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Building a Better DIY E-Nail

Discussion in 'DIY' started by dime, May 12, 2014.

  1. dime

    dime Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    California
    I'd like an e-nail device but retail prices have seemed a bit absurd.
    I found this thread on Reddit with information on building your own enail:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/CannabisExtracts/comments/1kczbg/diy_enail_howto/

    In looking at the parts listed, total after tax/shipping we are looking in the $250-300 range. Once I started looking into each individual component I started realizing how many options there are for mixing and matching things like the controller, coil, etc.

    The author of that how-to thread says he's not in it for money, but does sell pre-builts, and honestly after messaging him I thought his asking price was a little high. Most of the complexity seems to lie in part selection, wiring, and controller configuration.

    Can we get a DIY E-Nail thread going, for the sake of component selection and maybe getting some alternative guides together?

    Here's a picture that the author took, I have to admit I love the small form factor. Desk space is a premium!

    [​IMG]
     
    SquidgyB and 215z like this.
  2. hishighness

    hishighness Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    134
    I had a friend build me an enail from that guide and after getting all the parts (and using the most expensive $110 coil) it ran me something like $210 to get everything shipped to him. I think he had a few parts already but max cost is ~$200-250. There are cheaper coils/controllers available but if I remember right that's what Task did with the original Highly Educated Enail and it caused like 50% failure rate.

    If you want to use cheaper parts you can but the risk of failure is much higher; me personally, I'd rather spend the extra 50-100 now and know for sure that it'll work rather than save a bit of money and have it break on me in an month.

    If you want a cheap enail The Dab Pad is available for $150 - the coil doesn't go hotter than 900*F but that should be plenty for dabbing (especially since it's the flat coil which works much nicer imo).
     
    aesthyrian, farscaper and dime like this.
  3. dime

    dime Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    California
    Yeah before I throw away $200+ I kind of want to see where ceramic bowls and heating element designs will go. I feel like ~$75 for a temperature controller is a little high, there must be something lower end that is maybe not as precise but still reliable. Decent coils going for ~$100 seems very high as well, though many people have been selling for much less.

    I feel that a good ceramic bowl and heating element would put me over the edge, if the price for both can go <$100. The heating controllers (like pictured above) really don't seem like they should cost more than $100 when built yourself, or $150 for someone to send you a pre-fab.

    Checked quite a lot of places and it seems that around $250 is the going rate for a pre-made heating controller, then upwards of $100 for a coil and $100 for a bowl. This comes out to $450 just buying it ready to go, or $300-350 if you make your own. If it can get down below $200 for everything I think it will be much more appealing to a lot of people.

    Too bad the Dab Pad doesn't have a digital temperature control. Has anyone seen a better ceramic bowl than the Domeless brand one? The downstem/middle joint on those seems far too skinny considering you are having the weight of the heating element resting on it. What kind of bowls will even work with the flat coils? I almost wonder if a ceramic bowl could be made with a heating element embedded inside, as a single piece.
     
    Bouldorado likes this.
  4. doc

    doc Active Member

    Messages:
    32
  5. SquidgyB

    SquidgyB Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Those stacked boxes look like a PID, connector and maybe some sort of PSU in the box - PIDs are available for ~$20, exchange rates and all withstanding. I'd expect to be able to put together a box like that for $30-40, less if mass produced. I think the most expensive part would be whatever heater/bowl etc you have in there. The cheapest solution being soldering iron heaters, and some sort of home made nail.

    That's all off the top of my head, 30 seconds after reading the post.

    Let me do some googlefu searching...

    e: OK, PIDs are cheap, $28 for the listed one is pretty accurate. If you can find a way of using a soldering iron heater (ceramic, typically 50-60W, so slightly slower heat up, 4mm wide "stick" so a design rethink would be in order) then the price drops dramatically. Are there any available metal nails that have a 4-5mm diameter space in the center which could house such a heater? Nails are a complete mystery to me, I've never used one, concentrates being rare as they are in the UK.

    Those little donut thingies might just be the way forward - the only issue being that if/when they fail, if you're using the donut directly in the air path you risk getting ceramic dust in your lungs. I prefer having some sort of non toxic medium between the ceramic heater and airpath, if possible. Be it glass, metal or otherwise.

    ee: you might think that's a high price to pay, but that dude's done his R&D and put together a working device - I know all too well how costs can add up on a little project like that, and how someone can expect to get at least a little profit from what he's making. I don't begrudge him at all for whatever he's asking - only that if you do it yourself you should remember that he's spent quite a lot in the last 6 months* or more perfecting his idea of a device, and that the price he's asking not only covers the cost of parts, but the hours making the device, as well as the process of getting to this point in the first place. No offence meant and no ill will spoken, just a thought for anyone who tells of high prices asked by bespoke producers.

    I get the same thing from my friends quite often - I honestly reply to "how much does it cost to build" questions, only to have eyes rolled and sharp intakes of breath when I mention an end price which may be double the cost of parts - when you've spent many times more than that on R&D, even "double parts price" seems like giving stuff away in some circumstances, and it's not at all apparent that this is "fair" when seen from the consumer's perspective.

    *purely speculative
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014
  6. Hippie Dickie

    Hippie Dickie The Herbal Cube Manufacturer

    Messages:
    2,003
    Location:
    where the Cube rules!
    yeah, i think it's cute that most peeps thing stuff should be free. IBM got to where it is (was) by charging 5x (or more) times parts cost. IBM expected to sell a dozen 709 computers, and priced it at that volume, then sold hundreds. zooooooom.

    the information can be free, but the do costs ... or, if it is so fucking easy that it should be free, why doesn't someone else do it and give it away.

    the herb isn't free and how hard is it to grow a weed, eh? a vape saves weed ... how can any price be too high?

    edit: ... just ignore me ... i must be having a "mood".
     
  7. SquidgyB

    SquidgyB Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Hehe, I was a bit drunk when I wrote that, sorry that we've derailed your thread somewhat, dime.

    But I agree Hippie - I'd like to see my friends try to put together one of my glass heaters without the tools and knowledge I've acquired, and to keep the cost down to their own idea of "cheap". I'll gladly tell them how, but if they want it built and made ready for use then it's going to cost, without a doubt.

    Back on topic - my idea for cheap soldering iron heaters may not fit the bill as, like the Dab Pad, they only get to 450-480C/900F (I'm sure with the right heater you'd be able to push them higher, but you'll be risking heater failure).

    I really like his PID enclosure, that's really neat and nicely done.I may well be trying to make myself some of those when I get home from my holidays. I have some 240V soldering iron heaters that I can experiment with, and I wonder if there are commercially available products that a cheaply available which use a suitable heater that we could "liberate"... I'm thinking kettles, ovens, clothes irons etc...

    e: anyone have a link to the colourful powder coated cases as shown in the first post? I can only find links to those ugly Jameco jobbies on the reddit thread.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  8. dime

    dime Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    40
    Location:
    California
    Eh it's no problem. What you brought up is a major consideration for these devices. In my mind $250 for what is essentially half a vaporizer, and $200 for the other needed components, is just way too much to be asking from a guy that comes off as a hobbyist. I've purchased vaporizers for $500 before and do not want to be burned again, especially not by someone that has nothing more than a Reddit account.

    I've asked that guy to update his part listing to no avail. Kind of irks me that he comes off as DIY but all the info is outdated and far from optimal as far as pricing etc goes. The whole guide is just outdated as hell, which is why I was looking for a better one, thinking maybe someone here can figure out a better component selection list.

    Personally I was unable to find that exact case as the pic, but I was able to find very similar metallic and plastic enclosures made by the same company as the one he linked to. Makes me wonder if the guy re-finished the enclosures with some sort of spray-on coating. Would be simple to do, but I doubt that that's the case here. I figure he contacted the manufacturer and got hooked up with some unlisted units.

    That small form factor might be tough for most people to cram all the components into, for those trying to build their own without much experience. Also I personally like the dual temp display over the singular (difference being a temp controller that is twice as big). But man being able to slip the device under your computer monitor bezel for example seems pretty fucking nice.

    I'm still holding out for a better, less expensive coil/nail combo. I can wait longer, because personally I haven't found the California MMJ concentrate scene to be all that great for the price.

    I think ceramic + flat coil is the way to go. People flipping $50 coils on ebay, wonder what the expected lifetime is for those. Sounds like even the good ones will eventually burn out.

    I question why a $75+ temp controller needs to be used. Cheapy one should be fine, it really doesn't seem to need to be all that precise. Real question is reliability.

    There is also the question of an analog unit (temp dial/knob rather than digital), but you just know having one of those would leave you feeling unsatisfied. :lol:
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  9. Bouldorado

    Bouldorado Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    975
    Location:
    CO
    I'd like an e-nail, but don't want to spend $200+ in parts + my time to assemble it, for a device I'd use infrequently. My friend linked me to that reddit post a while ago and I was stoked to build one, but after calculating total parts cost, it was still $300+.

    It seems the biggest expenses are the heating coil and the domeless nail. I would love to build an e-nail if I could acquire both of those items for <$100.

    Some quick searching on alibaba found a coil heater for ~$36 (MOQ of 10 though). http://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/120VAC-flat-coil-heater-with-kevlar_1836366881.html
     
    aesthyrian likes this.
  10. SquidgyB

    SquidgyB Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    Berkshire
    I'll have a look for cases on alibaba/aliexpress, possibly taobao when I get the chance. It's true that it's difficult to strike a balance on cost when you're making things, especially for someone who's beginning to straddle the line between hobbyist and manufacturer.

    One thing about those coils though - can you safely bend the main arm by 90 degrees, or get one with an already bent arm? I really don't like the look of each setup simply because of that long arm sticking out at 90 degrees to the glass/nail, I'd much prefer it to come down parallel to the nail if possible.

    Scratch that, I just clicked on the link and I can see they offer many different arm terminations.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
    Bouldorado likes this.
  11. OF

    OF Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    11,934
    Location:
    Left Coast
    Amen to that. "Four to six times Prime" was the rule when I was younger. Six for specials (limited production), four for routine products you expected to do a lot of. Some few companies payed heed to the rule and survived, those who didn't (for a whole host of reasons, including just 'knowing better') littered the countryside and filled the surplus dealers with their former assets.

    Reality/experience at odds with opinion and wishful thinking?

    As the Chinese say 'it's easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open'.

    OF
     

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