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and G2K Sneak Preview
by Bill Mills
Ricochet Development is further expanding their line of loaders with the Ricochet Apache and Ricochet G2K.
For this preview, Ricochet Development provided WARPIG.com with sneak preview access to a pre-production prototype of the new Apache. The Apache Attack loader is designed to be the next level up in performance past Ricochetís 2K agitating loader, and has been going through development and testing through most of 2003. It is slated to be released concurrent with the 2003 Paintball Sports Promotions World Cup in October 2003 at the Walt Disney World ABC Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
On the outside, the Apache looks very similar to a Ricochet 2K, though it is approximately one inch taller Ė the added height coming in the electronics bay and feed neck length below the main body of the loader. The main body and paint storage space are nearly identical between the two designs.
Each side of the Apache, will feature a narrow diagonal window to provide an instant view of the remaining paint level. The pre-production prototype was made from computer generated rapid prototyping materials. Because these materials are not clear, the two side window panels were painted silver for illustrative purposes.
Unlike other Ricochet models, the Apache operates on a pair of 9 volt batteries. A carrier cartridge holds two 9 volts, and slides up into the back of the loader, locking into place. While the prototype only properly held Energizer batteries, the sizing, combined with the flexibility characteristics of molded polycarbonate is planned to hold Energizer, Duracell, and other brands equally well.
Inside the Apache is a different design. Depressed in the rear floor of the loader, at approximately 45 degrees to horizontal is a catch cup, and inside of the catch cup is a monofilament whip agitator, much like the one found on Ricochet 2K and AK loaders.
The Apache is not however, a force feed loader, it is still an agitating design. The catch cup prevents the paintballs immediately effected by the agitator from binding on their sides against other paintballs and wedging, so even filled completely full, the prototype loader was able to run properly and empty itself.
The paintballs moved by the agitator are swept over the top of the feed neck, rather than pushed sideways into a horizontal feed path. Because of this, the loader still relies on gravity to feed. Owing to the width of the feed neck opening, paintballs can still feed through the loader if the batteries die and the electronics fail. In simple testing, it was found that if the agitator arm was over the center of the feed neck, a fair amount of shaking was needed, but paint would still feed.
A bend sensor in the feedneck, a unique Ricochet feature, signals the loaderís electronics as to when a ball has fed and the agitator must be spun. On the rear of the loader, the Apache features an LCD control panel with a built in game timer.
Ricochet development expects the production model Apache to feed at speeds of 17 to 19 balls per second. While factory rated to 190 paintballs, the prototype held 180 without pressure on the paint. In testing, the prototype emptied itself very efficiently in 10.0 seconds of its entire capacity yielding an emptying rate of 18 balls per second. This should not, however be confused with an on gun performance rate where the flow of paintballs has more of a start and stop nature.
The catch cup design completely eliminated a problem common to many agitating loaders, and that is as the amount of paint in them decreases they can end up sweeping paintballs away from or past the feedneck.
The Apache shell will be molded of the same polycarbonate material found in Ricochetís other loaders, and uses the companyís now familiar deflection engineering style shape. The feed neck features a ribbed shape allowing it to easily be sanded to fit small feed necks, and has a pair of o-rings to lock the loader in to looser feed necks. It is expected to sell with a suggested retail price of $129.00
In addition to the Apache, Ricochet will soon be releasing the Ricochet G2K Ė adding an entry-level loader to their product line. The G2K brings Ricochetís deflection engineering shape, molded polycarbonate construction and o-ring feed neck to a basic, un-powered, low cost loader. The Ricochet G2K is planned to sell at a suggested retail price of $12.
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