Published on May 9th, 2013 | by Trick8
Review: The Artisan Vaping Crown
Artisan Vaping Crown
Summary: As long as you don't need to use it somewhere too noisy or too quiet, the Crown is an easy-to-use, very accurate, and frankly superior alternative to the Kick.
[Preface: An earlier revision of this review contained several complaints about not being able to get into variable wattage mode. We later found that our problems were being caused by the mod in which we were testing the Crown, and not by the Crown itself, and have edited the review to reflect that.]
For quite a while, the Evolv Kick has been the only real option out there for people looking to regulate the output of a mechanical mod, but it’s been getting some competition in recent days. In addition to a Kick knock-off announced by Sigelei, and another on the way from Kamry, Canadian company Artisan Vaping has recently started shipping the Crown, their twist on a variable power module.
We recently purchased the Crown, in the new 2.0 version, from Super-T Manufacturing. This new version includes both variable voltage and variable wattage capabilities in the same unit. While we had some initial problems with getting into variable wattage mode with the Crown, we later determined it to be caused by a faulty mod, rather than the Crown.
The Crown is designed to be much easier to use than Evolv’s Kick. Rather than having to open up the mod and fiddle with a tiny dial to set the Crown, the mod’s button is used to change settings. For example, tapping the button once and holding it increases voltage by .2 volts, and tapping it twice and holding it decreases it by the same amount. Wattage is increased and decreased the same way, in one watt increments.
The Crown can be set between 3.5 and 5.5 volts in variable voltage mode, and between 5 and 10 watts if using variable wattage. Audio cues are used to let the user know the result of commands. For example, to learn what voltage out mod was set for, we tapped the button three times, and held it. Four long beeps, followed by five short ones, told us that our Crown was set for 4.5 volts. While this system does allow the Crown to be set without opening the mod, it’s not particularly loud, and it may be difficult to set the Crown in noisy environments. Conversely, it’s just loud enough to be distracting if you’re concerned about your mod beeping like an old Mattel electronic football game from the 70′s.
The Crown has a somewhat lower profile than the Kick, which may allow it to be used with larger batteries in mods where the spring has a lot of play in it. It also includes the resettable Vapesafe 2.0 fuse as a separate unit, and with the Crown at the positive end of the battery, and the Vapesafe at the negative, the total length is the same as a Kick. Otherwise, on a physical level, the Crown works the same way as a Kick, with a similar battery post (although the post is magnetic with the Crown, making it easy to hold the unit in place while inserting it), as well as a negative side post much like the Kick’s spring. The Vapesafe works similarly, with a magnetic post to connect to the battery on one side, and a large, flat, metal surface on the other to make contact with the mod’s negative post or spring.
In testing, we found the Crown’s output to be dead-on accurate in variable voltage mode, to a tenth of a volt. We saw similar results with variable wattage, though it’s a tricky matter to test accurately, as voltage will be dependent on a number of factors, some of which can change while a mod is being used.
All in all, the Crown seems to accomplish what it sets out to do rather well. Given the limitations of operating a device you can’t see, that’s tucked away inside a mod, the audio cues make setting the Crown much easier, and much more precise, than the hard-to-set and harder-to-read dial on the Kick, even if it is sometimes difficult to hear the Crown. Performance-wise, they’re fairly equivalent, with both devices supporting a range of 5 to 10 watts, though the variable voltage mode is a great option for those who prefer it. We had no problems using it to adjust the output of our test mods to right where we wanted it, give or take a tenth of a volt (or nine tenths of a watt, depending on which mode we were in).
Like the Kick, the Artisan Vaping Crown includes some safety features, such as short-circuit protection and a thermal shutdown to cut power if it gets too hot. Additionally, when used with the Vapesafe 2.0, current protection is provided that will break the circuit if the current exceeds 6 amps. Unlike earlier versions of the Vapesafe, the 2.0 version will reset after cooling down and can be reused, though Artisan Vaping warns that the fuse incurs damage each time it is tripped, and will eventually fail. They recommend replacing the Vapesafe every six months. The previous version of the Vapesafe was destroyed when tripped.
Another feature present in the Crown that the Kick doesn’t have is resistance measurement, which can be particularly handy for testing coils if mechanical mods are all you keep laying around. Tapping the mod’s button 5 times, then holding it, will output the resistance you’re dealing with. While at first we thought it may be measuring a little on the high side, in discussions with John Pinkney, who designed the Crown, he told us that the Crown actually measures the overall resistance of the entire circuit, including the mod. Arguably, this is actually a better measurement than the atomizer alone, particularly when used to determine how much voltage needs to be delivered in variable wattage mode, as it will not only adjust for differences in atomizer resistance, but include internal mod resistance into the calculation as well.
Overall, we’re quite pleased with the Crown and would highly recommend it based on our experience with it, and its nearly identical price as the Kick, at around $45.00. Given that the Crown has all of the capabilities of the Kick and more, at the same price, we think Evolv has some catching up to do.