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The Next Evolution
By Bill Mills
ViewLoader’s eVLution loader turned a lot of heads when it was released. It featured an unconventional shape for a loader, a new lid style, and an impeller based system for driving paint out of the loader and into the feedneck instead of simply agitating the paintballs to break up a jam.
For a review of the original eVLution, click here.
Unfortunately the eVLution turned out to be an egg in more ways than just the shape. The loader developed a reputation for breaking paint or jamming at the most inopportune times, and for breaking its feedneck. It never gained popularity, even amongst ViewLoader sponsored teams.
Enter the eVLution II, the redesigned version. WARPIG.com had the opportunity to try out a prototype version of the eVLution II in the winter of 2001/2002 and found it a favorable improvement performance wise. For a look at the prototype preview, click here.
The production model eVLution II is not much different from the prototype, and holds definite improvements over the original.
Externally, the first difference between the two loaders is that the second generation model has a longer and differently angled feed neck. The new neck places the bottom plane of the loader level with the paintgun, rather than angled like a football on a tee as with the original eVLution. This lowers the overall profile, one of the complaints players had with the original.
Additionally the materials in the loader body have been changed. A number of players have e-mailed WARPIG.com reporting of original eVLution loaders breaking when shot. Instead of the plastic originally used on the eVLution, the body of the new model is injection molded from polycarbonate, the same rugged material used in goggle lenses.
Inside the loader, the floor has been changed from a flat base to a bowl shape. The causes the paint to roll directly into the impeller, preventing gaps in the flow of paint as the loader gets low. As the impeller spins, the paint swirls around the base, rolling into the impeller and being driven out through the feed neck. In comparison to many other loaders that have problems as they get low on paint, with the few remaining balls rolling around the front and sides of the loader, the floor shape in the eVLution keeps the impeller stocked and driving paint into the paintgun.
The circuitry of the eVLution II retains the speed controller from its predecessor. A small variable resistor can be used to speed up or slow down the impeller speed. It is unlikely that any players will actually opt to turn down the dial to get lower performance. Like the original model the eVLution II still relies on gravity to feed the paintgun. Gravity draws paint out of the feed neck until there is a gap in the stack of balls, allowing infrared light to pass between the emitter and sensor in the feedneck. (unlike the earlier Revolution loaders these parts are on the circuit board, reducing the number of wires in the loader, increasing reliability). When the sensor detects that the top of the feedneck is empty, it activates the impeller, sorting paint out of the loader body and driving it into the feedneck.
Another problem that led to occasional misfeeds with the original eVLution stemmed from power drops with one or both of its 9 volt batteries bouncing loose from their spring contacts inside the battery bay. A very simple solution was found for this, a battery spacer is included with the loader. This spacer is a plastic shim that sits between the two batteries wedging them tight in their compartment. While the spacer does a great job of securing the batteries, the downside is that it makes them more difficult to remove. A pair of channel lock pliers is good to have on hand when it comes time to put in the next set of batteries.
Also new is a change in the screws that hold on the hopper’s lid. Instead of white nylon they are now of metal, which is stronger, to avoid problems with the screws breaking and the lid popping off. The springs which wrap around the screws have been strengthened, so the lid closes more reliability, reducing the chance of spills while reloading.
While the drive electronics, motor and gearbox remain the same, the big difference in how the eVLution II feeds is in its impeller. The original impeller was in a curved star shape made of hard clear plastic. While it could drive fresh paint well, it would jam on paint that was swollen or soft, pinching the paint between the impeller and the opening to the feed neck or wall of the raceway that surrounds it.
The new impeller features six straight arms molded out of a white, flexible, rubber like material. Should a paintball become wedged below or near one of the arms, the arm flexes up and over the ball, rolling the ball like a bearing, rather than pressing harder into it and jamming.
Testing of the eVLution prototype showed the anti-jam advantages to the new impeller. By feeding paint back into the loader with a Warp Feed, the loader was able to operate continuously for 10 minutes without any problems.
In the field, the production models performed admirably, feeding a variety of paintguns without problems of skipped or chopped shots. Even using batches of softer older paint, the eVLution II fed without pinching or breaking. Occasionally the tone of the motor changed briefly while feeding older softer paint, possibly due to a change in resistance while an impeller arm flexed around a ball.
Direct shots into the body of the eVLution II did not result in any cracks or signs of weakness in the body. The feed neck of the eVLution II is molded in two halves, without holes. The original eV, featured openings for the optical sensors and this added a weak point. On the eVLution II, the infrared beam simply passes right through the polycarbonate. While neither the production unit or prototype tested exhibited any problems, we have received a report of a broken feed neck on a production model eVLution II. ViewLoader's Terry Neumaster says that they have received a couple of breakage reports. Both were investigated and found to be original eVLution loaders on which a dealer had upgraded the impeller, and sold claiming they were eVLution II loaders. The telltale sign for customers to look for is the angle of the feedneck. An eVLution II will sit level in a paintgun.
The eVLution II marks a definite step forward in reliability for the ViewLoader product line. It solves the chief technical problems suffered by its predecessor. Owing to the fact that its general appearance and name are so similar to the original, and poorly received eVLution, the eVLution II is likely to receive undue market resistance, and may never gain the popularity of the tried and true Revolution agitating loaders. Players would be well advised to consider the eVLution II on its own technical merits, rather than be led by the reputation of the original eVLution.
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