With the latest developments in cartomizer and clearomizer technology, I have gradually weaned myself off direct atomizer dripping and moved into the tank scene! Dripping (as its known) is the old school approach – “dripping” a few drops of eliquid directly into a waiting atomizer, rather than filling a tank. As a vaping purist, there really is no better way to experience e-liquid flavour. This method has its drawbacks. While it is fine lounging around in front of the TV, when out and about or driving its not so convenient.
Regular readers will recall that I generally use a couple of devices. Namely an Apollo Vtube and eGo topped with a CE4 – my go to clearomizer solution. I hadn’t really considered “proper” tank options as I was happy enough with the CE4’s. To cut a long story short, I decided to purchase a couple of Dual Coil Tank (DCT) cartomizers from Apollo just to see what they are like and these are my impressions.
Apollo stocks two different versions, in two tank capacities.
Oh, decisions, decisions! 3.5ml or 6.0ml? Plastic or Metal?
Well, the latter was an easy choice. I decided upon the metal tank model primarily as it’d look cooler on my stainless steel Vtube and appeared more durable, though the plastic version is no doubt perfectly usable. Next tank size. My thinking was the 3.5ml would work on my Apollo eGo VV battery and the 6.0ml tank on my Vtube. I decided to get both!
The tanks arrived and first impressions were good. The metal version is, I suspect, chrome plate on brass so these are quite lightweight. The tank tube is made of clear plastic which has as element of give when squeezed, but overall very rigid. I have no way of knowing what material they are made from – either polypropylene or polycarbonate. The latter is prone to cracking, though I haven’t experienced that myself after a few months use.
Side by side, the tanks are fairly equal in length – the 6.0ml DCT is actually a little longer at 44mm as opposed 42mm for the 3.5ml DCT. Of course, the 6.0ml version is wider in diameter 17mm versus 13mm. Four o-rings prevent leaking top and bottom and through the centre (these o-rings are not visible) where the carto slides up/down for filling/replacement.
A 3.0 Ohms High Resistance (HR) dual coil cartomizer is included with each tank. A dual coil cartomizer consists of two coils of the same resistance – this carto has two 6.0 Ohm coils. They are wired in parallel so the total resistance is half the resistance of either coil (i.e. 3.0 Ohms).
The carto length is 50mm, meaning on the 6.0ml tank, the cartomizer terminates flush with the top, but protrudes about 3mm above the top on the 3.5ml tank. There is a single laser cut hole to allow e-liquid to enter the heating coils/nylon wadding inside the cartomizer.
These DCT’s are made by Smoktech and are an industry standard 510 connection with a bottom flange to stop the carto just pushing straight through the tank. The flange is of the “clipped” variety (rather than circular) and was designed to fit a tank with complementary grooves so that it locks in place and doesn’t turn when screwed on to a device. The trouble is, this tank’s base doesn’t have any retaining grooves (its circular) so the tank has a tendency to rotate when screwing/unscrewing (more on that later).
A single transparent celluloid drip tip is included with each DC, as is a small silicone grommet for plugging the mouthpiece end (insert before the drip tip).
Filling the DCT is relatively easy and there are two ways. Remove the drip tip and pull the carto down (or push the tank up if attcahed to device) until enough access is enabled to insert a needle or juice dripper, then fill and return to original position. The silicone grommet can be removed (if fitted) and additional e-liquid dripped directly onto the wadding material (avoiding the air hole) if required (optional).
The way I like to do it is to remove the drip tip, push down the carto and actually remove the metal top. Filling is easier that way and maximum capacity is reached without overflowing. Before returning the top, push down the carto (or push up the tank if connected to your device) slightly so that the top can be secured. Then push the carto through the top and reattach the drip tip. Don’t rush this as it can be very messy and juice will flow through the 510 end and overflow through the airhole (top end) if excessive force is used.
Filling is best done with the DCT attached to the device.
Priming a DCT is required after filling for the first time (but not usually necessary after that, unless you run the tank bone dry). This involves taking a few “air puffs”. This action sucks liquid through the small hole on the side of the carto and after each puff you’ll notice a few bubbles coming out of the hole – this is a good thing as the caro wicking material is absorbing the juice. Don’t do it too hard or you’ll end up with a mouthful of e-liquid!
Once complete hit the power button and enjoy.
During this initial priming there will possibly be a few leaks and/or lack of vapour – primarily from over enthusiastic vaping – so have a few paper towels on hand to mop up any juice. Check the battery end as this is where the majority of problems occur. Blow through the DCT to clear any juice that has made its way into the air tube. Once the system is running “dry” there should be no gurgling just a slight crackling sound as the dual coils heat up.
I had a few leaky issues to start with and a bit of breaking in is required – just a day or two. The hole that sucks up liquid seems to work well enough with no wicking issues. Some users open up the hole or punch additional ones, but I honestly have had no problems with the opening size or performance.
I primarily use the DCT on my Vtube, because the 3.0 Ohms resistance requires more voltage to get decent vapour and hit – anything under 4.2v is not going to produce much at all so don’t try to use this on a regular 3.7v battery like an eGo (the eGo variable voltage is fine). Right now, I use 4.9v-5.2v and as the carto ages (deteriorates) I have found the voltage needs to be increased.
The positive points.
The 6.0ml tank holds more than a days e-liquid for me which is perfect so I prefer that to the 3.5ml DCT, which is better suited to smaller devices. The cartos seem to go on forever – my first one lasted over 6 weeks.
No leaks from the tank itself so the o-rings provide suitable sealing.
The drip tip size stops the tank from sliding off, but there is nothing physically to stop it other than that, so DCT’s are best not stored in a pocket or bag.
The negative aspects.
When new, both had a somewhat airy draw. Using a plinth helps tighten this aspect. After a while and as the wadding becomes more matted (for want of a better word), the airy nature lessens.
Because there is nothing to stop the tank spinning when unscrewing, it is often very difficult to remove once screwed to a device. A technique needs to be mastered, whereby just enough pressure and downward force is applied to the drip tip to get the 510 end unscrewed. Another method involves pushing up the tank to reveal the lower part of the carto (flange end) and grip that to remove. If the base of the tank had the proper grooves to match the clipped flange this wouldn’t happen.
The 3.5ml tank tube seems to me to be a bit looser than the 6.0ml one, in as much as the tank moves up and down the carto with relative ease.
The cost per unit is higher than a regular clearomizer, but they do last a very long time and you only need to replace the carto as opposed the entire tank assembly.
I wish Apollo would provide more Ohms choices for non variable voltage devices. Right now only single coil 3.0 Ohms replacement cartos are available on the US store and no dual coil versions that originally came with the DCT! Worse still, there are no carto replacements currently available in the UK/Euro store at all!
Overall, I like the DCT’s, but they could be better designed. For the modest outlay, they work as advertised. Put it this way, I’m happy to use them until something better comes along.