Cheap vaping -- the Low Cost Mod

Discussion in 'Modding Forum' started by ratedPG, Jan 19, 2013.

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  1. ratedPG

    ratedPG Full Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Belmont, NC
    How cheap can you start vaping? I don't mean a ten-dollar disposable -- I mean a fully-functional PV that is as light on the wallet as possible.

    This was the impetus behind my Low-Cost Mod: to come up with a PV that can be used without straining the bank accounts of students, as well as those who have been hit hard by the economy. Smoking is a pricey pastime, and a PV that saves money is a powerful incentive to start vaping. Developing my LCM was so much fun, I couldn't resist sharing the process and the results with you.

    Part One: Theory

    I began with a set of criteria, viz.,

    1.) Have the lowest initial starting cost. If you can buy an e-cig cheaper, there's no use to go to the effort to make one from scratch.
    2.) Go from "zero to vape" with the lowest total cost possible -- no add-on costs or items needed before the first puff; i.e., the initial cost should be very close to the total cost.
    3.) Wearing components are rebuildable rather than replaceable. Once it's made, there should be no further regular cash outlay to continue vaping.
    4.) Uncompromising quality for the price. If it's weak, fragile, or shoddy, it's false economy. It should last as close to forever as possible.
    5.) Use common components easily available online: no cheating by re-using something around the house, or building components from scratch that the average guy can't do on his own with basic tools.

    I then made a list of preferences:

    1.) I don't want it to look like a tobacco product.
    2.) I do want it to be simple.
    3.) I want to be able to use it all day without trouble.
    4.) I want it to sit solidly on a desk.
    5.) And I don't want voltage fade over time: no batteries or chargers to deal with, wear out, or buy. I'm a sedentary vaper, either in a lounger or at my desk, so being hardwired doesn't bother me.

    If we reduce the PV to its most severe essentials, we have a moistened resistance heater, powered by an electric current, activated by a switch -- and that's all.

    The first thing to determine is just how much voltage we'll need. Most atomizers are somewhere between two and three ohms, and we want to burn about six or seven watts for good vapor. Roughly, (taking the middle values,) two and a half ohms at six and a half watts pulls about four volts. Using Ohm's law, let's check the numbers at four volts for various atomizer ratings:
    a 1.5 ohm atomizer at four volts draws 2.68 amps and 10.74 watts,
    a two ohm atomizer at four volts draws two amps and eight watts,
    a 2.5 ohm atomizer at four volts draws 1.59 amps and 6.37 watts, and
    a three ohm atomizer at four volts draws 1.31 amps and 5.23 watts.

    So, let's look at the the simplest electrical solution to get us four volts: plugging straight into the wall with a power resistor to choke the voltage down:

    [​IMG]

    Obviously, this poses some problems. Although a 2.8 ohm atomizer is happily humming along at five and three-quarter watts, the necessary 81 ohm power resistor that dissipates 166 watts is ridiculously large and expensive:

    [​IMG]

    More serious, though -- a short-circuit to mains voltage can kill you quite dead. What we need is a tapped isolation transformer, to separate the working voltage from the mains voltage, and reduce the output voltage to where we need it:

    [​IMG]

    Alas, although isolation transformers were cheap and plentiful in the days of garage radio tinkering, the nearest equivalent today is a doorbell transformer:

    [​IMG]

    It can get you down to eight volts, and then down to four by either putting a resistor, in series, of the same rating as the atomizer, or by cracking it open and re-tapping it. Although you can pick one up at a hardware store for $15-20, there's a cheaper, easier alternative: the good old fashioned wall-wart. It will give isolated, bridge-rectified DC voltage, in a self-contained and cheap package. We can thus simplify our schematic to just this:

    [​IMG]

    The simplest PV, then, is nothing more than a wall-wart power supply that outputs four volts and two amps, wired through a switch directly to an atomizer.

    [​IMG]

    And they're cheap! Amazon carries several versions, from $9-12 with free shipping. But is it the cheapest and best option? If you find the right bargain, it certainly can be. The main benefit is that it will push a constant four volts through any atomizer, without any other electrical wizardry necessary. (If you use a 4.2V version, even better: it will give you an extra three-quarters of a watt at the atomizer.) But you can save still more:

    [​IMG]

    Twelve volt power supplies are much more common than the four volt versions, and can sometimes be had for even less money.

    [​IMG]

    I found a 12V 3A power supply on Amazon that sold for five dollars and free shipping...

    [​IMG]

    ...but it will require a cermet power resistor, available on Ebay for a dollar and change through Radio Shack-- still, half the price of a four volt supply! (Dealing with a 12 volt input has a bonus of being compatible with automobile cigar lighters, as well, giving the possibility of driving while your LCM is plugged-in -- but that involves buying more stuff, so we'll leave that for now.)

    The trade-off is that the voltage won't be a constant value for all atomizers, so your power resistor needs to be properly rated, to work acceptably with a range of atomizers. To get four volts at the atomizer, use a resistor that is double your preferred atomizer rating, with enough heat dissipation to handle the wattage. Since my atomizers will be within 2.5 - 3 ohms, there are a couple good options through good old Radio Shack. A 5.6 or 5.1 ohm, 10 watt resistor (that is, double the ohms of a 2.8 or 2.6 ohm atomizer) will give acceptable performance in the 2-3 ohm range. The resistor's power dissipation may be a touch over 10 watts, but the intermittent nature of vaping shouldn't make that an issue.

    So, with the power requirements sorted, we'll assemble all the necessary hardware.

    The necessary small print: although we aren't using exploding batteries or lethal voltages, use common sense. Voltages can zap you, soldering irons can burn you, and adhesives can stick your fingers together....but this isn't rocket science -- I know little more than the "electron pump" theory of circuits, and if I can do it, etc.
     
  2. ratedPG

    ratedPG Full Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Belmont, NC
    Part Two: Components.

    The first two items, we've covered already:

    [​IMG]

    1.) 12V 3A 36W AC Power Adapter for ASUS Eee PC 1002HA. $5.00, free shipping, from Amazon. Any power supply with the right ratings (in this case, 12V 3A max) will work. Don't worry about the connector -- you won't be using it.

    If you can source a 4V 2A (or better yet, a 4.2V 2A) power adapter on the cheap, you won't need the next item, and assembly will be much simpler.

    [​IMG]

    2.) 10W5D6 5.6 ohm Cermet Power Wirewound Resistor. $1.29 for two, free shipping, from Radio Shack through Ebay. (They have these in several values; the 5.1 ohm version [10W5D1] will return about a watt more at the atomizer.)

    The rest of the items are available at most PV supply sources. (I got mine through Madvapes; the prices are competitive, but more importantly, they're in my neck of the woods, and I like to support local businesses.)

    [​IMG]

    3.) 510 battery connector, pre-wired. $2.99. You can save half a buck by using the unwired version; I chose to splurge here.

    [​IMG]

    4.) Horn switch. $.89.

    [​IMG]

    5.) 2AAA battery box. $.99.

    [​IMG]

    Madvapes was out of stock of the AAA version, so I went with the 9V box for fifty cents more. In retrospect, I'm glad I did. It's a little thicker, which fits my hand better, and has a nice solid design. I'll call this a splurge.

    [​IMG]

    6.) Vivi Nova tank. $12.99. Why the Vivi? Low price for the quality of the construction, and a good sized tank; and the rebuildable atomizer will save a ton of money in the long run.

    Total cost from Madvapes = $18.36 + $2.99 shipping, $22.68 after tax.

    Don't forget to add a buck eighty for a bottle of PG in your favorite flavor, and your total cost is $30.77. That's thirty dollars complete, from empty hands to blowing vape rings...and 2/5 of that is just for the atomizer! Your project may vary a few dollars either way, depending largely on the power supply you find and the style of atomizer you prefer.

    Thirty bucks is a stupendous bargain well within the grasp of even the most impoverished student -- there will be no long-term or ongoing costs, other than juice and the eventual need to re-string your atomizer. And when that time comes, a length of 35 gauge Kanthal wire from Ebay is usually less than ten dollars, that will keep you in atomizer coils for the rest of your life.

    So now we have our parts, both simple and few. No electronics, no circuit boards, no displays or chips or timers or LEDs. Nothing, actually, that resembles an e-cig at all, as much as Dr. Robertson's experimental 1942 glycol vapor delivery apparatus.

    [​IMG]

    Next, we'll assemble the parts to our very own LCM "glycol vapor delivery apparatus."
     
  3. ratedPG

    ratedPG Full Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2009
    Location:
    Belmont, NC
    Part Three: Assembly.

    Now let's put it all together.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the battery box open. Lots of room to work here, but we have to remove the battery connections first. They are mounted on a piece of plastic that is press-fit into two slots in the sides of the box.

    [​IMG]

    The connectors pull straight out with the help of a pair of pliers.

    [​IMG]

    There are two posts that locate the optional on-off switch. Break off the post in the corner.

    [​IMG]

    Then trim off the slots on that side flush with the sides of the box.

    [​IMG]

    This is what it looks like when it's cleaned up.

    [​IMG]

    The momentary switch will mount over the existing slot for the on-off switch. Place the locknut over the slot to find the center point of the circle, and enlarge the hole with a drill or file.

    [​IMG]

    This is what it looks like with the hole drilled...

    [​IMG]

    ...and with the switch in place.

    [​IMG]

    Next, drill the hole for the 510 connector: set the tank in the opposite corner, and mark the center point to start. Go slow and check your progress! You want the connector to be a tight press-fit.

    [​IMG]

    The connector in place.

    If you've found a 4 or 4.2 volt power supply, you needn't worry about power resistors; just jump ahead a few steps.

    [​IMG]

    Otherwise, bend the resistor leads over the top and trim them down to about a half inch, like this.

    [​IMG]

    Use some sort of glue (I prefer JB Kwik epoxy adhesive, but that's just me) to securely fasten down the resistor and 510 connector to the box.

    [​IMG]

    Now, snip the connector off the power supply. (It would be possible to buy a matching connector and mount that in the box, but that costs money!) Plug in your soldering iron!

    [​IMG]

    Thread the wire through the existing hole in the box. Slit the outer cover of the wire and separate the two lines out. Then strip the ends of the 510 connector wires, and tin all the ends with solder.

    [​IMG]

    Solder the connections as shown. The supply wire is firmly pinched and held in place between the screw post and the mounting slot.

    [​IMG]

    Fold in the wires, and batten down the hatch.

    [​IMG]

    And that, as they say, is that! Sleek and attractive, the LCM sits nicely on an endtable or desk, and won't ever be confused for a tobacco product. And the best part is sacrificing hi-tech portability for the rock-bottom cost!

    [​IMG]

    Try holding the LCM like this at first; you will find there's about a dozen ways to comfortably and casually hold it in either hand.
     
  4. Faylool

    Faylool Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Location:
    Sweet Home, Oregon USA
    I really do want one and that's the truth. I can't make things like this. So PM me if you can help. I can sew dresses! (. :
    and I don't need vivi nova
     
  5. gdeal

    gdeal Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Aug 4, 2012
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    ( -_-) Ω~
    I'll wait for the electronic gurus here to provide opinion/questions or feedback, but I am now diggin out every power transformer I have packed away for a raining day like this. That was a very nice walk through. Thanks for posting; now I need to go down to the basement and sort through my stash from the last 10 years.
     
  6. Doglips

    Doglips Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2012
    Location:
    Cocoa Fl
    Tim the Tool Man Taylor would be proud of your creation!

    I got to admit I was looking at transformer today at work, I repair air conditioners, so was looking at a 220V (can be wired to 110 volts) to 24V transformer and thinking hummmm 24 volt with a 50 ohm coil...but I'm not that into electronics to even try to make it.
     
  7. gdeal

    gdeal Ultra Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

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  8. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Nice PT: Built this one a few years ago before I got into VV.. Works off a usb 5v battery pack, usb 5v car cigarette plug. or usb 5v usb wallwort. I used to strap the battery pack to my belt and could vape all day.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. daPorkchop

    daPorkchop Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2012
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Great idea, my brain is rolling (I know that this has been done before in other fashions, but I like seeing modders and the way you explain it helps me learn alot.)

    However, you said a 4v 2a would be the best method. Like, if you had one laying around the house. I'm wondering if what you ended up doing wasn't actually the best method all around (both cheapest and application)? Because with 3A you would be able to run all atties, that is if you wanted to step down to get more wattage.

    And for $2.52 more, including shipping, you could get VV!? (I'm not 100% sure if a buck converter is the same thing)

    1pcs DC DC Buck Converter Step Down Module LM2596 Power Supply Output 1 23V 30V | eBay
     
  10. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Like these:http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/battery-mods/259577-just-lm2596-users.html
    [​IMG]
     
  11. daPorkchop

    daPorkchop Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Also, (i haven't looked at the forum today, other than this post. I will so you may have added to this) I would LOVE a how to make a 12v - 12v adapter for the car. I've been searching all over Google for a how to on that. The only one i've found is THIS. $10 isn't bad, but the end piece isn't right. Maybe I could just make 2 different passthroughs, but I'd like to just stick to one ><
     
  12. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    I build all my PT's with 2.1mm plugs and the lm2596 works great off the 12 volt. I use an adapter like the one you show in my truck. If you need another type plug just cut it off and install the one you need to the poss and neg wires.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. daPorkchop

    daPorkchop Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Hmm ok thanks.
     
  14. Seebs

    Seebs Senior Member ECF Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Location:
    South Florida
    Reading this thread today made me go digging into my "tinkering" box of goodies and I found a bunch of stuff... :)

    What I already have:
    * Radio Shack project box (4" x 2" x 1"). I bought a bunch of these to store homemade PWM fan controllers for my "other hobby". It's a bit larger than the one used on the guide, but I have plans to make a "modified" version of the thing.
    * Soldering irons (15W and 40W) and plenty of solder.
    * Assorted wires, jumpers, resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc.
    * Dell branded AC adapter. Model number ADP-13CB A. This thing is rated for 5.4 Volts and 2410 mA.


    What I would need to buy:
    * Vivi Nova tank and atty heads.
    Seems to me that there are as many versions of this tank/atty combo as there are vendors out there. I've read that some of the juices can damage the plastic tanks. As far as I know; clove is one such flavor and I really like the clove juice I got from vapedudes.
    I'm going to a local B&M store on Thursday and if they have the tank in stock; I'll get it from them as I also like to support the local businesses. If not; I'll go with whoever has what I need for the best price on-line.
    -- Will I have issues if I go with the Vivi Nova Metal tanks? Will those tanks leech into the clove juice as well? I think they're made of aluminum.
    -- Is there such a thing as a Vivi Nova Glass tank?


    * As for the pre-wired 510 connector and the horn switch; I'll check with the local B&M shop first... If they don't have them; I'll have to order them on-line. Kind of silly putting in an order for $4 dollars, but I need them to get my mod going.

    And now for the "changes" to the original mod part.
    I do like how BJ43's mods look with the voltage display. So I take a trip over to ebayworld and found this one: LM2596 DC-DC Buck Step Down with Voltage Meter and I like it.

    The plug on the AC wall adapter that I have is 4.0mm OD x 1.7mm ID x 12mm long with center (+).
    I know that the most common sized connector is the 5.5mm x 2.1mm.
    -- Does anyone know where I can find 4.0 x 1.7 to 5.5 to 2.1 converter plugs? I'd like to install a 5.5mm x 2.1mm female to the mod and use a 4.0 x 1.7 to 5.5 x 2.1 male to male adapter (if such a thing exists).
    What I want to NOT have to do is cut the 4.0mm x 1.7mm terminal out of the adapter. I still have the PDA that it came with and it works flawlessly so no reason to cannibalize the set just to get a vaping mod going.
    If anything I'll search for and buy a separate AC adapter that fits my needs for the mod. Something like this would work just fine: US 6V DC 2000m and all I'd need then would be a female 5.5mm x 2.1mm jack to put into the mod.


    What I have in mind is:
    For home use:
    Plug the mod to the AC adapter that I have and use the LM2596 to drop the voltage to somewhere between 3.5 and 3.9. That allows me to vape the LR atys at my leisure.
    I can also build a bypass into the circuit that skips the LM2596 and sends the 5.4V direct to the atomizer and vape the higher resistance atys that way.

    What I have in mind would be one of THESE (SPDT Round Rocker Switch - Center OFF) as my master switch. Center would be OFF (obviously) and the two ON sides split out.. One turns on the LM2596 step down regulator for LR atys and the other ON side is the bypass for 5.4V straight to the HR atys.
    -- Is this a viable idea? Or am I just complicating things more than they need to be? I do want to have a master switch to prevent accidental firing of the unit... Just not sure if I need the two ON positions for my setup.

    For car use:
    I could buy one of the car chargers linked HERE.

    I can see that it is 12V IN and 12V out, but I see no current rating for it.
    -- Is it rated for 2 Amps? If it is and I were to use it; it would feed to the LM2596 where I'd bring the voltages down to the "acceptable" levels for atys. So no need for the power resistor. Right?



    A bit of Ohm's Law math and I get these numbers:
    5.4 Volt AC Adapter through LM2596.
    3.7 Volts + 1.8 Ohm aty = 7.8W and 2055 mA draw.
    3.8 Volts + 1.8 Ohm aty = 8W and 2111 mA draw.
    3.9 Volts + 1.8 Ohm aty = 8.5W and 2167 mA draw.

    And if I bypass the LM2596 and feed the aty 5.4 Volts...
    5.4 Volts + 2.4 Ohm aty = 12.5W and 2250 mA draw. May be too much heat. Only testing will tell.
    5.4 Volts + 2.8 Ohm aty = 10.5W and 1926 mA draw.
    5.4 Volts + 3.2 Ohm aty = 9.1W and 1688 mA draw.

    I'm too much of a vaping noob to know what all those wattages mean as far as vapor quality, quantity or flavor... But I know it doesn't hurt to have all the options available to me. Especially since I don't have to spend more to find out.


    OK... So I know this is a long one, but I can't help myself... I'm wired to always want to "over-do" things. It's a blessing and a curse, but I deal with it as best I can. :oops:

    Thanks in advance for any advice you guys drop my way on this. I have almost all the parts and want to get started on this as soon as possible (shipping times permitting since that LM2596 setup I liked ships out of Hong Kong). :unsure:

    Seebs
     
  15. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    @seebs.. you need 2.5 volts more in than out on the LM2596. So 5.4V will only put out 2.9V..
    I know yours says 1.5v but in my experience with a lot of Lm2596, that figure is not under load.
     
  16. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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  17. Seebs

    Seebs Senior Member ECF Veteran

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    South Florida
    @BJ43

    You're right... The more I thought about it this morning the more I realized I was just over-complicating things.

    I'll get a 12V AC wall adapter and a 12V car adapter... That way I only have to deal with one source voltage and no need for toggles. :)

    Thank you...
    I'll get on this as soon as I receive the LM2596 from Hong Kong.

    Seebs
     
  18. roadrash

    roadrash Super Member ECF Veteran

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    Hillsboro NH
    I had to double check the op date. :>)
     
  19. rebar

    rebar Senior Member Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Apr 21, 2011
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    iowa
    I like that!
    I'd like to do the same, but change a few things. Locate the LM2596 with the battery and power a device about the same size as a 808. Can anyone give me advice on making a mechanical switch for a 808 size? Or post a link?
     
  20. BJ43

    BJ43 Vaping Master Verified Member ECF Veteran

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    Nov 27, 2008
    The LM2596 in a 2aa box and 3aa box. Both with meters.
    [​IMG]
     
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