Coil Wrapping Calculator
Using this calculator
Choose either Metric or Imperial measurements and then start filling out all of the input fields from the top left. If you’re unsure about any inputs, try leaving it at the default value, you can always go back and correct it later if it causes any issues.
If you’re new to coil building, your wire material will probably be
round Kanthal A1. These are set as the default values. If you’re using another material and/or profile, select it here.
The wire diameter (expressed in either AWG, or in millimeters) should be printed on your spool of wire. Enter this value in the corresponding field (AWG or for mm, in the field to the immediate right of this (⌀r)).
Next, select what type of build you’re making; single coil, dual coil, triple coil, etc. etc.
Now select the target resistance you would like your coil to be. Remember, building sub-ohm coils is not advised when you are starting out, it’s best to stay above 1 Ohm until you’re confident in what you are doing.
In the interest of safety, you’ll also need to know how much current your batteries can safely provide when selecting a resistance to build to. Please read up on battery safety anyway, this stuff is important.
Finally, you’ll need to input the dimensions of your coil build (what size mandrel you are using to wrap the wire/s around, and how short/long your leads will be)
As you update each of the input values, the results will be updated in the table on the right.
Other video tutorials
- English: Steam Engine Website Coil Wrapping Tutorial by UK Vape Community
- English: Steam Engine SMPL Coil Build | VAPEFOG by Vapefog Reviews
- English: Review of Stream Engine by Gareth Witty
- Ελληνική: steam engine interview – παρουσιαση του steam engine υπολογιστη ( part 2 ) by VapeLikeGeek GR
Reading the results
Resistance wire length
This is the total length of the resistance wire, after you’ve installed it in your topper and trimmed off any excess.
Number of wraps
This is the number of times your coil has been wound.
If the coil you’re making will have both of the coil legs pointing in the same direction, then the result you should read will be output in the “- rounded to “half wraps”” field.
If you’re building a coil where the legs point in the opposite direction to each other then you will use the “- rounded to “full wraps”” result.
Generally speaking, you will want to stay somewhere between 120 and 350 mW/mm². Some like a cooler vape, others like it hot. The color of the flame icon will give you a rough idea. Adjust to your own taste.
The higher the heat capacity, the more time your coil will take to heat up or cool down.
Leg power loss
Having longer than necessary coil legs can make your vapor taste metallic or harsh, so it’s best to try to keep your legs as short as possible whenever you can.
Leg length is not the only value that affects the amount of power loss in the legs. The wire gauge and the number of wraps also come into play, so keep an eye on this number while designing you coils.
You generally want to try to keep leg power loss below 10%.
The Advanced mode allows you to change the preset resistivity of the wire itself, you can use this if you are using a wire type which is not listed in the material and profile drop-down section.
Clicking the Advanced button again will bring you back to the basic mode and remember any changes you made while in Advanced.
Clicking the Reset button will return you to the basic mode and clear any changes made while in Advanced.
How the coil calculator works
Platform and precision of engine parts
Three values are written to the input fields during use in the advanced mode: Wire diameter, wire resistance per mm, and resistance wire length. These numbers are rounded in the input fields themselves, but still preserved with full precision in memory. If you manually override a value, you can enter your own number with any precision you want. When you save, and subsequently load the settings, rounded values will be displayed, but the number will still exist with the full precision in the memory.
Inner workings – a peek inside the engine room
Resistance wire length
Wire resistance per length is determined by the specific resistivity of the wire material, and the cross section area of the wire. The specific resistivity for each material is looked up in a small table of constants.
The resistance wire length is your set target resistance divided by the wire resistivity per mm.
Your chosen leg length is then subtracted before calculating the number of wraps.
Specific resistivity (Ω mm²/m)
|Ni200||0.096 (@ 20°C)|
When you input the inner diameter of the coil, the outer diameter is simply the inner diameter plus twice the wire thickness. The circumference of your coil is then by multiplying the outer diameter with π, and we have length of a single wrap.
The wrap does not go in a straight circle around the mandrel, but rather in a helix, making it slightly longer than the coil circumference. For twisted coils, the 2–4 strands are combined into one diameter using the diameter of an outer circle encompassing the 2 4 tangent circles of each strand.
The heat flux is more or less evenly distributed over the resistance wire. Hot legs are undesirable, so the power used to heat the legs can be regarded as “lost”.
When you set a heat flux, the calculator will tell you what power/voltage your mod needs to output in order to achieve the desired heat flux. What heat flux to aim for depends on how long your puffs are, whether or not you preheat your coil, the heat capacity of the coil, type of e-liquid, airflow, wicking, personal taste, etc.
The density of the coil material is used to calculate the wire mass and heat capacity. Because of lacking data on the density of different Nichrome alloys (except N80), the density of the Nichrome qualities are interpolated from the densities of the main alloy elements.
The heat capacity of the wire materials does not vary much between the alloys used. Therefore 0.46 kJ kg-1 K-1 is used for all kanthal, and 0.447 kJ kg-1 K-1 is used for all nichrome.
Possible error sources
This coil calculator is a pretty simple and straightforward digital model of the geometry and electrical properties of an atomizer coil, and can be expected to at least be consistent with itself. Real life, on the other hand, involves a myriad of ways to introduce error to your numbers:
- Depending on the manufacturing quality, the resistance wire might be slightly thicker or thinner than specified, or the alloy might be slightly different, any of these things would affect resistivity.
- When you wrap a coil, the wire is also being stretched, increasing resistivity. This is seldom very significant, but that depends on how small the inner diameter of your coil is, and how much tension you put on the wire while you wrap it and install it. Thinner wire stretches more easily, but it also bends more easily, requiring less tension on a small mandrel.
- In a coil with touching loops (e.g. a micro coil), a little current will flow between the loops. Even though the oxidation of kanthal creates an thin insulating layer of alumina around the wire, no insulator is perfect. The amount of current that will “leak” depends on the thickness of the alumina layer, which in turn depends on the alloy used, and how much you torched it. It also depends on the area of the wraps that is actually touching and how hard they are touching, and also the voltage potential between each wrap, etc.
- E-juice does not conduct electricity very well, but it still a conductor. Burnt juice leads to carbon buildup on the coil, and carbon conducts electricity fairly well.
- When building with Ni200, the resistance of the coil is typically so low that the “internal” resistance of the atomizer itself can become significant. As a result, the resistance may read higher than expected when everything is put together and installed on a mod. Examples: One of my favorites, the eXpromizer, has a spring loaded center pin. The spring also acts as a conductor, and because of the high currents involved, it can become warm if it is not clean. The Squape R is also known to not “like” Ni200. High or erratic resistance readings are not uncommon. If you can, try to stay well over the 0.1 Ω limit of the DNA 40. With a higher resistance coil, the current will be lower, which means that you lose less energy heating up the electrical pathways in the atomizer. Your resistance readings, and as a result the temperature control, will be more accurate. Your battery life will probably be a little bit better as well.
The maximum resistance for the DNA 40 in Ni200 mode is 1.0 Ω. Reaching this high is difficult with Ni200, and not a goal in itself, but keep this in mind: There is plenty of headroom at the top. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of this fact.
These are some of the factors that can impact real life accuracy. Another possible error source is the inner diameter of the coil. If the mandrel is off spec by only 0.1 mm, the length of a single wrap will be off by roughly 0.314 mm. Multiplied by ten wraps, this small error has grown more than thirtyfold. The output from a calculator can never be better than the input.
All these error sources can cancel each other out to some degree, but they can just as easily add to each other. This is one of the reasons why you should always have a decent multimeter handy, and make sure that you measure your coil after you build it. A model is great for getting you into the ballpark, but getting the final build right still requires knowledge, skills, and some measuring equipment. Steam Engine calculators are not intended to replace a multimeter.