The Cabinet of Dr. Remnant

I finished my stand yesterday, apart from handles for the drawers – which have proved difficult to find. No-one seems to do tiny drawer handles anymore. I’m looking at some bakelite knobs on ebay which might prove to be suitable, but otherwise, I’m going to have to make an excursion around a junk shop or three, and hope I can find something.


The stand has five mod bays (all but one of which are presently occupied by juice bottles, in the absence of mods), six full size atty bays, six eGo battery size bays, four battery bays, two cig-alike bays, eight drip tip bays (with room for another six or eight in front, if they should prove necessary) and one box mod bay, containing a vintage tin which will be the next project. Two drawers. All the bays and the drawers except for the drip tips are lined with felt. Oh, and there’s a coiling station in the front. It’s roughly 20x18x17cm, which is about as large as I would want on my desk. Your desk may vary.


In case you were wondering, it took bloody ages, working mostly with hand tools, and is therefore effectively unsaleable; if I was to ask right at the upper limit of what any sane person would be prepared to pay for such a thing, I would still be better off flipping burgers. Which is a pretty depressing thought.

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my first nano coil

Yeah, I know, its been ages, and there’s lots to catch up with. Thought I’d throw this up here, let y’all know I’m still alive.


Fifteen wraps of 0.2 Kanthal around a paperclip wire, giving 2.5 ohms. Next time I’ll be aiming for 1.6-1.8 ohms, but this is vaping very nicely as it is. I made a dinky little threading tool for the cotton, with a fine needle and a loop of thread, rather than enter a world of cross-eyed hurt, trying to twist a tiny scrap of cotton wool through it.

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Three Dekangs of Orient are ( – or in two cases, were…)

Okay, okay, I’m doing it, all right? It’s come to my notice that I created this post on the 6th – the sixth! – of August, and it now appears to be September. I’ll do my best to get caught up, reviewing the juices I have. Which is… hmmm, about thirty. Well, today I’m going to do the first three: Drum, USA Mix and Strawberry, all by Dekang, and obtained from a certain head shop in Greenwich. They charge £4.99 a pop, or three for twelve quid – on the expensive side for juice, but my objective for the day was to go out and buy some juices over an actual counter, in London, and take them home with me, so it was a case of taking my pick from what they had. So:

Dekang eliquid bottle

Dekang juice bottles. They all look like this – at least they did; certain pack shots on their corporate site suggest they’re trying to make themselves over.

When I smoked, I smoked Drum rolling tobacco, for at least the last 25 years. So you’ll understand that I picked up this Drum flavour juice (16mg) as my very first juice purchase. I can see what they’re getting at with the flavour. Actually its a pretty fair attempt to replicate the taste of the rolling tobacco with which I had such a long and sordid relationship. You might think therefore that I’d be golloping through this fairly quickly – but after six weeks or so, more than half of it is still in the bottle. This is not because there’s anything particularly wrong with it, but I’m just not finding myself reaching for the tobacco flavours, when I open the juice box. There’s nearly always something I’d rather vape. I’ll use it up eventually, no doubt, but I won’t be buying any more of it. Only a few weeks into the World of Juice, and commercial tobacco analogues are the first category of flavours to get the heave-ho.

USA Mix (16mg) is Dekang’s attempt at Marlboro. It’s been so long since I smoked a Marlboro, I really couldn’t say how successful an imitation it actually is, but as a dry-ish American style tobacco flavour, it’s okay. I used this up quicker (than the Drum), mostly in combination with other flavours; I already mentioned my pseudo-camel mix, of which I did actually make another 10ml. The Camel tobacco mood doesn’t overtake me very frequently, but I like that it’s there, waiting.

I was fairly convinced that I’d have to wean myself away from tobacco flavours slowly and carefully – so I was pretty surprised to find that of the early juice purchases, it was the Strawberry (24mg) that I was going through quickest – even though I could tell it was far from the Best Possible Strawberry Flavour. I’ve since picked up two different strawberry flavourings, and a juice sampler (DV’s Wild Strawberry, from Vapefest). This latter is by far the best flavour, and one I will maybe rhapsodise at greater length another time; the jury’s still out on T-Juice Strawberri (sic) concentrate – I don’t presently have the spare capacity to have yet another bottle taken up with Strawberry juice – and the impulse purchase, Sainsburys’ Strawberry food flavouring is a weird one. It didn’t have anything in the ingredients list that rang any alarm bells, and it was cheap, and I didn’t, at that point, have any flavours to play with, so why not? Well, I’ve tried it at various concentrations, and it resembles strawberries in none of them. Sweet, sickly and perfumed, vaguely berry-ish, but really, no. Just no. Ominously, when I tried to rescue the experiment by mixing with other flavours, it made the results meh. It was like an evil, anti-flavour. So it’s going into the kitchen cupboard, and sometime I’ll use it for cooking something where it can’t do too much harm.
The other thing about the Dekang Strawberry is that I bought it at 24mg, because that was what was in the shop. Now I’ve been vaping at 16mg since I took up the ecigs in January, so I tried diluting it, 2 parts juice to 1 part VG. This gave a nic strength of 16mg, a PG/VG ratio of (presumably, about) 50:50, and the flavour intensity dialled down by a third. I just made up 3ml like this, in case the result was horrid, but it wasn’t horrid at all. The flavour, while reduced, was adequate, and I’ve vaped (almost) the whole bottle away in the diluted state. So, this 2:1 dilution has become standard procedure for me since then. Almost all of the commercial juices I’ve tried have had sufficiently robust flavour that they can stand it, and the juice goes 50 percent further. Which is nice.

Finally, bear in mind that taste is a matter of, well, taste; flavours I’m keen on may not suit you at all, and vice versa. There really is no substitute for going off and trying a bunch for yourself, and finding out what you like. I’m not going to say this every time, but for the first juice reviews on the blog, I thought I’d better say it once.

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Vern’s DIY juice cost comparison & tangential objections thereto

Glove Bucket

We’re going to need a bigger bucket.

Vern’s Vapes is usually a deal-of-the-day kind of vapers’ blog. All business. The most recent post, Bro, do you even mix?, is a little different. He does the calculations on making 1 litre of DIY juice, versus buying retail. The saving is substantial, but I think not quite substantial enough to be persuasive, when someone isn’t already into it.
Vern’s calculations look sound enough, so if you’re a One Juice to Rule Them All kind of person, it looks like a no-brainer. But for an absolute beginner, the prospect looks like an accident waiting to happen: an entire litre of Chateau Not-Quite-Right? And that’s assuming nothing actually Goes Wrong? Eek!
For those who are already into DIY mixing, however, the picture already looks very different to Vern’s example – chiefly in that much smaller batches are made with a greater variety of flavours. I’d expect this raises the cost of DIY considerably, especially if we’re billing for our time. But (speaking as a n00b with all his experience of DIY yet to be gathered and gained) I think the cost relative to buying retail juice is perhaps taking too narrow a focus. Just in terms of the economics, vapers are spending less, usually by an order of magnitude, on vaping than they used to spend as smokers, so saving that extra maybe 25% of what is already a low number, by going to the bother of making a year’s worth of Own Brand Identical just isn’t that appealing. That is, if it is a bother to you.
It’s also a rather disheartening picture of taste conservatism. Of course, as smokers we were mostly pretty conservative – how strange would it have been to have pondered long and hard over the tobacconist’s wares every morning, before settling on our purchase? –  but in vaping we have presented ourselves with a paintbox of flavours, and wouldn’t it be equally strange not to dabble? It would be missing out on what may prove to be one of the most important and interesting aspects of the culture, in the long term. The mixing and recombination of flavours, the mix culture, is in its infancy right now, but it offers the possiblity of things unheard-of, or rather, unsmelt-of and untasted-of. Once the mixologists have done all their favourite drinks, desserts and what-have-you, the scene may well take a turn for the abstract – and that could be very interesting indeed.

It’s early days for me: I’ve only sampled about thirty juices so far. The little bottles will continue to breed, as I get to sample more, while I’m forming my mixing palette. After a while, I’ll catch up with everything that’s available that I have any curiosity about, and maybe the proliferation of bottles will tail off – but I can’t imagine settling down with One True Flavour, at any stage. Hopefully I’ll develop some recipes that will become my familiars, but I find it hard to imagine ceasing to experiment.

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remnant’s first coiling: the Aga T2

Aga T2 packaging

The Aga T2 box, not giving much away. It just sits there and gazes at you. Smoulderingly.

Home from Vapefest, then, and out with that little box that I mentioned. The Aga T2 tank atomiser does not arrive in an assembled state; full instructions is another thing with which it does not arrive. In fact, it carries no documentation whatsoever. “Aga T2” on the box is the full extent of the information provided. It doesn’t even tell you that it is a tank atomiser. You have to know. Fortunately, Vapour Trails TV’s Andy Sutton is there to help, courtesy of Youtube (below).

This is the video that persuaded me, back in the mists of, oooh, probably about two weeks ago, that rebuilding an Aga T2 was really quite do-able, even for a clueless n00b of my considerable stature. Thanks for the tutorial, Andy – I don’t know exactly what I would have done without it, but I have a strong suspicion that it would not have been pretty.

Title notwithstanding, the model in the video is the Aga T, not the T2, but close enough. So, I watched it again, with my new Aga T2 in hand – following along at home, as they used to say – and assembled my first steel mesh wick and coil. And it worked. Actually, it didn’t work for a huge amount of time; my first effort weighed in at a spritely 1.4Ώ, and the wire burned out near the centre post after a few minutes of concerted (and perhaps a tad conceited) vaping. Possibly I cranked up the wattage a little too far, or too soon, or something. I tried again, with similar results, but back I went to Youtube, and found this:

It seems that coil-popping in the centre post area is actually A Thing with this atty, and it wasn’t just me being a n00b. I didn’t do what VAP0RCL0UD79 did exactly, but the video inspired a fix of my own, which involved taking the smallest washer I could lay my hands on, and filing it down to even further minuteness, and sitting that on the centre post, under the top nut. This reduced the distance between wick and positive terminal to about 1mm, and solved the coil popping problem. Perhaps even a little too well for my liking; I am beginning to grow impatient to try re-coiling the beggar. I even made a hybrid wick (as per Andy Sutton again, in another video), ready and waiting.

Note for any passing size queens: When fully extended, the Vamo/Aga/drip tip rig stands a whopping 217mm. Just sayin’.

Next, probably, some of those juice reviews I’ve been promising since the first post. Now we are equipped, and my sense of taste is returning, thank-you-for-asking, after the respiratory mange I picked up on my little coach excursion.

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Vapefest 2013

Photo by Official Vapefest Photographer Itsmeitis

Photo by Official Vapefest Photographer Itsmeitis

One month ago, I’d never heard of Vapefest, but I was most uncharacteristically excited at the prospect by the time it actually happened, and it did not disappoint.

I’ve not been around the vaping subculture long enough to have a great list of usernames to put to faces, which I’d think was the main attraction for the veterans. It was good to meet some of the few who I had noticed on the forums.

Aga T2 atomiser

Aga T2 atomiser. Drip tip, and any information whatsoever, not included. This is not a complaint.

My main focus though, as a n00b, was to plug some of the holes in my first basic set of rebuildable kit. The first hardware purchase of the day was an Aga T2 atomiser from C9V. The chap who actually sold it to me was Ghoti, of the Hairy Vapers, who had just assaulted my lungs with a bracing chilli concoction he called Zombie Juice, which he devised himself, he said he vapes exclusively, and that it was not for sale. Anywhere. That, I’m sure you will agree, is pretty niche. Anyway, I explained that I was pretty much intending to buy an Aga T2, and if he didn’t have any compelling alternatives to suggest? He pointed out that the T2 was about the best value for money, but it wasn’t the easiest rebuildable to start with, which is true enough, but since I was totally up for it, the deal was done, and I shuffled away clutching a tiny box with Aga T2 printed on it (more about that in a seperate post to follow).

Now, I had seen the Smok e-pipe mods in chrome, and I’d seen the unbranded Fasttech version, and I’d had it in mind to buy the latter, because I actually preferred the look of it. However, on the Innovapors stand I beheld the Smok done in brass, and my previous intentions were abandoned. I was smitten. I heard the price, and I wandered off, calculating. Within the hour, I was back, handing over my cash, and this was the Shiny Thing that I pulled proudly from my bag for the rest of the day, whenever anyone asked me if I’d bought anything nice. Which was quite a lot, actually. Earlier this evening, I posted on the LSE Facebook page that I was getting shivers just thinking of how marvellous this little charmer is going to look when it’s worn in and patinated. I still am, so here’s me saying it again. More on the e-pipe in a following post or three.

Smok e-pipe

Smok e-pipe battery mod in brass. I will take better pictures of it than this, I’m sure, but it’s late and I’m in a hurry to publish before I take to my bed.

Now, I’m really not good at crowds, and I’m really bad at thronging, so I hung back from many of the stalls whose wares I knew I wouldn’t be buying much of (and on which, without diligence and resolve, I might have spent a tidy sum in small increments). But I weathered the queue for sample juices at the Decadent Vapours stand, I had some good conversation while I was waiting, and I staggered away with 10 flavrz. Must get juice reviews done, too, before the task becomes too enormous to even begin.

The biggest expenditure of the day was a big bottle of nic base; enough to last me at least a couple of years of mixing, according to my entirely speculative calculations. A lot of money to pluck out of the wallet at one time, but probably the biggest bargain of the day, at about 60 percent of the best price I’d seen online, and I just paid for it, picked it up and carried it away. Sometime later, a guy told me he’d stockpiled eighteen litres in case the threatened clampdown comes to pass (much more about this in future posts). I asked how long he was expecting to live. In the event, we agreed that forever would be nice.

I didn’t take a single picture all day. There are, of course, slideshows, containing hundreds of pictures from the day on the Vapefest site (if you’re feeling stalkerish, you can find a picture of me in Gallery 5), and I expect there’s many more on all the forums, too. I haven’t yet had time to look.

The general consensus seemed to be that the event had outgrown the venue, and that this would be the last in the current form. Certainly it was hellish difficult to get next to many of the stalls for most of the day, and just getting a good look at everything would have been an exhausting business. I managed to exhaust myself on about half of it, I think. But I’m glad I caught a Vapefest in its original location. I was certainly there, and I have the commemorative juice to prove it, or at least provide strong circumstantial evidence for it.

No doubt I will remember more over the coming days. Let’s see if I can remember it long enough to write about it.

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The First Proper Hardware Post – Vamo, Igo-L, VV pass-through

cartomiser options with the pass-through

The business end of the variable voltage pass-through, powering a recycled carto via the 510/Ego adapter (left) and a modified Smoktech CE2 tank carto directly (right) . The old cig-alike carto appears to fit directly on the pass-through, but will not fire without the adapter in between. An emblem for the age, indeed.

The slow boat from China actually made it. I placed the order three weeks ago tomorrow, and it arrived on tuesday: Vamo battery mod, Igo-L dripper, Nitecore charger, vv pass-through. My first bottle of nic base and a 510/Ego adapter turned up the same day from another direction. So, suddenly, the variables have massively proliferated: the first thing that became possible (while the batteries were charging for the Vamo) was vaping from my collection of recycled cartos, using the pass-through and the adapter, powered via USB. It turns out that the pass-through doesn’t want to play with the USB wall-wart, but works quite happily plugged into the laptop; this should extend the life of the batteries quite a bit, not least because I am rarely to be found more than 0.8m distant from my laptop during waking hours. I’ve now fitted one of the Smoktech CE2 tank cartos (yes, I know I don’t have a tank) onto the pass-through, the holes closed with sticky-back plastic, and I’m using it as a mini-dripper, at which it excels. For how long, remains to be seen.
Let’s assume that you don’t need to be reading about the battery charger, shall we? I mean, Nitecore 4-bay, what else would you need to know? No, let’s move on to:
Vamo, Igo-L dripper

The Vamo, clad in black sticky-back plastic, with the Igo-L dripper on top. Lean and mean.

The main feature, the Vamo and dripper combination. I’m certainly in no position to offer any kind of product comparison – what would I compare them to? These are my first mod and my first dripper, respectively – but vaping with these is like climbing behind the wheel of something nice with a V-8 engine, after a long sojourn on a whiny moped that sounds like a mosquito. It’s a whole other, technicolour-and-cinemascope thing, richer and fuller and fatter even than the Ego/clearomiser combo from last week – and even that felt pretty serious after six months of cig-alikes. Just a couple of notes on the hardware: the dripper arrived already dual coiled, so I didn’t have to leap straight into the intricacies of coil-winding, so that was good. I wouldn’t have relished having to wind my first coil(s) in a state of great excitement and far too early in the morning. And today, I covered the Vamo body in sticky-back plastic. What you see in the picture is my third attempt; I have yet to master cutting the round holes for the buttons to poke through. It’s harder than it looks; the plastic deforms rather easily, it doesn’t take much handling before the material collects deformities so that wrinkles and bubbles creep in, and you have to pick it off and start again, muttering and cursing, with a fresh piece. I suppose I’ll get better at it, and before you know it, I’ll be rocking the full Alvin Stardust, and heads will undoubtedly turn.
Of course, all of this is costing money; I’ve burned through about £150 so far, but I’m nearly set up. I ought to have all the necessaries covered before I reach half the money I’ve saved, relative to my smoking habit, since I picked up the Nicolites. From here on, though, I’m spending on juice ingredients, and whatever commercial flavours happen to take my fancy. And that’s it – I’ll have enough wick, wire and mesh to last me well over a year. The ongoing cost of vaping is reduced literally to pennies per day, instead of pounds, and so the money saved will be climbing more steeply – assuming, naturally, that I don’t fall prey to the dreaded shinyitis.
My resistance to Teh Lure of Teh Shineh faces its first major test this weekend, because I am travelling to Tamworth for Vapefest. I am very excited about this. Very excited indeed. Perhaps we will run into each other. That would be good; we have much to discuss.

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