Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Chameleon - follow up

I received my Chameleon from IkenVape in early May. Having used this device extensively for nearly two months, in all it's configurations, I can now safely report my conclusions.

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.

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 unit is slick and well built. The thread assemblies are nice and smooth and engage without difficulty, the parts are nearly seamless.

Remember the “class1” fit I talked about during my "first impressions" review. After the initial “breaking in” of the threads, all atomisers installed and performed flawlessly.

Operation - maintenance
The unit has performed near flawlessly* since acquisition. It is comfortable both as a 3.7V and 6/7V device using the myriad of adapters and battery combos. A nice feature wrt the way the atty adapters are constructed and fitted, is the way they can be accurately positioned when using flat tip carts. Unlike other devices which do not have a bottom button, the Chameleon does not require any contortions to fire the button, as the adapters can be positioned to suit your vaping style.

To this day their is no mark on the body. It is not a finger magnet, and I did perform a "key" scratch test on the body without leaving a mark. The button although easily fired, will not fire in your pocket.

The unit requires weekly maintenance for the adapters. This maintenance can be extended dependant on use, or until performance starts to drop. As brass tarnishes, it doesn't conduct as well. A quick trip in jewellery cleaner (30 seconds) once a week and all is well. I clean all threads with alcohol and re-lube with die-electric grease, or Noalox.

*Near flawless

During my weekly cleaning routine, I had cleaned all the threaded portions and the 801 adapter. Re-assembled the unit (for 6V) and went to bed. The unit worked fine (6V), prior to maintenance. The following morning, nada. Did a battery swap - nada??? Installed the AWs for 7V, and got a couple of weak hits, but - nada. Checked the atty, all is fine. Installed a couple of 16340s, a couple hits - nada. WTF over. I thought I had a problematic switch. Tried the device at 3.7V using a 16340, bingo. Fired like a champ every time. Went back to 6V - nada. Tried 14670 batt, fired for a couple of times then - nada. Re-assembled as a 3.7V device all is well, regardless of battery combo with the short sleeve. I used it for the day, no problem. It hit every time.

The small sleeve hadn't been cleaned as I was using the unit as a 6V device, huuum. Applied die-electric grease to the extension sleeve threads, and bingo, it fired flawlessly. After a couple of days, it started to hit erratically again. I proceeded to clean it, and alll worked well once again. Again, after a couple of hours the unit would misfire, went back to 3.7V and all is well, finished the day in that mode. The following day, went back to the extension sleeve on fresh batts - nada. So we have a conductivity problem as even the 14670 would not fire the atty, and appeared to giggle a little more than usual.

I took out a set of verniers and decided I was going to shorten the extension sleeve, as the short sleeve performed flawlessly, but it was hit and miss with the extension sleeve. A point to note: Although the unit came with an o-ring, my application does not necessitate it's use. Having confirmed that there would be sufficient material available, I sanded off about 0.010" off both ends using figure 8s on extra fine emery cloth.

For folks that do not have a machinist background, it is quite common to have blueprints depict longitudinal tolerances (length) as +/- 0.010-15". Knowing this, that is the reason why I reduced the length of the tube. During an exchange with Isaac at IkenVape, the o-ring was supplied to compensate for different battery lengths and is only required by some. That is when the longitudinal tolerance light came on. The thickness of the cardboard for a Canadian pack of smokes is 0.013" so that gives you an idea of how small the tolerances are. I cleaned the threads, re-applied die electric grease and the unit has not missed a beat since. This unit has been used extensively and the switch fires as the day I received it.

The unit performs flawlessly (after length adjustment). My battery configuration renders a solid day in any configuration 6-8 hrs, including 6V and sees a solid 6 at 7V. I did use the 14670 once for a day and got a solid 9hrs before I decided to place it on the charger.

To date the unit has performed to near perfection. 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.

I endorse previous recommendations with regards to this unit. The Chameleon is a solid 8.5 in my opinion:
  • Slight inconsistencies/differences in the oxidising process of the different parts - minus 0.5;
  • Electrical switch - minus 0.5; and
  • Requirement to adjust length - minus 0.5
These may appear to some as negatives, but pale in comparison to some of the more serious reported flaws out there wrt devices straight out of the box.


The length adjustment where I had to deduct points because I had to shorten it, is/was not a flaw as I am pretty sure the tube fell within design specifications and tolerances.

Customer service and support from IkenVape has been second to none. He treats his customers like members of his own family, something we see far too little of these days. The only improvement I would suggest for this unit is an all mechanical switch, then it would not only be versatile, it would be bullet proof.

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