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Product testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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ShockTech HALO Speed Wheel
By Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - July 2005

In the last few years, loaders have transitioned from being the accessory to of a paintball gun to being a piece of gear in their own right, which players accessorize and modify. As one of the most popular high performance loader, the HALO line has attracted significant attention from aftermarket product designers. Everything from battery packs to over-drive the motor, to new circuit boards with custom control software have been marketed as ways to increase the HALO’s feed rate.

Bad Boyz Toyz in Chicago Illinois produces the Shocktech product line, and like many others, manufactures HALO accessories, like their milled aluminum drive cones and rip drive wheels. Their take on hopping up the speed of the HALO is much simpler than electronics – it relies on mechanical advantage.

The HALO is driven by a small 3-volt motor. The motor has a pulley on its shaft, and the pulley spins a drive band, that spins a group of reduction gears, which increase the torque delivered to the drive cone while decreasing its speed.

The Shocktech HALO Speed Wheel is an incredibly simple product. It is a Delrin shim that fits over the HALO motor pulley, increasing its diameter. That is all there is to it. By making the diameter of the pulley larger, it moves more of the drive band for each revolution. Much in the way that a car will need to have its speedometer reconfigured after changing to larger wheels, the Speed Wheel will cause the HALO drive cone to spin faster when the motor is driven at the same rate of rotation.

The stock brass pulley has a diameter of 0.155 inches, which translates to a circumference – literally the length of drive band it will move in each rotation - of 0.456 inches. With the Speed Wheel in place, the diameter is 0.323 inches, with a circumference of 1.015 inches. The 0.559 inch difference is 123 percent of the original pulley size.

So what does that mean? A 123% increase in drive pulley diameter means that the drive cone will now spin 123% faster relative to the motor – more than doubling its relative rate of rotation. That does not mean it will necessarily spin that much faster though, because in the world of physics there is no such thing as a free lunch.

The increase in relative rotation speed also comes with an equal decrease in torque – the with the Speed Wheel in place, the HALO motor will face 123% more resistance from the gear train and drive cone. Dropping in the Speed Wheel is much like shifting to a higher gear in a car. Higher speeds are possible, but there is less power available for rapid starting.

To find out just what effect the Speed Wheel would have, it was installed in a HALO loader for testing. The test loader was a HALO V35 loader, fitted with an S7 drive cone assembly and Speed Feed loading gate. It was powered by Powerex AA NiMH rechargeable batteries, freshly charged and allowed to cool before each test cycle.

WARPIG Ballistic Labs standard 10 shot burst testing was performed. The loader was fitted onto a microprocessor controlled Matrix LCD receiver, and cycled though 10 shot bursts at various rates of fire, beginning with 10 balls per second. Prior to each test the loader was topped off to a fill of 100 paintballs. The test paintballs were caught and decelerated in a paintball trap to ensure that each ball had been fed unbroken. For each loader configuration (with and without the Speed Wheel) three tests were performed, and if all 10 paintballs fed on at least two of the three trials the loader was tested again at the next highest rate.

The results showed that the Speed Wheel noticeably increased the HALO’s ability to keep up and feed consistently through 10 shot bursts. With the standard motor pulley the loader fed flawlessly up through 16 balls per second. With the Speed Wheel in place it fed error free up through 18 balls per second. For full test data, click here.

Compared to other HALO upgrade products tested under the same conditions, the SpeedWheel impressively gave a measurable and comparable performance increase for a much lower price tag. Because it is purely mechanical, the Speed Wheel can of course be combined with other upgrades like aftermarket circuit boards or battery packs. Speed increases may vary when used with different circuit boards and at different voltage levels, due to the difference in torque levels the motor faces.

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