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Boost Custom Paintball
By Bill Mills - Oct 2005
David Cross, working under the name Boost Custom Paintball has been marketing assorted custom loader battery solutions, as well as building customized loaders for his customers.
While each Boosted HALO may be different, depending on the customer’s specifications, the model reviewed is typical of what Cross produces.
Central to the Boost modification is a boosted electrical system. A 1400 mAh Lithium Ion battery pack acts as the main power supply for the Boosted HALO. Lithium Ion batteries have been a staple in the world of camcorders for years. Their typical discharge curve provides a steady current with little drop off until the battery is completely drained. This provides full operational power for a longer period of time than most rechargeables that will provide less and less voltage over time as they discharge.
Lithium rechargeable batteries are a bit more sensitive than typical NiCD or NiMH rechargeables. Overcharging, draining too fast, or over-draining lithium ion batteries can all lead to damaging the cells. As a protective measure the boost lithium ion battery packs feature an internal charging and discharging circuit to prevent overcharging, or overdischarging, ensuring a long and useful life for the batteries, without the need to modify the items powered by them.
The lithium ion pack in the Boosted HALO replaces the six cell AA pack, and remains inside the loader. Rather than needing to remove it to recharge, a charging port is installed near the HALO’s feedneck. A lithium ion compatible battery charger can be attached to the port, between game days, and the HALO stays fresh and ready to go. The rechargeable battery pack is rated to provide 750 milliamp hours of power at 10.4 volts. According to Cross this is usually enough for five to six cases of paint – ample power for a typical day or recreational paintball, and even on par for 5-man tournament play.
An option available for the lithium ion battery charge is a Watt’s Up power meter. This meter checks battery voltage, measures the wattage drawn by the battery during a charge, and uses timing circuits to calculate and display the charge that has been placed on the battery in milliamphours – it is a very sophisticated battery meter, far more telling than a simple volt meter.
Because the battery pack delivers 10.4 volts, rather than the 9 volts with normal alkaline batteries used in the HALO, it ends up driving the HALO’s motor with higher voltage for a faster speed.
Behind the charging port is a small switch, the Boost switch. Because the lithium ion batteries maintain a steady voltage, and are cut off by their discharge circuit they don’t just get progressively weaker warning the user that it’s time for a recharge. They run, run and run some more, then simply don’t have the energy to run anymore.
As an added player protection, the boost switch kicks in a second battery pack – a boost hot pack single use lithium battery. This 1300 mAh 12 volt battery not only backs up the rechargeable, but can be used on demand to drive the HALO at an even higher voltage for higher speed.
A small guard adhered to the loader body provided added protection to both the charging port and the Boost switch. While this guard held up through use, it looked as though it might not be quite as durable as the components it was protecting, which were likely to handle a paintball hit without problem.
When the Boost mode is enabled, the HALO has the ability to draw more power from the combined battery packs, either to give a performance boost, or to act as a reserve, to keep playing after the rechargeable battery is used. A small red light emitting diode (LED) sits low on the back on the HALO, indicating the Boost switch status. In the field the LED proved a little difficult to see in bright sunlight. Shading it with a hand was necessary to clearly see whether the loader was in its Boost mode or not. It was a simple matter, however to learn that with the switch forward, Boost was activated, and with the switch back it was not.
In addition to the battery pack, the reviewed Boosted HALO was equipped with a custom Trinity drive cone. The CNC machined cone features paddles slightly larger than the stock drive cone, and the Cross modified the loader’s catch cup to handle the beefier cone. While installing the cone, Cross also puts additional pressure on the drive cone’s spring, increasing the amount of force the HALO delivers to the paint stack when the motor is at rest.
Another custom feature Cross offers are vanity plates – custom engraved back plates with a player or team name identifying the loader. These plates replace the stock plate and sticker found on the HALO. Additionally Cross provides cut vinyl text stickers for the sides of the loader.
Extra switches and lights are fun, but with loaders, performance is the bottom line. To see what difference the Boost modifications made, the loader was tested on the WARPIG Ballistic Labs test stand with a Matrix LCD body.
Run though the standard WARPIG 10 shot burst test, the Boosted HALO with its HALO B board performed flawlessly up to through 18 balls per second. At 19 balls per second, it missed 2 feeds on one trial, one feed on a second trial, and feed all ten shots on its third attempt. Then the Boost switch was flipped, tying in the 12 volt lithium hot pack. Through the same testing procedure, the Boosted HALO now performed one ball per second better than with just the rechargeable battery. This compares very well to the stock HALO B which fed without fail to 14 bps, and HALO B Victory which fed without fail to 16 balls per second on the same test, when powered by fresh alkaline batteries.
To review the test data, click here.
In practical testing, the loader performed as it should. The simple plug and play use of the charging port was a very convenient feature. Since the loader performed without problem there was no need to kick in the Boost switch on the field, but the knowledge that it was there in case of a problem with the rechargeable pack was reassuring.
In addition to the Boost built to order
custom loaders, the Boost Hot packs, wiring harnesses, rechargeable lithium
ion batteries, and hopper bodies wired with charging ports are available
through Bradys Paintball.
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