by Shane Eubank October 24, 2019
For all of the changes and improvements in vape hardware over the years, there remains a constant that hasn’t changed much and has withstood the passage of time and that’s mechanical mods. There have been a few changes, a few things that differentiate different mods from each other, but largely they’ve remained a stable technology with an ever-growing dedicated user base.
So what is a mechanical mod? A mechanical mod is any mod that operates without any chips or wires. It can be a box or a tube mod, a single or multiple battery unit. It works by the mod itself becoming part of the circuit.
A hybrid mechanical mod is one where the battery comes in direct contact with the positive on the 510 connection of an atomizer. There are hybrid mods that are a fixed unit, that is the “cap” is non detachable, such as the Chronicle from RNV Designs and the Notion MTL from Timesvape. And there are hybrid mods with detachable caps, that screw off. Among these, there are the caps (or plates more appropriately) that screw off from within the tube. An example of this would be the B&W Reversion from RNV Designs. Still others have a complete cap that adds height to the mod when afixed, such as the Vert from Unicorn Vapes Inc.
Many caps/plates have venting and some feature a specialized venting, such as the Vert. If you look closely at the cap you can see that the slotted vents extend out to the sides. This means that if a battery vents, the gasses travel up, hitting the base of the atomizer and then continue sideways, escaping through the slots. Remember that if a battery vents, it will almost always do so at the positive end. This is why you should always insert your batteries in a mech tube with the positive end near the venting holes. On some devices vent holes are not obvious and the mod is designed such that the expanding gasses can escape through the switch.
Some caps also feature additional safety features, such as the delrin lining inside the Fujin hybrid cap or the recessed divot in the Dreamer (and many other mechs) that prevents the outside of the battery from coming into contact with the 510 pin.
There are two categories of switches that most mech mods fall into: switches that are spring loaded, such as on the MK1, and switches that operate with magnets such as Purge mods and many others. The purpose of the springs or magnets is to force the switch ‘open’ meaning that no current will flow from the battery until you press the switch, causing two pieces of metal to touch, thus completing the circuit. Some designs include the spring as part of the circuit while others don’t. The MK1 has current through the spring so I commissioned some super conductive solid silver springs specifically for these mods to include with every order.
The Broadside Brizo features an innovative switch using neither of these methods. The principle is the same but it has two rounded ‘wings’ held together with a stretchy band. When a plunger (side fire button) is pushed between them they are forced outward contacting the outer edge of the switch, completing the circuit at two points simultaneously.
One advance in the mech mod section was the advent of stacked, or series, mods. When two batteries are connected in series fashion, the voltage in the circuit doubles. This puts a lot of power to your coils in a big hurry, so please choose the appropriate coils. I usually run my stack/series setups with builds around 0.4 ohms. I don’t recommend people go below that. A great example of a stacked tube mod is the Ripper from DWM.
And of course mechanical mods come in a variety of materials. From most to least conductive these are: copper, aluminum, brass, stainless steel. While conductivity is important, you have to weigh this against other qualities. For example, copper is the most conductive of the materials but also the softest so it is more prone to surface damage (scratches, dents, etc), patinas fairly quickly, and can leave a residue on your hands. But it is an absolutely beautiful material and produces a very conductive, attractive mod. How hard a mod hits is mostly defined by the quality of the mod and the type of coils. Material is generally a thing of personal preference.
There are myths about the safety of mechanical mods but the truth is that when used properly they are as safe as just about anything else that takes a battery. Mechs are certainly only recommended for experienced vapers but the fear around their safety is just unfounded. Of course the batteries you use should be good quality and have wraps without any damage. Probably the most important thing when using a hybrid mech is the atomizer you attach to it. Atties need to have a long enough 510 connection and must have an insulated protruding positive connection. Atomizers with a floating (spring loaded) 510 connections are definitely not to be used. These can allow the positive and negative sides of your circuit to hit the battery at the same time and place causing a short. This type of 510 is often found on sub-ohm tanks that take factory coils. Another thing to be aware of is that the coil build you have installed matches the safe amp limit of your batteries. The most important thing to keep in mind about mech mod safety is that it’s really all about battery safety.
Fans of mech mods love them for all kinds of reasons. Many are among the most beautiful vape devices ever created and are true works of art. They are quite simple devices and very easy to use. Their simplicity also contributes to their longevity. I have mech mods that I’ve been using for several years and they still perform like brand new. If you’re thinking of trying a mech mod, you may find that these types of devices are an experience unlike that of any other mod. Do some research and build up your knowledge. Part of the fun of hobby vaping can be all the cool stuff you learn. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions, we all started somewhere. As always, feel free to ask me anything, I’m always happy to help out. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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