The world of vaping is an ever changing, ever evolving, ever confusing hobby / lifestyle. I like to think of myself as quite knowledgeable in the game, but taking delivery of the Rabox Mini by SmoAnt threw me into my first taste of the world of Semi-Regulated Mods.
What is semi-regulated mods?
We should first start by explaining the difference between a box mod and a non-regulated mod. In a nutshell, a regulated mod has clever technology built in to stop you blowing yourself up. This technology will ensure that the build you have on your mod is safe and the device is capable of firing without any complications and tend to have a digital screen to show you the stats of your build.
A non-regulated mod (or Mechanical Mod) is basically a metal tube or box, that completes the circuit and delivers the power in the battery to the coils. This has no electronic protectionand relies on a knowledge of battery and coil building saftey. You can read more into none regulated mechanical mods in a previous blog I wrote.
This brings us to semi-regulated mods and how they work. This type of device is a half way house kind of mod, that has no screen, puts put a constant power, but has technology built in to help you a little. The SmoAnt Rabox Mini is a great example of this. The device can fire in either remaining battery mode, a constant 4 volts, or a constant 5 volts. This is all dealt with by the flick of a switch. The only way to tell what mode you are in, is to check the switch on the device.
What are the benefits of semi-regulated mods?
To answer this we must look at why non-regulated mods are popular. Besides the aesthetics of the mods, many people prefer the power delivery of a non-regulated mod as it is much quicker to deliver the power and your build will determine the wattage that you are vaping at. The fact that there is no computer software that is delivering the power to a specific wattage means that the volts hit the coil almost instantly. I have found this to be the same with the SmoAnt Rabox too, as the device only needs to remember to deliver 4 volts or 5 volts and therefore the power delivery is much quicker!
This reduces ramp up time and gets to the desired power in the blink of an eye. No waiting for the computer to calculate hundreds of different wattage options (5w-200w in 0.1 increments is a lot of calculations!) it just hits you with the full 4 or 5 volts straight away.
Another benefit I have found is battery safety. The Rabox for example comes with a built in 3300mah Aeromodelling battery, which I believe is a LIPO. This means that the battery is installed for purpose and has the required amperage rating for the device, which not only makes the battery safer, but also eliminated the battery sag that you will see on a traditional none regulated mechanical mod. Coupled with the fact the device has a limited amount of protection (see below) to stop the device firing below a certain point brings a safer, mechanical mod experience.
Drawbacks of semi-regulated mods?
Having used the SmoAnt Rabox for a little while now, there are one or two things that take a little bit of time to get used to, the first being the lack of screen. Some people prefer the smooth looks of a screenless device, but I personally have found this a little intimidating. Without being able to see my build resistance has made me double and triple check the resistance on a few occasions, to ensure that what I am doing will not result in too much power hitting the coils and give me dry hits.
The other issue I have found is knowing what power mode you are in. When I am busy working and just grab the mod to take a vape, I have occasionally been in the 5 Volt mode when I wanted to be in the 4 Volt mode and this has resulted in a much hotter and quicker to ramp up vape. You need a knowledge of ohms law and resistance rules to get this device to vape how you want it. Your build determines the wattage and therefore you need to build to a certain resistance to ensure that the coils will handle 4 Volts or 5 Volts and that your wicking will keep up with the constant power delivery.
The final drawback I guess is a subjective one, but having a built in battery (to give you that small amount of protection) can sometimes be a pain. When charging the battery you have to rely on different colour LEDs to tell you the battery life, and this is not as accurate as a % reading , which can result in you having less battery life than you expected.
So you are telling me this is basically a mech with a built in battery?
Not quite! Although it shares many traits of a straight mechanical mod, they are actually very different. The device still has some built in protection that will not allow you to fire beneath a certain resistance, for too long, or with a short. However with this being much less than on a fully regulated mod, you still get the quicker ramp up but with a bit of a safety net to make you feel more confident when using the device.
The Rabox specifically will fire down to 0.1 ohms and up to 5 ohms but will push the full power to that build at all times. Therefore without the correct build and wicking, you may notice dry hits or even melted wire!
Should I buy semi-regulated mods?
That all depends on what you are looking to achieve. If you are new to mechanical and unregulated mods, then this works as a very handy half way point. it allows you to get familiar with your build being the driving wattage factor, instead of the mod. It also allows you to experiment and know that there is some safety in place should you make a mistake.
I have always been a fan of mechanical mods as the power delivery is very different to a variable wattage device, but I was always frustrated with battery life. With this built in battery you get a much longer vape time but with much of the same power delivery as a mechanical mod.
If you are a hardcore mech user, then I think you may get a little frustrated by the limitations that the regulation brings (sub 0.1 ohm builds)
Thoughts on the Rabox?
All in all I am quite impressed with the Rabox. There are some things that have taken a little getting used to though. Such as the lack of screen and guessing game when charging. However as I have been building for a long time and I have used mechs in the past I am slowly getting confident again in my building abilities. I am very much enjoying the quick ramp up time and constant delivery!
If you are looking to take the leap into mechanical mods, but would like a little reassurance in safety, then you can buy the Rabox through this link.
Thanks for reading, and please leave any questions in the comments.
I have been vaping for over 5 years and have been a keen hobbyist ever since starting. I moved into the review side of things after the success of my @mikethevaper Twitter page and have been striving to provide help and knowledge ever since.