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Air Vent Manifold
by Bill Mills - Jan 2007

The Air Vent Manifold – its name is a mouthful for such a small product. The Air Vent Manifold replaces the Shocker SFT or NXT's stock manifold plate but allows the user to adjust the air flow which moves the marker's bolt.

paintballThe Manifold Plate is a small and simple part. It attaches to the receiver of the Shocker with a pair of screws, and three o-rings seal it to three air passages in the body. The Shocker's solenoid valve in turn attaches to the manifold plate with a pair of slender screws and three more o-rings.

paintballCompressed gas from the Shocker's regulator passes through the center hole of the plate, into the solenoid valve and back out through the front hole in the plate, then up into the body of the Shocker where it presses against the front of the bolt ridge, holding it back.

When the solenoid valve is actuated it redirects the gas pressure from the center hole to the rear hole, into a channel in the Shocker body that pushes the bolt forward, opening exhaust gas passages that fire the paintball. Then the solenoid valve resets, the bolt is pushed back and the process repeats.

paintballThe Air Vent Manifold looks like the manifold plate on the outside, but has the addition of two tiny gas valves, and air passages to support them. These valves consist of a pair of tiny set screws that can be used to restrict or even block the flow of gas through the front or rear passages. These valves might be considered to be the equivalent of anti-QEVs since they allow the user to slow rather than quicken the rate at which gas can be exhausted from the bolt transport system.

paintballBy restricting gas flow, the the build up of pressure that moves the Shocker's bolt can come more slowly, resulting in a slower, or gentler closing of the bolt.

Installation of the Air Vent Manifold for review was fairly quick, and welcomed, as the stock plate it replaced had suffered stripped solenoid screw threads. Disassembly began by degassing the Shocker SFT, removing the grip and battery then unplugging the wiring harness between the upper and lower circuit boards.

The body was then removed from the grip frame by unscrewing the two grip frame screws, and the Vision flex strip unplugged from the solenoid circuit board. Removing the two solenoid screws allowed the solenoid valve to be lifted away, and another pair of screws allowed the stock plate to be lifted away. A quick cleaning of the bottom of the Shocker body to remove any dust or debris that might cause a leak, and the Air Vent Manifold was attached, complete with its o-rings. The solenoid valve went back in place, and the Shocker was reassembled.

paintballThe Air Vent Manifold's two adjustment screws are accessed from its side and turned with an included 0.035” hex wrench. While it might appear at first that the Air Vent Manifold is hard to reach to make adjustments, this is not the case. Unscrewing the grip frame screws about 3 turns allowed the body to be separated from the grip just far enough to slide the hex wrench in and turn the adjuster screws. Full disassembly was not required.

Starting with the valves wide open, the Shocker with HE bolt kit closed its bolt consistently with a minimum dwell setting of 17 chirps, or 7.25ms (note optimal dwell would be 10 to 15 chirps higher than this point.) Closing the valves off completely, restricted gas flow to the point that the Shocker could not fire even at maximum dwell. With a few minutes of adjustment it was possible to get the bolt to just close consistently at the maximum dwell setting of 18ms, meaning that the Air Vent Manifold was capable of slowing the bolt down to slower than the stock circuit board could handle.

paintballThe ability to close the bolt with less force should theoretically help protect against breakage of fragile paint, but precisely testing this would be a difficult proposition. A noticeable impact of adjusting the manifold did however come with the Shocker's recoil. While a subjective perception, reduced bolt cycling gas flow gave less of a kick with each shot – the trade-off of course would come with a reduction in the maximum possible rate of fire.

Another interesting feature was that not only could the strength of the recoil be changed, but its balance could be changed as well. Since the two valves could be adjusted independently, it was possible to set up the Shocker for a slower closing, but faster opening bolt, or a faster closing and slow opening bolt. Extremes in either direction led to a less balanced feel of kick, as if the marker were nosing down, or pulling back with each shot.

While not done during testing, the Air Vent Manifold instructions recommended using a threadlocking compound to lock the final adjustment into place.

The Air Vent Manifold was a simple to install upgrade that added new types of adjust-ability to the Shocker's feel when firing.

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