Robot Vapes' Blog
Did you click five times? 0
The ability to troubleshoot a device is a vital skill to develop in vaping. If you’ve been vaping for any kind of extended period, then you’ve run into issues. Knowing how to determine the problem can be the difference between being vaping again in five minutes, and having to take a trip all the way to the shop to find out nothing needed replacing.
There is a general method to apply to troubleshooting, regardless of what you’re having problems with. Start with the largest, most obvious and therefore most probable issues, and work your way towards the more complex. The general idea being that it is pointless to take a computer apart and check all the solders on the motherboard if the computer simply was not plugged in. It is a simple process of elimination. Which brings us to the first and most likely category of elements to cross off the list:
User error on a basic level:
Is the device turned on?
Is the battery charged?
Is everything properly screwed into place?
Is the tank empty?
Is the atomiser in need of being replaced?
There’s a reason every IT department you’ve ever called has started off with some variant of these seemingly stupid questions. Because they solve the vast majority of issues on the spot.
If after going through the first basic checkup, the problem is not yet solved, the next step will be finding out where the problem lies. To do this, one needs to isolate the different parts of the system by testing them in rotation, to confirm their functionality. This is much easier to do if you have some form of backup. If you own only one unit of each element of the system, this can be difficult to do without elaborate tools. This is the second and least straightforward list of manipulations:
I like to start with the charger: If you plug the battery in, is it charging? If so, then the charger assembly can be set aside: it works. If not, there are a few things to check first.
Does it work if you plug it in a different wall outlet? If you plug the usb connector into a different wall adapter (or a computer) does it work? If so then the wall adapter is likely at fault.
Does the wall adapter work if you plug something entirely unrelated into it? If so, the usb cable is likely at fault.
If you find that the charger is not responsible for the issues, then you will essentially repeat this little tango with everything else one by one until you find the problem. One can typically go through an entire device within a few minutes.
If you have more than one tank, try another tank on the battery. Working? The problem is likely the tank. If not, the problem is likely the battery.
If you have more than one battery, try another battery on the tank. Working? The problem is likely the battery. If not, the problem is likely the tank.
By now you get the picture. There is one last step to the process. Once you’ve isolated the problem down to one of the parts, you need to determine what is wrong with the part in question and find out if it can be fixed. The idea is to cycle through the points of weakness that you can fix.
In the case of a charger assembly, there is little to be done except clean the connections out. If that fails, it’s likely a broken connection or something else not worth fixing.
In the case of a tank, you can make sure air holes are unobstructed, insure the coil is fresh and functional or verify that the connection is clean. Make sure the connection pin is pulled out far enough to connect with the battery properly.
For a battery, stop and ask yourself if it’s been through two hundred or more full charge cycles, make sure the connection is clean, verify that the pin did not sink down so far it fails to connect with the tank.
Once you’ve been through the points of weakness of the part in question, if it works now, great. If not, then it’s time to bring it to the shop. Even if you’ve diligently been through all this, bring everything with you. Your local shop owners likely troubleshoot these quite a few times every day and may find something you missed. And if anything needs replacing, it’s good to know for sure what the parts that still work are to insure compatibility.
Well, I don’t wish you any problems with your devices, but should some arise, hopefully you’ll be well equipped to face them.
Propy-what now? That's a question I hear quite a lot throughout a week. While the base ingredients of e-liquid are published in media on a nearly daily basis nowadays, there still is no shortage of people who remain unaware. And even those that know are not necessary aware of the details. Quick recap: Eliquid base is Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin in various ratios. Added to that is more often than not food grade flavourings, but not necessarily: flavourless e-liquid is most certainly a thing. Nicotine can usually be added in various amounts ranging from none to 18mg per ml, with the increasingly rare occurence of places that will go up to 24mg per ml. Food flavourings and nicotine are deep subjects of their own, and will likely be the subject of their own blog entry. Today, it's down to the basics: Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin.
Just a little note: PG allergy is known to exist. It isn't very common, but it does happen. PG is so common that if you were to be one of the few who is allergic to it, you would most certainly already know.
Resistance is (not) Futile. 0
Still relatively new to the market, Temperature Control has fairly recently become widely available, and questions abound. With our first shipment of DNA 200 mods just around the corner, the time seems right to go over the basics of Temp Control for anyone who's still understandably confused.
The Beginning: Wire. What is it good for?
So wire for vaping used to be a simple affair. You used Kanthal, or maybe nichrome if you were feeling extremely fancy. They are both simple fixed resistance wires. The main difference between the two being how resistive they are. The Nikrothal 80 we usually use in vaping is 75.17% as resistive as the Kanthal A1 we use vaping. So basically Nichrome is three quarters the resistance of Kanthal, and some people prefer it because of that, but Kanthal is by far the most common material for coils. We also saw some 317L Stainless Steel floating around for a little while, but it never really took off. The bottom line on these wires, is that their resistance remains fixed regardless of the temperature you heat them at.
So far, Temp Control has been set up to work with either Nickel (Ni200) or Titanium Wire. These metals behave extremely differently and are typically labeled as "non-resistive" wire, which is misleading at best. They do have a resistance to them, albeit extremely low, Titanium is typically about twice the resistance of Nickel. The reason I can't give a precise value here is relative to two things, the first being the various Titanium alloys floating around may not have exactly the same specs but more importantly, the resistance of these wires changes depending on their temperature. Typically, their resistance rises as their temperature rises. Keep that in mind, it'll matter when I explain how temp control works.
Temperature Control: How does it work anyways?
First and foremost. Your mod is not measuring the temperature of the coil directly. That is scientifically impossible. We can't measure the temperature of an object, we always extrapolate the temperature of things based on measuring something else. A good example is with laser thermometers: we measure a surface's incandescence and cross-reference the colour index with its appropriate temperature. Same is going on inside your mod. The wire (Nickel or Titanium) your coils are made of will hit certain fixed resistances when it hits certain fixed temperatures, this chart is programmed into the chip. What the chip does is measure the resistance of your coil and based on the difference between its current resistance and resistance at room temperature, it is able to determine its current temperature. This is why it is necessary to use Nickel or Titanium wire for a temperature control build. The fixed resistances of Kanthal, Nichrome and Stainless don't give the chip anything to measure.
So when you're using temp control, you'll screw in your atomiser and it is important that it be at room temperature. Most temperature control mods will allow you to then lock in your resistance allowing the mod to remember your baseline resistance to insure its measurements are correct. Then you'll need to set the temperature. While a lot of that boils down to preference, the general idea is often to set your temperature just below the burning point of cotton (420F/215C), in order to eliminate dry hits or alternately just below the point where VG starts breaking down into harmful acrolein (520F/271C). Bone dry cotton starts burning around the 420F mark but as soon as it's even a bit humid, it becomes much higher, so while choosing a temperature above 420F does mean that dry hits are possible, they certainly aren't probable unless you crank the temperature way up. Next, you'll need to set the power. This will be either in watts or in joules, but at the end of the day it all boils down to the same thing: the higher the number, the faster you will ramp up to the selected temperature. So all you are doing here is selecting your preferred ramp up time. Regardless, the mod will cut on and off when it reaches temperature in order to maintain it.
Building for TC
Nickel and Titanium have their quirks when it comes to building. The first issue we typically run into is how absurdly low the resistances are. It's difficult to hit .15 on a dual coil with nickel. Titanium is more manageable on that front, but the minimum resistance on TC mods is usually between 0.05 and 0.15 for a reason. That said, Nickel will often be a single coil affair.
Next point is build style. The traditional wisdom is that because Ni and Ti hotspot very easily, it is generally better to build spaced coils. While it is certainly easier to get a build working with TC with a spaced coil, it is certainly feasable to do a contact coil, the catch is that it needs to be perfect from the start, because one cannot dry fire Nickel or Titanium. At glowy temperatures they will oxidize and fail.
Speaking of oxidation, there are some concerns flying around as to the health safety of these oxides. It's difficult to tell with what little information we have so far. Although, there is an option out there if it is a thing you worry about. Sweet Spot Titanium Wire is engineered to fail right before it hits the temperature where it starts producing TiO2, acting as a fuse of sorts.
There are two other differences to consider between Titanium And Nickel. First, some people complain that nickel imparts an unpleasant taste to their juice, different wires certainly affect the flavour differently, so which one you prefer will be down to your preferences. Second, you can use Titanium in a mechanical mod, the resistance will allow it. Just note that the longer the hit you take, the higher your resistance will climb.
That about covers the basics. So hopefully, when the DNA 200s come in you'll be ready for them.
With battery power comes battery responsibility 0
Battery Specs and Their Implications
The batteries we use in electronic cigarettes are Lithium batteries, more specifically, Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) and Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) cells. While there are differences between the two, they are meaningless to a user, they are identical in every aspect that matters where safety is concerned.
Lithium Batteries have some basic specs that will matter. Namely their voltage output, capacity and most importantly, their Amp limit. Here’s a quick overview of these:
Voltage Output: This one is easy, as it is the same for all lithium cells. They are typically labeled as having a nominal voltage output of 3.6 or 3.7V. This is its average output, not its maximum one. These batteries are fully discharged at 3.2V, and fully charged at 4.2V. This matters where charging is concerned: if you discharge a cell below 3.2, or charge it above 4.2 internal strain and damage are likely to occur, subsequently making your battery much more prone to failure. Most regulated mods cut off your power before under-discharge happens. But with a mechanical mod, it’s on you to keep an eye on your battery level. This is also why it matters to invest in quality battery chargers, the good ones cut off charge at exactly 4.2, whereas this isn’t quite so sure with cheaper chargers.
Capacity: Capacity is calculated in milliamp-hours (mAh) and is a measure of how long it will last which will of course vary depending on the amount of power you are drawing from it. The only real concern here is in relation to selecting a charging speed. I usually recommend people charge batteries at a maximum of 50% of their capacity. For instance, if you wish to charge a battery at a speed of 1Amp, then you need to make sure your battery has a capacity of at least 2000mAh (which works out to 2Amp hour). If you’re going to charge a battery at 0.5A, then it needs to be at least a 1000 mAh battery… You get the picture. Charging a battery too fast is not a massive risk of explosion in and of itself, but it does wear the battery out, shorten its lifespan as well as make it more prone to other forms of harsh failure.
Amp Limit: This is the big one. Different batteries will have different amp limits. The amp limit is how much current (in amps) can be drained from a battery at a time without it failing. This is largely immaterial with modern-day regulated mods, as they have built in safety systems preventing the mod from firing if too much is asked from the battery, and overheat protection to cut off power should a battery heat up for any reason. But in a mechanical mod, this is paramount. Your hands and face depend on it.
Before we go any further, we need to examine ohm’s law. It is the formula behind how voltage, amperage and resistance relate to each other.
Here are the different elements used in ohm’s law:
P: Power (Watts)
E: Potential (Volts)
I: Current (Amps)
R: Resistance (Ohms)
Now Ohm’s law will be a differently reduced formula depending on the variable you need to know. I’ve included a pie chart of all the possible iterations of ohm’s law. But the variable we are concerned with here is I (current in amps). When you are using a mechanical mod, you need to know how many amps you will be drawing from your battery to insure your setup falls within that battery’s amp limit.
Here is the formula you’ll need:
Now we already know a full battery pushes 4.2 Volts. Supposing you’re using a 0.5Ω coil.
So you’re drawing 8.4 Amps from your battery, so you need a battery that has an amp limit of at least 10 amps (because it’s unwise to push the maximum limit of the battery). Now if you don’t want to bust your chops with math, there are multiple ohm’s law calculator smartphone apps available for free.
If you’re using multiple batteries it is important to know if they are in series or in parallel.
Series: In series, multiply the battery output voltage by the amount of batteries. For instance, two batteries in series will push 8.4V when full. Note that the amp limit will remain the same. If you stack batteries in a tube mod, they will be in series. And this is why it is dangerous to stack batteries. The compounded voltage puts tremendous strain on their amp limit, often resulting in catastrophic failure.
Parallel: Here, the voltage remains the same, but it is the amp limit that will be multiplied by the amount of batteries. So suppose you have two 30A batteries in parallel, you end up with 60A of limit. Parallel mods are often the way to go if you want to run very low resistance builds on a mechanical mod.
The last thing to know, is that having multiple batteries in a device can put various kinds of strain on their chemistry, so a few precautions need to be respected. If you’re using a mod with say two batteries, you need to use new batteries and marry them together, meaning they are never used individually. They must be used as a pair and charged as a pair treating them like they are a single battery. Not doing so can lead to uneven discharge or overdischarge of the cell(s), which can in turn potentially lead to catastrophic failure.
Most of us already know not to store batteries in excessive heat or cold. So barring the obvious, it is extremely important to carry loose batteries in cases. If conductive materials create a contact between both poles of the battery (such as a loose battery in a pocketful of change), it will short out, potentially causing it to vent or explode, which is not a desirable event in one’s pocket.
Continuous vs. Pulse
Batteries will often have multiple amp ratings. One for continuous current: this is its limit if one would discharge it continuously from full to empty. This one is a nearly absolute value. It is important to note that the amp limits advertised for batteries often aren't their continuous current output ratings.
The one that generates confusion is the pulse rating. Usually higher than the continuous rating, it represents the amp limit if you’re only pulsing the battery. The question is: How long is a pulse? Unfortunately definitions vary, and the only way to be sure is to find the datasheets for batteries which usually contain a graph of testing plotting a curve of how much amps can be drawn from a battery relative to the length of the pulse. Without their respective data sheets, pulse amp ratings are largely confusing at best and misleading at worse. I simply recommend you keep to a battery’s continuous discharge amp limit, as it is as close to an absolute value you are likely to get.
So that just about covers it.
Should you desire to dig more in depth than this simplified overview, there is a great website for that: batteryuniversity.com
Cheers and vape safe.
A Juicy Summer 0
The summer has been busy at the lab! Our High VG section has grown considerably since June.
Here's a quick overview of what's new this season:
- Tipsy Bear: A deep champagne and gummy bear.
- Red Ronin: Rich red licorice and bavarian cream.
- Key Lime Pie: Quite self explanatory I would imagine.
- LoL (Left over Loops): A nod to your favorite breakfast cereal.
- Lemon Lime: Crisp bright citrus, reminiscent of a classic Soda.
- Golf Pro: A classic half and half of iced tea and lemonade.
We've also begun a new line of liquids we are calling the Galactic Line. Thus far featuring bright and balanced fruit flavours, but who knows what the next ones in the series will hold. Over time, we'll be covering the major celestial bodies of our solar system (yes, including Pluto, planet or not). We've launched three so far:
- Sol: A very vibrant blend of white peach punctuated with fresh pomegranate.
- Luna: Tart and lively, enjoy the unlikely blend of lemon and açai.
- Venus: An elaborate apple hybrid. Well rounded and satisfying.
So if you haven't visited us in a while, that wraps up what you may have missed. And in any case, keep your eyes peeled, there's more on the way on the horizon.