Monday, June 1, 2015

Review: DNA 40 Clone

It's a little aluminum box. There's a couple screws holding in the back plate (where the battery - a single 18650 - is installed). There's a small, oval window on the front with a micro USB port below that window at the bottom of the box. There are three small silver buttons on the side. Mine is red, and there are a couple small dings in the anodized finish. On top is a 510 connector recessed in a 22 mm well with some small airflow channels. On the bottom, there's a single vent hole for the battery.

It's a box. What's the fuss?

The fuss is the chip that controls the mod. This is a DNA 40 clone. Even the clone provides what they are calling temperature control. Temperature control IS the future of vaping.

What is temperature control? First off, it's misnamed. It's actually temperature limiting. It operates by knowing the heat / resistance curve of certain metals. In this case, the metal is nickel or NI200 wire. Nickel has a curve - the hotter it gets the higher the resistance gets. By constantly monitoring the resistance of the coil, the chip can mathematically determine the temperature of the coil. This can prevent dry, burnt hits. The technology cannot compensate for every tank available, so there are variations between one tank and another.

This is a clone, so there are no updates and no support. Still, I've experienced no real problems. I do wish I could access all the features available in the newest firmware updates. Occasionally, the device has trouble detecting and switching to temperature sensing mode - removing and reattaching the atomizer typically corrects this error.

The menu system is kind of a booger when compared to devices like the iStick, but can be worked out. It's 5 clicks to lock (it's always either on, or asleep. Locked or unlocked. There is no off switch), or unlock. Hold the power and up button to change screen orientation. Hold the power and down button to enter stealth mode (which turns off the OLED).

Once your atomizer is built or assemble, it's important to let the atomizer rest alongside the device before installing. You want both the atomizer and the device to be at "room temperature." Having a warm atomizer will throw off the resistance reading and create problems down the road. Once the atomizer and the device are screwed together, press the fire button. The device will prompt you to press the up button if it's a new coil or the down button if it's an old coil. If you follow those instructions, though, the atomizer will never give you a dry or burnt hit. In fact, it won't even burn dry cotton (although it will impart a very light singe). You can tell whether or not you're in temperature sensing mode by looking at the display. In TC mode, the temperature you've selected will be displayed in the lower left side, just to the right of the battery indicator. If you see volts instead of degrees, do not fire the mod with a dry coil or you're right back to burnt hits. You can adjust the wattage by pressing the up and down button. However, increasing and decreasing the wattage in temp mode does little except increase or decrease ramp-up time. Higher wattage heats faster, but once the desired temperature is reached, the device will throttle back your wattage to maintain the temperature. It will not continuously fire at the set wattage. This is a good thing.

To adjust the temperature, click the fire button five times, then hold the up and down button at the same time. Then, when prompted, you can adjust up or down in 10 degree increments. There is no lock feature for temperature adjustment as there is for wattage adjustment as the device is already locked. Running the temperature control up to 600 degrees and clicking one more time turns temperature control off.

Of course, the device is more than a temperature control mod. It's a full fledged variable wattage mod, too. When in normal mode - which you'll know because the lower left figure next to the right of the battery indicator displays volts - it will function much like an iStick. Press the up button to increase watts and the down button to decrease. Once set, the device will fire at the desired wattage and continue to fire at that wattage regardless of temperature. This can result in dry or burnt hits. However, this is also true of any mod when you don't keep the wicks saturated with e-liquid.

In either temp mode or wattage mode, pressing the up button will adjust the watts up and pressing the down button will adjust the watts down. This mod has a range from 1 watt to 40 watts. The adjustment buttons will go up and down in .1 watt increments and accelerate so fast, it's sometimes hard to get to the right place without a little back and forth. Once you hit top end (or bottom end) a single click will cause the numbers to round-robin. That is to say that if you get to 40 watts, you do not have to click down to get to 1 watt... A single click will let you start over. Likewise, once you get to 1 watt, a single click takes you to 40 watts. Pressing the up and down buttons simultaneously locks the adjustment.

There is a known bug in the chip that makes the battery indicator jump or drop. Like Microsoft of the 90s they're saying "It's a feature, not a bug." The chip calculates how much energy is left in the battery using the current settings. Due to this "feature" it can appear that the device discharges quickly. I have found, in spite of the indicator, that it usually lasts almost as long as my Kanger KBox 40 watt mod most of the time. It does take a little more oomph and therefore does eat through batteries a little faster. The fact that the device never shuts down completely may also use up batteries a little bit faster.

Am I pleased with this purchase? Absolutely! Would I recommend buying one? No. The technology is very new and with a little more patience than I displayed a newer model capable of using different wires for temperature sensing, finer control, fewer bugs, more power, and a lower price tag will undoubtedly appear.
  •     Finish 8/10 - The anodized finish is not as tough as I would like.
  •     Form 8/10 - It's a box. It has corners. They could stand to be rounded a bit. At present, this is the largest mod I own, but it's still comfortable enough to use. The atomizer well is 22 mm and this prevents me from using some of the larger tanks - especially those without adjustable center pins. However, all atomizers that do fit, fit very flush.
  •     Function 8/10 - The occasional difficulty in sensing temperature control builds and the battery jumping "feature" are slightly annoying. However, when set properly, the temperature control feature is grand!
  •     Final - 8/10 A low B grade.

1 comment :

  1. Great review Shawn. I'm very curious about the DNA 40 devices, so it was a good read for me!