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eVLution review

Manufactured by
Brass Eagle
 
 

Testing Paint provided by:

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eVLution 2 Sneak Preview
by Bill Mills   August 2001

When Brass Eagle released the eVLution loader, the loader market made a major step forward.  There was a new product which, instead of relying on simply unjamming a traditional hopper, sorted paintballs out of the loader body into the feed neck with an impeller.

Unfortunately, despite taking a technological step forward, the eVLution had a number of drawbacks.  The eVLution had a non-traditional loader shape, and sat at an unusual angle.  Complaints of the feed neck snapping were not uncommon, and most importantly, it had a problem with jamming balls between the impeller blades and the entry to the feed neck.  Unlike the Revolution before it, which was designed to unjam paintballs and let them fall on their own, the eVLution's active feed mechanism, simply locked up, leaving the player with no paint going to their paintgun.

Brasss Eagle has not given up on the eVLution concept, the eVLution 2 is presently under development.  Brass Eagle has been testing rough prototypes for several months, and is planning a major pre-production test getting feedback from players at SC Village before the final product release which is scheduled for early spring 2002.  WARPIG.com was received a prototype eVLution 2 to get a look at how the new design is progressing.

At first glance, the new eVLution prototype looks the same as a standard eVLution, however the subtle changes are definitely an improvement.

First the materials.  Like the Revolution loader, the eVLution 2 will be molded out of polycarbonate, a material much stronger than the plastic used earlier.

New lid springs.  A different connection arrangement gives the lid more of a snap when it closes.

New electronics.  A new driver board is designed, according to Brass Eagle, to deliver more power to the motor in order to "roll past" jams (more on this in a moment.)

A new feed neck design.  The new feed neck is longer, and comes out of the eVLution at a different angle.  There are two advantages to this.  First, the eVLution now sits on the paintgun at a more conventional position, parallel to the paintgun, which means it has a lower profile.  Second, it means there is a taller stack of balls waiting for the paintgun, and thus more time for the feeder to react to a gap in the ball stack and feed more reliably at higher rates of fire.

In order to compensate for the new loader position (make sure all of the paint will roll down to the impeller) the bottom of the loader's inside will be bowl shaped.  On the prototype a stereo lithography insert formed the new loader floor.  On the down side, this cuts the number of paintballs the loader can hold from 220 down to a maximum capacity of around 180 balls.  It is important to note that this capacity may well be different on production model eVLution 2s.

The battery compartment and battery clips are being changed to put more spring pressure in the clips and more pressure from the lid on the batteries to avoid problems with intermittent power failure due to the batteries having room to break contact with the clips.

Likely the most important change is the new impeller.  Rather than a curved shape like the original impeller the eVLution 2 prototype has straight arms and is made of a flexible rubber like material.  This allows the impeller arms to flex around a jammed ball, so that it can pop out of the way of the ball behind it, theoretically eliminating the possibility of a jam.  Brass Eagle / Viewloader is experimenting with a variety of options for this new impeller, including metal stiffener bars.

In testing, it was found, that unlike the original eVLution, this prototype did not feed if filled to capacity.  Instead it needed about 20-30 balls less so that there was room for the balls to jostle around (as is common with most agitating loaders).  This brought its practical capacity to about 150 balls.

In straight drop tests, the original eVLution suffered occasional jams as it did in the field, so a test was devised to check for them in the eVLution 2 prototype.  On the original eVLution jams occurred at varying levels of "fullness" from nearly full to half full to nearly empty, and did not appear to correlate with the amount of paint in the hopper.  To see how long the eVLution 2 prototype could run without suffering an internal jam, the unit was bench mounted on a Warp Feed set up to reload Diablo Blaze paintballs into the hopper while it was emptied from the bottom, and allow for continuous operation.

The internal jam test was run for 10 minutes, and during that time the prototype suffered no jams.  In fact, aside from overfilling, the prototype suffered no jams at all while being reviewed.  During the jam test, the eVLution 2 prototype kept pace with the Warp Feed, stopping until a gap was formed in the top of the feed stack, and then restarting again.  Through the test, the gaps in the stack never reached the bottom of the feed neck, the eVLution kept pace.

It is important to note that the unit reviewed was a developmental prototype, and actual performance of the final production units may vary.  It is clear that Brass Eagle / Viewloader is moving forward and improving a product which showed outstanding potential, but was limited in operation.


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