What Are Mechanical Mods?
Mechanical mods are the result of enterprising vapers, who, looking to input more power into their vapes but faced with limited options on the market, chose to DIY and custom build their own devices. The result of these creative entrepreneurs lead to the mass industry adoption of these simplistic modified vapes, leading to the rapid growth of the mechanical mod industry, and increased demand for more powerful, efficient, and customisable vape mods.
Mechanical, mods are mostly tubular devices constructed from low resistance, high-grade materials like stainless steel, copper or bronze. They are primarily body negative, without any internal circuitry and none of the controllable tech you’ll find on devices like the DNA chip set mods.
The lack of internal circuitry or control has two primary implications. No circuitry means no added resistance, which in turn equals better, or stronger, battery performance due to an unobstructed current. On the flip side, this also means that mechanical mods lack the technological safety and protective functions of regulated mods, relying wholly on the user’s knowledge of their own build and battery.
Why Choose a Mechanical Mod?
One of the draws of the mechanical mod is its simplicity. When maintained well and used properly, these mods are incredibly reliable. The only circuitry is the tube, a live connection at the top end, a 510 connector, a ground switch at the bottom of the mod that completes and fires the vape when the switch is pressed.
The distinct lack of electronics in comparison to the majority of variable voltage devices is the primary draw of mechanical mods. The lack of limitations imposed by a chip or regulatory controls allows the user to set up, build and modify their vape to perform to their own precise specifications. If you want the Tyson of throat hits, cumulous clouds or gourmet flavours, with a mechanical mod you can tailor the parts and pieces of your mod to create whatever experience you prefer.
With every piece made from materials with as low a resistance yield as possible, and because the battery power is accessed so directly, each composite part of your mod, such as coil build and atomiser used, has an influence over the type of experience you have using your vape.
But with so many different pieces to fit together and so many options across the market, how do you go about choosing what to fit into your mechanical mod?
In this article, we’ll go over what you need to get started, how each composite piece works to fuel your mod, and how that should inform your choice of gear.
The Essential Components of a Mechanical Mod
Although to setup a mod you’ll need a few more items, such as wire cutters and tweezers, the initial parts of a mechanical mod you’ll need to buy are a mod, an RDA, an ohmmeter, a charger, a battery, some resistance wire, and some cotton balls. If your RDA doesn't come with one, get a drip tip as well.
What is an RDA?
Also known as a ‘dripper’, an RDA is an atomiser, or rather, a Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser. The RDA’s function is to route electricity through the resistance wire that makes up your vapes coils. The things that, surprisingly, are coiled around like springs.
RDA’s do necessitate you build your own coils, but the payoff is more than worth the small effort as, in return, you’ll get far more flavour and better vapour production. With an RDA, you’ll build, or “wrap” your own coils, and fill or wrap them with a wick, most commonly made out of cotton. As RDA’s have no tank, you’ll need to drip your e-juice directly on top of the wick as you go, allowing it to saturate the cotton without overflowing the well.
How to Choose an RDA
Now mechanical mods have flooded the industry, there’s so much choice in terms of the product that it can be overwhelming. When looking to buy an RDA, I always find it useful to compare three specific things: how adjustable the airflow is, the dual coil capability and, of course, reviews - like our guide to the Best Mechanical Mods of 2017.
Adjustable airflow simply means the ability you have to choose how much air travels through the RDA, pulling through the coils and then into your lungs. The higher the airflow, the more vapour produced and vice versa. It’s important to note that if you’re going to be vaping at a lower resistance, you’ll need a greater airflow, so it’s optimal to get hold of an RDA where you can mess around with the airflow.
If your RDA has dual coil capability, it does what it says on the tin, meaning it has the capability to run two coils at once. Running two coils parallel to each other cuts the resistance in half, producing more vapour with less effort. Even if you prefer riding solo and never run two coils together, it’ll still run a single coil just fine, with the opportunity to expand a little in the future.
Finally, and probably obviously, take into consideration the reviews of your peers. Many youtubers and bloggers offer in-depth reviews of vapes and all their components. Even we’ve written a few best of’s and vape mod reviews.
Our choice: Maelstrom RDA by Purge Mods
How to Choose a Battery
The battery is the pressure point of the mechanical mod, which is why extra care should be taken when choosing one. Alongside a charger, you should never skimp out on buying a battery, financially or with care.
The primary factor when deciding on a battery should be the amp limit, and you should be careful when you’re building the rest of your mod around your RDA or battery exactly how they interlink with each other. The lower the resistance in your coils, the more amps you’re going to pull from your battery, and with mechanical mods it’s a good idea to settle for no less than a minimum of a twenty-amp limit. Cheap batteries or a batteries with a minimal amp limits are prone to venting, or at the very worse, exploding.
Another thing to consider is the difference between non-protected, or IMR, (Lithium Manganese) batteries and protected (Lithium Ion) batteries. Protected batteries, as their name suggests, have circuitry within them with catches to automatically shut off when there is a danger of any kind of fault or failure. However, if the circuitry fails, protected batteries tend to violently vent. Non-protected batteries don’t have these safeguards in place, but when they vent, they don’t tend to do anything more than overheat. Whichever you go for, is entirely up to you.
Lastly, look out for your batteries mAh (Milliamp Hours). With mAh, the bigger the number, the longer the battery lasts. And, please make sure that the battery you’ve chosen fits in your mod before you buy it. Most mods, fit an 18650 battery.
How to Choose Your Cotton, Wire, and Ohm Meter
The cotton performs the important function of being your wick, where all the flavour comes from, so get the good stuff and don’t be afraid to invest in a little as a bag of cotton will last you a while.
When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to worry too much about your wire. Just pick up a spool of 28 gauge annealed Kanthal and worry about the different variations when you’ve got your build down solidly. Some people prefer nichrome, some like to build with ribbon wire, and some like to buy lower or higher gauge wire to affect the resistance of the coil.
Similarly, you don’t need to worry about being too fussy about choosing an Ohm meter. The important thing here is that you have one, rather than what specific model you have. When it comes to mechanical mods, knowledge is your best friend, and an Ohm metre gives you a reliable method of testing the resistance of your coils so you don’t overstress your batteries.
The Science Behind the Ohm
The primary draw of the mechanical mod is that you can control the power of the battery, and your vape. And Ohm’s law is the way you do it.
Using Ohm’s law, you can use the resistance of your coil/s - read from your Ohm metre - and the voltage of your battery to calculate the amps that will be drawn from your battery. It doesn’t take long to work out ohm a piece of paper, and even less to type it into an ohms law calculator, which you can easily find online or download as an app on your phone. If you divide your battery voltage by the resistance of your coils, you’ll get your amps.
Your amps should be, at the least, slightly below the amp limit of your battery otherwise you risk ruining your battery and placing yourself in danger. Although with a good battery, the risk of this is minimal unless you’ve supercharged your coils.
How to Choose an E-Liquid
When you’re using a mech mod and an RDA, the flavour of your e-liquid is going to be more pronounced, and the vapour is going to be denser and hotter. So everything is amplified, especially when it comes to the nicotine content. 8 mg/ml is usually a good limit with mechanical mod and RDA combinations, unless the goal of your vaping is to bring on intense coughing fits, in which case, go for it. A basic tank set up will hit doubly as hard on a mech/RDA mod, so keep that in mind when you’re switching over.
Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of juice you’ll need, as you’ll tend to go through far more on a mech/RDA mod than your standard setup.