So, you want to build a smoke kit? Well, here's how I did it for under $60. Let's start with my parts:
- T10 LED light bulb
- 12V air pump
- Buck converter or 5V UBEC
- Silicone tubing
- T10 light bulb socket
- 12V 50mm fan
- (Optional) Wireless remote trigger relay and 3D printable board mountWireless remote trigger relay (Note: the original relay I suggested died on me after the first use, so I switched over to this different module. The wiring is a little different, but mostly swaps in clean and has its own case already)
Other items you'll need:
- Assorted wire (Something with Dupont connectors will work well to give you quick disconnects)
- A vape coil with refillable tank, 1.5 ohms or higher (a lot of folks like the Kangertech T2)
- Vape juice (go to a local store, ask for 50/50 VG/PG. You can fiddle with this ratio, but you probably won't want to go beyond 70/30 VG/PG (that's vegetable glycerin/propylene glycol)
I started off with Mark Carabelli's design for a vent kit mount. If you want to print one, it's at https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4843115. It comes in two parts and fits the Q-Pack N-Filter really well. The best part is, all of this is basically reusable if I want to switch out to a prebuilt kit later (assuming it doesn't have the fan assembly included).
Everything else I needed to order/scrounge. Build list is up above. Total cost for what you're looking at: $58.35. The most expensive part is the remote trigger, which you don't need. I just want a way to be able to fire smoke without going into overheat mode. Also, make sure you order silicone tubing so that it's not damaged when the coil heats up. Vinyl or PVC tubing could pose a fire risk.
Fitting the T10 light socket into the main housing. Really happy with how this fit given that I ordered the socket pretty blind on sizing.
Bulb installed, and ran the wires out the channel to the side. This bulb is quite bright, and very white. Just what I was hoping for.
Fan mounts easily enough to the base with some M4 screws.
Couldn't wait and wanted to see how good the lighting was from my LED that'll go in the smoke kit. This was the result of a dry fit, just hotwiring the bulb to my battery. To say I'm pleased is an understatement.
By default, you're probably using a 12V battery. If you use the same buck converter as me, it should show you your input voltage when you turn it on the first time. This is where you could substitute an UBEC if you want, but given the variability in vape coils out there, I suggest a buck converter for the convenience of being able to adjust the voltage to your setup. An UBEC will lock you into 5V.
Pressing the button once in the lower right corner will kick you into output mode. When these things ship from the factory, they're usually configured for 20V output, so you'll need to turn the adjustment at the top counterclockwise a bunch before you see it start lowering the voltage. This process is the same if you use a buck converter without an LED readout, you'll just need a multimeter on the output to tell you where you're at on the step down.
Why 5 volts? Well, the coil I'm using is a high resistance, older coil that was actually designed to run off a USB wall wart. Those supply 5 volts. Ohms law is V = IR. So we adjust it with middle school algebra and get I = V/R. My battery can supply up to 3 amps, so we should be plenty safe at 5V. I can also play with this, since my buck converter lets me adjust things. I might step up to 7.2V when I test things to see how that helps. Higher voltage + more amps = more heat (we more than double the wattage at that voltage), and, in theory, more smoke. Calculating wattage is W = AV.
Warning: you 100% can fry a vape coil just changing stuff willy nilly. Too hot, and it may also create a "dry hit," which basically means it burns off the fluid too fast. Not to mention just blowing the coil. You're also likely to shorten the lifespan by running it hotter than intended.
Wiring together the fan and light to make things easier. It's all 12V, so they'll run in parallel fine. My original plan was to run these off the strobe header on the Ninjatunes daughter board, but note that that connection is only 5V. Not pictured: I drilled out that base hole a tad larger to fit the OD of my silicone hose, and I taped off the other three to prevent smoke leaks.
Here's the vape coil. Negative is soldered to the inside of the outer casing, and the positive is soldered to the inner post of the coil itself. I poked a hole in the silicone tube about halfway up to thread it out. Make sure the tubing seats cleanly over the end of the coil. It's also worth noting that silicone works better here because it'll better hold up to the heat the coil creates. PVC or vinyl might pose fire risks.
Aaaaand this is where disaster strikes, and why this tutorial will come in two parts. I was disassembling the setup to take some additional photos of the solder points and one of the solder points hooked my tube and caused me to pull the coil itself apart. But fear not! I've ordered a new coil, and I have a couple videos to help out.
Here's an overview of everything in a test state before I was stupid and careless.
Here's how it looks in practice, again, before I was stupid and careless.
Stay tuned for part 2 with more photos and showing the installation and final wiring!