Looking Ahead To 2016

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions, and I’m certainly not about to start now. Last year, I wrote about certain goals such as quitting smoking (which I’ve accomplished) and losing weight (which I’m still working on). I bought a house in 2015, so there’s lots to do with upkeep and projects I’d like to undertake to make improvements. My career is bit weird right now – on the one hand I was just given another promotion and moved from being hourly to salaried with a raise coming sometime within the next month or so, but on the other hand the product I support is being discontinued which could mean either having to start looking or could be an opportunity to train in something different soon.

I can’t say what 2016 will hold, but if it is even half as successful as 2015 was, it’ll be a good year.

~ JC

Coils, and Wicks, and Vapor, Oh My!

It’s be almost right at a year ago that I bought my first vaping starter kit. It consisted of a EVOD battery and a knockoff of a Kangertech mini Protank that only held a few milliliters of liquid. While vape shops and sites are not legally allowed to call e-cigarettes and vapor products a “smoking cessation” device, frankly that’s exactly what they are – at least for me they have been. Over the following four months I went from a pack a day down to half a pack, to a few cigarettes a day to eventually quitting altogether.* As I found myself craving cigarettes less in favor of vaping, I also found myself upgrading my vaping gear as well. I eventually purchased a variable voltage Vision Spinner battery and switched from the plastic protank clones to glass tanks instead. I liked being able to change the voltage based on the different liquids or as the coils started to wear out a bit, but I soon found out that these types of batteries did not last long. I had two, and was soon having to charge one mid-way through the day. The variable voltage also tended to cause the liquid to break down faster and become bitter and burnt tasting – that’s no bueno. Why would I want to continue to vape if the flavor was going to change and become unpredictable? The answer was to upgrade once again to a “box mod” with variable wattage control.

Going to a variable wattage rig also allowed me to start using “sub-ohm” coils, which I admit I was previously critical of because I didn’t understand the appeal of producing that much vapor. I soon found that sub-ohm coils were not just about more vapor, but better vapor control and better flavor as well. It also meant that the liquid did not get overheated and start to break down since the lower resistance in the coils meant vapor was produced faster so I didn’t have to hold the button down for as long to get the same satisfaction. Battery life is also greatly improved; instead of a battery only lasting part of the day, I can vape all day and even part way into the next before having to switch them out. In switching to a mod and tanks that use sub-ohm coils, though, I have also discovered an interest in the hobbyist aspect of vaping, that of winding my own coils.

I was previously quite satisfied and ok with buying premade coils for my tank atomizers. When I decided to get a box mod (mainly for better battery life), though, I went with a starter kit that included a new tank as well. The Subtank Mini by Kangertech not only uses standard premade coils, but also comes with a mini Re-buildable Atomizer (RDA) for building one’s own coils. I did not attempt it right away. I spent quite a bit of time watching how to videos on YouTube, beginning with how to wick the tank I have since the mini-RBA already had a coil installed as well as a couple of spares. Once I realized how easy that was, I started watching coil building videos and refreshing my memory about Ohm’s Law. Now that I’ve attempted a couple of coils of my own and I’m pretty sold on the concept. Sure it produces more vapor, which I really wasn’t after, but in doing so I get much better flavor and find that I don’t feel the need to vape as often with the older EVOD and Vision batteries with “regular” coil tanks. Still, I need more practice with coil making. I still probably waste too much wire and cotton, but I’m getting better. I had the good sense to order a toolkit called the Coilmaster that includes everything to make coils right, including and ohm meter.

The only problem I have now is finding myself getting sucked into wanting to collect different RDAs and dripping style atomizers. I’ve always used tank atomizers because I could fill them up and they would last me the majority of the day. I’ve also tended to have more than one tank, each filled with a different flavor – if I start off vaping Caramel Cappuccino in the morning, I might want to switch to Skittles later in the day and having at least two tanks helps facilitate that. With drippers, though, all I would have to do is change the wick and give it a quick rinse. RDA drippers also seem to have more options when it comes to coils. I could do either a single or dual coil build, I could try different gauges of wire, or different styles such as twisted wire. I like the mini-RDA on my Subtank as it has been a good starter for a newbie like me, but it is only single coil and as I found out the hard way, it’s tiny size doesn’t allow for very many options when building. I’m pretty much stuck with a single coil that’s been wrapped around a 2.5mm post (I tried 3mm wrap but it ended up too large to fit).

I have no regrets switching to vaping instead of cigarettes. It’s more satisfying, it definitely smells better (my home office smells of maple these days), it’s healthier (3-4 ingredients vs 3000+ chemicals), and learning how to coil build gives me a new hobby. Now if we can just get the fools in government to stop believing the bullshit false studies that big tobacco keeps commissioning to try to discredit vaping… but that’s a whole different blog topic for a later time.

~ JC

* I am sure the fact that I bought my first starter kit right as winter was starting helped, since vaping meant I did not have to go outside in the cold like I did if I wanted to have a cigarette.

MODifying my Vape

I’ve written before about having quit smoking by switching to vaping. Since January I’ve spent just under $900 on vaping supplies, including upgraded equipment. By comparison, in 2014 for the same period I had spent over $1100. At the moment, that doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but when you take into account that the bulk of the vaping supplies has been me choosing to buy new tanks and batteries, there’s very little comparison. Over the long term, vaping is still less expensive than smoking. A bottle of e-liquid costs around $12 and typically lasts as long as carton of cigarettes, which costs closer to $50. Speaking of vaping gear, I recently upgraded once again to a box mod battery, specifically the SUBOX Mini by Kangertech. I actually went with the starter kit so I also got the SUBTANK Mini as well, which means I can now use sub-ohm coils. Previously I was using a Vision Spinner variable voltage battery with either a Kangertech GeniTank Mega or an Aspire Nautilus Mini. Those work well, and suit the purpose for the most part, but as the batteries (I have two of them) starting requiring recharging more often I realized it was perhaps time to upgrade. Going to box mod which uses a removable 18650 battery seemed the logical next step.

I’ve had the SUBOX Mini for two weeks now. While I was not previously interested so much in being able to use a sub-ohm coil (I mainly just wanted a battery that would last longer) I’ve discovered what all the hype is about. The lower resistant coils definitely delivery more cloud, but they also deliver more flavor. The difference between the SUBOX and the Vision Spinner, as far as function, is variable wattage versus variable voltage. With the SUBOX, you control the wattage and the voltage is calculated automatically based on the resistance of the coil (which also is shown on the LED display). I can use both standard and sub-ohm coils with the box, but only standards on the spinner. The spinner also gets hot and so the juice breaks down and becomes dark and the coils tend to burn out faster as well. With the spinner, a coil might last a week or two (depending on the juice being used). With the box, after two weeks, the coils in all my tanks are still fine and the juice still is just as clear as when I filled the tank for the first time.

As for flavor I can definitely tell a difference. The Blueberry Donut juice by eLic, to me, didn’t really hit its peak flavor potential until I put in the SUBTANK with a 0.5-ohm coil (too bad the only shop that sold this brand closed a couple of months ago nor can I seem to find it online). Not only that, but the Nautilus Mini tank, even though it uses a 1.8-ohm coil, performs much better on the box than it did on the spinner. On the variable voltage battery, the cotton in the coil would blacken fairly quickly and vapes would start to taste bitter and burnt within just a few days. Two weeks in, and I’m still on the same coil as when I switched it to use with the box. The GeniTank also performs better on the box than on the battery, but I tend to prefer the Nautilus over the GeniTank. But I prefer the SUBTANK over both of them. I’ll likely get one or two more SUBTANKs because I like having a three flavor rotation and I tend to switch on the fly by having more than one tank, each with a different juice.

The other advantage of the SUBTANK is potential long term savings by adding a bit of a hobby aspect to my vaping experience. I’ve always used tanks that only used prebuilt coils; the SUBTANK comes with both a prebuilt organic cotton coil (OCC) and re-buildable atomizer (RBA). The coils for the GeniTank and Nautilus both cost around $3 each. The OCCs for the SUBTANK cost around $4 each. However, the RBA gives me the ability to wind my own coils and wick them with cotton; I can get a 100′ spool of Kanthal resistance wire and bag of Japanese organic cotton for a little less that the cost of three OCCs and get several dozen coils and wicks out of that. The kit came with two coils and small pad of cotton for the RBA. I have experimented with wicking the coil already (with some success, although I didn’t use enough cotton the first time so it burnt up quickly). I’ve watched several tutorials on winding coils so I may try my hand at that soon as well, but I can also get pre-wound coils for fairly cheap starting out.

Even with all of the gear I have purchased, I have still spent less on vaping than smoking and I certainly enjoy the flavor more, not to mention no longer smelling of smoke. Sure, I’ve traded one vice for another, but the new one is much more enjoyable.

~JC

Adventures in Home Ownership 3: Kiss my Grass

Our new house came with a big yard. According to the official paperwork, we have 0.79 acres, which is about 3,823 square yards. That’s a lot of grass to mow! (Actually, in our case, it’s a lot of weeds and clover to mow, but that’s probably a topic for a future blog.) In fact, I should probably be out mowing it now instead of sitting at my computer drinking coffee and writing this blog, but it’s raining, so here I am.

Keeping the yard under control has been an adventure for sure. To begin with, when we moved in at the end of May it was already starting to get overgrown and we did not yet own a lawnmower so we hired someone to come cut for us the first time. Shortly after that, we found a riding mower on craigslist for $350 so I was able to cut it myself, the plan being to do so at least once a week (did I mention it’s raining right now or that it rained last weekend too?). The best of plans, of course, don’t always work out the way they are intended. Rainy weather (like today and last weekend) and maintenance issues with “Ducky” (my affectionate nickname for our lawnmower due to the duct tape holding part of the hood together) means our yard doesn’t always get cut like it should.

Even on good weeks when we can take care of the yard, it’s a two-person job, otherwise it would take hours to complete. My fiancée fires up the push mower (which I bought brand new at Home Depot) while I hop on “Ducky”. She gets all the spots that the rider can’t get to and I get the rest, including the massive back yard. The problem I have, from time to time, is how thick it gets when it has rained and a weekly mowing has been skipped. I’m not always able to lower the deck as much as I want because the blades get bogged down. Even on a higher setting, I still have to stop probably every second or third lap to clear clippings from the deflector.

Excessive rainy periods causing the “grass” to grow super-fast aside, there’s also the adventure of keeping a third hand craigslist riding mower running. I paid $350 for it, but I’ve put another $85 into repairs having had to have tubes put in two of tires (so far) and replace the deck belt. I also replaced the seat with a high back seat to better support my back which was around $60. Now “Ducky” is having issues starting (I think/hope it’s the starter or solenoid) and the belt is slipping off the pulleys again. I just need her to get through one or two more cuttings (hopefully) before autumn fully kicks in and I don’t have to worry about it for a few months. I just hope I can get those last couple of cuts in without having to put too much money into repairs; it’s almost time to do Christmas shopping J. If push comes to shove, I can use the push mower (which I call “Duckling”), but using a 21″ push mower versus a 42″ riding mower to do the entire 0.79 acres would kind of suck.

~ JC