August 2015

TECHIN GEEK: Future Vaping and Why You Want Temperature Control

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Words and photos
by Arvid Sollom

So, wait a minute. Are you telling me my brand new, 150+ watt mod that can fire super low Ohms and rocks with this new cloud blowing, sub Ohm tank, is already outdated? Well, simply put, yes. It has happened again, and you should be happy.

Temperature “control” is here to stay, and it’s a good thing. That’s not to say, though, that Joe eGo User needs to jump up and grab the newest Vapor Shark, IPV or Snow Wolf device quite yet. These devices are still appropriate for the cutting edge group, but not for long. Joe eGo One user might be ready now.

By the time this article prints, we should see a dozen solid devices either on the shelves or on preorder, and by the end of the year, we should see the first “beginner vaper” eGo One level mods introducing temperature rather than voltage control. With the quality of coils in the current crop of sub Ohm tanks, their transition to temperature controlled coils is a simple one. Several tanks already offer replacement heads fully compatible with these early mods, and more are on the way.

Caring About Temp Control

Controlling the temperature of vaporization is hardly a new idea. As far back as 2010, a little known German genius of vape design, called Raidy, had a working model that included “microprocessor controlled temperature stabilization” on his own personal device named DreamPipe. His “project genesis” tank designs were released to the open world and started the rebuildable tank atomizer revolution long before the Kayfun and other tanks came around. Yet this critical component was held under much closer guard. It took four years before Evolv, an American innovator, released a production chipset that could implement this ability. Chinese companies quickly deconstructed that Evolv DNA40 design and, with varying levels of success, began to recreate it. Now, less than a year later, multiple companies have designed alternative chipsets that reproduce a similar, temperature limiting effect.

So, why should you care about temperature control? Actually, most of you already do, whether you know it or not. Untilrecently, nearly all setups have had some form of “heat control.” Whether it was implemented through variable voltage, wattage control or simply the ability to choose a “hotter” coil at a different resistance, is what we have already been doing albeit, very roughly. Heat control merely allows us to manage just how much power flows into that little coil, but we all know what happens when it goes wrong. Once the liquid runs out on a wick, temperatures soar, liquid components start to break down and the vape goes from a beautiful experience into a horrific, throat wrenching, dry hit. While the wick is wet, we vary our puff length, power setting and air flow restriction, all to get a better vape. The better vape was largely about managing the temperature during the vape to balance flavor, clouds and smoothness.

Temp Control Devices
So, if we have all of these ways to indirectly control temperature, why do we now need a device that does it for us? Two main reasons come to mind. The most obvious is the elimination of dry hits. I am vaping on an IPV4 with a kanthal and

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Nickel twisted coil in a Doge X, and I just ran low on juice, but I didn’t stop vaping. If I was set to simple power regulation, my next vape would have been harsh, overheated and entirely unenjoyable. But instead, with temperature control, the next vape is cooler and slightly less dense, but still tasty and palatable. Another several vapes later, my clouds have become soft and very cool, yet still not a classical “dry hit.” A quick dousing of liquid later, plumes have returned and a warm, joyous vape is back. And my wick survived the beating with no scorching left behind.

The second, more subtle, but possibly most important, reason for temperature control, comes down to safety. Countless inflammatory news articles have been published in 2015 regarding the poisons released by vaping. The key element, which virtually none of the media caught on to, was that in order to produce what they called formaldehyde or other related toxins, it was necessary to overheat the vape setups to the point of dry hits. Once a wet wick is outpaced by the heat provided, temperatures skyrocket into a range that can indeed break down otherwise innocuous components in our liquid to produce what may be potentially dangerous elements. Temperature control specifically addresses this issue by automatically reducing power to prevent overheating.

What’s the Temp Control Key?
So, how does it all work? The key to these new devices is their ability to monitor the resistance of a coil made of specific wire in a very precise manner and, as the coil heats up, increases in that resistance can be used to approximate the temperature reached. Once a user set temperature is reached, the power output is regulated up and down to maintain a relatively consistent output. When a wick starts to run dry or less air is pulled across the coil, temperature spikes are responded to by the chip reducing the power, managing to continue allowing the user to vape without scorching or overheating.

There still is a long way to go before these devices work flawlessly. Currently, they require users to know approximate temperature values to assign and have the ability to judge any variance in those from device to device. Different, potentially better, wire metals require more guesswork as to what “temperature” value to set, since current devices are calibrated to a specific type and our standard kanthal and Nichrome wires are unable to be used by them and still maintain that control. More intelligence in the devices will solve these issues, and control will be able to be reduced to perhaps an aggressiveness setting, and a general band of temperature or simply a dial for temperature alone. For those of us already living the future of vaping, the future looks very bright!

Arvid Sollom began vaping as the 510 Cig-alike rose to be king of the hill in 2009. As a consummate tinkerer, he quickly pushed the tech boundaries by building five volt boxes. Keeping at the front edges of ever evolving tech, he’s also helped found two local social groups and works for the oldest vape shop in Tucson, continuing his tinkering with repairs and custom refinishes.