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By Bill Mills - Jan 2005
Photos By Dawn Mills
Up in the front of the Nerve are two more features where Smart Parts chose to add the extras rather than make them optional. Included with the Nerve is a stainless steel Freak barrel with .693 stainless steel insert and All American front. Only the one insert is included, however this is the company’s top end barrel, and only inserts of the desired sizes need to be purchased to allow for precise paint to barrel matching. The Nerve uses the same barrel threading as the Impulse.
The Nerve’s low profile feed neck features what Smart Parts calls Q-Lock. The clamping top of the feedneck is drawn tight by a lever and cam operated adjustment screw. With a quick flip the feedneck is unlocked, or locked tight around the neck of a hopper. When it is unlocked a small knurled nut can be used to adjust its locked diameter for easy adjustment to a range of hopper fits.
There are multiple points of trigger adjustment, allowing for complete customization of the trigger pull. The pre-travel adjustment is located at the top of the trigger and restricts how far forward the trigger can move. The post travel adjustment is located at the bottom of the trigger and bumps into the trigger frame forming the extreme rear limit to the trigger travel.
The trigger activation screw threads through the trigger and is the component that actually presses the microswitch inside the grip frame. As this screw is turned further into the trigger, it moves the trigger’s activation point further forward in the trigger stroke.
Beyond the physical trigger adjustments, the Nerve features an internal adjustment to what Smart Parts calls “rebound.” Much like the original Shocker Turbo mode, the Nerve can be set to count the electronic noise created when the trigger switch contacts first close, and count the signal spikes as separate trigger pulls. The rebound setting adjusts the software’s sensitivity to these spikes. At a rebound setting of one, rebound is essentially turned off. At the most sensitive setting, a series of rapid pulls on the trigger can generate an astonishing number of shots. At most paintball fields in the US, and under most tournament rules, only a rebound setting of 1 would be allowed, as it is what has traditionally been considered “semi-automatic” – one ball fired per trigger pull. The additional rebound settings, are designed for use in the NXL, and other leagues emulating its rule set to allow enhanced firing modes so long as rate of overall fire restrictions are followed on field.
All adjustments to the Nerve’s electronics are made with two pushbuttons on the vertical circuit board inside the grip frame. Accessing them requires the use of a Phillips screwdriver to remove the rubber wraparound grips. Two buttons, the top one to increase value, and the bottom to increase value, are used to change the dwell timing, rate of fire timing, and the rebound setting. The dwell is increased by pressing the top button, or decreased by pressing the lower button. A small speaker on the board emits a chirp each time a button is pressed, and it will chirp rapidly at a lower tone when the upper or lower limit of an adjustment range is reached. Because the Nerve does not have a data display, the only way to set a specific value is to lower the dwell to its minimum, and then count chirps from the speaker while increasing it. Similarly, the rate of fire adjustment – the minimum time allowed between two shots – is adjusted by turning the Nerve on while holding down the trigger, and then using the two adjustment buttons.
Adjusting the rebound setting is done by pressing and holding the power button for approximately one second, then making adjustments. These adjustments may only be made by opening the grip frame, and the only way to tell what the current settings are is to make an adjustment. For a referee, at a field or tournament which allows only true semi-auto play, detecting a Rebound setting of two or higher will require either testing the paintgun as is done in the NPPL, or opening the grip frame and changing the rebound setting. According to Hans Semelsberger of Smart Parts, future releases of the Nerve may possibly include a bi-color LED under the power switch to indicated the rebound mode. For the time being, the most effective tool for referees will be their ears, as a Nerve firing with a high rebound setting, will easily achieve the maximum rate of fire attainable by the timing settings, and the consistent timing from shot to shot will sound like full automatic fire.
Setup of the Nerve for review was a fast process which began with attaching the included drop forward to the grip frame with a pair of included screws. An inline Max Flo air system was attached to the drop and connected to the vertical regulator with a piece of included macroline hose. A HALO loader was locked into the feedneck with a flick of its latch. No sanding of the loader was required and it locked securely in place. With the invluded 9 volt battery already installed, the Nerve was ready to hit the field in all of about 5 minutes time.
Setting the velocity was also simple, and only required adjustment of the Nerve’s low pressure regulator on the front. Increasing the LPR setting increased the pressure of the gas driving the pneumatic ram against the main valve, thus increasing velocity. Decreasing LPR pressure had the opposite effect. This provided a stable, usable velocity setting.
Fine tuning velocity and setting the Nerve to one’s personal tastes is a bit more involved. The dwell time can be adjusted, as well as the vertical regulator output pressure, which feeds the main valve. Starting from scratch to reset a Nerve that has gotten out of balance means setting the dwell time to a value of 30 chirps up from the bottom, the vertical regulator to a pressure of 240 to 300 psi, and then backing out the LPR knob, then turning it inward first until the Nerve fires properly, and then continuing inward until the proper velocity is reached.
Turning on the Nerve before entering the field was simply a matter of pressing and holding the single power button for a couple of seconds. The Nerve responded with a chirp, and began flashing the blue light emitting diode behind the power button to indicate that it was on and ready to fire. Unlike the original Shocker SFT board, the Nerve’s circuit board is programmed to turn on with Vision mode activated, because unlike the Shocker, the Nerve is always shipped with its anti-chop eye. The Nerve Vision can be turned off when the ‘gun is live by quickly pressing the power button. This is met with another chirp followed by the LED blinking in double blinks followed by a pause rather thank blinking continuously. Powering off at the end of play – the equivalent of putting the Nerve in “safe” mode – was achieved by pressing and holding the power button for a couple of seconds.
On the field, the Nerve was fast and responsive. Its compact size and light weight made it easy to maneuver, popping up and around bunkers, while the trigger pull, which easily adjusted down to three hundredths of an inch, was easy to shoot fast. With a 68 cubic inch bottle on the Max Flo, bracing on the shoulder and rapid firing put a lot of paint quickly into a small space. With the Vision system on during all of the field testing, not a single paintball was broken either in the barrel, or as a chop in the breech. After games, switching into rebound mode five revealed the extra oomph behind the Nerve that was seen in the television coverage of the 2004 NXL finals. It was easy for even newer players to achieve very high, consistent rates of fire, a back player’s dream. With no problems on the field, the Nerve hit the test stand.
The Nerve reviewed was updated with components to reflect changes in the Nerve design that happened in the late fall of 2004. A couple of internal gas passages were enlarged, and most notably, the hammer now has a Delrin glide ring, to give it a lubricated surface against the walls of the aluminum receiver. Also the fit of the Seal Forward Technology o-ring that provides an air tight seal to the breech was adjusted for better performance.
On the WARPIG Ballistic Labs test stand loaded with DraXxus Hellfire paintballs, the Nerve was checked for velocity stability, and stability under rapid fire, as well as grouping size with its stock barrel, and the Freak barrel used as a standard during WARPIG product reviews.
Fired under computer control over a ballistic chronograph, 30 shots at one shot per second yielded an average velocity of 287.6 fps, and a Standard Deviation value of 8.2. The 95%+/- factor (if the 5% least consistent shots are ignored) was +/- 3.0. Stepping up the rate of fire, and putting out 30 balls at 14 balls per second, the average velocity dropped to 277.4, indicating slight velocity shoot-down condition. It is important to note, that testing was done with the stock factory settings for dwell lpr, and the vertical regulator, with tweaks to the regulators only made to bring in the velocity around 285 fps. Further balancing of the dwell and pressure settings would likely have an effect on both consistency and efficiency. Despite the three and a half percent velocity drop when hammering on the trigger, the consistency improved. At 14 balls per second, the standard deviation dropped to 7.8, though the 95%+/- value held at 3.0, meaning the most erratic shots of the string were less erratic than when firing at one ball per second.
Ten target shots were taken, at one shot per second intervals using both the stock stainless steel Freak barrel, and an aluminum Freak barrel, with insert chosen by size matching to the paint with the standard blow-through method. Surprisingly, even though it was listed at a larger bore size, and paint slid through it more freely, the stock stainless steel Freak provided a noticeably tighter target grouping.
Another Innovation to go along with the Nerve is Smart Parts’ new Gold Card warranty program. The Nerve comes with a 6 month warranty covering manufacturer’s defects. Like the automotive and consumer electronics industries, Smart Parts is adding an extended warranty option for their customers. Purchase of the Gold Card Warranty extends the Nerve’s labor warrantee coverage to two years, giving the player an imprinted credit card style warranty card used to identify them as a Gold Card holder. Not only is the warranty longer, but other benefits are added in. At paintball events where Smart Parts provides tech service, they are treated as preferred customers, bouncing to the front of the line for tech support. If the ‘gun is sent in to Smart Parts for work or upgrades, the Gold Card customer gets a guaranteed two day turnaround time, and return shipping via UPS ground is provided without charge.
Parts’ Nerve represents the top of the line for their product offerings
with all the bells and whistles included. This is a very different
approach from most paintgun manufacturers, that build products expecting
to make additional sales on upgrades. The Nerve is fast, responsive,
and features a modular structured firing mechanism for simplified maintenance.
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