The 3.5 to 5.5 volt 110 chip from Murata Power Solutions.
There is a lot of confusing and misleading information about mods that are running this chip out there, so I figured I would try to clear the air on this one for you and tell you what I know based on using and researching the mod. I will try to dispel some of the false information, and also clear the air on some of the "protection" features of this chip. This information is based largely on daily use, and in part on me pushing the device to find out what I needed to know to pass the information on to you. It is important to point out that no wicks were burnt during the gathering and dissemination of this information. Fair enough? Good. Let's proceed.
Warning. This is not a device for beginners. If you do not have a working knowledge of electronic cigarette mods and battery safety, this device is advanced enough to get you into some serious trouble. If this applies to you, I would recommend starting out with a variable wattage device that has more protections in place to keep you from hurting yourself or destroying the device or the atomizers that you attach to it.
First off, let's look at the specs as they apply to our application. This chip was designed for use in CPU and telecommunication applications, so some of the specs may not apply to us. For a full list of specs, you can read the pdf from Murata here.
- Input voltage is 4.5 to 14 volts.
- Output voltage is (for our purposes) 3.5 to 5.5 volts.
- Maximum output current is 20 AMPS.
- Maximum output power is 100 watts.
The first thing we notice here is that based on the input voltage, the chip requires two batteries wired in series (or stacked) assuming you wish to use 3.7 volt batteries. Also, the voltage output specifications do go down under 1 volt, but this is impractical for vaping and I am not aware of any existing mods that have the chip implemented in such a manner, thus I listed the minimum at 3.5 volts but it is (I suppose) possible to go lower.
The maximum output current is 20Amps. Based on fixed-frequency synchronous buck converter switching topology, the high power conversion efficient Point of Load (PoL) module features programmable output voltage and On/Off control. These converters also include under voltage lock out (UVLO), output short circuit protection, over- current and over temperature protections
Now, since this device wasn't designed for the usage that we are giving it here, the question becomes how will these safety features be implemented, and how will they work in real world application. The answer to these questions, simply put, is for the user to be aware of these limitations and to protect the device within their scope on their own. Here is why.
- The low voltage cutout is going to occur at 4.5 volts. Since the input specs require 2 batteries in series, this will leave our battery voltage at 2.25 volts each before the device cuts out. Running your batteries this low is, obviously, not recommended so the end user needs to monitor them and ensure that they are removed and charged at a more proper level.
- The manufacturer of the device I purchased requires builds of over .2 ohms to keep the warranty valid. The device fires a .16 ohm atomizer, so this is clearly not a protected feature.
- The amp limit listed as well as the power limit has been exceeded during my testing. A 1.6 ohm atomizer was able to be fired at 5.5 volts, which requires 34 amps of current and puts out 189 watts of power.
The only remaining safety features left to question are the short circuit protection and the temperature protection. I had no way to test those, so I didn't try. The device does not have reverse battery protection, so failure to insert the batteries according to the designed schematics will result in shorting out the chip.
All of this leads me to the conclusion that mods using this chip need to be protected by the end user. Leaving these protections up to the device could result in damage to the device and harm to the user. This is why I certainly do not recommend this device for novice vapers.
Now that we got the technical stuff out of the way, how does this device work? Outstandingly well. Here are the selling points (as I see it) for devices using this chip.
- Ease of use. No menu or functionality to figure out.
- Simplicity. To adjust, just turn the potentiometer to your desired setting and vape.
- Fine tuning. Unlike most VV mods, this mod can be adjusted by hundredths of a volt as opposed to tenths.
Simply put, the chip just works and it works great. I have tested my mod using an inline volt meter and found that it puts out according to the advertised specs. It tested fired at 3.50 volts on the low end and 5.51 volts on the high end. In between those numbers is where it gets tricky, but therein lies another great feature of this mod.
One would think that the halfway point between 3.5 volts and 5.5 volts would be 4.5 volts. One would be wrong as far as this dial works. The halfway point on mine is actually 4.27 volts. Meaning? One has a lot more room for fine tuning at lower voltages. This works out great because, as you are probably aware, .1 volts is a large jump in wattage output when using sub ohm builds. On a .3ish ohm build, for example, 1 tenth of a volt is in the 12 to 15 watt range in difference. This makes having the added flexibility of fine tuning more important in the lower settings, and it was a pleasant surprise to me to see that the potentiometer was weighted in that direction.
Clearing up some misconceptions.
- As this device is listed as a 110 watt mod, I have seen some folks speak of it as a variable wattage mod. It is not. It is simply variable voltage.
- I have seen some sites that sell devices using this chip as 3-6 volt mods. Mine is 3.5 to 5.5 volts. While the specs would seem to imply that they can go lower than 3.5 volts, they also clearly show the output limit to be 5.5 volts. Unless the modders have found some way to boost that, or unless they are using an updated version of the chip and listing it under the wrong part number, this doesn't appear to be accurate.
- The mod is listed as 110 watt mod frequently. According to specs, it is 100 watts. I was unable to find any variation of the chip that lists specs at 110 watts. However, since the device doesn't really limit the way one might expect, I will concede that this point may be moot in both meanings of the word.
The last misconception I wanted to deal with has to do with battery life. Since extended life is typically gained by wiring batteries in parallel as opposed to series, I have seen several people make the assumption that the battery life isn't very good on this mod. Obviously, the battery life will be impacted by the job you give it to do. That having been said, the rules of wiring batteries in series do not necessarily apply here. While the potential output is indeed doubled by wiring in series, the output is also regulated by the chip. Therefore, unlike a mechanical mod these batteries are not discharging at full throttle every time the button is depressed. While the current flow required to satisfy your build and settings will impact the life expectancy of the battery cycle, you will still get extended life over a typical series wired mod. You will not, however, match the life cycle of a parallel wired dual battery mod unless you are vaping at 3.5 watts. For example, vaping at 4.2 volts will give you less battery life because the chip is holding the power level up there as the batteries drop. That having been said, the shortened life span at that setting would likely be negligible.
In my opinion, this chip is a viable option to the DNA chips out there and, in many cases, superior. The buck converter gives you the step down technology that the DNA 30 and 20 (in most cases) lack. The implementation of this chip gives you the ability to far exceed the 40 watts of power that you are capped at with any presently existing Evolv chip. The downside would be the decreased voltage capabilities of the Murata chips and the lack of wattage regulation which requires you to tune the voltage setting specifically for each different build you put on it. For my uses, the good far outweighs the bad.
One feature that will depend on the individual vaper to qualify is the lack of a screen. It can be an inconvenience to not have a visual confirmation of what the mod is doing, but it can also be one less thing to worry about given the latest issues with Evolv chips and scrambled screens. This lack of visual confirmation is another reason why I encourage novice vapers to pass on this device.
One feature (or lack thereof) that is without debate a drawback is the inability to tun the device completely off. This creates a risk for the user when pocketing the device. You can, of course, get around this by removing the batteries or the attached device, but that adds the inconvenience of requiring the user to find a way to store the removed batteries or topper while carrying the device around.
The most noticeable difference that I have experienced in using this device is a much greater flexibility in my builds. This is, of course, part psychological in nature. I used to build specifically for the device I was attaching the atomizer to. So, for example, for my IPV 3 I would build to around .18 ohms with a quad coil whereas for my NexGen Futura (DNA 30) I would build around .7 ohms dual coil. For my REO grand (mechanical) I build around .35 ohms with dual coils. I have found that with this device, I generally build just about everything at .5 ohms dual coil and then tune the device to the build as opposed to tuning the build to the device. While I wasn't restricted from doing this with the more powerful VW devices I own, for whatever reason I just didn't. This may not apply to you, as it is 100% on me, but you may find yourself doing the same thing. If so, you are not alone. It really is nice to find one build you like and then fine tune the setting to maximize particular liquid flavors to your liking.
All in all, this chip suits my purposes better than the other variable mods that I have. Each user will need to look at the features and specs of devices using this chip, and compare them to the features of other available alternatives to determine what will work best for their purposes. That having been said, for what this chip has to offer it performs exceptionally well. If you were on the fence about getting one of these devices, I recommend you get off the fence and head to a vape shop that carries one of these and pick one up. You won't be disappointed.