Entering Into the Mobile World of PrimusZ
By Nick McKelvey
The story of how the PrimusZ and VaporsCloud came about is very exciting. Myself (Nick McKelvey), currently working as a marketing/sales representative in the wine and spirit industry, Todd Kueny Jr., a software engineer, and Todd Kueny Sr., a hardware and software engineer, came together quite by chance to turn a crazy idea into reality.
My background with vaping came about while hanging out with a friend named Shaughn. He was going to try to quit smoking with an e-cig. Being a cautious person, I wondered if there were negative repercussions to e-cigs (as if you could get any worse than cigarettes). So I did my research and couldn’t find anything negative about the whole e-cig thing. A few weeks went by and Shaughn asked if I wanted his old e-cig kit because he had just upgraded to an new eGo. His old 510 PCC was my first kit and thus I began my quest into the whole e-cig life style. Ultimately I became part owner in a e-cig business called Allstar Vapes. Allstar carried a ton of flavors, as well as eGo’s and Leo’s, the most popular ecigs at that time.
Allstar did very well selling locally and we wanted to expand into online sales. This is where Todd Jr. became involved. We met with Jr. to discuss a web design. Jr explained that he vaped occasionally but wasn’t as involved as we were, at least as far as the knowledge of the different products available. Jokingly he explained his first kit was one of those kits he bought at the mall for $200, which is insane, considering a $200 set up will net you a pretty nice PV with money to spare. Jr. said his family (primarily his mother and sister) became e-cig fanatics once they saw his e-cig.
AllStar eventually fell apart because I was working full time and managing another business. It was too much at that point in my life.
A couple of years passed. Jr. and I remained friends and we were getting really involved with e-cigs—trying all of the new mods, tanks and juices there currently were available. But, it always was as though each new product was basically the same thing: VV, VW, both, small features like a hit counters or ohm detectors, and so on.
But nothing really innovative …
After seeing each other with the newest devices and spending a ton of money and time picking each device, the basis of PrimusZ and VaporsCloud finally began to emerge. We were driving to a local vape meet and jokingly said “Hey, wouldn’t it be awesome if we could come out with a mod that you could vape/control from your mobile device?”
We kind of put that thought on the back burner and continued with our day without any further discussion. Later, Todd Jr., a true software maniac, called me and said that he had spoken to his father Todd Sr. about the phone-controlled mod. Sr. said the idea we had could become a reality and wanted to take on the challenge. After hearing this I was beyond excited. Both Jr. and I really liked the name Element Vapors and we started with that.
Jr. recalls: “I was not too big in the hardware side of computers, but my dad has been involved for the last 35-40 years in hardware and is a guru of sorts.” Jr. remembers he and his dad talking about how the card swipers for the iPhone worked and how Jr. thought that would work. Sr. shot that down pretty quickly, as he explained how it did not work based off of power but some kind of audio signals instead.
Jr. was planning on visiting his family in Pittsburgh, Penn., for Independence weekend and wanted to see if they could prove the phone-controlled mod idea would work. The visit gave Jr. and Sr. the time to collaborate together and the “VaporsCloud” idea was born. The strategy was to have a web site where we would sell popular products, and then we would release the phone-controlled mod.
Before the visit it was decided that a “proof of concept” prototype would be created based on a small, single board Arduino computer. Sr. ordered a collection of prototyping hardware, an Arduino computer and WiFi board for delivery before the visit. Jr. planned to bring a box of expired mods he had used during the last year or so for reference and scavenging parts like batteries, circuit boards and connectors.
During the visit the two were successfully able to cobble together and demonstrate an Arduino-based wireless vaping system. The system could only increase or decrease the Vrms power over WiFi via a simple iPhone interface, but it worked.
For several weeks afterword Jr. and Sr. had long, detailed arguments about various hardware and software aspects of the project: Should we use WiFi or Bluetooth, what kind of feature set should be provided, what kind of batteries should we use, how should power be supplied and so on. Sr drew up and filed a U.S patent application for certain aspects of the new mod later that month and work began in earnest on a series of prototypes.
I thought a mod like that would drive lots of traffic to our site, and as Jr. and I dug more into it we realized there just wasn’t anything like this on the market—no apps, no hardware and so on. So, we just kept moving along developing or ideas. Things kept getting better and better until we got where we are today.
Our product today (PrimusZ) is heavily geared toward cloud computing. Everything we have done is securely tracked in a cloud system. Every vape, every setting, everything is remembered in the cloud. This ensures you do not lose any data from your usage history. Also this allows you to get a new phone and not have to start over, or even change your settings from a friends phone, and later on be able to remember that.
About two months later in mid-September prototype No. 1 was born (see Photo Series No. 1 at the end of this article). It consisted of a couple of 18650 batteries, an Arduino board, a custom “vaping” Arduino shield (daughter board), a switch for vaping and a 510 connector. In addition, a set of iPhone, Android, Mac and PC software applications were developed to talk to the mod.
A week later Sr. sent Jr. and myself each a prototype (No. 2 and No. 3) along with the Android version of the control software.
The prototype control software allowed the smartphone user to connect to the mod, trigger a vaping cycle, collect hit count data, read coil ohms and battery levels as well as adjust power levels.
With working prototypes in hand, Jr. began the development of “Vapors Cloud.” (VaporsCloud.com) is a database driven web site that allows a user to collect, store, restore and view data from his or her smartphone and use this to control the mod. This includes user profiles (who you are, what you vape, what devices you own), device details and settings (power levels, flavors, nicotine levels), hit count and time vaping, a complete collection of vaping events (each press of the vape button) and so on. Access and links to popular social media sites such as Facebook also are provided.
The “cloud” aspect of VaporsCloud means that all of this information is available to a user anywhere in the world there is Internet access. Of course, Internet access is not required to use the mod, and the production software collects data from the mod and uploads it as Internet connectivity becomes available.
VaporsCloud also provides vape shop owner or hardware (mod) vendors a means to sponsor vapers through a system of incentives and rewards, for example, after a sponsored vaper registers 20,000 hits a discount or coupon for that vendor is awarded.
Today the initial version of vaporscloud.com is up and running. The mod (now called the PRIMUSz) hardware and software are in the final stages of testing, and an initial run 25 production mods are being built (though the case design is not yet finalized).
- Bluetooth (LE or Classic depending on device) connectivity to Android, iPhone (4S or later), Mac or PC App.
- Standard PRIMUSz Wireless API Control.
- Store/Recall settings wirelessly.
- Control and Recall Watts, Volts or Vrms
- Duty Cycle wirelessly.
- Security Linking Mod to Specific Phones/Computers.
- Dynamic Coil Power CycleTM Allows on-the-fly coil temperature change during a vaping cycle.
- Dimension: Approx. 3” x 3” x .75” (not finalized)
- Material: initially Acrylic Plastic
- Maximum Current Output: 5.0 Amperage
- Operating Voltage at Coil (Vrms): 2.0V - 6.0V
- Operating Wattage: 3.0W-15.0W
- Variable Voltage: voltage can be adjusted from 2.0-6.0 volts in .1 volt increments.
Variable Wattage: Wattage can be adjusted from 3.0-15.0 W in .5 watts increments.
- Automatic Wattage Limit Warning and/or shutdown
- Regulated Vrms Power Supply
- Short Circuit Coil Protection
- Open Coil Detection
- Battery Voltage Detection
- Resistive Load Detection (Ohms meter)
- LED Battery Power Display
- Low Voltage Warning
- Overtime Vaping Limit (10s)
- Internal 2700ma Battery (preliminary)
- 510 or eGo threaded with adapter
USB Micro Charging
- Hit Counter with Aggregated Vape On-Time