Robbot ZNA 30 Clone Review
Robbot Tech ZNA30 Review
The authentic ZNA 30 variable wattage APV made by House of Hybrids hit the electronic cigarette market like a tidal wave in the early part of February 2014. The original ZNA was actually a 20W DNA device, with the ZNA 30 being a subsequent release within a month or two of the ZNA 20. With the Zen ZNA 20/30 came the originality of a unique art deco design and the innovative idea to pair a threaded main body control that housed an Evolv DNA chip with a removable battery tube that allowed the user to change batteries with ease, as opposed to being locked into recharging with a usb port as seen with the Hana Modz. Within minutes of its initial release to the market an F5 war was sparked across the nation and would continue for months as vapers everywhere stalked their email boxes and Facebook waiting for notification of the next batch of ZNA’s to be available for sale.
For those with the patience to wait it out and fight the F5 war, their desires would eventually be fulfilled. But for those who found the $279.00 ($299 for current upgraded version) price tag to be too rich for their pockets found themselves left out of the Zen experience. The Zen ZNA is one that most believed would never be cloned, due to its unique and innovative design, and the complexities involved in the actual production of this device. Well, we should all know by now to never underestimate China.
This 1:1 ZNA 30 clone is made by Shenzhen Robbot Technology, LTD, and being made from 316L grade stainless steel, Z2 threaded, and housing a cloned Evolv DNA 30 chip, it is the only ZNA 30 clone that even comes close to being an exact replication of the original Zen ZNA 30. It is worth mentioning that the 1:1 ZNA clone found on Zen’s clone service list under that name of Comcig, is in fact the 1:1 ZNA clone made by Robbot Tech. Here, Comcig is only a reseller of the Robbot ZNA 30.
The Robbot Tech ZNA 30 clone comes standard with a 18490 battery tube, while the 18650 tube is sold separately. The device is packaged in a faux leather gift box with felt inserts, and a DNA 30 chip specification card.
ROBBOT TECH ZNA 30 SPECIFICATIONS:
- Brand: Robbot Technology
- Type: 30 W variable wattage APV (Cloupor V3 DNA chip)
- Material: 316L surgical grade stainless steel (main body/top/bottom caps) 304 grade stainless steel battery tube
- Connection threading: 510
- Height: 92mm (18490) 118mm (18650)
- Diameter: 22mm (top cap)
- Width: 34mm
- Weight: 276 grams
- Silver plated copper contacts
- Button top and flat top battery compatibility
- Z2 threading throughout (main body and battery tubes)
- Mechanical reverse polarity protection
- 7-30W variable wattage
- Fires .3-3.00 ohm
- Power lock feature
- Wattage lock feature
- Stealth Mode
- Right/Left mode screen display
My first impression of the Robbot Tech ZNA 30 when I took it out of the box was “wow, this is gorgeous”. The fit and finish of the main body to the battery tube is perfect, and impressive. I have seen several photos of the authentic ZNA and in most photos there is at least a slight gap between the main body and battery tube, as it is with the Wotofo ZNA that I previously reviewed. The main body, including the fire switch, wattage buttons, top and bottom caps are machined from 316L grade stainless steel, which makes this device greater in heft than the aluminum bodied Wotofo ZNA. Not to mention it is far more durable as well.
I received both the 18490 and 18650 battery tubes with my Robbot ZNA 30. The battery tubes are compatible with both nipple and flat top 18490, and 18650 batteries however, with nipple top batteries it is quite a snug fit in both battery configurations. It is common to have variances in battery size, even when purchased in pairs of the same brand/type, as I found that one of my 18490 batteries. As such, one of my 18490 batteries left a hair-line gap in the bottom cap when installed, while the other battery allows the cap to close completely. There is a modification for accepting both 18490 and 18500 batteries that I will cover later in the review.
Being that the Cloupor DNA chip is a clone of the Evolv DNA chip, the digital display has the same arrangement of battery life indicator, resistance, voltage output, and wattage setting displays. Like the authentic Zen ZNA, the Robbot ZNA’s fire switch lays flat to the body, and the wattage up/down buttons are flush mounted.
The Robbot ZNA is Z2 threaded throughout all connecting pieces of the device. The top/bottom caps and battery tubes are all well machined, and thread on and off with ease. The main body has mechanical reverse polarity protection in the form of a delrin insulator that surrounds the positive contact, which is a hex bolt like the authentic version 1 ZNA.
The top cap has silver plated copper contacts, and a non-adjustable 510 connection. While the 510 is technically non-adjustable, you can unscrew the hex bolt on the underside of the top cap to bring the positive pin down. This may or may not create a gap between the top cap itself and the main body connection; it depends on the degree of adjustment being made. The positive brass plate within the top of the main body is spring loaded, and so it does have some give and can accommodate some minor adjustments. I only use RBA’s with adjustable 510 pins like the Rose V2, or the Squape Reloaded with the Robbot ZNA so flush mounting has not been an issue. The bottom cap has a very firm silver plated spring, and a large battery vent hole drilled through the center.
**As per Robbot Tech as of November 2014 all ZNA 30 clones will have a copper adjustable 510 pin standard. Different colored battery tubes with Z2 threading will also be available for purchase by Mid-November.**
The Robbot ZNA 30 is built with a Cloupor DNA 30 V3 chip, and has all of the same functions, and features of the authentic Evolv DNA 30 chip, and the Cloupor Hana Modz clone. Although it is interesting to note that the wattage up/down buttons are counter-intuitive, with the right button being up, and the left button being down.The wattage up/down buttons do not have a pronounced “clicky” feel, there is some click, but not to the same degree as the Wotofo ZNA.
Being that I have previously covered the basic feature/functions in my Cloupor Hana Mod clone and Wotofo ZNA reviews, I will not go over those again here. However, I will discuss some of the differences between the Cloupor V2 and Yihi sxa300 chips.
First, the Robbot ZNA chip does fire out straight out of sleep mode with a single click, so there is no need to wait for the device to wake up to fire, and I love this. The Robbot ZNA goes to sleep after 2 minutes without firing however, because the Robbot ZNA does fire straight from sleep mode this is almost irrelevant. The V3 chip can fire resistances as low as .3 ohm, and as high as 3.00 ohm however, ohms law still applies and you must consider the amp limit of your battery when using sub ohm builds. You will not be able to fire a .3 build with a 18490/18500 battery that has an Amp limit that is lower than 10A.
The Cloupor V3 DNA chip can only step up voltage (boost converter), it cannot step down voltage output and has a minimum voltage output of 4 volts just like the Evolv DNA 30 chip found in the authentic ZNA . Being that the this chip does not step down voltage, there is the “too low wattage” warning that will appear in the form of a blinking resistance read on the display screen if your wattage setting is too low for the resistance you are firing. The device will still fire when it detects “too low wattage” however, the actual voltage output will be higher than what is indicated on the display screen.
The Robbot ZNA also has flash memory, so when you change batteries your last wattage setting will remain unchanged when a fresh battery is installed.
ROBBOT & WOTOFO ZNA COMPARISON
The most obvious difference between the Robbot ZNA (left) and the Wotofo ZNA (right) are the materials used for construction. With the Wotofo being made of aluminum for the main body, and the Robbot being constructed of 316L stainless, the Wotofo feels very light by comparison, which is interesting considering that I initially described the Wotofo as having some heft, but opinions are always relative to what is known at the time. In spite of the Robbot ZNA being 100gr heavier than the Wotofo ZNA, the body of the Robbot is considerably slimmer, and nicer to handle.
The main body of the Robbot ZNA also fits flush with the battery tube unlike the Wotofo ZNA. The fire switch on the Robbot lays flatter to the body and has a completely different tactile feel, with a light touch fire action. Both fire switches are “clicky” however, the Wotofo ZNA requires a much firmer press to fire, which becomes more apparent during direct comparison. The display screen of the Robbot is also placed slightly lower on the body and the screen is more narrow than the Wotofo. In this regard, I like the wider screen display of the Wotofo better.
Amod/Wotofo had created a lot of confusion and disappointment by marketing their clone as being Z2 threaded, and 100% interchangeable with the authentic Zen ZNA, which it absolutely is not, it is 20x1mm threaded. The Robbot ZNA is in fact Z2 threaded, and is 100% interchangeable with all Z2 threaded devices, as even confirmed by Zen/Mike himself. The top cap and switch of the Robbot ZNA is cloned after the version 1 Zen ZNA (non adjustable), while the Wotofo ZNA uses the upgraded top cap design (adjustable) of the authentic ZNA.
The battery tubes of the Robbot ZNA have deeper grooves milled around the tube like the authentic ZNA, and are spaced farther apart than the Wotofo ZNA. While the caps are milled from 316L stainless on the Robbot ZNA, the knurling pattern of the Wotofo ZNA is actually more like the authentic ZNA than the Robbot is. Both ZNA’s are approximately the same height in both battery configurations.
I have been asked about the Hotcig ZNA 30, which I have not used, but I have been able to get some consumer feedback and pictures of. I can tell you that based on specs it is not a 1:1 clone, it is a little wider in depth, although it is Z2 threaded. The Hotcig ZNA 30 has a main body and tube made of 304 food grade stainless steel, and houses a chip made by Hotcig. Based on the photos that I have seen the finishing is a bit rough however, of the three customers who have confirmed receipt of the Hotcig ZNA, all report being satisfied with it.
MODIFYING FOR A 18500 BATTERY
Robbot Tech was kind enough to share with me a modification for accommodating 18500 and 18490 batteries with their ZNA. Please be advised that this modification essentially removes the mechanical reverse polarity protection of this device. If you should choose to use this modification it is very important to remember to not reverse the polarity of your battery upon installation. Doing so will IMMEDIATELY fry the chip board inside the device, this is a certainty.
To do this modification you will need a hex wrench or hex bit attachment and driver that will fit the hex bolt on the main body of the device. Please note that by removing the hex bolt that holds the male tube threading in place, you are taking the threaded head out of alignment with the battery tube. The battery tube will need to be realigned with the main body at the end of the modification’ as I found out the hard way.
- Use your hex wrench to remove the hex bolt
- Remove the lower portion of the delrin insulator, which can be pried out with a fingernail (reverse polarity protection piece)
- Reinstall the hex bolt .. and you are almost done
** As of late October 2014 all Robbot ZNA’s have been upgraded for 18500 battery fitment, so this modification is not necessary for current batches. Current batches can be identified by upgraded gift box packaging that includes both battery tubes**
As I said, by doing this modification it is almost guaranteed that you create a misalignment between the main body and your battery tube. When I initially did this modification, upon reinstalling my battery tube I found that it no longer would lay flush to the main body, and I was really upset about that. Luckily Robbot Tech had already shared with me the fix for a poorly aligned tube which either had a large or uneven gap, or that is fitted to tightly to the body and created difficulty when screwing the battery tube on and off.
You must use a hex wrench that is long enough to reach the hex bolt through an installed 18490 tube:
- With the 18490 battery tube installed, use your hex wrench to loosen the hex bolt but DO NOT remove it. Just loosen it a little
- Press and hold the battery and main body together between your fingers so that the tube and main body are flush
- With your other hand insert the hex wrench down the center of the tube and tighten the bolt while holding the tube and body together
Do not over tighten the hex bolt which will cause the battery tube to grind against the main body, and will make it difficult to get the battery tube on and off. Also, do not under tighten the hex bolt because when you go to remove your battery tube the male threads of the main body will move and screw off with the tube ‘ ask me how I know? LOL, After much sweat, and being damn near tears, I was finally able to restore my battery tube and main body to its original, perfectly flush condition.
There are three aspects of the Robbot ZNA 30 clone that I really like in terms of the overall handling and performance of the device. The first of which is the switch action, which is light touch, immediate connectivity, and a total pleasure to use. Being able to fire this device straight out of sleep mode has actually spoiled me a bit. Since completing my review for the Wotofo ZNA, I have discovered that you can “force fire” the Wotofo out of sleep mode by double clicking the fire switch. However, you must still remember to do that when you pick it up to fire it, and 8 times out of 10 I do not. With the Robbot I don’t have to remember anything, I just pick it up and fire.
The other aspect of the Robbot that I like is that it performs much better than the Wotofo with sub ohm resistances and 18490/500 batteries. With the Wotofo ZNA in 18500 mode, and a .7ohm build set to 14.5 watts, when my battery reaches half full on the battery indicator (3.76v on a meter) I get a “check battery” warning, the device will no longer fire and I need to change to a freshly charged battery. When I use the same exact .7ohm build on the Robbot ZNA, set to 22 watts (the lowest I can set it to), I am able to vape until the battery indicator reaches empty ( 3.6v on a meter), and with no check battery warnings. I think it is fair to say that many assume that the Yihi sxa300 chip with its buck and boost circuitry is the better chip, but it’s not .. at least not in the case of low/sub ohm builds and 18490/500 batteries in my experience.
One other point to be made is how battery power/current, and condition affects the chips performance. I did perform voltage drop tests for the Robbot ZNA in both 18490, and 18650 modes, and the results were rather different. I performed the voltage drop test using a 510 inline meter, and a Rose V2 clone built at 1.14 ohms, with the device set to 25 watts/5.3 volts. In 18650 mode using a 20A battery, the result was a .5 drop on the meter, reading at 5.25 volts. In 18490 mode using a 7A battery, the result was a .38 drop on the meter, reading at 4.98 volts .. very interesting. Such a dramatic difference and the only variable that distinguishes the two results are the battery used.
Now, being that I have vaped the Robbot ZNA 30 all day, every day in 18490 mode, I was actually surprised to see a .38 drop because it was not felt during the actual vape per se. But then again 4.98 volts of power is not exactly what you would call a low power vape. All in all, I have absolutely zero complaints with the performance of the Robbot ZNA 30 that I have received for review.
Well, based on the device that I have received, I am a fan of the Robbot ZNA 30. I don’t just like it, I love it, and that is the truth. This device is heavy, and so it is not what I could call “pocket friendly” however, I like the substantial heft which is ironically contrasted by the very sleek and slim feel that it has in the hand. The one aspect that I could see consumers having a problem with is the lack of an adjustable top cap, however there is the option to obtain an upgraded top cap directly from House of Hybrids, and there are also plenty of RBA/RDA’s available on the market that offer adjustable positive pins.
Now, even as I have had an absolutely positive experience with my Robbot ZNA 30, I must be honest is expressing that I know that there are consumers who absolutely did not have the same experience that I had due to factory defects on their ZNA 30 clone. I have read the reports of approximately 7 different consumers who have reported defects ranging from minor (stuck wattage buttons, misaligned battery tubes), to severe defects (auto firing, display black outs, auto adjusting wattage). Nobody likes getting the bad apple, but the reality is that there will always be a bad apple in every bunch, and when that happens we expect for the manufacturer and vendor to make it right. If you are at all familiar with the authentic Zen ZNA by House of Hybrids, then you may also know that all of the same types of defects sporadically presented themselves in the early releases of the ZNA 20 and 30 as well. I don’t point that out to make light of product defects, but rather to shed some light on the “reality” of them.
Robbot Technology is unique in the sense that they are the only manufacturer who has ever openly disclosed to me manufacturing defects that they were aware of based on consumer feedback. Shortly after I had received my ZNA 30 clone the sales manager at Robbot Tech actually reached out me to make me aware of an issue with auto firing that had presented itself with some of the pieces from their earlier batches, and they wanted me to know about it in case it happened with the one that I received for review. They also subsequently contacted me to share the 18500 battery modification, and the fix for a misaligned tube. So in my opinion, Robbot Tech very much cares about the product that they put out, and also care about improving it.
If you know anything about machining 316L grade stainless steel, then you know that this is a very difficult metal to machine. It is almost unheard of to see any mass-produced product made from 316L stainless steel coming out of China, and I can’t help but to be impressed with Robbot Tech for having the balls and the audacity to do what every other clone manufacturer has tried to avoid. High end modders have also begun to stray away from using 316L, in favor of the much easier to machine, and lower labor cost 304 grade stainless steel. This Robbot ZNA 30 is like a Chinese Unicorn, and I am happy to have one. I genuinely feel that with product maturity and a focused improvement on quality control that the Robbot Tech 1:1 clone has the potential to be the best alternative to the authentic Zen ZNA 30.
Statement from Robbot Tech: “The material of original ZNA 30 mod by house of hybrids is 316 surgical stainless steel, which is really top quality. As for us, we use the 316 stainless steel to build the zna body and caps, and 304 stainless steel to make the tube, which also guarantee the top quality. In fact, we have to admit the real difficulty of cloning zna 30 mod, the technical skill is top, the hardware is top. Since we receive the original zna 30 mod from one of our client from Florida, it took us about 2 months to clone it out. We got to salute house of hybrids. As it’s so hard to make out, and we need to assure the top quality, the production is limited, so the shipping time may be long.”
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