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Bradys Paintball

Product testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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Boost Hot Pack
By Bill Mills - June 2005

In the southern US, and on a number of paintball forums, a name has been gradually spreading – Boost.  David Cross has picked up the nickname “The Hopper Man” by traveling to regional events and repairing as well as upgrading paintball hoppers.  While many players would never think of playing with a stock, out of the box paintgun, they seldom consider modifying their hoppers from stock condition.  Cross has been custom modifying hoppers for some time now under the Boost name.

One of Cross’ mods is the use of Lithium battery packs for HALO loaders, which he calls Hot Packs.  The Hot Packs are not rechargeable.  Just like the AA batteries that are normally used in HALO B hoppers, the Hot Pack is meant to be used just once, and then disposed of.

The pack itself consists of four 3-volt lithium cells wired in series and sealed together with heat-shrink packaging.  This arrangement produces a 12-volt battery pack.  A wire comes out of the pack to a standard 9-volt battery style battery clip, which can snap into the battery clip in a HALO loader.  

Because the Hot Pack is a complete pack, it does not need to be fitted into a holder, as AA batteries normally do in a HALO.   It weighs in at only 2.5 ounces, compared to 5.7 ounces for six AA batteries in the HALO’s battery holder.

Installing a Hot Pack in a HALO turned out to be a little trickier than changing AA batteries.  The Hot Pack is a little longer than the AA battery case.  If placed in the battery compartment in the same position, a fin on the battery cover used to secure the case keeps the cover from closing properly.  It is a simple matter to cut the fin away from the battery cover to convert the HALO for Hot Pack use, but after such conversion, the AA battery case will slide around inside the loader when jostled.  Alternatively, with a bit of wiggling and finesse, the Hot Pack can be worked into place flat against the loader’s floor so that it sits just above the fin of the battery cover once it is closed.

Since it is meant to improve performance of HALO loaders, the big question is, does it?  Considering that the HALO-B with Z-Code is designed to be fed 12 volts, and it uses pulse width modulation to drive the motor at around 3 volts, it stands to reason that overdriving the HALO should result in proportionally more power being delivered to the motor, and thus faster speeds.  

To test this, a Hot Pack was compared to six Duracell AA alkaline batteries on the WARPIG Ballistic Labs Hopper Test Stand.  Three ten-shot strings were fired, starting at 10 shots per second, and progressing at one ball per second intervals until the hopper could not feed all ten balls in at least two out of three strings.

With alkaline batteries driving it, the Z-Code HALO maxed out at 16 balls per second, missing one ball in its second string.  In contrast the Hot Pack powered HALO fed flawlessly at sixteen ball per second, missed one ball in its first string at 17, then fed perfectly at 18 balls per second, before having problems at 18 balls per second.  Click Here for full speed test data.

Rate of fire was one thing, but longevity was another.  A discharge graph was created by putting a load (a speed 280 motor with a propeller governed by a locked variable resistor) on the battery pack and recording the voltage it fed to the motor over time.  When comparing a fresh Hot Pack to a fresh set of 6 AA alkaline batteries, the smaller, lighter Hot Pack did not fare as well.  Under load the Hot Pack delivered a higher voltage for the first several minutes, then settled down to a very low delivery voltage.  While it was not driving as much power to the test motor through most of the discharge cycle, it did run it longer than the AA batteries.    

In the field the Hot Pack had no problem lasting through a day’s use, and Cross claims each pack to be good for 6 to 8 cases of paint through a HALO.  It is likely that pause between spins of the motor in actual HALO use is enough for the Lithium pack to recover it’s voltage, providing better power in bursts than in a continuous drain as in the battery discharge test.

It should also be noted, that since the Hot Pack’s voltage is 30 percent higher than the voltage at which the HALO’s circuitry is designed to operate, there is a real risk of damage to the loader’s circuit board.  While no damage occurred during testing of the product, one might liken the use of the Hot Pack to the use of nitrous oxide in auto racing – it will get the engine reving faster, but also increases the risk of blowing it out.  Damage from using anything other than Odyssey’s recommended AA batteries isn’t covered under their warranty.

Boost Hot Packs are available through Brady’s Paintball in Lynn Haven, Florida.  They provide a lighter single use option to alkaline AA batteries in HALO loaders with an increase in feed rate by overdriving the loader and its control circuitry.

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