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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Consequences of FDA Required E-Liquid Mislabeling

Grandpa's Little four year old Suzy A relative has collapsed during the holiday's at a table in the next room.

The symptoms: no breathing...

You urgently call the poison control center and report what you see in the photo above.

Can your relative be saved?

Let's see, the poison control center needs to know:

- The person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
- When it was swallowed or inhaled
- The amount swallowed or inhaled

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.

Your holiday ends in a panic... ("not breathing" is a symptom of both choking on the cap - notice the cap is not visible - and nicotine poisoning).

Only problem is that the vial shown above is mislabeled.

The contents DO NOT contain nicotine because it's 0mg liquid.

Yet you will report incorrect information to the poison control center.  This may delay the proper treatment of your loved one and could lead to serious health consequences or even death.

Now, as it turns out 0mg e-liquid contains the same ingredients as cake frosting (examples here).

It would seem that the FDA requires (according to their own website) that "Foods Must Contain What the Label Says."

So which is it?

Seems like the FDA is talking out of both sides of its mouth...

Of course, you know that some lawyer will sue the vape shop and/or e-liquid manufacturer that created this product because it is incorrectly labeled and the incorrect labeling delayed the poison control center.

The manufacturer or shop owner will have no recourse because the FDA required them to mislabel the product.

So what's the FDA's intent here?

Do we label products based on what's actually in them or lie about it?

Why is our government requiring us to lie?

Deeming Regs: A War on Science and Common Sense

What will be shown here is that a careful reading of the "Deeming Regs" reveals a totally ambiguous, illogical and poorly thought out attempt to define something which is quite technical, detailed and scientific, that is, what an e-cigarette is and does, with vague colloquialisms, pseudo science, and descriptions that are so poorly written and unclear that they include most of the human activities on the planet.

From the deeming regs (page 8): "Specifically, "Component or Part" means "any software or assembly of materials intended or reasonably expected: 1) to alter or affect the tobacco product’s performance, composition, constituents or characteristics; or 2) to be used with or for the human consumption of a tobacco product. The term excludes anything that is an accessory of a tobacco product." Components and parts of the newly deemed tobacco products, but not their related accessories, are included in the scope of this final rule. The following is a nonexhaustive list of examples of components and parts used with electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) (including ecigarettes): e-liquids; atomizers; batteries (with or without variable voltage); cartomizers (atomizer plus replaceable fluid-filled cartridge); digital display/lights to adjust settings; clearomisers, tank systems, flavors, vials that contain e-liquids, and programmable software. Similarly, the following is a nonexhaustive list of examples of components and parts used with waterpipe tobacco: flavor enhancers and the vials in which they are contained; hose cooling attachments; water filtration base additives (including those which are flavored); flavored waterpipe tobacco charcoals and the wrappers or boxes that contain the charcoals; and bowls, valves, hoses, and heads."

So in no particular order let's think a bit about one example here: "digital display/lights to adjust settings."

First off, the statement fragment is nonsensical.  Lights (devices which emit photons) and digital display's (devices which emit patterns of photons) convey information to a user's eye or a camera or other photo receptive device, i.e., they indicate a value of something (through shape or color or arrangement of these photons) typically contained in software or electronic hardware to a "user." 

Secondly, "lights" and "digital displays" only pass information from within a device to a user.  You would need a "control system" of some type, a physical element which translates the actions of a user, e.g. a switch or button, into a value inside the device.  These lights are not directly connect to a "tobacco product," of course, either.

So common sense says that "digital display/lights to adjust settings" cannot be used "to alter or affect the tobacco product’s performance, composition, constituents or characteristics;"  Perhaps one could use these devices to monitor the what a device is doing to a "tobacco product" but they themselves cannot "alter or affect" it.  They could also affect what a device does to a "tobacco product" but not the tobacco product itself.

(We are going to use "tobacco product" here as a stand in for something which actually contains some detectable element which is truly unique to the tobacco plant ( such as nornicotine, anatabine, and anabasine (see this).  Nicotine is found elsewhere in nature so it doesn't count as unique to tobacco.  We exclude the same things the FDA does, e.g., synthetic nicotine, because it has no relation whatsoever to tobacco - or, inversely, tobacco plants contain water which is clearly not a "tobacco product.)

So let's consider "digital display/lights to adjust settings" in the context of "to be used with or for the human consumption of a tobacco product."   To me this is at best ambiguous.  While it could mean a light or display to adjust, say power, on a mod it could also mean a lighted sign hanging in a window that says "set your power level to 15W."  Again, a "control" that allows a user to alter things is different from an indicator.

But even if a "digital display/lights to adjust settings" were a control what does it alter?

Clearly it's not altering the "tobacco product.

Instead it's altering the internal state of some electronic device, let's just say a computer for the sake of argument.

However, the computer is not connected to the "tobacco product" in any way.  It's simply sending signals to some kind of power controller that, again for sake of argument, alters the temperature of a heating element.  A "tobacco product" cannot receive electronic signals in any practical physical sense.  Yes, I could embed wires from a computer in a pile of tobacco leaves but there would be no significant measurable change to the tobacco leaves because there isn't sufficient power in such a digital signal.

But for a power controller to affect a heating element it must amplify the signal in some way.

That seems to be what is meant by "atomizer" - which is really something that emits a fine spray of particles.

At best the "voltage" and "software" are affecting this "atomizer" and not the "tobacco product" itself.

Even if I put the "tobacco product" into a tank on an atomizer and apply power via "lights" through "software" etc. etc. nothing happens...


Because whatever means is used to transport the "tobacco product" out of the mod, say with heat via a coil of wire to vapor, does not directly touch the "tobacco product."

So either the user is placing the "tobacco product" directly on the coil or the "tobacco product" is transported to the coil via a wick.

So I underlined transported above because the location of the "tobacco product" is a characteristic of the "tobacco product."  So clearly "characteristic" is called out in "1) to alter or affect the tobacco product’s performance, composition, constituents or characteristics;"

And in this case the only the characteristics of the "tobacco product" would be its location as the wick draws the liquid from the thank to heating element.  Wicking works by capillary action.  The substances being transported are not altered other than their location.

Since atomizers are called out directly and wicking is transporting "tobacco product" to the heating coil than it is reasonable to assume that a "tobacco product" can be modified by changing its location all other things being equal.  And, it seems quite rational that the location of an object is a characteristic of that object.

So it would seem that moving "tobacco product" from one location to another means that whatever is transporting the "tobacco product" is a "component or part" of a "tobacco product."

So does anything that changes the location of a "tobacco product" qualify as a "component or part?"

For example, the USPS box the "tobacco product" arrived in?  Clearly it "transports" the "tobacco product" closer to the user. 

And what about the bottle it is contained in?  Clearly there is transportation, just as with wicking, to the user from the "tank" portion to the nozzle.

And if we heat a solution combining nicotine and a carrier with a boiling point less than that of nicotine it seems clear that the vaporization of that solution simply transports the nicotine closer to the user, just as the USPS box does: the vapor carrying the unmodified nicotine through the air.

After all the nicotine is not chemically decomposed - if it were then you would be able to vape it.  But then again liquids evaporate on their own.  So how is this different?

Though to be fair I suppose that the temperature (a "characteristic") of the nicotine is affect by the atomizer, just as the temperatures of the nicotine is affected when it leaves the air conditioned post office and sits in my hot, black mailbox for several hours in the summer.

This of course, begs the question of exactly what degree of heat (as it applies to "characteristics") matters?

In general the "deeming regulation" is, as stated at the outset, a set of vague colloquialisms, pseudo science, and descriptions that are so poorly written that they include most of the human activities on the planet.

These FDA descriptions are themselves "dual use" in the sense that they pretend to describe something very specific relating to e-cigarettes but in fact are so vague as to take in vast swaths of human engineering, electronics, and general activity.

Of course, the intent is that FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) will prevent anyone from questioning this.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Facebook: How to Make the ENDS Justify the Means

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about making Facebook part of an ENDS system (see this post, ENDS page here). 

I am relentlessly pursuing this because no one appears to be able to successfully legally challenge the utter insanity contained in the FDA deeming regulations. 

This leaves the only rational challenge a technical or scientific one.

While the FDA is free to "deem" whatever laws into existence they choose there are technical and legal consequences where existing science and law requires consistency (for example PA tax law: "[a]ll taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be collected under general laws.", plug in air fresheners meet the definition of ENDS, etc.).

So we need to push the envelope and spread the pain of the FDA deeming regulations to other businesses who stand to lose great deal more than a few thousand lousy vape shops.

The FDA identifies any "software" used in an e-cigarette as an "component or part" of an ENDS system (see this video around 0:25s, all in the published regs).

Clearly Facebook supports the FDA mission on e-cigarettes as demonstrated by their bans on vaping ads and it's big and in every tax jurisdiction, so its reasonable to assume it will be unhappy following the FDA regulations.  Hence it will bitch.

Thus making Facebook's software into a "component or part" of an e-cigarette demonstrates the lunacy of the FDA regulations and will hopefully offer a legal entry point for lawsuits.

There is no requirement Facebook be cooperative or complicit in this as far as the FDA deeming regulations are concerned as far as I can see.

We do this by making the core function of Facebook (or iOS, or whatever) integral to an ENDS system (just as I did with the PrimusZ and the iPhone).  We simply pass a message through Facebook to fire the mod.

Once this occurs (and it need only occur once in a reasonably documented fashion), some interesting things result:

• Facebook can no longer have users under 21 years of age.

• Facebook cannot advertise.

• Facebook cannot give free samples (of their software, for example) away.

• Facebook is a "component or part" of an ENDS product by FDA definition.

Should a special exception be made for Facebook then the rigging of the game for everyone else is fully exposed.

Facebook ($500 Billion USD) is far larger than all of "big tobacco" combined (maybe $150 Billion USD).

(Ditto for Android, Apple, all the hardware used to route internet traffic, fiber, wires, etc. etc. etc.  Though Apple at $900 Billion USD is bigger than Facebook).

I would suppose this also works to allow states and localities to tax Facebook as an ENDS product.

The hardware part is now complete as you can see from the various videos I have been posting.  I now have a mod that accepts and sends MIDI commands via Bluetooth.

So the path on making virtually any kind of "software" application part of an FDA ENDS is pretty simple and, while there are obviously many variations, it all boils down to more or less this:

1) Modify the midi4.ino file on my GitHub to accept some MIDI commands, e.g., MIDI Note On/Off to fire the device.  This is trivial.

2) Grab any of a number of iOS or Android apps like musicIO that will route MIDI messages between, say, your Mac and your iOS device (probably equivalents in the Windows and Android world as well).  Again, this is trivial.

3) Set up some kind of software, either Facebook app (using node.js), or other tool, e.g., Sixth Sense, through which you can identify a particular kind of Facebook message (again, this only need be very, very crude).  On the server end monitoring Facebook (something Facebook cannot see) you trap this message and route it to the mod.

This is a bit more work but really not too hard to gin up a demonstration.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt: FDA's Control of Vaping (+ Video)

So here's the final video in my current series of the OSP Prometheus (Bluetooth + MIDI + 510 + Dean's).  All of this is freely available on this blog (schematics, parts lists, software is on github, etc.):

(Prior video here).

A couple of notes:

First off this thing is not really a mod anymore, or even an Open Source Power module.  It's a fully programmable computer, a MIDI controller, and USB power block.  A whole bunch of things.

It is not intended to affect "tobacco" in any way.  I don't use it for such though the through the FDA regulations I am forced to vape cake frosting falsely advertised and labeled to contain nicotine.

As I have progressed along this path I now believe that the real idea here is the intent of the device.

First off, my device is intended to be a fun, multi-purpose toy that does a number of things.

Secondly, I envision a commercial product that is sold such that it does nothing when purchased, i.e., it has no programming at all.

The purchaser would use some standard, free tools on his or her phone to locate and download a program of his or her choosing to make the thing do whatever they wanted.

My sincere belief is that this makes this something other than any possible definition of an electronic cigarette (state, local, federal).

So as a finer point I can clearly make e-cigarette things with just about anything (from here):

Since it uses wall power does it make the entire US grid (all connected together more or less) something the FDA regulates?

I would hope not (but you never know, I suppose I could resell commercial electricity as a reseller for the purpose shown in the photo to ensure it was FDA regulated...)

Working backwards from this picture eventually we arrive at something the FDA can regulate as an e-cig.

But where, exactly, is that point?

In truth the only possible means to figure this out is intent...  Which is kind of what the FDA alludes too in the video in my recent post.  But they wield fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) to frighten people into compliance.

I cannot control what an end-user might do with something I sell.  Guns, for example, are not the problem of the manufacturer, its share holders, or even a pension holding shares in a given murder, instead its the responsibility of the murderer.

I think that holds here as well.

If the vape units sold have no software they are nothing.  They fire no coils and, more importantly, since they have multiple uses I, the maker, cannot say what the intent of the purchase or purchaser is.

Here we are victims of the Chinese and like minded manufactures.  Vapes are basically standard, cheap power circuits with lithium ion batteries.  No one really cares if you have to pay a significant, e.g., 40% tax.  But the end user would buy mods with other features if they net cost where less than simply battery circuits.

As a manufacturer I simply cannot know how a user will use a computer I sell them.

Certainly I cannot arrest every cell phone user because they might hack into the Pentagon with their phone, even if the phone is technically able to do such a thing (which all are).

There's some legal precedent for this argument.  Here in Pennsylvania "Cherry Masters" are illegal - they are basically video slot machines found in bars.  If you had one in a bar you could be arrested, pay fines, etc.  They are games of chance because they have, according to this article, "random number generators" inside.

However, some clever folks figured out that you could modify the basic game and add skill elements (see this court decision).  Since you have to be quick (skill wise with your fingers) to win given these modifications the machines are no longer simple games of chance (like a roulette while).

What does this have to do with vaping?

I think a lot...

Challenges need to be made to force a decision on what exactly the FDA thinks are e-cigarettes and what their, the FDA, rules actually can logically and rationally encompass.

I have written here that many things easily fit the definition that are not vapes: Air fresheners and oil diffusers for example.

The OSP system above is "multi-use" and it's operation is defined after purchase.  Does that meet the definition of an e-cig?

Without action the future of vaping will be wiped out by big tobacco and the FDA.

FUD is being used against vaping.

The ideas are fully irrational.  One a scientific basis air fresheners are far more dangerous than vapes. Yet there is virtually no regulation of those...

What does that tell you about who has your best interest in mind?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Calling the Regulatory E-Cig Bluff

About twenty seconds (0:20) into the video below we see precisely what the FDA thinks is an e-cigarette that can be regulated (the video is a clear reflection of the published regulations):

A regulated "component or part" includes "software" or "hardware" that is "intended or reasonably intended" to alter (in any number of ways) the "tobacco product."

So if I sell an electronic device that is multi-functioned (USB charging port, flashlight, 510 connector, dean's connector) and configured for a specific function after purchase by the purchaser how can it be regulated?

How can it be an e-cigarette?

How can it be anything until the user makes a decision.

(See the previous posts on the OSP, also here.  The point of my posts is that such devices, that are not configured until after a user chooses to set it a certain way, cannot be regulated.)

Obviously the intent of such a device is to be "multi-function" so what would the intent (I guess at the point of manufacture) of its use be?

If my iPhone, Facebook, or any other software such as the internet is involved in "altering" a "tobacco product" then, by this definition, they are also themselves "tobacco products" and the target of regulation.  They, the iPhones, must be because they, the iPhones, are altering "tobacco products"...  or are they?

(There is a strong parallel to synthetic nicotine which the FDA says it will not regulate.)

If my iPhone controls my mod but somehow, even if it's integrally required to operate my mod, the "intent" of the iPhone is not to be a "tobacco product" (because Apple says not) and the iPhone cannot "reasonably" be intended to alter a tobacco product because Apple says so, then how can anything be regulated as an e-cigarette (unless the manufacturer says it's an e-cigarette).

It would seem to me that the only things that can be regulated are things which are either 1) declared to and actually involved in the altering of "tobacco products" or 2) declared to be e-cigarettes.

But if Facebook or an iPhone or Android is directly used to do this, they'd have to be regulated by the FDA?  Or would they?

By creating and selling devices which require the use of a cell phone to fire a mod someone will be forced to decide this issue.

An iPhone as a tobacco product is patently ridiculous, but it is one because I sold commercial e-cigarette products that required an iPhone to use.  The 18650's in a Chinese mod are regulated whether or not they were intended to be so it would be true also for the iPhone.

This is all a charade.

An illogical contradiction.

Nothing in a e-cigarette is made out of tobacco unless you, the user, put it there.

I don't vape nicotine, yet I am now forced to purchase products e-liquid products which are required by the FDA to carry a false ingredient list (nicotine in a product which does not actually contain nicotine).

The synthetic nicotine manufacturers have already called the FDA bluff.

Maybe the rest of the vaping industry should too...

Monday, December 25, 2017

Prometheus "Duel Use" Video...

So I published the code (midi3.ino and BluefruitConfig.h) on GitHub that goes with this video...

You want to use midi3.ino just as the AdafruitBluefruit midi.ino file in the Arduino development environment.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Prometheus: Stealing the "Gift" of Vaping from the gods...

(Cheat: Like Prometheus, who gave men the gift of fire and metal work against the wishes of the gods, we are able to very cleverly include all of humanities accomplishments with respect to music, movies and sound within the FDA's definition of "tobacco product" while still allowing "man" the gift of fire and metal work vaping.)

In the 2012 movie "Prometheus" a team of human's follows various markings in caves to a distant star where the "Engineers," aliens with the same DNA as humans, have established a base station.  Within the base station "David" - a robot - discovers the command center of an alien ship.  A holographic movie shows David how the aliens use a simple musical flute to control the ship (see starting at 1:06 here).

An "Engineer" operating the ship - from the linked video

This is not unlike the 1970's movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where sound is used to communicate with the alien mother ship (see starting 0:05 here).

So as I have been thinking about the history of the PrimusZ and all the work that was required to make phones communicate with it I came upon the Adafruit Bluefruit MIDI code.

Since the OSP uses the Adafruit Bluefruit Feather (Feather) it's sort of a no-brainer that MIDI is the way to talk to and from your OSP.

This is because there is already a vast, vast infrastructure of software, tools, apps, etc. available in the world that allows you to quickly and easily control things via MIDI.

But before committing to this path I whipped up a simple test with the Feather.  I have an iPhone so I used the following apps:

bismark bs-16i - This is a small MIDI piano app.  The important elements are that under the MIDI symbol you can set the CORE MIDI INPUTS/OUTPUTS.

midimittr - This is a MIDI routing application that allows you to connect to wireless Bluetooth MIDI devices.  In this case the Feather, using the menu item Files -> Examples -> AdafruitBluefruitLE nRF51 -> midi app (with slight modifications listed below) you can connect your phone to the Feather and send and receive MIDI commands.

So what you do is fire up the Adafruit MIDI code linked above (you don't code need changes to try this) on your Feather.

Next you start midimittr and choose the three-bar menu at the upper left and select "Clients."

A list of BLUETOOTH MIDI DEVICES appear.  If you've successfully built and install the Adafruit MIDI code on your Feather you should see an entry for "Adafruit Bluefruit LE" that's "Not Connected."

Tap the "Not Connected" and your phone should connect to the Feather as a MIDI device.  (Haven't yet tried for Android but I plan on it soon).

The default MIDI code simply sends notes.

Then you select the MIDI piano app, select the menu to set the MIDI Input and assign it to the "Adafruit Bluefruit LE."  Immediately the piano should start playing an ascending sequence of notes.

Once I had this working I diddled the sample code to produce the following:

(There is a little read light where the USB cable connects that turns on and off after each keyboard sequence.)

Clearly here I am controlling the Feather on the table, not the OSP (yet).  Now that this is working we can proceed to merging the OSP and Adafruit MIDI code onto the OSP.  This will open the full world of OSC and MIDI apps (this for example or Lemur):


Like Prometheus, we are able to cleverly include all of humanities accomplishments with respect to music and sound and so forth within the FDA's definition of "tobacco product" while allowing "man" the gift of fire and metal work vaping.

(Previous posts on this here:

EDIT: Bluetooth MIDI connection works via Android "MIDI+BTLE" app (free).  Haven't been able to find a decent keyboard app to test the rest but it seems like it should work just fine.

Changes I made for the video to the Adafruit MIDI (two routines):

bool cmdMode = false;
int cmdState = 0;

void BleMidiRX(uint16_t timestamp, uint8_t status, uint8_t byte1, uint8_t byte2)
  Serial.print("[MIDI ");
  Serial.print(" ] ");

  Serial.print(status, HEX); Serial.print(" ");
  Serial.print(byte1 , HEX); Serial.print(" ");
  Serial.print(byte2 , HEX); Serial.print(" ");
  Serial.print(cmdState , HEX); Serial.print(" ");
  Serial.print(cmdMode? 1: 0 , HEX); Serial.print(" ");


  if (status != 0x90) // chan 1

  switch (cmdState)
    case 0:
      if (byte1 == 0x4F)
        if (byte2 == 0) cmdState++;
        cmdState = 0;
        cmdMode = false;

    case 1:
      if (byte1 == 0x51)
        if (byte2 == 0) cmdState++;
        cmdState = 0;
        cmdMode = false;

    case 2:
      if (byte1 == 0x4D)
        if (byte2 == 0) cmdState++;
        cmdState = 0;
        cmdMode = false;

    case 3:
      if (byte1 == 0x41)
        if (byte2 == 0) cmdState++;
        cmdState = 0;
        cmdMode = false;

    case 4:
      if (byte1 == 0x48)
        if (byte2 == 0) 
          cmdMode = !cmdMode;
          cmdState = 0;
        cmdState = 0;
        cmdMode = false;

      cmdState = 0;
      cmdMode = false;

  Serial.print(cmdState , HEX); Serial.print(" ");
  Serial.print(cmdMode? 1: 0 , HEX); Serial.print(" ");

  digitalWrite(LED_BUILTIN, cmdMode? (byte2 != 0? LOW : HIGH) : (byte2 != 0? HIGH : LOW));

void loop(void)
  // interval for each scanning ~ 500ms (non blocking)

  // bail if not connected
  if (! isConnected)

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Multi-Use" OSP: making Facebook an FDA ENDS

So it's been a couple of months and I have been busy with other things.  However, over the last week or so I have finally gotten the first Open Source Power (OSP) module up and running. (I have been testing the OSM version all this time.)

First some quick background.  As I have posted here I believe that the various FDA and state regulations targeting "e-cigarettes" break down when presented with "dual use" or multi-use or "user defined" (such as DIY or software configured) devices.  (See this lawsuit by Kingdom Vapor.)

Given the history of the PrimusZ (links below, a commercial vape product we built and sold) and the use of an iPhone as the electronic "controller" it's kind of hard to believe that the FDA thinks your iPhone is really a "tobacco product" (see 

Be that as it may, though, we still have to respect what the FDA might say or do.

But, on the other hand, we can still ask "what's not an e-cigarette?"

My opinion here is that any device which serves multiple purposes, e.g., is a USB charger, supports RC cars via a Dean's connector, allows electronic "breadboarding" and is can only be made into an "electronic cigarette" via a user-controlled software installation is not really an "e-cigarette."

(As time progresses it will also be nice to create a version of all this that is tightly integrated with Facebook or whatever web site you like, that requires a live connection in order to fire - hence making Facebook a "tobacco product...")

Obviously there's a lot of history, technology and thought here but at the end of the day this is what I have:

The key features are

1) It doesn't do anything unless you download software into it.  (It's essentially an Arduino Micro using an Atmel 32u4 which you program with the freely available Arduino development tools and the GitHub software below through your computer or phone's USB port.)

2) It's also USB charger and an RC charger via the Dean's connector (

3) It can sync up with Bluetooth on your PC or phone (

Obviously I know all about DIY.  And yes I suppose this is just DIY. But since all the parts you buy with DIY are not "tobacco products" or ENDS it seems hard to imagine that a Vishay VOL618A, Linux, Android, iOS, a phone, etc. are anything but plain old computer and electronics technology unrelated to ENDS or "tobacco products."

The point of this is that I believe that any e-cigarette manufacturer or any other manufacturer can, obviously I am not a lawyer and at their own risk, make and sell something with this open source technology domestically in the USA without entering the cross hairs of the local, state or federal tax or regulatory bodies.

The schematics for this particular OSP unit are here:

The quick and dirty here is that VBat+ is available via the Dean's connector from the quad 18650's (flashlight batteries).  The "Motion Sensor Board" powers the AdaFruit Bluefruit down when the unit doesn't move or vibrate for 15 seconds or so (which is adjustable via the R/C circuit).  We do this to ensure the Bluetooth doesn't just run the battery down (which it will).

This thing is huge, I know, but it's actually a lot of fun.

It's basically a breadboard.  But I have been using this daily for the last few months and it works pretty well.  Without a cover it's only real issue placing "breadboard side up" onto some sort of conductor.  I've dropped it too and other than the batteries falling out it just works.

Still to do:

1) Integrate the Adafruit UART service into the GitHub code below.  This will allow your phone to put data into or pull data out of the unit.  At that point we can then have an app on your phone that will make Facebook a tobacco product.  This will require trivial Android fiddling via the Android Development Studio.  The iPhone would require an Apple developer license.

2) Get a detailed BOM and case design up on the GitHub.

Over the next few weeks I hope to get these to do's taken care of...

Another issue is that I don't vape nicotine.  Here the question is what exactly is this device when loaded with PG and VG?  Most people think it's some type of weapon until I vape with it.

Source Code for OSP:

PrimusZ background links: (we no longer own

Summary of OSP posts:

Friday, November 24, 2017

Open Source Power 1 - Update

So its been a while since I've had time to work on the Open Source Power (OSP 1) box.

However, today I was able to get the USB charging port working, at least for non-phone devices.  Here's a quick video of that working.

Basically I have to debug the part where the iPhone figures out what type of charger it is and whether or not it can charge.

The original is still working despite being dropped on it's head a few times.

I really like the fact that there are no mechanical buttons.

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Cargo Cult of Twitter Journalism

I recently read, with great enjoyment, Richard Feynman's Cal Tech 1974 commencement speech.  For those familiar with Twitter Feynman is a physicist (no need to write about the details of what a physicist does as it has no bearing on Twitter).

The jest gist of this speech revolves around a "cargo cult."  From Wikipedia cargo culture "... encompasses a range of practices and occurs in the wake of contact with more technologically advanced societies. The name derives from the belief which began among Melanesians in the late 19th and early 20th century that various ritualistic acts such as the building of an airplane runway will result in the appearance of material wealth, particularly highly desirable Western goods (i.e., "cargo"), via Western airplanes."

Feynman equates today's ritualistic "science" practitioners with the Melanesians (see as an example).

Rather than fully understand what they are doing as they study science instead they merely act as if they were scientists; just as the Melanesians who built runway's expecting planes to arrive with food.

For a long time I have studied the phenomena of Twitter.

Twitter is effectively like communicating with the dumpster diving unfortunate via messages thrown passed through household trash receptacles.

No one actually receives the message as with a letter or even email.

Instead, like a female dog in heat, it's randomly broadcasting throughout the neighborhood.  And you never know what will turn up in response.

So really, then, Twitter if you think hard about it, is sort of like Feynman's "cargo cult of science" except it involves journalists.

From Feynman's speech: "It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards.  For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked—to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated."

Except today with Twitter it's not just a lack of scientific integrity, but also journalistic integrity, or, perhaps, just basic human honesty and integrity, i.e., there is none.

There is no need for honest speech on Twitter.

No one really cares.

No one verifies anything.

No one has any facts.

No one uses deduction or induction or simple reasoning.

Raw emotion pours out like so much diarreha.

The twitterers simply scream like hungry chimpanzees rummaging through the dumpster of human ideas.

(BTW, I always find ways to post links to these articles to Twitter. I never actually read my Twitter  feed. Instead I merely cast pheromones to the wind.)

Sadly this sort of nonsense now extends to virtually everything you see "published" today, particularly on the internet.

For example there is this National Review article "If You Refuse to Condemn Predators because of Politics, You’re Disgusting (by Katherine Timpf)"

I am old enough to remember William F. Buckley and this sort of National Review content really doesn't seem to me to follow along with what I saw discussed on his television shows in the 1960's.  To wit:

The important thing, at least to me, about the Nation Review article is that it now reads (Buckley founded it) like a front page from the "Globe" or perhaps the "Enquirer" instead of an intellectual discussion of the ideas involved.

You find no real facts.  You see a discussion of a, er, well, about a discussion about tweets.

No (historical) evidence is provide either other than supposition nor is there rational reasoning (think "Feynman").

As to the article:

Everywhere and every day there are victims and their are perpetrators. Hopefully this is obvious.

The powerful exploit the powerless.

It's the reason we have laws here in the US.

These laws draw clear, bright lines around what is acceptable to society and what is not.

Hopefully this is obvious too.

And, at least in the past, we had a free press.  It was their job to elucidate areas in society where things were perhaps less clear.  To cause people to think about what was going on; not to spout rhetoric.

Not to fan the flames over the unknowable or unprovable.

Tweeting does not aid or help anyone - hell you don't even know who is actually tweeting or where they are physically located.

In the days of Mr. Buckley there was a certain hysteresis involved before you were allowed to write for a newspaper or broadcast on television.

Today no more.

(And yes, I am fully engaged in the consequences of the sort of behavior being written about.  I have seen witch hunts as well.  None of these belong in society today.  Yet, by it's very nature, Twitter glorifies them.)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

CASAA Vaping on a Plane Redux

About 18 months ago I wrote CASAA: Vaping on a plane about the dangers of lithium ion batteries on airplanes as a result of a lengthy related forum discussion.  I got into a fight about a CASAA "call to action" where some legislator wanted no e-cigs on a plane.  While to CASAA this may have seemed like a "ban" attempt (and perhaps it was) the notion that e-cigarettes are safe on a plane is, in my opinion, the real issue.

They are not.

Lithium ion batteries, especially in something like an unregulated mechanical mod, can take an airplane down.

My post concludes among other things:

"Unfortunately, though, nothing I wrote above gives me or many others in the world faith that vaping devices and batteries are “safe” in the context of something like an airplane cargo compartment."

Ultimately anyone promoting the use of vapes on a plane (and particularly the baggage checking of vaping devices) needs to understand the associated risk.  As I said in the original post - if there are no batteries in the devices they are perfectly safe on a plane.

Today there is this WSJ article.  It concludes

"The latest laboratory tests conducted by FAA experts found that in extreme circumstances, even a single seriously overheating laptop—packed inside a checked bag next to common but flammable consumer products including nail polish or aerosol sprays—can produce a blaze or explosion capable of disabling typical fire-suppression systems in cargo holds of passenger planes. As a result, safety experts have concluded it is safer to keep laptops in cabins, where a blaze can be identified quickly and dealt with more effectively."


"... concluded that keeping all laptops out of checked bags “is the simplest, most effective and most efficient option for addressing the identified safety risk.” [underline mine]

And recently I received this email from Efest (a vaping battery supplier):

"Good NEWS to you.

Here I`d like to share  two good news with you:

1. Efest batteries and chargers has passed FCC certificate, now all Efest batteries and chargers are authorized with  UL, CE, ROHS certification.

2. Efest batteries and chargers were COVERED BY GLOBAL INSURANCE  from 25th Sep 2017,that means all the orders after 25th Sep 2017 can get insurance.  So you can sell more Efest products without worries.

I`m writing to tell you that we back to work already. The peak season is continue , all Efest products are full in stock, please send me order list earlier if anything you need, we will ship them asap."

This implies safe shipping (as all the Chinese carriers are beholden to US-based carries like UPS and the USPS for shipping into the USA.

The difference between laptop batteries and a mod?  The laptop typically has thousands of test hours applied to its batteries and charging systems.  The mechanical mod you built last week?  Not so much...

At the end of the day CASAA was (and perhaps still is) way, way off base on this one.

The vaping community looks like a bunch of morons for not taking a stand on lithium ion battery safety in the very first place.

(Anyone not know a story of someone's mechanical "burning" something...?)

The FDA and others pay attention to accidents (not just planes but also burns, car accidents, etc.) that relate to batteries and, I assume, accidents in the context of vaping.

Even the Chinese get it now...

Efest has figured out that nobody at Efest wants the NTSB holding up an Efest battery during a crash investigation.

SEVIA, the Chinese vaping association, is probably involved too in some way as they send a lot of vaping equipment around the world on airplanes.

As for me?

I pay no attention to CASAA anymore.

Their time has long past.  To me the sorts of stances they take, this one in particular, make all vapers look like fools; and they are for following along and believing what their "leadership" says.

Making vaping objectively "safer," even if just on the battery front, is, or at least could have been, a useful FDA bargaining chip.

Alas, there isn't anyone in charge, no one to send the check to, no one to take the stance...

It's too late.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On the Astrological Importance of Vaping...

Attached is a image of the in-process construction of Open Source Power One (OSP-1).

As promised it supports a "deans" connector for RC use (left above batteries), USB power out (lower left, converter lower left on protoboard) for phone charging and 510 top right.

Along the way here I have discovered that the war against vaping being waged by ANTZ and the FDA has some interesting history or, perhaps, back story.

I have been reading about Paul Feyerabend and his comments on "science."

Like Feyerabend I am probably considered "anti-science" by some and certainly for my views on vaping relative to FDA dogma on cigarettes in general.  I find Feyerabend's comments and approach to the history of science and the application of science in "modern culture" quite fascinating.

What's even more interesting is other folks, often considered "gods" of science, are not always out of disagreement with him.

(Be forewarned the discussion below is not for the feint of heart.)

From, no less, consider this (full text here).  It starts out:

"Objections to Astrology - A Statement by 186 Leading Scientists

(The following statement first appeared in The Humanist of September/October 1975.)

Scientists in a variety of fields have become concerned about the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world. We, the undersigned - astronomers, astrophysicists, and scientists in other fields - wish to caution the public against the unquestioning acceptance of the predictions and advice given privately and publicly by astrologers. Those who wish to believe in astrology should realize that there is no scientific foundation for its tenets.  ...[ it goes on quite predictably ].

Before getting to Feyerabend, consider Carl Sagan's (yes the same one that says "billions and billions") response first:

"Response from Astronomer, Carl Sagan (1934-1996), who was invited to sign the statement (underline mine):

"In the middle 1970s an astronomer I admire put together a modest manifesto called 'Objections to Astrology' and asked me to endorse it. I struggled with his wording, and in the end found myself unable to sign, not because I thought astrology has any validity whatever, but because I felt (and still feel) that the tone of the statement was authoritarian. It criticized astrology for having origins shrouded in superstition. But this is true as well for religion, chemistry, medicine and astronomy, to mention only four. The issue is not what faltering and rudimentary knowledge astrology came from, but what is its present validity. Then there was speculation on the psychological motivations of those who believe in astrology. These motivations - for example, the feeling of powerlessness in a complex, troublesome and unpredictable world - might explain why astrology is not generally given the sceptical scrutiny it deserves, but is quite peripheral to whether it works."

One might also consider at this point the placebo effect and it's opposite, the nocebo effect and how they apply here.

Finally here is Feyerabend's comment in full:

"Response from Paul Feyerabend (1924 - 1994), Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley 

"Now what surprises the reader whose image of science has been formed by the customary eulogies which emphasize rationality, objectivity, impartiality and so on is the religious tone of the document, the illiteracy of the 'arguments' and the authoritarian manner in which the arguments are being presented. The learned gentlemen have strong convictions, they use their authority to spread these convictions (why 186 signatures if one has arguments?), they know a few phrases which sound like arguments, but they certainly do not know what they are talking about.1 

Take the first sentence of the 'Statement.' It reads: 'Scientists in a variety of fields have become concerned about the increased acceptance of astrology in many parts of the world.'

In 1484 the Roman Catholic Church published the Malleus Maleficarum, the outstanding textbook on witchcraft. The Malleus is a very interesting book. It has four parts: phenomena, aetiology, legal aspects, theological aspects of witchcraft. ... "

"The book has an introduction, a bull by Pope Innocent VIII, issued in 1484. The bull reads 'It has indeed come to our ears, not without afflicting us with bitter sorrow, that in ...' - and now comes the long list of countries and counties - 'many persons of both sexes, unmindful of their own salvation have strayed from the Catholic Faith and have abandoned themselves to devils... ' and so on. The words are almost the same as gthe words in the beginning of the 'Statement,' and so are the sentiments expressed. Both the Pope and 'the 186 leading scientists' deplore the increasing popularity of what they think are disreputable views. But what a difference in literacy and scholarship!

Comparing the Malleus with accounts of contemporary knowledge the reader can easily verify that the Pope and his learned authors knew what they were talking about. This cannot be said of the scientists. They neither know the subject they attack, astrology, nor those parts of their own science that they undermine their attack. ...

We see: the judgement of the '186 leading scientists' rests on the antedeluvian anthropology, on ignorance of more recent results in their own fields (astronomy, biology, and the connection between the two) as well as failure to percieve the implications of the result they do know. It shows the extent to which scientists are prepared to assert their authority even in areas in which they have no knowledge whatsoever."

From this, a pretty good summary of the above:

"So, both Sagan and Feyerabend were attacking Kurtz and his 186 not because they were wrong in criticizing astrology, but rather because they didn’t actually criticize it, resorting instead to a medley of ad hominem and irrelevant arguments because they knew they were right. That’s the definition of dogmatism, which, in theory at the least, is not a scientific virtue."

Sounds eerily like the many scientists who endorse things like climate science and the war against vaping.

Doesn't it...

We, the n undersigned scientists blah blah blah...  

I have often commented (here and here for example) on how the will of smokers has been crushed by this very scientific bully you see Feyerabend attacking here.

Modern smokers in general have been cowed by the very thing Feyerabend derides.

Feyerabend taught at the University of Berkeley, California no less... 

I wonder how he would view the Antifa protests? 

I have ordered Feyerabend's Against Method which should be quite interesting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Shop Owner and the King - A Parable

The Parable of the Shop Owner and the King: "Once upon a time there was a shop keeper who sold food and beverages.  One day the shop keeper realized that if he put the numbers one through ten into a hat people would bet on which numbers would be pulled out and in what order.  The shop owner began making a lot of money. 

One day the king, hearing what was going on at this shop and other shops who learned of this game, realized that he was not receiving his fair share of taxes on the shop owners profits.

So the king decreed that all games of chance should be illegal believing that he, the king, would be able to take over the betting games and fill his royal coffers.  The king then sent his sheriff to confiscate the hats from the shop owners so the betting game could not longer be player.  Then he open his own grand casino, filled with the finest gold, silver and jewels to attract the bettors who used to go to the shops.

But our original shop owner, however, was very clever, and told those betting on the numbers that the prize in his shop would be paid to the first bettor who not only guessed the right number but could also calculate the sum of the remaining numbers in the hat.

The next time the king's sheriff confiscated the hat the shop owner went to the high court and made the following argument: "Oh great your honors, the king has wrongfully confiscated my hats for betting on the premise that my game is a game of chance.  I do not offer a betting game but in fact a game of skill, for the winner must not only guess the right number but also be the fastest at adding and the best at remembering numbers."

After great deliberation the honored judges realized that in fact the shop owner was correct and that, though chance was involved, only a skilled individual could win the prize.  The judges then granted our shop owner an exemption from the kings degree.

But the king was even more clever!

The king realized that as long as a shop owner did not hear of the great court victory the bettors would continue to support the kings casino.  So he sent his minions out to the shops where they told the shop keepers "Do not fear!  I, thou the representative of the king, am on your side.  I will warn you whenever the sheriff is about to call and take your hat so that you may hide it."

The king had realized that once all the shop owners went to the high court and argued that their shop was no different than the original shop owner and hence exempt from the kings decree his casino would have no customers because all the bettors would bet in their local shops much closer to home.


A little over a year ago I wrote about how the general class of air freshener products meet the definition of an FDA "ENDS" device (see link).

Recently I had a discussion about this and I realize I had missed out on some interesting new products.

For example, this air freshener system from Walmart:

- With a Great Value Automatic Spray Dispenser, you will enjoy a room full of the fragrance you choose.

- The dispenser automatically releases a fine mist with 3 timed intervals. You can select the time interval that works best for you - 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. 

Then there is this and this from ebay.

So we discussed what, exactly, distinguishes these items from FDA "ENDS" products?

Certainly not their construction or operation.

And here in Pennsylvania it surely seems like these devices meet the definition of "electronic cigarettes:"

“Electronic cigarettes.” As follows:

(1) An electronic oral device, such as one composed of a heating element and battery or electronic circuit, or both, which provides a vapor of nicotine or any other substance and the use or inhalation of which simulates smoking.

(2) The term includes:

(i) A device as described in paragraph (1), notwithstanding whether the device is manufactured, distributed, marketed or sold as an e-cigarette, e-cigar and e-pipe or under any other product, name or description.

So let's break this down a bit.

The only thing distinguishing these devices from e-cigarettes is either "vapor of nicotine" or "simulates smoking."

Since I currently do not vape nicotine let's skip to the second item...

A google search of "simulation" with regard to the law brings up things like:

1) A "simulated contract" (from this): "Simulated contract, in Civil law, is a contract that, by mutual agreement, does not express the true intent of the parties." - but this requires two parties.

2) A "simulated sale" (from this): "A simulated sale refers to the sale in which no price or other consideration is paid or intended to be paid."

3) And even simulated sexual behavior in various contexts: "(1) “minor” means any person under the age of eighteen years; (2) (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), “sexually explicit conduct” means actual or simulated— (i) sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex; (ii) bestiality; (iii) masturbation; (iv) sadistic or masochistic abuse; or (v) lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person;"

But these would not seem to apply here.

On the other hand, these faux cigarettes designed for actors (as in freedom of speech) would:
Clearly I am not simulating "burning" - Wikipedia defines "smoking" as "Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned..."  These items would be banned based on "... any other substance and the use or inhalation of which simulates smoking." (Other substances might include, for example, water vapor... after all, humidity in Pennsylvania is not 0%)

So exactly what is not allowed in Pennsylvania?

Pretending to "smoke" as you would in grade school using a stolen cigarette (you are inhaling a substance, a vapor actually: water vapor)?

Clearly this is not well defined or even rationally defined.

I suppose they expect to go after people blowing out big clouds of vapor.

Yet, of course, vapor is not smoke.

I have a giant orange phone charger which I use to vaporize some of the ingredients of cake frosting.

How, exactly, can this be a simulation of smoking?

The issue here is one of force, not logic or science.

It looks bad so it's banned I guess.

This is complete and utter nonsense.  Legal mumbo jumbo trying to express an intent.

And failing.

The FDA, on the other hand, relies on "nicotine" - but only nicotine from tobacco.

Another faux distinction.

But as I think this over, the real problem for the FDA is also "dual use."  The FDA "deems" lighters as "accessories" to "tobacco products."  Similarly for rolling papers, plastic extenders from the 1950's to make you look cool, etc.

Since these have other uses they must be left out of the regulation.  Just like pure, chemically created nicotine not "derived" from tobacco (as I have written about before).

These "accessories" are acknowledgement of "dual use," plain and simple.  The class of things we wish we could regulate but can't.

We will see that, for example, 18650 batteries are "accessories" and not "components" of an ENDS device (unless built in, of course).

SO what does this have to do with the parable?

The FDA doesn't want us to see that virtually everything is an "accessory" - like a lighter - that has another purpose other than vaping related.

You are the ignorant shop owner.

The same is true of Pennsylvania.

You pay taxes because you don't realize what's not a "dual use" item.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

OSM 1 becomes Open Source Power (OSP)

I have been using OSM 1 for some time.  It works quite well.  Time to move on to the next phase, I guess OSM 1.1 (red).

The new version has a USB output (5V 2A for fast charging iPhone and Android) for phone charging as well as a dean's connector and a 510 connector.  The dean's connector will make it possible to use this for a variety of high-power applications.

Note that I am switching to the Adafruit Bluefruit Huzzah.

This is no longer a "mod" nor is it confined to vaping.

The Huzzah is the same Atmel processor as the Arduino Micro.  However, it all has a nRF51822 Bluetooth radio that will speak freely (using software available in the respective iPhone and Android stores) to your phone.

Currently I imagine that this will be purchased without software and, like Ghost Gunner IP, you'll simply download software to make it into whatever you want it to be.

I need to change the name, perhaps to OSP for Open Source Power.