amps is a little high for most batteries. It's nice to know that the capability is there, though, if a quick little charge is ever needed when an external charger is not available.

Because of its construction, the mod is incredibly light weight. Without batteries, it comes in at 76g. With batteries and a full Sigelei Suprimo Moonshot 24, a mere 214g. In spite of the rather cheap looking tin and plastic construction, it doesn't feel cheap. There are no rattles anywhere on the unit I am using. The fire button is relatively small by current standards, and basically flush, but easy enough to locate and use. It also appears to be durable. Granted, I try to take care of my mods, but this one often finds itself tucked into a jacket pocket or shirt pocket and, because of its weight (or lack thereof) is forgotten about. I've taken off my jacket and tossed it into a chair or knocked it about, and the paint is not even scratched. Speaking of paint, the kit is available in about 4 finishes... There's the Blue Skull version, the Black Boy version, the Orange Boy version, and the Black Skull version. In fact, the only niggle I have with the construction is a conspicuous lack of venting, although they may have thought that the panels are on loosely enough to allow for venting without dedicated vent holes.

The operation of the mod could not be simpler. Remove one of the tin sides - both sides can come off - and pop in the batteries, making sure to pay attention to the polarity markings above the battery tray (the markings are only at the top, but they are on both sides). Put the tin cover back on, and it's five clicks to turn it on, a simple twist of the dial to increase or decrease the strength, and five clicks to turn it off. The device does have a full safety suite... over voltage, under voltage, short, and a 10 second cut off. In use, the mod is very responsive. If you're wanting x.xx ms from button press to vape, you're gonna have to wait for Pbusardo or Djlsb. I can only tell you that there's not a lot of waiting going on.

If the kit is acquired, it will come with a Sigelei Suprimo Moonshot RTA. I've seen it offered with both the 22mm version and the 24mm version. Aside from the size, the only real difference between the two is a slight raising of the posts on the build deck in the 24mm version. They are both trouble to build on, but offer great flavor and decent vapor. I have and use both, but they're not the first thing I grab... especially when I want to do a quick and easy build. As it's quite an old RTA, I'm not gonna go into any more depth than that.

Reading back through, it would appear that I don't like this kit. That couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, I quite like it. It's a balancing act, really... If you're a higher wattage vaper looking for something incredibly simple and inexpensive, this might just be the ticket. If, on the other hand, you're wanting something to push an old Nautilus or Kayfun for a couple days, I'd say look elsewhere... I fear that this will cook your coils regularly.

Did I say inexpensive? I've seen this priced as low as $26 including the tank (which used to be priced as high as $53 by itself). Even at the MSRP of $36, it's a steal. At that price, the tank can be passed along or gather dust, and you're still not hurt. Interesting to note that on Sigelei's official website, the kit no longer comes with the Moonshot RTA, but instead ships with the Sigelei Sig-S RDA.

  • Lightweight
  • Powerful
  • Affordable
  • Appears to be relatively durable
  • No rattles
  • Onboard charging
  • Simple as can be
  • Choice of colors/designs
  • Inaccurate potentiometer
  • Cheap materials
  • No real venting

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gemz Prime Mover RTA

The Gemz Prime Mover RTA is a much underappreciated tank.

While it's not the best cloud chucker, it does provide a decent restricted lung hit and reasonable clouds. The chimney and chamber make it unsuited for mouth-to-lung vaping styles although the air can be cut down that low. Neither is it an insane flavor producer, but the flavor off of it is good... a little above average. The build deck is a little cramped due to some air flow directing tabs, and a small 3mm clapton or 3.5mm round wire build is about all that will fit, and it's dual coil only. Further, the deck is an angled two-post, two hole deck. The drip tip is integrated and not changeable, but an 810 drip tip will fit inside of - stacked on - what's already there.

Reading back, all that I've written so far make is sound subpar, yet I maintain that it's underappreciated. Why? Why do I keep reaching for it when I have more tanks that any sane person needs?

The fill method! Rather, the fill methods - plural.

There are two ways this tank can be configured. Neither configuration offers an advantage in terms of capacity. The two configurations change the height of the tank and the fill method. In the standard configuration, the tank is tallish, measuring 48mm from the base to the top of the drip tip (excluding the 510). In shorty mode. it's about 6.2mm less than that. The tank is 24mm in diameter regardless of the mode.

In tall mod, the tank develops a bit of an hourglass figure with a skinnier section just above the glass section. The top cap, in this configuration, is spring loaded. A simple press down, and a slight twist to lock it, opens up the fill ports in the top of the tank and juice can be poured in pretty easily. I have used unicorn bottles and glass droppers. I stopped just shy of pouring the juice directly out of the bottle as the chimney and drip tip leave a little lip above.

In short mode, a different chimney is used to lock the top cap in a permanent down position, and it's unscrewed and removed to fill like a vast majority of other tanks. There are two sizable kidney holes for filling.

Oh, and I don't think it looks bad either. It's available in four colorways - Rainbow, Black with silver accents, Gold, and Silver. All of the styles have gold plated decks. It's a short GTA style deck, so some of the gold peeks out.
Mine is the Rainbow...

The deck, as mentioned before, is a little cramped. The tabs on the side serve to push the air to the coil on the bottom and sides. Honestly, there are better implementations of this out there, but this isn't necessarily bad.  The wicking ports are generous enough. With 3mm coils, the tails will need to be thinned out a bit to prevent choking off the juice.

The terminals are set in at an angle. This can lead to the legs of a coil being twisted a bit, but the distortion is less than what would be experienced with most Velocity-style decks where the screws come in perpendicular to the wires. I do like the grub screws. They're beefy, and the sides of the hole are threaded to prevent wire getting trapped anywhere except underneath the grub screws. Being angled up, they are also easy to tighten with a mandrel still in the coils.

I like to build the coils high, snip the leads, then position the coils lower, so that directed air really has a chance of working properly. Positioning the coils higher does open up the air a little, but it also means that wicking is not as efficient, and the flavor is a bit more diffuse. I have had no issues with turbulence with any of my builds. The air is smooth, if a bit restricted, and the vape is smooth and dense.

For this build, I used 2x28/40 SS316L Fused Clapton wire I picked up from Camelot. It's a 6 wrap. 3mm ID, 0.21 Ω build. I am running in TCR mode. I almost always use spaced coils on regulated devices, and ALWAYS use spaced coils when running in any of the TC modes. This wire is pulsed up nicely on the first try with no hot spots at all. The previous build was made with Advanced Vape Supply 3x28/36 SS316L Fused Clapton wire in a 5 wrap, 2.5mm, 0.10 Ω configuration. I have also run a 3mm, 6 wrap, 24AWG SS316L round wire build.

Once coiled, I feed in the cotton, then fold it down into the wick ports and slide the scissors under the GTA deck and snip. After fluffing and combing the ends, I tuck the wick back into the juice ports ensuring that there is no wick stuck in the threads. Having wick stuck in the threads doesn't really affect performance, but can lead to some real difficulty in taking the tank apart later.

I admit to being cheap here. I am using Walgreens organic cotton balls. They are readily available, work well enough for my needs, are inexpensive, and, well, it's what was on my desk while building. I have also used rayon and Labo Puffs Japanese Organic cotton in this tank.

I primed everything, reassembled, fill and vape. I have the mod set to a TCR value of 0.00108, 80 Watts, 440°F. As it's a restricted lung hit, I am able to take a long, slow, flavorful pull and get the same results every time.

In the box, there's a spare glass, a manual, a cleaning cloth, spare 0-rings, grub screws, and coils in a goody bag, and the two chimney/drip tips.

When I first unboxed this, I thought it was going to be a leakfest. I figured that the spring loaded top-fill would lead to bad seals, reduced vacuum, and juice all over the place. Quite the opposite, actually. Over the several months, 4 builds, and about 120ml of e-liquid run through this tank, I have had zero leaks, as in none. I don't even bother closing the AFC down before filling any more. I just push down and twist-lock the top, dump in the juice, release the top and let the spring do it's job, and return to vaping. That's not to say that the cleaning cloth they include is useless... I have had a bit of condensation show up under the tank and I have had to mop it up about two times since starting to use it.

So while there are a lot of cons...

  • 3ml capacity regardless of configuration
  • Restricted air and no MTL capability
  • No single coil option
  • Cramped build deck
  • Kinda funky drip tip setup
  • Similarly funky angled posts
And, only a few pros...

  • Good flavor
  • Nice pacakging
  • Innovative fill method
I maintain that this is a much underappreciated tank. That spring loaded fill method alone is worth the price of admission. The fact that the remainder of the tank works, and works well, is just icing on the cake.

Heaven Gifts sent me this tank for the purposes of this review.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

11:11 means sales!

Lots of people save up and wait for Black Friday sales. Sure, there are some good sales there. But, if you want to buck that trend and still save some bucks, look to the Chinese singles celebration.

The 11:11 celebration, or Kuang-kun chieh (means "bare sticks") is a celebration of being single... see all those ones? But meaning aside, it's become the largest online shopping day in the world. In 2016, Alibaba's site reported nearly $18 billion (with a B, billion) in sales.

Alibaba is generally a B2B site. Unless you're in the market for a dozen of something, it's best, perhaps, to look elsewhere. That's where Gearbest steps in.

Full disclosure: The following are affiliate links, but they're to bona-fide deals. They are all to products I use and trust. Some, I have reviewed. Some have reviews in progress. Follow them, or not...

Gearbest Wismec RX Machina
Wismec RX Machina
Gearbest Geek Vape Aegis 100 w mod
Geek Vape Aegis 100 w mod
Gearbest Aromamizer Plus
Steamcrave Aromamizer Plus
Gearbest Kylin
Vandy Vape Kylin

Sunday, October 16, 2016

REVIEW: The OBS Engine RTA... or RDTA?

I received this RTA from Heaven Gifts at no charge for the purposes of review and promotion. Yeah, but that's not gonna mean I am going to display any bias. As always, I'm just this guy, y'know... YMMV...

RDTA? RTA? RBA? What's with all the acronyms these days? On the face of it, this is just another in a long, long, long line of rebuildable atomizers that have surfaced in 2016. So many have popped up that I am having a hard time caring about any of 'em. There appears to be nothing new... We have a choice between the postless deck (Petri, Bachelor, Serpent, Conqueror), Velocity deck (WAY too many to list), the offset deck - both velocity style and two-hole (Merlin, Goblin Mini V3, OBS Ace), the Goon deck (Cloudnus, iJoy Combo), and the Genesis style of everything, too. But this tank... oh, this tank does something different...

It doesn't leak!

It's still got a not-so-special Velocity style deck with Aromamizer style juice feed (holes in the base of the deck), but the comparisons have to stop there. Where the Aromamizer Supreme, Boreas, and TF-RDTA have juice flow control, this has none. It doesn't need it. There's no place for the juice to go besides to the coil. Because it's a Velocity deck, it's incredibly easy to build. I prefer spaced stainless steel coils, and I can wrap and install a set of 10 wrap 3 mm duals in a space of about 5 minutes. Wicking is also incredibly easy and forgiving. The wick needs only to rest on the deck, just covering the holes in the deck. If a little gets tucked into the holes, that's fine, but they do not need to be stuffed. If some wicking is stray on the deck, that's fine. As long as the edges of the deck are clear for assembly later, the tank will work. I was able to nail wicking on this tank on the first try, and I've also been able to duplicate it every time since (about 6 builds since it arrived two weeks ago).

Where most RTAs adopt an under coil, or side airflow, this one has the air hitting the top of the coils ONLY. There are three xxx adjustable slots beneath the drip tip (a nice, conical Delrin piece that is 510 compatible, by the way). These slots feed a chamber with two larger cutouts pointing directly at the top of the coils. There's no airflow anywhere else. There are two tabs on the edge of the deck's chamber that fit into two slots on the deck. This ensures that the air is aligned with the coils every time. It is not possible to assemble the tank and misalign the airflow unless the tanks is seriously damaged. It is possible, however, to get a little frustrated getting the deck back on. It would have been helpful if there had been an allowance for the length of the legs or the slots to get the tank snapped together before screwing it together. As it is, it can be a bit fiddly getting the tank section started on the base. There's no visuals on the exterior indicating where the tabs and slots are, and that would have helped, too. Turns out that manhandling the tank a tiny bit, when reassembling, actually helps it along.

With dimensions of 25 mm in diameter and 54.5 mm in height (INCLUDING 510 and supplied drip tip), the tank looks kind of squat. A great deal of reduction in size can be attributed to the lack of an air chamber beneath the deck. Because it's short, it's easy to think it might have less of an e-liquid capacity. That is not the case. The tank claims to hold 5.2 ml, and I tend to believe it although I did not test with a syringe. I did manage to fit more than 5 full droppers into the tank, though, so...

The tank uses the side slot fill pioneered by OBS. A sleeve covers the top section of the tank. When the sleeve is popped up, a large xxx slot is revealed. I tilt the tank on it's side and squirt the e-liquid into the slot until it is almost overflowing from the slot, then the top is pressed back down. This is, hands-down, my favorite fill method. There's nothing to unscrew and set aside. There's no fiddling with hinges or levers or slots or holes or slides. Pop up, fill, pop down. The only drawback is the occasional drop of juice that needs to be mopped up around the fill cap after pressing it back down.

But, but, but how does it vape?

Like a dream! The vape is intensely flavorful and dense. Although the chamber looks large, a good portion of it is the air chamber. This means that the vapor is condensed and compressed a bit as it is pulled right off the top of the coils and up the smaller-than-it-looks chimney. The vapor production is decent, too. It is not, primarily, a cloud maker, though. I think the focus, here, is on finding a nice meeting ground between great flavor and decent clouds. The reason for the less-than-competition quality clouds is the slightly reduced airflow. The Boreas and the Aromamizer both have more air. Neither of them (and I like both of them a lot) have anywhere near the flavor production. The Engine is a flavor monster!

I'll admit that when I first saw this tank, I was VERY skeptical. I had experienced nothing but bad luck with other top-air only tanks such as the Cubis, the AIO, and the Goodger. They became what I can only describe as "boiling juice straws" if they sat for any length of time. This tank will flood a bit when filled, but a couple pulls, and the flooding is gone. Further, the tank can be topped off when half full with no detrimental effects.

  • Incredible flavor
  • Decent clouds
  • No leaks
  • Easy build
  • Easy wick
  • I think it looks nice
  • No leaks
  • Nice drip tip
  • Comes with extra glass
  • Comes with a very nice hex screwdriver
  • No leaks
  • Comes with spare grub screws, o-rings
  • Comes with a couple coils and cotton
  • Decent capacity
  • Mine arrived quite clean
  • Did I mention is does not leak?
  • Not as airy as some
  • Tiny bit of flooding when filling and refilling
  • A bit of a PITA getting the tank section back on the deck
  • No indications what the coils are

If you liked the Aromamizer or Boreas, but were tired of the leaking, get this tank. If you have not tried the Aromamizer or Boreas and were thinking about it, get this tank. If you are looking for a mouth-to-lung vape, give it a pass.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

REVIEW: Movkin Disguiser 150 W TC

I bought this from my friends at American Vapez in Mountain Home, Arkansas. I did get it on clearance, as they had decided not to carry it. I have since found it at between $33 and $70. What follows are just my opinions and experiences... I'm just this guy, y'know... Your mileage may vary...

This thing is HUGE. It's 87 x 45 x 61 mm. Bigger than the Reuleaux. And, it's heavy, weighing in at roughly 420 grams (with batteries and a tank because who's going to ever use this without batteries and an atty?). but for all of that size and weight, it's actually not uncomfortable to hold. It ain't easy to carry in a pocket, however...

Size aside, what we have here is a dual 18650, 150 watt mod with settings for Ni200, Ti#1, SS (grade not specified, but it's working fine with 316L), and Ceramic Coil (Tungsten element) temperature control. Additional specifications include:

  • 5 to 150 Watts, adjustable in 1 Watt increments
  • 6.6 to 8.4 V out
  • Resistance ranges...
    • 0.10 - 3.0 in Power mode
    • 0.05 - 2.0 in TC Modes
  • A full range of safeties...
    • Over Current
    • Short Circuit
    • Overtime (10s)
    • Low Voltage
    • Overheating
  • Temperature Ranges...
    • 100-300 C, adjustable in 5 degree increments
    • 200 - 600 F, adjustable in 10 degree increments
    • Temperature adjustments round robin on themselves when adjusting upwards (i.e. the device stops at 600 F and another push up starts at 200 F), and switches to the other mode when adjusting down (i.e. when 200 F is reached, another press of the down button switches to 300 C)

I have the white model, and I've seen it available in Tiffany Blue, Red, and Black. Some of the finishes appear to be glossy, but mine is matte. From the top down, there is a black plastic plate with a cutout for either the telescoping drip tip or the 510 adapter. The top is secured with 3 small Philips screws, and has the Movkin logo screenprinted on it. Beneath that is the vaguely Reuleaux shaped body.  The curved side is mostly the tank cover. it is held in place by four magnets (two in each of the top corners, and two in each of the bottom corners). The magnets are small, but pretty powerful. I have been able to dangle my mod (see that weight, again) with batteries, and a full tank, and not have it come apart. If the mod is jarred while dangling from the door, the door will detach. There are small divots in the body to allow easy grippage and removal of the door. The door has three large slots, cut in a chevron pattern to allow for air. They are stepped in size, but as the door is 100% flippable, I can't say whether the larger chevron is at the top or the bottom. For more air, or less air, or to better line up the air with the air on the tank, flip the door. On the other sides of the mod, we have, at bottom, a couple of cutouts and holes for ventilation. The control surface consists of a beveled plastic fire button with a flower pattern of seven holes in the face presumable to make the fire button easier to locate by feel. Beneath that is a .91" OLED screen that is pretty blue in color and can be hard to read in direct sunlight. The layout here is very familiar. A battery indicator, a stack displaying resistance, voltage, and wattage (in TC modes) or just the word WATT in Power mode, and finally, larger, the wattage or temperature. Trailing the large temperature, there are two smaller digits indicating what TC mode has been selected. Another two, smaller buttons with the same flower texturing are situated beneath the screen. They are not labeled, but are logical with the up button on top and the down button below. Beneath all of that, we find another black plastic panel. The panel on the base is divided into three sections. The first section is secured with another three small Philips screws and has "Designed by Movkin" screenprinted. Then a hinged battery door, not unlike the door on the Dripbox 160, however, on the inside of the door, along with polarity indicators, we have MUCH beefier contacts. The spring loading is still at the top of the compartment. The battery door does not close quite 100, but it closes a little tighter than the Kanger door. The batteries do not rattle when installed, but they do not get stuck, either. The final section of the base is secured with two more screws and has a couple warning/certifications screenprinted. What is lacking is a MicroUSB port... There is no charging and no upgrading this device.

Thus far, I've found the fit and finish of the mod to be quite good. There are no significant gaps, ledges, or overhangs. After three months, there are no scratched to be seen on the exterior (I do baby my mods a bit, though). In fact, the only problem I've found with the fit is the fire button... It did stick just once when I pressed it at a bit of an angle. The only other issue I've come across thus far is with the plastic plate at the top... once, I heard an ominous cracking sound when I applied a little pressure there the remove a tank. I see no cracks, but it scared me a bit and makes me think something a bit sturdier might have been better, there.

The device's claim to fame is the compartment that houses up to a 25 mm tank behind a slotted guard door that is held in place with magnets. Movkin makes a squonk kit for the mod that replaces the slotted door with a holed door, and covers the 510 with an adapter that routes power behind the included bottle up to another 510 for bottom feeding atomizers. Movkin also makes an RTA that features a screw up top so it can easily be filled without removing the RTA from the device. I will admit that I bought this device with an eye to the squonk kit, but once I saw that installing it required surgery, I decided to forgo that kit and get the Kanger Dripbox 160 instead. I still have my eye on the RTA, but the tank I have in it right now works fine.

What tank? I am using the Ehpro Billow V3. It has the same fill method as the OBS line of tanks... a pop top that reveals a slot. I gotta say I love this fill method because I have this fear of dropping whatever cap I have to remove and losing it, rendering the tank unusable. It also let's me pivot the fill port to front and center, pop the top, fill the tank, and seal it up without removing the tank from the device.

The device also comes with a 510 stem, for lack of a better term, that allows the mod to be used with RDAs as it brings the 510 to the top of the mod. Along with that 510 adapter, there is a 510 drip tip adapter that telescopes out. Insert that drip tip in any 510 compatible drip tip receptacle and twist to get it as long as needed. The interior of the telescoping drip tip is also 510 sized, so some drip tips could be stacked if additional length is needed.

I've had the device for about 3 months now, and in that time, I ran several different RTAs in the mod before settling on the Billow V3. Although Movkin says that it will hold up to 25 mm tanks (and it will), many 25 mm tanks are actually larger than 25 mm (airflow protuberances or belled glass can get in the way). I've only run an RTA once for testing (see the video).

Those tests involved attaching the RDA, installing a .26 Ohm coil, attaching test leads to the positive and negative posts, running the wattage all the way up to 150, and recording the voltage on a multimeter. The figures were then plugged into an Ohm's Law calculator (Vape Tool Pro on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4) to determine the device's accuracy. The result? 5.98 volts on a .26 Ohm coil yields 137.54 Watts. Well within the 10% limit PBusardo has set for a pass/fail, and higher than I would have anticipated with a long 510 adapter (voltage drop?) installed. I also installed a .13 Ohm Ni200 coil and fired it in Ni200 TC mode with the thermometer attached. The device appears to be running a little cool, with 420 F only reaching 390 F. Still, not too bad... no burned wick. I did not run the temperature test in Ti#1, SS, or CC modes, but I have been vaping almost exclusively using SS TC in the Billow V3 and, aside from some very mild pulsing, have had no issues.

The controls on the device are dead simple...

  • Five clicks of the fire button turns the device on, another five turns it off
  • Pressing up increases the wattage or the temperature, pressing down decreases the temperature
  • Pressing up and fire at the same time flips the screen
  • Pressing down and fire at the same time turns stealth mode on and off
  • Pressing up and down at the same time locks the adjustment buttons, but not the fire button
  • Clicking the fire button three times rotates the mod through its modes
    • Ni200
    • Ti#1
    • SS
    • CC
    • Back to Power

The battery life when using this device is pretty good. I can get a solid day out of a set of LG HG2s or Samsung 25Rs. This is due, in part, to the fact that the device powers off if left unused for around 30 minutes. At first is was a bit of an annoyance, but after a while, I've just learned to check before I vape.

Some pros and cons? Sure, and why not...


  • Solid device with decent fit and finish
  • Decent Temperature Control on a decent range of materials
  • Fairly accurate wattage
  • Protects the tank (up to 25 mm)
  • Great price
  • Top plate could be sturdier
  • Large and heavy
  • TC is calibrated a little on the cool side
  • No MicroUSB, no upgrades
  • Magnets in door could be a tetch stronger
  • Tanks, if over tightened, can be a bugger to remove

If breaking tanks is a problem, this might be a great solution. If a largish, not terribly portable mod is desired, this would fit the bill. Honestly, aside from the size and weight, I can find nothing that would prevent me from recommending this device. At $33, it's a steal!

Monday, September 26, 2016

REVIEW: Sigelei Snowwolf 218

I purchased this device direct from Sigelei while at the Oklahoma Vape Jam in August 2016. As always, this review is based on my experiences. These are just the ramblings of a random vaper. I’m just this guy, y’know… Your mileage may vary.

After the fiasco created by Sigelei in their interactions with DJlsb over the Sigelei 213 and Sigelei Fuchai 213, one might ask why I even considered this device. The answer is simple… I was at a show, I had money, it’s kinda pretty, and I was curious. I might also mention that while at the same show I bought a Sigelei Fuchai 213 in orange just to match a tank with orange o-rings. Yeah… I am that far gone…

The box is disappointingly simple. It’s a black box with red and white lettering. The only attempt at bling is the “218” done up in a metallic red. Of course, there are the requisite warnings on the sides, and the specs on the bottom. Inside, there is a manual with brief instructions in English, French, Russian, and Chinese, a leaflet on using the Sigelei Security Code, and the device itself. The device is, as with many other Sigelei devices, inserted in a very tight silicone sleeve. It’s nestled in a foam cutout. The foam, on top, has a bit of a red velveteen finish. That’s it. No USB cable. No extras. For a device at this price point (I paid $99, but I’ve seen it as low as $75), with as much hype as it’s getting, and with as much ground as Sigelei has to make up after the 213 debacle, I expected a bit more.

Once removed from the sleeve - no small feat, I assure you - the device is pretty nice. Mine is black (more of a charcoal) with a brushed metal top and bottom, and the control interface inset in a small stick of stabwood. There is adequate venting along the back, and the venting is kinda cool looking, too. It’s a beveled cut through the anodized body with the silver showing around the edges. At top, the metal plate is interrupted by four screws, and an almost centered 510 connector. The 510 is stainless steel with a nice, stiff, spring-loaded, gold-plated center pin. The center pin is slotted, but DO NOT ADJUST IT as this can damage the 510. The majority of the body beneath the top plate is anodized aluminum with the previously mentioned beveled venting cuts. On the face, is a strip of stabwood with three matte finished metal buttons - one larger fire button above and two smaller adjustment buttons below the cutout for the screen. That stabwood strip is held in place by four small hex screws in the corners, and is replaceable. I selected a strip that was more stab and less wood because I liked the green, sparkly acrylic. I looked at several different strips while picking the mod, and while I do believe that this is stabwood (some have expressed doubts), it is mass produced and a little cheesy. Nice, but cheesy. Does that make sense? The screen is nice and bright and will display the battery level (single bar for all three batteries), the resistance, the wattage or voltage (depending on mode), the mode, and the temperature or wattage (again, depending on mode). Because it is set into the wide and so bright, I have had no issues reading it in even the brightest of light.

The bottom of the device is another metal plate held in place by two visible screws and bisected in the middle with a hinge for the battery door. There is a set of shallow indentations that allow for the battery door to be opened. The hinge feels relatively sturdy, and inside the door there are slots for the three batteries. The contacts on the door itself are nicely marked so getting the polarity right shouldn’t be a problem. Two spring loaded pins complete the circuit. The door is held in place with a combination of the pressure from the pins, and a small tab and notch.

The dimensions of the device, at its widest points, are 42.1 x 51.7 x 96.5 mm. With three 18650 batteries installed, it weighs in at 304 g. It’s bigger than the Reuleaux, but thanks to the aluminum body, lighter.

Overall, the fit and finish is just OK. The anodized body has a few places that do not perfectly match with the top and bottom plates. These are more felt than seen. I’ve had worse, but I’ve had worse, but I’ve also had MUCH better. For the near $100 mark, this should have been better.

Speaking of better, the board is better. Much better. Although it is basically the same board that is in the Sigelei 213 tweaked to now actually output 218 watts, the TCR and TFR now works (without using Sigelei math). I did hook the device up to a multimeter and I did get very close to 218 watts (about 6.97 volts on a .23 Ohm coil brought me up to 211 watts, pulling 30 Amps using LG HB6 batteries). Going by feel alone (I do have a temperature probe, now, but I’m learning its ins and outs), I am having a great TC vape in TCR mode on a dual SS coil build. I found the stock values to be on the cool side. With a 0.148 Ohm Ni200 build, I had to go to the 470-480F range to get a warmish vape. That’s not too bad, but could stand to be more accurate. Additional accuracy is not forthcoming, though. There is no USB port. There is no charging (fine for a three-battery device), and no forthcoming firmware upgrade. Ever…

Taking a look at the board’s functions…
  • Five clicks of the power button turns the device on, five clicks off 
  • Three clicks of the power button allows mode selection 
    • Power 
    • SS 
      • 304 
      • 316 
      • 317
        • Neither 316 or 317 specify L grade... 
    • Ti1 
    • Ni200 
  • TCR 
    • M1 - M5
      • Use standard TCR values, i.e. 0.006 for Ni200, 0.0088 for SS316L, etc.
  • TFR 
    • M1 - M5 
      • Setting TFR allows input of specific rises in resistance over a range of temperatures rather than a baseline coefficient and is considered to be somewhat more accurate as properties of wires can change as they are heated. Steam Engine provides a wider range than the device allows for, but, as an example, for Ni200, the TFR curve looks like this on the device:

        Temp. °C     100        150        200        250        300
        Res. factor   1.3486   1.6357   1.9227   2.3088   2.7045

        Values were rounded to the nearest decimal place. Note that Steam Engine values start lower, finish higher, and have more decimal places... 
After selecting any of the TC modes, the mod runs through additional settings. F or C for basic settings, TCR adjustments (using standard TCR values) for TCR, then F or C, TFR adjustments (which appear to work with values from, then F or C.

  • Pressing up or down in power mode adjusts the wattage from 10 watts to 218 watts. The accelerator is fairly quick, but it's still a long way to travel. The increase or decrease is in 0.1 watt increments between 10 and 99.9. It's in 1 watt increments from 100 to 218.
  • Pressing up or down in TC modes adjust the temperature from 212 F to 572 F or from 100 C to 300 C. It increases or decreases in 1 degree increments. The accelerator kicks it up to 10 degree increments after a few seconds. 
  • Pressing up and down simultaneously allows the resistance to be read and or locked. Locking is not recommended unless the atomizer is known to drift. 
  • Pressing up and fire allows the preheat wattage and duration to be set 
  • Pressing down and fire locks the adjustment buttons 
  • Pressing all three allows for temperature compensation 
There is no screen flip or screen invert.

With the exception of the battery voltage too high warning and the ohms too high warning, all of the warnings are displayed in pretty simple English.
  • Low resistance = Low Resistance 
  • No atomizer = Check Atomizer 
  • Short = Short! 
  • Low voltage = Check Battery 
  • Board too hot = Too Hot! 
  • Over time = Work Overtime 
  • High resistance = 0.00 
  • High voltage = HHHHHHHH 
  • Battery imbalance = The battery is imbalance 
All settings can be erased and the device returned to factory spec by holding the down button while inserting a battery.

The battery life on this device is pretty good, but a lot will, of course, depend on the build, the mode of operation, and vaping styles. Tend to get a VERY solid day out of a set of LG HG2s or Samsung 25Rs. That said, when the batteries fall below a certain level, the vape will taper off or stop even if the battery life bar looks to have some life left to it. In the manual, they highly recommend authentic Sony/Samsung/LG batteries, and I like this. They then recommend 40A batteries which do not exist… sigh…

  • Pretty solid feeling device without a lot of weight. 
  • 510 placement allows for running up to 30 mm atties with no overhang 
  • Lots of adjustments and fair accuracy 
  • Relatively attractive appearance 
  • Included silicone sleeve (I never use these, but it’s nice to have one included for those that do) 
  • No button rattle 
  • Very responsive 
  • Stabwood 
  • Cheesy stabwood 
  • Less than stellar fit and finish on the body 
  • No USB for charging (not recommended, anyways), or firmware upgrades 
  • Slight battery rattle 
  • A little spendy 

If this were the first three-battery, 200+ watt fully-loaded temperature control mod on the market it would be a no-brainer. It does what it says it’s going to do, and does it well. As it is now competing against the Tempest, Reuleaux, Primus and other three-battery devices that cost much less, it’s a stickier widget. The little strip of stabwood does not outweigh the lack of firmware upgrade, and higher than average price point. If a second three-battery is desired, this ain’t bad. If it’s a first purchase, I would look elsewhere.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

REVIEW: Kanger Dripbox 160

I bought this from Used my own greenbacks. As always, these are just the opinions of some guy, and your mileage may vary...

Why Kanger has chosen to call this a drip box when there's no dripping going on is beyond me. It's a squonker... a mod with a compartment for a plastic bottle. That bottle is attached to a a feeder tube in the compartment, and, when squeezed, e-liquid is forced up through the tube, through the 510 connection, and into the bottom of the atomizer.

Naming oddities aside, this is a pretty nice piece of kit. Let's break it down...

The kit comes in an interesting box. Rather than having the mod and atomizer set separately, the entire thing is assembled. Add two quality 18650 batteries, cotton (I don't remember it being wicked when I opened it, but I might be mistaken - it does come with cotton and a replacement, pre-wicked, dual coil deck, and some more cotton), and e-liquid and vape away. That assembly is sitting upright in the bottom front two-thirds of the box. The top lifts off and the entire shebang is on display. Nice. Behind the kit is the accessories box which includes a couple coils (claptons of an indeterminate nature), a couple spare grub screws, a spare bottle with cap, USB cable, spitback shield insert, and the aforementioned cotton and atomizer head. Oh, and there's a manual, and instructions for using the QR code to validate and verify the device.

The device is very Reuleaux-like in the hand, but that's about the only similarity. Instead of a third battery, there is the bottle compartment. The back does not come off for battery placement. Instead, there is a latched, hinged door in the bottom. Unlike the Reuleaux (up until the newly released RX 2/3), this device takes only two batteries. The polarity of the batteries is stamped into the metal nects to the contacts on the door. Next to the battery door is a little blunt arrowhead shaped cap that is held in place by two strong magnets and, when removed, provides access to the bottle. It measures 120.3 tall with the included atomizer attached. Without the atty, it's 82 x 41.25 x 51.5 mm. With batteries, partially filled bottle, and atty, it weighs in at 348 g.

On top, above the box, there is a fixed 510 connector. Behind that connector, there is a stamped in K logo, and a couple screws. The entire top is surrounded by a seam. On one side, there is a Kangertech logo in black. There's a set of eight holes top and bottom to provide for battery ventilation. In front of those holes is another seam. On the other side, it's the same without a logo. In front of the seams, there's a wrap around piece of metal with a rather fat teardrop cutout window exposing the bottle. There are also two deep whole for screws towards the top as well as one rather flush mounted screw right beneath the 510 connector.

Opposite that, on the back, are the controls, and the screen. it's a nice bright screen, and nothing that hasn't been seen dozens of time by now. A battery indicator, an resistance reading, applied voltage (when in power mode) or applied wattage (when in TC modes), the applied wattage or temperature, and the mode (Ni, Ti, NiCr, SUS) and measure (C, F, or W). A large red button (the buttons are black on the white and stainless models) sits above the screen, and two smaller red buttons, stamped with a + and a -, sit below the screen. Beneath those buttons is a USB charging port that might, or might not, allow for data and upgrades. It would appear that the board does include balanced charging (although I still recommend removing the batteries to charge externally).

The included RDA features a swappable deck so either the installed Velocity style deck or the older two-post, two hole deck can be used. There are three o-rings holding on the top cap. The top cap is a two-piece affair. There's a barrel with the K and Kangertech logos on one side, two slots for air, and two holes (one of which is labelled MTL), and a delrin wide bore drip tip/airflow control insert. Inside the delrin topcap, which is held in place by two o-rings - is a groove where the spitback guard can be installed.

When compared to an older mod like the DNA20 or my iStick 20, the menu on this is fairly complicated. However, those devices are quite old at this point. Compared to many newer devices, the menu is quite simple.
  • When batteries are installed, the mod automatically powers on
  • Five clicks of the fire button turns the mod off
  • Five (or six) clicks turns the mod back on
  • Three clicks changes the mode, and other three clicks for the next mode, and so on... the modes round robin
  • Pressing the + button increases the wattage or temperature
  • Pressing the - button decreases the wattage or temperature
    • The increase/decrease is in 1 degree increments until the accelerator kicks it up to 10 degree increments OR .1 watt increments until the accelerator kicks it up to 1 watt increments
    • The wattage range is from 7 to 160 watts
    • The temperature range is from 100 to 315 C/200 to 600 F
      • The temperatures do not round robin
      • At the bottom of each temperature range, it switches to a point in the middle of the other (450 F and 230 C)
  • Pressing + and - at the same time flips the screen
  • Pressing + and Fire inverts the screen (black becomes white, white becomes black)
  • Pressing - and Fire does nothing
  • Pressing all three buttons at the same time locks the adjustment buttons
  • In Ni mode, pressing +, -, +, -, + will display the device's serial number
  • When the mod is off, nothing can be changed through any key presses
Using the mod is (mostly) a pleasure. Once the coils are wicks are installed - very easy due to the Velocity deck - and primed, a squonk from the bottom will further saturate the coils. Set the mode and temperature or wattage, and vape happens! There is a little ramp up, but not significant.

In power mode, the wattage feels like the wattage should. At least, up to about 85 watts which is as far as I pushed it. I admit I did not use the device in Ni or Ti mode, but in stainless steel mode (labeled SUS for some odd reason, but calibrated for 316L), the temperature control is good. I have yet to burn my wicks in TC mode, no matter how dry they become.

I did try to use the NiCr mode, and found that it just did not work. It is possible that I used the wrong grade of nichrome, though... I know I fumbled a bit in as much as I accidentally had it set to SUS when I first fired it, and that was WAY too hot.

That experience did bring up something... the mod was not taught to recognize different wires and kick the user over to a more appropriate mode. If a Ni200 or Ti coil is accidentally fired in power mode, it will remain in power mode... Further, there appears to need to be a biggish gap between old and new atomizer resistances to trigger the New Coil +/Old Coil - routine.

The RDA itself is less a disappointment that I had thought it would be. There's ample air for a DTL pull, and the air is easily adjusted. Phil Busardo reported receiving a lot of spit and splatter. I experienced much the same problem UNTIL I lifted the coils to sit behind the airflow slots. Once I had done that (they normally sit, oddly, just below the air flow slots), there was no splatter. The idea of interchangeable decks is just about genius, and the inclusion of a Velocity deck as well as a two post, two hole deck is a nice touch. Turning the barrel around to MTL, though, does not create a MTL vape. IF a single coil build could be placed in the RDA easily, and IF a smaller drip tip could be used, it MIGHT suffice.

Pros and cons? Sure...

  • Great price! I paid $37.50 plus shipping.
  • Fairly accurate feeling in power and SUS TC modes (I did not try Ni or Ti)
  • THE BEST squonk bottle exchange system I have ever used
  • Balanced charging
  • Decent squonk atomizer included (I really like the swappable heads)
  • Nice bunch of spare parts included
  • Easy menu
  • ZERO rattles
  • Battery door does not quite close flush. The mod rocks a tiny bit... Battery compartment can be a tetch tight...
  • NiCr TC is still bad
  • MTL is a waste of time
  • Bottles are a bit stiff
  • Seams and screws everywhere
  • Non-standard menu system
  • Plastic buttons
  • Fixed 510
  • Hinky coil detection/rejection

      This is no Italian stabwood DNA200 custom squonking beauty, but neither is it a sloppily built mech. It's not a mod for beginners, but neither is it a feature packed pro-only mod. It falls right in the middle. However, at the low price point, it's a fine addition to any vaper's collection, and a nice enough way to introduce a vaper to the world of squonking. I'm glad I bought it, and I recommend it IF the vaper can keep an eye on the settings when swapping coils.