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Tested: FreeMaX Maxpod Circle pod! Still not 550mAh, but improved from the OG Maxpod. https://ift.tt/2KvNiKt

Intro:

 

Wait for it… it’s another pod! Yeah I know, JUST what you guys have been waiting for right?? The enthusiasts among us reading may not be excited by yet another pod, but I reckon these are important devices (especially for those quitting smoking) and are worthy of some technical testing too. Anyhow, here’s FreeMaX’s latest offering – the Maxpod Circle. Here’s what you need to know about it.

 

  • ROUND (obvs)
  • Draw or button activated
  • Only one choice of coil, 1.5Ohm Mesh, 2ml capacity, PCTG material (good, non cracking)
  • Coil and pod are one and the same, the coil by itself can’t be changed separately like the original Maxpod (kinda wasteful IMO but avoids some possible leaking)
  • Fixed 3.7V output, which gives 10W (Claimed)
  • 550mAh cell (Claimed)
  • Max. 70min charge time (Claimed)
  • 6-8 fills coil life (Claimed)
  • Comes with a spare pod, cable and a goofy metal chain that I’ll never use, thx tho
  • Can actually see the liquid level in the pod

 

Product Page.

This kit was sent to me by FreeMaX, thank you.

Starting straight up with the test results this time!

 


 

Overall TL;DR:

 

Technical Good Parts:

  • Charging performance is excellent, it’s been adjusted from the OG Maxpod to run cooler and at a lower current – which means the battery should last more cycles long term and the device should be more reliable in comparison. The USB port has a decently strong attachment.
  • Internal design and construction are pretty good, well thought out. Has a conformal coating on the board to resist liquid ingress.
  • Battery indication levels have been improved from the Maxpod – now more accurate and useful
  • The draw sensor is now much closer to the pod airflow which should make it more reliable at firing than the original Maxpod.

 

Technical Not So Good Parts:

  • It’s 500mAh, not 550mAh.
  • Does not deliver a constant 3.7V as claimed, but instead is limited to 3.7V (by PWM) when the battery is high enough. Below this (approx 40-50% charge), the power will drop with the battery level.
  • While the charging IC temp has been lowered, it’s still pretty hot at ~85degC. 70-75C max would be better.

 

Experience:

 

Quite good! I’m happy with the pod performance, flavour and longevity (10+ fills), autodraw works perfectly, and it does everything else right that you’d expect a pod system to. The fill system is a bit better than the original Maxpod but still not quite as good as the Uwell Caliburn. Thankfully the remaining liquid in the pod is now very easy to see. I like using the Maxpod Circle just as much as the original Maxpod or the Uwell Caliburn which are also in my current pod rotation. Overall no real worries about recommending this one if you don’t mind the looks.

 


 

Extended test explanations below! With these “Tested” posts I aim to provide device information which is difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. Even if you’re not super interested in the particular model tested, I think it’s useful for an indication of the brands design and build quality.

 


 

Internal Cell:

 

Standard small pouch LiPo, no surprises, and I believe the same as what is in the OG Maxpod. Same as last time it’s NOT a 550mAh model – clearly labelled as 520mAh on the cell itself. FREEMAX (and other companies), PLEASE just tell us the real rating of the battery.

 

Here’s a capacity discharge done on the CBA. Shout out to Hawke’s Bay Vapour in NZ btw! Again just like the cell in the original Maxpod, it fell short of the printed 520mAh rating at just a hair over 500mAh.

 


 

Output Voltage:

 

FreeMaX claims a constant 3.7V output, up from the 3.3V of the original Maxpod. Given the cell has a full to flat range of 3.3 to 4.2V, how is the Circle outputting a fixed 3.7V all the time without a boost converter? Basically it isn’t, because it doesn’t have one. When the cell is above 3.7V, it uses PWM to reduce it down to a 3.7V average. Below 3.7V, it’s at 100% duty cycle, or straight cell output which then drops as it discharges. Soooo… it’s not a constant 3.7V output. I’d call it “Limited to 3.7V”. Hmmm :/ In use I have to admit I didn’t notice much power variation until near empty initially but now I’m looking for it I can.

 

Oscilloscope shots of the output.

 


 

Charge Circuit:

 

Charge circuit performance is electrically pretty much perfect, great stuff. Here’s the logged cycle graph. The maximum temperature of the charge IC is still a bit high, but improved from the original Maxpod as is the charge rate. I’m really happy to see this, more below!

 

  • Maximum Cell Voltage: 4.195V

  • Maximum USB Current: 0.478A

  • Maximum Cell Current: 0.475A

  • Maximum Charging Temp: 85.7C

  • Charge cutoff: Full cutoff to 0mA, @~10% of max rate (good)

  • After cycle: No parasitic standby draw or top ups (good)

  • Charge circuit type: Linear (less efficient than switchmode, generates more heat)

  • Efficiency: 68-80% (lower at the start of the cycle, higher at the end)

  • Charge Time: 81 minutes (From 3.4V – near empty)

 

I complained about both the charge rate and IC temp being too high in my Maxpod test (@ 741mA and 94.8C), so it’s great to see that both have been reduced to 475mA and 85.7C in the Maxpod Circle. Generally a higher charge rate is harder on the cell (leads to lower cycles before end of life) and a high IC temp increases the chance of failure. They’re both kind of sliding scales with lower being better, but a trade off being longer charging times. I think the increase from a 56min max charge time on the original Maxpod to a 81min max on the Circle is well worth it – it’s still not a long time to wait to full. 85.7C is still pretty warm (this is outside component temp, substrate temp will be higher), it would ideally be great to see it even lower to increase reliability further. This would mean the circuit would probably have to be changed to a switchmode type (more $$ to make), or some tricky thermal design. The latter of which isn’t bad in the Maxpod Circle actually – I noticed they’ve designed in a decent area of ground track and a bunch of vias on the small board for the charge IC to sink heat into. That means they’ve thought about the thermals – I’ve seen other companies completely not bother (coughVandyVapecough). Overall I always think it’s great to see incremental design improvements which help to make these devices safer and last longer, especially when these changes don’t necessarily lead to higher sales but are good for the owners.

 


 

Standby Draw, Battery Level Indication, Low Cell Cutoff:

 

The Maxpod Circle goes into full low current standby (~10uA) basically straight after a puff. Perfect.

 

As well as the charging issues on the original Maxpod, I also complained a bit about the battery level indication. Notably the red indication was set to come on when the battery was only a few puffs away from completely dead which made it pretty much pointless.

The Circle has been improved! Maybe FreeMaX read the last test post?? XD The light changes to blue at approx. 3.85V now compared to 3.80V before, while the red light is now at approx. 3.65V from 3.50V before. This means you’ll actually have a decent warning to go charge when the red light comes on. It’s a small thing but I think it makes a fair difference for the user experience – you’ll be able to get a more realistic and useful indication of your remaining battery life.

 

The low cell hard cutoff is at 3.30V, the same as before. It’ll sag to around 3.1V under load before that. This is fine for the type of internal cell used, all good.

 


 

Dismantle / build quality check:

 

Taking out hidden screws underneath the middle trim pieces, the Maxpod Circle opens up like a clamshell. Inside Pics.

 

  • It’s basically the original Maxpod board fit into a circular shape
  • Good foam padding on the cell
  • PCB was clean, no leftover solder balls etc.
  • Has a conformal coating on the board for some moisture resistance – pic here of the slight glow under UV light
  • USB port has a good 4 point attachment, flat on the board
  • Large sturdy pod connection pins
  • Thick silicone gasket block in between pod area and board
  • Board (PCB) has 4 screws holding it down to the case (good) – some companies just wedge the board into a cutout to save the parts and assembly cost
  • Piece of adhesive insulation paper installed in between the cell and pin board (good)
  • Draw sensor is mounted directly under the silicone block – good for making sure it picks up airflow but may be an issue if the under pod area floods with juice

 

No major build quality problems in my opinion. FreeMaX has been pretty good on this front so far.

 

Cheers!

~VMG

 

IMPORTANT NOTE / DISCLAIMER!! All efforts have been made to ensure accuracy HOWEVER no claims are made that these numbers, opinions or results are 100% correct – mistakes may have been made. Your safety is your responsibility! It is always good practice to monitor any charging system (placed on a non-flammable surface) and unplug shortly after full charge. This information refers to the tested operation alone in a properly working device – it is impossible to give an estimation of reliability or outcome in the event of a faulty device.

Intro: Wait for it… it’s another pod! Yeah I know, JUST what you guys have been waiting for right?? The enthusiasts among us reading may not be excited by yet another pod, but I reckon these are important devices (especially for those quitting smoking) and are worthy of some technical testing too. Anyhow, here’s FreeMaX’s latest offering – the Maxpod Circle. Here’s what you need to know about it. ROUND (obvs)Draw or button activatedOnly one choice of coil, 1.5Ohm Mesh, 2ml capacity, PCTG material (good, non cracking)Coil and pod are one and the same, the coil by itself can’t be changed separately like the original Maxpod (kinda wasteful IMO but avoids some possible leaking)Fixed 3.7V output, which gives 10W (Claimed)550mAh cell (Claimed)Max. 70min charge time (Claimed)6-8 fills coil life (Claimed)Comes with a spare pod, cable and a goofy metal chain that I’ll never use, thx thoCan actually see the liquid level in the pod Product Page.This kit was sent to me by FreeMaX, thank you.Starting straight up with the test results this time!  Overall TL;DR: Technical Good Parts:Charging performance is excellent, it’s been adjusted from the OG Maxpod to run cooler and at a lower current – which means the battery should last more cycles long term and the device should be more reliable in comparison. The USB port has a decently strong attachment.Internal design and construction are pretty good, well thought out. Has a conformal coating on the board to resist liquid ingress.Battery indication levels have been improved from the Maxpod – now more accurate and usefulThe draw sensor is now much closer to the pod airflow which should make it more reliable at firing than the original Maxpod. Technical Not So Good Parts:It’s 500mAh, not 550mAh.Does not deliver a constant 3.7V as claimed, but instead is limited to 3.7V (by PWM) when the battery is high enough. Below this (approx 40-50% charge), the power will drop with the battery level.While the charging IC temp has been lowered, it’s still pretty hot at ~85degC. 70-75C max would be better. Experience: Quite good! I’m happy with the pod performance, flavour and longevity (10+ fills), autodraw works perfectly, and it does everything else right that you’d expect a pod system to. The fill system is a bit better than the original Maxpod but still not quite as good as the Uwell Caliburn. Thankfully the remaining liquid in the pod is now very easy to see. I like using the Maxpod Circle just as much as the original Maxpod or the Uwell Caliburn which are also in my current pod rotation. Overall no real worries about recommending this one if you don’t mind the looks.  Extended test explanations below! With these “Tested” posts I aim to provide device information which is difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. Even if you’re not super interested in the particular model tested, I think it’s useful for an indication of the brands design and build quality.  Internal Cell: Standard small pouch LiPo, no surprises, and I believe the same as what is in the OG Maxpod. Same as last time it’s NOT a 550mAh model – clearly labelled as 520mAh on the cell itself. FREEMAX (and other companies), PLEASE just tell us the real rating of the battery. Here’s a capacity discharge done on the CBA. Shout out to Hawke’s Bay Vapour in NZ btw! Again just like the cell in the original Maxpod, it fell short of the printed 520mAh rating at just a hair over 500mAh.  Output Voltage: FreeMaX claims a constant 3.7V output, up from the 3.3V of the original Maxpod. Given the cell has a full to flat range of 3.3 to 4.2V, how is the Circle outputting a fixed 3.7V all the time without a boost converter? Basically it isn’t, because it doesn’t have one. When the cell is above 3.7V, it uses PWM to reduce it down to a 3.7V average. Below 3.7V, it’s at 100% duty cycle, or straight cell output which then drops as it discharges. Soooo… it’s not a constant 3.7V output. I’d call it “Limited to 3.7V”. Hmmm :/ In use I have to admit I didn’t notice much power variation until near empty initially but now I’m looking for it I can. Oscilloscope shots of the output.  Charge Circuit: Charge circuit performance is electrically pretty much perfect, great stuff. Here’s the logged cycle graph. The maximum temperature of the charge IC is still a bit high, but improved from the original Maxpod as is the charge rate. I’m really happy to see this, more below! Maximum Cell Voltage: 4.195VMaximum USB Current: 0.478AMaximum Cell Current: 0.475AMaximum Charging Temp: 85.7CCharge cutoff: Full cutoff to 0mA, @~10% of max rate (good)After cycle: No parasitic standby draw or top ups (good)Charge circuit type: Linear (less efficient than switchmode, generates more heat)Efficiency: 68-80% (lower at the start of the cycle, higher at the end)Charge Time: 81 minutes (From 3.4V – near empty) I complained about both the charge rate and IC temp being too high in my Maxpod test (@ 741mA and 94.8C), so it’s great to see that both have been reduced to 475mA and 85.7C in the Maxpod Circle. Generally a higher charge rate is harder on the cell (leads to lower cycles before end of life) and a high IC temp increases the chance of failure. They’re both kind of sliding scales with lower being better, but a trade off being longer charging times. I think the increase from a 56min max charge time on the original Maxpod to a 81min max on the Circle is well worth it – it’s still not a long time to wait to full. 85.7C is still pretty warm (this is outside component temp, substrate temp will be higher), it would ideally be great to see it even lower to increase reliability further. This would mean the circuit would probably have to be changed to a switchmode type (more $$ to make), or some tricky thermal design. The latter of which isn’t bad in the Maxpod Circle actually – I noticed they’ve designed in a decent area of ground track and a bunch of vias on the small board for the charge IC to sink heat into. That means they’ve thought about the thermals – I’ve seen other companies completely not bother (coughVandyVapecough). Overall I always think it’s great to see incremental design improvements which help to make these devices safer and last longer, especially when these changes don’t necessarily lead to higher sales but are good for the owners.  Standby Draw, Battery Level Indication, Low Cell Cutoff: The Maxpod Circle goes into full low current standby (~10uA) basically straight after a puff. Perfect. As well as the charging issues on the original Maxpod, I also complained a bit about the battery level indication. Notably the red indication was set to come on when the battery was only a few puffs away from completely dead which made it pretty much pointless.The Circle has been improved! Maybe FreeMaX read the last test post?? XD The light changes to blue at approx. 3.85V now compared to 3.80V before, while the red light is now at approx. 3.65V from 3.50V before. This means you’ll actually have a decent warning to go charge when the red light comes on. It’s a small thing but I think it makes a fair difference for the user experience – you’ll be able to get a more realistic and useful indication of your remaining battery life. The low cell hard cutoff is at 3.30V, the same as before. It’ll sag to around 3.1V under load before that. This is fine for the type of internal cell used, all good.  Dismantle / build quality check: Taking out hidden screws underneath the middle trim pieces, the Maxpod Circle opens up like a clamshell. Inside Pics. It’s basically the original Maxpod board fit into a circular shapeGood foam padding on the cellPCB was clean, no leftover solder balls etc.Has a conformal coating on the board for some moisture resistance – pic here of the slight glow under UV lightUSB port has a good 4 point attachment, flat on the boardLarge sturdy pod connection pinsThick silicone gasket block in between pod area and boardBoard (PCB) has 4 screws holding it down to the case (good) – some companies just wedge the board into a cutout to save the parts and assembly costPiece of adhesive insulation paper installed in between the cell and pin board (good)Draw sensor is mounted directly under the silicone block – good for making sure it picks up airflow but may be an issue if the under pod area floods with juice No major build quality problems in my opinion. FreeMaX has been pretty good on this front so far. Cheers!~VMG IMPORTANT NOTE / DISCLAIMER!! All efforts have been made to ensure accuracy HOWEVER no claims are made that these numbers, opinions or results are 100% correct – mistakes may have been made. Your safety is your responsibility! It is always good practice to monitor any charging system (placed on a non-flammable surface) and unplug shortly after full charge. This information refers to the tested operation alone in a properly working device – it is impossible to give an estimation of reliability or outcome in the event of a faulty device.

Submitted December 16, 2020 at 12:59PM by VapeyMcGyver
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