Hardware Review: Kanger Subtank Mini

Specs

Material: 304 Stainless Steel, pyrex glass
Length: ~54mm
Diameter: 22mm
Capacity: 4.5ml
Battery Connection: fixed center pin 510 connection
MSRP:  $49.90
What’s in the box:

Kanger Subtank Mini Package Contents

  • (1) Kangertech Subtank Mini
  • (1) OCC: 0.5 Sub Ohm / Range 15 – 30 W
  • (1) OCC: 1.2 Ohm / Range 12 – 25 W
  • (1) Mini RBA Base (with preinstalled coil)
  • (1) Tool Kit (screwdriver,screws)
  • (1) Spare Glass Tube
  • (1) Organic Cotton Square (made in Japan)
  • (1) Spare RBA coil (Kanthal)
  • (2) Spare O-Ring
  • (1) Drip Tip
  • (1) Gift Box
  • (1) User Manual
  • (1) Genuine Product Verification Card

Pros

  • Organic cotton wick (!).
  • Capable of handling subohm vaping.
  • Widely available coils.
  • Available factory made Ni200 coil heads.
  • No leaking (so far).

Cons

  • Slightly higher cost than other similar tanks.
  • Not backwards compatible with previous Kanger coil heads.
  • Spotty availability of OCC coil heads.
  • Sparse availability of Ni200 coil heads.
  • Visible o-rings.
  • Theoretically possibly to vent a mod by using a Ni200 OCC head on a mech.

Errata

OCC heads

The biggest advance with the Subtank by far is the OCC heads. Coiled with “organic Japanese cotton” these are the heads I’ve wanted in a Kanger tank since the original ProTank was released. I started recoiling the original Protank heads so that I could use cotton wick, so it tickles me pink that Kanger is now mass producing cotton wicking coil heads.

First, these new OCC heads are rebuildable. It’s nothing like rebuilding an older Kanger atomizer, but it is doable. I’ll have a post covering rebuilding an OCC head in the near future. Street price is about $12 for a 5 pack, so they’re slightly more expensive than the older BCC heads, but I think the improved flavor and vapor production is worth it. Still I’d like to see the price come down (ideally to ~$1/ea).

One of the biggest challenges with using cotton for wicking is that cotton burns, and once it burns the wick must be replaced (unless you like vaping disgustingly burnt cotton). Kanger realizes this and has included a printed warning to prime your OCC heads before firing your device as the very first thing you see once you open the package.

Alternatively, you could use a device with temperature control with the Ni200 OCC heads that Kanger has released.

Enter the Ni200 OCC head:

Ni200 OCC heads

Expensive but worth it.

The second I saw these I was sold on the Subtank. The best deal I could find on the Ni200 OCCs is currently $3/ea. That’s not a deal breaker, but I’d like to see these available at about $1-$1.50 each. Speaking of available, you know that Kanger has a winner here because it’s not exactly easy to find these things in stock anywhere. The tank comes with two (of the Kanthal coiled ones), and if you can recoil them that makes it kind of a non issue (I’ve no idea how well they will hold up to recoiling, but from my initial examination it looks like they’re pretty sturdy). Then again, not everyone wants to build coils.

If you don’t have any experience with Ni200 wire there is a bit of potential for major problems here. Kanger offers the standard OCC heads in either 0.5ohm or 1.2ohm varieties at the time of this writing. Ni200 OCC heads on the other hand are 0.15ohm. Potentially someone could put one of the Ni200 heads on a device like a mech and vent a battery. If you have a Subtank, you’ve got to watch out for this. If your device has temp control then it’s kind of a non issue, but if you are running a mech, a mix up has the potential to be disastrous. Always verify that your OCC is the version you think it is.

I have a bad feeling that it is only a matter of time before someone isn’t paying attention and accidentally puts a Ni200 OCC head on a mech with an inadequate battery on it and has a really bad way. I could see this happening if you’ve got multiple devices and aren’t paying attention. Unfortunately there is no good answer for potential user error at this time.

The easy way to avoid this is to put the assembled tank on a resistance checker before firing it. Kanger was thinking about this when they released the redesigned OCC heads. The original OCC heads had a white insulator on the bottom of the unit. The new ones have either a red or blue insulator:

Different OCC heads are different colors

Attention to detail

You can see from the picture above that the OCC head with the blue insulator is a Ni200 coil with the resistance and recommended wattage laser etched on one side of the unit. Kanger has done the same with the red insulator heads (coiled with Kanthal).

I switched to a temp control device last October, and I can’t recommend it enough. The major benefit for me is that I haven’t had a dry hit since. The flip side of that is the added expense of Ni200 OCCs. I’ll pay it or rebuild. I seriously can’t say enough good things about having temp control on your device.

For those of us who don’t mind coil building, the inclusion of the mini RBA base is totally awesome. It’s a small deck, but it’s basically like building on a tiny kayfun, except it’s a bit easier because the RDA screws have little ears to catch the wires under the screws (which you can kind of see in the picture of the Mini RBA base in the Maintenance section below).

Airflow control

There are apparently more than one version of the Subtank Mini airflow control out there, the primary difference being the options for airflow control. The version I have has a slot cut on either side of the airflow control ring with three options for airflow: a ~1mm airhole on either side, a ~2mm hole on either side, and wide open which is a large air slot on either side. In this image you can see slightly different options.

Subtank Mini airflow control options

Subtank Mini airflow control

There was a previous version that had an additional fully closed selection, but I assume that Kanger changed that based on customer feedback. I dunno, Since I just got mine, I would assume that it is the newest version available.

Colors

Kanger is also shipping a white and a black coated version of the Subtank Mini (I’ve no idea what they are coated with), but as far as I know those are only available with the Subox kit at this time.

Colors, take two

In my Cons section I noted visible o-rings. For me that is mostly because Kanger chose red o-rings. I’m not a fan of red, but apparently there was a method to their madness as Kanger has put out the “Colourful Silicon Seal Ring Set”:

Is that purple or pink?

Is that purple or pink?

Purple I think

Purple I think

I’ll admit I ordered one, that bluish set will look good with the blue Shark Skin on my rDNA40. I’d still prefer that they not be visible, but that’s just my personal preference.

One final thing to note that isn’t really a con, it’s just kind of silly. Kanger has decided to use a “wide bore” drip tip on this tank. Like all 510 drip tips, it still necks down where it connects to the top of the tank (and it’s not a dripper, so you’re not really going to be dripping into it), so I’m not sure why they felt the need for this. Because of the proximity of the center air channel to the coil in the Mini RBA base, it is possible that occasionally the drip tip will get… warm. Luckily for us this can be corrected by simply easing up on the subohm vaping or even switching out the drip tip for something non conductive for heat like delrin or pyrex.

I also love that they include a spare glass tank section. Thank you Kanger for paying attention. Accidents happen and nothing sucks worse than breaking your only tank when you are about to head out of the house. It’s nice that they’re giving us a mulligan.

Maintenance

The Subtank Mini is really not very different than any other Kanger tank in it’s design, but it is clear that Kanger has learned some lessons about glass tanks over the last couple of years. The basic assembly is the same as other Kanger glass tanks.

Standards disassembly

Standard disassembly

Things to be aware of:

  • When the base is removed, the glass tank is only held in place by the friction of the silicon seals.
  • Filling is just like the previous Kanger BCC tanks, don’t get the liquid in the center air channel.
  • You must prime the OCC heads with a couple drops of eLiquid before firing them or you risk burning the cotton.

 

The Mini RBA base is a bit small, though compared to rebuilding one of the OCC heads it is positively spacious. You can see in this picture that the RBA base disassembles into three pieces, and is very similar to a kayfun, in fact the easiest way to build with it is to follow the same process: coil, wick, pull the excess cotton up while screwing the chimney on, trim it to the top of the chimney, and then stuff the cotton down into the juice channels.

Mini RBA Base disassembled

Mini RBA Base disassembled

There are two things to be aware of when using the RBA base:

  1. The coil sits relatively close to where the center air channel enters the chimney. I have wrapped a 4mm diameter coil in there, but it was uncomfortably close for my tastes. I would recommend building at 3mm diameter or less.
  2. The bottom “pin” of the RBA base actually holds the insulated post to the deck. You need to make sure this pin is screwed in all the way any time you disassemble the tank. I had mine come loose a couple of times. This results in the insulated post lifting, and tilting your coil. This can lead to inconsistent connections, and potentially to a hard short if the coil were to contact the top of the chimney.

Conclusion

While writing this post I fell in love with Kanger all over again. Their attention to detail continues to show, and improve. The original ProTank was the first tank system that I really liked, and the Subtank Mini is a truly worthy successor. Most of the stuff in my list of cons is really superficial, and probably wouldn’t be considered a con by most.

I would really like to see Kanger bring down the cost of these units, and in the past they have reduced the prices on all of their tanks after release so I expect to see some reduction on these in the not too distant future. I paid $29.99 for mine on sale, so the potential is definitely there. Street price is about $35 from many online vendors, I’d expect to pay MSRP from a B&M. The inclusion of the mini RBA base makes it worth it to me, but maybe eventually we’ll see a lower cost version without it.

This is now my go to recommendation for tanks for new or inexperienced vapers. It’s easy to use, and the included mini RBA base offers an easy path for learning to build for those that are interested.

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Hardware Review: EHPRO Kayfun Lite Clone

Specs

Material:  Stainless Steel (unspecified)
Length: 51.8mm
Diameter:  22mm (23mm with “makrolon” tank section)
Capacity:  4.5ml
Battery Connection:  510
MSRP:  $49.99
What’s in the box:  

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

  • (1) KFL Atomizer Clone (with stainless center tank section)
  • (1) “Makrolon” clear tank section (polycarbonate)
  • (1) Kayfun style drip tip
  • (1) Short style drip tip
  • (1) Padded travel/storage box
  • (1) Mini keychain screwdriver
  • (1) Small piece of silica wick
  • (1) small piece of kanthal wire (unspecified gauge)
  • (4) Large o-rings (for the tank sections)
  • (2) Small o-rings (for the 510 drip tip socket)
  • (2) Spare post screws

Pros

  • Relatively low cost.
  • Decent example of a KFL style atomizer.
  • Comes with everything a real KFL comes with.
  • “Standard” 510 drip tip socket.

Cons

  • Extremely difficult to disassemble (very tight tolerances, and o-rings, no texture to grip.
  • Fit and finish is off from the actual KFL by a wide margin.
  • Non adjustable tight draw (relatively speaking).

Errata

I ordered this from eciggity on a lark, having never owned a Kayfun style atomizer. My intent was to decide if I might want to spend the money on a real KFL+, so I ordered the EHPRO KFL+ clone, and they sent the KFL clone. I don’t know what I expected.

This is more of an imitation than a clone, it does not have any of the actual Kayfun markings, but is clearly intended to copy the design.

The flavor on this atomizer is stellar. Unbelievable. I will absolutely be ordering a legit KFL+ (as soon as I can find it in stock somewhere).

The sheer quantity of stuff included in the package is surprising. I did not expect all of that with a clone.

Fit and Finish

You can see in this picture that EHPRO missed the chamfer on the top tank section:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Everything on this clone is very smooth, which coupled with the very tight fit makes this thing an absolute bear to disassemble. I suppose this is good, as the tank seal is absolutely airtight.

The draw

My only real complaint is that the non adjustable draw on this tank is very much tighter than I like (I prefer an airy draw), but if that is the price for the absolutely wonderful flavor, I am willing to pay it gladly. As I mentioned, I will be buying a legit KFL+ as soon as I can find one in stock, and am hoping that the adjustable airflow will get me closer to where I want to be.

I will note here that I build this with a vertical micro coil centered over the air hole, wrapped with sterile cotton around the outside of the coil.

Minor leaking, occasionally

I’m not gonna mince words here, I experienced leaking from the fill screw on the bottom of the unit. Not every time, not with any reason I could figure out. Sometimes it just leaked. This could be from taking it outside in ~30F temperatures, and then indoors into ~70F temperatures (though it was not consistent), or it could be a design flaw. Not sure. This leak wasn’t terribly bad, it was just annoying.

I did on two occasions experience leaking from the air hole in the side of the unit. I don’t know what that is about. Again, could be from environmental changes, hell it might even be from the way I was drawing on the thing (it is a bottom coil unit, and I was drawing on it pretty hard).

I am hoping that the leaking is just an artifact of it being a clone.

Maintenance

For completeness I am going to talk a wee bit about assembling the Kayfun style atomizers. All things considered, there are quite a number of parts to these things. If you’re not familiar (or not mechanically inclined) you might get into trouble figuring out how to get the thing back together. Here are all of the parts, lined up in assembly order (sorry about the poor lighting):

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This is basically what you want to do after getting the coil built and wicked as you prefer (the first pic shows the atomizer deck with the chimney base attached):

Click to enlarge

Chimney base mounted – Click to enlarge

You could fully assemble the chimney, and then mount it on the atomizer deck, but I prefer being able to see the coil and verify that nothing is touching before closing it up.

Click to enlarge

Chimney mounted – Click to enlarge

At this point it doesn’t matter which tank section you use, as long as you use either the top or the bottom (no male threads, only the center section has male threads) because those two pieces are threaded the same.

Bottom tank section added - Click to enlarge

Bottom tank section added – Click to enlarge

Middle tank section added (I used the stainless section here) - Click to enlarge

Middle tank section added (I used the stainless section here) – Click to enlarge

Top tank section and top cap added - Click to enlarge

Top tank section and top cap added – Click to enlarge

Conclusion

This clone is debatably worth the $49.99 that I paid for it. It is far from the best Kayfun clone I’ve seen, but it is not bad either. The flavor production is excellent. It did in fact accomplish what I wanted. I have decided to buy a real Kayfun without having to buy a Kayfun and then discovering that I don’t like it, but I can’t say I would recommend this to someone who was planning on using it as a daily driver.

end

Hardware Review: V3 MOD (Hcigar Brass Sentinel Clone)

V3

Specs

Material:  Brass
Length:  25mm (~1″)
Diameter:  94mm (~3.7″)
Battery type:  18350 to 18650 (telescopic, max battery length 76mm)
Battery Connection:  510
APV Type:  Mechanical
MSRP:  $19.95USD
What’s in the box:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

  • (1) All brass telescoping V3 MOD

Pros

  • Self adjusting positive pin (spring loaded).
  • Sturdy.
  • All brass construction; low voltage drop.
  • Accommodates multiple battery sizes.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Clean cut and well formed threads.
  • Reverse  threaded locking ring.

Cons

  • All brass construction; tarnishes easily
  • Chinese clone.
  • Spotty availability.
  • Threads loosen rather easily.
  • Locking ring threads can become “locked” when engaged and the switch is loose.
  • Switch loosens with regular use (see errata section below for fix).

Errata

Switch issues

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The Bottom firing switch on this mod comes unscrewed with normal use. This can lead to unintended firing (in theory), but mostly leads to the locking ring not engaging or disengaging properly. Once stuck, the easy solution is to spin the firing button counter clockwise a bit to allow the locking ring to spin all the way around on the internal threads and re-engage.

This is due to the way the firing button and the negative pin are connected. The simple fix is to disassemble the switch, and wrap the threads on the firing button post with Teflon tape (the thin white stuff sold at hardware stores, it’s super cheap). I’ve seen people use locktite, but that will preclude ever taking the switch apart without damaging it, and if the switch gets dirty or gritty feeling, there is no way to fix that without disassembly.

Disassembly

V3_2

Click to enlarge

The entire mod can be disassembled without any tools, which makes cleaning convenient. The picture above shows it mostly disassembled, the top cap also screws off, and can be fully disassembled (as can the switch).

Ribbing

You cannot see it from any of the pictures online, but the ribbing on the body of the mod is actually square cut. This makes the mod quite grippy, and I like it. I only note this because I was under the impression that the ribbing on these was rounded, and didn’t realize it was actually square cut until I handled one at a local B&M.

Maintenance

You have a choice to make with an all brass mod; do I polish it or not?

Brass tarnishes fast, especially when you handle it. The ribs that make this mod so nicely “grippy” are also going to add enormous pain to any polishing effort. Personally I like the look of tarnished brass. If you’re going to polish it, you can use any suitable brass polish (such as Brasso or Mothers Billet Metal Polish).

Actual cleaning can be done with a cotton swab and some high alcohol content isopropyl alcohol.

If you are concerned about conductivity, you can take a brass wire brush to the threads once a month or so if desired. I usually use an old (clean) toothbrush to clean out the threads, wipe the 510 connection with a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol, and then wipe the whole thing down with a clean microfiber cloth.

Brass has very good conductivity, but if you are really worried about getting the absolute best connection possible, you can apply a tiny bit of NO-OX-ID A-Special (Noalox doesn’t work great on brass) to the threads (not the 510 threads, just the other threads on the mod), but I don’t think it’s necessary at all.

Verdict

I picked this up at a local B&M on a visit to replace a misplaced beater K101 (which I’m fairly certain is somewhere chillin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where I frequently go shooting). I paid about double what you could order this from Fasttech for (which is ok because it is supporting a local vendor, and I feel it is worth every dime). I’ve been very happy with the performance of this mod, and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive mech.

I feel conflicted about buying a clone, but not terribly so as I would never spend Sentinel money on a beater mod.

end

Hardware Review: IGO-W

Specs

Material:  Stainless steel
Length:  25mm (~1″)
Diameter:  22mm (~7/8″)
Battery Connection:  510
Number of posts:  3
Post holes:  Yes
Number of air holes:  1 (mine came with two, I suspect the second was done by the vendor)
Diameter of air hole(s):  ~1mm
MSRP:  $19.95USD
What’s in the box:

IGO - W

  • (1) IGO-W deck
  • (1) IGO-W top cap
  • (1) Bag of spare parts (2 o-rings, 1 post screw, 1 insulator, 1 small piece of wick and 1 small piece of wire)

Some retailers include the spare parts baggie, some do not. The actual price for these guys ranges from about $13 to $27 depending on vendor (available here, among others).

Pros

  • Price.
  • Two negative posts.
  • Post holes!
  • Simple, easy to get working.
  • Spacious drip well makes dripping super easy.
  • Large deck (this is relative with RDA’s).
  • Philips head post screws, no allen wrench to fool with.

Cons

  • ~1mm air hole creates a very tight draw.
  • Youde logo laser etched on the top cap.

The small air hole is pretty standard for RDAs, but that logo. Ugh, it looks terrible. If anyone in China is seeing this, don’t do that with the logos. We don’t care. If you must put a logo on it either engrave it, or put it on the bottom of the deck where is it not going to screw with the aesthetics of our APVs.

The logo will sneak up on you because of how it is etched, from some angles it is nearly invisible, and in some lighting it looks like this:

igow-logo

By the way, that is a neat feature, being able to use the top cap as a stand for the deck like that.

Errata

Air flow

As I noted at the beginning, these ship with a single ~1mm air hole, and some vendors are drilling a second before selling them. That ugly logo that is laser etched in the top cap is directly where a second air hole would be drilled (on some units, on others it is off to the side).

That single ~1mm air hole is going to limit your cloud chasing. While I’ve seen people bore these out huge, it seems that the sweet spot for most people is somewhere between 1.4 and 1.6mm. That’s not a huge change from the stock air hole, but it makes worlds of difference when it comes to the vapor produced.

I drill out my RDAs to 1/16″ (~1.5mm), and the IGO-W was no exception. With dual 1/16″ air holes the draw is kinda airy, but I prefer that on my RDAs.

Dual coils the easy way

The primary reason I bought the IGO-W is that I wanted to play around with ribbon kanthal, but the IGO-L doesn’t have post holes, and I have a devil of a time with getting ribbon mounted to post screws. Let me save you a whole bunch of time and frustration; use one single piece of wire (or ribbon) to wrap both coils. Here is how I do it:

  • Tighten the wire on one of the negative posts (those are on the outside).
  • Wrap the first coil, and on the last wrap, pass the wire all the way through the center post.
  • Adjust the first coil and tighten off the center post.
  • Wrap the other coil the same way.

Here is what the results look like:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Maintenance

Like most RDAs, just rinse off the deck (with coils mounted even), and let dry. I will occasionally dry burn the coils if they get terribly gunked up (which doesn’t really seem to be an issue with ribbon kanthal and ekowool so far, but I suppose that could just be the juice I am dripping).

In my review of the IGO-L I said that it was just about the perfect beginner RDA, well it just got dethroned. When my biggest complaint is that your logo is on it, you’ve done something right.

end

Hardware Review: IGO-L

IGO-L - click to enlarge

This was my first RDA, and I will always have a soft spot for it.

Specs

Material: Stainless Steel
Length: 25mm (~0.98″)
Diameter: 20mm (~0.79″)
Battery Connection: 510
Number of posts: 2
Post holes: NO
Number of air holes: 1
Diameter of air hole(s): ~1mm
MSRP: $19.99USD
What’s in the box:

IGO-L box contents

IGO-L box contents

  • 1 IGO-L RDA deck
  • 1 IGO-L RDA top cap
  • 1 bag of spare parts (2 o-rings, 1 extra post screw, small piece of wick, small piece of wire)

Some retailers include the spare parts baggie, some do not. The actual price for these guys ranges from about $12 to $25 depending on vendor (available here, among others).

Pros

  • Price.
  • Simple, easy to get working.
  • Spacious drip well makes dripping super easy.
  • Large deck (this is relative with RDA’s).
  • Philips head post screws, no allen wrench to fool with.

The IGO-L is simple to set up, and is a fantastic RDA for someone just getting into rebuildables. There is lots of room to work with on the deck and in the cap, making this one of the easier RDAs to build on.

Cons

  • No post holes.
  • Only 2 posts.
  • ~1mm air hole creates a very tight draw.

The only thing that I really want to see in the IGO-L is post holes. They just make attaching coils so much easier.

Errata

Air flow

That single ~1mm air hole is going to limit your cloud chasing. While I’ve seen people bore these out huge, it seems that the sweet spot for most people is somewhere between 1.4 and 1.6mm. That’s not a huge change from the stock air hole, but it makes worlds of difference when it comes to the vapor produced.

I’ve also seen people drill out a second 1mm air hole either right above or right next to the stock hole. This is kinda personal preference as to which mod you would enjoy more.

Colorization

Slumberland Industries Custom

Slumberland Industries Custom – click to enlarge

One of the neat things about the IGO-L is that the cap is made entirely of stainless steel, which will colorize at high temperatures. The picture above is a colorized and bored out IGO-L produced by Slumberland Indistries (available here).

This is just an example, but other colors are easily done.

All in all I think the IGO-L is possibly the perfect starter RDA, and I find myself reaching for it more often than some other far more expensive RDAs.

end

Hardware Review: Kanger Protank 2

TWO

With the release of the original Protank, Kanger changed the standard for well made clearomizers. The Protank was first, but it was far from perfect. The most common points of failure with the original Protank were the separation of the seal between the base and pyrex tank, and the (unfortunately common) shearing off of the threads on the 510 connection.

With the release of the Protank 2, Kanger has proven that they can not only listen to customer feedback, but they can act on it.

Specs

Length: 68mm (~2 11/16″)
Diameter: 18.3mm (~23/32″)
Capacity: Nominally 2.5ml (it actually holds more like 3ml or so)
Battery Connection: 510 threads
What’s in the box:

Protank 2 package contents

Protank 2 package contents

  • 1x pyrex glass tank with removable chrome drip tip
  • 1x steel base
  • 2x replaceable atomizer heads (both 2.5ohm)

Pros

  • Use any 510 drip tip (see the errata section below for details).
  • Don’t have to worry about “tank cracker” juices.
  • Replaceable atomizer heads (they run between $0.99 and $2 each depending on vendor and how many you purchase).
  • Easy to clean (even easier now that you can take the tank apart).
  • Easy to fill.
  • Don’t leak (this sometimes requires minor adjustment from the user).
  • Capacity.
  • Cooler draw (bottom coil clearomizers tend to be this way).
  • Airy draw (some people don’t like that, it can be adjusted, see the errata section for details).
  • Atomizer heads can be recoiled and rewicked for even greater savings.
  • All parts of the tank are user replaceable (when they become available).

The Protank 2 corrects the two major flaws that the original Portank had; it can be disassembled and it has a “standard” 510 drip tip:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

This makes cleaning super simple.

Cons

  • Occasional leaking or gurgling when less than 50% full (this can be fixed).
  • Glass tank is prone to breakage if dropped (but can now be replaced).
  • Airy draw (which can be adjusted, see the errata section for details).
  • Not all 510 drip tips fit (this can be fixed, see the errata section below).
  • No beauty ring included in the package.

Maintenance

You’re really only going to have three common maintenance tasks with a Protank:

  • Assembling or disassembling the tank.
  • Filling or topping off the tank.
  • Cleaning it.

Assembly/Disassembly

Unlike the original Protank, the Protank 2 uses no silicon or epoxy in its construction.

Here is a diagram showing assembly instructions (this is included in the printed manual that comes in the box):

Click to enlarge

Filling

This is probably the thing you will do most often.

Filling the Protank - click to enlarge

Filling the Protank – click to enlarge

Simply invert the tank, remove the base (including the atomizer head) and fill to just below the center tube as shown in the image above. Careful not to get the juice in the center tube. That tube leads directly to the drip tip, and if you get juice in it the juice will run right out and onto whatever is under the drip tip at the time (plus if you don’t clean it out afterwards, you risk leaking or gurgling as the juice runs back into the atomizer head). You should also ensure that the atomizer head is fully seated (just give it a good clockwise twist), as it has a tendency to unscrew after the Protank has been removed from the battery a few times. This can lead to rather bad leaking directly into the battery connection if it becomes too loose.

Cleaning

The Protank 2 is fully disassembleable, and so even easier to clean than the original. I just rinse if off with hot water from the sink, drop it into a glass of Pure Grain Alcohol (PGA – unflavored Vodka works just fine), let it sit for a few minutes (I usually just kind of swirl it around in the vodka for maybe 30 seconds, but if the head is particularly gunked up I’ll leave it in there for a while), flush it out with some bottled water, and let it dry. I do this every time, or every other time I fill the tank, and get pretty good life from my atomizer heads.

Changes worth noting:

  • The center tube is smaller than the original, so you are going to have to work a little bit to get a cotton swab in there (they do go in).
  • When completely disassembled there are two silicone o-rings (they are flat on one side so they are more like gaskets), one on either side of the tank. These tend to pop out at the most inconvenient times. Like in the sink with the water running.

Those gaskets are just small enough that they can go down the drain in most sinks. Be careful. I watched one go down my drain. Luckily I was able to fish it out with a piece of coat hanger (they will catch at the bottom of the sink stopper in most modern sinks. Take a look if you lose one (but be careful, you don’t want to force it down) , you might get really lucky and be able to fish it back out without having to remove the P trap on the sink.

Errata

“Standard” 510 Drip tips

Some will fit, some won’t. Unfortunately the Captivape BDS90 (which is virtually the entire reason I bought a Protank 2) does not:

This is what Frustration looks like

This is what frustration looks like

I also had issues with a Captivape DS60. The aluminum DS60 was an easy fix (aluminum is a relatively soft metal, so I was able to reduce the diameter of the 510 drip tip connector using some jeweler’s files and emery paper. I’m not about to try that with stainless steel (it would take way longer). I will note that a couple of other drip tips I had did fit, though there was a generic delrin tip that also did not fit.

This frustration was compounded by the fact that I could feel that the problem was just at the very tip of the drip tip slot, there was a slight lip of material which made it just too small to accept all tips.

For me, this was not acceptable.

So I started thinking. The original Protank is made of brass, then chromed. The Protank 2 is the same. Brass is a very soft metal. I can fix this!

I accept no responsibility for your actions!

I accept no responsibility for your actions!

What you see there is a standard HSS 3/8″ drill bit. This picture was very difficult to take, so please excuse the focus.

I took said 3/8″ drill bit (NO drill, just the bit), laid the cutting edge against just the lip of the drip tip slot (applying just very slight but consistent pressure), and then spun the tank.

I did not remove much material. The material I removed looked like pepper flakes, it was so little (I’m pretty sure I just needed to remove the chrome). Let me reiterate, brass is VERY soft, you could easily remove too much material if you try this with too much pressure.

Click to enlarge

Once that was done, I was able to use all of my drip tips with the Protank 2.

With a drip tip attached you can’t even tell that the Protank 2 has been modified at all:

Success! Click to enlarge

Success! Click to enlarge

Gurgling/Leaking fix

The same fix for leaking/gurgling in EVOD tanks works for the Protank 2. Sometimes though you get gurgling for other reasons. Like if you spilled some juice in the center tube while cleaning, or a severe change in altitude or ambient temperature. Generally this only requires you to get the juice out of the atomizer head/center tube, and mop up any juice sitting on the battery connection. You can do this with a cotton swab. Just pop the drip tip off, and twist a cotton swab up into the center tube until it is pressed up against the atomizer chimney, and invert the atomizer. Hold it there for a few seconds, and then pull out the cotton swab and do the same with the other end.

Usually there won’t be much juice in there, and the second end of the swab will come out pretty dry. If so, you can use that end to wipe off your battery connector too. If not, use another cotton swab.

The center shaft of the Protank 2 is slightly smaller than the original, though you can still get a cotton swab in there with a little work.

Adjusting the airy draw of the Protank

I’ve already mentioned that the atomizer heads can be rebuilt, but this isn’t necessary for adjusting the draw. The Protank, Mini Protank, and Protank 2 all use the same atomizer heads, but the atomizer heads from the EVOD are also interchangable with the Protank 2 (works both ways). This is great because the EVOD atomizer heads have a tighter draw, and will tighten up the draw on the Protank (it won’t be the same as an EVOD, but somewhere in between the two).

Click to enlarge

Also if you are using the Protank 2 on an eGo type battery and have a beauty ring (one was included with the original Protank, but is not with the Protank 2), make sure you spin that up flush with the base of the Protank as shown in the image above.

Like the original the Protank 2 has air channels cut into the base (it draws air from the top of the 510 connector up through the atomizer), and if all of those are exposed the draw will be much airier than if the beauty ring is sitting flush with the base. Also sealing off one or more of these air holes or air channels will tighten the draw on the Protank. Just don’t seal off all of them, or the Protank won’t function. I would suggest sealing one at a time until you get the draw you want. I would use Teflon tape for the air holes in the 510 connection, and hot glue for one of the air channels (I wouldn’t seal off both air channels).

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Easy way to keep juice out of the center tube while filling

The center tube in the Protank 2 is slightly smaller than on the original (but you can still get a cotton swab in there). To prevent leaking (because you are going to have some liquid drain off of the atomizer into that tube if you remove the base after the tank has had liquid in it), I run a cotton swab up into the center tube before unscrewing the base.

Once the swab is butted up to the atomizer chimney, I hold it there while unscrewing the base and withdrawing the atomizer. Once the atomizer is out, just push the cotton swab all the way up to the end of the center tube, but keep the head inside. That will effectively seal off the center tube, preventing accidental spills through the center tube. When done filling, simply withdraw the cotton swab and replace the atomizer and base.

Everything that I did not like about the Protank appears to have been fixed with the release of the Protank 2. Unless a couple of dollars is just too much (or you just really like the look of the original Protank), I would recommend opting for the Protank 2 rather than the original.

end

Juice Review: Mt. Baker Vapor – Extreme Ice

umamiwheel

Here is my review criteria, let’s get to it!

Product Page

Cost for 15ml: $4.99

Vendor Description: Nothing that even remotely describes the flavor. Seriously, their descriptions suck. You have to read the reviews to figure out what half of their flavors are supposed to be. This one is generally agreed to be a Mint + Menthol flavor.

As reviewed:

  • 80%PG/20%VG
  • 24mg/ml Nicotine
  • 30ml bottle
  • Dripped through an IGO-L on a Sigelei ZMAX v3 at 6.5-8w
  • Vaped in a Kanger Protank on an eGo Twist.

Mixing Options: 15 points possible

15/15

MVB is one juice vendor that offers a serious array of options. They have a slection of mix ratios, and you can even add extra flavoring to the juice. They even have a mix your own flavor option.

Cost: 5 points possible

5/5

MBV is about the cheapest you are going to find. Coupled with their flavor variety and mixing options it’s a great deal all around.

Packaging (shipping): 5 points possible

5/5

Everything arrived correct and secure.

Packaging (bottle): 10 points possible

9/10

About the only thing I can gig MBV on with their bottles is that they only offer plastic bottles.

Throat Hit: 5 points possible

5/5

As I would expect for a 80/20 mix this juice has a serious throat hit.

Taste (Before Curing): 5 points possible

5/5

Tastes very minty and has a strong menthol component, exactly what I was looking for.

Requires Curing: 10 points possible

10/10

I could vape this right out of the mail.

Cure Time: 10 points possible

10/10

One day in a hot car toned down the menthol a little bit (which is ok), but didn’t have much of an impact on taste.

Taste (After Curing): 25 points possible

17/25

Minty, very strong menthol. This is what I used to trick my brain into thinking I was smoking when I first started vaping. It worked for me. I like this, but have since discovered that I prefer mint to menthol, and like some additional flavoring in my juice. I would buy this again, and I could vape it all day, but probably wouldn’t.

Vapor Production: 5 points possible

5/5

Vapor production is consistent and good.

Tank Cracker: 5 points possible

5/5

Not a tank cracker.

Preliminary Score:  91/100

This is a solid juice, I would recommend this to anyone who likes mint of menthol. The only way it could improve is if MBV offered glass bottles.

Bonus Points: 7 points possible

3/7

Free sample with every order I’ve made, same nicotine level as the order, and nicotine up to 36mg/ml.

Final Score:  94/100

end

Juice Review: Gremlin Juice – Blue Gremlin

umamiwheel

Here is my review criteria, let’s get to it!

Product Page

Cost for 15ml: $7.99

Vendor description: Fresh Blueberry Waffles.

As reviewed:

  • 50%PG/50%VG
  • 12mg/ml Nicotine
  • 10ml bottle
  • Dripped through an IGO-L on a Sigelei ZMAX v3 at 6.5-8w

Mixing Options: 15 points possible

13/15

Customization requires either an email or use of the “Notes” section of the order form. Rich (the owner) is very enthusiastic about custom orders.

Cost: 5 points possible

5/5

The value for the quality is amazing.

Packaging (shipping): 5 points possible

5/5

Packaging was secure and appropriate for the contents.

Packaging (bottle): 10 points possible

3/10

All bottles are black plastic (from what I understand this is changing, but slowly). Not childproof. The built in spout on the plastic bottles is terrible. Several users have reported that they have sprayed juice all over because the pour is so tight. The label is paper. The print on the labels wore to the point that they became difficult to read very quickly. No note of PG/VG mix on the bottle. No mix date on the bottle.

I would pay another $2 for a glass bottle with a tyvek label, that had all the relevant information on it.

Throat Hit: 5 points possible

5/5

As I would expect for a 50/50 mix this juice has a solid throat hit.

Taste (Before Curing): 5 points possible

5/5

Faint taste right out of the bottle, generically sweet, just a hint of chemically taste, not overpowering.

Requires Curing: 10 points possible

8/10

Pre cure taste is not outright bad, but there is something about it that I just wouldn’t want to vape.

Cure Time: 10 points possible

10/10

One day in my car in the hot sun (bottles not in direct sunlight) and the flavor profile on this juice changed radically.

Taste (After Curing): 25 points possible

25/25

Blueberry? Check. Waffles? Check. What caught me by surprise was the touch of maple syrup and just a hint of cinnamon.

This makes an amazing breakfast vape. Add a cup of coffee to the equation? Fugettaboutit.

Vapor Production: 5 points possible

5/5

Vapor production is consistent and good.

Tank Cracker: 5 points possible

5/5

Not a tank cracker.

Preliminary Score:  89/100

The bottle packaging really hit this one hard, which I feel really bad about, because I absolutely love this juice.

Bonus Points: 7 points possible

4/7

Free sample has come with every order I have made. Rich likes to keep his customers happy, if you request something specific as a sample, he will do his level best to get it to you. He has even been known to custom mix samples for people. If you want a specific nicotine content for your sample, just make sure to put it in the Notes section of the order.

Final Score:  93/100

Rich has said that he is looking at replacing the plastic bottles with glass (which I fervently hope he does), but the labels need to go too. I bought 7 bottles from Gremlin Juice in this order, all 10-15ml, and by the time I was done sampling them (maybe a mil out of each bottle was put through the dripper), I could barely read two of them. With the 4 bonus points garnered, this should easily be a 95+ point juice. Hell just getting the relevant information on the bottle would get it to 95.

end

Juice Review: The Vapor Chef – Frosty Blue Jazzberry

umamiwheel

Here is my review criteria, let’s get to it!

Product Page

Cost for 15ml: $9.99

As reviewed:

  • 50%PG/50%VG
  • 24mg/ml Nicotine
  • 6ml sample bottle
  • Dripped through an IGO-L on a Sigelei ZMAX v3 at 6.5-8w

Mixing Options: 15 points possible

11/15

The Vapor Chef has limited PG/VG customization options, though the options given should cover most people’s tastes, the “Max PG and Max VG” do not exactly tell you if you are getting 100% of either as is implied.

Cost: 5 points possible

5/5

While cost is higher than some other vendors, the quality is in line with what I would expect for it.

Packaging (shipping): 5 points possible

5/5

Packaging was secure and appropriate for the contents.

Packaging (bottle): 10 points possible

9/10

The only deduction is for lack of childproof bottles.

Throat Hit: 5 points possible

5/5

As I would expect for a 50/50 mix this juice has a solid throat hit.

Taste (Before Curing): 5 points possible

4/5

Very faint taste right out of the bottle, just a hint of chemically taste, not overpowering.

Requires Curing: 10 points possible

9/10

I’d have no problem vaping this right out of the mail, though the taste is very faint.

Cure Time: 10 points possible

10/10

One day in my car in the hot sun (bottles not in direct sunlight) and the flavor profile on this juice really filled out.

Taste (After Curing): 25 points possible

25/25

I Will order this again. I have no issues vaping this all day long.

This, amazingly enough, tastes exactly like vaping a blue Otterpop. Like if I blindfolded you, you would swear I poured a melted blue Otterpop in there.

I love it.

Vapor Production: 5 points possible

5/5

Vapor production is consistent and good.

Tank Cracker: 5 points possible

5/5

Not a tank cracker.

Preliminary Score:  93/100

Bonus Points: 7 points possible

2/7

Free sample with orders over $15, the nicotine level on every sample I have received from the Chef has been the same as what I ordered.

Final Score:  95/100

end

Hardware Review: SMOK Pipe Mod

likeasir

I sat on the fence about getting one of these for a long time. I like the idea of an ePipe, I just want a larger battery.

When these were released, the general consensus was that you had to use only flattop 18350 batteries in them, and that was kind of a hangup for me. Apparently that isn’t exactly true.

After spending a couple of hours drooling over ePipes, I decided that for ~$35 I couldn’t go wrong with this guy (I got mine here).

Specs

Length: 54mm (2.125″)
Diameter: 23mm (0.905″)
Battery type: 18350 only
Battery Connection: 510 (some units are apparently 510/eGo, mine is not)
MSRP: $49.99USD
What’s in the box:

SMOK Pipe Mod box contents - click to enlarge

SMOK Pipe Mod box contents – click to enlarge

  • (1) Pipe Mod body with tail cap

The body is chrome plated brass, so it’s nice and hefty.

Pros

  • Price.
  • ePipe.
  • Small overall size.

Cons

  • Only takes 18350 batteries.
  • No fuse.
  • No room for a fuse.
  • Small (I want an 18650 version!).

I actually really like this ePipe, which is a bad thing, because now I know I want a high end ePipe. My wallet hates this pipe. I still want an ePipe with a bigger battery. The shape of this pipe is surprisingly good.

Errata

Configuration

With an iClear 16 attached, the pipe will stand on its own, but with a Protank, it’s just gonna fall over without a stand. With something like a mini Vivi Nova or an iClear 16 the pipe is really pretty small, and not bad for low key vaping. That’s not what I had in mind though.

Pipe Mod with Protank - Click to enlarge

Pipe Mod with Protank – Click to enlarge

This is an original Protank on the Pipe Mod. If you click that picture, you can see that the Protank base is slightly larger than the battery connection on the pipe. I have no idea why SMOK didn’t make that larger, or just make it a standard 510/eGo connector so that I could have put a beauty ring on it. It doesn’t really bother me, it’s just one of those things that I notice and it screws with my OCD (I’m not really OCD, but if I were I wouldn’t be able to do this combo because of that connection). I’ve thought about filing down a Protank base so that it looks right, and I may yet do that.

This is my current configuration for the Pipe Mod:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

That’s a Kanger Protank 2 with a Captivape DS60 drip tip. I had to modify the DS60 to get it working with the Protank 2.

Eventually I was able to obtain the Captivape BDS90 that I had initially wanted:

Final configuration - click to enlarge

Final configuration – click to enlarge

I only run AW IMR batteries in my APVs (this one is no exception), so I have no trouble running the Protank with a 1.8ohm head.

It vapes really good in this configuration. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen people run these with everything from an RSST (I’m not sure how that would even work), to carto tanks, to 306 dripping atomizers, so your wallet is your limit.

 

Button top 18350s take one

In almost every single review I’ve seen, the reviewer claims this takes flat top 18350 batteries only. Not in my experience. The first thing I found was a forum post saying that you could use 18350 button top batteries if you reversed the battery in the pipe. Ostensibly the positive battery connection goes up towards the button, and the negative goes down towards the battery cap, as shown in this image:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Flipping the battery works, but in theory it is a bad idea because the body of the battery is a negative connection, and if the battery is reversed in the tube, and if the protective wrapper on the battery is damaged, you could in theory have a dead short and a small fire/explosion in your pocket/hand/face. In practice, this isn’t an issue with this device, as the battery sits inside a plastic tube, not directly against the metal body of the pipe.

Interior view - Click to enlarge

Interior view – Click to enlarge

Button top 18350s take two

If you’re just not comfortable with flipping the battery upside down (I get it, we’re not exactly using batteries designed for this to begin with), there is another option (well a couple actually, but I’m only going to discuss the ones that do not involve permanent modifications to the unit). On some of these units button top 18350s may just work, right out of the box.

The fire button is threaded and will move up and down when rotated. Mine was rotated all the way up right out of the box, but some units come with the button sitting flush with the retaining ring. On those units, if you insert a button top 18350, the pipe will just fire continuously until the battery fails.

If you have one that fires as soon as the battery cap is screwed down, remove the ring holding the fire button on the pipe, and adjust the button as shown here:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

That should do it, your button top 18350 batteries should work fine now.

I was actually surprised at how much I liked this APV. I haven’t smoked a real pipe since 1996 or so (I started hacking up black crap and figured I should probably lay off the pipes), and I didn’t realize how much I like the form factor. If you are on the fence, pick one up. They are surprisingly good.

end