Steam Crave Mini Robot Combo Kit
Supplied by Sourcemore for review.
$48.42 – using discount code: SCRK
Steam Crave’s latest kit is a mixture of old-school with a twist of innovation. It’s clearly aimed at MTL (Mouth to Lung) users with the single coil, top airflow RTA.
- 23mm portable MTL VV SteamStick
- 3 adjustable output: 3.5V, 3.8V and 4.2V max power
- Made of full stainless steel, with CNC engraving and corrosion craftsmanship
- Supports single 18650 battery
- LED light indicator, top refill
- With waterproof chipset
- Single coil deck, top airflow
- Various air pins options for your airflow
- Multiple protection: Over Temperature/Battery Reverse/Low Resistance/Over-current/Short Circuit/Low Battery/10s Over Time Protection
As you can see by the features; there’s nothing that stands out as innovative, but it’s the Mini Robot RTA that brings that with its quirky top airflow pins that protrude like little antennas. I think this is what inspired the name as it looks a little like a robot.
I’ve always been a fan of unboxing Steam Crave’s products as they always provide a generous bundle in rather classy packaging.
The Mini Robot Combo Kit was no exception; it took me several minutes to examine all the extras, a couple of which go above and beyond normal spares such as the spare peek insulator for the deck, there’s a couple of tiny bungs that I have no idea what they are for?
Pleasingly they provide two spare Pyrex glass tubes, one is the same as already fitted and the other is the 3ml bubble glass option, I also liked the 2nd 510 drip tip which is plastic (the pre-fitted one is metal), but the main thing of interest are the airflow pins packed in the little plastic box, more about these later.
I’m not having much luck with colour choices recently, I wanted the Silver version but the Black arrived. I put aside my disappointment and cracked on. The first thing that struck me was the weight; it felt pretty heavy for its size, the mod weighs 92g without a battery, with a battery and full 3ml tank it came in at 190g which might not sound too heavy but I have plenty of full blown dual battery mods that weigh less. I like the weight but something you need to be aware of if you prefer light-weight kits.
Stripping the mod is very easy as it unscrews into three pieces (four if you include the battery tension adjuster). The widest diameter is 23mm which is a bit of an odd size but the RTA is also 23mm so it matches up. The central part narrows down to make it more comfortable to hold. I’m not a fan of the over-branding, especially on the black version as it looks quite loud, the silver version is more subtle as it’s silver on silver.
The mod/battery section was really interesting, the design owes a lot to the old mechanical tube mods, but instead of the fire button being at the battery base, it is held in the top section which holds the chipset.
Steam Crave claim that the chipset is waterproof which is impressive, in fact I found the whole piece to be impressive, so much is crammed into such a small piece and the machining is excellent. There’s two ventilation holes for cooling. The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of spring loaded 510 connection pin, as this isn’t adjustable it may cause problems with some tanks, but it is fine with the included RTA.
Fitting an 18650 battery is strangely satisfying. The cap has the negative symbol etched onto it for orientation, once inserted and the battery cap is screwed back on you need to adjust the tension by turning the threaded section at the base until there’s no play in the battery, don’t go ‘ape’ when tightening up though, just finger tight is fine.
The Mini Robot RTA is quite interesting, it certainly looks quirky with the two airflow pins poking out of the top. The branding is more subtle as its deep engraved and plated the same colour. The base of the tank has all the usual bumf which is bolder, but that’s hidden in use.
Stripping it down is very easy, it simply unscrews and comes apart, but this is where I hit my first snag; the top silicone seal was well and truly bonded to the glass and snapped when I wrestled it off, fortunately there were spares in the kit so I replaced it. In general use this won’t be a problem as juice will naturally lubricate it.
From this point on I opted for the bubble glass. Normally I would avoid this like the Covid but it kind of suits the kit quite well, I’m sure the novelty will wear off so it’s nice to have the option of going back to the straight glass.
As mentioned earlier; there’s a small selection of dual top airflow pins, the pre-fitted ones are 1.2mm, you also get 0.8mm, 1.6mm and a blocked off pin to make it single airflow. The beauty of this method of fitting is that you can swap and change with a full tank without having to strip the deck. I chose to swap to the 0.8mm at this point though. It’s a little fiddly and you need to be careful not to drop and lose the pins so it’s best to do it over a surface or over a tray.
Steam Crave provide you with two premade coils to build with but they are a very odd choice for MTL, 0.5ohm SS316. My gut said not to use them but I figured I had to for the review (spoiler alert – don’t bother), you don’t get cotton for some reason so I used some Firebolt 2.5mm.
*NOTE – pay attention to the Ohms range of 0.35Ω – 3.00Ω to stay safe.
Building was straightforward and common sense, but you will need to build on a ohm reading device. You will also need a coil rod as it has location notches at the sides for the optimal coil position; these really helped when screwing down the clamping screws, the posts have notches on the far side of the screw to not only help holding in place, but keep the leads out of the way for trimming.
Wicking followed the traditional route of trimming to the base diameter, it might look too long but the juice wells are quite deep and worked out perfectly. For this build I opted not to thin out the cotton to see how it saturated as is.
Screwing it all back together was fairly easy; you simply push it together paying attention to the location tabs, then screw it together. Filling it up was a mixed bag; you need to unscrew the top cap via the base of the drip tip but this is where those little airflow pins get in the way and feel sharp on your fingers. There a bit of a knack to it as you do third turns while gripping it and release, erm… I can’t quite describe it but it’s common sense when you try it, but with the cap removed the filling ports are ideal and easy to fully fill it up.
Handling and Ergonomics
In the hand, the Robot Mini feels weighty but comfortable due to the thinned out battery sleeve. The fire button is well positioned at the top and works well for finger or thumb firing, however the fire button doesn’t protrude that much so I often found that lost it quite a lot during use, on the black version it’s easy to spot though.
I wouldn’t really consider it a ‘mini’ kit as such, but for an 18650 regulated kit they have kept the height down quite well. The 23mm diameter makes it wider than most of my MTL pen style mods but then they have much smaller internal batteries, but it does feel small enough to throw in a pocket, far too heavy for a shirt pocket but I was happy to lob it in my jeans or jacket pocket. One things for sure; you will know which pocket it is in!
Operation and Performance
The Mini Robot Combo is a basic VV (Variable Voltage) with just three different power settings that are simply adjusted with three clicks of the fire button.
The only other controls are the obvious Fire button to fire and 5 x Fire to turn On/Off. There’s no charging port so you will need to charge the battery separately, and your settings will reset each time.
‘Simple to use’ pretty much sums it up, a bit like a mech but with protections and variable voltage, anyone familiar with Mosfet mods will feel right at home.
So onto the vape; using my default MTL eliquid, Nic Salts at 20mg, the kit defaults at ‘Max Power 4.2V) so my first hit was ‘f*ck that shit!’, it was way too hot and strong for MTL and the poor choice of using the included 0.5ohm SS316 became apparent. I set it to the lowest power of 3.5V and it was still too much, I persevered with it for a couple of ml but I just had to give up and throw another more suitable build into it…..
I used a thinner gauge Ni80 plain wire and wrapped a coil to 1.4ohms, spaced it and went to build, since I still had liquid in the tank I had hoped to ‘upside-down’ strip it and pull the build deck out but the glass section isn’t held in place that well so popped off and spilled the liquid, no biggie but I now know not empty it prior to stripping.
The next snag was the gap around the screw clamps wasn’t thin wire friendly and kept trying to pop out when tightening; this is where those little slots on the opposite side of the screws helped, 3rd attempt and being aware of it, I got clamped down okay, a touch annoying but I’ve had worse RTAs.
The vape was better and more like a proper MTL vape but the default 4.2V was a bit overpowering for Ni80 so I popped it down to 3.5V and started enjoying the vape. The airflow was a little loose for my taste as 2 x 0.8mm was 1.6mm so I opted to use a blank pin to block off one side, much tighter and it suited me. I liked the way I could swap and change on the fly but is it better than a normal adjustable airflow ring? I’m not too sure if I’m honest, but the top airflow is more forgiving for leaking. The flavour was pretty good but overall it didn’t have the wow factor that I’ve come to expect from recent MTL tanks.
To be fair it’s a good kit overall and something a bit different to my collection. I’m going to try a Clapton coil in my next build which I suspect will suit this RTA better. Personally a Silver one would receive a bit more love from me as it looks a bit better and the branding is more subtle.
Randomly, I thought I would see if the battery cap and the chipset section screwed together, turns out they do.
Now that’s what I call a ‘Mini Robot’, problem is I need an 18010 battery for it and it would only last a couple of draws.
Overall I enjoyed reviewing this kit. The Mech/Mosfet style felt quite old-school, and the heavy weight was something I did like about it, it’s good to see a large manufacturer still paying attention to traditional vape kits instead of just banging out pods etc.
Steam Crave don’t knock out cheap and cheerful and the Mini Robot Combo Kit is no exception as it oozes quality, and like most of their stuff it should last years. It might not appeal to newer users, but I’m sure experienced vapers will enjoy what it has to offer.
- A proper nod to old-school tube mods
- Generous bundle of extras
- Solid long lasting quality
- Top airflow
- Leak resistant
- Mech style assembly
- Smooth flavour and airflow
- Oversized branding
- Heavy for the size
- Top airflow pins get in the way of the fill cap
- A little fiddly for thinner gauge wires
- Power settings reset after swapping batteries
I’m not going to include the poor choice of the 0.5Ω sub-ohm coil as a con as it was a thrown in extra and some folks might actually like it.
There are more cons/niggles than I expected but none are deal-breakers for me, I like this kit more than it might sound. I’ve gone back to the straight glass and I prefer it in use more as a result. I think this will appeal mostly to experienced/enthusiast vapers.
Real Score: 7/10 – A ‘Short’ Circuit (old film reference)