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The Wonderful World of Mods: An Illustrated Guide

Discussion in 'The ECF Library' started by DonDaBoomVape, Oct 11, 2010.

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  1. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    The Wonderful World of Mods: An Illustrated Guide

    Prologue

    I have just completed (finally) the long Mods section of the updated and enhanced Version 2 of my Wonderful World of Vaping – residing on CyberWolf’s and my new website, VapingGuides.com. It wound up taking on a life of its own and I realized that it might make a good set of posts for Eric’s and my home here on ECF.

    What follows assumes a general knowledge of vaping and an understanding of what the heck a “mod” is. [For a refresher on that, check out Part II (The Hardware) of my WWV V2.]

    Introduction

    If you would like to puff for a long time between battery charges and/or want maximum vapor and throat hit

    [​IMG]

    …(and don’t care if it doesn’t look anything like a cigarette...



    [​IMG]

    Clockwise from upper left: Copper, AdapteveR, Bulli, Zimoshi (not to scale)

    ...and are willing and able to invest more money upfront), then one of the Mods is for you. [I don't recommend them as a first e-cig, however. They can be wonderful to evolve to, perhaps even quickly. I got my first mod after one month of vaping.]

    These all have a manual switch. Mods can cost 2-6 times as much as a standard e-cig, but (the battery housing) can last for years, rather than weeks or months.

    [NOTE: The term, 'mod', is also used to describe modifications to other parts of personal vaporizers (e.g., carts, attys, mouthpieces, and cosmetic) and to hobbyist creations. Those are covered in Part VI. Here we are concerned with battery mods available for purchase (e.g., for lazy and/or thumb-fingered vapers like me;)).]

    CAUTION

    As we have previously mentioned, these battery mods are housings for generic batteries ... and some batteries are safer to use than others. It is strongly recommended that you use only "protected" batteries in your mod. Such protection can be in the form of a PCB (printed circuit board) built into the battery and/or the battery's chemistry (e.g., LiFePO4 or LiMN is safer than Li-Ion).

    [​IMG]

    Also ensure that safety features such as venting are built into the mod itself ... especially if you will be stacking batteries (which increases risk). Some manufacturers/suppliers (e.g., AltSmoke) explicitly warn customers against stacking batteries in their mods. Unfortunately, many vapers ignore this warning and/or use unprotected batteries. Fortunately, most have not had problems, but accidents do happen and there have been a couple serious ones.


    Myriad Choices

    Unlike the models in the preceding categories, most commercial battery mods are not mass produced, but are handmade in the modder's workshop (e.g., kitchen table or basement) or manufactured in small production runs. So not nearly as many units of any one model, but in the intervening year since I wrote version one of this guide – and more than any other category – there has been an explosion in the number of models to choose from. There are now over a hundred ... many with capabilities only dreamed of a year ago.

    Fortunately, I don't have to enumerate all of them here (although I did wind up covering most:oops:). ViZi has already done that in his incomparable illustrated database of mods: Ecigarette-Mods.com. His database is to mods (including fat batts) what I hope my WWV is to the world of vaping. [Also explore youtubecommercial's http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/general-e-smoking-discussion/78628-side-side-comparison-e-cigs-mods.html here on ECF for photos and descriptions (with links) of her vast collection of PVs.]

    What I will do here – in narrative form – is offer parameters to use when selecting among mods and provide examples (including up-to-date prices and links to relevant suppliers) with, of course, lots of photos.


    Parameters

    Mods can be categorized by:
    1. Shape
    2. Size
    3. Voltage
    4. mAh (of the batteries used)
    5. Juice-fed
    6. Switch (position and feel)
    7. Price range
    Also in that last post is a Mods Wrap-up providing suggestions for putting this all together when making a purchasing decision.

    Next up: The Shape of Mods.
     
  2. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    The Shape of Mods

    There are three basic shapes: tube, box, and...weird. I've provided links to the relevant section of ViZi's guide for the first two. [ViZi's third grouping, "Custom," is what I have called "Fat Batts," covered on the previous page of the WWV V2.]

    • Two of the classic tubular mods are Trog's Screwdriver (still sold: MKI full kit for $80, MKII for $50) and Puresmoker's Prodigy V1.

    [​IMG]

    • Virtually all box mods (hobbyist or commercial) are variations on / enhancements of nicowolf's NicoStick, a hobbyist mod made out of parts from Radio Shack. Shown below are exterior and interior views.

    [​IMG]

    The first commercial example of a box mod was the Janty Stick (aka Joye Stick) V1, now in its third iteration for $50+. Another popular box mod that has been around for awhile is the $50 Bartleby.​

    [​IMG]

    • The $55 Vapezilla is probably the leading example of weird shape.;) [ViZi, who is kinder than I, includes it in the box mods.]

    [​IMG]

    Next: The Sizes of Mods
     
  3. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    The Sizes of Mods

    Whatever the shape, mods range in size from the tiny $50 VP-1 and Bic lighter-sized $65 Little Sister ... through mid-sized like the $80 ICON and $50 Wetbox... to large like the $80 Chuck and $135 Ali'i. [Photos are approximately to scale.]

    [​IMG]
    ...and even to giants like the $238 GG Telescopic Storm with AFS and the $95 Carlos JuiceBox (not to mention the Vapezilla shown in the previous post).​
    [​IMG]

    The size of a mod is due primarily to the size of the battery(s)...

    [​IMG]

    [Remember that the first two digits of battery nomenclature represent the diameter in millimeters, the next two the length, and that the last zero indicates that it is round.]

    ...and to any additional features (e.g., juice feeder) it contains, as well as to the effectiveness of its design and aesthetic considerations. So the 14500-based $139 Precious-M is, of course, smaller than the 18650-based $159 Precious-L.

    [​IMG]

    And, of the following 18650-based mods, the juice-fed $100 Phidias Woodimus Feedimus is necessarily wider than the $100 Omega...

    [​IMG]

    ...but (due to efficiencies in design) the aforementioned Ali'i and Precious-L are smaller than they ... and the $160 Precise 18650 shown below is the most slender.

    [​IMG]

    Next up: Voltages
     
  4. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    Voltage

    [​IMG]

    Although the batteries used in mods are either 3.0V or 3.6-3.7V, they can be combined (in series or in parallel and with or without regulators or resistors) to create mods with voltages of 3.7, 5, 6, 7.4, or variable. This page of ViZi's database lists mods by voltage and the battery(s) used.

    • 3.7V mods include the previously mentioned 10440-based Janty Stick and VP-1 ... 16340-based Screwdriver ... 14500-based Bartleby, ICON, and WetBox ... and 18650-based Chuck, Ali'i, and JuiceBox; as well as those shown in the following photo: the CR2-based $91 Mako Minno ... 18350-based $68 XS-haler ... 14650-based $91 Mako Maxi ... and 17670-based $80 XHaler, among many others.

    [​IMG]

    Particularly now, with the advent of LR atomizers enabling vaping at higher watts – and some safety concerns about stacked batteries – this is the largest group. [NOTE: Larger 3.7V mods like the Mako Maxi and XHaler often can also be used with two 3.0V batteries to achieve higher voltages.]​

    • 6V mods include the $83 Prodigy V3 and $53 Copper (such as the $70 R2V2 version shown here) ... and many others (including some of the "3.7V" mods). In all cases, they use two 3.0V CR2 or CR123A batteries.

    [​IMG]

    Many of the newer generation 6V mods incorporate safety features such as venting to address concerns about stacked batteries (although I don't see that mentioned on the websites for these two particular models). 6V mods should be used with HV (actually high-resistance) 4.5 ohm atomizers – 8 watts power and 1.3 amps current. [See pages 1 and 5 of Part II of the WWV V2.]​

    • 5V mods are the CR123A-based $109 Joker-FV and the 5V versions of the 16340-based $119 Saber Touch, $100 GLV-2, $125 Billet (includes atty, batts, and charger), and $140 Journeyman (5V option). Like the 6V, they use two of the specified 3.0V or 3.7V batteries, but add a regulator (or resister in the case of the GLV-2 and perhaps the oh-so-similar Billet) to bring the net voltage down to 5V. See also the double 18650-based Tekk shown at the bottom of the next post. Similar venting on the newer models.

    [​IMG]

    There are only a few 5V mods these days. For example, models such as the Prodigy V1 and V2, Genesis, Detonator, and ZiMoshi have been discontinued. [The Prodigy V3 is 6V.] It appears that they are being replaced by 3.7Vers used with LR atomizers, 6Vers used with HV attys, and by the final voltage type.​

    • Some models (e.g., the $159 GG Telescopic Storm, $167 GG Double Slim, $80 XHaler) allow combination of two 3.7V batteries to reach 7.4V. These require use of ultra-HV (5.2 ohm) atomizers – 10.5 watts power and 1.4 amps current. To my mind, a more effective use of two 3.7V batteries is...

    • The newest and increasing popular voltage level available is variable, the first example of which was the double-CR123A (3.7V)-based $115 Buzz. It was quickly followed by the double-10440-based $68 (as shown) Little Sister and, more recently, the double-14500-based $75 Big Brother.

    [​IMG]

    And now many existing mods are adding variable voltage as a feature, e.g., the $109 Joker-AV, $170 Ali'i (Variable Volt), $160 Multi-Voltage Dial-A-Tekk Mod, and forthcoming Precious-L V2 (price not yet determined). All of the variable voltage mods use a knob (or notch for a small screwdriver) to dial back the maximum potential 7.4V to whatever voltage level is desired – to reach that "sweet spot" unique to each combination of atomizer, e-liquid, and vaper (and vaper's mood).

    NOTE: There also is Nuck's expensive double-18650-based $199 Fist Pack (shown below), which I would call 'selectable' rather than 'variable' voltage, since it can be switched to only four preset voltage levels within three different ranges, depending on model purchased.​

    [​IMG]

    Next: The mAh of Mods
     
  5. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    mAh

    As I hope you know by now, mAh is milliamp hours, which determines how frequently a PV needs to be recharged. The approximate mAh (rounded down to even hundreds) of the batteries that are most frequently used in mods is shown in the photo (from ViZi's database) at the top of the previous post. [I do disagree with what is stated for the 16340 and 14500 batteries; they are much closer to 750 and 900 mAh, respectively. And bear in mind that even for batteries of the same designation (e.g., 18650), actual mAh depends on manufacturer, chemistry, and version.]

    In almost all cases, the mAh of the device is the same as the battery used, even if there are two of them. When two batteries are stacked, the mod taxes both batteries for each vape: doubling the voltage, but not the mAh. So look at ViZi's table of mods by battery type to assess the approximate mAh of the various mods.

    • Mods of ~300 mAh (i.e., barely more than the Kr8 and half that of the basic eGO) include all those single 10440-based devises, such as the $50 Joye Stick V3 (also available from many other suppliers at various prices), $139 Precious-S (world's shortest slender mod), $120 Precise 10440 (world's most slender mod), and $111 GG Slim. If small size (and/or elegant beauty) are more important to you than battery recharge frequency, get any of these (or others in the group).

    [​IMG]

    • Mods of ~400 mAh (i.e., slightly more than the above) include the single CR2-based $91 Mako Minno and double CR2-based devices, such as the previously shown Copper and GG Telescopic and the $67 Nautilus and $91 Mako Midi shown below. [NOTE: All other CR2 models on ViZi's list have been discontinued.]

    [​IMG]

    • Mods of ~750 mAh (i.e., roughly the same as the basic eGO and Riva) are all those in ViZi's long lists of single or double 16340- and CR123A-based mods, many of which we've already shown, as well as the single battery $70 Mini VapeStack, $99 Saber Touch Mini, $95 GLV-Mini, and $95 3.7V Billet, shown below (and the double-16340 versions of those last three mods). If a short mod providing vaping throughout a workday sounds good to you, get one in this grouping.

    [​IMG]

    • Mods of ~900 mAh (i.e., the same as the Mega eGO) are all those 14500-based mods that ViZi lists, e.g., the $85 BB, $100 ProVape-1, $69 VYPR, and 88 € Bulli Elite, among many others. For a mod with a wonderful balance between full daytime vaping and moderate slender size, get one of the models in this group.

    [​IMG]

    • And then we leap up to ~2400 mAh with the single 18650-based mods, e.g., the 90 € Bulli Extreme, K-Zen (not yet available), $85 Silver Bullet, and the other models from ViZi's list previously shown. If a five-fingered PV for more than a day and night full of vaping is for you, get one of these models.

    [​IMG]

    • The $120 Tekk Mod straps two of those 18650 batteries together to deliver 4000 mAh (and 5.2V ... or variable voltage in the $160 version sold by NHaler). Vape for days at HV or any voltage you like with your fist around this baby!

    [​IMG]

    Onward to Juice-fed Mods
     
  6. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    Juice-fed Mods

    The primary additional capability available today is juice feeding: side, bottom, or AVS (between the mod and the atty). All but AVS are box mods containing a bottle of e-liquid (and the battery, of course). A juice-fed mod replaces the need for cartridges and cartomizers, as well as dripping or dipping. Necessarily, they are larger (usually wider rather than longer) than mods using the same battery.
    • The earliest juice-fed hobbyist mods were side feeders. For example, MoonMan's UPAC (Ultimate Portability And Convenience) – "One [not so] small step"…
    [​IMG]
    ...Spikey's ProdigyCompanion...​
    [video]http://www.viddler.com/explore/Spikey47/videos/9/[/video]​
    ... and tinear’s magnificent molded mAhmba. [I was angry with tinear for a long time for never offering his mAhmba for sale.]​
    [​IMG]
    The main example of a commercial side feeder today is the small, inexpensive $45 MrPuffer MP1. (14500 battery, 3-ml bottle).​
    [​IMG]
    NotCigs sells The Dripper accessory ($15) for its Buzz (or many other tubular mods).​
    [​IMG]

    • The first bottom-fed mod was Carlos' JuiceBox, still available for purchase (e.g., $95 at that linked supplier).
    [​IMG]
    During 2010, it has been followed by all those bottom feeders (insulting double entendre not intended) – WetBox, original Reo, Journeyman, Ali'i, and Phidias Woodimus Feedimus – described and pictured at the bottom of this page of Part II of the WWV V2 ... as well as the new metallic Reo Mini (currently out of stock and price unknown) and $119 UMP, the former receiving much more positive reviews. Both use a 14500 battery and a 3-ml bottle...​
    [​IMG]
    ...as does the similar looking £65 Integrity (which also can accommodate an 18650 battery) from UK-based Dave's Devices.​
    [​IMG]

    • The $80 GG AVS (Automatic Vaping System) is a 6 ml liquid tank, which attaches to the top of the $159 GG Telescopic Storm shown here. The atomizer sits inside that liquid tank surrounded by e-liquid, which is automatically pulled up into the atty as you vape. [NOTE: The GG AFS (Automatic Feeding System) V2 for use with other tubular mods no longer seems to be available.]
    [​IMG]
    IMO: GG mods and parts often are out of stock and can be finicky in performance. My perception of Imeo's GGs is that they are the Jaguars of PVs: outstanding in concept and luxury, but often in the shop.;)
    Onward to The Switch
     
  7. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    The Switch

    Most of the previous parameters (and the final one ;) ) are fairly obvious considerations. This one may not be, but don't ignore it. If you are considering a mod, think about both the position and feel of the manual switch button:

    • Position: Visualize how you would hold the device … and what finger you would use to press the button. This certainly would be different for the devices with the button on the side of the mod near the atomizer ... vs. on the side near the base ... vs. at the base ... vs. at the top. There is no right or wrong to this, but a matter of personal preference and comfort. [I'm a thumb man myself, pressing that button on the ProVape-1, while holding the mod with three fingers on the other side and my pinky on the same side as the button.]
    [​IMG]
    And some mods don't even have a button that you press. For example, the Copper is engaged by pushing down on the atomizer with the mouth. The Omega is similar, but you push down on the top of the mod with your finger to engage.​
    [​IMG]
    And that makes a nice segue to...​
    • The feel of the switch. Some buttons are big and fat; others are small and almost pointed. Some stick way out; others are recessed.
    [​IMG]
    Some aren't even pressed, but are touch sensitive.​
    [​IMG]


    And last but not least...
     
  8. DonDaBoomVape

    DonDaBoomVape Reviewer / Blogger ECF Veteran

    Jun 5, 2009
    South Florida
    $$ Price $$

    Prices of mods and where to buy them have been shown throughout this guide (and on ViZi's website). Except where noted otherwise, prices do not include batteries, charger, or atomizer. Expect to pay around $25-30 for those.

    We've seen that mod prices range from:

    • $50 or less (e.g., for a Bartleby, MrPuffer, WetBox) ... to


    • $75-$100 (e.g., for a BB, Big Brother, Chuck, GLV-Mini, Mako, Prodigy V3, ProVape-1, Silver Bullet, XHaler) ... to

    • $100-125 (e.g., for a Buzz, GG-Slim, Joker, Omega, Phidias Woodimus Feedimus, Precise 10440, Saber Touch, GLV2) ... to

    • $125-$150 (e.g., for an Ali'i, Journeyman, Precise 16340, Precious-S and -M, 5.2V Tekk) ... to

    • $150-200 (e.g., for an Ali'i Variable Volt, Fist Pack, most GGs, Precise 18650, Precious-L, Multi-Voltage Tekk). The GG Telescopic Storm with AVS is $239.
    Shown below (and linked in the previous paragraph) are some mods I never got around to mentioning previously.

    [​IMG]

    Surprisingly perhaps, small size, high/variable voltage, and features like juice feeding have relatively little impact on cost (any of those can be had for under $70) ... unless you want the best of two to four of those in the same device (e.g., those models in the two highest price brackets). High mAh has a greater impact (e.g., the least expensive 18650-based mods are the $80 Chuck and XHaler).

    But the most significant factors impacting price are: sophisticated engineering (e.g., as the shortest and thinnest mods for the batteries contained therein, the Precious and Precise are among the most expensive) and craftsmanship (e.g., the beautiful wooden Ali'i and P Woodie Feedie command higher price tags than the WetBox or MrPuffer).


    Conclusion

    Overwhelmed? Understandable. These ain’t no short, skinny 510 batteries you just screw onto your atomizer. [However, don’t expect me to feel too sorry for you. You didn’t have to research all this stuff!:facepalm:]

    If you are overwhelmed and turned off … mods aren’t for you (yet).

    But if you are overwhelmed and excited ... step back and reflect on what you want in a mod at this stage of your vaping career. [And keep in mind your bank account.:D]

    Which of those parameters (and to what degree) are most important to you? For example:

    • Do you want good mAh (but it doesn't have to go on forever), 3.7V (because you plan to use LR attys), fairly small (but not necessarily the smallest) size, in a tubular shape, don't care about juice feeding, and have up to $100 to spend? [And don't forget the batteries, charger, and atomizers (and, perhaps, adapter) you'll need to buy.]

    • Or do you want the best of the best (by whatever criteria you care about) and have oodles of dollars (or pounds or euros) to splurge?
    You've seen here the models that fit the bill. Investigate them further: study the description and specs on suppliers' websites ... read reviews and watch review videos (e.g., those linked on ViZi's site and by searching for them here on ECF and on YouTube) ... and read the posts by owners of those mods.

    And then ... grab the tiger by the tail and go for it!


    THE END
    …of the beginning of your manifest marriage to miraculous mods!​
     
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