The term mechanical mod is sometimes confusing. After all, the purpose of these devices is to deliver electricity to a heating element. Electricity isn’t really a mechanical process in my mind.
Mechanical refers to the inner workings of the device itself. Basically, all this means is there are no electronic components in the device. The switches are mechanical in their action use some sort of metal contact to complete the circuit providing power to the heating coil.
Mechanical mods generally don’t have voltage regulators or lights. Voltage output from mechanical mods will be directly related to the actual output of the battery(ies). This means that there is generally a sloping curve of power output from the mod as the battery drains.
Non-mechanical mods do not necessarily have voltage regulators either and may not qualify as mechanical due to other electronic components such as switches or displays. There are a number of different kinds of voltage regulators as well. Some simply keep the output at a constant level such as 5 volts, while others allow the user to select their voltages.
Mechanical devices have enjoyed a renaissance as of late. For quite some time the devices lost some of their cache to more advanced variable voltage (and later wattage) advanced personal vaporizers. The APVs simply performed better with stock cartomizers and tanks.
However, many advanced users have embraced mechanical mods paired with rebuildable atomizers built with very low resistance heating coils. This combination is not recommended for new users as safe operation of these configurations require some in-depth knowledge of battery safety and electrical engineering principles.
An entire sub genre of beautifully designed and crafted mechanical mods has popped up fairly recently. There are many handcrafted devices on the market as well as a fair share of clone devices mass produced in Asia. VaporAlley, for example has an excellent selection of beautiful devices crafted in the Philippines (you can see them here).
For the most part, mechanical devices exist in the tube form factor since that is the easiest way to get a direct battery connection to the atomizer connector. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule.
Advanced Personal Vaporizers
APVs have also come a long way since the original writing of this article. At the time, most APVs were limited to variable voltage only and generally came in two styles, large tube-style devices and box mods. Generally the boxes were of the plastic battery box variety. The devices have become more sophisticated since then, although I used to have a very advanced device that was built into an Altoids mint tin.
What makes an APV advanced is the electronics. On a basic level APVs control the power output through electronics. Things get more complicated from there. While some devices hold the voltage at a certain level, others have a few more bells and whistles.
Some of the more advanced devices allow the user to choose whatever voltage or wattage setting they want. Variable voltage sets the power output to a specified level no matter what is attached to it. Variable wattage devices automatically adjust the voltage output based on the resistance of the clearomizer put on the device. Other features might include resistance checking, battery level displays and screens.
Devices like the Joye eVic even include a USB port for updating the devices internal programming to add new features via software. On the other end of the spectrum, there are simple eGo devices that allow the user to select from a handful of voltage settings by clicking the fire button a certain number of times.
APVs also vary based on the amount of power they can output, generally expressed in terms of amperage. Lower end devices may be limited to 2 amps. More advanced (and expensive) devices can have limits upwards of 5 amps. This dictates how much power can be applied to the tank attached to the device. Of course, for most people a 2 amp limit is fine, few people need to go much past 10 watts to begin with.
You can find APVs in a variety of form factors. Tubes tend to be the most common, but there are a couple of nice box style devices like Innokin’s MVP and VTR devices.
Ok, That’s It!
We have reached the end of our little journey. I hope I’ve shed some light on the subject. If you take anything away from reading this it should be that there’s a world of choice out there beyond the traditional style e-cigarettes. The same rules apply here as they do for everything else I talk about, there’s no one better than another, it’s all about what you like.
As I mentioned before, this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. I’m sure I’ll hear from some of you in the comments about something I missed. Feel free to add to this stuff in the comments.
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