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Monday, March 31, 2014

PrimusZ "Orange Marmalade" with Padauk Wood Cover

While all the planned PrimusZ colors will be available with a clear cover (probably retailing around $249.00 USD) we also have a set of exotic wood covers.  These are exotic wood covers that really make your mod stand out.

"Orange Marmalade" with Padauk Wood Cover (View 2)
The exotic covers will be sourced from sustainable, reputable exotic wood suppliers in limited batches.  Given the nature of this material there is no guarantee that once we have used up our supply we will be able to get more.
 
"Orange Marmalade" with Padauk Wood Cover (View 2)
The exotic wood versions will have a estimated street price of around $349.00 (USD).  International orders will be subject to restriction on the importing of the various woods used.

A variety of traditional stains and natural finishes such as Tung Oil will be available as well on a custom-order basis.

Please check out www.vaporscloud.com or www.elementvapors.com for details.

video

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PrimusZ Operating in the Sub-Ohm Range...

The basic PrimusZ design includes the ability to operate in the sub-ohm region.  For those that do not understand this is a coil wound to have a resistance of less than 1 Ohm.  Until today I have not been able to demonstrate this working.  But that changed today (I've been busy tracking down a few other bugs since the Vapefest):






So I have posted elsewhere that there are some serious issues with too many using Joules (Watts per seconds) to fire an e-cigarette coil - frying the VG (Vegetable Glycerin) or inhaling a vapor that's too hot or exploding a battery.

None the less we want to make sure we can address this segment of the market (think "there is a  reason your car speedometer goes to 120 mph").

Everyone has choices (and you might just need to out run that tornado).

In any case we have been testing the PrimusZ to make sure that it will work in that range.

So here is the first video (of poor quality to be sure) of the PrimusZ firing:

video

You can see the .9 Ohm value at the end of the video.

I used a very basic 3-turns of 28 gauge Kanthal:





And here we go:

video

Next is destructive battery and switch testing - internally the switch we use is rated for 480W - however the Acrylic cases won't support that.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Full Set of PrimusZ Mods in Pre-Production Acrylic Cases

First complete set of PrimusZ mods.  These are the pre-production Acrylic cases.  Once the "official" case becomes available these will be available on custom order.

We are also planning a variety of case material combinations: metal, wood, other plastics.

We are also planning custom-etching.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

PrimusZ with Basic Acrylic Case


Here it is compared to a Innokin VTR.


Fairly similar in size...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Highmark - Follow Up #1

So after 30 minutes of phone misery I reached the Highmark "Accounts Payable" area - supposedly the group in charge of corporate billing.

I provided the supplied account number and other information on my "bill."

They had no idea of who or what Lexigraph was (or what the account #'s listed on the page were).

The person I spoke to directed my to some other department where, of course, the computer systems are all "down" and no one can help me until this afternoon.

(NOTE: "Highmark Blue Shield" seems to be the "Camp Hill, PA group - not the Pittsburgh group.  Yet the supplied ZIP code on the return address is Pittsburgh (15251).  Also there is no phone number I can see on these letters.)



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why is Highmark, my Former Insurance Company, Sending Me a Bill...?

Here in Pittsburgh, PA there has been a long-running battle between two local health insurance providers: UPMC and Highmark.

UPMC is a local university system and Highmark is a classic BlueCross/BlueShield provider.  The battle has raged on for years (see this).

More than two years ago Lexigraph changed insurance plans from Highmark to UPMC in large part because the employees only used UPMC hospitals and medical doctors and because it seemed like Highmark was "after" UPMC to force it to provide Highmark customers access to its health system after some "contract" ran out.

Since the change over we have had little problem with UPMC or its plan.

During these last years Mrs. Wolf would occasionally get weird letters in the USPS mail from Highmark which we dismissed as marketing efforts.

But imagine our surprise when we received the bill for insurance from Highmark below yesterday:


Lexigraph has not used Highmark for more than two years.  We properly terminated our plan as required by Highmark at that time.  We have not solicited them or applied for Highmark insurance since then.  We do not want Highmark insurance.

Yet here is a bill for insurance coverage beginning the last month of 2013 (well, maybe - see below).

If we look inside we see this:


An arrangement of Lexigraph employees that is not current or valid but in fact reflects our arrangement of employees from two and a half years ago.  Note the employees names are provided (B and K in the image) - not something Lexigraph has authorized Highmark to use or have access too.  

(NOTE: It is possible that this letter is not a product of Highmark but in fact some type of fraudulent use of stolen Highmark data about Lexigraph and its employees.  Obviously we cannot know this so for the purposes of this blog it is our opinion that Highmark, because its a large company, has protected our data and that is in fact a bill directly from Highmark to Lexigraph).

Now since I am using this blog to point this out I want to make this perfectly clear:

1) We have not solicited for nor applied for any Highmark insurance in the last two years - period.

2) We have not authorized Highmark to use our employee's names or other information (like former insurance plans they had selected or used, information about vision or dental plans, etc) for any marketing purpose.

3) It is our opinion that this solicitation is a violation of HIPAA and a fraudulent use of Lexigraph's employees personal healthcare information (plans selected by the employee previously).

4) It is our opinion that this use of Lexigraph's information as well as its employees is illegal when used to solicit payment for services not requested or authorized (imagine what would happen to Lexigraph if we attempted to bill Highmark for work not rendered using Highmark data).

There are several other fishy aspects to this bill:

1) It has arrived six weeks after the supposed beginning of the coverage.  No insurance company does this - they all expect payment at the beginning of the policy, i.e., in advance.

2) Some portions of the bill refer to a "coverage period" from 12/01/2013-12/31/2013 and other portions to an "effective date" of 1/1/2014.  Again - no real insurance company would bill you like this unless it was a mistake - a coverage period is a coverage period - not half one month or year and some other month or year.

3) We have received numerous repetitive nasty phone calls as described here from people identifying themselves as "Highmark" (see this).  We do not provide employee or healthcare data about our company over the phone to unsolicited phone callers - yet it would appear that's exactly what Highmark (or whoever is running the linked survey) would like us to do.

4) Highmark identifies itself as "Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield" - the bill only as "Blue Shield."

5) Had we actually applied for this insurance we would have used the correct configuration of employees and benefits they request - not this two year old bad information.

So my conclusions are either

1) That Highmark's data was stolen.

2) That Highmark is, in my opinion, fraudulently attempting  to get me to pay for something I have not asked for, nor do I want, nor have I used.

3) That Highmark has made some impossible to believe mistake with my company's HIPAA-protected data.

None of these makes me comfortable.

I direct our company's use of outside insurance and handle the applications, manage the benefits, etc.

No one here that I know of could have set this up by mistake nor would anyone but me be authorized to do this.

Give the "healthcare.gov" issues this is all the more troubling...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014

PrimusZ: Powered by GRX 1.0

Most Mod and DIY folks are familiar with systems, for example the Evolv DNA 3.0, which provides a single-board solution for controlling your mod.

A basic overview of this technology is provided below (very technical).  Note that these are preliminary specifications and they may change.

The PrimusZ is controlled by a similar single-board solution called the GRX 1.0.  The GRX, like the other similar single-board sysetms, provides a means for the user to set voltage, wattage, read ohms, and adjust various parameters and settings.  However, unlike existing similar single-board sysetms the GRX does not use a display.




Instead the GRX uses secure, wireless BlueTooth communications protocol called XTI to communicate with a remote application using "the PrimusZ Golem" on one or more PC, Mac, iPhone or Android devices designated by the PrimusZ mod owner.  The Golem, in turn, communicates with the sophisticated UI that replaces the "on mod" display allowing the user a richer and more sophisticated graphical experience for viewing and changing mod parameters as well as communicates with a remote cloud-based web site such as VaporsCloud.

(A "Golem," according to Wikipedia, is "... an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter.  In this case an "app" that controls the mod on behalf of the user.")

The GRX board uses a 16-bit microcontroller running an embedded variant of Forth called amForth (a GPL microcontroller Forth available from this site.)  As per the GPL license we will be publishing all changes to the base amForth code when the mod is released.

Presently the GRX uses a combination of both dual-sided surface mount (SMD) and through-hole components.  GRX 2.0 will use identical components but instead be entirely surface mount and approximately 1/2 the size of GRX 1.0 (GRX 2.0 will be approximately 2.375" x 1.375" worth of surface area; size will depend on the selected BlueTooth).

The GRX runs a proprietary multi-threaded operating system called grZOS (pronounced "ger zos") which runs "on top"of amForth, i.e., the OS is pure Forth code (approximately 400 Forth words).  grZOS is a simple real-time operating system that provides all the basic functions for controlling a mod that you might find in other products such as those mentioned above.  In addition it also provides an "API" (application program interface) that the "Golem" uses to control the mod remotely via BlueTooth.  grZOS also handles differences in versions of BlueTooth (LE versus classic).
 (Note that "out of the box" the GRX (and hence the PrimusZ mod) is not preprogrammed with the grZOS.  Instead, the user's Golem is used to download the latest version of grZOS into the mod after purchase.  Versions of grZOS will be freely available for mod owners.)

The GRX supports dynamic OS updates.  When a new version of the OS is available the user may choose to update their mod by simply triggering the "update" feature (similar to how iOS or Android versions are updated).

Further, GRX supports dynamic downloading of OS features.  For example, the GRX will support the PrimusZ Dynamic Coil Power Cycle (DCPC) which allows the user to control the intensity of the coil heating during a vape cycle.  Users will be able to use their phone or computer to "tune" their mod to a specific heating sequence.

A given GRX board can be configured for classic BlueTooth, BlueTooth Low Energy, or for both (though only one protocol at a time can be used - a hardware jumper or switch allows the user to toggle between the formats).

GRX also supports a "native communications" model, i.e., button presses and LED flashes, to perform all the major mod functions when a phone or computer is not available.

The PrimusZ "Golem" is a sophisticated, multi-threaded, multi-process platform independent C++  (approximately 100K lines) library supporting Mac, PC, Android and iOS.  It supports the XTI communication protocol over the native BlueTooth available on each device (in the case of iOS only the 4S and above are supported using BlueTooth Low Energy (LE)).

In addition the "Golem" supports the VaporCloud protocols required to send and receive information from VaporsCloud and to forward information between the mod and VaporsCloud.

The "Golem" is clever enough to dynamically communicate with both the mod and VaporsCloud (separately and/or simultaneously) depending on the availability of both, i.e., if the mod is not available via BlueTooth so long as the "Golem" is alive in the phone or PC it will try to reconnect with the mod.  Similarly, if there is information to upload to VaporsCloud the "Golem" will repeatedly attempt to upload data until all data that's available is uploaded depending on the availability of the internet.

The GRX has limited storage for off-line vaping due to the fix memory limit of the microcontroller.  However, while off line from the "Golem" the GRX accumulates both hit counts as well as the "total on time" of the coil.  This allows the "Golem" to estimate the length of "off line" hits.

The GRX hardware is designed around an 8.4V power supply (stacked 3.7V LiPo batteries) using an extremely efficient MOSFET switching system to deliver both VRMS power as well as the "manual" mechanical-style on/off switching found in mechanical mods.

The out-of-the box unit is theoretically capable of switching up to 40A at 8.4V - though the physical limitations of the 1.0 board layout prevents much beyond 20W.  Switching higher voltages is possible with minor software and hardware changes - basically moving the switching device off-board, supplying a heat sink and tweaking the software appropriately.

grZOS supports a well-defined API for remote software access.  This API provides the means to trigger a vape cycle remotely, download and monitor a large variety of mod telemetry data (power data, switching data, and error data), control power as volts, watts, or duty cycle, and manipulate (load, save, change) mod state (power limits, warnings for events like coil changes, etc.).

The "Golem" software also supplies a series of API and callbacks that allow native UI applications to control and monitor the full state of both the mod as well as any active VaporsCloud connection.

The initial PrimusZ will consist of a GRX 1.0 board, two LiPo batteries, and a daughter power board that supplies micro-USB charging (batteries and daughter board):


The combined GRX 1.0 board, batteries and power board configured for the case look like this:



More details will be published as we have time to make them available.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

PrimusZ: The Future of eCigs and Mods (Smoking is Dead)

The company I am working with and am president of is releasing the PrimusZ mod.

Information about the mod and details of it and its eco-system are available in other posts on my blog (http://lwgat.blogspot.com).

The mod will be sold through http://www.elementvapors.com.

This mod represents a complete game changer for the world of vaping in several important ways.

First, this device is able to, with reasonable accuracy in the range of maybe 98%, track each vape from a device down to a resolution of .1s.  If you are "bound" to a GPS-enabled device you can know exactly where each vape occurred, how long it was, etc.

Short of something like a cellphone there is no other "low level," e.g., cigarette-like device, that is able to collect that much information (there are some emerging devices with lesser ability so we are not alone nor the first).

Is vaping good or bad for your health?  I don't know.

(And, of course, neither does anyone else.  I am fascinate by the full spectrum of direction people get about vaping from their doctors: don't to do...; doctors fear vaping... doctors think vaping ..., etc.  It all about control and nothing more.)

But I do know that data collection at the level PrimusZ provides will far surpass, in terms of accuracy and reliability, any other kind of medical or research data collection for this kind of device because the device you are using is also able to collect the data.  You don't have to write down each time you smoked a cigarette: your cigarette keeps track of it for you.

Similarly, you can track your juice type, juice usage, battery life, coil changes, etc. etc.

The PrimusZ checks its internal state and track problems: shorts, open coils, etc. and records them.

Your car, if its new, does some of this.

Second, in conjunction with VaporsCloud (http://www.vaporscloud.com) you can visualize your vaping, that is, see charts, graphs, table and so on that tell you exactly how much, when and where you are vaping.

So all this technology will make it easy to know, not guess, if you are vaping more or less this week or last week, vaping more because you family is coming to visit, and so on.

Third, this bring issues like privacy and security to the forefront and we at PrimusZ believe that these are critically important issues for vapers.

On the security front VaporsCloud makes it possible to let you see what your friends are vaping, where they are vaping, and what ever else they let you see about them.  Vaping is a social experience as much as anything else and its always nice to see what others are doing around you.  Wouldn't it be nice to have the vaping information you wish to share available to select Facebook friends?  Wouldn't it be nice to have local shops that stock parts, juice, and tips you like available at your finger tips?

At the same time most vapers I know do not want their personal information and vaping details to fall into the wrong hands, i.e., the hands of the FDA, medical or insurance companies, employers, and so.  The wrong people knowing you are vaping, or how much you are vaping, could mean losing a job, being disciplined, or worse.

Fortunately the PrimusZ mod keeps absolutely none of your personal information inside of it.  Only a magic UUID (a UUID is just a 128 bit random number that represents your mod) is kept in the mod that your other computing devices know.  If someone steals your PrimusZ other people's devices won't be able to talk to it.  It also means that no one can "hijack" your mod with their PC or phone.

The PrimusZ does not require you to do anything with a phone or a computer in order to use it.

Its designed, out of the box, to work just like any other mod.  Push a button and vape.

However, if you choose to get involved at the next level, you can with just your phone or computer.  Your phone or device will collect the raw mod data and make it available to you on your computers file system.  You can do what you like with your data.

Finally, if you are so inclined, you can use VaporsCloud to collect, manage and view your vaping data.  Though VaporsCloud requires a login (user-id and password) you can certainly choose one that keeps you anonymous (minus any security requirements to establish an account).  With an account you will also be able to voluntarily decide whether or not you'd like to make your vaping data anonymously available to us.  You'll also be able to decide if you want others to make you offers based on this data, for example, offering you a discount based on your purchases of juice.

The benefit to you with this is that others who would like your business, for example a vape shop, might want to make an offer to people vaping consistently within a certain distance of their vape shop.  Battery manufacturers might be interested in how their batteries are performing in various vaping scenarios.  And so on...

We also understand completely if you want nothing to do with all of this technology and stick to your mechanical mod.

---

About three years ago I wrote a series of posts on nicotine and the future of vaping (see this, this, this this and this).  I think they very accurately have predicted where things are going in the world of vaping at many levels.





But there are a couple of things I missed: pot legalization and bullying of smokers.



On the pot side I am curious why no one is too worried about whether or not kids will pick up pot smoking in places like Colorado but they sure are worried about some vape that has a fruity flavor...

On the bullying side I have come to realize that the government, by their very definition of bullying, applies bullying to smokers (see this post).

Many vapers I know literally cringe at the thought of the FDA having knowledge of their vaping, of destroying the vaping industry, and losing the feeling of well being and control vaping gives them.

To the point, I think, that they literally act in fear as if they have been bullied (and, of course, they have been).

But there is a double edged sword here.

Having the potential information that something like a VaporsCloud provides is also a potential weapon against the very disinformation and bullying tactics used against vapers.

(Smoking, like CDs, mail, phone booths, etc. is dead.  It won't be long before the notion of inhaling smoke form a burning ember will be viewed as a stone age activity.)

Smoking will die and go away by-and-large.

But vaping is here to stay - but only if vapers are willing to take action against those who would attack them.

---

I have never smoked save for one cigarette in the culvert with my pal Ricky when I was about 10 years old.

Today I vape as part of my job building the PrimusZ.

How ironic is that?

As anyone who reads my blogs knows I am somewhat of a health nut but, at least so far, I really don't notice much of an effect from vaping (and yes, I do vape some blends with nicotine).

And, as for "full disclosure" - K & D Vape Shop is part-owned by a family member (K & D subscribes to the notion that it must be a place where your mom, her 18 or older kid and your grandma and your great grandma can go, feel comfortable, bring their family and children, and vape without the red velvet curtains, sitar, and glass bowl selections to make them uncomfortable).

---

I hope that those reading this blog (and related posts and links) will contact me with their ideas and thoughts.

Make no mistake, I am a capitalist.  I plan to make a living through this mod.

I also plan to battle the windmills and to devote a certain amount of time to that as well.

I am also interested in seeing that smoking dies to the extent that it can.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In Case You Think the PrimusZ is not "Real"

[ NOTE: A few folks have stopped by K & D where I am doing a lot of work curious about the new mod.  On fellow seemed to think that "it wasn't real."

So I am posting this back from September of 2013 - its an internal set of release notes about the initial prototypes released to Jr and Nick for testing (more on this will hopefully appear in a popular Vaping Magazine very shortly - it will include a discussion of who everyone is.)

Have you read other parts of this blog???  Really??? I am posting BS???

More will be coming from the past as well as lots of new posts... ]



YOU MUST READ ALL THIS CAREFULLY


IMPORTANT NOTES:

1) The mod processor is always running and will run the batteries out of power in about a day and a half with no vaping.  This is a bug and will be fixed.

2) After a setting change (see "setDuty" in the post about wireless communication) the vape light will not always come on the first time.

3) The 510 connector is not mounted very securely so try not to put a lot of pressure on the tank when its attached.

Assmebly and Disassembly

The following images show how to assemble (and following the steps backwards disassemble) the mod.

The main components are shown below.  The Arduino Uno board on the left, the basic mod and power circuit board on the right.  The connector pointed to by the blue arrow is the serial data cable.  THE DATA CABLE MUST BE ORIENTED AS DESCRIBED BELOW.

The yellow cable is the "vape" button and is not sensitive to which way its plugged in.

The red connector is the connector for the 510 and its also not sensitive to how its plugged in.

In order to put the mod together you first plug in the data cable, then the power cable and the "vape" button cable.  Then you attach the Arduino board to the power board.

The 510 connector plugs into the center plug on the power board.  The cable can be turned either way.

 

The "vape" button plugs into the right-side connector.  Again, it can be turned either way.


The data cable must be plugged in so that the "white" wires line up on the same side.


You next "fold over" the Arduino board so that it plugs into the power board as shown below.  Note that on EACH SIDE of the Arduino board there are two connectors with a GAP between them (see below purple arrows).

There are two round metal capacitors on the Arduino board (right of image above).  They must be positioned over the radio on the power board (left image above with small gold contacts above the world "SHIELD").

When the Arduino is plugged into the power board the gaps must line up.  There are extra socket slots and/or pins on the outside of each side of the connector.  Don't worry about those.  THE CENTER GAP MUST LINE UP and shown below.

Basically you flip the board over, line up the connectors as below, and plug it it (see video).


The red arrows below show where extra pins and/or socket holes can appear.  Only worry about the GAP IN THE CENTER.  This applies to BOTH SIDES of the mod.

 
See this for details:

video

The batteries must be positioned so that the (+) of BOTH BATTERIES must be oriented to the up (toward the top of the mod where the button and 510 connector are).


The POWER connector (above the battery case - black and white wire) must be oriented so that the white wire plugs into the side of the female connector that is soldered to the battery terminal


See this video for details:

video

In the image below you can see the lower white arrow points to the side of the connector soldered directly to the battery terminal.  The male connector must be positioned so that the white wire connects to that side of the terminal.


When the battery connector is plugged in the green Arduino power light will come on.  The mod is ready for use.

Another way to think about this is that the white wire should always be on the RIGHT SIDE of the mod with the power board facing away from you (power board behind the plastic).  (NOTE: One mode has the 510 on the right and one has the 510 on the left.  DON'T LET THIS CONFUSE YOU.)

PrimusZ: How it updates vaporscloud.com


This diagram shows how the PrimusZ updates http://www.vaporscloud.com.

The current PrimusZ's work like this though there "off-line" code is not on-line yet.  This allows the updates for vapors cloud to "collect" when the mod and/or phone is off-line from the cloud.


Friday, March 7, 2014

PrimusZ Auto Testing...


Here we at K & D.  We can see the PrimusZ being tested wirelessly from a PC.

Since its a wireless mod we can integrate wireless telemetry and testing into the manufacturing process.

In this case we can cycle the mod on/off from a remote device.

This allows us to test the software, heat output, and battery life, among other things...

Below an early test of a prototype mod.

Note the "hand made" nature of the "breadboard..." (from September 2013)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PrimusZ Mod Released...

After quite some time we are in the process of releasing this vaping "mod" into production.

More updates will appear here as time goes by...


This started back in July with this "proof of concept..."




Prototype #1 (late August 2013)