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ViewLoader's Talkin' Timer
by Bill Mills

In the 1990s CM Support, manufacturers of the Viewloader product line saw that tournament paintball players were gluing stopwatches, wristwatches, and timers to their loaders for use as a game timer.  They responded by producing the VL game timer, a compact countdown timer that could mount right on the back of a VL2000 or Revolution loader.  

Now that the Viewloader brand is owned and produced by Brass Eagle, they’ve revived the idea of the VL game timer, and given it a facelift in the form of the VL Talkin’ Timer.

Just like the original game timer, the Talkin Timer can be mounted on the back of a Revolution loader.  Installation is fast and easy.  The two rear screws are removed from the loader, the timer slides on, and slightly longer screws, included with the timer, are put back in the loader.  The timer is then secure in place on the back of the loader where it is not likely to take a direct hit.

An LCD display on the face of the loader is clear and easy to read while six buttons control the timer’s functions.  Second and minute buttons are used to set the time limit for a game.  While most tournament games are in even minute amounts, the seconds are important too.  For a 12 minute game, there is usually a 10 second warning before the game start.  Thus the timer can be set to 10:10, and started on the warning so the player can concentrate on hauling to a bunker when the game starts, instead of starting the timer.  The start button does as its name implies, and opposite it is the mute button which puts the timer into silent operation, indicated by an icon on the display.  All six buttons are curved on the outside making the keypad layout in a shield shape.  This layout makes it easy to find and press the start button blind – a necessity if the timer is being worn on a goggle strap.  The top two buttons are the stop/set button and the memory button.  Stop/set stops the countdown while it is in progress, and if pressed again, zeroes out the timer.  The memory button saves the time that is currently on the clock, which is a handy feature.  Rather than having to cycle through seconds and minutes each time before a game, the timer can be set, and the time recorded into memory.  When getting ready for the next game, pressing the memory button again pops the timer back to the preset time.

Talkin’ Timer is more than just a name.  Inside the timer’s electronic circuitry are digitized voice samples from Viewloader’s spokesmodel, Chelsea.  The timer responds to the start button by counting down the time, and clearly saying “start.”  From 10 minutes down, it calls off the time once per minute.  When 15 seconds remain it beeps every second down to 10 seconds where the voice kicks in and calls off the seconds one at a time, up until a series of 6 beeps when the timer gets to 0:00.  In mute mode the voice and timing beeps are dropped out, but the final beep still sounds at 0:00.

As as an alternative to Revy mounting, a two-clip lanyard is included, and it can be attached to the top holes on the timer’s mounting rails.  The timer’s instructions also suggest mounting it to a goggle strap with zip ties – additional holes in the mounting rails allow for this.  While not listed in the instructions, some players have also used zip ties to attach the timer to neoprene tank covers placing it in a convenient location during play.

On the field, the Talkin’ Timer proved easy to use, and it’s controls were simple and intuitive.  The volume level of the voice, which seems quite loud at first turned out to be just about right when the timer was mounted on a Revolution which muffled the sound a bit.  One drawback to its design was however quickly apparent.  The back of a loader is an excellent placement for the timer – the display is in view much of the time, and it’s near to the head so it can be heard clearly.  While the timer fits with no problems on a Revolution loader, it does not mount on the back of an eVLution, ViewLoader’s flagship product, which is quickly becoming more popular amongst higher end tournament players compared to the Revy.  This leaves the alternative mounting on the lanyard, tank or goggle strap.

In all, the Talkin’ Timer looks to be a not only a revival of a product that had faded away, but a definite improvement over the original model. 

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