How to Guide: RBA
If you are brand new to the world of Rebuildable Atomizers I’m going to let you in on a secret. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone. Okay?
Rebuildable Atomizers are a lot easier to master than you might think. When you hear the term “rebuilding an atomizer” for the first the first time you probably think it requires a lot of steps, a lot of material, a lot of skill, and the ability to perform micro-surgery. The truth is, rebuilding an atomizer requires two basic steps; take it apart, clean it, attach a new coil where the old coil was, put it back together, and vape away. Okay, that was more like 4 or 5 steps, but you know what I mean. In other words, rebuilding an atomizer is more or less replacing the coil. And testing the coils. Always test your coils. Always.
The hard part of rebuilding an atomizer is actually wrapping a coil around a new wick. That’s the gist of it, honestly. And… what material you use (wicks and coil wire) and the number of times you wrap the coil around the wick will determine the resistance. So the next time you see a complicated looking atomizer, or an atomizer that looks like it was made by NASA to help send the Rover to Mars just remember that no matter how fancy it looks, it basically just a wick with wire wrapped around it suspended between a positive and negative post, with power coming up through the battery, which in turns vaporizes the eLiquid, turning it into vapor, which is then sent streaming up through the tube and drip tip as you inhale. Not exactly quantum mechanics, is it?
So, if you’ve ever asked the question “How do I wrap a coil?” and “Where would I even start?” this column is for you. It’s really not that hard. You just need a steady hand, the proper tools, some good quality wicking material and some nice coiling wire. Oh, and you need a little confidence as well. If you read through this column now, then come back and read through again once you have your tools and materials with you, that confidence will be there. Trust me, I know. Your first coil wrap is always the hardest.
So let’s go.
Rebuildable Atomizers, while they look overwhelming, aren’t really that big a deal. Many RBA’s can look a bit confusing because they don’t look familiar, or maybe they DO look familiar but you’ve never taken one apart, either way I’m here to show you that its not exactly brain surgery here.
Most RBA’s are a simple two-piece designs consisting of nothing more than the base and cover with 2 simple connections for the coil. When you step back and look at an RBA that’s all it really needs to be. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it doesn’t need to have 15 parts and it certainly needn’t cost and arm and a leg.
The 4/5 Wrap – No, that’s not a dance move
A simple 4/5 wrap/coil is an example of a basic setup. Now, I can already hear you asking, “What’s a 4/5 wrap?” and that’s okay, let me explain. A 4/5 wrap confuses a lot of beginners but it really is as simple as it gets.
You see, when you wrap a coil there is always ½ a wrap missing on one side because you start and end the coil on the same side of the wick. Got that? Probably not, so read it again. One more time; there is always a ½ wrap missing on one side because you start and end the coil on the same side of the wick. Should we take a break? No? Good.
If you notice on the coil there are 5 wraps (coils) on the top, if you could see the bottom of that coil you would notice there are only 4 wraps (coils). It’s just that simple and it doesn’t matter if your coil has 5 wraps or 10 wraps, in order for both “leads”/”ends” to face the same direction ½ a wrap must be missing. Eureka moment!
Let me show you how to rebuild your atty in just 7 simple steps.
1. Disassemble and Clean the Atomizer
The first step as you may have guessed would be to remove the cap to your RBA and loosen the two screws holding your wick and coil assembly. You can then also take the time to wipe down the entire unit to give yourself a clean start.
2. Wrap A New Coil
Unless you have purchased pre-made coils it’s time for what some consider the most frustrating part of working with a Rebuildable Atomizer, the dreaded “wrapping a new coil”. (Scary music now!)
There are several methods to wrap a coil but I have always found it easiest to keep it simple, or the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). I just grab a length of silica and Kanthal and wrap around the wick, and I find if I wrap my coil close to the fingers holding the wick and wire I don’t have any stability issues.
Do not skimp on materials right now; give your self a nice 15-20 cm length of wick and wire to work with. It makes all the difference when you have extra material to grab on to. Remember, practice makes perfect, if you don’t get it the first time try again and keep on trying until you have great looking and great performing coils.
wrapped coil – How To wrap a coil –
3. Attach Your New Coil
Once you have your coil and wick ready (wrapped) the next step is to attach it to the positive and negative posts on your RBA. Be sure the screws on the posts are sung around the wire but not overly so. Be careful when you tighten the coil down. When tightening the positive or negative terminals the coil might get drawn closer to the posts and if you didn’t leave a bit of slack your coil might very well short out against the terminals. That would not be good.
4. Test Your Coil!
Do not ever attempt to use a newly wrapped coil without testing it first. In fact, until you have a multi-meter don’t bother to start wrapping coils. Even when using a protected PV like a ProVari, it’s always a good idea to learn the right way from the beginning. If you learn to wrap your coils and test them, every time, you won’t mistaken get over-confident down the road and throw a untested coil on something like a Bolt.
With your multi-meter in hand,(or with a protected APV like a Provari) you should test your coil. If your new coil is properly wrapped and installed you should get no errors with the device and you can then move on to checking the resistance.
If you do receive an error take a good look at your RBA and find out what went wrong. Is the coil touching or overlapping itself? Is the coil to close to the posts and shorting against them or the body? Look hard and you’ll find the problem. Fix it and test again.
Never use an RBA on an unprotected mod without thorough testing. If this coil had a short and I tried firing it on an unprotected mod there would be serious damage and almost certainly a catastrophic battery failure resulting in fire, a destroyed mod, serious bodily harm or all of the above.
Check your coil!
5.Checking the Resistance
If you chose the proper gauge of wire your resistance should be pretty close to what you wanted.If your using a VV (variable voltage) device then your margin of error can be rather large, you can simply adjust the voltage and you will be fine. If you’re using an unregulated device, the need to get as close to your desired resistance as you can becomes much more important.
Checking the resistance with a multi-meter How to wrap a coil
If you are off more than 0.6 ohm you may need to look at a different gauge of wire. If you’re only 0.3 ohm or less you can simply add or remove a coil or two to get to your desired resistance. Once you have the wire you need and you’ve made a few coils you’ll find yourself getting closer to the resistance you’re aiming for every time.
Here is a list of Kanthal gauges and their respected resistance per inch:
30 awg (Ω/in) 0.7 ohms
31 awg (Ω/in) 0.9 ohms
32 awg (Ω/in) 1.2 ohms
33 awg (Ω/in) 1.4 ohms
34 awg (Ω/in) 1.8 ohms
35 awg (Ω/in) 2.3 ohms
36 awg (Ω/in) 2.9 ohms
6. Fill with e-Liquid
If you’re not getting any shorts/errors and you’re happy with the resistance the only thing left is to fill the tank with juice. When filling your tank you might also want to apply eLiquid to the wick and coil. This lessens the time you have to wait for the wick to naturally absorb the e-Liquid and it allows you to vape straight away. If you intend to use the coil you made in a “Drip Atty” you will simply place the top back on and drip in some of your favorite juice.
7. Vape away
Now you see, that wasn’t so hard was it?
By: Matt Wagner