Hcigar Mephisto from Canvape
Despite everything you hear about dripping atomizers, choosing a new one has more to do with how easy it is to build and wick than anything else.
There are designs for single coils, dual coils, and quad coils. In some cases, you can double up on those with some wire wrapping strategies like twisted coils and parallel coils. Dripping is about getting as much metal contact with the vapor liquid as you can possibly get.
Dripping atomizers have been the vape of choice for sub-ohm self-built coils. The builder's expertise determined the quality of the vape and whether the build was mainly for clouds or flavor.
The two, however, are not mutually exclusive. You can have good flavor and good clouds from one single build.
At the left is the build deck for the Hcigar Mephisto. A few things to point out: 1) the screws all require a flat screw driver, there is no knurling and cannot be finger tightened; 2) the center screw has no head on it – you cannot do a wrap around the screw head and tighten that way; 3) the posts holes for the coil legs are generously large – very large, this is one of the largest I have ever seen or used; 4) there is lots of space to work in and around. This is one nice base to work on. It may not be obvious, but the two outer posts are your negatives, the center is the common positive post. The structure of this layout means that you can also build vertical coils and use the center post hole for the positives and wrap coil legs at the negative post screws – that will get you reasonably short legs and keep your resistance down with minimal loss at the legs.
Each coil is wrapped to be 1.8 ohms. The total build shows as 0.9 ohms. At the right, I have it mounted on my latest Franken IPV ... those of you following my reviews know that I built this from parts of two different Advanced Personal Vaporizers. It's a variable watt system (7 to 50 watts in 0.1 watt increments) based on the Yihi SX 300 chipset as found in the IPV 2. I like it because it is a dual 18650 parallel batteries that last a good long time and is a very stable vape.
You can see from my wicking that I have used a generous amount of wicking material (rayon from The Village Vaporette) and it is tucked under the coil to get as much liquid in contact with the coil as possible without restricting air flow.
The Hcigar Mephisto features an adjustable air flow ring. That is the black portion of the atomizer with the etched Mephisto brand logo. The air flow can adjust from fully closed to a single hole fully exposed or two holes fully exposed. You can use the single hole for single coil builds, or the dual holes for dual coil builds. Regardless of how you use it, the air flow is quite good. I've got it tweaked to have two holes fully open and each hole is in-line with the coils.
This is my first coil build in quite some time. I've been having some hand tremor problems for the past few months and find it difficult to wrap coils and even more difficult to mount them on posts. For the coil wrapping part, I have started to get some pre-wrapped coils (you can get them from Canvape, do a search on "premade" or "Kanthal"). The premade coils are Kanthal A1 wire. While they do cost a bit more than wrapping yourself, in my case it is my only option at this time. PS. That's the bottom of the Hcigar Mephisto in this review. Note the laser etching at the bottom of the base includes a serial number ... showing this so you can also see the adjustable copper 510 connector pin.
Premade coils have limitations ... when I built my own coils, I was able to choose the inner diameter and could adjust the leg length depending on the target build. With premade coils, I usually have to trim 1 to 2 mm from one of the legs to help insert them a little bit easier – you can get one leg started and then the other, instead of having to try to get both in perfectly at the same time. At the right is one of the Canvape premade coils (Kanthal, 0.3 ohms – $3.95 for a bag of 10).
The Hcigar Mephisto comes nicely boxed with a mini flat screwdriver, wicking material, coil wire and two spare rubber seals. The 510 connector is copper and adjustable with the flat screwdriver – and threading on the 510 connector is clean and very smooth. All of the machining is very very well done. You will also appreciate that Hcigar builds are professionally done and well cleaned (still, clean it yourself to avoid any possible machine oil residues). The only part of the Mephisto that I am not that thrilled with is the drip tip. With the unit I received, the drip tip is fairly loose and wobbles. That unfortunate, the Mephisto drip tip is somewhat unique and not that easy to replace while still getting the same look. Ah, well, guess I'll put a wire bore tip on it eventually anyhow.
This is a dream to vape. The drip well is generous and holds a good 20 drops of vapor liquid. Despite this, it doesn't last long – the flavor is so darn good you'll just keep vaping at a rapid pace. I just loved it. The only other RDA that comes close to this is the Stillare V2 ... both easy to build, both flavor machines, and both decent cloud generators.
The air flow ring doesn't lock down. Every time you fill the tank (and that should be fairly often), you are prone to move the air flow ring. I noticed at one point that when I was drawing air, I was getting a whistling noise ... that's from inadvertently shifting the air flow ring while filling it. It's easy enough to correct though.
I ran this review by another vaper before publishing. It was someone fairly new to dripping atomizers, and a few questions came up that may help others ... so I'll answer them here:
- There's no liquid view with an RDA, how do you know when you need to refill with liquid?
Good question. It's important to recognize that the wicking material is cotton and will burn if you dry hit too much or too often. When you first build a coil and wick it, you will vape with the liquid as full as you can get it. That will give you a sense of the taste, the vapor clouds, and heat generated at the drip tip when you vape. When you start to notice the heat increase too quickly or the taste starts to get a slight harsh, you need more liquid.
- How do you fill an RDA?
Another good question. Since you can't see your vapor liquid level, you need to get familiar with the RDA that you have. The first time you build, you will first dampen the wick so make it easier to work with. The wick material will be reasonably well saturated at this point, anything else you add will be equivalent to when you are vaping and re-filling. So, once you are fijnished wicking put the tank back on the deck and add about 10 drops of vapor liquid (count them while pressing the container or eye dropper). Then take off the tank and check to see how full the liquid well is. Adjust the number of drops based on what you find. With most drippers, the liquid they can hold is between 10 drops and 20 drops. There are some that can hold more, and you will recognize those with extremely deep wells. Once you get familiar with your RDA, all you need to do to refill your tank is remove the drip tip and put the drops through the drip tip opening at the top (no need to remove the tank).
- How often to you replace the wicking material and coils?
The wicking material will need to be replaced more often than the coils. I've had some coils last up to a few months with some reasonable cleaning. In some cases, the coils only lasted a few weeks. It sort of depends on the liquid you are using. Darker vapor liquids tend to muck up your coils quicker than clear vapor liquids. I only use cotton or rayon wicking material. In both cases, they burn/melt when you get dry hits. If you do get a dry hit, remove the tank and check the wicking material ... if the wicking material shows any dark discoloration from "burning", remove it and replace. If not, you can usually just add vapor liquid and keep on vaping with no burnt taste. Some people replace wicking material daily (some, several times daily). Personally, I try to make the wick last as long as possible and find it depends very much on how much I use the RDA and the vapor liquid ... most of my wicks last at least three to four days each. Keep in mind, you don't want to keep wicking material just for the sake of saving a few pennies. Vape safely.
EDIT: after showing this, the question was further expanded to ask "How do you clean coils?" ... well, a very good question. I have a few small brass brushes that I use when soldering to clean up the soldering gun tips when the lead starts to darken to hold heat. I kept a new one of these brushes in my dripper "kit". When I open a tank to re-wick and I find the coils are mucking up, I remove the wick material, and dry fire the coils. That will burn off most of the muck, and then I lightly brush off with my brass brush and then dry fire again and rewick. Dry fire means that you get the coils to a glow and stop firing.
- I switched from smoking to vaping a few weeks ago. My friend tells me that I just have to get into dripping. What's your advice? Follow your own path. Vaping can become a hobby and it does for many people. Dripping is sort of in that "hobby" category. It does take a bit of time to learn how to make your own coils and how to wick. That's enjoyable though and a pleasure to vape on coils and wicks that you designed and built. But, dripping also means that you will be adding fluid about every 4 to 6 draws. That can get to be annoying – it's certainly not in the "convenience" side of vaping. You also have to be aware that dripping atomizers cannot be laid sideways. There is no tank on these to contain vapor liquid. If you lay a dripping atomizer on its side, the vapor liquid will find its way out of the air flow holes (or out of the drip tip).
- Do you have to use high wattage to drip?
Well, sort of yes and sort of no. You will find yourself using higher wattage overall. For example, the coils I built for this review ended up combined at 0.9 ohms. That's a higher resistance that the 0.5 ohm coils of the Subtank I usually use. Despite that, I still ended up vaping at 40.0 watts and thoroughly enjoyed the flavor and clouds generated at that wattage. I also used about 8 ml of juice in just a few hours.
- I am currently using 12 strength vapor liquid – can I keep using that for dripping?
That's really a personal preference type of thing. I know when I was vaping at 12 strength and dripping, the 12 strength was way too harsh. I had to cut back on wattage to get a reasonable vape at that strength. When I vaped at lower strength levels (first 6 mg/ml, then 3 mg/ml), that was less harsh. I now vape at zero strength and find no harshness, even at extreme wattage. At a more moderate 40-50 watts, no problem.
– and another way to answer this: you will find that most cloud chasers will vape at zero nic. Dripping consistently for any length of time at high wattage will give you a nicotine buzz/headache (signs of a nicotine overdose). That being said, I also know of at least one vaper that regularly drips at 18 mg and seems to be used to that. To each his own, I guess.
- I've read some of your other dripper reviews and you seem to favor single and dual coil drippers. Any particular reason why?
Yes, I have tremors in my hands and find that anything more than three posts and I am unable to work in the more clustered work space. Three posts is about my limit to work with comfortably.
So, what's the verdict? Is it worth it? Yes it is. There are two RDA's that I consider my go-to drippers and those are the Ehpro Stillare V2 and this Hcigar Mephisto. Both support single or dual coils, have generous liquid wells, and are easy to work on. I certainly would recommend these to beginners to learn on ... you might even stick with them as your go-to drippers like I do. The Hcigar Mephisto is a great value, a quality built device made with quality materials.