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Smart Parts

DraXxus

Product Testing performed with DraXxus Paintballs

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Smart Parts' Vibe
by Bill Mills - Photos by Dawn Mills - Aug 2008

Features HowItWorks Disassembly Adjustment Testing Data

Every so often a paintgun manufacturer releases a marker that sets a new standard – usually this comes in terms of increased levels of performance, or in decreased price for a given level of performance. The Illustrator hit the scene as a successful mass produced blowback semi-auto. The Stingray proved that a blowback semi-auto could be sold for under $200. The Ion brought low-pressure electro-pneumatic operation to the under $300 price range. Now the Smart Parts Vibe delivers low-pressure electro-pneumatic operation below $200, at a price that is competitive with a large percentage of the blow-back markers on the market, with or without electro grips.

paintball vibe smart parts paintgunBased on the same valve and bolt system that drives the Ion, the Vibe is built of lighter weight materials with lower manufacturing costs, and a newer solenoid valve that is much smaller. Additionally, because it utilizes the newer Max-Flo R vertical regulator, it is protected against liquid CO2 damage, a problem faced by many electropneumatic markers. This is an important feature for its low-cost target market, as CO2 tanks are less expensive than compressed air systems.

paintballThe grip frame, trigger and outer body shell of the Vibe are manufactured from fiber reinforced nylon, similar in feel and texture to that found in polymer bodied handguns, such as those manufactured by Glock. Much like the original Model T Ford, the Vibe is available in any color you like, as long as it is black. The polymer material has a matte finish, and because there is no top-coat of paint or anodizing, scratches or scuffs are not highly visible, as the material they uncover is the same color as the material removed.

paintballA flexible black rubber-like material is used for the wrap-around Colt 1911 compatible grips as well as the contoured grip cover that fits over the marker's regulator.

At the bottom of the Vibe's grip frame is the marker's bottom-line style ASA fitting. A pair of industry-standard center-line placed 10-32paintball screws mount the bottom-line to a nylon mounting wedge, which is in turn connected to the grip frame by another pair of 10-32 screws. The mounting wedge places a CO2 tank screwed into it at a downward angle, so that gravity will keep liquid CO2 away from the tank's valve, minimizing the risk of liquid CO2 feeding into the marker.

paintballA black nylon braided hose connects the bottom-line to the Vibe's Max-Flo R vertical regulator. The gases infosheet that ships with the Vibe explains that the CO2 mounting wedge can be removed when using the Vibe on compressed air. It is important to note though, that such a change in configuration would also require replacing the braided hose, as its length is an exact match for use with the mounting wedge. The mounting wedge will not affect HPA related performance.

paintballCO2 or compressed air is fed into the side of a swivel base at the bottom of the regulator, allowing velocity adjustment to be performed with a hex-wrench through the center of the regulator base. This arrangement allows for adjustment with hex-wrenches commonly found at paintball fields and does not require the open-end wrench used for Ion velocity adjustment.

paintballThe Max Flo R vertical regulator has a feature that harkens back to the CO2 Max Flo for the Shocker Sport and 4x4, and is absent from most modern paintball vertical regs – a relief valve. The most serious threat liquid CO2 holds for electropneumatic paintguns is not freezing, as many paintball players believe. Electronic circuits actually improve in performance at lower temperatures as electrical resistance decreases.

The danger comes in the form of over-pressurization. If liquid CO2 does manage to get past a marker's regulator, it can absorb heat from the marker components surrounding it and boil into gas. Because gas takes up more space than liquid, this conversion creates a rise in pressure. For old-school mechanical markers this typically results nothing more than a high velocity shot. With electropneumatic markers it's a different story, as the solenoid valves used are typically rated to low (between 100 and 300 psi) pressure levels.

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The relief valve in the Max Flo R is designed to prevent overpressure damage by opening and venting gas before the pressure level can rise high enough to cause any damage. This also serves as protection against over-adjustment of the regulator or a regulator leak that might otherwise blow out a hose, fitting or solenoid valve.

Continue to Features Page Two .


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