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Mechanical Mod Safety

Moderators: Yves, belialNZ, nutz4bikez

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Yves

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Post Sun Sep 01, 2013 10:43 pm

Mechanical Mod Safety

I think this article I found, may answer a few questions about Mods and Batteries :)

This article is intended for new vapers who want to get hold of their first mechanical mod. The first thing we must distinguish is the difference between a mechanical mod and an electronic Personal Vaporizer (electronic PV).

A good and properly designed electronic PV has a built-in chip in the unit itself that acts as a protection circuit, it prevents things we want to avoid while using any unit and these usually includes over-discharge and short circuit.

Because of the built-in safety features, electronic PVs are inherently safer than fully mechanical mods. Some popular electronic PVs are Provari, Lavatube, eGo and iTaste.

The problem with mechanical mod, however, is that obviously it does not have a chip that can monitor things like short circuit and over-discharge. Short circuit and over-discharge, without getting too technical, basically make the battery unstable to a point that it may overheat and catch flames.

And this is the reason why we are posting this article up - so that we can show you what you can do to compensate for the mechanical mod's lack of the native circuit protection.

We have compiled a list of things to remember when dealing with mechanical mods.

Regularly check for atomizer resistance and short circuits
Do not use the battery when it is fully discharged
Avoid stacking batteries
Prevent your mechanical mod from firing accidentally
Use only protected batteries or better yet, safe chemistry batteries
Do not invert the batteries
Do not over-charge your batteries
Make sure your mechanical mods have vent holes
For some of these, it is implied that you get yourself a multi-meter of some sort. In fact, if you choose to own a mechanical mod, you should also get a decent multi-meter.

Let us go into each in detail.

1 Regularly check for atomizer resistance and short circuits
Unlike your Provari or Lavatube, a fully mechanical mod will still fire even when a short occurs on the atomizer. A short-circuit technically means zero or close to zero resistance (ohms), but most electronic PVs won't allow anything lower than 1.5ohms. This is to ensure the batteries are not stressed specially if they have lower C ratings.

If you are using a new atomizer, make sure you check your resistance first before screwing it on your mechanical mods.

If you are using a rebuildable atomizer, do not let the ohms go too low as some batteries may become very stressed with lower resistance. When starting out, build them at a standard resistance around 2.4 to 3.0 ohms just to be safe.

Short doesn't always occur in the atomizer, test the unit itself as well. To do this with a multi-meter, take out your battery, with one probe touch the positive pin of the mod and another on the body. If the meter shows any kind of resistance, it means the current is flowing and you have a short somewhere.

When testing for resistance using a multi-meter, note that the multi-meter also carries it's own resistance or lead resistance.

In cheaper multi-meters, we have seen this lead resistance go as high as 0.6ohms. Touching both probes together will usually display how much lead resistance the meter has. Subtract this from what is displayed on the meter when testing your atomizers to get the atomizer's real resistance.

So if your atomizer reads 2.0ohms, it may actually be just 1.4ohms if your lead resistance is 0.6ohms.


2 Do not use the battery when it is fully discharged
Another suspected cause of batteries being damaged or even catching fire (thermal runaway) is when it continues to discharge way past its discharge threshold. Meaning; using it way past empty.

A Li-ion battery typically holds a capacity of 4.2 volts at 100% charge. As the battery is used, this voltage drops.

Depending on quality and manufacturer, typically your batteries can be safely used until the voltage drops to 3.6 to 3.3 volts (or even lower on really superb ones).

On the safe side, when a battery reaches 3.6 volts, just assume it is empty (as it might as well be), stop using the battery and recharge it as soon as possible.

If you are unfamiliar with your batteries, use your meter to test your batteries often to determine how much usage time you typically need to get from 4.2 to 3.6 volts. This will help you estimate how much is left when you don't have your meter with you.

Just note that as the battery ages, the time to reach empty will decrease, and this is due to the internal resistance building up (We will talk about how to determine this in another article about internal resistance).


3 Avoid stacking batteries
Unless you really know what you are doing, simply do not do it.

Stacking batteries means putting one battery on top of another in series so they produce a higher voltage. It also adds much more stress to each of the batteries.


Two "stacking" batteries is not recommended

Not all batteries are designed to be stacked. Stacking will stress both batteries much more than when the same atomizer is used in a one-cell configuration.

Both your batteries must be capable of very high C ratings(which we may discuss in another article) and unfortunately, most batteries are not. If you really want to stack batteries, make sure your batteries are designed to do so.

Another problem with stacking batteries is, again, over-discharge. One battery may already be fully charged while the other half full. Sooner or latter, one will ultimately over-discharge and cause some problems.

Even on a new pair of batteries, there is a chance that in time one of these batteries "gets old quicker" which will make it empty quicker than the other. This often happens even in "manufacturer pairs".

If you have no choice, such as you have a mechanical mod that only accept stacked batteries, you can use a spacer (dummy battery) or purchase the best quality batteries that are designed to be stacked. Use atomizers with a resistance that will not stress your setup. And always check the health of your batteries regularly.

If you really need a higher voltage than what a single cell can give, consider a variable voltage electronic PV or a kick device for your mechanical mod.


4 Prevent your mechanical mod from firing accidentally
Other than over-using your unit beyond empty, another cause of over-discharge and battery stress is accidentally firing your unit for prolonged periods of time. Usually this happens accidentaly.

Electronic PVs like the provari, lavatube and eGo usually have an automatic 10-15 second cutoff to prevent this as well as manual "off" mechanisms where you can turn the units completely off.

Some mechanical mods may have lockable firing mechanisms that functions as an "off" mechanism. But not all do.

If your mechanical mod has this feature, use it whenever you store your mods in your bag or even in its case. This will prevent it from firing.

If your unit does not, then make sure to remove the atomizer and make sure nothing can short the positive terminal (the pin where your atomizer connects to). Placing your unit in a small pouch bag before placing it in your case can help prevent this.


5 Use only protected batteries or better yet, use safe chemistry batteries
In our market today, there are many kinds of batteries that can be used in a mechanical mod.

Two most popular battery types used in mods are ICR (LiCo02) and IMR(LiMn) / IMR hybrids. Both of these are lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

In terms of use, technically, any of these can be used on any device that requires a 3.7volt power source, including your mechanical mods. But not all are suitable.

In terms of safety the difference between the two (ICR and IMR) is the chemical composition in these batteries. ICR can catch fire at a faster rate than IMRs because they are simply more combustible. ICR are also generally known to stress more easily than IMR.

There are two types of ICR batteries, protected and unprotected. Never use unprotected ICR in any mechanical mod as it does not have any safety mechanism in them.

Protected ICR batteries have a basic layer of protection that prevents your batteries from shorts and over discharge problems. Protected ICR with a C rating of 2 amps or more can be used in mechanical mods.

IMRs however, has a more stabler chemistry, and won't likely to catch fire or explode as easily as an ICR can. They do not require protection, and often sold without it. These are also suitable for mechanical mods.

You may ask, what is better an IMR battery or an protected ICR battery?

The general consensus in the vaping community is that when in doubt, IMR is better for mechanical mods. The reasoning is, although IMR has no protection circuit, by nature of their chemical composition, they are safer than ICR with a protection circuit. Protected ICR batteries have a history of their protection system failing, specially with the cheaper ones. In fact, we have read more incidents of cheaper protected ICR batteries venting flames than IMRs.

An analogy to this is that a protected ICR is like a gun with the safety switch turned on, and an IMR is a gun someone filled with rubber bullets. Both guns can hurt but one is more hazardous.


6 Do not invert batteries
The outside of the battery is always negative, therefore your mod's case should also be negative.

In most mods, the negative portion of your battery is at the bottom of the mod to make the entire tube negative.

The reason for this is that if your battery wrapper gets damaged, and it touches the metal tube, your tube will be negative no matter how you positioned your battery. No short will occur.

However, if your tube is positive, and your battery wrapper gets damaged, you will have a short.


7 Do not over-charge your batteries


Whenever you have fully charged your batteries, before you place them in your mechanical mod, use your multi-meter to check the voltage.
It typically should not go beyond 4.2 volts, although many brands have a +/- .05v in their specifications allowing them to go up to 4.25volts . If it goes beyond what is specified, consider changing the battery, the charger or both. An over charged battery should be considered unstable.

To prolong battery life, charge your batteries at 4.1volts ratther than fully charging them.

Also, never try to recharge a battery that has been severly discharged. A severly discharged battery may develop an internal short.


8 Make sure your mechanical mods have vent holes
When you follow the rules already mentioned, you should be fine.

But even the most vigilant of us can and do make mistakes. Even if we follow all the rules, there are just some things we cannot avoid such as accidents.

When this happens, it is good to have a unit with some sort of safety mechanism in place.

One of the biggest problems with a battery experiencing thermal runaway (which may be caused by shorts, stress or over-discharge) is that things inside the battery expands at a rapid rate.

A mod without vent holes is a sealed container that may crack, shatter, or break causing harm to you and others simply because the pressure inside the mod has nowhere to go.

A mechanical mod with suitable vent holes can prevent this pressure from building up and it can release the rapidly expanding gases before it even builds up to dangerous levels.

Think of a mod without vent holes as a balloon, when you blow to much air, eventually it will explode.

A balloon with large enough holes however, will just release the pressure no matter how much you blow into it.


Now that we have covered the fundamentals, these may feel like a lot to take in. Eventually these will be second nature to you. So have a great day and enjoy your mechanical mod!!!
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Post Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:55 am

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

WOW ... I might have glazed over half way through this but I kept going :D..

Great info .. Thanks Yves..'M' ;)
It all began with a click at http://www.nakedvapour.co.nz
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Post Mon Sep 02, 2013 1:38 am

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

Couldn't link it because of the site, so it is a copy paste post like I said.

Yup long winded but gives all the relevant info :)
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Post Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:54 pm

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

Very good info.

Just thought I'd contribute a personal habit of my own, I like to visually inspect a battery before insertion, just to be sure the battery covering is in good condition. Dis-coloration can indicate that its been over discharged and caused more heat than intended in the past, so I can put that aside to test if its holding its charge properly still. And of course any crack/damage to the plastic coating == bin it.

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Post Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:05 pm

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

My own personnel tips,

I never use a battery directly off the charger I let it rest before use 1 hour minimum.
I also use a 2 cent fuse in all my mods. Safety first always.
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Post Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:28 am

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

Yves wrote:My own personnel tips,

I never use a battery directly off the charger I let it rest before use 1 hour minimum.
I also use a 2 cent fuse in all my mods. Safety first always.


Thanks Yves, very good advice.

We will be releasing the Kamry Vape Safety Fuse (magnetic chip that attaches to unprotected batteries) with this weeks newsletter :)

Listing is live now though :)

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Kamry Vape Safety Fuse
Rob aka NakedVapour

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belialNZ

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Post Tue Sep 03, 2013 5:31 pm

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

Rob H wrote:We will be releasing the Kamry Vape Safety Fuse (magnetic chip that attaches to unprotected batteries) with this weeks newsletter :)


Out of interest, under what conditions will that fuse 'blow' (do they blow? or just stop the mod firing till its safe again?).

I guess what I'm really asking, is would my sub ohm coils still work ?
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Post Tue Sep 03, 2013 6:49 pm

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

I don't have the same fuses as Rob is showing but this video is an explanation of what happens when you get a short. This is a Saber Touch in built safety fuse and is the same idea, so think it will work the same way. Rob can confirm.

Not sure about your sub ohms, they usually only cut in when there is a short. I have run as low as 1.0 ohms and not had a problem with my fuses. Not into lower than that, I prefer about 1.5 ohms.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pmKjA9IiHc
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Post Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:12 am

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

What we know is the Kamry Vape Safety Fuse is designed to trip/fail in the event of a hard short - how it determines this threshold they do not reveal (possibly a combination of heat and current) - manufacturers to often do not reveal the actual specs.

Belial - quite possibly with sub ohm (did a very cautious test) - by the look of the design I would say once they trip you would discard like a standard fuse.

The chip on the unit looks like it reads XX260F with the XX's crossing over each other (need to check with a loupe), the rest appears to be simply a PCB with a decent magnet soldered on to keep it in place.

Consider these as additional safety, not fail safe - like a seat belt in car for example.
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Post Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:49 pm

Re: Mechanical Mod Safety

The new kick from Evolv V2.

Posting this for those who like to sub ohm. Here are the specs. Will work down to 0.5 ohms.

THE HARD COPY:

The Kick 2 is a power regulated digital switch-mode DC-DC converter for personal vaporizers in the form of a drop in module. It features controlled power from 5 to 15 watts and runs from a single lithium battery. It works in exactly the same way as the original Kick but boasts a higher maximum power and employs synchronous rectification for superior efficiency. The Kick 2 also boasts mod resistance compensation to ensure a more accurate power delivery.

The Kick 2 performs essentially the exact same Power Regulating function as the Darwin. Kick is a smaller version of the microprocessor electronics and programming as used in the Darwin. Power Regulation is exactly what the name implies – regulates the overall power (watts) output. Watts are the overall power output in any vaping combination of volts, amps and resistance (atty/carto ohms). The Kick 2 detects the resistance of any atty/carto attached and automatically, and continuously, adjusts the volts and amps to deliver the user set watts level. Power Regulation provides the same power output (watts) even if the user changes resistance (different atty/carto). Boosted Power Regulation automatically compensates for any fluctuating variables, like battery drain curve and atty/carto resistance fluctuation (usually lowers over the life of an atty/carto) and thereby provides consistent overall power output (watts).

SPECS:

Output Power- 5 Watts to 15 Watts
Output Voltage- 2 Volts to 6.3 Volts
Output Current- 6 Amps
Atty Resistance- 0.5 Ohms to 3.3 Ohms
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