You’ve watched the YouTube videos, seen the clouds, and heard people raving about the flavour you can only get with a “mech mod” and a “dripper.” It all sounds great, but it’s so complicated, right? Wrong. I’m going to tell you everything you need to know, from what a mech mod is, how to choose a setup, how a mech mod works and how to use it.
Ready to get started?
Here we go.
What is a mech mod?
A mech mod is basically just a metal tube with a switch. All it does is connect your battery to your atomiser when you hit the switch. That’s it. The difference between a mech mod and a VV (variable voltage) device, like an iTaste, or an Ego Twist, is that it has no circuitry or electronics. The advantage to this is that you can set-up your vape to perform just how you like it with no limitations imposed by a chip. If you want a walloping throat-hit, great plumes of vapour, and top-notch flavour, you can make it happen without the limitations of a VV device.
What is an RDA?
An RDA is an atomiser. Specifically, a Rebuildable Dripping Atomiser, also known as a “dripper.” The function of an RDA is to route electricity from your battery through one or more “coils” of resistance wire, that most commonly look like little springs. Fans of RDAs, like myself, will tell you that they deliver the best flavour and vapour production you’ll get out of your vape, providing you build your coils right. With an RDA, you’ll build, or “wrap” your own coils, and fill or wrap them with a wick, most commonly made from cotton. An RDA will have no tank, meaning that you’ll need to drip your e-juice on top of the wick as you go.
What do I need to get started?
To get started, you’ll need a mod, an RDA, an ohm meter, a charger with voltage display, a battery, some resistance wire, some cotton balls, some tiny wire cutters and a pair of tweezers. If your RDA doesn't come with one, get a drip tip as well. Oh, and of course you’ll need some e-juice / e-liquid. Don’t go buying anything just yet, I'm going to walk you through this. Choosing a mod.
When choosing a mod, look for three things: a locking mechanism, vent holes, and good reviews. A good mod should have some kind of lock in place to make sure that it doesn't fire up when you don’t want it to. For example, I have a Nemesis clone, which has a ring above the fire button that screws down making it impossible to press the button accidentally. This is important because those coils get HOT. Leave them running for a long enough time, and they’ll start fires, burn out and kill your battery, and cause all kinds of havoc. That’s one lesson you don’t want to find out the hard way. Vent holes are important because if a battery goes bad, or vents, it releases hot gas. If the gas has nowhere to go, bad things happen. It’s as simple as that. Finally, make sure that your mod gets good, genuine reviews. Watch some videos, read the comments. A mech mod will last for years, and they aren't exactly cheap, so make sure that you’re buying one that you’ll be happy to have around for some time. Besides that, it’s all aesthetics. There are all kinds of beautiful mods available, so have a good look around.
Choosing an RDA.
What’s a clone? Should I get one?
A clone is a cheaper re-make of a mod or RDA. You generally get what you pay for; some clones are great, and some are terrible. The key to buying a clone is to read plenty of reviews. Find out what people think of the build quality and performance. Ethically, many people take issue with buying clones in the first place, as they essentially rip off the hard work of someone else, usually an artisanal mod / RDA maker who is trying to make a living. I tend to agree, but I also can’t afford to spend $100 — $250 on a mod plus $50 — £150 on an RDA. If I could, I would; for now, I opt for the clones, which sell for a fraction of the price. You should do whatever suits you.
Choosing a battery.
The battery, along with the charger, is one of two things you should never cheap out on in the world of mech-mods. The most important factor when choosing a battery is the amp limit. Get a battery with no less than a twenty-amp limit. The lower the resistance in your coils, the more amps you’re going to draw from your battery. Over-stressing a cheap battery can cause venting, which brings me to another issue: protected batteries vs non-protected (IMR) batteries. Protected batteries (Lithium Ion) have a bit of circuitry in them that is designed to shut them off if anything goes wrong. The problem here is that if something does go wrong, and the circuitry fails, protected batteries vent violently, with flames and / or explosions. Non-protected batteries (IMR / Lithium Manganese) don’t have this safeguard, but when they vent, they do little more than get awfully hot. As a result, I go with the IMR batteries, but that’s just a personal choice. Besides that, the other thing to consider in a battery is mAh (Milliamp Hours). With mAh, the bigger the number, the longer the battery lasts. Make sure that your battery will fit into your mod before buying it. For most mods, an 18650 battery will do.
Choosing a charger:
When choosing a charger, make sure that it’s designed to work with the type of battery that you've bought. Also be sure that it has an LED display showing you the voltage of the battery to avoid over-charging. A good charger will be able to accommodate multiple battery sizes, have an LED display with voltage readout, and have overcharge protection. When you buy the battery, the site should tell you what the maximum / minimum voltage should be for the battery. Follow this religiously to avoid damage to the battery, reduced battery life, and venting. I use an LUC by Efest, and it seems to do the trick.
Choosing cotton, wire, and an ohm meter.
The cotton is going to function as your wick, so try and buy good stuff. Most vapers prefer organic, unbleached cotton. A bag of cotton balls is super affordable, and it’ll last forever, so don’t cheap out. When you’re first starting out, you don’t need to worry about your wire. Just pick up a spool of 28-gauge annealed Kanthal. If you want to get fancy with your wire later, that’s cool too. 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. I can’t be bothered personally, and I have great success with plain old 28-gauge Kanthal. Choosing an ohm meter doesn’t have to be difficult either, I’ve got a plain old Sigelei ohm meter that works well. I did have to file the threaded section down ever so slightly to ensure that my RDA made a connection, but it wasn’t a big deal. While it’s not so important which ohm meter you choose, it’s very important that you do have one. To know if you’re going to be over-stressing your battery, you need a reliable way to test the resistance of your coils. An ohm meter is the easiest way to do this.
Be safe, blow clouds, have fun!