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Best of the Magic-Flight Box thread

Discussion in 'Best Of' started by magicflight, May 16, 2009.

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  1. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    It is true that the Box airflow is designed to get various helpful effects. At the time I was writing the previous post, I figured that these more subtle aspects were probably too complex to explain in a post that was already too long. Also, although the airflow details are helpful in several respects, we do not consider the Box to be a true 'convection' vaporizer since these specific details account for less than 50% of the overall Box vaporization process. The mechanics and the IR characteristics are somewhat more important to the overall performance.

    This is correct and represents truly optimal technique. In fact, this sort of herb treatment is very hard to improve on -- short of using lab tech. I am very glad to see that some of these more subtle points are being observed.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  2. max

    max Out to lunch Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,541
    You don't have to feel vapor hits in your throat and lungs, and exhale vapor that's easy to see in any light, in order to get high. When you feel vapor hit your throat and expand in your lungs, and see vapor when you exhale, you know you got a good hit. That's fine if you want to do it that way, but it's not really efficient as far as stretching your herb. You'll go through it faster. Same with a full sized vape. That's why people love the Puple-Days for efficiency. The bowl is the smallest size on the market. It has a fixed temp so you're not going to get into the higher vaping temps (which will mean the heat process vaporizes more quickly). It just makes efficiency easy to obtain. A full size vape has a bigger bowl so you tend to load more, take big hits, and it's easy (with an analog whip model) to move up in temp, either with the dial setting or using an easy, slow draw. And your draw speed does affect the vaping temp with a convection unit. The LB is mostly conduction, so draw speed is less important, but still a factor.

    So even though it's small, the LB works like a full size whip vape. Even more so since continuing to make battery contact keeps increasing the temp. I, like most, find myself wanting to feel the hit in my throat and lungs (like you do with smoke), and see visible vapor on exhale. But if you limit your battery contact, which keeps the temp under control, you can get hits that you don't really feel, and see no vapor on exhale. But if you take a few of these 'no feel, no visible vapor' hits and just sit back and wait, you'll feel the effect, as in getting high. It's not as satisfying to vape this way, but it's mostly psychological and just takes a little discipline. It's like the difference between sipping beer or wine, and tossing down shots of hard liquor one after the other. Sipping gives you measured doses while some quick shots will get you drunk in a hurry. You can go either way with the Launch Box, depending on how you use it.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  3. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    This is a good question and not so easy to answer definitively. Generally, my opinion is that the difference in the bio-available yield between vaping and smoking is (or should be) about 4 to 1 for any "good" reasonably well designed vaporizer. Therefore, I think that it is fairly safe to claim that the use of good technique with the LB should be able to get at least into the 3 to 1 range, acknowledging that some sacrifices have been made towards overall utility and convenience with the Box.

    Note: My opinions regarding these metrics are based on careful observations and notes made during the user testing, controlled interviews, etc. of the LB beta as well as certain versions and prototypes of the Tube (lab-work). In other words, they represent a mostly empirical view (that of an engineer) rather than a theoretical one (that of a salesman). Others with real experience on this forum will probably have their own opinions as well (they are welcomed).

    Basically, the argument in favor of vaporization could as easily be made in terms of increased efficiency -- the quantity of a medicinal component actually ingested by the user, rather than in terms of increased health -- noticed as a difference in the quality of the high (which actual substances and in what ratios are transferred to the user). If there were some commonly accepted and correct way to describe the subjective notion of "how much high" you could get from smoking $80 worth of material, then using the LB vape you should be able to get at least 3X as much high -- or alternatively, get the same "high" three times as often using the same material. Another way of thinking about this would be to say that if you consume $80 worth of material via smoking in a month, then buying and using a LB should pay for itself twice-over in the first month of usage.

    These factors are, of course, discounting the subtly different subjective effects associated with the experience itself, both before and after the immediate process of the ingestion event (the three-minute mark after the last 'hit'). Yet, in some respects, the 3:1 ratio is even a bit conservative. Certain research experiments have indicated that truly optimal conditions and handling procedures (ie, assuming perfect lab gear with no condensation effects, perfect temp control, etc -- all more complex than the LB) could result in a potential yield that is noticeably higher (8X+ to 1 -- units this good are generally too cumbersome and expensive to sell). In other respects, unfortunately, actual practice with real users finds that such metrics are not nearly so linear or proportional to the actual measured quantity of material consumed. In one sitting, consuming 2X as much material may result in no change at all (if the amount was below threshold to start with), or a change in the degree of 'high' which is much more than 2X (with a moderate amount in an non-habituated user), or a change which is somewhat less than 2X (if the quantity was overwhelming to begin with, doubling it will not make it significantly more-so). There are tolerance effects that occur in time as well -- consuming the same amount of material in two settings spaced 1/2 hour apart will produce different overall total amount of 'high' than two sittings spaced 2 hours apart -- which itself is different 2 days or 2 weeks apart in time.

    As such, when considering "how much better" vaping is in comparison to smoking, the differences between user techniques, the non-linear response curve (tolerance both in time and in amount) and multiple factors associated with the quality/flavor of materials themselves (the quality of the high) all combine to confuse the "real" degree of improvement. Given that many of these aspects are inherently subjective and personal, it is therefore necessary to indicate that each individual will have a somewhat different experience of the 'actual effective yield' when transitioning to the LB. If you are going from smoking to using the LB, I would expect that *most* people would describe it as a 3X improvement. If you happen to already be used to vaporizers, then a transition to using a LB should be about even, but could be as good as 2X (if your previous vaporizer did not work well), or 0.7X if your other vape was especially good.

    -- Magic-flight

    PS: I would prefer that discussion of such matters remain civil. Opinions and helpful information is welcomed -- especially if stated in a way that requires no assumptions about anyone emotional state or intent. Works out for everyone that way -- now and forever.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  4. reece

    reece Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    Oregon
    That seems to be the general consensus around here. But I have yet to see anything more than opinions on the matter. However, I did see a post (can't remember the thread) where a guy said some vapor cannot be absorbed because the molecules are too big. I don't know much about these things but he "seemed" like he knew what he was talking about (so he must have been right ;) ).

    From my own experience, I don't get any higher when I hold it in. I do, as with smoking, seem to get higher when I have a good cough. But I think that is more about oxygen deprivation, which could also be the case when holding the hit for a long time.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  5. max

    max Out to lunch Staff Member

    Messages:
    10,541
    As far as holding hits getting you more than with a quick exhale, it depends to some extent on how much vapor you're inhaling. With a bong style vape, or using one with a vape to get bigger hits, you can inhale an extremely large quanity of vapor. You'll never convince me that you can exhale a huge cloud of vapor, after not holding it any longer than it takes to fill your lungs, and still absorb all the THC and cannabinoids. Even with smoke, where it make sense to me that it gets absorbed quicker than with vapor, people have proven that 2nd hand smoke gets you high. All you have to do is exhale into a bag and let someone inhale nothing but the exhaled smoke in the bag. It does get you high, so even with smoke there are still actives in the exhale. Same with vapor. TokinGLX, a veteran vaporist, has stated that he's often gotten his GF high from his exhaled vapor.

    Now if you're using something like the Launch Box, where you don't usually get big hits unless you hold the heat long enough to get into the higher temp range, it doesn't make nearly as much difference IMO. You also have to consider that when you are in a higher temp range, with any vape, that THC and some other cannabinoids will vaporize at a lower temp, and that an exhale of high temp vapor will mean losing mostly the compounds that take a high temp to vaporize, including some that don't really benefit you as far as being psychoactive, analgesic or sedative. Even the useful high temp compounds are only sedative and analgesic (pain relief). No THC at high temps. It's already vaped.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  6. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    To add some more to what Max and Reece, etc, have said, I agree that it depends as much on how deeply you inhale as it does on how long you hold it in. Filling ones lungs fully, drawing deeply all of the way in so as to get the vapor all of the way into the lower lungs is far more practical than holding a smaller volume of vapor only in the upper lungs and throat for any amount of time. The throat and the larger upper channels of the lungs are very poor absorbers -- the real work is done in the deeper passages of the lungs. To truly take a hit, you must fully receive it into yourself.

    With our breath there are three factors we can control: 1) how fast, 2) how deep, and 3) how long. For example, to get more oxygen, the body has a natural response -- the yawn -- which specifically is a deeper breath, not a faster one or one 'held in' longer. To adsorb even more oxygen (hyperventilate), the key is to breath both more quickly and more deeply, with the deep depth being the more important factor (note: you can breathe fast and shallow without any effect). The factors that increase the ability of the lungs to adsorb THC are exactly the same as those needed to improve oxygen adsorption. Molecule size, kind, mass, etc, makes absolutely no difference to this proportionality.

    There are certain psycho-physiological effects also. With a bong, the wide shape of the mouthpiece naturally encourages the user to take deeper hits farther into the lungs (the mouth is open in the same manner as with a yawn). Drawing on a narrow tube, the user has to specifically and mentally overcome the bodies natural tendency to take only a short breath (as in 'sipping') -- one that fills only the throat, and hence will be very poorly adsorbed. To get the same effect out of the Box as with a bong, we instruct users to take long slow deeply drawn hits. The slowness is for the Box heating characteristics -- the longness is so that the user takes a deep hit, fully into the deep passages of the lungs, so as to get full value for their effort.

    We recommend that Box users first learn how to control the temp in the Box by controlling their draw rate, and then work to take fewer, much longer and deeper draws. With practice, you will find that filling the lungs thoroughly and completely in one hit is far more powerful and effective than taking the same exact volume of vapor in multiple smaller hits. Depending on your lung capacity, with most Boxes a good draw will last 15 to 25 seconds. However, be sure to have completely mastered temp control before attempting to increase your draw time -- otherwise you will find yourself coughing.

    Also, since we are on the subject, the reports that I have seen indicate that 95% of whatever is going to be adsorbed will have done so within the first 2 seconds of actual vapor contact with the bronchial passages. This means that the clock starts only at the moment one has completely filled their lungs, and not before. It is also important to recognize that this does not mean that everything that is in a single breath is going to be adsorbed, no matter how long you hold it -- it only states that most of whatever is going to happen will do so in the first 2 seconds. Vapor that is held in the throat and in the larger lung passages will not really be adsorbed into the body no matter how long you wait (wrong kind of tissue) -- and exhaling these into a bag for someone else to use will allow them to get some also.

    As such, really sophisticated hitting technique (optimal adsorption efficiency) with the Box involves several stages:

    - 1; You take a few full extra deep breaths at a normal rate to pre-charge your body with
    extra oxygen and to get a good sense of your available lung capacity.

    - 2; The battery is put fully in and heating starts. The temperature begins climbing quickly in the Box.
    You watch for vapor by looking strait down the Box vapor channel (down the draw hole -- NOTE: Be
    sure to hold the Box horizontally throughout this process so that the material in the tray does not
    all fall down to one end of the screen -- this leads to uneven heating and poor taste).

    - 3; Two or three seconds later, the temp in the Box is about right and the you begin drawing
    at first slowly, and then only a little faster, adjusting your draw rate depending on the sensed
    temp and taste. For maximum sensitivity, using the Box in its Native configuration is ideal.

    - 4; The long slow draw continues until you begin to sense that you have reached about 80% or so
    of your lung capacity (perhaps 15 seconds later), at which point you pull the battery back slightly
    to stop the heating. You continue your draw at a somewhat faster rate so as to capture all of
    the remaining vapor still being formed in the Box and to assist it in cooling off.

    - 5; Four or five seconds later, the Box is cool and no longer producing vapor. At this point you
    continue to breath the rest of the way in, filling your lungs completely and ensuring that all of the
    remaining vapor (the 'vapor tail') is moved from your throat into your deep lungs were it will do
    some good.

    - 6; You hold your breath, lungs completely full, for about two seconds and then you breath
    out naturally through your nose. This allows you to savor any remaining flavor and to
    know exactly how much of a hit you have just taken. You can breathe normally again.

    - 7; You shake the Box, noticing and ensuring an even mixing. Turning the Box upside down,
    tapping sharply, and shaking side to side (with the Box still upside down) is usually sufficient
    to ensure that all material is released from the screen and that larger chunks are broken up.
    Righting the Box again, you shake side to side again to settle the material in the tray.

    - 8; Take note of the color of the material in the Box. If it is green, go back to step 1 and take
    a few more deep breaths.

    On this forum, there has been a lot of attention paid to the inherent efficiency of the vaporizers used. For optimal results, equal attention needs to be paid to the inherent efficiency of the user technique. Good user technique can sometimes make even a poorly designed vaporizer work well, and with a moderately good vaporizer, can really make it zing!

    The technique outlined above specifically for the Box has a number of advantages. For one thing, because no vapor is ever emitted directly from the Box to the air, the level of smell associated with the device remains at a true minimum. Also, because nearly all of the vapor is deeply adsorbed into the body, the user does not emit much smell either. Because the battery is only being used whole producing vapor, the effective usefulness of a battery charge is significantly extended also (energy efficiency). Also, the deep breath in the beginning (step 1) ensures that you have enough oxygen in your body so that the whole process feels more natural.

    Finally, in regards to visibility, if you see anything on the exhale associated with step 6 above, it is very likely that you are running the Box too hot and that you need to drawing slightly faster during steps 3 and 4. Whatever you see is going to be either 1) condensing vapor (very light and milky) which is now no longer accessible (wasted THC) or 2) particulate matter (smoke) which is unnecessary and bad for your health. If it is only vapor that you see on exhale, you need to judge your lung capacity lower in step 4 and ensure that you leave enough time for the Box to cool and enough remaining breath for you to fully capture the vapor tail in your deep lungs. If it is smoke that you see, you need to be drawing faster or sooner -- don't wait as long to start drawing in step 3 and practice your breath and rate control until you can ensure that you can maintain an even taste.

    Also, under no circumstances should the battery ever be in the Box when no one is drawing on it for more than about 3 seconds -- something to be aware of if you are ever in a group and passing the Box. A lot of people pass a Box when it is 'on' to a new user and then explain how to use it -- all the while the Box is overheating the herb and when the new user does finally take a taste, it is way too hot and harsh. A much better approach is to show how to put the battery in, hand the Box over without the battery completely in and explain that a long slow draw is required. Let the new user push the battery in and take their hit -- as soon as its done, take the Box back from them and withdraw the battery, showing them that it is necessary to do so. Ensure that each person in a group applies and withdraws the battery individually BEFORE letting them pass the Box around hot.

    As always, questions on any of this are welcome.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  7. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    It is possible -- but very difficult -- for someone to adjust the ring. We use a press with a special fixture to make the adjustment, and generally suggest that users treat this as a warranty issue. We will be glad to recycle or re-adjust your existing units and/or send a replacement for a Box that is otherwise unusable (ie making no contact, regardless of battery used).

    However, if you would like to attempt to make the adjustment, most often the best bet is to push the entire ring upwards from the bottom of the Box towards the lid side, with the lid open. Use a vice and a tool with a flat edge that can press with an even, gradually increasing pressure on the center of the bottom of the ring. The idea is to treat the entire ring as a unit, rather than to change the size/diameter of the ring itself. The main risk is not applying the adjustment force exactly perpendicular to the bottom of the Box at the center of the ring. If the ring moves at all forward or backward (rather than just up or down), the screen will be displaced and potentially damaged as the rod slides. Also, just the right level of force is necessary -- too much and the ring will either become too small or be moved too far out of position -- at which point, an opposite adjustment must be attempted. Above all else, please be safe -- think about what you are doing before you do it.

    If you have a Box that is not working due to this issue, and you attempt to make the adjustment and further damage the Box, please let us know so that we can send you a new Box.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  8. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    The heating element is 304 stainless (the same material used in high-end cookware) and is usually calibrated to be at 380 Fahrenheit four seconds after the moment the Box is started, assuming a fairly slow constant draw rate and average environmental conditions.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  9. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    We have replied to your email. Although there are a number of advantages to using wood -- natural, beautiful, safe -- there are some disadvantages. For example, we do occasionally get some reports of changes in the tightness of the negative terminal ring either getting looser or tighter -- most likely due to differences in humidity. The end-grain 'checking' that you reported (a woodworking term for a end-grain separation), is actually rather uncommon in finished wood products (1st occurrence with the Box that we know about). Our milling/processing techniques usually prevent it from happening. The good news at least is that grain process like this is unlikely to affect the operation of the unit in any way, aside from the cosmetic aspects. However, we can treat it as a warranty event and will issue you a new unit if you would like. Please let us know (via private email). Also, in the interest of recycling and product improvement, for anyone who does receive a replacement unit, we appreciate having the replaced unit sent back to us -- although this is not required, it is helpful. Email us for details of how to do this.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  10. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    A Box should run about 380 during normal conditions. Based on your observations, the Box may be running slightly cooler than most, but it is within the intended range. With a fine grind and good mixing, a bowl should take about 6 hits of 20 seconds each duration to become mostly a medium brown. We find that to be the best balance of time vs ease of use. There are some units that will go less or more than this, but that is what we aim for. The disadvantage of having the unit hotter is that it tends to affect the taste sooner and takes somewhat more breath control skill.

    -- Magic-flight

    PS: Note; Unless certain precautions are taken, most IR test equipment will show the unit as low. The optical path and focus of the instrument needs to be well matched to the actual visible shape of the screen. Also, whether the lid is open or closed makes a big difference -- the Lid blocks IR (this is by design), so the Box must be open to test -- yet this changes the convection aspects very dramatically. Depending on Box orientation, IR testing with lid open can result in another 50 degree temp loss. We find that we need to use a special IR transmissive window as well as beam image matching to get an accurate reading using IR. If you have the option, use a low mass K-type thermocouple with the lid closed and direct contact to get a better reading.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  11. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    The unit itself is unlikely to change over time -- more likely it is the batteries. Which batteries are you using and what charger? We have had reports of certain types of chargers causing this to occur in the batteries.

    Aside from breath control, there are is no adjustable parts in the device itself.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  12. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    It is possible, although it is rather uncommon to see. Usually, it would be the result of only a very little bit of the battery touching a contact. Try turning/twisting the smaller battery in the hole and pressing firmly -- that may distinguish what is going on. Our product unit tests for fit using the stock batteries -- supposedly a standard size. It is also possible is that different battery brands may have different operating characteristics -- is there any consistency in the behavior?

    If people are having trouble getting their Box to work with the stock batteries and charger, please contact us via email for possible warranty support.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  13. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    Usually, the inhale rate needs to be fairly slow, and the swirl only happens when drawing fast. If the material is swirling in the chamber, the draw rate is probably too fast for much vapor production. However, for an especially light and fluffy load and for an especially hot unit, you may get some vapor when a swirl pattern is showing. Vapor while swirling would not be common nor desired, however, as the vape would be especially hard to use -- the draw rate would have to be perfect every time.

    The other heating method we take especial advantage of is IR (infra red). The air in the chamber is not heated as much with this technique.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  14. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    Not sure if this helps, but our standard 'calibration test load' has an average 'grain size' of 30 thousandths of an inch -- its fairly fine, but not power or kief. That would be a 200 Mesh filter, or approximately 75 microns particulate. Perhaps similar to an average table salt and a little more. Clean picked material is processed using a conventional grinder and then reprocessed using an electric grinder before grading -- this provides a consistent standard to test with. Most users would not need to go through this much effort.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  15. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Yes. The screen is not that fragile -- you can use the brush too. Opening the Box lid and blowing directly into it sharply is usually enough to clear everything. We emphasize the screen in the instructions as there are some purchasers who are less than mechanically adept and need to be told -- else they will likely crash the screen.

    Also, a couple of tips that may help you. Don't wait to start drawing on the Box. As soon as you put the battery in, begin drawing on it right away. Then, as soon as you stop drawing, take the battery out. The Box truly is fast -- leaving the battery in for even a few seconds when not drawing on it can make a big difference in taste. You want a longish and steady even draw -- 10 to 20 seconds. Some people (who want it hotter) will sip, wait, and sip again alternately, leaving the battery in the whole time -- this is not for you. For you, the key is going to be long and steady.

    Finally, remember to shake the Box between hits. Turn it completely upside down (lid closed) and give it a tap or two -- check to see all specks of material is freed from the screen and then shake vigorously side to side to completely stir. Anything that sticks to the screen and does not participate in the mixing is going to get darker faster than the bulk of the load, and this will affect the taste also.

    Getting ultimate performance with the Box is a bit of an art form -- like playing a musical instrument. Metaphorically, of all of the classical instruments, the Box is perhaps most like playing a flute. It can do just about anything you want, but especially good results does depend on the skill of the operator. The three factors of timing, breath control, and a variety of content mixing are the key to a great performance. As with the flute, nearly anyone can play something, and yet it is also an instrument worthy of classical mastery.

    Let us know how this plays out for you

    All the Best,
    -- Magic-flight

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  16. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Note, DeepFried does mention here an important usage note. The PowerEx batteries will operate the Box hotter as well as longer. Because of the significantly increased heat, the timing and breath control of the user must be proportionately more accurate to prevent overheating (changes taste). We strongly recommend that new users become skilled with the stock batteries before trying higher energy density batteries.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  17. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Yes, it does. Higher voltage generally means hotter. The battery will not read the same voltage when it is in use as it does when in the charger, however, so the specifics of how much hotter, or even if the difference will be noticeable, depends on the specifics of the battery and the sensitivity of your taste.

    Mostly, it is how long the battery lasts. A battery with more charge storage capacity will tend to hold a higher voltage for longer as well, so higher mAh will tend to also mean somewhat hotter operation for somewhat longer, if the battery is fresh.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  18. Haywood

    Haywood Onward Thru the Fog

    Messages:
    621
    The MaHa Powerex MH-C204W is not in same ballpark as the Maha Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer. If you check the specifications of the two, you'll see that the C204W has to charge the cells in pairs, and that each pair needs to be at about the same state of discharge. You have no flexibility in charge rate or mode with the C204W; it's 2 amps per cell when charging two batteries, and 1 amp per cell when charging four batteries.

    The Maha Powerex MH-C9000 WizardOne Charger-Analyzer is by far the best of the three you mention, which is also reflected in its price. A number of us have been using it with great results for a long time. In fact, Magic-Flight mentioned in one of their earlier messages that they use the MH-C9000 in their shop.

    Don't get me wrong, the BC-9009 and the MH-C204W are good chargers, they're just not as good. If you can't afford a MH-C9000 then the MH-204W is a good choice. (The BC-9009 is close enough in price to the MH-C9000 that I would be buying the MH-C9000 instead, even if I were strapped for money).

    My 2

    Haywood

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  19. Haywood

    Haywood Onward Thru the Fog

    Messages:
    621
    Pretty much all I'm about to say can be found in my previous messages in this and the beta thread, but they're spread out all over the place. Since there've been a number of battery and charger questions recently, I thought this might be a good time and place to throw in all my battery experiences in one message. This is going to be very long...

    I've been using a Launch Box since its inception (many months), and I've already purchased a half dozen of them which I've given away as gifts. In turn, the six recipients have each turned on three of four of their friends who then bought their own Launch Boxes. So I'm not a Launch Box newbie, and I have a LOT of feedback from a LOT of people. I also use a Volcano Digit, and I have a now unused iolite and one of those pipes with a stone in it (I forget the name), so I'm not a newbie with vaporizers in general either. I'm also an electronic engineer, and actually know how the chargers work, and how the batteries work.


    The charger part:

    Overcharging a battery to the point where it's too hot to hold is probably the most harmful thing you can do to your batteries, followed by over discharging them. You can render your battery useless after just a few overcharge/overheat cycles. Even if you don't (render your battery useless), you will reduce the number of charge/discharge cycles from hundreds to dozens. So whatever charger you use, you don't want it overheat the batteries to the point you can't comfortably hold them in your hand. They can be warm, or even what you might call hot, but you shouldn't have any trouble holding them in your hand. (Yes, I know that physically denting, or putting a battery in a vise and crushing it are more harmful, but that's not what we're talking about here...).

    So whatever brand of battery you choose, using a good charger is important. There are two general types of chargers for AA NiMH batteries, fast chargers and slow chargers. Their names are pretty self explanatory, though the more sophisticated chargers can work in either mode. Fast generally means between 15 minutes and an hour, and slow generally means between four and twelve hours. Some chargers can handle two batteries at a time, others can handle up to twelve. The most common is probably four batteries.

    The advantages and disadvantages to fast charging versus slow charging mostly depend on how you are going to be using your batteries and how many batteries you have. You will get more charge/discharge cycles out of a NiMH battery if you don't charge it with greater than a .5C current. (If your battery is rated at 2000mAH, then 1C charge rate = 2000mA and a 2C charge rate = 4000mA and a .5C charge rate = 1000mA, etc.). The charging process is not 100% efficient (some of the charging current is wasted and turned into, you guessed it, heat). So a battery that's 2000mAH will take 2500 to 3000 mA for an hour to fully charge. Or 1250 to 1500 mA for two hours. Or 625 to 750 mA for four hours. If you were on a deserted island, and had no way of ever getting new batteries, you would want to use a charger that took three hours (or more) to charge the batteries, because any charge rate over about .5C lowers the number of charge/discharge cycles your battery will give. (I don't know which deserted island has no batteries, but does have electricity for your charger; Google it if you're overly curious)

    If you have more batteries than you will use before you can recharge them, then slow charging is the way to go. Your batteries will keep their capacity for more charge/discharge cycles before you have to dispose of them and buy new ones. If you only have a couple of batteries, and you're likely to want to use more than you have in an hour or two, then a fast charger makes more sense for you. So why doesn't everyone just buy one of the smart chargers that can do both? Cost. Slow chargers are very inexpensive. Think the $10-$15 range. Fast chargers are also relatively inexpensive; think $15-$25 range. Really smart chargers, that do both, are in the $40-$60 range.

    I have three chargers. The MaHa MH-C9000 Wizard Smart Charger, the Energizer 15 minute fast charger, and a Radio Shack 1/2 hour fast charger. I don't use the RS charger anymore, and I don't recommend it to anyone. It is just too hard on batteries, and doesn't seem to be able to really tell when to stop charging a full battery. By a large margin, it causes the batteries to get the hottest. (I actually just threw it away as I'm writing this, since I'll never use it again, and I certainly wouldn't consider giving it away to anyone.)

    If you need a fast charger, and can't afford one of the really smart chargers, I recommend the Energizer 15 minute charger. It takes about 25 minutes to charge two 2500mAH batteries, and has a fan built in to help keep the batteries from getting too hot. It's also pretty small, and makes an ideal travel charger to throw in your bag when you're away. (That's how I use my Energizer 15 minute charger. When I'm away from home, I take it with me.) You do have to watch out for one thing with this charger though; you must be careful not to put fully (or mostly fully) charged batteries into the Energizer 15 minute charger. It doesn't seem to deal well with fast charging already charged batteries without getting them too hot. Fast chargers in general are not well suited to "topping off" a slightly discharged battery. In a pinch you can discharge a mostly charged battery in your Launch Box before you put it in the Energizer 15 minute fast charger, which should only take you a few minutes. (But don't just put the battery in your Launch Box and leave it there; discharging the battery for too long a period causes it to heat up too, and remember that batteries that get too hot to comfortably hold are being damaged. If you feel the battery getting too hot to hold while it's in your Launch Box, pull it out and let it cool off). Magic-Flight did recently mention in a message here that using the Energizer 15 minute fast charger is NOT a good idea with the Sanyo Eneloop low-self-discharge cells they now sell, but this is the first time I've heard that mentioned. I'd love to hear more from Magic-Flight about this.

    My primary charger is the MaHa MH-C9000. It has multiple functions including charging at (almost) any conceivable rate, it has evaluation functions that will tell you exactly how much capacity a battery has, and it has reconditioning functions that will bring many non-functioning batteries back to life. In its most simple mode (the default), you just put from one to four batteries in it, press NO buttons at all, and it charges them at 1000mA, which is the ideal rate for the batteries we all use. It takes about two and a half hours to charge your batteries to 90%-95%. And you can leave your batteries in the charger without worrying that they will be overcharged or overheated. It fully supports low-self-discharge NiMH cells, such as the Sanyo Eneloop (more on that below in the battery part). It has two downsides that I know of. It won't charge with more than 2000mA, which means it will take a minimum of an hour and 15 minutes to charge your fully discharged batteries. If you need faster than that, you'll want to get the Energizer 15 minute fast charger I mention above. The other downside is that it will only charge AA and AAA NiMH and NiCad batteries. You can't use it to charge C or D or 9v batteries, and you can't use it to charge Alkaline or LiIon batteries.

    [​IMG]

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  20. Haywood

    Haywood Onward Thru the Fog

    Messages:
    621
    The battery part:

    Whatever type/brand battery you get, there's one thing that's important to Launch Box users that's not normally a consideration; battery width. In fact, this may be the most important consideration for Launch Box users. Battery diameter varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, between different models from the same manufacturer, and even between different runs of the same model from some manufacturers. If the battery you buy is a little on the narrow side, it won't fit perfectly in the LB. It will require a bit of rotating and/or jiggling before it makes proper contact. A too narrow battery really sucks the joy out of using the Launch Box, because you spend all your time wondering if the battery is making good contact, or whether it's dead, or whether the load needs more stirring. Magic-Flight has given us a little pilot light in the current runs of the Launch Box, which helps a LOT with this particular problem, but the real solution is to use a battery that fits properly. There are a few batteries that are a little too wide, but none that don't fit. The problem with the batteries that are a little wide is removing them from the LB. But more on a fix for that later.

    Two types of AA NiMH batteries are available; standard and low-self-discharge (LSD). Standard NiMH batteries have the highest capacity, but lose their charge rapidly when sitting idle. They lose between 5% and 10% of their capacity in the first day, and 1%-2% each day after that. LSD cells keep 80%-90% of their charge after a year. In terms of our usage (i.e., the Launch Box), more capacity means you can use the battery longer before needing to recharge it, NOT that it will get the Launch Box hotter. The maximum short term current your battery can deliver is not related to capacity, it's related to something called internal resistance. The standard NiMH batteries currently have a (true) maximum capacity of about 2700mAH. There are some brands that claim 2800mAH and 2900mAH, but they don't deliver what they advertise. In fact, take the manufacturers ratings with a grain of salt until they're verified as accurate, either by you with your MaHa MH-C9000 :) or with reports from other users here. The LSD NiMH cells all seem to be rated at 2000mAH or 2100mAH.

    So which type of battery makes the most sense? I guess it depends on how many batteries you want to carry around, how often you can recharge them, how forgetful you are, and how much you use your LB. The standard batteries do seem to lose their charge pretty fast, and the LSD batteries seem to make the most sense for most people, so that's what I now recommend to all my friends.

    Here's how I manage things, but note that I have a zillion batteries and a large work case to carry everything. I don't think my regime is typical. I carry eight batteries in my work case; four are 2700mAH MaHa cells, and four are 2100mAH LSD cells. They travel in two plastic four-pack battery cases in my kit. (They are really in plastic two-pack battery cases, which can connect together and make long thin four-packs, or six-packs, or eight-packs. I connect two of the two-packs together making two long thin four-packs. I do this so that when I want to carry the Launch Box in my pocket, away from my case, I can also carry a single plastic two-pack in my other pocket). I carry this compliment because I mostly use four batteries or less between convenient recharge times, and I use the standard MaHa 2700mAH batteries most of the time. If I don't get a chance to recharge them, the remaining four LSD batteries will all have an essentially full charge, and I can use them until I get around to recharging the standard MaHa batteries. Remember that if you charge a standard NiMH battery and leave it in your kit for a few days, it will have lost 15% of its charge. If it's a more typical 2450mAH battery, that means it will have self discharged down to 2082mAH, which is the same as a LSD battery will have for months. If you want to really mind your batteries, then by all means use some always-fully-charged 2700mAH standard NiMH cells. If I had it to do over again, and I didn't already have a box full of standard 2700mAH batteries that fit the Launch Box perfectly, and had the "almost no crimp ring" construction, I'd only buy LSD 2000mAH batteries.

    So what brands does this translate to? I can only tell you about the specific batteries I've used. I don't know if every lot of every battery is the same, so maybe my perfectly fitting MaHa 2700mAH batteries will be different when you get them. There are enough of us here so that if there are lot to lot differences we should hear about it soon enough.

    For standard cells, I really like the MaHa 2700mAH batteries. They fit perfectly, which for me is a snug fit. They have almost no crimp ring at the top, so they go in and out of the Launch Box without catching on its circular negative terminal. They really have 2700mAH capacity. They're about $12.50 for a four pack. I'm not a fan of the AA cells that come with the Energizer 15 minute fast charger because they're a loose fit and they have a big crimp; they do appear to have their rated capacity. The Energizer batteries that came with my fast charger were 2000mAH; I don't know if the Energizer 2450 mAH batteries are different.

    For LSD cells, I have a story instead of a straight answer. I bought eight Delkin Power 2900mAh AA Batteries to try. First thing I did was run them through the MH-C9000 to check their capacity, and I was very disappointed to find they were actually only about 2100mAH. So I relegated them to be my "backup" batteries and mostly forgot them. A couple of months later I pulled them out (unused) to charge them up. Lo and behold, they only took about 200mA before the charger said they were full. I tested them, and they were indeed full. Seems that the batteries I got were really LSD cells that were mislabeled. So I'm confused, but happy. These cells fit great (also snug), and they have full capacity for a LSD, though they do have a typical large crimp ring. I have no idea if the Delkin LSD cells are the same width, so I don't know how to tell you to order the specific batteries I have. My friends tell me that they like the fit of the Sanyo LSD battery (Enerloop), but I haven't tried them myself, and reports here on the forum indicate they may be a bit small.

    If you're strapped for money, and you don't like experimenting, you can always be sure that the batteries that Magic-Flight sells will fit perfectly and work well.

    While I'm talking about how I manage things, here are a couple of "tricks" I use to make my battery life better. When you remove the plastic wrap, you wind up with a slippery battery and no way to easily mark it to keep track of which battery it is (Sharpie/MagicMarker rubs off in a day and transfers itself from your fingers to your brand new white sneakers). If you have snug fitting batteries (which you want), then removing the battery with the thumb and finger one hand method becomes difficult or impossible. The solution is 1 inch white cloth tape. I know this as "Camera Tape", as it's used in the movie and television industry, but I'm sure there are other names for it. Simply wrap one layer of it around the circumference of the battery at the bottom. You can then write a number on it (in different colors if you want to keep track of different battery types), and you can easily grip it, even with sweaty hands and a tight fitting battery. It does not interfere with the battery charger at all. Another bonus is you can tell at a glance if your battery is fully inserted into your Launch Box (as opposed to in the partially inserted rest mode), by looking at how close the white tape comes to the LB. Fully inserted there is almost no battery visible, just white tape; partially retracted, there is a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of metal battery visible. That's why you use 1 inch wide cloth tape.

    If you use standard plastic battery cases (and everyone should use a battery case of some kind), you'll note that there is a logo embossed into the plastic on one side. If you get in the habit of holding your case with the embossed side up, and the hinge on the left (and hence the snap closure on the right), you can use this to your advantage to tell which batteries in the case are used, and which are fresh. When you charge your batteries, put them all in positive terminal up (the little nipple up). When you use up a battery, put it back in the case positive terminal down.

    This final tip is pretty much only for obsessive-compulsive people. When you remove the plastic wrap from a new battery, half the time the little insulator at the top of the battery will fall off. It won't hurt the battery with the insulator gone, and it won't effect the use of the battery in the Launch Box (or the charger), but it does present a smaller target for a tiny bit of metal to short out the battery. You should never carry your batteries loose anyway, but if you want to replace the missing insulator, the little paper reinforcing circles you can get to strengthen paper used in three ring binders work well, have glue on them already, and are the right size. Just note that if you use some other method, there are little vents in the gap between the negative shell and the positive terminal on the top of the battery to allow for gases to vent if you overcharge the cell. If you completely plug them with glue or something, and you badly overcharge the battery, it may blow up. (But probably not, unless you maybe used epoxy).

    That's about all I can think of now. Comments and Corrections are welcome.

    I love my Launch Box.

    Haywood

    ps I buy all my batteries and chargers from http://thomasdistributing.com/

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  21. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Dear Haywood,

    Thank you for the post! We agree with pretty much everything you wrote; it matches true with what we have learned ourselves and what we have heard from our customers. Good advice all around.

    Note: For reference, we ship slow chargers bundled with the Box kit. The primary reason for this choice is safety -- anyone can use the charger without having to understand any specifics about the rechargeable batteries. Slow chargers are convenient insofar as they are the simplest option, not because they are fast.

    The low self discharge NiMH batteries have a slightly different chemistry and physical constitution -- one that is somewhat more sensitive to loss of life due to overheating than the standard NiMH. We contacted Sanyo directly and asked their technical guys about this, with the same indications. The basic story is that the performance of the battery is defined largely by the quality of the charger. Statistically speaking, fast chargers present too high a risk profile in that detecting charge endpoint conditions is not an exact process. The low self discharge batteries will not tolerate overcharging mistakes as well as standard ones (ie, putting an already charged battery into a fast charger is bad -- as you mentioned).

    It is the "most sense for the most people" aspect which is why we are now shipping Eneloop rather than other battery brands/types. We did seriously consider bundling the PowerEx batteries. We decided not to since they would be useful only to those with consistent every day usage patterns, rather than to the occasional on the go user who may not have time to return the batteries to the charger as frequently as needed. The occasional use pattern seems to define more of our general customers than would be apparent to the more dedicated vapor enthusiasts on this forum.

    With one caveat -- the Eneloop batteries we now ship are 5 mills narrower than the previous standard. We have made adjustments to the ring tension of all Boxes now shipped to account for this (shipped batteries always match shipped Boxes). The difference is a slight one, however, and probably will not be noticeable in most cases.

    Thanks again for the detailed post!

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  22. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    Battery testers are generally useless for NiMH batteries. They measure open cell voltage, which is not really an indicator of how much power (energy) the battery could delver. A better sense of battery charge can be given by testing the battery under significant load. The light in the Box is effectively doing a voltage test of the battery under heavy load. This gives a good indication of how hot the Box is getting with the given battery -- and represents a much better test of the charge state of the battery than most battery testers.

    However, even the Box light is just an indication of the battery current energy delivery, and is not really a true and final indicator of how fully charged the battery is. In other words, a fully charged battery will keep the light brightly lit for several minutes whereas a nearly depleted battery will only show on the light for a short time. The basic purpose of the light is to indicate an effective and useful battery usage, rather than to be a degree of charge indicator. The only real way to determine how much charge is in a battery is to put it on an integrating power meter test load and let the battery run completely out. This usually requires lab gear, although some of the more expensive chargers will also do this. Unfortunately, for most users, this method of testing is useless as it discharges the battery -- telling you only how much charge it HAD previously, requiring you to recharge the battery again in any case. Such testing is useful for determining the robustness of the battery -- an indicator of battery quality and life.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  23. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    Ideally, if filled and let sit with the battery in and no drawing at all for 2 minutes, the contents of the bowl should turn very dark brown (and perhaps black on the bottom). We try to calibrate it hot enough so that it falls about 20 deg short of actual combustion under these conditions. If you shake/stir the Box (but do not draw or open the lid) during this test, you will get a better sense as to how the heating is occurring.

    During normal draw, the Box should be hot enough to create vapor when looking at the draw hole, but not to obviously create large visible clouds (it is not designed for that). If you can see the vapor on exhale, it is either wasted vapor or smoke -- both conditions to be avoided. Really, the best test of the Box is how how it delivers the medical qualities of the herb -- what the user feels like 3 minutes after taking a few hits, rather than on what can be seen when exhaling or what is felt in the first 30 seconds or so. Also, if after taking several hits (with shaking in between) the contents are all brown, then it is certain that all available vapor has been created, and presumably ingested. If the contents are still mostly green after several hits (not just some army green specs) and are not mostly brown, then there is a chance that the Box may be running a bit cool (else, check the battery charge and slow the draw rate).

    Please let us know how this works out, or of if we can be of further assistance. There are also some other posts earlier in this thread that may be helpful (or perhaps should be added to the FAQ on the website?).

    -- Magic-flight

    PS: the 2 minute test should not be done unless necessary -- it is hard on the battery.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  24. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi 2000Pm,

    The coil is supposed to be somewhat in the battery hole -- it needs to be to make the negative terminal connection with the battery. This is by design, and it should be firm/tight with the battery.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
  25. magicflight

    magicflight Manufacturer Manufacturer

    Messages:
    671
    Location:
    USA
    Hi,

    We apply one coat of odorless/pharmaceutical food grade butcher block oil to prevent discoloration due to handling (skin oils). The wood is otherwise unfinished/untreated and guaranteed natural.

    -- Magic-flight

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2014
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