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Hyperdrive for VLocity
When ViewLoader designed the VLocity loader, they recognized an important aspect of the paintball market. No matter what features a product has, or how well it works, a certain percentage of the players are going to want to “upgrade” it. According to ViewLoader engineer Terry Nieumaster, the VL design team discovered during development testing that the optimal feeding requirements are slightly different from marker to marker, so they built the loader to provide the best overall performance – but custom software could potentially improve it's operation if tuned to the needs of a specific marker.
With that in mind, the embedded micro-controller chip that drives the VLocity and subsequent VLocity Junior is socketed. For those companies who want to make custom software upgrades, they don't have to invest additional development and production money to release a whole circuit board – they can concentrate on their software, and deliver it in an inexpensive chip.
HuperdrivePB is one such company that has stepped up, to deliver a VLocity software package designed to give the player better than stock performance. Based out of Poland, Hyperdrive has a planned product line that includes boards for a variety of markers, but the first item out the door is the Hyperdrive VLocity chip, which made its debut at the 2007 Paintball World Cup.
The chip ships in a protective tin with its single page instruction sheet., and is a 14 pin DIP chip. Installation for review was straightforward and required disassembling the VLocity, prying out the stock chip with an o-ring pick, then pressing the Hyperdrive chip in place. It is important to note that the pin 1 end of the chip is marked by a notch in it's edge, and there is a similar notch on that end of the socket. The chip must be installed in the right direction to function.
Also, as is common with DIP chips, the pins are angled slightly outward from how they need to be aligned to fit in the socket. This was corrected by resting the chip on it's side on a table, and gently rolling the entire chip, to bend all 7 pins of one side at once, then repeating on the opposite side, until both rows of pins were parallel.
The Hyperdrive software uses the loader's multicolor LED to provide feedback on its operation. A solid green glow means it's ready to go. Solid orange means that it is in the process of feeding paint. Solid red means that either the loader is empty, or an error has occurred, while blinking orange or green indicate that it has kicked in the anti-jam or rip-drive modes.
The stock VLocity software allows for 8 levels of tension adjustment – or literally how much force the motor applies to the drive impeller both during use, and at rest between shots. By comparison, the Hyperdrive software is far more adjustable.
Using the loader's LED and programming button, the software allows for 6 aspects of operation to be adjusted.
Loader Speed, which may be set from 1 to 10 adjusts the power and timing of the power delivered to the motor during feeding.
Tension time determines how long power will be provided to the motor after feeding, to maintain tension on the ball stack – to be ready to feed the next shot. This setting has 10 levels ranging from no tension to 13.5 seconds of tension, or always on. The advantage of always being on, is that the loader will always be ready to feed fast – the downside is that the motor will be drawing current constantly, keeping pressure on the paint to feed instantly – using up batteries faster. For real-world applications where a player is likely to shoot one or two shots before ripping at full speed, a long tension time might not be that important, but for players who jump from 0 to 15 bps in one shot, that's where it will come into play.
The tension force is also adjustable. The tension pressure is applied to the motor as a pulse modulated waveform. Basically by turning the voltage on and off very fast, the software can provide higher or lower power levels. This is adjustable in 10 steps from 4% power up to 32% power.
The Hyperdrive Mode time is how long after activation, the motor will increase its power level – or go into hyperdrive. This is adjustable from off to 240 seconds or continuous, in 10 steps.
The Hyperdrive software includes a software based anti-jam and rip drive system. When in use, pressing the programming button for a moment tells the loader, the user has noticed something wrong, and depending on what it senses with the loader's eyes, and resistance feedback from the motor, it will either activate an anti-jam (impeller spins backwards) or Rip Mode (impeller spins forward) subroutine. The length of these two settings is adjustable also in 10 steps.
The Powerdown feature determines how long the loader will remain on if it sees no activity – before turning off for power savings. Adjustable in 10 steps, this time can range from 5 minutes to one-hour.
With all of this adjustability, finding the right settings can be a bit intimidating. To make things easier, the Hyperdrive software also includes 10 levels of presets. Setting the presets is done the same as setting tension with the stock VLocity software – simply hold down the programming button, and watch the flashes of the LED, until the number of flashes matches the desired preset level, and release. At level 1 the loader provides operation with minimal power consumption, while at level 10 it feeds the most aggressively, but conversely will need the most power.
To see how it performed, the HyperdrivePB VLocity Chip was installed in a stock VLocity loader, and put through the WARPIG Ballistic Labs standardized 10-shot burst test. Using a Matrix LCD receiver under microprocessor control, paint was fired into a catch box, where each ball could be counted. Ten-shot strings were fired 3 times at each test velocity. If all 10 shots fed successfully for at least 2 of the 3 trials, the loader was tested again at a higher level. It should be noted this test does not determine the fastest rate at which a loader can possibly feed, but rather its ability to feed 10 shots consistently at a given rate from a dead-start, and because of its standardization it allows performance comparisons with other loaders tested.
10-Shot Bursts - Stock VLocity Software - Tension Level 8
With the stock software set to its highest performance level – a tension setting of 8, the loader came in at 15 bps in the 10-shot burst test – the same rating achieved during our review of the VLocity.
10- Shot Bursts - Hyperdrive - Preset 1
With the HyperdrovePB VLocity Chip set to preset 1, performance came in maxing at 12 bps for the 10-shot burst – 1 bps lower than achieved with the lowest tension level during our VLocity review.
10-Shot Bursts - Hyperdrive - Preset 10
Stepping things up, to preset 10 on the Hyperdrive software, performance measurably increased. The software earned a score of 17 bps, which was 2 bps faster than the stock software's performance under the same conditions.
Simple to install, the Hyperdrive PB Vlocity chip for VLocity and VLocity Junior loaders provides additional user feedback, far more user control over operation, and a set of simple to use pre-sets that deliver performance levels over both higher and lower performance than the stock software.
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