February 28, 2011
Compact, fast OMEGA Ultra Light air heaters
This simple vaporizer, the Omega Ultra Light, or OUL, was a personal favorite because of its 50-watt compactness. It is unpatented; it could make an income for anyone who wants to revive it. The OUL was a by-product of the Omega, which never got onto the market. Ugly as it was, the OUL had the benefit of not looking like what it was. Some buyers referred to it as the "stealth vaporizer," because it looked like a soldering appliance and that could travel in carry-on baggage on commercial aircraft without provoking embarrassing questions. Heats up in about four seconds. The OUL was designed for a cheap (~$13) Chinese-made soldering gun sold at Radio Shack and like stores all over the world, at least at the time, late nineties. European models of that soldering gun had the same external dimensions as the American versions, but ran off of input voltages of the European standard, ~220 volts. Similar low-cost soldering guns might still be available, through probably not for $13.
The 50-watt OUL air heaters could be made for less than a dollar each in lots of ~10,000, I estimate. I made up to fifty of them in one day -- not counting the time to take them to the metal plater for a coat of nickel, or sometimes silver, and a few gold ones. I sold them for $65 each. If I'd cut the price to ~$20 each, they'd have gone out in torrents. You could sell the soldering gun with OUL air heater for $100 plus shipping. I made several hundred of the OUL heaters. A knowledge of silver soldering helps. My plan was to buy the soldering guns in bulk for ~$10 each, and then sell the complete assembly. That could still be done, but I don't think those soldering guns are still available at such a low price. But regardless, money could still be made out of this idea. Contact me, Bob, if you want guidance in coming up with a new design. (I no longer have the exact dimensions of the stainless steel central heating element that received ~150 amps from the soldering gun, but I could help anyone who is interested in making these units again.)
Here's a sketch of the stem and air heater portions: