February 2016

Tech Reflect

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Words and photo by Chris Mellides

Smoke Sttack Modz • Neon Duall 118650 Unrregullatted B–Box Mod

Smoke Stack Modz (SSM) is a family-run business based in Walkersville, Md., that offers custom box mods at affordable prices. The husband and wife duo and co-owners Josh and Alisha Ketterman specialize in unregulated boxes wired in either series or parallel that come in a variety of powder-coated colors and sizes. Almost all of the mods utilize the popular Hammond project box enclosures, while some on the smaller side make use of the CNC A+ enclosure.

At first glance, the deep laser engraving of a demon skull with smoke stacks for horns, chucking billowing clouds of exhaust, immediately draws you in. While the logo may not be for everybody, it’s nicely done and only adds to the cool aesthetic, in my opinion.

The box sent to me for review is part of the SSM neon line and makes use of the Hammond B-box enclosure measuring 2.5” wide by 4.25” tall and is 1.25” deep.

If what you’re looking for is a smaller box with equal bite, SSM offers the dual 18650 G-box, which measures 2” wide by 3.75” tall and is 1” deep. The manufacturer claims that, because the smaller box uses slightly less wiring than its bigger B-box brother, there is a little less voltage drop, which allows the mod to hit slightly harder.

No matter the box, MOSFETs come installed and are a company standard. Mosfet-fitted boxes offer a little added protection and ease the stress on the unit’s switch, which prevents it from failing—this is paramount, particularly if you’re rocking low-resistance builds.

SSM parallel-wired boxes are ideal for vapers who prefer low-Ohm builds and are looking for the performance of a traditional mechanical mod with less battery sag, but twice the battery life.

It’s recommended that if you go parallel (below .28 Ohms), you shouldn’t build lower than .15 Ohms, as you really shouldn’t push the MOSFET/switch too hard if you want to prolong the lifespan of your device.

“If you’re into building larger coils to get more coil coverage, then a series box is for you,” Josh Ketterman, said. “I don’t recommend a series box to a new vaper; it puts out a lot of power that might be too much for you,” which is true.

While parallel boxes afford you better battery life because you are, in effect, doubling your milliamp hour (or mAh), a series box doubles your voltage output and drains like any other unregulated mechanical mod would.

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I’m also happy to report that the contacts on the mod’s battery tray have, at no point, grabbed or torn the wrapping on my 18650 batteries, which has always been a major peeve of mine. The wiring is super clean, and I do enjoy the built-in voltage meter that displays an accurate voltage of the batteries under load when an atomizer is attached, and the voltage left in your cells when the atomizer is not attached.

The atomizer connector is a Fat Daddy Vapes V4 510 and it is spring-loaded. Everything I’ve tossed on it sits nice and flush, so no harm there whatsoever. The 16 mm flush mount stainless steel switch is a joy to use and is incredibly responsive. I have experienced zero misfires.

My one gripe, and this in no way impacts performance or functionality, is that the 510 sits at an angle, so upon careful inspection, your attached attys have the appearance of sitting slightly crooked. This is a condition my colleagues have dubbed the “Hammond lean,” which has most always been a flaw with these enclosures. But it’s hardly noticeable and is merely a cosmetic issue for the anal retentive.

There’s not much more to say, really. At the end of the day, this box is a Hammond. We’ve all seen them before, and in series, the mod does a good job at delivering a swift kick to the maw. The finish is slick, the wiring is clean, I adore the logo, the voltmeter is nicely installed, voltage drop is minimal and the price is wonderful.

Depending on the box type and its optional add-on features (which include an additional high amp MOSFET and blue LED halo switch), an SSM box will run you between $100-$130. My box has the benefit of an external LED voltage meter, which is an upgradable feature on the B-box and will run an additional $15. So, the total cost of my unit was $115. Not bad.

These mods are available online directly through Smoke Stack Modz at www.smokestackmodz.com.

Chris Mellides began vaping in 2012 and witnessed the rise and fall of the cartomizer tank firsthand. A multimedia journalist, he has contributed to various local and national publications and has worked for WSHU Public Radio. Mellides takes an honest approach to reviewing the latest vaping hardware, separating the diamonds from the rough and suggesting where your money might be better spent. He works weekends at one of the first vape shops to launch on Long Island and lives in a fortified compound near Queens, N.Y.