Vaporshark rDNA 40D from Stinky Canuck
At the right is the Vaporshark rDNA 40 as I received it. The box and the device itself are nearly identical to the previous version, the rDNA 30. Please note there are two versions of the rDNA 40, the one tested and reviewed here is the rDNA 40 V2.
That's the physical side, there are a considerable number of significant changes noted on the Vaporshark website:
- Zip High Speed Charging
- Larger Screen
- Reverse Polarity Buzzer
- LG 2500mah 35A 18650 Battery
- Gold plated, spring-loaded center pin
- Integrated wireless charging, with available Micro-USB port
- Matte Black
- Magnetic Battery Door
... not sure why they didn't list Temperature Control, but we'll get into that shortly. Vaporshark also do not mention the buck and boost converters built into the Evolv DNA 40D chipset. This provides a maximum of 9.0 volts output at 16 amps (23 amps instantaneous peak) and 1.0 volt at the low side.
The Vaporshark rDNA 40 includes a wireless charger transmitter built into the device. It works with the charging base from the previous version. It's by far the most convenient way of charging your rDNA. Just place it on the charging base (or within 5 mm) and it charges wirelessly. With the previous version, the receiver was external and used the micro USB port. If you were on the road and needed a charge, you had to remove the wireless transmitter USB plug to use a micro USB cable for charging. Not so with the rDNA 40, if you are not near a wireless charger, just plug in a micro USB cable into the port and charge away.
One of the notable changes is the size of the OLED screen. You can see that at the right. At the top is the rDNA 30, and at the bottom (in the red skin) is the rDNA 40.
The rDNA 40 has higher contrast, is easier to read with larger text displays, plus has an additional line of text for Temperature sensing display.
I've heard a few complaints about the rDNA (30 and 40) with the screen at the bottom. I have not formed an opinion. It doesn't seem to matter much to me whether the display is at the bottom, side, front, or ?? ... you get used to it. One of the complaints, though, is from those that use dripper atomizers and I tend to agree with the issue. You have to tilt the rDNA to view the display. With a dripper or a genesis-style tank you will end up leaking liquid ... it's a trade off you have to consider.
Vaporshark have also changed the access door to the battery. With previous versions of the rDNA, you used a philips-head screw driver to remove a small screw to access the battery. With the rDNA, that has been changed to a magnetic cover. No more screw driver needed.
There is also a change to the finish of the rDNA 40. It's now a Matte Black finish. Prior to receiving mine, I have used one that a friend owns. He uses his quite regularly and the finish had already worn on on the edges after only a few weeks of use. I found the same type of wear on my rDNA 30 – when I received the rDNA 40 I switched the skin from my previous unit.
Vaporshark also list the 510 connector as a major change. The rDNA 40 does have a gold plated floating pin that is spring-loaded. However, I need to point out that the rDNA 30 I have also has a gold plated floating pin. I don't see that as a change.
Vaporshark now include an LG 2500 mAh 18650 battery with the rDNA 40. The battery that was included with the rDNA 30 is the Panasonic NCR 18650 B battery. The LG battery is better quality with more safety features.
The rDNA 30 is still available at some retailers. It supports subohms (0.5 ohms), has a replaceable 18650 battery, and a wattage range from 7.0 to 30.0 watts in 0.1 increments.
The rDNA 40 has a wattage range from 1.0 to 40.0 watts in 0.1 increments supporting subohms as low as 0.16 ohms. The replaceable battery is a better quality LG brand. You should note that the ohm range is 0.16 ohms to 2.0 ohms using standard wire. When using temperature sensing wire, the range is 0.10 ohms to 1.0 ohms.
For the price difference between the still available rDNA 30 and the rDNA 40, don't hesitate: get the rDNA 40.
Now, let's move on to functionality. The rDNA 40 is a sturdy device made in the US. I did detect some slight button rattle in the power button (the + and - buttons are covered by the silicone skin). I always open up devices and look at the insides. That can tell a lot about the quality of build and with the Vaporshark rDNA 40, it's clean and well assembled. There is no glue residue or any artifacts that suggest anything less than quality. You don't really need to open this device up unless replacing the battery – and that may throw you off a bit. Unlike other devices with replaceable 18650 batteries, the rDNA 40 has the negative terminal at the top. It's not much of an issue, there is a reverse polarity "buzzer" built into the device, it's impossible to use this with the batteries inserted the wrong way.
The micro USB port is on the side of the unit. That's desirable. To charge the rDNA 40 (same as the rDNA 30), you can stand it up and plug in the micro USB. Early on with the rDNA 30, I acquired a wireless transmitter and charger, that was never really an issue with me. I much prefer the rDNA with built-in wireless transmitter, though. There have been a few times with the rDNA that I had to "unplug" the wireless transmitter so that I could do a quick charge while in my car. The rDNA 40 lets you use either the wireless or the micro USB without such fiddling.
The most contentious new feature is the Temperature Control. There are many that want this feature, and just as many that think it is nothing more than a gimmic, a passing fad. I personally see it as a desirable feature and mainly for "joe average vaper". This is protection for vapers and will help prevent dry hits and over-firing. I've seen vapor liquid catch fire from pressing the fire button for too long (with a mechanical mod). We are now seeing exotic coil wire that can heat up extremely quickly. That will generate huge clouds and can generate some outstanding flavor, but it also introduces a new risk. Temperature control can help control these risks. I also see this of practical use with pre-made coils too.
The temperature control works on two wire types only. It's designed mainly for Nickel 200 wire. By preventing the coil from becoming too hot regardless of fluid, wicking or airflow, a variety of undesirable situations can be prevented.For example,appropriate temperature settings will prevent the wicking material from charring, which compromises taste and introduces unintended chemicals into the vapor. Appropriate temperature settings will also reduce the breakdown of flavoring and base liquid components, which could impact taste and/or safety. When the rDNA 40 is used Nickel 200 wire, it activates "pre-heat", meaning that no vapor is produced when the temperature is below the boiling point of the liquid. Pre-heat applies extra power until the heating coil is up to operating temperature to shorten the fire button delay. According to the documentation from Evolv, the DNA 40D chipset will also function with Kanthal wire.
Temperature control does not work with any wire other than Nickel or Kanthal. When using Nichrome, you will still see the temperature control display, but none of the temperature control aspects of the rDNA 40 will be functional. Temperature control is an rDNA 40 feature that you will use unless you plan on using Nickel 200 coil wire or Kanthal wire.
Obviously, I compared vaping the rDNA 40 with the rDNA 30 that I have. One aspect of the rDNA 40 that I do not like and will be looking into is the lag time between pressing the fire button and getting a satisfying vape. When you press the rDNA 30 fire button, the power hits the coils immediately. On the rDNA 40 there is a noticeable lag time. I tried turning off the temperature control (to turn temperature control off, adjust the temperature to 600 F and then press the + button one more time, then press the fire button) and that had no effect. The lag time is quite noticeable, when the coil hasn't been used for a few minutes, the first vape produces next to no vapor, the second and subsequent vapes are ok. That's quite bad lag time. That being said, once you reach operating temperature, the vape is outstanding. I normally vape at 8.5 watts and setting the rDNA 40 at that wattage produces a really satisfying and smooth vape. And, a quick note: the lag time may be due to a bad battery. I removed the LG battery and used a Samsung 25R and the lag time appears to be gone. I'll update on the battery and lag time issue in about one week's time.
So, what’s the verdict? Is it worth it?
Quite frankly, I prefer to support local vendors and manufacturers. The Vaporshark is made in the US. Parts may be sourced from asia, but it is still a US based product. The rDNA 30 that I have gets used regularly and the rDNA 40 will sort of replace it. The rDNA 30 will now become a back up and used at home while the rDNA 40 will be with me most of the time. The lag time will take some getting used to, the way around that is to press the fire button as you raise it to vape – let it heat up the coil before you vape. The form factor is great. It's one of the smallest replaceable 18650 battery systems available. The weight is reasonable. I do recommend the rDNA 40 – but I also recommend that you get a silicone skin to go with it. I recommend the skin for two reasons: 1) it will protect the finish of the rDNA 40; and, 2) it will help with temperature. The rDNA 40 is made of a zinc allow and prone to the temperature extremes in North America – hot or cold. The silicone skin tempers that and provides a comfort level that is worth the extra few $$ for the skin.
Update - 28 February 2015: There has been some discussion, with conflicting viewpoints, about the temperature control function built into the Vaporshark rDNA 40D. There are differing opinions on this: mine is clear – the spec sheet from both Vaporshark and Evolv claim that the DNA 40 chipset supports both Nichrome 200 and Kanthal A1 wire. And, as of today, I have proof of this. I have been using a Freemax Starre tank with Dual Vertical Coils (Kanthal wire) to test and review some vapor liquids by Paradise Vapes (Canvape.com). While testing one of the flavors that I was having a particularly difficult time identifying the blends, I was running out of juice – but really didn't notice. I've done this before and ended up burning the coil out. At that point, it's either replace the coil (for pre-made coils) or rebuild. I'm pleased to say that the Vaporshark rDNA did not fire the coil and actually saved it. I had the Vaporshark rDNA set to 450 F and it did not fire when it noticed that my dry hit put the coil over that temperature. End result to me, I have a perfectly good coil that is usable with absolutely no burned taste (or even any hint of burned taste). Very impressive.