The Occula is an RDA that’s designed by well-known coil builder and RDA designer, Twisted Messes, and manufactured by Augvape. Twisted Messes has a long-standing tradition in designing RDAs that are very popular with coil builders, due to an ample space for large builds and wide-open airflows. That’s the seventh RDA he’s designed, and the first one that is not a part of the TM series, all of which were manufactured by his company. The Occula doesn’t stray far from the TM tradition; it has ample space for intricate builds and can provide some serious cloudage.
My first thought was that the RDA got its name from “ocular”, but the spelling suggested otherwise. I used a bit of google-fu and found the latin verb “occulo”, which means to hide, cover, or conceal. I am not sure that this is where the name comes from, but the Occula is a 24 mm RDA that, once you take the top cap off, makes you realize that it’s not your average 24 mm RDA. Keep reading — once you reach the build deck section you are going to find out why.
This product was sent to me free of charge by Augvape for the purpose of this review.
Colors: Black, stainless steel
Price: $32.95 (at Element Vape)
The Occula comes in only two color options, black and stainless steel. I got the black one. I generally prefer black atomizers as the vast majority of my mods are black, but I have a feeling I’d like the stainless edition more. There’s nothing wrong with the design of the black unit, but the SS one looks gorgeous in the pics.
The RDA is 24 mm in diameter and around 28 mm in height with the drip tip on. The black unit ships with a short profile black drip tip with a gold accent; not a fan, but that’s very subjective. The RDA is a three-piece design; the deck, the airflow barrel, and the top cap which features the airflow cutouts. The deck comes with two notches, and the barrel features two tracks for the notches to slide on until they reach a hard stop. This design allows you to remove the Occula from your mod easily while providing for full airflow adjustability. In practice, this means that you will be able to fine tune your airflow and it won’t end up hitting only part of your coil when you start closing it down. That’s a great feature and I like the way it is implemented on the Occula.
The paintjob on the RDA feels excellent and it looks like brand new after two weeks of torture, i.e. throwing it inside my bag carelessly on a daily basis. The machining is detailed and practically flawless, and the black-on-black branding is very discreet on my unit (it is more pronounced on the stainless one though). There’s also a slight curvature in the middle of the barrel which gives it a classy look in my opinion.
I was a bit disappointed when I realized that the packaging didn’t include a pair of premade coils. But after giving it some thought it made sense to me. Twisted Messes knows that this RDA requires big exotic coils to perform as it should. I know he wouldn’t like to have low quality coils in his own RDA, and building a pair of staggered fused Claptons for each unit would take around a decade’s time. I’ll give him a pass on this one.
From a build quality and design perspective, the only real issue I faced with the Occula is the quality of the O-rings. My deck O-rings were bad, period. I had to lube mine almost every time I took the top cap off. I ended up removing the bottom one and it is fine now, but make sure you lube yours before using it.
Everything about the deck of the Occula is massive! Massive p-shaped posts, massive post holes and the biggest flathead/Philips screws I’ve ever seen on an RDA. One thing about the screws though: if you have a large build on the Occula, they may end up pushing your drip tip upwards. The included drip tip has a very short friction part, but longer ones ended up having a small gap.
The deck is made for large exotic builds and can easily accommodate everything you throw at it. It is a two-post design, which means that your coils’ leads will be sharing posts, and that you’ll have to keep the coils in place when building on it. For this reason, you’ll probably need to pre-cut your coils – anything around 6 mm will do. I also suggest using two coil rods (one for each coil), as this will make it easier for the coils to stay in place when you’re securing them.
An interesting feature of the Occula’s build deck is the design of the clamps/blocks that secure the coils in place. They are not independent to the screws and look like they are machined onto them. This means that the screws cannot be removed from the deck (that’s why you get no replacement screws in the box) and also that their grip is stronger. I found it very smart and practical, and made building on a shared post deck a lot easier. Still not a beginner-friendly deck, but if you have used similar post styles in the past, this will be a walk in the park.
Looking at the Occula from the outside, it is as if the Goon 25 and the Recoil Rebel had a baby — the Occula features a snakebite airflow, similar to the Recoil Rebel airflow design, although with three large holes instead of two. GrimGreen and OhmBoyOC (who designed the Recoil Rebel) are friends with TM, so I am pretty sure they’re all good with the shape of the airflow holes. Plus, digging deeper you find many more differences between these RDAs’ airflow design.
The airflow is slightly angled downwards, and, as mentioned in the build quality section, it is fully adjustable and can be set to hit the middle of your coils regardless of the number of holes you have open. There is no turbulence and the airflow is very smooth. It is also relatively silent for an air hog — it may whistle at certain settings, but slightly adjusting the airflow removes any whistling instantly.
I’ll also note that the Occula airflow design allows for single coil builds, but as you will read in the performance section, this RDA is not supposed to be used like that. If you want a single-coil RDA I suggest looking elsewhere.
I tested the Occula with three pairs of coils:
Most of the testing was done with the Alien coils, as I found the coil mass and size perfect for this type of RDA.
I usually use these coils at around 70-75 watts, but for the Occula I had to raise the power significantly. I started getting a warm vape around 90 watts and I even went up to over 100 watts at times, especially when having the airflow fully open. I settled for two holes open for most of my time with it, as this gave it a very slight restriction – although it still was more or less like 90% of the RDAs out there with their airflow fully open. All in all, this is a power-hungry RDA and will perform better at higher wattages. Also note that the included drip tip got very hot when chain vaping and I had to swap it for a longer one.
The flavor I got from the Occula was great. I have heard some describing it as a cloud-machine that does not produce good flavor, but I am pretty sure they didn’t build it the right way. One thing to pay attention to is pulling the coils far from the posts before bending them up; you want their higher point to be right in front of the top end of the post holes and as close as possible to the airflow holes. Once you do that, and raise the wattage enough, you can rest assured that the flavor is going to pop. Yes, there are better RDAs out there for flavor chasers, but the Occula will not disappoint.
You probably noticed that I didn’t mention squonking throughout this review. In my opinion, this is an old school style dripper that’s not designed for squonking. You can certainly squonk on it, but the large holes will probably make it leak easily, and the high power requirements mean that you’ll need a dual-battery squonker at the minimum. It is first and foremost a dripper, and in my opinion, a really good one. But it is not for everyone.
This RDA is made for vapers who build (or just enjoy using) large, intricate, power-hungry coils. If you find yourself in this category, and have some experience in using a deck like this, then I can easily recommend this RDA. The Occula will accommodate every kind of coil imaginable on the vast space of its deck and its massive post holes. As a bonus, its 24 mm diameter makes it an excellent pairing for almost every dual-battery mod out there, and it certainly is one of the classiest looking cloud-chucking RDAs on the market. I just wish mine had some better O-rings, that’s my only complaint.
What do you think of the Occula RDA? Let me know in the comments!