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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