Radio Dead Air


August 26th, 2010

So, what with Dragon*Con fast approaching, I’m making plans and putting together gear.

One of my priorities is of course a ridiculous amount of over-the-counter stimulants. 5 Hour Energy, B-12, good ol’ coffee . . . you name it, I’ll be on it. And being a recovering smoker, one of my most important stimulants is nicotine. Now, I’ll add the following disclaimer: DON’T SMOKE. Seriously, don’t do it. If you’ve never smoked, don’t start. I’m currently living with a reminder of what 20+ years of smoking can do to you. It’s not pretty. Don’t pick up this habit in any way, shape or form. It’s absolutely awful.

With that out of the way, I’ve turned to e-cigarettes as an alternative means of being a nic fiend. It has a great many less lethal elements: no tar, no carcinogens, no arsenic, none of the other nasty shit that’s not even listed on a pack of regular smokes. It’s by no means safe; nicotine is a stimulant, it can lead to heart issues and other complications and is highly addictive . . . but then, the same can be said of caffiene, so take that as you will. What it won’t do is result in COPD, lung cancer, or many of the other effects of smoking that will one day make your life a living hell. It’s a compromise, and in the long run one I can live with.

Now, back to the gear. The biggest problem with the e-cigarette is the power source. Most of the kits out there come with two tiny, 180 mah (milliamp hour) rechargeable batteries. They’re flimsy, don’t last for much longer than two hours at a go, and when they die they have to be replaced. Being that they’re proprietary, the replacement can be annoying; you have to get the same batteries as your model e-cig. It’s not so bad in the short term; properly cared for, one battery can last you a long time. But they’re ridiculously low on capacity. They die fast when you’re out and about. Your only defense is to have multiple batteries on you, and that can be a headache.

Some companies have released PCC’s (personal charging cases) that are essentially batteries for your batteries. You use them to re-charge your batteries when not in use. Better, but still not ideal; it’s more junk to carry around. I myself rigged up a home-built personal charging kit that runs off of rechargeable batteries you can buy in any store. It also has space to hold spare batteries, liquid, atomizers . . . a nice complete little unit. Yet it’s still kind of bulky, and only just barely pocket sized. Not only that, you’re still dealing with the tiny, weak 180 mah batteries that tend to die when you really don’t need them to do so. Having to pop open the case, swap out a battery, turn the case on and then check it in two hours to see if it’s done charging is not what I’d call “convenient.”

The best solution out there are units that take lithium ion rechargeables, the same types of batteries that are the basis for your laptops or cell phones. They have long capacity (typically 900 mah compared to 180 mah), and are relatively easy to come by (Radio Shack sometimes sells them, as well as hobby shops and tons of places online). One 900 mah battery will last a heavy user like me six hours or more.

I had a couple of these types of batteries lying around, and I came across this: the DSE-905.

What you’re looking at is an e-cig that pretty much solves the issues of battery life and portability. Not only that, it’s remarkably affordable. A starter kit will net you two batteries, the unit, a charger and two starter atomizers, all for around $60.00 shipped. Considering the atomizers alone are about $10 each and tend to last about a month, that’s a really nice deal. Being that I already have plenty of atomizers and the type of batteries this unit uses, I opted to go the el-cheapo route and get just the unit itself, which was about $30.00 shipped. They come in chrome silver with a red LED and matte black with a blue LED. They’re lightweight, fairly compact, pretty rugged and very portable. They use the atomizer for the DSE-901, but the site I purchased mine from also sells an adapter for use with the popular Joytech 510 atomizer.

It arrived today and I adore this thing. Usually when I’m at home I use a USB power source, but that means I’m tied to an outlet or my computer when I’m using it. This pretty much makes that irrelevant. I’ve had no problems with it so far, though I will point out the earlier versions of this unit had a lot of complaints. This one is the fourth version, and it seems to have fixed the problems that bugged the earlier incarnations.

Why I’m so pleased is that I can pretty much go for twelve hours on two batteries while tromping around covering Dragon*Con, and I don’t have to deal with a ton of other junk to keep myself set for the day. It’s as close to the convenience of a pack of cigarettes as you can get. If you were thinking about getting an e-cigarette (and if you’re a smoker, you really, really should), this would be the one. I got mine from, though for liquid I tend to prefer the rates and flavors at Awesome Vapor. Use the coupon code “vapezone5″ for 5% off at, and “ecf10p” for 10% off at Awesome Vapor.

If you’re a smoker and you don’t want to quit, you owe it to yourself to give this a try.

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