Thursday 5 November 2015

Wiring an interface to an e-Cigarette

I'm currently working on a project that requires the use of an e-cigarette.
I'm not a smoker, so as far as that aspect is concerned, I might be a little off on the terminology, but eCigarettes, vapourisers, whatever you want to call them, essentially follow the same principle. There's a battery, a small reservoir of vaping fluid, a wick, and a wire coil.

Current is passed through a coil which causes it to heat up, in turn heating a wick soaked in fluid which turns it into a vapour.
We can ignore the battery component, it's only really the wire coil I need for the project. I do however need to control it, so I needed to find a way to interface it.

The coil connects to the battery by a screw-type connector which appears to be specifically for these devices. In addition, the connector also contains a small gap which acts as an air inlet for the user to take a drag on it.

This causes problems when trying to create a connection, as connectors run the risk of blocking the inlet.

Coincidentally I found that a male TV aerial connector is an ideal size to create a push-fit connector. The next task is to decide how to control the current flow. Simply switching it on and leaving it will cause it to overheat.

Coils like this can be controlled in similar way to motors. In fact, the IC I'm going to use to control this is really designed for driving motors, but works fine for the purpose of this.

The chip is the SN754410 H-Bridge motor driver - which is completely overkill for this, but as this is forming a part of a larger project, the reasoning will become clearer later.

The pinout for the chip is available on the third page of this datasheet. Treat the vapouriser as if it was a motor - polarity/direction of travel doesn't matter.

For the motor drivers voltage I'm using 12v, which, again, is overkill for this part in particular, but the coils are very tolerant of it, and use the speed control function of the chip to control how hot the coil gets.

That's all for now, stay tuned for the 2nd part of this project...

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