Lavabox DNA 200
Blood Red Limited Edition – Review
As I assembled my notes and my thoughts about the past 2 weeks of using my new Lavabox DNA 200, from Volcano, the idea that spending $150-$200 on a mod that does as much as the latest from Joyetech, Innokin, Aspire, or SMOK, at something like 4 times the price did not escape me. Do we need to spend anymore than, maybe, $60 or so for temperature control, 100-200-watt device these days? Probably not. So I ask myself; why do I continue to do so? Why do I spend money on these expensive mods?
Of course, I’m not the only one. I recently purchased a new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 laptop/tablet that runs Windows 10 and for the first time ever I installed the eScribe Software for the DNA 200, which quickly led me to some very active forums on the net where hundreds of DNA 200 owners talk about the intricacies of the eScribe software and how far they can tweak their boards/mods, and I’ve discovered there are some very loyal people out there. A lot of them.
Getting to know the software caused me to realize that all this time spent buying and using Evolv board mods I was using them with one arm tied behind my back. In fact, once I started tweaking the setting and setting up my screens, I felt kind of foolish about my cheerleading the DNA40 and DNA200 without knowing what it could “really” do. Its like raving about the Corvette without ever having driven one.
There is still so much to learn about the eScribe software, but at least now I have a better handle on the complexities of the Evolv boards.
Like many other manufacturers, Volcano has adopted the Evolve DNA 200 board with its large hi-res OLED display, and created a very handsome mod. It’s $169.99 price tag (the Blood Red Special Edition is the same price as the others) is less costly than many other DNA200 mods such as the $199 Vaporshark DNA 200, but the styling, finish, and craftsmanship make it one of the better models on the market.
Pinterest and the Lavabox DNA 200
Despite owning a handful of these DNA 200 mods I felt compelled to buy this Blood Red edition after seeing it in a Pinterest post. I’m spending more and more of my down time browsing Pinterest these days and I came across the Lavabox DNA 200 mods, before that I’d never heard of it, and in fact I’ve never purchased a single thing from Volcano (and I don’t believe we’ve ever reviewed a single Volcano product), so as a fan of the board I was interested in what Volcano had done with it.
I liked the overall simple design structure of the Lavabox, and the removable, exchangeable grip was a nice touch, but it wasn’t until I saw the Blood Red Lavabox that I got serious about considering it. All the other Lavabox DNA 200 devices had black bodies with different color grips. The idea being that you could buy the Lavabox, collect the different grips and tailor the device to the occasion, or the mood, of the day. I understand that appeal, everyone here at Spinfuel does that with the eVic-VTC’s. We switch out the magnetic battery covers all the time, so I could see where Volcano customers would enjoy that experience.
I narrowed my search perimeters in Pinterest to show me only the Lavabox DNA 200 and although there wasn’t ‘hundreds of photos’ there was enough. That’s when I found the photo that caused me to pull the trigger and buy one.
Limited Edition Blood Red Lavabox DNA 200
Out of a small pond of Lavabox photos one in particular stood out, the Blood Red Lavabox. This one, instead of having a black body had a deep, blood red body, along with a black grip. There was something about it that made it stand out from the rest. I know, I can hear you laughing, “Well, Doh, it has a red body man” … but that wasn’t it. Well, no, that was it, but it’s not that simple. Yes, the blood red body stood out, but it also made the Lavabox look… extraordinary. The rest of them looked fine, but other than the DNA 200 board there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about it. I really think it was that shade of red, that Blood Red, that made the Lavabox come alive for me.
I’ve never purchased anything from looking at a Pinterest post before, and to be honest, I wasn’t at all sure that the photograph I saw depicted the mod in a better light than I would see it in when it arrived. I hoped that it would, but I did suffer a bit of ‘buyers’ remorse’ while it traveled through the postal system. As it happened, it turns out I had nothing to worry about. I was delighted to see that the Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition was just as gorgeous as the photo indicated. Strangely, the blood red color in the photo matched the blood red color of the actual Lavabox in my hand. That doesn’t happen a lot.
About The Lavabox Body
The Lavabox DNA 200 has an industrial design. In case you’re not sure what “industrial design” really means, the phrase have been applied to Apple products for the past 30 years. Having an industrial design means that the design of the product optimizes function and value, something designed for the benefit of the designer (Volcano or Apple, et al) and the end-user (you, me, the world). Something with real ‘industrial design’ never looks ‘aged’, or ‘outdated’. Look back at the 1950’s; Levi Jeans were popular then, and they are popular now. However, Poodle Dresses were also popular in the 50’s, but today? They don’t exist except in costume shops. Levi Jeans = industrial design, Poodle Dresses? Ah, no…
For what its worth, take a look at the Vaporesso Target 75W pistol grip mod, and compare it the Lavabox or Vaporshark. In a year or two the Vaporesso Target is going to look ghastly, but the simple, functional, clean look of the Vaporshark and Lavabox will always look like it belongs to whatever time it happens to be.
Design is critical to success, but without value and craftsmanship the best designed products still won’t last. As I said above, I’ve never used a Volcano product before, but if the Lavabox is any indication, the precise attention to detail, the expensive materials, and the superb construction makes the retail cost seem downright inexpensive. I was, and remain, impressed by this mod. It is both functional and elegant, sturdy, yet lightweight, and it will never look unfashionable.
This Lavabox DNA 200 device is crafted with high-grade 6061-billet aluminum alloy, allowing the box mod to be corrosion-resistant, and durable. Luckily, this aluminum alloy is just the chassis, not the finish. It’s strong, light, but its hidden underneath.
This Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition has a unique crimson red color, the color of blood, frankly. The Lavabox DNA 200, in all colors and editions, are treated with a black anodized process that is said to increase its resistance to daily wear and tear. I haven’t owned it nearly long enough to qualify that statement, but I have no reason yet to doubt it.
The Blood Red Lavabox DNA200, being a Limited Edition, has been treated with a high-grade oxidized red pigment. This treatment creates that deep, dark, blood red finish. This special coating also gives the device a nice tactile, textural, feel with an effective anti-slip grip.
About That Grip
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition has a strong black rubberized grip for a secure feel while holding or using it. And when considered as an aesthetic accent, it works really well. This grip is removable (small screws need to be removed) and constructed from a high-grade polypropylene plastic and covered with a protective rubber coating for that extra long lasting, anti-slip surface. There’s no way you’re going to let this sharp looking mod slip from your hand.
The Lavabox DNA 200 is roughly 4-inches tall, (actually 3.735”), 1.1-inches across, and 1.81-inches in width. For size comparison, the Vaporshark DNA200 is 3.5-inches tall, 1.89” across, and roughly 1-inch deep.
While I love my Vaporshark DNA 200, I believe the reason the OLED display sits at the bottom of that device is because of the 3.5” height, it just wouldn’t fit, whereas the Lavabox’s slightly taller stature allows for the same display to rest on the front of the devices, between the fire button and the two adjustment buttons. I could be wrong, Vaporshark may have planned on placing the display on the bottom all along, but it takes a while to learn to flip your wrist in a way that gets you a quick glance of the display when you need to.
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition offers a stainless steel 510-connector surrounded by eight airflow conduits that lead air into whatever tank or RDA is used. The Lavabox’s center pin is spring-loaded and gold-plated, increasing the electrical conductivity over other inferior center pins.
While the eight airflow conduits look like an aesthetic touch by its designer and nothing more, as soon as you attach your first tank to it and start vaping you’ll feel the difference these conduits make in the airflow coming in from the bottom. These grooves allow the tank to sit perfectly flush on the top of the device while allowing air to be sucked in underneath. It really is an inspiring design element. If you ask me, and it should be noted as a great example of ‘design as function’.
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition comes with an HD OLED operating screen that Evolv includes when manufactures buy the DNA200 board (its is also replaceable by the vendor or Evolv). Although somewhat darker by default than other displays on other DNA200 mods I own, this screen displays all the important information to the user; including the current wattage / voltage settings, the temperature of the atomizer coil (while in temp control mode), the atomizer’s ohms’ resistance, remaining battery life with a battery icon on the far side of the display, and the ubiquitous puff counter. In other words, all the functions built into the DNA200 board are taken advantage of in the Lavabox DNA 200. Using the eScribe software downloadable at Evolv, you can make the display brighter.
eScribe for PC’s
The Lavabox DNA200 is fully customizable, right down to the screens and operating abilities, by way of Evolv’s eScribe Software. eScribe is a managing software program that has 93 separate customization options for the DNA 200 board. Once installed, the eScribe software (still not available for Macs!), allows the user to control the vape settings based on the owner’s distinctive preferences. Of course, you’ll need to attach the device to the PC with the included USB cable.
However, depending on the number of coil heads, or coil builds, the owner uses, each coil head used in the same tank counts as one setting, so if you use two different coil head types with, say, your Uwell Crown, you can set one for each coil type, taking up two memory slots. Suddenly 8 profile slots don’t look like so many.
It’s a great idea, and it’s a blast to be able to set up different profiles so that when they change a tank it’s a matter of attaching the tank, choosing the profile, loading it into the device, and vaping. That said, in real life usage I would bet that any profile needs tweaking depending on the eliquid being used as well. So, in way, using these profile setting could wind up being a nightmare. I’m still learning my way around the software, so you can expect a full tutorial on eScribe once I know it inside and out. For now, here’s a down n dirty Quick-Start guide for setting up the Lavabox DNA 200 (or any other DNA 200 mod) with eScribe.
The eScribe Software – Lavabox DNA 200 Quick Start Guide
Although I wrote this quick start guide with the Lavabox DNA 200 in mind, you can use this quick start guide on any DNA 200 you own, or buy in the future.
So, plug the USB cable into the DNA 200 mod and the PC. escribe will then give you the option to “Connect.” Press “OK” and escribe will then load of of the mod’s parameters. Once loaded you can see and change them. If for whatever reason your version of Windows doesn’t offer the “Connect” in a pop up, you can do so by seeking it out in the upper left corner of escribe. Click “”Connect and Download Setting.”
If eScribe detects a new version of the DNA 200 firmware, it will tell. If it does, click to download and install the newer firmware into the mod. Do not disconnect your mod from the PC while updating the firmware.
Next up is setting up the battery capacity. This is especially important because not every DNA 200 mod has the same 3-cell LiPo. The WISMEC Reuleaux DNA 200 uses 3x 18650 batteries, the software needs to know.
While this does not affect the operation of the device it does make sure that your battery icon displays the true level of power you have left.
You’ll see a row of ‘tabs’ at the top of the screen, so click the “mod” tab first. A button labeled “watt hour calculator” then appears. Click it.
The first thing it wants to know is the pack voltage, and it will ask you if you know what it is. For a device using the 3S LiPo pack, like the Lavabox, the nominal voltage is 11.1 volts, so click “yes”, if you do know the pack voltage.
You can now enter the mAh capacity of the pack and its voltage. Enter the mAh of the pack in your mod, in this case its 900mAh (Vaporshark DNA 200 is 1000mAh).
Next enter the pack voltage, 11.1. then click “OK.” escribe will tell you the total watt hour capacity of the pack in your device, and ask if you want to use that value in your mod. Click “yes” because you do.
Next, let’s get this Lavabox DNA 200 up and running, at least for one profile of the tank you’re going to use with it. Although plenty of DNA board users never bother with the software, it is fairly important, especially when using NI200 coils, or Titanium. The ‘preheat’ has to be right, in order to get the most out of the tank’s coils.
The Preheat settings can get pretty complicated, I’m still wrestling with them myself, but essentially what the DNA 200 board will do is raise the temperature of the coils to within roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit of your chosen temperature setting using a healthy amount of power to get the temperature up there quickly, and then drop the power down to “glide” up to the right setting, and then it will regulate back and forth to maintain the preferred temperature. If the tank isn’t properly set up the preheat can’t do its job as well as it could, and you won’t be rewarded with that much-deserved awesome vape that the DNA 200 was designed to provide. Incorrect settings will either cause the coils to heat up too fast, or too slow.
To set up the tank click the “General” tab. Once you click it you’ll notice several tabs appear below the main tabs. These are labeled “Profile 1″ Profile 2, and so on.” Click the tab labeled “Profile 1.” Give it a name in the “Name” box. You can name it anything.
I like to give it the name of the tank I’m setting up, but also include the coil I’m using with it. In my case, Profile 1 is Crwn-15N, (for Uwell Crown, Ni200 0.15-ohm). Next, head down to the “Power” and “Temperature” boxes. Enter the wattage in the “Power” box that you usually use for that tank with those coils. My Profile 1 Power box is 51.
Enter the temperature you usually use in the “Temperature” box. If you don’t know yet, just enter 450 degrees F as it is a standard starting point.
Now for the coil wire entry. eScribe defaults to Ni200 (Pure Nickel). If that’s what you’re using, the work is done. If you’re using another type of wire, you will need to tell the DNA 200 how much its resistance changes with temperature (TCR). Select “custom” as your wire type and a graph will appear. If the wire is Titanium grade 1 click on “special” in the lower right. A drop down will appear, so click “Temperature Coefficient of Resistance (Approximation)” Enter 0.0035 as a good starting point and click “OK.”
A really cool feature of this software and the DNA 200 board is that you can download and install wire temperature coefficient curves into the software. If you are just starting out with the DNA 200 and escribe software, Ni200 and Titanium grade 1 are excellent wires to begin your journey.
Lastly, you will need to send all of these changes to the Lavabox. At the top of the screen, find and click “Upload Settings to Device.” This will take several seconds, maybe more. When the device has been upgraded with these new setting the Lavabox DNA 200 is ready to use.
Now that you have some basic parameters set in the device itself, you can fine tune these settings for the best wattage and/or temperature using the adjust buttons under the display to find that sweet spot.
You can set up to 8 of these profiles and you can use them again and again. You may need all eight, or if you only use 1 or 2 tanks and 1 or 2 coil heads or coil builds you may not. Do remember though, if you do have separate profiles for various tanks and coils, don’t forget to load them into the device from your PC and the eScribe software.
Features of the Lavabox DNA 200
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition has a huge wattage range, 1-200w, and its uses Evolv’s temperature control technology. But, in addition to using Ni200 (Pure Nickel) coils the Lavabox DNA 200 can also use Titanium coils. The board is becoming somewhat more useful as advanced users are writing certain complex settings that others can download and then load into the eScribe software and use it to set their device.
The Evolve DNA 200 can accurately sense and limit the temperature of the coil(s) in the atomizer, and adjust the temperature accordingly. Like the other DNA200 mods I own, the Lavabox DNA200 Blood Red Edition does an excellent job in variable wattage and temperature control, with or without the eScribe software, though using the software expands your vape experience exponentially.
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition is powered by the FullyMax FB900HP-3S, an 11.1V LiPo pack. Some vapers get many hours of ‘vape life’ with a single charge, but unlike the Vaporshark DNA200 I have, I get about 4 hours, tops. The Vaporshark DNA 200 uses 1000mAh LiPo’s, 3S packs, for about another 60 minutes or so of battery life for me.
I consider myself a heavy vaper, and I use only low resistance coil heads, vaped at about 50-70watts using my Uwell Crown or Rafale tanks. Real “hungry for power” tanks, you know what I mean? On the other hand, Julia, Jason, and even Kiera and John can get a lot more battery life from their DNA 200 mods using similar 3S LiPo set ups with other tanks, like the Tesla Tornado, or Herakles Plus, and even the Subtank Mini. So, consider your vaping style before estimating the battery life you’ll get. The worst thing you can do is take a vendor or manufacturer’s word for how long the battery life is; they give best case scenarios every time. I expected 4 hours when I bought the Lavabox DNA 200 because I knew ahead of time that the LiPo battery were rated at 900mAh, so I was not disappointed. Until LiPo companies can get more power into their cells that’s the way its going to be. When I am sitting at the computer I always, and I mean always, plug my device into the USB port to charge the device while I continue to vape. The Lavabox DNA 200 does feature pass-through vaping and I strongly recommend it.
The LiPo battery can be charged via the micro-USB charging port on the front of the Lavabox. The user can connect the USB cable to the computer, or they can use the 1amp wall adapter that comes with the Blood Red edition (it does not come with the standard Lavabox DNA 200) and recharge from the wall. That’s what I do when I’m not at the computer, and I get a full charge in about 2.5-3.0 hours.
The Lavabox is charging somewhat slower than my Vaporshark DNA200, and I’ve had the Vaporshark for several months. Vaporshark uses a special ZIP High Speed charging system, so you can supposedly charge your battery to 100% in 90 minutes. Realistically, after a few months, 99% happens in 90-120 minutes, but that last 1% takes another 45 minutes or so. Don’t get me wrong, the Lavabox DNA200 charges faster than a lot of other 200w devices, but the Vaporshark DNA 200 is a bit faster.
Tip: If you do own a PC and you do install the eScribe software you use the same USB cable to update firmware or customize your settings.
The Lavabox DNA 200 Blood Red Edition is gorgeous, the DNA 200 is loaded with features, and now with the choices of wire includes Titanium in addition to Kanthal and Ni200, (and Stainless Steel I imagine) the appeal for DNA 200 devices continue to attract vapers. The Lavabox DNA200 is also loaded with a lot of safety features (see below), it’s a very safe regulated mod for any vaper looking for high power and/or temperature control. Yes, there are dozens of less expensive ways to get into high wattage, temp control mods, some as low as $40, but for the discerning vaper looking for quality above all else, I prefer the DNA 200 board and a good mod maker to create a great device.
Safety features in the Lavabox DNA200 include; short circuit protection, over voltage protection, under voltage protection, over discharge protection, over current protection and a lock/unlock feature.
As I mentioned above, I have never purchased a Volcano product in my life, and I’ve done alright by that. I don’t think I would have ever bothered with this particular DNA 200 mod if I had not seen the Pinterest photo of the Blood Red Edition. There was just something about it that whispered to me; “Buy me stupid” … so I did.
I don’t regret it though, and if you like the DNA 200 board as much as I do, Volcano did a great job with the Lavabox DNA200. I only wish they hadn’t darkened the glass over the OLED display so it could be a bit brighter, and although I took the brightness to the max within the software, it still has a very light greenish tint to the glass. Comparing it side by side with the Vaporshark DNA200 and its like the Lavabox OLED display is half lit in default mode, and maybe 75% as bright in full brightness mode. That’s not a deal breaker for me, just an tiny annoyance when switching from the Vaporshark to the Lavabox.
One last thing; where the Lavabox DNA200 falls short is the 3x 900mAh LiPo’s and the lack of any kind of Zip Charging. However, it’s worth noting that the Lavabox is $30 less than the Vaporshark DNA 200, and if I might be so bold, the Lavabox is a lot more stylish. I like it, a lot.
- Limited Edition Blood Red Anodized Finish
- Houses the Powerful DNA 200 Chipset from EVOLV
- Adjustable up to 200 Watts
- Variable Wattage/Voltage
- Temperature Control Capable with Nickel & Titanium Coils
- HD OLED Display
- eScribe Software Equipped
- Internal Charging Capable
- Upgradeable Firmware
- 8 User Profiles
- Replaceable LiPo Battery
- 10-Second Cut-off
- Under Voltage
- Over Voltage
- Short Circuit
- Over Current
- Lock / Unlock Capable
- Material: Superior-Grade 6061-Aluminum Alloy
- Device Color: Limited Edition Blood Red Anodized Coating
- Threading: 510 with Spring-loaded Center Pin
- Grip Color: Stealth Black
- Grip Material: Rubber-coated Polypropylene Plastic Shell
- Power Output: 1 Watt – 200 Watts
- Voltage Output: 0.5 Volts – 9.0 Volts
- Current Output (Continuous): 50 Amps
- Current Output (Instantaneous Peak): 55 Amps
- Chipset: EVOLV’s DNA 200 Chip
- Software: eScribe (requires Windows computer to access)
- Temperature Limit: 200°F – 600°F (93°C – 315°C)
- Dimensions: 46.19mm x 28.15mm x 94.87mm
- Battery: Removable Lithium Polymer 900mAh 3x Cell
- Grip Colors: Various
- (1) Limited Edition Blood Red Lavabox DNA 200 Box Mod
- (1) Micro USB Charging Cable
- (1) User Manual
- (1) Warranty Card
- (1) Gift Box
- Wall Adapter with the Blood Red Limited Edition