Modding in the digital age… Choose your controller

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As promised, I am featuring a new blog series on modding using advanced controller chips. The main chips I will be using are the DNA20D from Evolv and the Nivel chip. You can use other controllers if you wish, for instance if you have the Sigelei ZMAX and the 510 connector is broken, you can remove the chip from it and mod it into something else. I may touch on that at a later date, but for now, I am sticking to the commercially available modders boards previously mentioned.

**Disclaimer** Mod at your own risk. Ecig Advanced will not be held liable should you make a mistake and do something dangerous, causing injury to yourself.

To decide which controller you want to work with, you first have to ask yourself what it is you want your device to do. The DNA20 is variable wattage only. It has a range of 7-20W. The screen is full of useful information like atomizer resistance, voltage output, battery life remaining, and set wattage. The wattage can be easily changed up or down using tact switches wired to the board. Of the 2 boards discussed here, this by far has the easiest user interface. The downside is that it only goes down to 7 watts. If you like less than that, you probably won’t like this board.

The Nivel chip is both variable voltage and variable wattage and has a range of 3-6V or 3-15W. The interface is controlled by a solitary button with a menu system similar to the ProVari or ZMAX. The output display is similar to the ProVari as well, with a 2 digit LCD and a LED light.

Below are examples of the Nivel chip on the left and the DNA20D on the right.

The Nivel chip and DNA20D in their packaging

Once you’ve chosen your controller, you have to prepare it for use in your mod. The Nivel chip comes prewired and pretty much ready to go. There are no intructions that come with the chip, but they can be downloaded here as a *.PDF file. Once you figure out what’s what, I highly recommend wiring up your chip on a breadboard, to ensure you got it right before making a permanent mistake.

The Nivel chip wired up on a breadboard

The DNA20D does not come prewired, so all leads must first be soldered to the board before you can attach anything to it.

The DNA20D all wired up.

The board does have the holes marked as to what goes where, so take your time, and don’t use too much solder. You don’t want to create a short on the board. I found it to be most helpful to solder just the leads onto the board. You can connect the leads to their respective components later. Also, when soldering, make sure your iron is clean and functioning well. Use soldering flux on all wires, as that will help with even distribution of the solder. It is recommended that you use something to hold the wires and components in place. I use a cheap soldering clamp stand from Radio Shack, shown in the photo below, on my very messy desk.

Soldering clamp stand with magnifier

Again, I can’t emphasize enough, how much I recommend wiring up everything on the breadboard before making permanent connections. The DNA20D doesn’t come with instructions, but they can be downloaded as a *.PDF file here.

The DNA20D on the breadboard

Now that we have chosen our desired controller, wired it up, and ensured that it is working correctly, it’s time to think about what to put it in. The next blog in this series will cover choosing your enclosure.

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  1. Michelle says

    Great series Can’t wait for part two!!

  2. mongrel says

    Love the atomizer mounted to your breadboard.

  3. Ralph says

    too intense for me

  4. Amanda Mayer says

    Thanks, Matt! I can’t wait until the next one, hurry! lol. Now, in the DNA all wired up photo, what’s the pcb all the way to the right?

  5. MattO says

    Amanda- The PCB on the right is the DNA board, the screen hangs off toward the left of it. The really small PCB at far left almost out of the shot is the USB charging board.

  6. slap_maxwell says

    Can’t wait to see the rest of this series. An a Navy electronics tech and a radio air-talent and engineer, I love any chance to bust out the soldering station and Build Stuff (or Spiff Stuff Up). Keep ’em coming!

  7. Zane says

    Whoa, that is awesome!!

  8. Chad says

    Awesome post. I’m really looking forward to this series.

  9. Aaron says

    Wow That’s awsome. Love it

  10. Karla Lyle (MsV8PR) says

    Very cool. I would love to make my own ecig. Just not sure i could find enough spare time. Maybe I will just buy one from you. 🙂

  11. Amanda says

    Thats really cool!

  12. saboiniaune says

    way above my head but thanks for the information

  13. chuckss says

    Nice mod, very detailed!

  14. Tyler says

    Very cool wish i was awesome enough to do this

  15. Ralph says


  16. mrcrunch08 says

    I have been eyeing the dna20d since it’s release. I have never enjoyed vaping anything below 7 watts so that isn’t an issue for me. I have also been waiting for new devices to feature that board and hopefully save me the trouble of building one. I do plan to do so at some point but don’t think I’m there yet. Looking forward to part two. thanks

  17. Johnathan Brown (Sepsis) says

    Awesome! I’ve been thinking of using the DNA20 for a while now, just havent taken a crack at it yet. Seemed easy enough when i researched it. I’ve only heard of the Nivel a few times, but had yet to look at anymore info on them, had only heard that they were like russian or german or some other european manufacturer. Thanks for the info;.

  18. GhOsT DoGg 79 says

    cant wait

  19. Todd says

    Looking forward to more. Not sure I’d be handy myself at something like it myself but still very cool to see!

  20. RCO67 says

    I’m always eager to learn something new. Thank you.

  21. Morrinb says

    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to more.

  22. John "Shub" Fellhoelter says

    Thanks for sharing. The progress is looking good.

  23. Mike Z says

    Very nice work!

  24. Hannah says

    love it

  25. Chad says

    I’m already getting antsy for the next post in this series.

  26. Chad says

    REady for the next post!

  27. robovape says

    great guide, excellent work!

  28. brianwilson says

    nice detail!

  29. dien dan rao vat gia lai says

    Hi there, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s actually good,
    keep up writing.

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