Categories
Hacking Repair Tutorials Video

Repairing a Puffco Peak

Problem: Puffco Peak Does Not Charge via Micro USB Port

Our Puffco came to us defective, from a friend: it wouldn’t charge. My first task was a disassembly, which you can read about here. I determined the charging circuit in my puffco was defective, and set out to solve the problem.

I reached out on Reddit after my teardown video to see if anyone had more information. Reddit user MAXVapor710 posted this:

… The other possible scenario is a bad charge controller, which requires surface mount rework on a very small component. The Charge Controller is a Monolithic Power Systems MP2615 https://www.monolithicpower.com/en/mp2615.html

These usually get very hot when they are not working correctly, easily diagnosed with a thermal cam or a sensitive finger.

We do repair out of warranty Peaks, and offer a battery replacement service, if you have any more questions let me know or email support@maxvapor.com

MAXVapor710 – Reddit – https://www.reddit.com/r/puffco/comments/e5q2y4/opening_up_a_puffco_peak_to_fix_full_teardown/

With that information, I knew I didn’t have the right tools to do a surface mount rework of the chip.

I opted for bypassing the internal charger altogether in favour of an external third party charger. There are a few choices here, and this is one of those times where you get what you pay for.

I learned from MaxVapor that this evaluation board is the correct replacement for this hack. It uses the MP2615 and has large pads to solder to, and charges the Puffco battery the exact same way that the factory circuit that has died used to.

Option 1 (Good) – DC Wall Wart aka Dumb Charger

Do you have a bin of abandoned wall adapters in a closet somewhere? Perhaps under the stairs or in the garage? Go find it and look for an AC to DC converter rated at 7.5 volts and 1 amp. Slightly higher voltage and amperage may work, but I wanted to err on the side of caution.

One of these multi-voltage adapters should work, but again mind the specs – I don’t know what might happen if the rated amperage is too high.

Multi-volt AC-DC adapter from Amazon for around $15

If either the voltage or amperage is too high, you can damage your device and the batteries – potentially leading to a fire and a new paperweight instead of a fixed Peak. Please be careful, and only proceed if you are confident in your decision.

I only suggest this solution if for some reason you already have a AC-DC adapter of the correct specifications, or cannot acquire a smart charger.

Option 2 (Better)- Smart Charger

With a smart charger, the risk of overcharging or damaging your batteries goes down a lot. These chargers measure the voltage of the battery, adjusting the amount of energy delivered to both maximize the lifetime of the battery and the safety when doing so.

A bit fancier than the other smart charger, this will tell you more about your battery.

I use a fancy charger like the one above, but this one from Amazon should work too. You will need to make an adapter to go from the charger to the barrel connector if the charger doesn’t come with one.

This is different for every charger and whichever connector you choose to add.

Option 3 (Best) – Professional Repair

If you are considering this mod, but you aren’t confident to get it done: Consider reaching out to the folks at MaxVapor for a professional repair or parts. Puffco Parts, Service, Repair, and Upgrades by MaxVapor

A representative of Max vapor is the user who reached out on Reddit with the information about which component failed. I have no other affiliation, or business experience with them – but I recommend MaxVapor based on my limited interactions so far.

The 3D Model

3D Model I created to house the DC power jack

Based on measurements I made, this model was designed over the course of a few days. It can still be improved upon, and I will happily share my working files with anyone who requests. Grab the 3D print files from Thingiverse:

The thingiverse page has two .stl files, the second file being the bottom cap for the base.

There are a few areas that require support for printing, but your printer will be different than mine – so adjust accordingly. I printed using PLA and have not had any issues with my base in the months I’ve used it.

The screw posts in the model ended up weak in my print, and eventually snapped off. This wasn’t an issue, as the tight fit of the base cover plate allows it to snap in place easily.

The Hack

Step 1: Disassembly

You will probably want to watch my first video on how to get into the Puffco body.

Step 2: Add Wires to the Positive & Negative Pads of the Main Board

Once inside your Puffco vape, it’s a simple process of adding a positive and negative wire onto the pads found on the main board. This is done using solder and a soldering iron to make a strong electrical connection.

The red wire, coming from the battery is positive (+) and the black wire is negative (-). It’s important that you lay the wires flat against the circuit board to solder them, otherwise they will be in the way when you attempt to close the case back up.

Showing the solder points
The positive lead is pictured above, on the left by the second F & C of Puffco The negative lead is not visible in this photo

Step 3: Reassemble your Peak with Wires Sticking out the Bottom

With the wires attached to the main board, you can close the plastic back up and route the wires down through the rectangular opening that remains. Do not reinstall the fancy metal plate on the bottom of your Puffco. Store it in a safe place, you don’t need it if you’re using my .stl files for the 3D printed base.

Step 4: Attach the 3D Printed Base Using Double Sided Tape

Using some double sided foam sticky tape, you can affix the 3D printed base to the Puffco and feed the wires into the housing.

Make sure you use double sided tape that has a nice puffy foam core. My .stl files are not tight enough tolerance to get a great stick with thin double sided tape.

With the new base attached, and wires sticking out.

Step 5: Solder the DC Jack to the Wires

Again, we will use solder to connect the new wires we installed to a DC barrel jack. I used this type of low voltage barrel connector from amazon:

The style of DC jack I used from Amazon.ca

Use heat shrink around any soldered connections to prevent dangerous short-circuit conditions.

Step 6: Test Your Fixed Puffco Peak

With the DC jack connected and installed, you can test your work to see if your battery still charges. I tested mine by soldering the pack directly to the board, and plugging it in to charge – only proceeding once I verified the fix would work.

Your Puffco should charge and work again!

Categories
Repair Tutorials Uncategorized Video

What’s Inside of Puffco’s Peak Vaporizer? Fixing a Broken Puffco that Does Not Charge

This faulty Puffco Peak vaporizer came into my possession within the last few weeks, via a friend of mine. I was told, “It doesn’t charge – it’s broken.”

These devices are simple, and with that in mind; there shouldn’t be too many ways for the device to fail. I just needed to get inside and start probing around with my multimeter.

The teardown video is up on Youtube now:

Step by Step Instructions: How to Open a Puffco Peak

Let’s assume you don’t need a hand in figuring out how to remove the glass from your puffco. We’re starting off with a standard Puffco Peak base – glass removed.

Step 1: Remove the Atomizer & Surrounding Components

Begin the disassembly process by removing the atomizer, bucket, and surrounding components. This can be removed as one whole piece, or disassembled and removed piece by piece. If you have done this before it makes sense, otherwise: read on.

  1. The first piece to be removed is a silicone and ceramic ring. It will lift off, and may require a twisting motion or a small amount of heat if it feels stuck.
  2. Next is the bucket. It should lift right out. If it feels stuck, apply a small amount of heat and try again. Do not force this out. The bucket rests directly atop the heating element – extract can glue it in place – and tugging on the element can damage it’s fragile connecting wires.
  3. Unscrew the metal housing for the heater by turning it counter clockwise several times to disengage the threads. Lift the entire component out of the silicone well.

Step 2: Pry the Shiny Metal Piece Upwards

Place your fingers above the USB port where the shiny material and silicone meet and pry upwards on the shiny metal/plastic piece that surrounds the Puffco Peak. This piece is glued in place, and requires a small amount of force to lift. Be careful and go slow. You may use a guitar pick or some other soft plastic prying tool to start the job if your fingers can’t get in there.

Step 3: Remove the Silicone Boot

Using your thumbs, press outwards from the center on the base of the Puffco Peak. The silicone will lift out from under the shiny metal base of the Puffco. Work your way around, breaking the seal and releasing the silicone from the bottom of the Puffco. Once the silicone boot is loose the the bottom, pry upwards from below the USB port and remove the silicone sort of like a sock, where the atomizer connection is the toe.

This is the most confusing part of this disassembly, and I suggest you watch the video starting from about the 1:00 minute mark for a video example.

Step 4: Pry the Metal Base Off

Note: In my video, I perform step 5 before step 4 – and it really doesn’t matter in the end, but I feel it’s easier in this order.

Use your fingers or a pry tool to peel the metal disc off of the bottom of the plastic Puffco Peak base. It may help to warm this area with a hair dryer or gently using a heat gun. The adhesive is fairly strong, and so some force is required to remove this piece.

Step 5: Unscrew 3 Security Screws

Use a screwdriver set like this one from Amazon to remove the three screws holding the plastic assembly together. One of these screws is below a security sticker, revealing silver ‘VOID’ markings when removed. Remove all three screws, and your Puffco will almost fall apart in your hands.

Step 6: Open and Inspect

That’s it, your Puffco Peak is open before you. In my case – I did some poking around with a multimeter and determined that my battery was not putting out a high enough voltage. I still have some detective work to do to determine why my Puffco Peak doesn’t charge.

What’s Wrong with My Puffco Peak?

The Puffco lights up, and indicates it’s taking a charge when plugged in to USB. When removed however, the battery is completely dead and the Puffco shows no signs of life. Checking the voltage supplied to the battery while plugged into USB showed only 4.5v – too low to charge a 7.4v battery pack – unless there were a buck converter somewhere on the battery pack I have yet to find.

I suspect that there is an onboard boost converter that steps USB voltage up to above 7v, and it is defective. I assume that this is the case, because when I apply 7.5v to the battery connection leads – the battery charges and holds its charge. It’s only on USB power that the device fails to charge.

Next steps are to poke around a bit more, and see if rescuing this battery back above it’s rated voltage is enough to keep it working. If that isn’t the case, I’ll be adding an external battery pack to make up for the lack of internal charge circuit.

Ideally, finding out which component has failed; and swapping it for a working one is best – but my electronics skills are limited. If anyone has input, questions or ideas – I would love to hear them in the comments below or on the Youtube video linked above.