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Angry Paintball

Product testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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Angry HALO
By Bill Mills - Aug 2005

If someone builds something for paintball, surely someone else will come along and build something to make the other something better, and loaders are no exception to that rule.  The HALO loader has held a place of prominence in tournament paintball since its introduction, and especially since its improvement with the release of the HALO-B loader (for those keeping track the original HALO, often called HALO A in retrospect featured a geared drive system, while the HALO-B as in belt put a drive belt between the motor and drive cone, as well as a spring, to keep constant pressure on the paintballs.)

Angry Paintball, based out of Dallas Texas, and being from the HALO’s home state, has had the opportunity to work closely Odyssey.  So what did they develop?  The Angry HALO, a conversion board that makes a HALO… angrier.  Angry Paintball’s web site has a lengthy Douglas Adamsish description of exactly what Angry means in this context, but suffice it to say the Angry HALO mod is designed to make the HALO feed faster.

The modification itself consists of a circuit board.  Aside from the fact that the board is red, and the text on it is a different color, one would be hard pressed to tell it apart from a stock Odyssey board.  Not only the components, but even the circuit traces are laid out the same.  The difference of course, lies in the software.  According to the HALO’s designer, Chris Goddard, the HALO-B uses pulse width modulation (turning a full voltage signal on and off really fast, so that the average voltage is the desired amount) to deliver about 3 volts to the HALO’s drive motor. 

There is more to driving a HALO than simply turning the motor on and off.  The control software must look at a rising and dropping signal from the reflective infra-red sensor in the feed race to determine that paint is moving, then drive the motor just enough to put tension on the drive cone spring, and stop before over-driving.

Installing the Angry HALO for review took only a few minutes.  Experience at rebuilding HALO loaders is the likely key to how long it will take a typical user.  Installation involves removing all of the loader’s frame screws and separating the two loader halves.  The catch cup is then lifted from the base of the loader, and the stock circuit board is unplugged from its two wiring harnesses.   The harness on the left connects the board to the infrared emitter-detector pair, taped to holes in the raceway neck, and the harness on the right connects to the wiring harness for the battery and motor.  It is important when they are both unplugged to make sure, first that the proper plug goes to each side of the board, and second that they are oriented correctly – the visible metal parts on the plug should be facing upward when plugged into the board.

The HALO-B used for review had an older model circuit board with a short push button and a rubber button cover on the loader’s back plate.  The Angry HALO board, like newer HALO boards features a longer button, so the rubber button cover had to be removed to make room.  Once the board was in place, and installed, a plastic sticker went over the loader’s back plate to keep dust and dirt out of the space around the power button. 

When operating the Angry HALO side by side with a Z-coded HALO-B, it certainly sounded Angrier.  The drive train was noticeably louder, and did not stop spinning when the loader was empty, unlike the stock board, which would pulse when empty.

To see what difference there was in attainable rates of fire, the Angry HALO was compared to the stock board on the Warpig Ballistic Labs hopper test stand with a Matrix LCD receiver.  The loader was rebuilt, prior to the test with a brand new motor, to ensure that both boards would be able to deliver peak performance.

As per Warpig Ballistic Labs standard hopper testing protocol, the Matrix was fired under electronic control in 10 shot bursts, with increasing rates of fire.  Three bursts were fired at each rate, and the loader was tested at the next highest rate if all ten balls were fed properly for at least two of the three attempts. 

In speed trials, the standard board missed one ball in the second attempt at 16 balls per second, and one each in two of the trials at 17, giving it a ranking of 16 balls per second (note this ranking is based on the ability to go from 0 bps to flawlessly feeding a 10 shot string – this should not be mistaken for the maximum rate the loader is ever capable of feeding, as many have done on various Internet message boards.)  In comparison, the Angry HALO missed two balls on its third trial at 16 balls per second, but fed two out of three properly at 17, and began missing consistently at 18 balls per second.  The end result is that the test criteria ranked the Angry HALO a ball per second faster than the HALO-B with Z Code.  For test data, click HERE.

In addition to a faster speed rate, Angry Paintball says that their board also ends up giving longer battery life than the stock board.  An important caveat with the Angry HALO board is that use of 9-volt batteries, or rechargeable batteries (i.e. anything but a pack of 6 AA Alkaline batteries) will void the board’s warranty. 

To get a look at what the Angry HALO is doing differently, the voltage applied to the motor was monitored while 100 paintballs dumped from the loader into a pod. 

The two voltage traces show different operating patterns as the voltage spikes and drops.  The Angry HALO's lowest voltages under load were higher than those produced by the Z-Code, but the Angry's peaks were less frequent, and less uniform in timing.  Different power distrubution results in different performance. 

The Angry HALO is a drop in upgrade for the HALO loader which when tested provided a measurable increase in the loader’s performance.

Discussion and feedback about this article may be found HERE.

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