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How to Complete a Build on an RDA and RTA

RDA and RTAs are both rebuildable atomizers. Their key feature is that they allow you to assemble the coil and wick system yourself; hence the name. These atomizers have a deck on which you mount your self-built coils and wicks. When building RBAs, ohm meters are a necessity as they allow you to check if the coil’s resistance is within a safe range. Choosing the coils and wicks you use helps you to modify flavor and vapor production. Let’s explore two types of rebuildables — RDAs and RTAs.

What are RDAs?

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers (RDAs) are rebuildables with a deck to anchor the coil but fundamentally lacking the tank that stores e-juice. This means that you have to keep dripping e-juice onto their wicks after a few puffs. RDAs have juice wells which catch excessive e-juice and prevent wastage. The decks on these atomizers also provide the electrical connection to the battery or mod that heats up the coil. Vapers hold the opinion that RDAs produce a more intense and purer flavor than all vape devices.

What are RTAs?

Rebuildable Tank Atomizers (RTAs) are much like RDAs, save for the fact that they have a tank; hence they store e-juice and do not require regular dripping. Compared to RDAs, they are less labor intensive. RTAs have a deck that is covered by a sealed metal cap chamber. This chamber is surrounded by the tank reservoir that holds the e-juice. It connects to a chimney that directs vapor to the drip tip.

What is a deck?

A deck is a flat base area where the positive and negative terminals of a rebuildable atomizer sit. The deck is designed to keep e-juice away from the battery connection. The shape and size of a deck determine performance and how an RBA can be used.  Rebuildable atomizers either have postless or post decks. What is the difference?

Postless decks: these have mounting holes on the deck. These holes trap the coil wire with screws that lead to the side of the base, and they recess into the atty deck.

Post decks: these decks have posts protruding from them. These posts have the holes where you mount your coil/s. There are several types of post decks, and all affect the performance of your RDA/RTA differently. Here are the common types:

  • Original 2 post decks: these decks are designed to hold only a single coil, and their design is not advanced. They have two posts with one hole on each post (the negative and positive terminal). Original 2 post decks work well with a small wire, ideally 28g-32g. Their design is centered — making it hard to install large coils.
  • 3 post decks: these are arguably the simplest to understand and most basic model of decks. They have three posts, two negative posts on either side, and one positive post at the center. On these decks, you can connect up to two coils by allowing them to share the positive terminal. The space between these two coils is ample, and this makes it easy to connect them without developing a short.
  • Four post/split center decks: these are an advancement of the three post deck. Four post decks have three posts, but unlike the 3 post deck, they have a spilt center with two positive terminals, meaning that coils do not have to share a positive terminal. Split center decks make building easier than the three post design.
  • 2 post velocity style decks: these are a modern and more improved version of the original 2 post decks. Like their predecessor, they have two posts. Each post has two holes. One post has the positive terminals, and the other has the negative terminals. This deck is the most significant improvement to the decks of the rebuildable type. It allows users to connect multiple coils without affecting the ease of use. Its posts are positioned outside the deck, allowing users to install larger and more complex coils on it.

Coil building wires

Wires meant for building coils are made of kanthal, nickel, stainless steel, titanium, or NiChrome. Wires are an essential part of coil building. The size of the wire is indicated, and it is necessary to check before buying, to ensure that you buy a wire that is suitable for your device and one that will offer your preferred resistance level. Coil building wires commonly range between 24AWG-32AWG. The higher the number, the thinner the wire and the higher the resistance. So, if you want to build a coil with a resistance of less than 1 ohm go for wires with 26AWG or less.

What do I need to build a coil?

Once you have bought your RBA, here are some of the tools you will need to complete a build:

Ohms meter: this meter gives you accurate readings, allowing you to put the right resistance level for your vape device.

A screwdriver: to unscrew the screws on posts. Most RDAs and RTAs come with screws of between 2mm-3mm. You can also use a screwdriver to coil the wires (you might need more than one).

Scissors: a pair of scissors or wire cutters will be useful when cutting the wire and when trimming the legs down once the coil is connected.

Tweezers: to pinch your coil when pulsing. Ceramic tweezers work better than metal ones because they do not cause a short.

Resistance wire: the coil building wire we have discussed above.

Organic cotton: for wicking. You can use any other material that you prefer such as cellucotton or rayon.

A guide: a guide like this one to ensure that you do not miss any critical steps especially if you are building the first time.

Coil jig: this is a calibrated metal tool and you use it to build coil wires. It is divided into many parts with different widths mostly 1.5 to 3.5. Hence, it allows you to vary coil size and resistance. The bigger the diameter, the higher the ohms and the less the resistance. Screwdrivers are more stable than these jigs when positioning your metal.

A mod: to give you working area and fire your atomizer and help you know if the coil set up is working

How to complete a build on RDA and RTA

Here are some simple steps to help you build your coil:

Step 1: attach the atomizer to the mod ensure that you take out the batteries first to avoid firing the mod by accident

Step 2: using your scissors, cut out enough wire (about 10 inches) to ensure that you do not run out of wire when building

Step 3: hold the wire between your finger and screwdriver or coil jig to enable you to measure the number of wraps. Start wrapping the wire coil the wire around your coil jig or screwdriver. Each time a wrap touches your finger, count that as one wrap. Make 5 to seven wraps. The more the wraps, the higher the resistance.

Step 4: pull the wraps together so that they are not too widely spaced to make the coil compact. Also, ensure that none is wrapping over the other.

Step 5: clip out the extra wire to shorten the ends if it is still long. Make sure that you cut one side a little shorter than the other

Step 6: repeat steps one through five to make the second coil.

Step 7: unscrew your atomizer to open up its holes, making sure that you do not remove the screws completely.

Step 8: put the coil around a screwdriver to help you hold it firmly. Put your coil/s into position in the post holes, with one end sticking out of the positive, and the other out of the negative terminal. If the coils are two, sat for the four post or three post deck, do not put them on the same side. Put them on opposite sides. Check to ensure that the coil’s body does not touch the posts.

Step 9: tighten the screws down but do not make them too tight, to avoid clipping out the coil wire which could cause a short

Step 10: using the clippers, cut off the leads of the coil that are sticking out of the post holes

Step 11: put the batteries back in and press the power button on the mod on and off several times to pulse the coil. Pinch the coils one at a time using your tweezers to allow the wires to pulse evenly. If one loop is heating up faster than the rest, strum the coils with your screwdriver. Use a ohms meter to check the resistance of the coils.

Step 12: cut a piece of your wicking material. It should be a little thicker than your coil. Roll it on both ends to make small points and insert it at the center of the coil, then cut the wick so that it reaches the bottom of the coil

Step 13: Using a screwdriver or tweezers, poke the ends of the wicks into the juice well then drip e-juice onto the wicks till they soak and you are good to go. Ensure that the wicks leave some space at the bottom of the deck for airflow.

Completing the build on an RTA and RDA is that quick and easy. If you make two coils of 1 ohms each, the actual resistance is halved when you install them. You need to be careful not to cause a short or do a poor build which could cause an explosion. With this guide, you can’t go wrong. Do not be afraid to give it a try!