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Ricochet UV Sneak Preview
Sometimes a good concept can take years to be refined. In 1987, paintball distributor and retailer Aerostar added chemical glowstics to their catalog with a short paragraph describing how to cut open the glowsticks and roll paintballs in the chemical mix for a ball that was visible in flight at night. Neat idea, and the paint did glow in the hopper, but the balls move fast enough in flight that it was barely visible.
In the early 1990s a paint manufacturer came out with a fluorescent fill designed to glow brightly under black lights for indoor play. Unfortunately, the practicality of lighting an outdoor field, or an entire indoor field with enough ultraviolet light to make that effective was not very realistic.
In 1996, at the International Amateur Open, Tracerball, LLC., wowed the crowds at the industry party with their innovative glow in the dark paint. Their paintballs glowed brightly streaking from the paintgun to their target. The glowing paint not only made an impressive visual spectacle it provided the tracer effect players usually lose at night, no longer able to "walk" a string of shots in on their target. While the idea added a fun new look to night games and scenarios, it never really caught on. It's drawbacks were that it required a special flashlamp unit to be mounted on the barrel. The unit looked similar in form to a firearms silencer, and used an infra-red detector to trigger a photo strobe charging the ball with light as it left the muzzle. With a starting retail price higher than many recreational players paid for their paintguns, a limit to flashing only four times per second, and some fairly pricey paint, the Tracerballs saw fairly limited use at 24 hour scenario games, and did not spread much further than that.
At the 2001 International Amateur Open Paintball 2 Xtremes assistant editor Josh Silverman introduced me to Paul Ciesun of Wreched Seven Paintball. Paul was in the process of developing a glowing paintball fill for night play that would charge under ultraviolet lights, and glow long enough to carry onto the field, and use while still glowing brightly enough to be very visible in flight. Paul ended up working with Xtreme Enterprises who encapsulated his glowing fill into the Crypt-O-Night paintball, which began appearing at a number of scenario games that winter and fall.
Paul sent me some samples to try - and while the paint shot well, it suffered a problem - waiting very long from the time of charging up the paint with an ultraviolet lamp (which is much more effective than a fluorescent or incandescent lamp) would let the glow get weaker and weaker. Additionally, while the paint was glowing brightly it served as a tracking beacon in the player's pods if they were not light proof. I spoke to Paul and held off on publishing a review, as he explained that he was working on a new fill with smaller particles and a more optically clear liquid that he expected to be more effective at both charging faster and glowing brighter and longer. While Ceisun had made a better glowing paintball, he was still in need of a better way to charge it with energy, so he started talking to loader manufacturers.
At the 2002 San Diego Pan Am Tournament, Ennis Rushton of Ricochet Development, LLC. decided to give WARPIG.com readers an exclusive first look at his solution - the Ricochet UV. The Ricochet UV incorporates an ultraviolet light source inside a Ricochet loader that has an interior chromed surface. According to Rushton it's a combination of the efficient UV tube and the angled reflective walls of the loader that lead to very efficient charging of the Crypt-O-Nite paintballs. While the prototype was built into a Ricochet 2K loader, Rushton says the production models will be in a body more similar to the Ricochet AK, and will not feature timer electronics in the back. The UV will be available in a basic non-electronic hopper version for indoor and scenario field rental running on a single 9 volt battery, as well as an agitating version using the Ricochet AK agitator system running on a 9 volt, and a dual "AA" penlight battery pack for the UV lamp that will slide onto the hopper in place of the normal Ricochet AK battery cover.
"Cold" Crypt-O-Nite balls that were barely glowing at all came out bright after only seconds in the hopper. After a minute or more in the hopper they were brilliant in the dark room where Rushton demonstrated the loader. Shorter feed necks will be advantageous, as the fist few balls which have sat in the dark neck and paintgun breech will have time to expend their glowing energy, but once the paint starts flying, the visual fireworks begin. While exact battery efficiency won't be known until the final production prototypes are completed, based on experiences with the first prototype Rushton is expecting the loader to charge at least 6 cases of paintballs per set of batteries which will be more than ample for a 24 hour scenario game.
The Ricochet UV is expected to be available
in limited quantities in late summer 2002 with full volumes shipping by
mid fall. The agitating version of the Ricochet UV is expected to
retail for around $80 with the non-agitating version substantially lower.
Since the UV lamps can be switched off to prevent battery drain, the Ricochet
UV will do double duty as a loader for normal paintball play, as well as
when charging the Crypt-O-Nite paint.
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