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Magic Flight Launch Box (MFLB) FAQ
Usage & Technique
Q. Why does my load burn unevenly?
The most common complaint from a new user is that the load does not burn evenly, with some dark brown to black bits mixed with green unvaped material. The degree of evenness is primarily a result of four factors:
The fineness of the grind.
The degree of load mixing, via stirring, tumbling, or shaking.
The volume of the load.
the average length of time in any given heating cycle (or hit).
The importance of grinding finely cannot be overstressed. To achieve optimal evenness: grind fine, load less, heat longer (but don't wait for the battery!), and mix/shake often and thoroughly. Under these conditions the Box can deliver very even and complete extractions. Almost every user who reports uneven heating learns to correct the problem with proper grinding and technique.
Q. Do I need to grind?
It is important to have the material finely ground for best results. Not grinding finely enough is a classic LB rookie mistake.
Your ground material should at least pass without pressure/force through the mesh of a common window screen. If it is this fine or finer, then that is a good start.
Start with dry clean herb and use a good grinder. There are as many opinions about grinders as there are about vaporizers. In general, however, it's agreed that a two-piece yields finer grind than a four-piece. This is because the herb stays in the grinding area in a two-piece but falls through to a collecting chamber in a four-piece. The suggested method to get finer grind from a four-piece is to invert it for a few turns.
Electric ones work especially well, particularly on dry material; however, it is easy to overgrind and some electrics can be difficult to keep clean--or more importantly to some, it can be hard to get back everything that went into one.
If your load isn't ground finely enough, it won't heat evenly and your vapor yield is reduced. Many users remove the load after a couple of hits, when the material is thoroughly dry, and crumble it with their fingers before re-loading. This exposes more area to vaporization and helps ensure even heating.
If in doubt, or concerned especially with efficiency, using smaller amounts can be helpful in some situations.
Q. How much is a "trench"?
Each filling will take approximately 50 to 100 milligrams of material.
Q. If I put less than a full trench will it still work well?
Yes--it should work fine; however, Magic-Flight recommends that people load it with unpacked material (finely ground but not powder) until it is level with the shoulder (ie do not fill the chamber) even though this might be more than you would normally need. The instant-on and instant-off heating means that you can control the dosage via the heat and draw time. Remove the battery when you are done taking a hit and the rest of the un-vaped material can simply wait to be cooked later (even hours later). Vapor is only produced when you want it--no heat latency means no wasted vapors. This is very different than most other vape units which must cook the entire load to completion once they have been started.
Q. By filling the recommended amount, do we get better vapor or avoid possible damage to the unit?
Neither--it is simply more convenient and more efficient that way. By filling, you will be getting move overall vapor per charged battery. The battery will provide the same heat regardless if it is loaded or empty. Therefore, any part of the unit which is hot but not loaded is wasted heat (wasted battery charge). You might as well load it fully and get the full benefit of the battery energy. Also, by under filling, the vapor density (the ratio of vapor to air) will be somewhat less than that identified as optimal by Magic-Flight's research.
Since it can be arranged that the Box is only hot when you are actually hitting it, you get the benefit of having the vapor dispensed only when you want it. When not heating, you might as well think of the Box as "storing" a very small amount of material. Because the Box is able to heat up nearly instantly (no waiting) it is convenient to use. Because the Box is also able to cool off again nearly instantly, it does not waste any vapor either--this is one of the things that makes this vaporizer efficient.
Q. What is the method of heat control?
The user manages the temperature with breath control. This tends to be a far more practical, responsive, and reliable "feedback circuit" than anything that could be built digitally--especially when different users have different needs. It tends to get around the parallel problems of "is it set right?" and "one setting for everyone" somewhat automatically.
Our recommendation is to ensure that the lips are placed a little above and below the draw hole and to receive the vapor in whole form into the open cavity of the mouth. If the temp/taste seems high, draw a little faster (has a cooling effect), or alternately, stop the heating and start over. It is best to leave a little bit of lung capacity to draw the remaining vapor fully into the lungs before releasing. A long steady draw is optimal. The steady state method is more vapor efficient and more accurately reflects the design method-of-usage intentions of the Box.
The battery is left in for the duration of the hit, or if taking multiple hits, for as long as the load lasts. You must remember to retract, remove, or invert the battery when you are finished taking hits off the Box. Like with the wind, faster tends to mean cooler. To get higher temperatures in the load, you need to draw very slowly. If drawing directly from the Box (ie, using the Box in the "native mode"), you will also be able to sense the temperature of the vapor stream as well as the taste (this is the recommended practice).
For best taste, it is important to tap or shake (stir) the load frequently.
Q. What is "native mode" and why would I use it?
Native mode means hitting the Box without using an attachment such as a whip or tube. This is the intended usage mode for which the Box was originally designed/optimized. Anything that is provided as an attachment is due to user choice, not because it is necessary. In fact, using the Box in its native mode has the specific advantages of 1) increased efficiency (since there is no condensation effect, there is no wasted/lost vapor), and 2) greater accuracy/sensitivity (since the temp/taste feedback is not muted by distance). Magic-Flight strongly suggests that people at least try to use the Box native as this will provide a much more satisfying experience overall.
A minor design point with the Box is that it can be used in native mode while lying down flat on your back. The draw hole is positioned near the bottom edge of the Box allowing for one to hold the Box overhand (if you are right handed) and still be able to draw from the Box while keeping it level to the floor. Your lower lip would be on the bottom face of the Box and the upper lip is just above the draw hole. This makes using the Box accessible to people who are in a bed and cannot raise their head up (for whatever reason).
Q. What is the recommended technique for using the Box?
First, note that you should get two basic outcomes regardless of the technique you use: color change, and taste change. If neither of these occur, then either the technique is wrong or the device is not working correctly. For example, as a first test, without any drawing at all, it should be possible to turn one full load completely brown or even black on a single charged battery. If not, then something is wrong--check the battery, charger, and that the Box is producing heat. It is probably a warranty issue and Magic-Flight will re-issue whatever is necessary to fix it. Otherwise, once you are satisfied your Box passes the basic test, it is a question of technique (or possibly the quality of the loaded materials).
Start by looking into the draw hole or draw tube just after you put in the battery. Wait until you can see vapor appear, usually within a few seconds. At this point begin your draw, using the temperature/taste of the vapor itself as a guide how fast to draw. Faster drawing means cooler temperatures and slower drawing means hotter temperatures; however, please be aware that under normal operating conditions, it is unlikely that you will be able to draw so slowly as to cause the taste to resemble that of smoking (this is by design).
Note that if you begin your draw too soon, you can easily cool down the screen too quickly and you will get little or no vapor. If you wait too long, however, you will overheat and probably wind up with an unevenly cooked load.
Whatever rate of draw you choose, continue until you can hold no more and then while holding your breath, shake the Box so as to tumble the loaded materials. You only need to shake or tap the Box enough to ensure that the load comes free and there is an even mixing of the loaded materials in the bottom of the groove (or "trench"). Breathe out while settling the materials in the trench again. (A gentle side to side motion is usually enough for this, but the Box construction is robust so you can shake it as hard as you like.) Look into down the draw hole to check for vapor again, and begin your next slow draw. Repeat this cycle until the taste has changed significantly and/or the color of the load has changed significantly. When you are finished, remove the battery.
Again, if the load has noticeable changed color, then it is certain that vapor has been produced (and hopefully been inhaled). Otherwise, please check that the battery is charged and that the Box is heating sufficiently. You should have no trouble completely cooking a single load with a single battery.
Q. Is it better to take many smaller hits where no visible vapor is produced, and it can be held in longer and be more completely absorbed?
It depends as much on how deeply you inhale as it does on how long you hold it in. Filling ones lungs fully, drawing deeply all of the way in so as to get the vapor all of the way into the lower lungs is far more practical than holding a smaller volume of vapor only in the upper lungs and throat for any amount of time. The throat and the larger upper channels of the lungs are very poor absorbers--the real work is done in the deeper passages of the lungs. To truly take a hit, you must fully receive it into yourself.
With our breath there are three factors we can control:
For example, to get more oxygen, the body has a natural response--the yawn--which specifically is a deeper breath, not a faster one or one "held in" longer. To adsorb even more oxygen (hyperventilate), the key is to breathe both more quickly and more deeply, with the deep depth being the more important factor (note: you can breathe fast and shallow without any effect). The factors that increase the ability of the lungs to adsorb ingredients are exactly the same as those needed to improve oxygen adsorption. Molecule size, kind, mass, etc, makes absolutely no difference to this proportionality.
Magic-Flight recommends that Box users first learn how to control the temp in the Box by controlling their draw rate, and then work to take fewer, much longer and deeper draws. With practice, you will find that filling the lungs thoroughly and completely in one hit is far more powerful and effective than taking the same exact volume of vapor in multiple smaller hits. Depending on your lung capacity, with most Boxes a good draw will last 15 to 25 seconds. However, be sure to have completely mastered temp control before attempting to increase your draw time--otherwise you will find yourself coughing.
The reports reviewed by Magic-Flight indicate that 95% of whatever is going to be adsorbed will have done so within the first 2 seconds of actual vapor contact with the bronchial passages. This means that the clock starts only at the moment one has completely filled their lungs, and not before. It is also important to recognize that this does not mean that everything that is in a single breath is going to be adsorbed, no matter how long you hold it--it only states that most of whatever is going to happen will do so in the first 2 seconds. Vapor that is held in the throat and in the larger lung passages will not really be absorbed into the body no matter how long you wait (wrong kind of tissue)--and exhaling these into a bag for someone else to use will allow them to get some also.
As such, really sophisticated hitting technique (optimal adsorption efficiency) with the Box involves several stages:
You take a few full extra deep breaths at a normal rate to pre-charge your body with extra oxygen and to get a good sense of your available lung capacity.
The battery is put fully in and heating starts. The temperature begins climbing quickly in the Box. You watch for vapor by looking straight down the Box vapor channel (down the draw hole--NOTE: Be sure to hold the Box horizontally throughout this process so that the material in the tray does not all fall down to one end of the screen--this leads to uneven heating and poor taste).
Two or three seconds later, the temperature in the Box is about right and the you begin drawing at first slowly, and then only a little faster, adjusting your draw rate depending on the sensed temperature and taste. For maximum sensitivity, using the Box in its native configuration is ideal.
The long slow draw continues until you begin to sense that you have reached about 80% or so of your lung capacity (perhaps 15 seconds later), at which point you pull the battery back slightly to stop the heating. You continue your draw at a somewhat faster rate so as to capture all of the remaining vapor still being formed in the Box and to assist it in cooling off.
Four or five seconds later, the Box is cool and no longer producing vapor. At this point you continue to breathe the rest of the way in, filling your lungs completely and ensuring that all of the remaining vapor (the "vapor tail") is moved from your throat into your deep lungs were it will do some good.
You hold your breath, lungs completely full, for about two seconds and then you breathe out naturally through your nose. This allows you to savor any remaining flavor and to know exactly how much of a hit you have just taken. You can breathe normally again.
You shake the Box, noticing and ensuring an even mixing. Turning the Box upside down, tapping sharply, and shaking side to side (with the Box still upside down) is usually sufficient to ensure that all material is released from the screen and that larger chunks are broken up. Righting the Box again, you shake side to side again to settle the material in the tray.
Take note of the color of the material in the Box. If it is green, go back to step 1 and take a few more deep breaths.
A lot of attention is paid to the inherent efficiency of the vaporizers used. For optimal results, however, equal attention needs to be paid to the inherent efficiency of the user technique. Good user technique can sometimes make even a poorly designed vaporizer work well, and with a moderately good vaporizer, can really make it zing!
The technique outlined above specifically for the Box has a number of advantages. For one thing, because no vapor is ever emitted directly from the Box to the air, the level of smell associated with the device remains at a true minimum. Also, because nearly all of the vapor is deeply adsorbed into the body, the user does not emit much smell either. Because the battery is only being used whole producing vapor, the effective usefulness of a battery charge is significantly extended also (energy efficiency). Also, the deep breath in the beginning (step 1) ensures that you have enough oxygen in your body so that the whole process feels more natural.
Finally, in regards to visibility, if you see anything on the exhale associated with step 6 above, it is very likely that you are running the Box too hot and that you need to drawing slightly faster during steps 3 and 4. Whatever you see is going to be either 1) condensing vapor (very light and milky) which is now no longer accessible or 2) particulate matter which is unnecessary and bad for your health. If it is only vapor that you see on exhale, you need to judge your lung capacity lower in step 4 and ensure that you leave enough time for the Box to cool and enough remaining breath for you to fully capture the vapor tail in your deep lungs. If it is smoke that you see, you need to be drawing faster or sooner--don't wait as long to start drawing in step 3 and practice your breath and rate control until you can ensure that you can maintain an even taste.
Also, under no circumstances should the battery ever be in the Box when no one is drawing on it for more than about 3 seconds--something to be aware of if you are ever in a group and passing the Box. A lot of people pass a Box when it is "on" to a new user and then explain how to use it--all the while the Box is overheating the herb and when the new user does finally take a taste, it is way too hot and harsh. A much better approach is to show how to put the battery in, hand the Box over without the battery completely in and explain that a long slow draw is required. Let the new user push the battery in and take their hit--as soon as its done, take the Box back from them and withdraw the battery, showing them that it is necessary to do so. Ensure that each person in a group applies and withdraws the battery individually BEFORE letting them pass the Box around hot.
Q. How well does the Launch Box perform in the cold, such as on ski slopes?
The biggest potential problem in cold (below freezing) temperatures is loss of battery power. All batteries perform less effectively when they get cold. If the batteries are kept reasonably warm, e.g. in an inside pocket next to your body, the Box will work just fine.
As far as using the unit at high altitude, it rules. I've used it on chairlifts and gondolas many times as well as in lodges at the tops of mountains. It works great in the wind as well. The only problem with the cold is it seems to shorten the life of the batteries ever-so-slightly. I kept my battery case and box in another soft case under my main ski pants and against my leg to keep them from getting too cold. This seems to work very well. The only time I had problems was when it was snowing really hard. Snow accumulates on the box and melts. I only used it once in these conditions then decided it wasn't worth it. As far as wind goes the box is the ultimate solution as it does not depend on a lighter.
Q. What kind of batteries should I get?
Batteries should be AA NiMH rechargeable. Using *any* other battery chemistry type is definitely not good and can be dangerous. Although this sort of activity does not void the warranty, it is not recommended.
There are a lot of different types of batteries out there with different brands, ratings, and claims--far too many for Magic-Flight to test each one. It is also true that the Box uses the batteries in a somewhat unusual manner--however, not so different that most batteries of the correct classification should work reasonably well enough. The batteries to get are of the NiMh type, and need to be able to store at least 2000 mAh. AAA batteries are too thin to work--the Box is made specifically to fit AA batteries. There is some variation between battery makers, so some fit better than others.
The included batteries are sure to provide enough power for one full bowl--you might get more than that, but that is a reasonable expectation. Batteries that have a higher mAh rating could last for more than one full bowl (six hits, 30 sec each hit, 10 to 20 cc per sec, vapor just visible in the draw channel but not otherwise at least 55% of the time). The device is made as nearly perfectly energy efficient as the physics and materials allow, so it is unlikely that the "one battery per bowl" situation will change anytime soon.
Surprisingly, Magic-Flight has found that having the battery be stronger than that needed for one bowl actually has two disadvantages: 1) users are constantly wondering if the battery is okay on the second and third bowls, and 2) if a user happens to accidentally leave the unit "on", stronger batteries tend to get hotter (in proportion to their storage capacity). Magic-Flight therefore strongly suggest that people only get other batteries for the Box after they have developed a good set of usage habits with the provided batteries and are familiar with the capabilities of the device.
Q. Isn't wood also organic and inherently porous--a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi?
This is simply not true. Wood has natural resistive aspects that actively prevent the breeding of bacteria, fungi, and mold. Keep in mind that the growing tree in nature has a strong incentive to evolve in a direction that will preserve and protect its wood from invasions of these exact types. Each of the various types of wood have various oils and aromatics within the wood itself that work to protect the wood. Magic-Flight does not need to add these--they are already there and are much better functionally than anything they could invent. Wood has to be exposed to wind, rain, and sunlight a fairly long time for bio-degrade to be possible in nature--years, typically. When Magic-Flight adds their own sealants to the wood, it slows this process by a factor of 10x or 20X. Therefore, given the average of the exposure environments and this slowing, the wood in the Box should be able to last a hundred years or more--plenty long enough.
If you have any doubt of these facts, consider that there have been safety studies conducted on the relative merits of wood cutting boards in the kitchen vs Teflon ones. Although some vendors would prefer that you not know this, it is actually the case that Teflon cutting boards are far worse breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi than wood ones. Both types of cutting boards have tiny grooves in them (due to the action of the knife while in normal use)--grooves which can provide a home for bacteria and fungi. However, while the Teflon boards are inert, and thus do nothing to inhibit the growth of these cells, the natural oils in the wood make it much less likely that such cells can multiply and survive. These studies have shown that for most folk in most situations, wooden cutting boards are far safer. Only in industrial kitchens that regularly clean with chemical sterilization techniques can the disadvantage of Teflon be (temporarily) offset.
Q. The Launch Box is a conduction vaporizer, how can it be efficient?
While it is true that, in general, convection vaporizers will be more efficient overall than conduction patterns, the performance gap can be narrowed significantly with various techniques and in some cases even dramatically exceeded! The Box performance is much better than any other vaporizer in its class due to the following four factors:
The Box generates vapor only when needed--it does not waste any vapor by staying hot between hits or by continuing to cook the load after you have had enough. Loaded material can continue to be cycled over any extended period of time, delivering vapor when you want it without ever having to wait or waste. Conscious user technique with the battery can ensure that there is zero lost vapor every time.
The Box makes careful use of infra-red characteristics in its design. While pure conduction designs tend do work very poorly, pure IR vaporizers (although very uncommon and very expensive) tend to be fairly good since they have overall heat distribution characteristics very similar to pure convection designs for smaller loads. The Launch Box is not "just" a conduction vaporizer--it is also has significant IR characteristics.
The Box incorporates several vapor channel flow features to ensure the absolute minimum vapor condensation. Convection vaporizers necessarily need to use significantly more heat energy to operate efficiently--heat which must be removed from the vapor prior to ingestion. Any parts that require occasional cleaning also indicate a significant volume of previously lost vapor. Used naively, the Box rarely requires any cleaning since it delivers the vapor directly to you--without converting some of it into black gunk along the way.
Since the Box uses only and exactly as much heat energy as is needed for vaporization (the Box is easily one of the worlds most energy-efficient vaporizers), the enclosed chamber can be designed to allow for the simplest and most reliable form of mechanical stirring possible: shaking. By shaking the Box between hits, the previously ground load can be evenly re-mixed to ensure much more even heating. The clear lid also allows for immediate inspection as to determine both the effectiveness of the stirring and the degree of completion. In this way, good user technique can result excellent overall performance and efficiency.
In summary, in-house lab testing has shown the Box vape to be nearly as efficient as the best convection vapes (when used correctly), and noticeably better than most.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that the Box is optimized for convenience--it was never intended to be "the worlds most efficient vape". Dollar for dollar, the Box delivers more vapor in more locations more naturally. That is what it is best used for.
Also, what good is a "super efficient vaporizer" if you do not also use it very consistently? If you end up smoking because you are away from the home and have no place to plug it in (or prefer not to wait five minutes for it to heat up!) then your "average efficiency" has gone way down. Getting fairly good efficiency most of the time is very much better overall (health wise and cost wise) than getting great efficiency only occasionally. For most people, actual practical convenience is much more important in real life than some elusive abstract ideal of "efficiency".
Q. Does the Box give off an odour in use?
While most vaporizers will have significantly less smell than smoking, Magic-Flight believes (but have not yet confirmed) that this vape produces the lowest level of secondary smell of any vape currently on the market (including and especially the Iolite). Mostly, this is a direct consequence of the design aspects above. The Box has a small short channel system, and therefore, has very few parts in contact with the vapor--fewer parts to re-radiate smell. The Box uses minimum energy (no preheating) and minimum exchange air volume, so that there is no smell associated with the aromatic components coming off while waiting for the unit to start up (there is no waiting with the Box).
Often, the only evident smell occurs when loading the Box (of course, preloading before arrival is an option here). Also, if you exhale directly into someones face, it is likely that they will smell something. Usually however, anyone more than 3 feet away will not be able to smell anything at all. Your mileage may vary--all risks taken are exclusively your own--use responsibly.
Part of the reason is that, used as directed, the Box only produces vapor when you need it--there is never any vapor/odor directly vented to the room. Most vaporizers, once started, will also stay going until the load is completely spent (constant heating). Since the user can only take in vapor intermittently with the breath, that means that with most vaporizers there will always be occasions where the heated materials will be venting to the room--hence the smell. With the Box, the heating is itself intermittent and matches consumption. The user consumes and adsorbs the smell along with the medicine--hence no aroma is ever directly vented to the room.
The Box is designed to produce only as much vapor as the lungs are likely to adsorb, whereas most others vaporizers are designed to produce a significant excess of vapor (looks more impressive). This has the dual advantage of both being more efficient in delivery as well as being more discreet. As with viability of exhaled vapor being an indication that better performance/technique is possible, excess smell is also an indicator of potential improvements in the usage pattern. Unlikely as it may seem to some, it is possible to get full medicinal effects from the Box with nearly zero resulting additional smell in the room (ie, any odor more than the baseline of what the unheated load would produce in an unused Box).
Q. What temperature is the Box designed to work at?
The "science" of vaporization seems to indicate that the optimal temp for vaporization is a constant 380F (193C) so that is what Magic-Flight aims for in all of their designs. At manufacture, the Box is calibrated to be at 380F (193C) four seconds after the moment it is started, assuming a fairly slow constant draw rate and average environmental conditions. The temperature in the Box is far from constant, however. It changes continually depending on the rate of draw, over the range of about 260 on the low end to about (when drawing too fast) to about 450F (232C) when not drawing at all (and leaving it on for minutes at a time). Therefore, what Magic-Flight tries to do is to have the temp most easily stabilize at between 370F (188C) and 400F (204C) for a reasonable rate of draw.
The full range of temperatures, inclusive of all possible operating conditions, intended or accidental, available to the LB is anywhere from ambient to full combustion at 451F (233C). The typical operating temperature of the LB while in use tends to center at about 392F (200C)--this is the ideal. Accessible/common usage technique can easily allow for anything in the range of 329F (165C) to 410F (210C).
Q. How can I tell if my Box is running too cool?
Ideally, if filled and let sit with the battery in and no drawing at all for 2 minutes, the contents of the bowl should turn very dark brown (and perhaps black on the bottom). We try to calibrate it hot enough so that it falls about 36F (20C) short of actual combustion under these conditions. If you shake/stir the Box (but do not draw or open the lid) during this test, you will get a better sense as to how the heating is occurring. Depending on the specific load (how dry it is, how finely ground, etc), the specific calibration of the particular LB unit and assuming zero draw rate conditions, actual ignition conditions might be achieved in as little as 30 seconds. For most units shipped under most conditions, the time will be noticeably longer.
During normal draw, the Box should be hot enough to create vapor when looking at the draw hole, but not to obviously create large visible clouds (it is not designed for that). If you can see the vapor on exhale, it is either wasted vapor or smoke--both conditions to be avoided. Really, the best test of the Box is how it delivers the medical qualities of the herb--what the user feels like 3 minutes after taking a few hits, rather than on what can be seen when exhaling or what is felt in the first 30 seconds or so. Also, if after taking several hits (with shaking in between) the contents are all brown, then it is certain that all available vapor has been created, and presumably ingested. If the contents are still mostly green after several hits (not just some army green specs) and are not mostly brown, then there is a chance that the Box may be running a bit cool (else, check the battery charge and slow the draw rate).
Q. Is there some sort of test we can do at home to gauge the temperature of our LB?
Unfortunately no. The IR characteristics make a lot of difference, so it's either special built optical gear (what Magic-Flight uses) or embedded thermocouple--neither option available for home use.
Q. Is there a 'break-in' period after which the Box runs cooler?
Magic-Flight has not noticed any 'break in' period with the unit itself. They suspect that observations to this effect are much more likely to be associated with the batteries. The discharge profile for the first 15 seconds of use immediately after a battery is charged is different than the discharge characteristics for most of the remainder of the battery cycle. This curve itself changes depending on the number of complete charge/discharge cycles the battery has passed through, particularly for the first few cycles. Given the intensive usage and battery cycling that the Box imposes on the battery, these effects are somewhat more pronounced than would be evident from testing that the battery manufacturer would know of.
As such, the working hypothesis is a combination of the following two factors:
Changes in the battery itself, and
Changes in the manner that the battery is used.
In particular, new users are more likely to pull the battery off the charger and immediately use it, whereas later, there is probably allowed a 'cooling off' period from when the battery is charged and when it is first used.
This is not to say that there might be some effect with the unit itself that has not observed or is not yet known, only that Magic-Flight has not detected such effects.
Q. What materials are used to make the Launch Box?
Originally the Boxes were made from select birch wood, stainless steel (ie, same as used in high end cooking pans) for the mesh screen, copper plated steel (electrical) for the battery coil, acrylic (brand name Plexiglas) for the cover, and a stainless steel spring clip, used for the cover hinge.
In November 2010, Magic-Flight revealed that a transition to maple from birch was underway, and that the battery coil was now re-formulated and no longer requires a copper plating.
There is no solder (ie no lead). There are no hazardous materials used. The added/optional draw pipe accessories (not necessary to use the Box) are also made of acrylic. There are no chemicals used for bonding--it is a physical process. Magic-Flight has made all possible efforts to ensure/guarantee the complete and total health and safety of this device.
Overall, the Box is very durable (can be dropped without harm, etc). The only part which is more delicate is the internal screen which is very thin--use only the provided brush as a tool in direct contact with the screen. If the screen becomes damaged (whatever the reason) Magic-Flight will send a replacement Box unit (it's part of the warranty--the screen itself is not end-user replaceable).
The LB is durable and practical as well as safe. Purists who absolutely and dogmatically insist that everything be made of only borosilicate glass are gently advised to consider the products of other vendors instead of the LB.
Q. Have you considered using other woods?
Magic-Flight began using birch because it had certain machining characteristics that were "just right"--not too hard or too soft. This wood was also preferred due to its being more environmentally sustainable than nearly all other hardwoods. The transition to maple was undertaken because it offered improved machining characteristics, while also being environmentally sustainable.
Magic-Flight has occasionally made a few sample units out of Cherry, Walnut, Zebrawood, Koa, and some other exotics; however, due to certain subtleties of the machine process, working these other hardwoods can be problematic and more expensive. The considerations are:
Is it available? (Sustainable production, safe to harvest and use, etc)
Can Magic-Flight process it? (Does it dull tools, is it too hard)
Are there restrictions on its use? (import limits, endangered, too smelly, too porous, etc).
At some point, custom and special request processing for particular specialty woods might be offered at an extra cost, although there are no plans for that at the moment.
Q. Is there any kind of finish or oil put on the wood of the box?
Yes, one coat of odorless/pharmaceutical food grade butcher block oil to prevent discoloration due to handling (skin oils). The wood is otherwise unfinished/untreated and guaranteed natural.
Q. Could I place foil on the screen of the Box so I can use it for oils, powders, etc?
Not really, unfortunately. The issue is that using the aluminum foil (necessary to protect the screen from oil and resin) can also affect the electrical properties of the Box, potentially disabling or damaging it. There really is no reliable way to use the Box with user formed aluminum foil trays.
Q. Why is there no on/off switch or button on the device?
Magic-Flight wanted to keep the cost down.
Although a single switch will not by itself make the difference, making it possible to use one requires too many side effects to the design. Using high energy electronic methods to get around the problems has even worse side effects on the design.
There are issues of reliability. For example, the LB needs to switch fairly high current (more than 5 amps) AND it must be very small. This means that "a simple switch that is reliable" is also more expensive than you might expect (think many dollars, not pennies). There are actually very few switches which would even work in the LB, despite the variety of components available these days. (Small means low-current; high-current means large--realistically, there is not much overlap.)
Q. What is the purpose of the little light?
A small indicator light lets you know if the battery is making contact and gives an indication of how much battery strength is left.
Not long after introduction of the original Box, Magic-Flight added a small light under the screen at the back of the heating chamber. You can see the light if you look directly into the inhaling hole or, if you use one, the drawing tube. The light lets you know if the battery is making contact. Towards the end of the battery charge, the light also dims and reddens somewhat.
Q. Where is the air intake?
The shallow groove on the top face, connecting the bowl area with the negative terminal ring is the air inlet hole. It's not optional, it is necessary for the functionality of the unit (and certain air patterns, etc).
Q. Is the contact ring supposed to intrude into the battery hole?
The contact ring is supposed to be somewhat in the battery hole--it needs to be to make the negative terminal connection with the battery. This is by design, and it should be firm/tight with the battery.
Q. Is there a risk of "copper toxicity" from heating up copper-plated contact coils in older Boxes?
Magic-Flight would not have claimed "no hazardous materials" if they did not feel that it was well supported by the physical facts. They have done as much research on this topic (presented elsewhere in these answers) as they believe to be necessary to assure the safety of all users of our product. Therefore, until someone provides some sort of real evidence/research (ie, something more supported than speculation and/or opinion), they will continue to suggest that it is not worth worrying about. They do also, however, encourage any and all interested parties to do their own research and come to their own conclusions--particularly if they report back to Magic-Flight if there is found to be anything worth talking about and most especially if they can do so in a reasonably well informed and professional manner. So far, all indications have been that the temperatures involved are far too low for there to be anything worth thinking about.
Q. Does the bottom of the trench have a brown tint when the Box is new?
Yes--Magic-Flight uses a burn-in technique that allows them to check the unit calibration. The discoloration is normal.
Q. My serial number is in the XX,000s. Does that mean you've produced over XX,000 boxes?
The number is non-sequential. It contains some quality control codes that allow Magic-Flight to identify the batch if there ever turns out to be any QA issues that need to get fixed.
Magic-Flight recently converted to 6 and 7 digit serial codes, so some people will start noticing these. Early boxes from the first production batch have 4 digits--those Boxes were purchased by their early adopters, sometime in June or July.
There is no Box number 1--sorry. There are no 1 or 2 digit Boxes either. It's doubtful that there are even any 3 digit ones--if there are, they are extremely rare--probably collectors items by now. A handful of "special" numbers have also been reserved.
Q. Why is the draw hole partially obstructed?
The Box has a small lip just inside the draw hole. This lip is necessary to prevent the draw stem from being inserted incorrectly and damaging the screen.
Q. What is the smaller hole on the other end for? Do I lose vapor from it?
The smaller hole on the opposite end of the Box is part of the assembly process. It is not connected to the vapor chamber so there is no possibility of losing vapor through it. You can plug it if you wish.
Q. How do I choose between LSD and standard batteries?
There are two types of NiMH batteries available: low self-discharge (LSD) and high self-discharge (HSD).
Have a shelf life measured in months
Usually marketed as "pre-charged" or "ready-to-use"
Have a lower capacity range (2000-2400 mAh)
Can be damaged if charged too quickly (faster than 60 mins is not recommended)
Best for LB use: Maha Imedion 2400 mAh
Have a shelf life measured in days, or weeks at best
Have a higher capacity range (up to 2800 mAh)
Can be used in fast chargers (15 mins)
Best for heavy/frequent use: Maha Powerex 2700 mAh
Choosing between them depends on your usage habits. HSD batteries will only provide about 30% longer in use time (say, six solid minutes of "burn" time) which might or might not be significant. They need to be "topped off" every three days or so, but have the advantage that they can be put in a 15 minute charger.
LSD batteries, on the other hand, will remain "ready for use" once they are fully charged for months at a time--people do not have to remember to put them back in the charger as frequently, or keep them there, to be usable. Unfortunately, LSD batteries do not handle 15 minute chargers as well--they need a slower, more accurate charger.
If you mix the two types and also have a fast charger, be sure to mark them so that you don't put LSD batteries through a fast charge cycle. Doing this won't destroy them but it will reduce their lifetime much more quickly.
Q. How should I prepare and care for my batteries?
You will need to peel the label off the battery (exposing the metal casing) to use it with the Box. The coil in the Box needs to make electrical contact with the battery. Removing the battery label makes this possible. The battery will not work in the Box otherwise.
Please be careful if you use a sharp tool to cut the label (do not dent or cut through the metallic battery casing). Most battery labels simply peel off cleanly, but some manufacturers use a glue underneath the label (Sanyo). You can clean this off using a product such as Goo Gone. WD-40 also works, just spray on and rub the glue off with a paper towel exposing the metal battery casing.
Incidentally, the paper ring on the positive end of the battery does not much matter. Magic-Flight leaves them on only for cosmetic reasons and removes them if they ever come loose or get in the way.
Also, it is very important to NOT let the batteries get too hot. It is okay for them to get warm (when charging or in use), but hot is not good--it shortens the life of the battery. ("Hot" is when you would not want to hold the battery in your hand--hotter than hot coffee). Magic-Flight strongly recommends that Box users get into the habit of pulling the battery back after each hit. This keeps the battery cooler and prevents accidental loss of the load and the charge.
It is essential that you make sure that the tips of your peeled batteries do not come into contact with any metallic items--this can result in accidentally making a connection between the positive nipple and the negative casing. If such contact occurs, a charged battery will quickly overheat. Once you have peeled a battery, you must be careful to store and handle it properly. The rubber caps shipped with the Box can be used to prevent this problem. Storing batteries side by side in a case is fine. All charged batteries must be either in their case or have an endcap on the nipple end to protect them from overheating (ie, at all times when not in use in the Box).
Q. Why don't my peeled batteries fit snugly?
There are small but significant diameter variations between various manufacturers. As well, because Magic-Flight has had to switch battery suppliers, they have also had to adjust the tension of the battery contact coil accordingly. The result is that it is difficult to know which batteries will fit snugly in your particular Box. Batteries from some manufacturers will feel a little loose. This might be annoying but it doesn't interfere with use of the Box.
To operate properly, the battery need only contact the battery contact coil; a snug fit isn't necessary. To achieve this, some users find it helpful to twist the battery slightly after insertion. You can also look into the battery insertion hole while holding the end of the box at right angles and see where the coil intrudes slightly into the opening. When the battery is inserted, you can gently pull the battery in the correct direction to make the best contact.
Q. Can I leave part of the label on or wrap tape around the battery to make it snug?
Yes. However, you must be sure that the battery casing is exposed to the battery contact coil when the battery is fully inserted into the Box. As long as the remaining label or tape does not interfere with that contact, the Box should work just fine.
Q. Can the contact coil be safety bent or pushed to be a little tighter?
It is possible--but very difficult--for someone to adjust the coil. Magic-Flight uses a press with a special fixture to make the adjustment, and generally suggests that users treat this as a warranty issue. They will be glad to recycle or re-adjust your existing units and/or send a replacement for a Box that is otherwise unusable (ie making no contact, regardless of battery used).
If you would like to attempt to make the adjustment, most often the best bet is to push the entire coil upwards from the bottom of the Box towards the lid side, with the lid open. Use a vice and a tool with a flat edge that can press with an even, gradually increasing pressure on the center of the bottom of the coil. The idea is to treat the entire coil as a unit, rather than to change the size/diameter of the coil itself. The main risk is to apply the adjustment force exactly perpendicular to the bottom of the Box at the center of the coil. If the coil moves at all forward or backward (rather than just up or down), the screen will be displaced and potentially damaged as the rod slides. Also, just the right level of force is necessary--too much and the coil will either become too small or be moved too far out of position--at which point, an opposite adjustment must be attempted. Above all else, please be safe--think about what you are doing before you do it.
If you have a Box that is not working due to this issue, and you attempt to make the adjustment and further damage the Box, please let Magic-Flight know so that they can send you a new Box.
Q. What batteries does Magic-Flight ship/recommend?
Magic-Flight originally started shipping Tenergy batteries, but had to drop that brand and switch to Eneloop. The basic story is that they received several batches from Tenergy that were not compliant to specification, and had to be rejected. As with most battery companies, they print a much higher mAh rating on the battery than it can actually deliver. Magic-Flight had been buying Tenergy batteries listed at 2600 direct from the manufacturer, and then stripping the label and reselling them as if they had a 2000 mAh rating, since that is what they actually measured out as. (The Maha C-9000 charger is good for this). Although Magic-Flight did this at some loss, it at least ensured that the batteries they shipped were what they needed to be to operate the Box.
Some companies are far worse--eg batteries listed as 2700 mAh rated that actually only delivered 500 mAh, clearly and criminally mislabeled! Without an accurate power metering system, there is no way the public would ever know, and so dishonest battery makers get away with it. Buyer beware!
In any case, Tenergy started playing games also--they started shipping batteries that were 10 mills smaller (ie, would no longer fit the Box correctly), and which only had 1500 mAh capacity, despite being the same part number, same distribution channel, same label on each battery, same high cost, etc. Considering that Magic-Flight was being billed at 2600 mAh capacity, this was unacceptable, since the batteries were now too small and too weak to operate the Box reliably. Magic-Flight considered legal action, but decided that in any case they would have to switch brands immediately. As such, they began shipping Eneloop batteries and can no longer recommend the Tenergy brand.
For many LB buyers, the Eneloop is a good choice. It has the advantage of holding a charge for much longer than most batteries. This is good since it ensures that the batteries can be delivered to the purchaser charged, even if the Box happens to be sitting on a retail store shelf for awhile. Many people seem to use the Box on an occasional or infrequent basis, and for these people, having batteries hold their charge for months is especially advantageous. One downside of the Eneloop batteries is that they should not be charged in fast (15 minute) chargers, as this can decrease the life of the battery.
Unfortunately, Sanyo was purchased by Panasonic and the resulting supply disruption forced yet another battery switch, this time to Maha Energy Imedions.
For people who generally use the Box every day, or multiple times every day, Magic-Flight recommends the Powerex batteries and the Energizer 15 minute charger. People who do this will need to be very sure to keep track of which batteries are which--this is important. Otherwise, get a Maha charger--you cannot go wrong with that one (although it is pricey) or alternately, use the charger that ships bundled with the Box (which will also charge any NiMH battery--at no additional cost).
For those people who simply want to use the Box and not worry about batteries, you will always be able to purchase cells and chargers from BlissSville.com that are sure to work correctly with the Box.
Q. Is it safe to use the peeled batteries for other devices?
It depends on the construction of the device, but in general it is a risk. The problem is that most devices use two batteries in series, usually packed right next to one another. In that case, one of the batteries can side short--releasing a LOT of heat and potentially damaging the device. The labels DO have a safety function in that they make it much harder to accidentally short the battery, particularly when it is in some device. The best recommendation is to put tape over the battery so as to have the same coverage as the original label. Leave the two ends uncovered, but completely wrap the main body of the battery with exactly one layer of tape with no gaps.
IMPORTANT: Peeled batteries should only be used with the Box. If you want to use the batteries in other devices--make a new covering for the battery! Failure to do so can result in device and/or battery damage.
Depending on the details of the specific device, you might get away with it, but it is not recommended that you try the test without really understanding what is involved.
Q. Does the Voltage of the AA has any effect on how hot the box gets?
Yes, it does. Higher voltage generally means hotter. The battery will not read the same voltage when it is in use as it does when in the charger, however, so the specifics of how much hotter, or even if the difference will be noticeable, depends on the specifics of the battery and the sensitivity of your taste.
Q. Batteries have venting holes at the positive tip that are there to vent gases in case of shorting or overheating. Is it possible for the battery to vent gases that are then inhaled through the herb chamber?
The chances of this being any sort of issue are effectively zero.
It is important to distinguish between the events of charging the battery and discharging the battery. With improper charging (ie, a cheap or malfunctioning battery charger) the battery can be made to vent (its not common, but it is possible). However, venting does not happen during discharging. The box only uses the battery in discharge mode. Therefore, there is no risk.
Assuming that somehow the battery did vent, in considering risk it is also worthwhile to consider what kind of gases are involved and how much might be generated. From the chemistry the gas would only be H2 (hydrogen) and quantity is tiny (a few cm at most). Both the kind and the amount are biologically harmless. Again, no risk. For people who work with batteries in general, these points are considered to be common knowledge.
The hole in the back of the unit is a construction hole. It connects to the battery compartment but does not extend through to the vapor chamber. As such, it does not provide any form of direct coupling between the battery compartment and the vapor chamber. To ensure that there could be no doubt of this, the seal on the connector rod has even been tested to 5 PSI. Therefore, even if the battery did vent (see 1 and 2 above) it would not be available for inhalation, but would go instead in the opposite direction away from the user. Again, no risk.
In the interests of safety, however, it must also be reported that some chargers do not do as good a job detecting when a battery is already charged. If people put an already mostly charged battery into a fast charger, and that fast charger is not smart enough to detect this condition, it could potentially overcharge the battery causing it to get hot, and in particularly bad cases, to vent, leaving a white residue (not the end of the world). For some chargers, it can also be rather bad to put the battery in backwards. (Don't try it!) High quality chargers generally handle both of these conditions gracefully.
Q. How can I test my batteries?
Testing battery power tends to be problematic as the voltage remains high until the battery is nearly fully depleted--making most battery testers useless. Magic-Flight uses in-house custom built testers that draw a lot of current and check for changes in the voltage to determine the battery state. Otherwise, the easiest way to check a battery is to put it into the LB with the cover open (and trench empty) and bring the box up close to your lips--not actually touching, about 1/2 of an inch away. You should be able to feel sufficient heat, and if not, the battery probably needs recharging. A little bit of experience with fresh batteries versus used ones will quickly give you a really good indication of what is going on.
Q. Is it very important to drain the batteries completely before charging them again?
No, not at all. NiMH batteries do not have a "memory" effect. The charger will pick up where the charge is at and add what is necessary to "top off".
Q. Is it OK to pull a fully-charged battery out of the charger, use it for a trench, place it back in the charger, and grab the other battery for another trench (and then use the first battery again before it is fully charged. ..rinse and repeat. ..)?
Magic-Flight recommends fully charged batteries for performance reasons only--so that people get the best possible experience with the Box, particularly on their first try when they are just learning how to use it. There are no problems with using partially charged batteries, as long as there is enough charge for them to be usable/useful.
There is also no issue with cycling batteries through the charger as you describe. However, it is recommended that you let the charger complete its charge cycle whenever possible as the microprocessor in the charger may attempt to implement a conditioning cycle on the batteries. If it senses that the battery is low, it may discharge the battery before recharging it so as to extend the battery life. The charger that is being shipped is a smart charger and is designed to make the batteries last as long as possible.
Maintenance And Cleaning
Q. How should I clean my Box and parts?
The Box shouldn't require much maintenance or cleaning if you brush it out after each load. This technique has been proven to work well:
Turn the Box over and dump the ABV (already been vaped contents), then rap the box against the table to knock loose any sticky bits.
Make sure the screen is cool, then brush gently.
Repeat step 1.
With the cover open, blow through the inhaling hole.
Remember to do this after every load.
It is okay to use ISO (isopropyl Alchohol) to clean the draw tube accessory, as long as you do not leave it in the ISO for too long (minutes are fine; hours not are good). One good method is to use a regular pipe cleaner soaked in ISO to clean the acrylic draw tube, and then allow it to dry.
It's also okay to wipe down the outside of the Box with a soft cloth and a gentle cleaner (perhaps a drop of dishwashing liquid) but remember how you use it. If you do use a soap make sure you don't get it inside the heating chamber, and of course don't leave residue on the areas that you put in your mouth.
Q. Is it okay to run the Box with an empty trench to burn off any residual particles that the brush misses to keep it clean?
Yes that is fine. Just be sure that the battery does not get too hot--do not leave it in too long (ie, not more than 60 seconds).
Q. How long can the Box run non-stop before something "bad" happens?
Until the battery runs out. Leaving the battery in overlong could potentially overheat the battery, but will not damage the Box. The taste might change somewhat.
Q. Does the mesh come off if heated for too long?
No. The bonding energy is *much* higher than the operating energy. There are no situations where the bonding is at risk from overheating with time and a battery. The main concerns with the screen are mechanical (pulling, tearing, puncture, etc).
Q. Is it cool to blow back into the Box to clear all the ABV?
Yes. The screen is not that fragile--you can use the brush too. Opening the Box lid and blowing directly into it sharply is usually enough to clear everything. Magic-Flight emphasizes the screen in the instructions as there are some purchasers who are less than mechanically adept and need to be told--else they will likely damage the screen.
Q. Won't a screen this fine get clogged?
The screen tends to not clog because it does not act as a condensation surface--in fact, it is a significant aspect of the Box design to avoid the possibility of condensation to the largest extent possible. Due to the inherent distribution of heat, the screen is unlikely to clog as in other devices because it is never colder than the loaded material, even after months of usage. Naturally, this makes maintaining the Box easier.
Q. I want to clean the bars running along the top of the trench but I am afraid to even try scraping them for fear I'll damage the screen, what to do?
Heat does help to soften the residue along the bars. Soaking the brush in ISO and then brushing clear while hot is also an option (make sure to keep the brush bristles at least damp ISO while doing this). As for the inside under the screen, scraping is really the only option.
Bear in mind that cleaning the bowl area is cosmetic only. None of these areas affect the operation of the Box. Like with most grinders, there is an initial buildup in some areas which eventually stabilizes, and then it becomes just "part of the operation"--material is neither lost nor gained. Magic-Flight generally recommends that people leave it be and concentrate on maintaining the aesthetics of the exterior wood.
Q. The Plexiglas cover is starting to get grungy on the inside just over the trench, how can I clean it?
Open the Box and turn it over. Place the cover on a sturdy flat surface. Apply a light coating of toothpaste, just enough to cover the dirty area. Use an old toothbrush or even a paper towel to rub gently in a circular motion until the cover is clean. Be careful not to apply pressure in a way that could snap the cover. Rinse with a little water. (Most people aren't aware that toothpaste contains a fine abrasive that is excellent for cleaning Plexiglas. It will even remove fine scratches.)
Q. My screen started to come loose, can I fix it?
Go ahead and try to tuck it back. (A flat wooden toothpick is a good tool for this). If you have any troubles and/or are unable to close the gap (ie, if material ends up below the screen), just send Magic-Flight a private note with your address and Box number and they will send you a functional warranty replacement unit.
Q. My (former) friend let some material combust in the Box, what should I do?
One thing you might try to remove any residual smells is to clean the Box as best you can with the provided brush and some ISO (not much, do not dunk the Box or let ISO soak into the wood) and with it empty and the lid open, put the battery in with firm contact for 1 or 2 minutes. Check the battery from time to time to ensure that it is not getting too hot--ie, don't let it get any hotter than fresh cup of coffee.
Another trick you might try (after the above) is to blow a lot of warm air through the Box (lid open again) with a hair-drier. If you try this be very sure that the lid is completely open and as far from the hot air stream from the hair-drier as possible (else the cover will soften and distort shape). A couple of minutes of this treatment should be plenty, if it is needed at all.
Also, a certain amount of screen discolouring is normal and probably does not require cleaning--the Box was designed to not really need it.
Q. What is the Magic-Flight Launch Box warranty?
Magic-Flight grants to all purchasers of the Launch Box a lifetime functional warranty for all Box units. They will replace defective or damaged Launch Boxes free of charge. For warranty service, send a description of the problem (preferably with picture) along with your serial number to CustomerService@BlissSville.com.
Q. Is the warranty transferable?
Yes. The warranty applies to whomever is the current owner/user of the Box.
Q. Will Magic-Flight honor the warranty even if I break the Box through my own stupidity?
Yes they will.
Q. So with this warranty, if my Box breaks a year from now, the warranty will still cover it? What if it breaks 20 years from now?
Yes, they really do mean it--if you contact Magic-Flight in 20 years with a broken Box, they will issue a replacement. The standard assumptions apply--that they still exist, etc. Contacting Magic-Flight by email is probably the most reliable means. They try to answer everything within one business day.
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