R.I.P. ZMax

With a fairly heavy heart – and curse words that would make a sailor blush – I said my final goodbye to the Smoktech ZMax this week. It has been thrust into “the box” as a backup, should something catastrophic happen and I need something to hold me over until things straighten out. But it can no longer function as my first line device any longer.

Let me explain.

First off, here is what my ZMax now currently looks like, taking the above image into account (the above image was taken the day I bought it, and the finish is called “Gunmetal”).

I began recording the progression of this problem when it first started, and the first signs began to show within hours of buying the device. At first, it just began to reveal the dull metal under the finish, but soon that orange color began to show. It doesn’t appear to be rust, but very well could be. From what I can tell, and how it wore, it seems to have worn off where it was being handled and then spread.

ZMax vaporizersThat, however, just made it ugly, and if you are like me, you can live with a little ugly (yes, I know, some of you can’t, and that’s fine, too. This is enough to back you folks down). The function continued to be flawless, so I let the piss poor finish go. I had inquiries from folks about the age of the device when they saw it, and some folks even stated they’d buy something that lived as long as my ZMax appeared to have lived. Eyebrows went up when I told them I bought the thing in February of this year (2013).

The end began about three weeks ago. I was happily vaping away in my car when I realized I wasn’t getting a hit. I began to get upset, because I’d just changed the battery and knew it was freshly charged. There shouldn’t be an issue. Then it began to work, but while I was mid pull, it cut out, then cut back on, and cut out again.

This continued for some time, cutting in and out, and I found the sweet spot. I had to hold it a certain way to get it to work. This was not going to do.

Let me share a post from the forum with you about this to see how this progressed.

From ECF:
Me:
I bought my ZMax back in February and besides getting really ugly really fast, there was no issues. Until yesterday. It has started randomly cutting out, like it isn’t making full contact. I am constantly turning it around, adjusting how I am holding, and no position works well for long. I have changed batteries, I have changed cartomizers. Now what? Any ideas? I really can’t afford to replace this thing. Thanks!
Reply:
I suspect it’s the circuit board moving around causing issues with the button.

This happened on my SS Zmax, also purchased quite some time ago (when the SS first came out) the pressure of the battery pushing upward on the circuit board can dislodge it, or just slightly tweak it to the point where the button gets funky. To see if this is the issue, try unscrewing the battery cap until it’s just barely applying pressure to the battery, but not tightened down. This should relieve some pressure on the circuit board, and the button should work better.

Mine would be particular about which direction the pressure was placed on the button. It would work much better if I pressed the button in AND downward at the same time. Then if I pushed upward, it would cut out.

Also, try putting your finger over the button, and then push the battery against the positive contact. You should be able to feel the button and the circuit board tweaking and moving around inside the tube.
The reply was correct. I edited it to remove the specifics given on how to fix the issue, because I don’t recommend trying it unless you have some experience doing this sort of thing. I, personally, didn’t attempt the fix given as I know me too well. 🙂

The glue had come undone and the circuit board was loose. I did some research and found multiple posts around the web about this exact same issue, most giving the same response to fix it. I loosened the battery cap and went about my business. It worked for a while. But then I realized I was loosening it further and further. This thing was starting to become a problem, especially while driving and while at my desk at work. It was time to say goodbye. But I wanted to try one more thing.

The Smoktech website says there is a six month warranty, so I began trying to contact them about my issue, since my ZMax was only 3 months old. No joy. They refused to return phone calls or emails. I was on my own.

I won’t lie. My income is fairly low, so the thought of replacing this thing brought me to a crossroads. I was about to give up on vaping all together. Once you’ve vaped via an APV, you’re ruined and can’t get the same enjoyment out of standard devices. But replacing this thing was hitting me hard in the pocketbook. I knew what came next and everyone – as anyone on a vaping forum well knows – was pushing me to take the plunge and upgrade to what they claim will be the last APV I’ll need to buy.

Finally I did it. So while we are saying goodbye to the ZMax, I survived the crossroads.

My ProVari Mini arrived this past Wednesday.

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