(7) Information Resources for Your First RBA

Published by Baditude in the blog Baditude's blog. Views: 8370

I'm not aware of any Beginner's Guide to RBA's. They are considered to be for more advanced vapors. I usually qualify that statement more specifically meaning RBA's should be reserved to those who:

  • Have learned which batteries to use for RBA's, and know about battery safety in general. RBAs are more demanding on batteries, especially if sub ohm coils are used, and can easily push a battery beyond it's safe limit. Therefore it is extremely important to use a high quality high drain IMR battery that has adequate high amperage capacity for you particular needs. Battery Basics for Mods: IMR or Protected?

  • Have learned about mod safety features, and in particular for their specific mod. Vent holes and hot springs in mechanical mods only kick in once a battery has become hot & hard-shorted, but they may keep your mod from becoming a pipe bomb. Regulated mods have superior safety features built-in which will shut them down prior to a catastophic battery event should there be issues with the atomizer, fire button, or battery. A Beginner's Guide to Your First Mechanical Mod

  • Have a multimeter or ohm reader and know how to use it. Coils must be checked for resistance before they are fired on a device, and re-checked periodically to ensure the resistance remains the same. This is even more important when using sub-ohm coils. MultiMeter Tutorial

  • Don't mind tinkering with extremely tiny parts and have a high frustration tolerance.

  • Have a dependable and reliable juice delivery device to fall back on when your RBA gets fussy.

Types of RBA's:
  • RDA (rebuildable drip atomizer) - e-liquid is dripped on cotton or silica wick; only a few drops of liquid is used for a few puffs, then more drops applied to continue vaping. Relatively shallow juice well so only 6 - 10 drops of e-liquid can be used at a time. Extremely easy to change up your flavor choice on a whim. Easiest first exposure to rebuildables. If this is your first use of a rebuildable, it is suggested to drop your nicotine by at least one step.
Velocity clone (Tobecco) rebuildable drip atomizer​


  • Genesis-style tank atomizer - e-liquid tank below the rebuilding deck; uses stainless steel mesh wick (high learning curve) or silica; tank is position dependent, it will leak if not held upright; requires using the "Genny Tilt" for adequate wicking as you are fighting gravity with this tank.
AGA-T2 rebuildable tank atomizer​

  • Kayfun-style tank atomizer - e-liquid tank above the rebuilding deck; uses cotton or silica wick; not position dependent, uses negative pressure vacuum like a cartotank; lower learning curve & a better design than a Genesis-style RTA in my opinion.
Kayfun Lite Plus rebuildable tank atomizer

There is a sub-forum here on ECF dedicated to RBA's with tons of information. Rebuildable Atomizer Systems


1) Major safety precaution - check the specs on the mod you will be using for the lowest resistance (ohms) it will fire, this will be your only major limitation on regulated mod. For a mechanical it gets a little more dicey as the coil and the battery you use work in tandem, which then you use "Ohm's Law" which has many formulas, but I use this one with my mechs (Voltage/Resistance=Amps), and most 18650 "High Drain" batteries fall in the 20amp Continuous Discharge Rating (CDR) category, so keeping below the battery's CDR is key, though on a single battery mech it is suggested 0.25ohms lowest, dual battery series 0.5ohms lowest, dual battery parallel about 0.14 or 0.15 lowest.

2) Wire size is all dependent and subjective to you. Lower number gauge wire is thicker, more resilient, stronger, and has lower resistance; downside it takes longer or more power to ramp up to heat, and it takes a longer time to cool down.

Higher gauge wire is thinner, more fragile, less resilient, but has higher resistance, ramps up to heat with less power needed, and cools down quicker. I keep on hand 4 gauges of wire at all times, 32awg, 28awg, 26awg, and 24awg. 24awg I use the least, solely in my RDAs when I am looking for a powerful, large diameter, low resistance build for cloud chasing, 26awg is my second most used wire solely in drippers again, but also my sub-ohm RTA tanks, but I use it for its balance of good thickness, decent resistance, and dependability in my drippers on smaller diameter higher resistance flavor builds. 28awg is my most used gauge wire, I use this in my Kayfuns and mouth to lung RTAs, due to its higher resistance still over 24 and 26, it fits nicely in all my Kayfuns and is strong enough to keep up with the abuse as my Kayfun class tanks are my main all day vapes I need a wire that ramps up and cools down quick with these, so 28 fits the bill nicely. 32awg I keep on hand to rebuild my old Protank coil heads, but its second role I use it the most in is to make clapton wire, 26awg core wire wrapped with an outer shell of 32awg makes a perfect clapton wire for me.
These are just examples.
3) Types of wire - there are many out there, myself I use Nichrome 80 mostly these days over Kanthal A1, beginning to learn to build I would suggest Kanthal first NiChrome80 second, both are allows, NiCh80 is softer with lower resistance than Kanthal so it fires and cools down quicker, Kanthal is forgiving on beginners, a little harder material wise but can be dry fired hotter than Nichrome80 YMMV. Stainless steel wire, I have been experimenting with this of late, lower resistance, and can be used in dual roles (standard power output or temperature control mode) which makes a very flexible wire to get to learn to use as well as gives a cleaner taste to your vape. Nickel (Ni200) and Titanium (Ti1) are exotics that can only be used in temp control mode on a TC mod, they have no other use to a beginner so stay away from them in the beginning, especially if you do not have a mod that does temp control.
4) Practice and run simulations as well as build up your tool kit, which will require a resistance meter (ohm meter), optional but suggested a digital multi-meter (can read resistance as well as voltage and conductivity), set of jewlers screw drivers, pair of needle nose pliers, pair of flush wire cutters or small fine diagonal cutter, pair of tweezers (ceramic tipped tweezers highly suggested), or a building kit like the "Coil Master Toolkit" that should have all the basic tools you need, then arm yourself with the below website for several good calculator tools to use
Steam Engine main page
Two best tools on that site are the "Ohm's Law" calculator as well as the coil simulator/builder apps.
(--special thanks to IMFire3605)​

Ni wire in Ni mode only.
Ti wire in Ti mode only.
SS in either TC mode if SS is supported, or watt mode.
Kanthal in watt mode only.

Coils, Wicks, and Vapor Production:
Vapor production comes from a combination of net coil surface area, wicking and juice type, air flow... and the wattage necessary to heat that net coil surface area. If you're lacking in any of those areas, you'll come up short.

Just a few basic points, for your consideration... some IMO, some incontrovertible fact.​

  • The gauge of wire and overall length of that wire is what determines resistance. Coil count is irrelevant.

  • Thicker gauge wire, for a given net resistance, where the finished coil(s) physically fits in the atomizer, provides the greatest surface area.

  • Thicker wire, for a given net resistance, runs cooler than thinner wire, for a fixed wattage value.

  • For a given net resistance, thicker wire requires more wattage to obtain the same heat flux (coil radiant heat) as thinner wire. Thinner wire, although it reduces surface area, can be used to raise heat flux where adjustable wattage (mech mod) is not an option.

  • Higher wattage, for a given net resistance, produces more heat, and requires both better air flow and optimized wicking.

  • "In-coil" wicking that is "loose" vs. "tight" is almost always a better choice, as overly tight fits can choke off the capillary action of the wicking medium.

  • Plain old cotton balls can be "unrolled" perpendicular to the grain, to produce a flat strip of cotton.

  • Always roll cotton wick in parallel with the cotton "grain".

  • In an RDA, high VG juice will produce thicker "cloud" density.
(--Thanks to State o" Flux)
Temperature Control Mods and Coil Wire:

Kanthal and Nichrome are two wires common in Ecigs. They use resistance to electricity and convert it to heat. Of course, they come in a wide variety of gauges. As the wire heats up, the resistance changes slightly in these, but not by much.

New on the market are Temperature Control Mods which use what's called non-resistance wire. That means the wire doesn't resist much energy. It does, however, heat up as the electricity passes through. The most common wire used for TC is called nickel wire, which is of course made mostly out of nickel. As it heats up, it begins to resist electricity in a very predictive manner. A TC mod uses those resistances to guestimate about how hot the wire is. It also has algorithms to tell whether or not the wire is heating up too fast, so it can detect when the wick is getting dry.

There are several concerns when it comes to Temperature control. First, there is no thermometer that gauges the wire temperature. It is all based on algorithms. When you change from how it's setup, it can make things very difficult.
  • First, most TC mods are based on Nickel wire. If you put Kanthal or Nichrome in it while it is in Temperature Control mode, the mod will get real hot real quick.
  • Second, it has to know the build before it applies electricity. So, if you swap out atomizers, you might want to have to re-train it...forgetting to do so might result in a hot atomizer or too cold...
  • Lastly, there is some concern about vaping Nickel wire in itself. Although I have not done extensive research, I have heard that there could be some nickel leeched out from heating the wire itself. Whether or not that's dangerous in itself, I'll leave up to you.
(--Thanks to NealBJr)
Link to chart on wire coil gauges and builds


Useful supplies: ohm reader or digital multimeter; micro butane torch; metal tweezers; precision screwdriver set; Kanthal wire and wicking material.

Coil Master Kit (above image)


battery & mod safety resource guides

recommended articles & tutorial videos

Rebuildable Drip Atomizer specific guides:

(Kayfun-style) RBA specific guides:

(Genesis-style) RBA specific guidesCarl Zen shows how to setup a Genesis-style RBA - great video tutorial

Link to Micro Coils for RBA's

Sub-Ohm Vaping: Discussion, Safety, Battery Info, Warnings
Video Tutorial on Safer Sub-Ohm Vaping
Wire Thickness for Same Resistance Coil?
Tutorial: Wire and Resistance for Rebuildables: Tutorial - Wire & Resistance for Rebuildables - YouTube

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