American manufacturer Augvape has been teaming up with the designer Roxy to produce a growing line of atomizer tanks. the duo of the Alleria and the Boreas RTAs is now a trio, with the addition of the Merlin RTA. All three tanks are characterized by specific features, different in each case, that are unusual. Are these seldom seen features innovative? Yes, certainly, but I think of them more as progressive. Rather than being radical departures, the designs of all three tanks take standard features and implement them in new and interesting ways. They push the existing envelope rather than ripping it up and starting over. It’s evolution rather than revolution.
Read on to learn how Augvape and Roxy have achieved this evolution in the Merlin.
Online price for the Augvape Merlin RTA centers right at $30. In fact, $29.99 is the only price I found, whether the vendors were Chinese or American. That may change over time, since the Merlin is still relatively new (as of late May, 2016).
In addition, Augvape includes an adapter that screws into the center air intake and restricts the air flow by half, transforming the Merlin into a mouth-to-lung tank. That’s a nod to a segment of the vaping community (MTL vapers) that is typically left out of the higher-power, direct-lung-inhale, sub-ohm world. In fairness, though, the adapter strikes me as a jury-rigged solution that’s less than ideal. Kudos to Augvape and Roxy for trying, but I’d look elsewhere for a real MTL tank.
Is this altered Velocity deck design superior to the standard layout? I wouldn’t suggest that it’s necessarily better, just different and simpler. For a single-coil build, though, it’s perfect. By placing the coil at the center of the deck, large diameter coils (4mm or perhaps even 5 mm) can be used, which is great.
Another nice touch is that the Augvape includes a Notch Coil in the package. Be careful, though. The legs of the Notch Coil are a bit thin in gauge, as I found out.
All the other features we’ve come to expect are included in the Merlin’s design — a PEEK insulator, top fill, adjustable eliquid flow, and adjustable dual bottom air intake slots.
The various rings of the base frustrated me some. The base has three sections: the base itself, which secures the deck to the tank with threads, the eliquid flow control ring, and the air intake adjustment ring. I had some trouble getting everything where it should be when attaching the Merlin to a mod. So be sure when you screw on your tank and adjust the air intake that the eliquid flow holes remain open.
The Merlin RTA is 23 mm in diameter with a 4 mL eliquid capacity. With a 23 mm diameter and 47 mm height, the Merlin is a mid-size tank, filling the niche between 21-22 mm tanks and their much larger 24-25 mm brothers. The Merlin fits nicely on most mods, and the 4 mL eliquid capacity is generous for its size.
The primary innovation of the Merlin RTA involves the design and layout of the build deck. Velocity-style decks have quickly become the de facto standard among recent RTAs, most often arrayed with twin posts that have twin vertical wire terminals (holes) secured with side screws (usually with hex/Allen heads, but sometimes Philips). These decks are universally laid out with the recangular posts at the center, with air intake holes on each side. This allows a dual-coil build with a coil on either side of the posts and quad eliquid channels, one for each wick end.
Augvape and Roxy moved the Velocity posts on the Merlin to the side of the deck, with only a single air intake in the center and two eliquid channels on the circumference of the deck opposite the posts. How is this innovative? For a single coil build, it places the coil in the center of the deck rather than to one side and eliminates the need for a plug to cover the unused eliquid channels. For a dual coil build, the coils are still horizontal, but placed one over the other vertically. The four wick ends of the two coils are then paired, with both wicks fed from the same two eliquid channels. Further, this design makes building a single chimney-style vertical coil easy and straightforward.
In practicality, the Merlin works best with a single-coil build. While the deck will allow dual coils (in a stacked arrangement), that’s a bit wonky, since the single air hole will not aerate both coils sufficiently or evenly — the bottom coil will get the lion’s share of air flow. So, I consider the Merlin to be a single-coil RTA.
With RTAs, three primary factors influence performance: the tank itself, the coil build, and the wicking. Of these, wicking is arguably the most critical. That could be debated, of course, but to get the best performance from each tank and coil build requires effective wicking. Cotton, rayon, silica, hemp? Loosely fit or tightly compressed? Feathered or not? Short or long tail ends? All these make a difference in the vaping experience from a given tank and build. Often, effective wicking is is the difference between a tank we come to love, and one we stick in a drawer or toss into the trash.
Initially, I built the Merlin with the included Notch Coil. Unfortunately, I tightened the hex screws too much, and the legs of the coil broke when I re-aligned it over the air intake. I reverted back to my standard 26-gauge stainless steel spaced-coil build, but bigger than usual — 4 mm diameter — since the deck’s design accommodates a large diameter single coil so easily.
My wicking was relatively loose, with short, feathered wick ends that barely reached into the eliquid channels. The design uses small, 4 mm holes for eliquid flow to the wicks. Depending on the eliquid requirements of the build, the Merlin may not wick like a champ with maxVG juices or at high power.
I didn’t have any problems with inadequate saturation or dry hits, but I didn’t go higher than 50 watts. Maybe someone can build and wick the Merlin to allow 100-watt vaping, but I couldn’t. The relatively small size of the eliquid flow seems to me best suited to lower-power vaping.
First and foremost, the Merlin is a flavor tank. Vapor production will depend on the build, but I found it only average. “Average” here means quite a bit, but less than some of the fog machine tanks that can fill a room with vapor after only one or two draws.
I liked the Alleria, loved the Boreas, and the Merlin is a worthy addition to the Augvape/Roxy brood. Is it a monster? No. Is it the greatest vape ever? Again, no. The Merlin is a good, medium-power flavor tank. As a single-coil design, however, it is the nicest RTA I’ve used.