Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Chameleon - first impressions



Preface
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got my Chameleon from Ikenvape. After seeing a review of this device and its versatility, I knew I had finally found “the PV” of choice. The long wait for its acquisition stems from the item being out of stock.

I had sent Ikenvape a query and was advised to sign up as a subscriber. The latter would ensure I would be informed prior to the public wrt when they were back in stock. The delivery took a mere week from ordering. Pretty good considering it was an International Order. I would highly recommend that anyone looking in acquiring one of these, subscribe to their newsletter should you visit the site and find the Chameleon out of stock.

This device is amazingly small and lightweight. A mere 2 7/8” long with a diameter of just over 3/4” for 3.7V, and a mere 4 1/8” for high voltage applications. The device can be used stock with the 510, 801 and 901 atomisers, and accepts a standard 16340 or CR123 for 3.7V, a 14670 with extension sleeve for extended use at 3.7V or 2 x CR123A (protected) for high voltage applications.

The review
As usual it came in a nice box (recyclable for future use for our doodads. The box contained:
  • A long and a short sleeve with end cap (extension sleeve is an extra)
  • The switch unit
  • A top cap
  • 3 atomiser adapters (510, 801 and 901/808)
  • 3 SLB HXV 5.2 Ohm atomisers (extra)
The unit was well packaged at a cost $119 USD (with extension sleeve) shipped to Canada, considering the quality and versatility of the unit, this device is a good investment in my humble opinion. What turned me on the most with this unit outside of its versatility wrt battery configurations and multiple adapters? Was the completely “solderless” device with no electronics involved. In other words a dependable self-sustaining device, which can be serviced by the user.

First Impressions
The unit is slick and well built. The thread assemblies are nice and smooth and engage without difficulty, the parts are nearly seamless. I say nearly because it seems that the sleeves are either manufactured by a different shop or form part of a different batch, because their is some very slight differences in colour with the anodizing process. Nonetheless, if these parts were indeed manufactured in 2 different machine shops, the quality of this production process is nearly flawless.

Having previously acquired the necessary batteries, the unit was ready to go upon receipt. I inserted the 510 adapter in the end cap, installed the switch and inserted an RCR123a in the short sleeve. I went to installed a 510 atomiser to the adapter, oh, oh, it doesn't fit (read on). So not wanting to force the issue I chose a different adapter – an 801, same thing, although the 801 seemed a little “looser”. I went back to the 510 and used a different atty. This one was better, a little on the tight side but better. I could thread the atty without difficulty. Wow! So I re-installed the 801 adapter and tried that atty again. Sure enough some resistance was felt but the atty did screw on. Ah ha! The adapter threads were machined for a class 1 fit (former machinist). So I delayed the trial vaping run and inserted the 901 adapter, sure enough a little resistance at first but nice and smooth once engaged. Now that is some fine machining and something that will provide excellent wear-ability in the future. I went back to my 510 and proceeded to vape. The vapour production was great, mild with a decent throat hit. Outside of my SD MKI, this is my first true 3.7V device, I was impressed. This was off a freshly charged AW RCR123a 750 mAh protected battery. I vaped for an hour or so and was truly amazed to find the battery still at 4.01V. During this session the switch fired without missing a beat. The activation of the switch is positive and does not require any amount of acrobatics to engage it, whether it be thumb activated or with any part of the index finger.

I decided I would give the 901 atty a whirl having had mixed feelings wrt the hit and miss performance of this type of atomiser. (for me anyway). I installed the extension sleeve and inserted an AW 14670 1100 mAh battery. After a couple of priming puffs, this previously finicky atomiser performed well for the duration of the cart.

Satisfied with LV production I decided to try HV. I switched over to Tenergy RCR123a 3V 900 mAh batts. I inserted the 801 adapter and screwed on a new SLB XHV 5.2 Ohm atomiser. Hit the button, nothing. Check the batts – all is well, nothing. Switched atomisers and a little something, then nothing. Tested the batteries – all is well, nothing. Changed batts – still nothing. Inserted two AWs 3.7V and re-installed the XHV atty, it fired. Sooo, I went back to my previous atty, nothing. By this time I am going WTF. Go back to the XHV and first activation of the switch the atty fires. I re-installed my 3V batts and all is well. I tried once again the standard 801 atty and it fired this time. Now I'm really scratching my head.

In retrospect this might sound comical. Remember the “class1” fit I talked about earlier, well that was the culprit. Being a cautious man, I wasn't screwing on the atomisers fully. As soon as I felt the normal resistance, a gave them just a further nudge (what we are supposed to do). That little nudge was not sufficient to properly seat the atty. Once past the resistance, the attys seat well and engage every time. The adapter threads just needed to be loosened up a little. BTW this is not a flaw, it goes to show the preciseness of the machining process. After the initial “breaking in” of the threads, all atomisers installed performed flawlessly.

This was my first experience at 6 volts and I know finally understood what folks are raving about. Vapour production was great and the throat hit enough to gag a horse – this with a 3 second hit, vaping flue cured @ 24mg. I vaped/dripped an 80/20 24mg liquid I made (Dark Vapure) during the evening and was thoroughly impressed with the performance of my lizard at 6 volts. I discovered some beautiful nuances that were not readily apparent in this liquid at 3.7V. However, one goes through an abnormal amount of liquid at 6V. I did not over drip and suffered no leakage, when flavour dissipated, I added a couple more drops and continued vaping. Having not experienced HV vaping, I was surprised at the amount of liquid consumption.

Conclusion
I will follow up at a later date with my final observations. To date the unit has performed flawlessly. The versatility of the unit with its different battery/adapter combination, makes this a good investment in my opinion. A well though out unit that should render years of satisfaction and performance.

What makes this unit special? It is a nearly an all mechanical device. Not only is it a nearly an all mechanical device, it is user serviceable. Anyone that is slightly mechanically inclined can service their own unit, to include but not limited to switch replacement. Isaac has put together a well documented and instructional tutorial on switch replacement. The switch is the only electrical component in this device, and hence its Achilles heel. Should the switch fail, Ikenvape will service it for the less mechanically inclined folks. The design is so simple, that it is a straight forward operation.

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