There are no problems with the AGA-T, only opportunities to hone your skills. Part 1
Rolling a wick, wrapping a coil, and eliminating hot spots with extreme prejudice:
At first many people have understandable issues and varying levels of success or failure/frustration with their AGA-T or other RBA.
Some can't quite get a tight solidly rolled wick, some have a problem with wrapping coils, most all will have issues with hot spots, metallic taste etc.
Below I describe a technique that works and works well for me. It is not the only way to do things but it can give direction and a solid starting point. There are plenty of videos that show each step but many skip giving much detail on the process. You see it but may not necessarily understand how they did it right. Combine this instructional with a good video if you need to.
Once you get the hang of it you may likely find that you move past this specific technique, change things up a little and make it your own. That is perfectly fine. This is a starting point to get you up and running in an attempt to minimize the learning curve and frustration, and maximize the pure vaping pleasure of your awesome RBA.
Once properly mastered, you will not need to use what many call crutches or band-aids in order to deal with inevitable top coil hot spots. (Wick bent towards center post, washers on center post, "L" kink in top wire, twisted top wire lead etc). Band aids hide the problem, proper technique removes the problem.
Once properly mastered, You will have no wicking issues while leaving the fill screw in. Make up air to the tank is provided through the wick as the tank pulls a vacuum from liquid leaving the tank, it sucks air through the wick to equalize tank pressure. As a result I have left my PV on it's side for hours at a time with ZERO leaking. This is only possible with a solid wick.
Solid Wick: The key to maximizing capillary action is to use as much mesh as possible. Straw wicks can work, but by design can not produce as efficient wicking as a good solidly rolled wick.
Start with a piece of 400 or 500 mesh 1.5" x 3". (You will find as you become proficient, you can increase width from 3" if you wish to).
Note: I use 1.5" for length purely to maximize and get the most out of my mesh. I purchase mesh in 6" x 12" sheets and can get 16 wicks out of it. I find that even though it could be a little longer and a little wider, I can vape a tank nearly bone dry with a 1.5" long by 3" wide (before roll) wick.
Pre-torch mesh: (I use a gas stove)
Holding it with needle-nose pliers, heat just long enough to get each part barely glowing orange, always slowly moving it around until all areas have been lit up.
Turn it over and repeat on other side.
Pre-torching mesh makes it easier to work with while rolling it.
You can start with a pin/needle/paperclip, but will not use it for most of technique.
Roll first 1/4 to 1/3 of mesh, pull out pin/needle and unroll. (You won't need it for the remainder)
Starting over, work out the center straw hole now as it will be near impossible later (This will save you from sore fingers)
Repeat as necessary until it is solid prior to going past the 1/4 - 1/3 mark.
Rolling Technique: (The key in my technique for rolling a tight, solid wick as opposed to a sort of solid/ that's the best I can do solid wick)
Start at the center with your thumbs and middle fingers.
As you roll forward, gently but snugly pull outward towards the ends as if you were trying to stretch the wick longer.
NEVER let go of both sides at once while re-positioning your fingers to further roll your wick.
(Let go of one end and move that hand to the center, then position your other hand at the center ready for another rolling pass.
When you get close to the end, stop and fold the last (roughly) 1/8" or more back towards the wick and flatten the crease well. This will go far in preventing micro shorts between the cut edge of the mesh and the coil.
NOTE: If you find the ends start to cone or are not "squared", in between rolling passes firmly hold wick in center with one hand and grab the ends with the other hand (thumb and finger) press together towards center to even it back up, then continue rolling.
Oxidize rolled wick:
(I then take the wick back to the stove.) Use needle nose pliers to gently but firmly hold it in the center of the wick while heating. Be careful not to crush or dent it.
1 Heat one end until wick glows orange, moving through the flame up to the pliers.
2 Without letting go or re-positioning pliers, turn it over and repeat on second end.
3 Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a total of three to four times, no more is needed.
NOTE: Do not worry about the spot where the pliers were, oxidation is not needed there, and the remainder of needed oxidation will take place when dry burning coils and working out hot spots.
Holding in the same fashion as before, drip PG or VG on wick on both side of pliers (can also use a clear juice, can be flavored or have nic if you dont have PG/VG stock).
Light both ends of wick with flame, allow it to burn itself out.
Repeat for total of 3-4 juice burns.
Take your length of kanthal to be used and pass a lighter flame over it (or use stove) until it starts to glow orange, move it along the length from one end to the other. This allows it to be more manageable while wrapping the coil wire and also begins the coil oxidation process.
Wrap coil directly on wick.
DO NOT pull too tightly while wrapping the coil. That is one of the biggest factors in creating hot spots, wrapping too loosely and leaving gaps of air between the coil and wick is the other.
Just apply moderate pressure while slowly wrapping coils as close to each other as possible.
Uniform contact with the wick is key, it doesn't need to be tight at all, just touching.
Before placing wick and coil in the AGA-T, use this opportunity to clean up your tension a little. If you see that there are gaps of air between wick and coil, hold both ends of coil and wick and twist to tighten up a little, applying inward pressure like you were trying to make the coiled portion shorter.
Spin the wick a little and make sure that the wick stays were you put it, but it is by no means a tight fit. Lightly touching everywhere is best.
Insert wick with coil attached into the wick-hole. Stop when the top of the wick is just about even with the top of the center post.
I connect both positive and negative ends in an "S" wrap, which requires wrapping your coil counter-clockwise up your wick if you want the positive post wrapped clockwise. (Reverse that if you prefer the positive contact to be wrapped counterclockwise)
When I tighten the positive nut, I hold the wick slightly pulled away from the positive post. It will get pulled slightly toward the center post while tightening nut. I make sure that when the nut is tight, the wick is still vertical and the wire leading to the center post does not have excess pressure pulling on the wick and causing the coil to bite into the wick.
Spin your wick a little and make sure that the edge seam of the wick is not directly touching the top wire between the wick and center post, and also that it is still fairly easy to turn.
Hot Spot annihilation: Your key to a good pleasurable vape.
Adjusting your coils while under power is desirable for two reasons:
1 A heated coil moves easily while adjusting it.
2 you will see immediate results once you have made a positive adjustment, and know when to stop adjusting.
Set PV on 3v or low wattage and press the fire button. Watch for coils to light up, unless you are really good or lucky, you will have a hot spot to work out.
I use the back edge of a pair of micro scissors to adjust coils, use what you have that is metal and small enough to manipulate the coils. You will figure out when to use the edge and when you need to use the tip.
While your coils are glowing start moving them around and evening them up. Bump, poke, prod, wiggle, move, adjust... You will hear a lot of verbs depending on who is describing the process. The point is the coils have to be fiddled with in order to remove the hot spots (there's another verb for you).
If they are not all glowing, do not let it remain glowing for more than 2-3 seconds so you don't pop the coil and have to start over.
You have to work in short bursts while pulsing for 3 second glows until the hot spot goes away and all the other coils light up.
Once all the coils are glowing you don't have to be as careful to remove power so quickly, the heat is being dispersed over a broader area.
Repeat until all coils light up fairly even and there is no top coil hot spot. Don't worry if the top and bottom coil are lit more dimly than the rest. Do not proceed to the next step until you have successfully taken care of the hot spot and achieved fairly even glow across all coils. Failure to heed this warning can cause a greater voltage to pop your coil sooner than at low voltage.
Continued in part 2
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