October 2015

Techin’ Geek: THE TWO EXTREMES OF TEMP CONTROL TECH

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Simple Simon Mods VS Ultimate Customization

By Arvid Sollom

Temperature control is something you have heard me speak of before, and it’s the present as well as the future. The summer brought us advances in temperature control, and was the period during which China pushed past emulating the almighty Evolve and brought out their own take on temperature control (TC). At the same time, they upped the bar in wattage, as well as expanded the usable coil material from exclusively nickel to also include titanium. While not the very first in each advance, we can thank Yihi and their SX boards for this evolution, but Evolv wasn’t caught napping, either. The Ohio-based manufacturer released a chip named the DNA 200, which has now redefined a second type of TC device and a whole new level of advanced user experience.

Along with the advent of Type 2 devices (ones focused on both high power and customizable experiences), the industry is starting to draw a dichotomy of focus. Evolv initially focused on providing the most advanced control (wattage instead of voltage), but aimed for a simple user experience. Evolv even sought a retro experience by purchasing half of the world’s remaining Sony Walkman volume-control knobs for their first device, the Darwin. This allowed the user to simply “dial in” the experience. That ideal lived on through the DNA40, in which the company insisted that 40 watts were enough for any temperature-control device, and options should be limited only to those critical few, and leave the rest up to the device.

That served to define the idea of the Type 1 category of devices in the TC world: the simple, easy, plug-and-go setup. Luckily, for the extremists, Evolv listened, and in a surprising 180 degree turnaround, defined our new Type 2 category, the full-on, high-powered customization extreme, with 200 watts and near endless control over the “brain” of the device.

However, the Type 1 mods are here to stay. They are the devices of the masses. These will flood the market by year end and will have their own generational changes focused on making it easier to have a “good” temperature-control experience with little to no knowledge or hassle. The iStick 40 TC is this type of setup, if still an early version. Intended to involve only minor user choice around what temperature to choose, these devices will progress by making simplifications on the user side and becoming smarter about how they deal with variation in coils and circumstances, while maintaining a reliable vape. This type is a direct replacement for the “stick vape” setup aimed at the average user, allowing access to temperature control for everyone.

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Type 2 mods are in their infancy, but have received a beautiful start. The Cloudmaker Whiteout is a perfect example of the extreme end of customization. Not only can you order one with a DNA 200, which already has dozens of customizable properties in its PC software, but is even built to swap every part imaginable to make it unique. Users can choose from many different body colors, including clear sidewalls, and even find specs that allow 3D printed options at home. The Whiteout can swap 510 connector locations, button layouts, battery sled options and even the very brain itself. They are available with Yihi SX chips, Evolv DNA chips and their own unique chipset named the OS (open source), and down the line, one can pull out the existing brain and replace it with whatever new chipset is available. The OS chipset itself is groundbreaking, offering unheard of, pure geek customization. Extremists can even program their own operating system and have access to every sensor, input and output available to the chip by using a syntax based on the language used to control Arduino modules. This means that average users can pick up the device and use the built-in operating system, or go online and download one of many created by the public, and take advantage of the refined learning available through the crowd-sourced expansion. It’s a brave proposition, but Cloudmaker is betting on the brilliance of the crowd when it comes to the future perfection of the temperature control experience.

Much like the separation between iPhone and Android, or pen and mod, we see the beginning of a new divide in temperature control devices, between the simpler, easier plug-and play style devices, and the inevitable extreme-customization oriented power-user toys. The brilliance of the developments mean we all benefit and will have more choices down the line as each new iteration occurs. Just wait for Kanthal protection to mature after the iJoy Asolo mod! No technology has advanced at the rate of vape gears evolution previously, and new standards in short-term refinement are being set for the future of product development in all fields. I, for one, welcome our new temperature control overlords!

Arvid Sollom is a long-time vaper, old-school modder and builder, and resident tech and safety guru living in the Southwestern desert. He is founding member of Tucson Vapers and Clouds of Tucson and an employee at Old Pueblo Vapor.

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