One of the staples in my collection of test-bed e-cigarettes is the MadVapes variable voltage box mod. While it won’t win any industrial design competitions the box mod is quite competent at getting the job done. My biggest wish for the device was that they added a voltage indicator to the device. My wish has finally been granted! We’ll look at the MadVapes variable voltage box mod with LED. Review awaits below!
Box Mod Design
The concept for the display box mod is pretty much exactly the same as the original vari-volt box mod. I might glaze over some of the specifics in this review because I covered them in the original MadVapes variable voltage box mod review.
This box mod, like the original, is built from an electronics project battery box originally designed to hold 3 AA batteries. The box used for this version is ever so slightly bigger than the box used in the original. The electronics are housed in the center battery slot of the box (the original has everything stuffed on the left side).
The remaining two slots hold 14500 protected or IMR batteries. The circuitry is the same as the original, which steps down the 7.4 volts coming off the batteries to whatever voltage you set. Excess voltage is released as heat.
There’s a fairly impressive amount of electronics jammed into a space designed to hold a small battery. Inside that space is the 510 connector, the voltage regulator circuit and potentiometer for adjustment. On top of that is the display and circuit board for the LED voltage display. The button hardware is also nestled inside the spot. Everything is secured with a silicone sealant.
The battery box itself has a large removable door for battery access. There is a hole cut in the door for access to the potentiometer. This allows for voltage adjustment using a screwdriver without having to remove the door. The voltage can also be adjusted by hand with the battery door removed just in case you don’t take a screwdriver with you everywhere you go.
The 510 connector is centered on the top of the box and is recessed. The front of the box features an on/off switch which is native to the original battery box. A vertically aligned cutout on the front reveals the LED display. Directly underneath is the small firing button.
Using the box mod
The display activates every time the button is pressed. The lights form a spinning pattern for a second before the voltage is calculated and displayed. The number will adjust on the fly should there be a change in voltage.
While I could position the box so that I could read the display while vaping, I didn’t do it that often. I mostly found the display useful for initially setting the voltage. Voltage holds surprisingly well once a cartomizer is attached, so I didn’t need to fiddle with the setting while in use.
The device has quite a range in voltage. You can adjust from 0 volts all the way up to 7+ volts. Although you will not get a lot of run time at the latter setting as the battery starts losing voltage. This mod only regulates the voltage, it doesn’t boost lower voltages.
The simplicity of this e-cigarette mod is perhaps one of its biggest strengths. Since there’s no fancy circuitry like that found in the ProVari or Lavatube, the box mod has more flexibility. I can run low-resistance dual coil cartos at 5 volts or higher without anything shutting down.
There is protection circuitry built into the regulator (and batteries) so it will shut off if you push it too hard. With a 3 amp switch rating, it takes a lot of overkill before that happens. A triple coil cartomizer at over 6v should do the trick nicely for that.
Perhaps the biggest downside is the smaller batteries means you’ll only get a few hours of heavy use out of it before having to swap. Since this uses a reduction circuit, there’s no way to get away with fewer than two batteries. Building a box mod like this to house large 18650 batteries would make it far too huge to be practical.
Overall, I would call the build quality decent. The connector is firmly seated and the electronics well secured.
There are some small blemishes in the cutout areas. This is because all the cutouts are done by hand. For example, the hole for the voltage adjustment is a little off-center from the dial. The cutout for the voltage readout is actually fairly rough. There’s also a large scratch emanating out from the corner of the display cutout, most likely where the tool slipped while cutting out the opening.
None of these flaws are show stoppers. In fact, they help give the MadVapes box some street cred as hand hewn devices. And let’s face it, even with the LED display, this isn’t a showpiece device. I think of these mods as the work trucks of my collection.
Really, the biggest flaw by far is the fact that MadVapes can’t keep these mods in stock. I had to wait for them to go up for sale three times before I was able to get one. If you’re interested, and you see them available, you’d better buy one quick!
Too Long; Didn’t Read
MadVapes improved its venerable workhorse, the vari-volt box mod by adding a handy LED readout feature. The electronics are now located amidships on the device making it feel a little less off centered. This box mod offers a cost-friendly alternative to fancy variable voltage e-cigarettes. If you’re looking for a workhorse that won’t break the bank, you may want to give this mod a chance. If you can find one in stock, that is.
- Relatively inexpensive
- LED readout displays current voltage
- Able to run dual coils at higher voltages
- Not flashy
- A little rough around the edges
- Not a big fan of the microswitch button
- Relatively short battery life
- Frequently out of stock
Disclosure: I feature affiliate links and banners from MadVapes