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Qloader Product Preview
By Bill Mills
July 2003

The new QLoader (pronounced “kyew loader”) custom loader system made its second public appearance at the 2003 Pan Am Circuit Seattle tournament, one week after its first showing at the DraXxus International Amateur Open.  The official product debut and launch is planned for the 2003 New Jersey NPPL tournament.

The QLoader derives its name from the way it stores paint.  Instead of storing paint in a mass, and then sorting it while it is loading, the QLoader stores the paint already lined up in a spiral shaped queue.  The drive mechanism and loader is the size and shape of a normal paintball pod, allowing it to fit into existing paintball harnesses.  

Rather than dumping paint from a pod into a gun-mounted loader, the QLoader is not refilled on the field.  Instead multiple loaders are used.  After the paint in a loader is depleted, it is pulled from its mount, and a new, filled loader is mounted in its place with a fast twist-lock.  Gate and detent systems in the QLoader and its mount prevent paint from spilling out during the loading process, and when the loaders are carried in a harness.  Reloading with the QLoader is very fast, taking less than a second to lock a fresh loader in place.

Because the QLoader is a positive pressure feed system, it can feed very fast, and is not dependant on gravity, so it does not have to be mounted on top of the paintgun.  The QLoader mount has a steel mounting strap, which allows it to attach to vertical regulators, extending out like a fore grip under the barrel, with a hose delivering the paintballs from the mount to the paintgun.  

The QLoader mount can also strap to a barrel, to mount vertically, similar to a traditional firearm magazine.  According to Levi Hammett, the creative director for the loader’s manufacturer, Ancient Innovations, a new mount is also being developed to put the loader behind the paintgun’s grip frame, over the tank.  Each of these placement methods puts the loader below the top of the paintgun, reducing the player’s silhouette, reducing the chance of a hopper hit.

While it took over two years to develop into a working product, the operating mechanism in the QLoader is relatively simple.  In the core of the QLoader is a shaft with a spiral flange.  This forces the paintballs into a single file line, spiraling their way into the loader.  A sleeve just inside the loader’s body has a series of spiraled ribs, rotating in a direction opposite of the core spiral.  When the sleeve is rotated it pushes against the paintballs, rotating them around the spiral core and winding them either into, or out of the loader.

A torsion spring runs down the center of the loader’s core.  According to Hammett, getting a spring made to the right specifications was one of the project’s more difficult tasks.  When the loader is mounted on a paintgun, it provides a constant, even pressure on the paintballs – the spiral ribs in the walls of the loader make sure that force is evenly applied to all of the paintballs in the loader, not just the paint furthest in the back, as is the case with many previous spring driven loader designs.

The spring drive can empty a 100 round QLoader in slightly over two seconds (40-50 balls per second,) and Ancient Innovations expects the system will deliver paint to a paintgun reliably at up to 30 balls per second.

Loading a QLoader means not only putting paint into it, but also winding up the spring.  A special adapter with a ribbed knob is used to wind each loader, and feed in paintballs from a 500 round bulk container.  The loading process is a bit more cumbersome than filling standard pods, but the design philosophy is that the extra time in the staging area equates to less time reloading on the field.  

Development is underway for a motorized loading unit as well, to speed the process of filling the QLoaders.  A QLoader player system with the loading adapter, 5 Qloaders, and the paintgun mount, hose, and elbow is planned to retail for two hundred and fifty dollars, with additional Qloaders selling for $25 each.  At that price they will not likely be tossed aside as carelessly as $2 paint tubes when they are expended.

While the products shown at the Pan Am and IAO still featured some prototype components, the first production models of the QLoader are expected to be finished the first week of August 2003, with product available for sale to the public by the end of that month.

 


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