For those of you who don’t know Evolv, they what seems like so long ago brought us the Darwin, a pioneer of a device in the vaping community, one that was not based on a change in voltage to give you the perfect experience but to give you adjustable wattage; meaning that instead of adjusting the raw power, you’re adjusting the the temperature; in hindsight variable voltage and variable wattage will net you the same result, however the method in which they do so will go about it in two completely different ways. Please Read The Darwin: Really an “advanced” users device for more information on the differences between variable voltage and variable wattage.
Enter the DNA20, not a full working device in itself; but the brain, the guts the thing that makes that device in your hand work. Evolv decided to trust the community with its design, give them the brain to design whatever their hearts content around it.
What is the DNA20?
The DNA20 is a small board only measuring in at 0.65”x1.30”x0.35” off of it hangs a small ribbon cable with a 0.69” OLED screen to display the information. There are 3 on board buttons which can be used; A fire button, a wattage up and a wattage down button. In addition if one wished, it is possible to use proprietary buttons with a potentiometer via the onboard pins and a little bit of solder work.
The board is advertised as having the capability to go from 7-20watts and has a 7 amp limit. The DNA20 has the ability to fire a coil down to 1ohm, however in real word use it can fire a coil down to 0.6ohms! The PCB (The entire board) is listed as having a 93% efficiency rating.
The screen on the DNA20 which displays your information is one of the best displays i’ve seen. It’s a bright blue OLED screen which displays your set wattage in large font to the right, and your ohms and your current voltage in a smaller font off to the left of the screen with a battery indicator. The screen will brighten as you press the fire button, after 30 seconds it will dim to half brightness and after 4 minutes the display will turn off. Evolv tells us that the DNA20’s OLED screen is quite efficient and does not drain the battery in any significant amount.
The DNA20 has some basic functions outside of the Fire, wattage up and wattage down capabilities. If you press the fire button 5 times in quick succession the device will lock; another 5 times and it will unlock. While the device is locked the buttons will not fire or change your set wattage, however with the screen locked you now have some other capabilities. While locked, holding the fire and Wattage down buttons will change the device from normal to stealth mode and vice versa, normal mode means the display will function as described previously; stealth mode will turn the display off completely. The second function is left or right handed mode. With the lock screen up, pressing the fire and wattage up buttons will flip the display, allowing those who hold the device primarily either left or right handed to see the display in the upright position.
The DNA20 can be powered in a multitude of ways, anything from an 18350 up to a proprietary battery pack using a large Lithium cell such as that found in your cell phone, this leaves a lot of room for imagination in how the board is implemented into a device. However usage times will vary greatly depending on the type of power cell you choose to use. Evolv recommends that any power cell used has a minimum of a continuous 7 amp limit.
How well does it work?
Performance wise there is not much out there currently that can compete with the the DNA20. The power capabilities of the chip and its ability to be used with a multitude of power cells makes it the king in power regulation. There are a few devices out there that use the DNA20 and while they all may be presented in different ways they all perform in the same manner, an Opus D will perform in the same way that a Cyborg will. While the power cells and carrier device may be different the vape experience itself will be the same.
In my own experience, theres not really a time where you won’t find me without a DNA20 device in my hand. I’ve owned and used a few power regulated devices in my 3 years of vaping and in my opinion nothing comes close to feeling as consistent as something like the DNA20. While different devices and juices atop of your APV will have different sweet spots, variable wattage and the ease in which that wattage can be changed on the DNA20 always keeps you close and is easy enough to that sweet spot to change on the fly without becoming a nuisance.
However as well as the DNA20 chip works its not without its flaws.
I have noticed that the DNA20 can be a bit quirky at times. I have noticed that while the DNA20 can support low resistance vaping even an atomizer just under ~1.5ohms can present errors which ask you to check your atomizer or to check your battery after only a little bit of use. Lowering the wattage a few increments can usually remedy this, or by removing and replacing the battery.
When waking up from its “sleep” mode after 4 minutes, users may be presented with a “weak battery” message. While I am told all of the boards do this, its nothing of any significance.
The screen while efficient does not need to stay on for the 4 minute duration, it can be quite distracting at times however I have noticed that it can double as a flashlight walking throughout the house in the middle of the night.
The battery indicator while it will give you a decent indication on where your current battery sits with its charge level is not completely accurate. During normal operation one may find that the battery indicator will show the battery as completely discharged even if thats not the case; I would like to see an indicator option which shows the current battery voltage level much like what you can see on the Provari. I have often found myself changing batteries too soon, or using them for hours even after the DNA20’s display tells me that they are depleted.
The final problem the DNA20 may present is not having any build in reverse battery protection. If a device uses changeable cells such as say and 18650 and a user puts it in upside down meaning negative side first, a user might find himself with a potential hazard as the DNA20 does nothing to prevent the device from shutting down and the battery from becoming hot. It’s possible that if someone did not notice this mistake that they might find themselves with a runaway battery.
A DNA20 powered device is the way to go if you’re looking for quality power regulation. I can tell you personally that I use a DNA20 powered device everyday, its my go to and is with me at all times. Clean regulated power that stays consistent until your battery is depleted, the safety mechanisms and the information it displays is priceless. While not everyone will agree with me and while the DNA20 is not without its flaws, its one of the best options out there for those looking to build a regulated vaping device.
The DNA20 truly is device designers dream, a small compact board with impressive specs at an affordable price of $50.
For more information and a detailed spec sheet on the DNA20 please see Evolv’s Webiste
Photo Credits: Evolv Vapor DNA20 Service Manual