We have something a little different from the Wotofo camp, and I have to say this RDA is a breath of fresh air incorporating design inspirations from Japanese reviewer Ryusei Sakaue.
What is the Elder Dragon and who is Ryujin exactly? Interestingly he forms one of the 8 dragon kings originally imported from Indian mythology via China and Korea. In Japanese Culture Ryujin (or Ryu-O) is the Dragon King and master of serpents. He is responsible for the tides and is also said to enter into people dreams the moment before they wake up. The thing is snakes are also associated with death which plays into his role as bringer of storms and rain. I guess the best way to summarise his importance to the Japanese as a sea faring nation would be; Ryujin represents the nature of the sea, and it’s capability to bring both life and death.
Other than the name you will also see other important symbology elements drawn into the RDA for instance the Tai Chi: Ying and Yang fish symbol on the base; representing heaven and earth in perfectly balanced energy.
Then there’s the Pagoda tiered building for its overall look. The Pagoda happens to be one of my favourite architecture designs, commonly seen throughout East Asia. The roots of this type of structure can be traced back to India again and the “Stupa” which originated in 3 BCE….I mention this because Wotofo describes it as a Pagoda for everyone on their home page…but I don’t see the Pagoda design, rather the Stupa Building (look it up to see what I mean)… and what’s more this architecture style plays into my inner SCI-FI and Steampunk nerd in terms of its futuristic “almost robotic look”. If you get the chance check out some of the works from my favourite artists in this camp (Matt Dixon and Brian Despain) for their small robot creations and you’ll get exactly what I mean with how I picture this cheeky little chappy.
So without further ado and in honour bound tradition, Wotofo sent me the Ryujin RDA for the once over. I don’t like to make recommendations in my reviews, instead I provide you with all my findings should you be interested in the product, in the hope it helps bolster your research.
(Please note: photos appear normal size when logged in)
RDA Specification Overview & What’s In The Box
- Visible Height: 29.6 mm with drip tip
- Diameter: 22mm at the base (extends to 24mm at widest point)
- Well Depth: 8mm
- Thread length 4.08mm – 4.6mm (gold plated positive pin…see review notes on this range)
- Construction: 304 Stainless Steel, PC and Resin Drip Tip, Peek Insulators
- Drip tip 810: Visible Height 7.85 mm x Width 14mm (Tapered Bore 6mm > 7.5mm)
- Airflow: 4 holes each 2mm Diameter.
- Space for coil diameter: 5.8mm
- Post distance for coil width: 5.5 mm
- Deck diameter: 20mm
Extras: Cotton, Framed Staples (N80), Spare drip tip, Screwdriver, Allen key, 510 adaptor, 2 spare screws, O-Rings, dripper pin, Coil measuring and cutting tool, instruction book
Available Colours: Black, Stainless, Blue, Gold, Rainbow, Gold
Product Information: www.wotofo.com/wotofo-elder-dragon-rda
Impressions, Build Quality & Assembly
I covered it in my intro so I won’t cover old ground too much, styling wise this is right up my street and taps into my love for Asian symbology, art and architecture, you can really see Ryusei’s put some thought into it all. While it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, I like that Wotofo took a punt on something a little different.
You’ll get a generous set of spare offerings in the pack, including two coils which will last a long time assuming you are ok with Nichrome (N80), and don’t mind cleaning and re-using them. Those who have ever put up with reading any of my reviews know I love building my own coils from scratch, but the Wotofo coils are well worth trying, you’ll see how they come out later in my review.
The drip tips on offer suit the RDA well, both are exactly the same in dimension with only the material being different (PC or Resin plastic). Whilst both are 810 they have a 510 bore which flavour chasers know plays into a smaller RDA’s strengths. Both are also tall enough to ensure your lips avoid touching the top cap (which does heat up a fair bit). Should you want to use your own they include a 510 adaptor.
Although the RDA is technically 22mm and the deck diameter is only 20mm it feels and looks more like a 24mm RDA due to the girth around the middle, the thickness of the top cap, and the way the cap sits on top of the deck….so the design might not suit those who like smaller mods, or detest overhang, but on the plus side if you have a mod to suit you’ll get a decent juice well depth of approx. 8mm which puts this firmly in the viable dripping and squonking camp.
The Squonk pin doesn’t protrude into the decks centre platform so will suck juice back into the bottle after you’re done squeezing, however despite the relative height of the airflows it’s quite easy to over squonk this RDA due to the two little channels for juice to escape. You definitely don’t’ want to over stuff this RDA with wicking, the same is true if you enjoy dripping.
(N.B – I know these pics above have the dripping positive pin in, its to show the channels being narrow, but the squonk pin also stops as the same level)
Whilst I’m on the subject of positive pins, you’ll notice in my specification overview I noted the base has “thread length measurement range”. I didn’t experience issues with the squonk pin, but with the dripping pin (the one without a centre hole) once fully screwed in; it left the threading very short at just over 4mm, which was just too short for my mod to pick up, and it was displaying (“No Atomiser”). Most mods need about 4.5mm – 4.8mm of threading as a minimum, so I just unscrewed the pin a turn or so and it was fine. The result of this did make the pin a little wobbly, but they included an O-ring so I wasn’t experiencing juice leaking into my mods 510 section. Either way this is an oversight so will be listed as a con, and wouldn’t look to use it on a hybrid either.
In terms of finish, the machining it’s very nicely done and was clean out of the box. The only thing I would say is the engraved areas have sharp edges when running my finger over the surfaces, on the base in particular and felt the need to use a thin protective disc so as not to scratch the top of my mod….these can be picked up for pennies and are well worth the outlay for RDA’s like this.
Looking inside the top cap there’s a stop either side which fits nicely into the mounting cut outs on the deck, they also help aid you get the Elder Dragon RDA on or of the mod, and lastly they ensure the top cap airflow is centrally aligned with the holes on the deck…you’ll hear a nice “click” putting the cap back on.
Whilst there is a rounding of the top cap, there’s not much of a dome inside to speak of…when you remove the drip tip and look down the coil sits directly underneath, so beware of oversaturation or an under wicked coil or you’ll be getting the magma juice directly bubbling from the top. Personally I didn’t experience either of these things once I set it up right.
I was able to break down the RDA in as much as removing the side airflow pins but wasn’t able break the deck down further….that centre raised platform is in there snug as a bug and couldn’t be shifted without damaging it.
You can see design queues taken from the Pulse RDA in terms of the downward facing tubes; except I think these are a better approach in that you don’t need to build first and worry about the coil fitting afterwards, secondly they focus the airflow into a central location which I’ll cover more in the build section.
Finally just to finish this section up I found the screws quite tricky to undo for the first time across all areas, I had to dump the screwdriver they provide in the pack and use one of my own to get the buggers to budge…this is something Wotofo could easily rectify in their assembly plant.
Coil Building & Wicking
In my humble opinion the Elder Dragon RDA doesn’t suit “keep it simple” round wire builds, and low wattages, actually even fused claptons (my standard benchmark for 22mm RDA’s) struggled to get the performance I desired.
During my search for the right set up, diameter and position I also made the following observations:
- Using smaller higher ohm builds the RDA develops a whistle with the airflow set to half due to the slower draw requirements associated with lower wattage vaping.
- I found that the airflow being focused centrally did not lend itself well to widely spaced coils.
- The air intakes centre airflow bang over the centre positive pin located on the deck.
- Using the mounting rests with a standard 3mm ID coiling tool left my coil too high to make use of the airflow properly.
- Wotofo suggest cutting the legs on number 6 using their snipping template, see my note above about how this leaves the coil higher.
- I don’t have a great deal of space between the air intakes as they all angle inwards, there’s just over 5mm of space in fact.
So to summarise what I’m after:
A coil that likes higher wattages 60+, ideally no spaces but enough wraps not to stretch the legs apart when tightening the screws, shorter coil legs to make use of that airflow, something to centre the coil, and the coils needs to be thick enough not to deform as I can’t support it properly.
Stupidly I know this is long winded but the 0.17 ohm Wotofo 3mm ID Tri Core fused claptons it comes with are actually the perfect fit for what I’m after, I snipped the legs at 5 instead of 6, spaced them ever so slightly to avoid hot spots, and used my thinnest screwdriver to rest on the edge of the deck to keep it centred as I screwed everything down.
You end up with something looking like this
Unfortunately this does mean wickings a bit trickier, especially with the shoe lace thingies, but it’s easy enough to work around. First remove the plastic casing and snip half of one side away (if you roll your own cotton ignore all this bit)
Twist the end and pull it through. The Wotofo cotton provided is actually quite thick so keep twisting the cotton if you find it too tight to avoid moving the coil.
I measure the cut line down just above the bottom O-ring in the pic.
Rake loads of cotton away now …you can sort of see how much I raked away on the left side of this picture as it’s starting to go a see through. Finally snip the edges away at an angle.
Now fold the cotton round and push it down to check its nice and fluffy still.
The little Robot now has a brain and insides, all it needs is liquid and a mod to bring it to life.
So to wrap my thoughts up on this section;
I don’t think this RDA is the easiest RDA to work with, its takes a little bit of fiddling the first few times to get right, but once you settle on a build approach you’ll be doing all of this with your eyes closed. In addition the screwdriver they provide is next to useless; expect to use your own to get a good torque and grip on the screws.
Finally I would like to have seen the mounting rests lowered slightly so I could use a 3mm coil tool properly instead of finding a small screwdriver to keep the coil centred, and to also make use of the shoe lace cotton properly.
How’s it Vape
If you haven’t picked it up from my review yet; I believe the Eder Dragon RDA works best with larger builds and doesn’t start waking up until 60+ watts, bear that mind when researching further.
However if you like your builds and set up similar to what I described in my build section, this is arguably more flavourful than the Recurve RDA. Not only that I like using it as a dripper and not just a Squonker which the Recurve was pretty useless at, having said that the Recurve is the more forgivable Squonker of the two.
It plays well with different flavour profiles and is great in both flavour and cloud production camps. On top of that the draw is quiet and smooth through all airflow range, I can’t ask for more really on the how’s it vape front; I think it’s pretty spot on for my tastes in this particular wattage range.
The top cap does get pretty hot with the higher wattages and chain vaping, as I mentioned earlier though the drip tip is tall enough for it not to be noticeable. Finally whilst the vape is moist I never noticed it spitting due to condensation build up inside the chamber.
- Great Flavour & Cloud Production
- Suited to bigger builds and mid to high range wattages.
- Moist Vapour Production
- Viable as a Squonker or Dripper
- Good machining and paint finish overall
- [personal] Drip tips suit the RDA perfectly
- Wicking approach is the same for dripping or squonking
- Deep Juice well
- [personal] love the styling
- Decent O-ring resistance throughout
- Excellent set of extras included
- No spitting or condensation build up detected through my testing
- Dripper positive pin is too short
- Edges of the engraved areas could have been smoothed better
- Would have preferred to see mounting rests lowered…takes a little more fiddling
- [personal] advised coil height is too high for this RDA
- Not the easiest deck to build and wick
- The screwdriver provided isn’t big enough for the screws, it jumps too easily
I love how the designer has incorporated the elements from his culture into it, it’s less about the look at me, and instead celebrates the place he calls home, and that my vape family sits very well with me.
On top of that it just performs both as a Squonker and Dripper and I think he’s captured a great balance between clouds and flavour playing really well into both sides.
I think there are some minor critique areas in the grand scheme of things and I don’t want to detract away from how much I enjoyed using it. This RDA it’s a great start to 2019 and a cracking job to both Wotofo and Ryusei Sakaue.
Thanks for taking the time to read my review, I hope the information serves you well…. until next time KingPin!