Wednesday, September 30, 2015

FIRST LOOKS: Aspire Odyssey Kit (and charging base)

Disclaimer? Sure, why not... I bought this through a co-op buy on the E-Cigarette-Forum.

This was my first co-op purchase, and I have to say I'm pretty happy about the process. Pick from what's offered, pay less than retail, wait - but not for too long - and vape. Easy.

What I selected from the items available in the co-op included the Aspire Triton tank, the Aspire Triton RTA section, the Aspire Pegasus mod, and the Aspire Pegasus Charging Base. All in all, this is a really nice looking setup.

But, looks aren't everything.

When first announced, the Pegasus was supposed to be a 70 Watt regulated box using a single 18650 battery. I honestly selected the mod because I didn't have a 70 Watt mod... silly, right? As the co-op progressed, the description of the mod was revised. It was listed first as a 70 Watt regulated box with Temperature Control available up to 50 Watts. The version that finally shipped allows Temperature Control up to 70 Watts.

I selected the tank because I didn't have one, and it had an available RTA section.

I selected the base because, well, charging every time I set the mod down... how cool is that?

I admit that I felt a little remorse about the non-review of the Aspire 30 Watt box... Aspire makes some really nice products and I quite enjoy the Atlantis tank with the Anyvape V2 RBA deck. In fact, I've often thought that the Atlantis would be a superior tank if only it came with an RBA deck.

The kit arrived yesterday, so this is obviously not a full review. However, I have had ample opportunity to look it over, build it, charge it, wick it, vape it, and for some reason, now, I want to say Technologic... hmmm... what's that about? Quick! Somebody write that song!

The Pegasus

Again, I'm going to say that the mod looks stellar! I selected the brushed brass finish, and it is stunning. It can be a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but they show more as subtle streaks on the brushed finish. The logos are, for a change coming from Aspire, understated. Instead of branding everywhere on the device, there's a little, almost hard to see "aspire" up under the control knob on one side only. A less difficult to see, but just as subtle "PEGASUS" with a graphic is in the lower corner, and again on one side only, The top and bottom appear to be chromed brass with four tiny Torx screws. On the bottom, there is an awe inspiring battery door. On top there is a stainless 510 connector with a fixed center pin. One end of the mod is curved, the other - with the simple DNA style screen, firing button, and micro USB port - is flat. Under the top plate is a grooved knob that is accessible from either side. It rotates 360-degrees and can turn your voltage up or down, or your temperature up or down. When you spin it fast, the settings change fast, and when you spin it slow, it adjusts slow just as you might expect. There are no clicks or stops... it spins smoothly to and fro.

My love affair with this stunning mod came to a rather screeching halt when I looked beneath the shiny finish, though...

The accompanying folded card - a folded card for a 70 Watt Temperature Control mod instead of a book - of instructions said that the mod auto-senses TC coils by firing a 30 Watt pulse. Isn't that what led P. Busardo to give the eVic VT a thumbs down? What is more than that, in order to auto-sense the coil, it has to be fired for three to four seconds. That's an eternity for a hot coil on potentially dry cotton.

Once the mod has determined whether or not the coil is TC capable, it will switch to the appropriate mode. It does this whether you want it to or not and I can find no way to manually turn TC off. It read my 430 stainless steel coil as a TC coil, but popped to temperature protect before any vapor was created. And I couldn't run the coil in wattage mode. Argh! I tried switching back and forth to Kanthal coils, but to no avail... each time I put the SS coil back on, it switched again. Even with the mod set to 600-degrees F, it went immediately to temperature protect mode. So, no stainless steel coils. It works fine in Kanthal (Power), Ni200, and Ti modes, though.

Did I mention that this mod is very pretty?

The Triton Tank

The tank is also nice to look at. It takes a wide variety of coils. Triton coils, Atlantis Coils, Melo coils, etc. Going against the grain, Aspire has chosen to color code their coils black for stainless steel (316L which has a different TCR than 430 SS and so it might work in power mode... I have not used the stock coils), blue for Kanthal, and red for Ni200. It seems to me that everyone else is using blue for Ni200, red for Ti, and black for Kanthal... way to confuse people, Aspire.

It also takes an RTA section, sold separately. I keep calling this an RTA section and I call everyone else's setups RBA decks. Why is that? Everyone else provides something that is recognizable... two, three, four posts with screws or holes to mount your wire. Just like an RDA, only (potentially) smaller. Not Aspire! No, they provide a top piece with a small hole and a slotted grub screw you have to guide your wire through, a bottom section with a hole and another minuscule slotted grub screw to grab the wire. The top section and bottom section screw together... after you set the top screw, but before you set the bottom screw. And the coil MUST be a spaced coil, because there is a cowling over the coil that prevents the pulsing, tweaking, squeezing, and brushing that is typically associated with microcoils. The instructions suggest wicking before assembling, but I've seen some reviewer videos with wicking after the fact. Since it arrived, I've run a 430 SS coil (detailed, a little, above), a Kanthal coil, and two Ni200 coils. The Kanthal coil was acceptable. the first Ni200 build using 28 gauge wire was good until it touched the wall of the RTA system and popped. The second 30 gauge Ni200 coil is faring a bit better, but will not provide the warm vape I want unless I shut down the drip tip's airflow... but then the draw is a bit more restricted than I like.

On the plus side, Aspire has thoughtfully provided a 3.5 mm handled screwdriver with which you can build your coils and set the grub screws. Don't use any other screwdriver as they will likely be too large (I've broken one screw trying to use my keychain screwdriver to make a field repair). I imagine using a smaller mandrel for the wire wrapping would allow for greater airflow, though... but perhaps not enough wicking.

The tank MIGHT be stellar using stock coils. I prefer not to use stock coils...

The tank MIGHT be stellar using the RTA deck IF you can build just the right coil with just the right wicking. Thus far I have been stymied.

Additionally, the tank does not come apart. Thorough cleaning will be difficult. Looks like I'll finally have an excuse to get the sonic cleaner I've been wanting (since the sonic screwdriver is... well... fictional). Replacing broken glass might be impossible...

The Charging Base

Finally, something about this setup I can (mostly) crow about! The Charging Base or Dock is a beauty. It appears to be crafted from brushed stainless steel, is heavy, and fits the mod perfectly. The Dock has rubber feet to further ensure its stability. Oh, and it charges the mod just fine! When docked, the entire screen switches from the Watts, Resistance, Battery Life bar, and Temperature to a giant flashing battery symbol. Unfortunately, you have to turn the dock around to see it. Now the cord is facing out, so you turn the dock back around, and watch the flashing green glow as it's reflected on your wall.

The Verdict

As stated at the beginning of this piece, there is no verdict as of yet. These are only my initial impressions after two full days of use. When I've used it a bit longer, I'll feel more comfortable giving it a thumbs up or down.