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Vaping 101: RBAs

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Vaping 101: RBAs

If you, like many other vapers, started on a cheap cigalike or tiny pen-style e-cigarette and have yet to switch to some of the newer types of setups, I have some unfortunate news for you:

What you’ve been vaping sucks.

Sorry, but it’s just one of those set-in-stone facts—granted, it’s still a subjective fact to most, but why throw inordinate amounts of money towards countless pricey atomizer heads or even worse, countless disposable cigalikes when they’ve been proven in numerous studies to be less satisfying than later generations? When you consider the exceptional flavor, satisfying vapor production, reduced footprint, and cost-efficiency of more modern types of atomizers, it’s hard to say that the need for a vape upgrade is anything but objective. If you’re upgrading, you’ll naturally want something designed to give the most satisfaction for your cash. And the sitting king of satisfying performance? An RBA!

Rebuildable Atomizers (RBAs), are a type of atomizer that, unlike other types, doesn’t come with a completely functional coil installed—at least not typically. Although some RBAs will have a wickless coil pre-installed for a quick start out of the box, an RBA will usually come with nothing installed at all: users must manually construct and install their own coils, then periodically replace them when they get old—this process, referred to as ‘rebuilding’, has been taken up by countless enthusiast vapers as a specialized activity that is equal parts hobby and lifestyle. While RBAs may seem rather knowledge- and labor-intensive, you’ll surprised to learn just how easy it is to achieve impeccably full-bodied and nuanced flavor, a greatly reduced garbage footprint, and phenomenal vapor production!

Let’s quickly go through the different types of RBA and the features unique to each:

Types of RBA Features
Buddha Z v3 RDA by Vaperz Cloud

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer (RDA)

  • Open, unsealed interior chamber
  • Greatest possible amount of airflow
  • Requires dripping into center chamber to saturate wicks
    • Juice well used as auxiliary juice storage
    • Prone to leaking from over-dripping or laying on side
Mason DumpTank RTA by Vapergate

Rebuildable Tank Atomizer (RTA)

  • Tank section above/surrounding supplies juice to deck
    • Vacuum pressure prevents leaking
  • Sectioned-off deck
    • Usually utilizes juice channels
  • Most commonly Bottom-Feed Airflow
  • Either top-fill or bottom-fill
    • Top-Fill – Use fill port underneath top cap
    • Bottom-Fill – Unscrew tank from base to refill
Aromamizer v2 RDTA by Steam Crave

Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer (RDTA)

  • Open RDA-like deck & posts
  • Tank section that delivers juice to deck
    • Sometimes has manual mechanism to dispense/release juice
Limitless RDTA Gold by Limitless Mod Co. (LMC)

Genesis Tank Atomizer (GTA)

  • RDA-like Deck & posts
  • Juice tank below deck
    • Wicks hang to the bottom of tank and draw juice upwards
Zephyrus Sub-Ohm Tank RBA Base by UD
RBA Base

  • Used in sub-ohm tanks
    • Converts a sub-ohm tank/clearomizer into an RTA
  • Smaller deck than dedicated RTAs, but an easy way to maximize performance from sub-ohm tanks
Aspire Nautilus BVC Atomizer Heads

Atomizer Head

  • Premade coil and wick stored in a stainless steel chassis
    • Used in clearomizers/sub-ohm tanks
  • Not technically an RBA, but it’s possible to deconstruct/rebuild some of these for an instant upgrade


Components

Airflow

The airflow is one of the most important and influential aspects of your vape from vapor production to flavor transportation—if your airflow isn’t right, you’ll have a very bad time. This is doubly true in RBAs where the airflow is so much greater than in sub-ohm tanks or clearomizers—it’s crucial to select the best type of airflow for your style of vaping. Generally, the airflow in RBAs will be fully adjustable—meaning that it can be both fully opened and closed—though a few may only semi-adjustable or not adjustable at all. Each RBA will have its own unique style of airflow—from cyclops slots to pinholes to square cutouts and everything in between—so don’t be afraid to get a good look at the airflow of any prospective RBAs that catch your eye.

While each RBA will have its own design of airflow, they can each be grouped into three separate types of airflow:

Types of Airflow

Features

Aria x Twisted Messes Cubed RDA

Side-Feed

  • Most common in RDAs
  • Easy to use
  • Can leak if over-dripped
ICE³ Glass RDA by Wotofo

Top-Feed

  • Leak-resistant
  • Less directed than other types
    • Not great for high wattage builds
  • Top airflow slots (usually hidden) gives exterior nice sleek look
VCST RTA by Vaperz_Cloud (36mm)

Bottom-Feed

  • Most common in RTAs
  • Most common to be prone to leaking
  • Very flavorful


Posts

In every RBA, there are spots called the terminals where electricity is transferred to and from the coil—this is where the user will install their hand-wrapped coils. Most often, these will come in the form of raised posts—a hole going through the center of the post serves as the pathway for inserted leads and a screw integrated perpendicular to the hole screws down to clamp the lead into place. Some older RBAs lack postholes—instead prompting users to wrap the leads of their coils around the screw before tightening it down—but those have long since been phased out in favor of more convenient methods.

Posts are distinguished from each other according to the respective charge—positive (+) and negative (-). Typically, while not explicitly marked, the difference will be visually identifiable by looking at the location of the post, to what it’s connected, and whether it’s insulated from the deck. The positive post will usually be in the center of the deck and directly connected to the 510 positive pin extending through the bottom of the deck, but insulated from the rest of the deck by a small gasket. The negative post(s) can be on either side as the positive post, on the same side, or just placed willy nilly. It doesn’t even really matter where it is as long as it is directly connected to the main body of the deck, but not the 510 positive pin—in some RBAs, the negative posts and deck are milled as one whole piece, further reducing voltage drop.

Here’s a few of the most common RBA posts and their benefits:

Type of Posts

Description

Infinite Stillare v2 RDA Clone

Three Post

  • Most basic type of posts
  • One (+) , Two (-)
    • One terminal per post
    • Dual coils share the positive terminal
    • Positive almost always in center
CLT v2 Plus RDA by Infinite

Block Post

  • Also called Four Post, T-Post
  • One (+) post in center, Two (-) on each side
    • Two terminals in enlarged Positive Post
    • One in each negative post
    • Dual coil leads have independent terminals
  • Allows for easier coil installation/placement
Gemini Series Mason II RDA by Vapergate

Velocity-Style

  • One (+), One (-)
    • Two terminals each
  • Secures leads with grub screws
    • Usually Allen, sometimes Phillips or Flat
  • Very easy to install/place coils
The Eastwood RDA by TripleSix Modz

Clamp-Style

  • One (+), One (-)
  • Uses flat clamps to secure leads
    • Sometimes spring-loaded
  • Easier installation of thick wires/coils
LowPro RDA

Postless

  • At least one (+), one (-)
  • Uses postless holes/terminals
    • Secures with screws
  • Most often in low profile/reduced chamber RDAs


Diameter

The diameter of an RBA not only affects how well it plays visually with the rest of your setup, but it also plays a large part in how it performs under different conditions. A wider RBA (≥28mm) will have a large internal chamber able to fit large coils and builds—the expanded chamber will also promote dense cloud production. Plus, wide RBAs are a must-have if you plan on using Ni200 coils—they'll need more room to accommodate the extra wraps. In the other hand, small RBAs have their own benefits as well: the reduced inner chamber means vapor will condense better, resulting in rich, flavorful vapor. In addition, if you're just starting out, a smaller RBA will better utilize low-wattage builds like basic micro coils—too large of an RBA and your vapor will be too diluted to enjoy.


Conclusion

As vaping continues to evolve at breakneck speeds, it intertwines in increasingly complex knots aspects of hobbyist activities with those of a conscious lifestyle—if nothing else, RBAs can be identified as the driving force behind this paradigm shift towards personal independence. Stay tuned for our next post on Rebuilding, where we'll guide you through the process of using your RBA from building to wicking to vaping and everything in between!

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