Archive for the ‘Vaping’ Category

Zen and the Art of IID Maintenance

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Just the other day I had an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) removed from my car.

Now drunk driving *IS* a big problem.  More people do it with or without thinking than you could even imagine.  If there was a breathalyzer checkpoint at the door of any bar in the tri-state area, I’d imagine that bar would look like one hopping place because while many enter, very few would actually be able to leave when they wanted to.

In New York State, should you be the lucky recipient of a DWI, you will be subject to fines (around $900), a state government surcharge ($750), lawyers fees (at last estimate around… $3000), impound fees ($300+), suspension and/or restriction of your driving privileges, being hurled back into the assigned-risk insurance pool (75% surcharge on your standard automotive policy for 39 months), and of course – the pièce de résistance, an IID ($120 install, $120 monthly monitoring, $80 removal, and $60 per reset due to a fail).

Now the theory behind the IID is that when installed in the vehicle of a DWI offender, it will prevent the car from being started if the driver blows over .020% BAC.  The devices have many countermeasures to prevent tampering such as built-in infra-red cameras to identify who is taking the test, rolling retests (every 15-30 minutes), as well a spiffy data log which keeps track of whether power to the device has been interrupted in any way.  Blow anything but a fresh lungful of bad breath, a violation is logged, reported to your case-worker instantly, and you may or may not find yourself back in court.  Following that theory, it works.  In reality…

From day 1 you will be told that these devices never malfunction.  That is an absolute lie.

Like any other modern electronic device, an IID can and will malfunction.  From false positives due to alcohol based mouthwash like Listerine or Scope, or energy drinks like Red Bull, to failed readings which trigger an ‘Abort’ or ‘Wait’ alert, to failing due to internal corrosion, hardware defect, etc… they are fully capable of keeping both inebriated and stone sober drivers from getting behind the wheel of their cars.

If you ask what to avoid besides alcohol, you won’t be told anything – everyone involved knows what can trigger these things to fail – but to admit that drinking a Red Bull or eating the wrong type of bread would cause a fail would be admitting that the IID can malfunction.  If the manufacturer, the government, or even the well-intentioned groups like MADD who champion the cause of these devices were to ever acknowledge that the IID is not 100% effective – it would quickly open up the laws that require their use to attack.  With no laws to require an IID, the revenue stream into the Government as well as the manufacturers which rely on raking in BAC violations would be drastically cut if not eliminated… and therein lies the rub.

I’ve had the IID replaced a total of 4 times across 2 vehicles.  Remember – these DO NOT malfunction…but why have them replaced if they’re always working as expected?  The very last time I had one replaced, the regional manager of the interlock company went as far as to accuse me of tampering with the device to make it fail.

Consider the logic at work here folks, it is mind boggling.  The device malfunctions, as a result I am late to work, late to appointments, have to completely scrap plans, and not to mention drop $60 to have the unit reset and re-calibrated so the car isn’t locked out 5 days after the initial malfunction…. And I was supposedly doing this ON PURPOSE!?  Every time it was obvious that the unit was malfunctioning, the regional manager fought tooth and nail against replacing the unit.  We were told repeatedly that we were the ONLY ONES having problems with these devices (a quick trip to Google will prove otherwise).  After all of the BS, and after paying enough reset fees, eventually they would authorize the replacement (with no mention of malfunction in the reason behind it).

After repeated calls to the regional manager went un-answered (mind you, she ASKED for me to call and discuss what was going on) – I resorted to my tried and true method of problem resolution commonly referred to as “Sherman’s March to The Sea.”  Using Google.com, I located the contact information for the top executives and owners of the interlock company, and emailed them directly to explain the situation and ask VERY NICELY for a resolution.

Within 2 days, the installer had contacted me and advised that the replacement was approved – and the best part – the regional manager was no longer with the company.

The culprit here – and this is key because I was *NEVER* told that they would cause a false positive or malfunction, was my electronic cigarette.  Early on I had discovered that any flavored electronic cigarette would quickly trigger a fail.  After much hyperventilating the fail would clear on a retest, but this is what the manufacturers and government force you to do – learn by trial and error – all the while forking over hard earned cash to resolve problems with a device they say NEVER MALFUNCTIONS.

For months then, I continued not smoking real cigarettes – instead smoking my electronic variety which did not trigger any failures or malfunctions…  that is until the outside temperature dropped below 32F.  Almost overnight the unit would fail nearly every test until it warmed up enough, even failing for the installer after driving an hour to have the unit reset.  The very day I had the unit replaced the first time, I decided ‘no more e-cigarettes while driving’ thinking that would be enough.  NAY.  After sitting at my desk for 8 hours and attempting to leave for the day (and not vaping for an hour prior to leaving) – the IID repeatedly failed me.  Eventually I gave up, abandoned the car at my office, and got a ride home.

Now since these devices never malfunction, I had to resort to my own methods of avoiding these malfunctions.  A few things worked…  First was unplugging the head unit and bringing it inside with me when it wasn’t in use.  From a warm start, it would either WARN or pass on the first test… but the common thing here was normally that my first test of the morning would pass, then after about 10 minutes I would fail the retest.  The other thing was to make sure I removed the clear plastic mouthpiece when the device wasn’t in use, which allowed the condensation from my breath to slowly evaporate from the IID.

Still, despite those efforts – it still malfunctioned – and I was never advised to modify my behavior, simply that the IID does NOT MALFUNCTION, that NOBODY HAS EVER HAD A PROBLEM LIKE THIS, and that I must be DOING THIS ON PURPOSE.  After the final replacement, I stopped using my e-cigarrettes, and from that day to the joyous removal date – no malfunctions.  My best guess here is that the chemicals in the e-cigarette liquid must have built up on the sensor as once the device began to malfunction, all BAC readings were in the .020% range.

Recently passed laws make the absurd requirement of installing an IID in every household vehicle (regardless of guilt or innocence) that the offender may have access to drive.  Local municipalities are going even further, attempting to enact policies which prohibit your God given and constitutionally protected right to have a drink (as long as you don’t drive).  IID’s are becoming more widespread every day despite their inherent flaws and numerous malfunctions (ever see a BAC test given at a police station?  Did you wonder why the officer keeps telling the suspect to blow even after the test has apparently completed?  It’s to drive every bit of alcohol from your lungs and into the machine, so that your BAC reading is actually HIGHER than what is ACTUALLY IN YOUR BLOOD).

So to anyone who has to deal with an IID in their life, please remember the following (I am not responsible for anything that happens to you if you do or do not heed my suggestions) :

  • Don’t drink and drive!!!
  • Get help!!!  Even if you don’t THINK you’re an alcoholic, go to AA, get substance abuse counceling, and see first hand what alcohol abuse can do to people…  if that doesn’t elevate your thinking, nothing short of a bullet in the head is going to help you.
  • Buy a portable breathalyzer, they range in price from $10 to $100 and can be found in many convenience stores (even Best Buy sells them).  When in doubt, take a breath test.  I picked up a small keychain unit for $10 at Best Buy which let me know when my BAC was negligible.
  • Don’t believe the hype, the units malfunction every day, keep track of every malfunction (date, time, what you’ve eaten, drank, or smoked).  Report any and every malfunction to the installer as well as your case worker.  If you’re called back to court, the malfunction log is your friend.  A replacement could get every reading on the unit invalidated.
  • If you’re ever stopped for suspicion of DWI, and you know you are drunk, don’t admit to drinking anything, don’t admit to being drunk, be polite and cooperative – but remember – they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are committing a crime.  You have the right to remain silent whether or not you are under arrest.  Worst case, you take a field sobriety test, you get arrested, and eventually wind up at the station.  Refusing to take a breathalyzer test results in an immediate 6-month suspension of driving privileges.  Demand an actual blood test, it is the only truly accurate way to determine BAC, and could be the difference between having a criminal record or just having a bad night.  You could fail a field sobriety test, get arrested, and unless you were completely trashed – by the time you get that blood test – be in the clear or have a BAC reading within DAI range (driving while abilities impaired).
  • If you are arrested, get a good lawyer, and get everything in writing.  The court is not going to grant you any quarter, they are hell bent on making an example out of every single person before the bench regardless of guilt, innocence, or context.  DWI is a big problem, but also a huge money-maker for the Government as well as IID manufacturers, so they have every intention of squeezing you dry and burying you – with the end result being that you may or may not (depending on whether you’re an alcoholic, an idiot, or just plain unlucky) drive drunk again.

I’m glad it is done with.  I’ve never been arrested for DWI, DUI, or DAI – everyone has driven at while at least buzzed, but I pray that you never have to see the effect this has on those you love.  It is an unmitigated nightmare at every level.  Driving under the influence of alcohol is stupid, avoidable, and not worth losing your money, self respect, or life.  Avoid driving after drinking at all costs.

Say you want a Revolution?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

For the past 2 weeks I have been thoroughly enjoying my latest personal vaporizer (aka E-Cigarette). It is the Revolution V2.1 by Chinese manufacturer Boge. The $60 kit came with the vaporizer, charging plug, micro-USB charging cable (compatible with ANY USB port), 5 cartomizers, 2 fluid bottles and syringe tips. I purchased an additional bottle and syringe tip for another $7 since I like to alternating flavors.

The device itself contains two 700 mah batteries wired in parallel which offer up 1400mah of total power.  I’ve gone as long as 3 days without needing to recharge.  While it comes with a cartomizer (heating coil and wicking material in one) it is capable of supporting standard 510 atomizers.  I currently use Boge LR 510 atomizers which generally deliver more consistent vapor and flavor than any cartomizer I’ve tried thus far.  One thing to keep in mind is that the Revolution V2.1 is designed to use cartomizers.  Not all atomizers will work, but (and don’t blame me if you do this and break the thing) if you remove the fluid bottle and gently press an unsharped pencil against the underside of the port where the atomizer screws in, it will nudge it just enough so that the atomizer can make a solid contact with the Revolution.

A convenient on/off switch provides security from pocket-vaping (a lot like pocket dialing, only you’ll drain the battery, ruin your atomizer, and possibly burn your leg).  Apparently prior models had some sort of ionizer feature which was removed in order to make room for the additional battery – but the switch and LED’s were carried over.  It also has a set of 3 power LED’s which indicate the current battery level, as well as an indication of charging and full charge.

The underside has two removable panels, one that holds in the juice bottle and the other allows you to carry an extra cartomizer or atomizer.  The underside also holds one of my most favorite features, the micro-usb plug that allows you to charge the device on any USB port (computer, cellphone charger, etc…) as well as vape WHILE it is charging.

Without any atomizer/cartomizer attached, it is about 2/3 the width of a pack of cigarettes, which makes carrying it around very convenient.

My only complaint about the device are that if left in any position except upright, it has a tendency to leak.  It does come with a cap that can be screwed on in place of the atomizer – which if you’re like me, you will lose within 10 minutes of un-boxing the vaporizer. 🙂 It leaks whether using a cartomizer or atomizer, although the cartomizer will absorb most of the fluid (thus flooding it) instead of coating the top of the device and whatever it is sitting on in smoke juice.

So far this is my 4th vaporizer and by far the most satisfying, efficient, and convenient of them all.  I still carry around my ‘box o stuff’ but if I don’t, I can be confident that a full bottle and charge will easily last me 2-3 days of constant vaping.  If you want to pick one up or check one out, I recommend visiting vapelite.com.  They’re based out of West Milford, NJ at PAC Computers (I’ve only bought things in the store) but the owner is well versed on everything related to vaping and is fantastic to deal with.

Atomizer woes…

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Probably the biggest frustration there is as far as personal vaporizers (E-Cigarettes for the buzzwordy types) – is the method of actually turning those bottles of tasty nicotine into vapor.  It’s a simple enough concept, the cartridge has wicking material that holds the smoke juice, and the atomizer has a smaller wick that runs across a heating coil.  Hit the button, heat the coil, create wonderful vapor.  Problem is that for the most part I very rarely get consistent vapor across refills.

The stock cartridges I get use wool for wicking material.  This works already for a few fills, but eventually needs to be replaced as it simply stops wicking.  A common replacement is poly-fill (pure polyester, looks like cotton) that you can get at any pet store.  That works well too, for a while.  The one I’ve had the best luck with so far is this blue filter foam for fish tanks by Marineland “Rite Size U.”  Now while I went pretty mad scientist with my 510 carts, using a cut ball point pen spring and the blue foam as a plug – with my Ego vaporizer, the cartridges are about twice the size.

Looking online, there are plenty of really nice videos on how to use the blue foam as a wick, but none were specific to my model of vaporizer.  If I cut the foam at the exact width – it would wick OK but it also left gaps between 2 of the 4 walls of the cartridge, allowing the juice to leak out of the cartridge, flood the atomizer, and get all over the outside of my vaporizer.  If I cut the foam at double the width, and then folded it over so that it completely filled the surface area of the cartridge (looking like a C in the cartridge) – it would absorb the fluid but not wick well at all.

So my latest attempt, I trimmed the wicking material to just long enough to fill the cartridge, but 1.5x as wide as the cartridge… it still fills all the gaps in the cartridge but does not appear to leak, and is wicking very well.

Hopefully this will work consistently as I’m tired of going back and forth between wicking materials, atomizers, cartomizers… etc… LOL

A few more JC flavors in the kit…

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Got another shipment from Johnson Creek yesterday, Mint Chocolate, French Vanilla, and Spiced Apple Cider.

 

I was very fond of the mint-chocolate when I received it in my trial pack, broke my heart when I spilled most of it.  If you’ve ever had a Camel Dark Mint – this flavor is a dead on match to it, a very well balanced combination of mint and chocolate flavors.  French Vanilla (or Vivid Vanilla if you’re a Blu vaper) – is also one of my favorites, just the right amount of sweet vanilla flavor.  Lastly – I’m not a big fan of fruity flavors when it comes to vaping.  I am a fan of the Black Cherry flavor, but others like Strawberry and Peach were way too overpowering.  I’m still on the fence with this one though.  Definitely tastes just like spiced apple cider, but my brain tastes it and thinks ‘wait, I want to DRINK some now.’  All have the typical throat hit you get from JC smoke juice, the quality is second to none.  The shipment came with 3 15ml bottles, 3 medicine droppers (which I always immediately screw into the bottle, discarding the existing caps) and 3 small ‘travel’ dropper bottles if you don’t want to carry around the original bottles.

 

Going to run out to the hardware store today to see if I can pick up some more of this blue foam I’m using for wicking material, seems to work better than the standard wool.

 

Speaking of my kit… here’s a pic of what I carry around on a daily basis to satisfy my need for VAPOR!!! 🙂

 

 

What I’ve got is an old Husky socket set bag, which currently has 7 different types of smoke juice, extra atomizers, extra cartomizers, extra battery, charger, and wicking material.  Normally if I’m out and about I will carry the charger, extra battery, and 2 prepped catridge/atomizer combos with some extra smoke juice in one or two of the small white travel bottles.  Generally I spend about $20 per month on smoke juice/materials.  Compared to the $200+ I used to spend on traditional tobacco cigarettes, I’m making out like a bandit and still getting what I need. 🙂

Ikenvape RY4

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Just took delivery on a 20ml bottle of VG based RY4 from Ikenvape.  This is my first pure VG based liquid – not sure if its because it was sitting outside in the mailbox all weekend but it was a little syrupy.  It still soaked into the wicking material just fine though.  As far as flavor, I’d say its very similar to the Johnson Creek “Classic Tobacco” flavor, but not quite as sweet / nutty.  After a while the JC CT flavor got a little overbearing (main reason I’m going to buy the 15ml bottles instead of the 30ml bottles from them now on – some variety).  The fluid produces a great amount of vapor – good throat hit, and IMHO is more satisfying than the JC CT.

Apparently RY4 was a very popular flavor produced by “Dekang” – but for some reason they stopped producing it.  Many companies attempted to reproduce the flavor with mixed results – but various online reviews say the Ikenvape RY4 is the best of the bunch.  At $8.99 for a 20ml bottle, plus shipping – I’d say it was a pretty good deal.  I’ll definitely be ordering more.

Other recent flavors that I’ve tried…

*—- Vapelite.com – MLB (Chinese blend) – great vapor, but the taste is almost tangy.  I’d say it tastes a lot like smoking urine.

****- Vapelite.com – Coffee (Chinese blend) – great vapor, good flavor, subtle hints of coffee.  Not as strong as JC Espresso, but at $3.50 for a 10ml bottle, I’ll deal.

**— Vapelite.com – Cappucino (Chinese blend) – great vapor, sweeter than Coffee, less coffee flavor than the standard “Coffee” which I prefer.

*—- Vapelite.com – Dekang Hovana – initial hit tastes like a sweet cigar, nutty/toasted marshmallow even… not much more to it, not my preference.  After the initial flavor it kind of ‘fell flat.’  Didn’t like it.

****- Vapelite.com – Dekang Kool – Not menthol but peppermint.  Tastes exactly like a Decade cigarette.  Very strong flavor, almost overbearing but it tastes good, helped me through a cold as well. 🙂

EGO 900mAh

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Decided to upgrade from my 280mAh to a 900mAh EGO style vaporizer today.  Visited my normal e-cigg haunt, PAC Computers in West Milford, NJ.  For the grand total of $40 I got two 900mAh batteries, wall charger, USB charging cable, 2 mega atomizers and 5 pre-filled 24mg tobacco cartridges.  The manufacturer for the vaporizer is Brother, and it is compatible with standard 510 atomizers and cartomizers, and I’m estimating since I get about 4 hours out of a charge on the 280 510’s from Brother, I may get at least a day out of the 900’s.  Completely assembled, the vaporizer is about the size of a Philly cigar, and has an attractive brushed-stainless steel finish.

The default juice that comes with isn’t as offensive as what came with my previous 510 purchase.  I still can’t identify the source of the ‘tangy’ flavor but a lot of the Chinese based smoke juices have it.  I’m currently vaping through one of the cartridges that came with so I can try 2 new smoke juices I also picked up, Hovana and Kool, both in a 24mg nicotine content.  It’s higher than my usual 18mg, but I can’t beat the cost – $3.50 a bottle vs $10 for the equivalent sized bottle from Johnson Creek.

I’ve grown a little tired of the Classic Tobacco I picked up recently from JC, I figure when I order more I may instead order 2-3 smaller sized bottles of different flavors, perhaps Chocolate Mint, French Vanilla, and Tennessee Cured.  Either way I’ve got a good selection to burn through that should hold me for at least another month or two.  Factoring in what I’ve spent over the past 2 months on my addiction/hobby/obsession, I’ve saved about $300+ over traditional smokes, my breath doesn’t stink, I don’t stink, and I’m also not running out of breath like I did when smoking normally.

Neat trick!

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Ever since I switched from the Blu brand e-cigarette to the standard 510 model with a separate atomizer/catridge setup, I have been struggling to find the best way to deliver smoke juice to the atomizer so I can get the best delivery of vapor with each drag.  Initially, I became frustrated with trying to get the traditional wicking method since I found that fluid was just staying in the poly fill and not being absorbed by the wick in the atomizer.  I ended up wasting fluid.  So then I began dripping, effectively dripping several drops of fluid directly onto the atomizer which would get me 8 or 9 drags before I needed to add more.

Now I vape all day, so constantly opening up the cartridge and adding fluid was a major pain in the ass.  I tried using so called ‘drip tips’ which had larger holes on the business end allowing the ability to drip directly onto the atomizer – this worked but it lessened the resistance on each drag, negatively affecting the experience.  After looking around last night in google for ‘the best wicking method for a 510’ I found a post (the link evades me at the moment) and one of my fellow vapor-nerds came up with a rather ingenious plan…

First, you’ll need an empty 510 cartridge, some poly fill, smoke juice, and here’s the key – a clicky pen that you don’t need anymore.

1. Remove the spring from the clicky pen, and slide it on top of the input end of the 510 cartridge so it intersects the narrow width of the cartridge.

2. Snip the ends off the spring so that you can gently slide it down into he cartridge about 2 mm.

3. Fill the cartridge up with smoke juice until it meets the spring.

4. Add some poly fill on top of the cartridge, and if necessary add 1 or 2 drops to it.  You don’t need much poly, just enough to keep the smoke juice from pouring out and flooding the atomizer.

5. Press the cartridge into the atomizer, and vape away.

Essentially what you’ve got is a poor man’s auto-drip setup.  I can vouch that it works VERY well.  I’ve tried it on both my standard (3 ohm) and low (1.6 ohm) resistance atomizers.  The vapor on the low-resistance is amazing, however it burns the juice up much faster as well as the battery on the 510.  I’ve found that on a standard resistance 510 atomizer, there’s plenty of vapor, more than enough for my preference at least.

Here’s a link to the original post: ADP Mod

Vaping it up…

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Several months ago, after quitting and un-quitting, I decided to try the latest thing… Personal Vaporizers, otherwise known as E-Cigarettes.  To start, I decided to go with the starter kit from Blu (http://www.blucigs.com/)  The kit included two batteries, two atomizers, and 25 flavor cartridges.  I was hooked almost immediately.  They taste and smell better, as well as offer the ‘hit’ in the throat delivered by normal cigarettes.  Now the way these things work is you have a lithium ion battery shaped like a cigarette with a microphone in the tip that detects when the smoker is taking a drag.  When this is triggered, the battery sends a charge to the atomizer.  The atomizer was nothing more than a small heating coil hidden below a metal prong.  At the other end of the atomizer is a small cartridge full of ‘smoke juice’ and wool.  When the cartridge is placed on the atomizer, it breaks a foil seal, the juice drips down onto the atomizer.  Take a drag heats up the coil, vaporizing the combination of propylene glycol, water, and flavoring, and funnels it out through a small hole in the end of the cartridge.

Now the problem with Blu’s original design was mainly the atomizer, its design lacked a wick to draw the smoke juice into it, so beyond the initial flood of smoke juice escaping from the cartridge – it never really used all of the fluid.  That and due to the design, I’d have to constantly fiddle with the cartridges to get vapor, and the drags were rarely if ever consistent.  Worse yet, when I finally convinced my wife to try it out, they changed the atomizer design and actually made it smaller, so less of it reached into the flavor cartridge, resulting in even less consistent vapor production and even more fiddling.  I communicated this with Blu, and their solution was to send the atomizers back.  Instead I just gave my less crappy atomizers to my wife.

At one point, I needed a smoke and the batteries were dead, so I bummed one, and started up again.  A pack a day.  At $10 a pack, we’re talking some serious cash over the course of a month.  After finally realizing how much I was spending, I decided to give Blu another try.  To their credit, they must have realized how much the atomizers sucked and changed designs.  The new atomizers were called ‘cartomizers’ and were both an atomizer and flavor cartridge all in one.  I went to order a pack and saw that instead of selling 25 packs of cartridges, they sold 5 packs of cartomizers with the bold claim that these new cartomizers lasted as long as a pack of smokers per unit, if not as much as a previous 25 pack.  I ordered up some flavors and gave it a try.

First impression?  Consistent vapor every single time.  Personal favorites?  Classic tobacco and wild cherry.  Menthol was OK, but didn’t do much for me, and the coffee cartridges always ended up tasting burnt after several drags.  The new cartomizer design basically had a pair of small conducting metal prongs, joined by a piece of graphite (pencil lead) which was wrapped with a small piece of wire.  Surrounding that was a rolled up patch of fabric with a fabric mesh tube in the center as well as a wick, which allowed the smoke juice to be drawn across the atomizer.  Really nice design, worked very well, and allowed me to refill them with a smoke juice of my choice for a short time.

Still, once I began to regularly smoke these (I went through 2 20 cartomizer refill packs), not only did it seem that tossing out perfectly good atomizers was a waste – the life of the batteries was very short – going from lasting a few hours to under an hour.  That required me to constantly swap and charge them.  Not a big deal, new batteries were $12 a piece from Blu, but as I had begun refilling the cartomizers with the contents of my old flavor cartridges, I wondered ‘can I do better?’  I was already dropping about $50 every 3 weeks on refills for the Blu, but there was a HUGE world out there full of alternatives.

I started doing some research, and eventually took a ride over to a local computer store – PAC Computers in West Milford, NJ.  The owner has a large selection of vaporizers, supplies, and a few different smoke juice varieties.  For $35 I got a 510 starter kit which included 2 280maH manual batteries (the blu’s were 150’s, so these effectively last twice as long), two atomizers, a USB charger, and 5 flavor cartridges.  I didn’t bother with the cartridges that came with, I tried one – and the flavor was absolute crap.  It tasted like chemicals.  I installed one of my Blu cartomizers – perfection.  Now one thing to note – if you use Blu and realize that the 510 accessories match up, don’t try to charge a standard 510 battery with a blu charger, and visa versa – the polarity is reversed and you will fry the battery.

Next step was to find a new source for smoke juice.  Sure, I could keep paying $50 every 3 weeks to Blu for their cartomizers which work very well with my 510, but why not join the party and fill it myself?  I visited Johnson Creek Flavorings and ordered a 10 flavor sample pack for $20.  Initially, I simply squirted 10 or so drops into the used Blu cartomizers which didn’t taste like burning fabric (thats what happns if you take to many dry drags from them) – and this worked.  Of course, I had these 2 new atomizers which weren’t used.  These atomizers looked a lot like the originals that Blu had, only they were inset in a small metal cylinder and also had a visible wick.

Not exactly knowing what I was doing, I added smoke juice to some filling in the cartridge, tried to smoke it, and… BLECH.  Tasted like crap.  Turns out I had to put about 8 drops into the atomizer to prime it first, which essentially is what I’m doing now, since so far every filling I’ve used for the cartridges hasn’t worked as well as I would like.  Perfection.  Great vapor, great flavor, every time.  The flavor kit included JC Original (tobacco with a hint of caramel/vanilla), Tennessee Cured (tobacco), French Vanilla, Black Cherry, Arctic Menthol, Mint Chocolate, Chocolate Truffle, Simply Strawberry, Summer Peach,  and Espresso.  Initially I liked the peach/strawberry flavors but I got tired of them quick, especially when I went to using the 510 atomizers… they were just obnoxiously strong and sweet.  My favorites so far are the JC Original (same as Blu’s Classic Tobacco), French Vanilla (same as Blu’s Vivid Vanilla – which is no longer offered!!!), Chocolate Truffle, and Espresso.  Mint Chocolate is also good, but again I’m not thrilled with the Menthol, Black Cherry got old quick, and the Tennessee Cured is ok – but I don’t like it as much as the JC Original.

My next purchases will be flavor refills and a few more atomizers…  Now if you’re considering getting into vaping as an alternative to smoking, I would definitely recommend trying Blu when you first start out.  If it catches on and you enjoy it as much as I have, upgrade to a 510 – or one of the other ‘standard’ types provided by retailers such as RagingVapor.com.  You will have fun, you’ll stop stinking, you will breathe easier, and you’ll save a crap ton of money all the while denying the government and Philip Morris from taking any more of your hard earned cash.