Tuesday, June 7, 2016

REVIEW: Pioneer for You's iPV5 and the Tornado RTA by iJoy

A friend from the Vaping Blips forum asked me if I'd like to take a look at this tank. Seems the company had sent him a few. I said sure... why not? As such, what I'm about to write and record is just my opinion and experience. As always, your mileage may vary... I'm just this guy, y'know... yada yada...

I decided to pair this tank with the Pioneer4You iPV5, so I'll be taking a look at that device in this review as well.

iJoy Tornado RTA

Oh my ^%%*^#^(0&()(*& gawd! So many feels... I am having a real love/hate relationship with this RTA. It actually starts with the name and branding. I live in Arkansas, and Tornadoes are nothing to mess with. Further, the typeface used in the logo is the Disney font. They are calling it an RDTA or Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer, and there is no dripping involved anywhere (except when the tank leaks, but that'll come up later), BUT it does provide vapor and flavor on par with many RDAs.

I'm so conflicted...

Taking a look at the tank from the top to the bottom, there's a huge, short, conical drip tip sitting on top of a 24 mm diameter tank constructed of stainless steel and glass. It's 58.6 mm tall. Beneath that drip tip, there's a locking collar. The collar rotates and lifts up to expose a huge fill port. Filling this tank is a breeze! Under the collar is the 5 ml capacity glass tank. Inside, there's a massive chimney, and an even larger 17.8 mm build deck. That deck can consist of either a 2 post, 4 hole Velocity style deck (T4), or a 2 post, six hole Horney style deck (T6). The sample I selected has the Velocity deck. Both decks are fitted with direct to 510 24K gold posts. The airflow collar rests beneath the deck, glass and chimney. That airflow collar features two enormous, adjustable cyclops style ports. There's some stylized, cross shaped grips on the sides that make it easy to adjust. The airflow does not click, but it does stop at fully open and fully closed. There is also an optional Gemini/Herakles Plus style top airflow adapter. I did not receive this adapter.

What does come in the kit is nice, though. Besides the RTA itself, there is an Allen key, a bunch of spare o-rings, a 510 drip tip adapter, some spare grub screws, and a couple nice twisted wire coils. Sadly, there was no spare glass and no cotton (which I would likely not use anyways, but it's nice to have).

That kit can be had for under $30. For what is included, this is a no-brainer. Smokstor.US provided a unit for testing and review, and their prices are quite competitive!

The look of the assembled tank is also quite nice, I think. There's minimal branding (the iJoy logo is emblazoned on one side of the fill ring and the word Tornado is scrawled across the side of the atomizer barrel. The grips make me wish I had never seen knurling anywhere outside of the shafts of my old competition darts. It's that nice!

With the top airflow and the T6 deck, iJoy is claiming that this RTA can handle 300 watts! Do I believe it? Not sure. What I do know is that with a quad coil, .2 Ohm build in the T4 deck with the bottom air wide open, I am able to hit 150 Watts and it's barely gets warm unless I chain vape. I have to run the fan on high, or after four or five pulls, I can't see the monitor to write the review. Further, at this wattage, even with that wide open chimney and drip tip, I'm getting no spitting and the flavor is off the charts.

Sounds like the perfect cloud chaser RTA, right? Enh... not so fast... There are some significant omissions here. For starters, there's no juice flow control. Top-side filling this tank can lead to a bit of leaking. I experienced no leaking when filling the tank with just primed coils. Once the coils are broken in and the cotton saturated, the e-liquid has a path straight through to the airflow holes. I have not leaked a lot, but I've lost more than a drop when filling a freshly vaped tank. It might be possible to vape the tank a little drier than I have been and avoid that leakage, but I am afraid of the kind of dry hit I'll get off of a beefy set of quads.
Building it is another problem. Much like the Sigelei Moonshot, the atomizer barrel bridges the deck and the body completing the circuit. That means while building, the deck is floating. Some have suggested running a spare Allen key through the airflow slots and a hole in the base of the deck, but doing so creates a short and prevents getting a read on the build until finished. I find this unacceptable. Instead of an Allen key, I jammed in a wooden toothpick. No metal, no shorts. That doesn't allow the circuit to complete, though, so there's still no reading the build. It was suggested to me that laying - with some pressure applied - a screwdriver across the base of the deck (avoiding the positive post, of course) and the body would work to complete the circuit. It did, but was not accurate. It was enough, though, to ensure that there were no shorts and to allow me to pulse the coils a bit. With a standard Velocity deck such as the ones inside, well, every RTA that's kit the market in the past couple months, I can tuck in a coil and wick in under 5 minutes. This deck, bobbling about and in need of a screwdriver to test and pulse, took me nearly 30 minutes! It likely would have taken significantly less time if I had chosen to put in a typical dual coil build, but I just had to try the quads.

Wicking is just as troublesome. Too much, and there is the risk of a dry hit, which as 150 watts is rough. Too little, and the entire tank of e-liquid will end up on the mod or Ohm reader. I trimmed the cotton (Labo Organic Japanese Cotton) so that it was just touching the deck. I then used a dental pick to ensure that the cotton was not touching the sides of the airflow holes. Again, it was a bit trickier than most builds.

The center pin is quite flush. I shouldn't have to say it, but I'm gonna: Don't ever use this on a hybrid top cap device! Ever!

In the end, there are significant pros and cons to this tank.

Tornado RTA by iJoy pros
  • Huge building deck
  • Nice e-liquid capacity
  • 24 K gold positive post
  • Fair set of spares
  • Nice, shorty wide bore drip tip
  • Gorgeous top fill method
  • Massive air
  • Available T6 deck
  • Available top airflow cap
  • 510 drip tip adapter
  • Great knurling/grips on the airflow collar
  • Deck can be removed - carefully - without emptying the tank
Tornado RTA by iJoy cons
  • Tough to build - I do not like the floating deck, but I understand it...
  • Tough to wick properly
  • The drip tip adapter and the original drip tip can be difficult to remove
  • No spare glass
  • That gorgeous top fill method is marred by the ability of the ring to come completely off. It's a thin ring, and I would worry about dropping, then stepping on it. I prefer tanks with either sturdy top fill caps (Crown, Boreas) or fully integrated top fill (Lemo 2, Melo 2, Crius)
  • The center pin is very flush and non adjustable
  • They advertise a quad build and include a pair of coils... hmph...
Making the grade?
  • Finish - 9/10 - Beautiful tank. I encountered no machine oil (am I just lucky? Or, blind?) Everything fits together nicely. The one point ding was the grub screws... Of the four that were installed in the posts, one was torqued in there quite tight and I had to replace it as soon as I managed to get it out.
  • Form - 9/10 -  Again, it's a looker, but the top fill being completely removable bothers me. I would also like to see a slightly longer center pin for safety sake.
  • Function - 9/10 - I want to take more points off for the wonky, floating build deck and lack of juice control, but the looks, airiness, flavor, and clouds just kinda cancel it out...
  • Final - 9/10 - A grade. Experienced builders with patience only need apply, but for those with the proper qualifications, this is an awe inspiring tank!

Pioneer4You iPV5

I bought the iPV5 shortly after buying the Realeaux DNA200. I wanted to see what the SXi_Q software looked like as it appeared that YiHi was touting it as a competitor to eScribe.

Not so much...

Let's take a look at the device, then...

The top is pleasantly shaped in a rather elongated oval or a rounded off rectangle. The 510 connector sits off to one side and back in far enough from the bevel that 22mm atomizers look good and have no overhand. The 510 itself is a flat disc with no air channel cuts. If the plan is to use an atomizer that gets its air from the 510, move along... this is not the mod. For all other atomizers, though, this might very well be the mod. The 510 pin is spring loaded (ignore the slotted top of the pin and DO NOT try to adjust) with a VERY long throw. The Tsunami and TFV4 sit very nice and flush.

Both sides of the mod are slightly contoured. The contour reminds me a little of the side panels in a '67 Mustang (or other muscle cars of that era). At the top of one side, the company has its logo tastefully stamped into the metal. The other side is devoid of branding. The side panel without the branding can be slid down or lifted to reveal the battery sled.

On the spine of the device is another small bit of tasteful branding. This time, the device's name "iPV5" is stamped into the metal.

On the front of the device is the control area. At top, about a half an inch below the beginning of the top's bevel, the metal fire button sets in a shallow scallop between. There is a raised ridge about a quarter inch, then, respectively, the metal adjustment buttons, the deeply inset screen, and the microUSB port are all set in their own little flush, yet separate panel.

That microUSB port is there for software interface and firmware updates ONLY. This device has no charger whatsoever.

The bottom of the device has an ever so slightly off kilter and very faint serial number (I assume) engraved in towards the front and three slightly crooked half-moon stamps with venting.There is a slight raised lip around most of the bottom of the device,

The model I purchased is the brushed stainless version, but it is also available in black, blue, and white (kinda ivory, to be honest). I've seen pictures of a red model, but I've never actually seen the red model. I chose the brushed stainless version because the enamel used in the others felt a bit odd. Just my opinion, but I didn't care for the feel. The stainless, however... well, this is probably one of the most comfortable devices I have ever held. I love the way it feels and fits in my hand. I liked it enough, I went out and bought Stepdot an iPV D3 in the same finish and she concurs... it's a damn nice finish! That aside, it's also a bit slippery and I have dropped my mod once... from about five feet up... onto concrete. The drop destroyed the OBS Crius I had on the device, but left only a tiny scratch at the top front bevel. The finish, then, is beautiful, comfortable, and sturdy!

Interesting to note that there are NO externally visible screws. The only screws to be found are on the interior of the device. That space is quite simple, too. The large battery sled is held in place with one screw top center, and two screws at the bottom corners. Beneath that top screw, there is one rectangular magnet, and between the two bottom screws, there are two rectangular magnets. The sled itself takes some cues from the sled design used in the Reuleaux DNA200 in that there are lips on one side. These lips do not prevent reverse polarity placement of the batteries, but can prevent tearing wrappers as they force the user to install the batteries correctly - one end in first, then snapping the other end in place. There is the usual battery ribbon connected. The sled is marked with fairly easy to see positive and negative symbols.

This is a big device, though. The measurements are approximately (I have to get new batteries for the calipers, so the measurements aren't quite spot on right now) 120 x 54 x 25 mm. With batteries, it weighs in at 300 grams.

The mod has a decent list of specs, too:

  • Powered by YiHi SX330-200 Chip
  • SX Pure (0.05ohm by power mode)
  • Output Power: 10W-200W
  • Output Joule: 10J-120J
  • Standard Resistance: 0.15ohm-3.0ohm 
  • Joules Mode Resistance: 0.05ohm-1.5ohm
  • Output Voltage: 1.0V-7.0V
  • Input Voltage: 6.4V-9.0V
  • Output Current: 1.0A-45.0A                       
  • Input Current: 1.3A-45.0A                                                  
  • Temp. limit Centigrade: 100°C-300°C
  • Temp. limit Fahrenheit: 212°F-572°F
  • TCR Value: 0.00050-0.00700

As with most all modern devices, the normal run of safeties is also there...

In operation, the device is much like any other Pioneer4You device. Five clicks powers the device on, and displays the Pioneer4You logo, then the device name. Once powered on, five clicks enters the menu system.

  • Outside of the menu
    • The top adjustment button cycles though the five memory settings,
    • The bottom button enters into adjustment mode. Once in adjustment mode, 
      • The top button is up and the bottom button is down. 
      • Fire locks things into place. 
      • That also sets the memory location at the time adjustments began.
    • Pressing up and fire or down and fire appears to do nothing.
    • Pressing up and down sets the resistance - which can be adjusted a bit.
  • Once the menu is entered (five clicks while powered on), there are three top level menu items. Each menu item is reached by pressing the fire button again. Pressing the up or down button will either adjust the value, turn the device off, or exit the menu. 
    • System On - pressing up or down turns the device off
    • Exit On - Pressing up or down exits the menu
    • Mode Power or Mode Joule (TC). There are no additional options for power. For Joule...
      • Unit in F or C
      • Temperature in the unit selected
      • Coil Select
        • Ni200
        • Ti01
        • SS304
        • SX Pure
        • Manual TCR
The one and only Easter egg that I am aware of involved holding the fire button while installing the batteries. After the batteries are installed and the button released, the device will display the version of the chip and firmware.

I was told that the mod would interface with the SXi_Q software, but I've had no luck. Further, there is no manual for the software that I can find. The program has to be used, though, to update the firmware. Updating the firmware requires that the device be disconnected, the batteries removed, the atomizer removed, the software started, THEN the device connected. If any mistakes are made along the way, the entire process has to be repeated. At present, there is only one update available on Pioneer4You's website (which is about as good as the software... which is to say it's not very good at all).

I purchased the iPV5 at my local brick and mortar shop (which, coincidentally, is really a brick and mortar shop... no wood). I paid too much, but I'm supporting local businesses and I encourage that kind of behavior. However, if the local shop is asking way way way too much, I have found the device online for around $38 using VapeCrawler.

I have used this mod with every material except the SX Pure mode and SS304 (I have 316L and 430... where can 304 be purchased? I've not seen it). It has behaved marvelously. Like most devices, though, there are pros and cons. let's take a look...

Pioneer4You iPV5 Pros
  • Very nice finish
  • Great form factor
  • Minimal branding
  • Adequate venting
  • Lots of TC options
  • Firmware upgradeable
  • Bright, easy to read screen
  • Memory settings
  • Doesn't deviate from other iPV device menus
  • 200 watts / 120 joules
  • Nice price point
Pioneer4You iPV5 Cons
  • No onboard charging
  • Difficult upgrade procedure
  • Poor software interface
  • Screen is way too deeply inset
  • Large and heavy
  • Any adjustment will muck up memory settings
  • No stealth mode
  • No screen flip
  • There were some glitches in the initial run that prevented the device from reaching 200 watts (link to workaround video)
  • There is still a glitch that prevents the device from adjusting or switching memory modes without resetting... it's a hard glitch to replicate, but it's there...  
Final grade
  • Finish - 10/10 - I really love the handfeel of this device even though it's large and heavy. It has rapidly become a mod I just like to hold... I think I'll stop just short of fondling, though... No rattles and very little play in the battery door. It is a bit slick and slippery, but I can't bring myself to take off a point for that...
  • Form - 9/10 -  I think it's a very nice looking device. It seems to me that a lot of thought went into the design from the bevel on top allowing for tanks to sit with no overhang to the deeply inset screen that allows the device to be easily viewed in sunlight. I have to take off a point for the size and weight - even though I like these things, it is a beast.
  • Function - 7/10 - The device does everything it's supposed to do except interface with the SXi_Q software besides upgrades. The TC vape is nice and smooth, and the wattage vape is just what would be expected. The points removed are for the ongoing and annoying method of changing memory settings when adjusting power, having to dig into a menu to change temperatures, and the glitches...
  • Final - 8.7/10 - A solid B. honestly, I feel like it should rank a bit higher IMO, but them's the numbers... If I lost it, I would probably go out and replace it.

Liquidation?

The e-Liquid used in the video review / vlog was VapeMilk. Get the e-liquid on their website at www.vapemilk.com for the really reasonable price of $22.99 per 120 or in a couple different sample packs ranging from $45 to $115. However, you can use the coupon code “Shawn10” and get 10% off!

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