Mechanical Mods or “Mech Mods” are one of the oldest and most simple ways to vape. However, they come with a few caveats for becoming a proficient user…
Explaining Mechanical Mods: The Basics
Lots of products fall in and out of favor with vapers. We have seen the wattage wars, sleek pod-style vapes, and all kinds of atomizers. But one category that has been going strong for years is Mechanical Mods or “Mech” mods.
Mechanical Mods have been around almost as long as vaping. Many enthusiasts swear by them, and for good reasons. Using a mech mod can be very daunting at first and there is a ton of things to learn before you use one. There are also many types and they come in all shapes and sizes. Prices and quality vary depending on the mod, though these ones would be a great place to start.
By the end of this post, you’ll understand how mech mods work and why so many vapers love them. Let’s get started…
Before we even start talking about mechanical mods, I feel a safety disclaimer is in order. With mechanical mods, there are rarely any safety features. This sounds scary, but if you do your research and keep safety first, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. First and foremost, it is important to know how to use Ohm’s law.
I always build on a regulated device or an ohm reader. This is a great way to ensure your build is safe. A regulated device will ensure your ohm load is in the safest range, and there are no hard shorts in your atomizer.
Also important is the type of batteries to use. You only want to use a high amperage battery, and you need to buy from a trusted source and company. Years ago, this was a headache due to many fake batteries going around. But luckily, our community has a real MVP in Battery Mooch.
Mooch independently tests batteries specifically for vaping. He is an engineer and has done a lot of legwork for all of us. If the battery is not on his list, don’t use it! Many batteries have exaggerated ratings, especially when it comes to amperage. So do yourself a favor and do some research before you try any battery in a mech.
Check your battery wraps, every time you use them. This goes for any vape device, but mech mods in particular. If you see a tear or any fraying; re-wrap your battery! Most online retailers sell battery wraps, as well as vape shops. You can even get some really cool looking ones with graphics printed on them. ODB UK is known for its high-quality designs and wraps.
It’s also a good rule of thumb to not use a sub-ohm tank with a mechanical mod. You want a fixed, protruding 510 pin on the bottom of your atomizer. Subohm tanks use a floating style pin, and this can cause a short in your mech mod.
If you are ever unsure of a build, there are many resources out there that will do the math for you. The best is Steam Engine. All of the guesswork is taken out. This website/app is open source and is absolutely free to use. Just input your values and start your build!
Clones and Safety
I know clones are cheaper. But that could easily come at the cost of your safety. The reason a Kennedy Mod costs so much is the superior crafting and quality parts. They are handmade and tested using calibrated machinery. Saving some cash is not worth the risk of your safety.
For me personally, it is also an ethics issue. I feel that it is wrong to basically steal someone’s idea and design, that they probably spent a ton of time on. But safety comes first!
Whew! I know that seems like a lot. But safety is absolutely key. You wouldn’t buy a flamethrower from Wish and you wouldn’t drive your car blindfolded, would you? These simple steps can save you a ton of worry. In all of my years of vaping, I have never had an accident. Now, with this disclaimer out of the way…
Mech mods came from necessity. When Mech mods started gaining popularity, most vape experiences were limited to cartomizers and MTL rebuildable tanks. These were usually powered by a small mod that was either Variable Voltage (like an EGO pen, Wapari). When drippers started taking off, they needed a companion, and mech mods stepped in.
The first “tube style” mechs were modified flashlights! Made from high powered 18650 flashlights, these were usually modified in a way where there was a copper switch added to the bottom, and a drilled out section on top to fit your atomizer. Have you ever wondered where the word “Mod” came from? Its because the first cloud chasing vapes were “modified” from other items! This lead to many people becoming “Modders” and popularity took off.
Mech mods really took off in popularity when cloud competitions became a staple at vape events and expos. A mechanical mod fires instantly. With the right build, it can be a real cloud machine.
Other than tubes, “Hammond” boxes were used as well. These boxes are intended for use in making guitar pedals, and electricity boxes for your home. But necessity was the mother of invention. So what makes a mech?
Anatomy, Types, and Styles
- Hybrid tube
- Box style
- Series battery/stacked
Hybrid Tube style mechs are usually the most popular these days, and that is also what we started with. A hybrid tube consists of just a few parts. The tube itself, a switch, and the top threading. Tubes come in all shapes and sizes depending on your atomizer. The most popular sizes range from 22mm to 30mm. Switches can have nearly unlimited configurations.
But they all have a similar design.
The contacts are usually copper or silver plated and the contact is usually held in place with magnets or springs. The switch contact makes a connection directly with your battery. The battery is connected to your atomizer’s 510 connection. When the switch is hit, it completes the circuit and fires the mod.
The biggest appeal is the simplicity of these mods. Not to mention longevity. A well-made mech mod will last virtually forever if you keep it clean and maintained because there are no wires or electronics involved.
Box style mechanical mods have lost popularity, but many companies still specialize in making them. They can be made from wood, Ultem, Delrin, and even metal.
The appeal of a box-style mech is the battery options. Box style mechs can have a single battery, dual, or even quad battery designs.
With these different designs, comes different battery configurations. The main two are series and parallel Everyone has a preference between series and parallel battery configurations. But what does this mean?
Series and Parallel Battery Configurations
This where we get technical. Let’s look at battery voltages, ohm loads, and how different configurations affect your vape. Let’s look at the most popular mech battery, the Sony VTC5a:
- Example: For each battery
- Average Voltage: 3.7 Volts
- Fully charged: 4.2 Volts
- Battery Capacity: 2600 mah
- Continuous discharge rating: 25 Amps
When in series, the batteries are connected positive to negative. This causes the voltage (battery life) to double. Your amperage stays the same, at 25 amps. The nominal ohm load for this configuration is 0.18 to 0.3 ohms.
In parallel, this information changes. Your voltage (battery life) remains the same. But your amperage doubles. This means at full charge your amperage is doubled to 40 amps. This is a lot of power! Your nominal ohm load for this configuration is 0.45 to 1.0 ohms.
So what does this mean to you? Well, it depends on how you build and your style of vaping. Whether you like large builds that have higher ohms, or if you like lower ohms and smaller coils, there is an option for both.
Unregulated mods are in a league of their own. While your standard mech doesn’t have any safety features in place, unregulated mods usually do. Just like a mech, you hit a button and the mod will immediately fire. The difference is there is circuitry built-in.
Usually, there is a fuse or a capacitor connected to the battery and this makes for safety in the case of a hard short or battery overload. Some are built with a potentiometer to control the power. The most popular of these is probably the Hexohm. Unregulated mods are a great way to “test” the idea of a mech mod. However, it is still important to follow normal safety guidelines.
Who are Mechanical Mods For?
For anyone searching for simplicity! For me, that’s the biggest appeal. No screens or electronics. No temperature control. Just hit the button and vape!
I can certainly understand the people that are cautious when it comes to mechs. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused, but once you understand how everything works, and you develop a routine of safety checks, mechs can be really fun.
People like myself collect them. That can be fun as well because many companies release limited runs of designs and colors. Some of them are pricey, but many are very reasonable when it comes to cost.
Trends come and go, but mech mods have been a staple of the community for a long time. If you’ve never tried one, I urge you to give one a shot and expand your vaping horizons!