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Thoughts on the ZNA

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Thoughts on the ZNA

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I was at VapeStock in Florida back in June and I didn't own a DNA device at the time... they were just starting to hit the scene pretty hard and I had a plan to grab an Opus D at the event. I had heard a lot about the DNA20D and I really wanted to check one out.

At the event I had the occasion to meet with Brandon Ward from Evolv for a little over an hour and we talked a lot about his boards, and my PVs and it became quite apparent that a collaboration was bound to happen...

After returning home, I immediately started to work on the way in which I would approach using his power regulation board. I started with a clean slate... I didn't want to make a box mod... and I never did like the additional height that the board would add to the PV. The obvious form factors simply didn't work for me.

I Measured a DNA board... stared at it... long and hard, actually... and I pretty much put it aside after that. I couldn't imagine making just another box mod, DNA or not... and the length just wasn't working for me.

So I went to the clay...

I taped the DNA board to the tube, and used modeling clay to mock-up what a housing could look like. The goal: To add as little to the side-to-side dimensions of the PV as possible. The ZNA was starting to take shape.

What came from that early mock-up was to become a real manufacturing challenge. I had the concept in place, and I knew I wanted to have an art-deco look and feel to it... and from there I worked, and re-worked the design until it was time to hit the machines and prototype the thing.

Al Coleman is my lead machinist, and he has a great knack for reading my mind when needed, and the two of us stood by the mill as I expanded on the cuts needed to make the device come to shape. Working ONLY FROM VERBAL INPUT... Al carved the first prototype of the body out of Aluminum in about 4 days. NO CAD, no Drawings... just verbal instructions. It was an amazing process in which to participate. Once the body was done... I told him... "make 10 more" and when I was in Vegas for Vapefest, he machined 12 of them out of Aluminum, and one out of stainless steel.

When I returned from the trip, I built the first working prototype out of various bits and scraps from around the shop. The PV sprung to life just moments before I had to head to Long Beach to participate at VapetoberFest. I showed a few people the concept, and everybody wanted to buy it on the spot... I explained that it was just a prototype and they would have to wait. I could tell from the start, this was going to be a well-received design.

After I returned from Long beach, I build up ten more prototypes. The first one was retired as each new one came closer and closer to the "final" design. It was really starting to take shape!

Two weeks later, we went down to VaperCon in Richmond... this time with 10 ZNA prototypes. I out the ting in as many peoples hands as I could. Watching them.... observing how people used them... the position of their hands as they picked it up... how they held it when they vaped... and their reactions to the usability of the device... it became abundantly clear that I needed a little more work on the ergonomics of it. EVERY person that picked it up place their thumb or finger on it in a location about 3/4" ABOVE where the firing button was located, then they adjusted their grip to hit the button. It became obvious to me that the button really SHOULD be located higher on the body... so I redesigned the switch, making it a fair amount more difficult to manufacture... but form needs to follow function, and I simply couldn't leave the button where it was originally located.

From that point, I had my final design.

The machining time on the ZNA isn't measured in minutes... The PV has a very high parts count. There are 11 custom made machined parts, and 7 off-the-shelf hardware items... This thing is a huge undertaking. Think about this: With 11 machined parts, to make 1,000 of them requires manufacturing 11,000 parts... and ordering another 7,000 parts. That's 18,000 parts, not including wire that needs to be cut to length then stripped and tinned! Not to mention the dollars associated with creating that parts inventory while generating NO early pre-order income from the project... HOPING people will want the thing!

Then I decided I was tired of the old tube packaging.... and the quest started for a package that was appropriate for such a device. I shopped the cinese box makes and just could not make myself buy a chinese box for one of the most advanced PVs to ever come to market... I had to find a Box maker in THIS country and I found one, and they did an AMAZING job custom making the ZNA box.

So here we are... The PV is going on sale on Jan 16... a little later than originally planned, but delays happen. The ZNA is a fantastic device (I've been vaping one since late-September) and I hope you guys like it! I can honestly say that I pulled out ALL the stops with this design... leaving NOTHING on the table. Every comment from my beta testers ended up in changes in the final design, and I truly feel this is the best PV to hit the streets in a long time. My team did an AMAZING job pulling this all together and I simply could not have asked for more from them. Everybody did their part, and I hope when you finally get to hold it in YOUR hand, you will feel the same way about it that I do.

This really is the best PV I can make at this time, and I am incredibly proud of my team for helping to make it a reality.

And I have not even talked about the features and specs.... STAY TUNED!

Zen~