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Old 07-08-2011, 01:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Proto Primo

When I first heard of the Proto Primo, I was interested. Skeptical, but interested. The concept and design seemed reasonable enough: A gravity hopper that makes use of an internal shelf that prevents the weight of balls at the top of the hopper from jamming those near the feedgate. Channels in the underside of the shelf assist even further in directing traffic. All of this translates (in theory) to a gravity hopper that defies gravity in order to feed faster than a traditional gravity hopper.

Like I said, skeptical, but interested. This concept has been tried before, with decent results, in the Tacamo. But the Tacamo is sinfully ugly. There are other significant differences between the two, of course, but the ugly thing is pretty powerful. And let’s face it, style counts for something in this game. That, and your friends not mocking you.

So after much reading and much pestering of several of you who’ve become owners, I picked up one of my own. Even before it came I decided that I was going to test it against a few other longtime contenders of the older school: the Viewloader 200, the Sightfeeder Dominator, the Indian Springs ‘Maxi Loader XL’, and the pre-'Revvy' VL2000.

Out of the box, my initial impressions were positive. The Primo is exceedingly well built in terms of fit, finish, and sturdiness. The plastic is heavy and stiff, and feels . . . tough. Very tough. The lines are clean, the seams are invisible, the mouth is nice and wide, and the spring-loaded lid lifts and closes cleanly and crisply. And while the pictures make it look gargantuan, the Primo is actually no bigger than a standard Viewloader. It is the same height, width, and only slightly longer. Its raked profile, with low, narrow nose, and high, flared back end, make it seem much larger.

The only drawback in terms of build quality seems to be in the use of some of the tiniest machine screws I’ve seen. Mice would need magnification and tweezers to use them. They are almost certainly easy to strip. The one saving grace is generous meat in the tapped holes, presumably to permit the use of larger screws in the event of stripping. And to be fair, the six of them do seem to hold the shell halves together firmly enough for substantially abusive treatment.

For testing, I decided to do multiple drop tests, followed by field testing. For the drops I counted out 155 balls, a mix of Diablo Heat and Draxxus something-or-other, both fresh. Why 155? Because that is how much happened to be in a bag left over from last outing. These same 155 balls were used in all hoppers in all cycles of all the tests. There were four drop tests in all: (a) static (5 cycles); (b) agitation ‘at need’ (20 cycles); (c) continuous agitation (20 cycles); and (d) feed burst count (5 cycles). A standard stop watch was used to count seconds in all timed cycles. Owing to the number of balls used, seconds were measured in whole units.

All of this amounted to the equivalent of dropping more than 15,000 balls, so what follows will be a relative lot of numbers. If you bore easily, skim to the summary at the end. And what follows are the numbers I gathered using these particular hoppers with this particular paint. Your results may vary. For clarity, I’ll break the tests up into individual posts in this thread.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Static Drop

1. Static drop. For this test, I simply loaded the 155 balls into the hopper, removed my finger from the gate, and simultaneously hit the stopwatch. This test was scheduled for 15 cycles, but never got that far since, not surprisingly, the VL2000 was the only hopper to actually unload. All the others dumped maybe one or two balls, then jammed. Including the Primo. What I noticed was that the VL2000 was absolutely consistent. In all five drops, it took exactly 20 seconds to unload 155 balls. This translates to a feedrate of 7.75 bps, which was surprising to me, as I expected this to be higher.

EDIT: When I conducted this test I was using an old VL2000 instead of a Revy. Just grabbed it for the test and as they look very similar, well, you can see the mistake. The remainder of the review I erroneously referred to it as a 'Revvy'. All posts have since been updated.

If you have an actual Revvy that feeds this slowly there is something seriously the matter.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Agitation 'At Need'

Agitation ‘at need’.

For this test, hoppers would be agitated only when balls jammed. Here are the numbers for elapsed time in each of the 20 drop cycles for each of the hoppers. I should point out that during this phase both the Dominator (which I’ve used for ages) and Indian Springs loader did so badly as to be ejected from the trials. And from my service, world without end. Since the Revvy rendered this need moot, only the Viewloader 200 and the Primo were tested in this phase. I’ve listed their feedtime in seconds side by side, for easier comparison.

VL 200________Proto Primo
1. 26________18
2. 33________15
3. 23________17
4. 27________20
5. 24________18
6. 34________20
7. 25________18
8. 23________17
9. 26________22
10. 21________19
11. 20________19
12. 20________21
13. 24________16
14. 21________21
15. 27________19
16. 21________15
17. 18________20
18. 21________22
19. 24________20
20. 25________22

These numbers give an average 6.418 bps for the Viewloader, vs an average 8.179 bps for the Primo. It is most interesting that in this phase the Primo had a higher feedrate than even the VL2000.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Continuous Agitation

3. Continuous agitation. For this test I simply wished to know how fast the hoppers could unload paint. Hoppers were ‘jittered’, i.e., small motion, high cyclic rate, to most closely approximate the vibration of running and shooting, while operating a jackhammer. I fully recognize that no one can play like this, but it does give a sense of the outer limits of feed capacity. What is most interesting here is that I attempted this with the VL2000 and discovered that while the VL2000 again proved completely consistent, giving the same numbers each and every time, it was absolutely impossible to make the thing feed any faster than 18 seconds, for a feedrate of only 8.6 bps. Again, this is a VL2000, not a true Revvy, but I still found this to be radically underwhelming. Below are numbers for VL 200 and Primo. As before, numbers represent time in seconds to drop 155 balls.

VL 200________Proto Primo

1. 14________14
2. 11________13
3. 11________16
4. 12________13
5. 12________14
6. 14________12
7. 13________14
8. 10________13
9. 12________12
10. 13________12
11. 13________14
12. 13________13
13. 13________14
14. 12________15
15. 12________12
16. 12________13
17. 13________13
18. 13________14
19. 12________13
20. 14________12

Interestingly, in this test the VL 200 pulled away from the Primo with an average feedrate of 12.456 bps to the Primo’s 11.65 bps. And in one case the VL 200 hit a staggering 15.5 bps. My guess is that because the shelf poses an obstruction, the VL 200, lacking this feature, requires less distance for its balls to travel in order to exit the hopper.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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'Feed burst' count and initial conclusions

4. ‘Feed burst’ count. This test actually arose out of observation of the ‘at need’ agitation test. I noticed that while the VL 200 typically seemed to spit out only a few balls with each agitation, and hence, required more agitations, the Primo seemed to produce streams of paint each time it was agitated, and hence, needed fewer agitations. So I tested it with 5 drop cycles. No timing was done in this portion. Hoppers were filled and given an initial agitation to start flow, and were allowed to feed until jammed. Balls were then counted and separated. The hopper was again agitated and allowed to flow, and again the number of balls in this ‘feed burst’ were counted, until the hopper was empty. Numbers below indicate number of agitation cycles and number of balls dropped in each burst. Asterisk indicates final burst count per drop cycle.

VL 200________Proto Primo

First drop
1. 7________6
2. 8________20
3. 6________9
4. 6________21
5. 7________12
6. 6________16
7. 13________23
8. 2________48*
9. 4
10. 3
11. 11
12. 4
13. 4
14. 11
15. 8
16. 3
17. 5
18. 8
19. 12
20. 27*

Second Drop
1. 3________7
2. 7________3
3. 8________14
4. 5________15
5. 11________16
6. 1________21
7. 5________32
8. 10________47*
9. 4
10. 4
11. 9
12. 4
13. 12
14. 10
15. 5
16. 16
17. 13
18. 19
19. 9*

Third Drop
1. 8________3
2. 5________4
3. 15________11
4. 10________5
5. 16________17
6. 7________25
7. 12________20
8. 6________28
9. 4________35
10. 4________7*
11. 12
12. 35
13. 21*

Fourth Drop
1. 6________5
2. 7________21
3. 3________20
4. 7________48
5. 6________22
6. 5________18
7. 1________21*
8. 3
9. 1
10. 4
11. 8
12. 11
13. 10
14. 6
15. 12
16. 5
17. 2
18. 8
19. 7
20. 9
21. 11
22. 23*

Fifth/Final Drop
1. 7________2
2. 7________7
3. 9________6
4. 12________10
5. 13________18
6. 5________4
7. 4________18
8. 11________5
9. 5________6
10. 9________16
11. 9________9
12. 7________37
13. 15________17*
14. 10
15. 32*

Taken together, the VL 200 feeds at the average rate of 8.7 bpb (balls per burst), while the Primo nearly doubles this at a rate of 16.84 bpb.

It should be clear from these tests that while both gravity hoppers are enormously inconsistent, and while the VL200 technically is the fastest gravity hopper (tested), the Primo unquestionably feeds in a completely different way, one that should prove much faster and more reliable overall in real world use.

Will need to get the Primo into the field and put it through its paces to confirm all of this of course, but my suspicion, based on these tests, is that for regular mechanical markers, the Primo should be well worth its $15 price tag.

To be continued . . ..
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:21 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for this review. Entertaining read--even if I do think there's a limit to how accurate anyone can *really* get with a gravity-fed device. Am I correct in summing up your research as:

1. The Revvy is the most consistent device
2. Gravity fed hoppers can feed almost twice as fast under ideal conditions...but also under-perform the Revvy much of the time
3. The Primo will out-perform a "traditional" gravity hopper in some (but not all cases)...notably when the hopper is being highly agitated

Based on this, I am curious whether you think the Primo outperforms the VL200 often enough to justify buying one...

As someone who shoots both a VL200 and a Primo regularly (I have one of each on my two pumps), here's my "real world" opinion:

- I find the Primo is more sensitive to the angle of shot...if horizontal, no problem. But shooting off axis..even a little up/down...the Primo fails more often. In such cases, a little extra weigh on the ball stack may actually be helpful...see the cutaway in this link to see what I mean about needing to have the hopper tilted forward:

- I find the high, flared rear of the hopper feels MUCH higher off the gun that it actually is. I actually checked my profile with the same gun and tank and the VL200 vs Primo in a mirror and they seem about the same. But man, they sure LOOK like they're different.

Bottomline, I find the Primo to be equal to or lesser than a VL200 or traditional shake/bake hopper. Actually, the SportShot 100 round hopper is my fave by far over the other two...for handling, use, and real world results...

Last edited by Dr. PhunkyPants; 07-08-2011 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Great write up menace! I have been thoroughly impressed with my primo. Its interesting that the revvy didnt feed at a faster rate then that.
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:17 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Dr. P and Silver, thank you both.

Dr. P, your summary of my summary is accurate. As noted first and last, this is all purely academic until the thing actually sees real time in the field. But the results are interesting nonetheless.

Also of note is that I found the Primo to actually load better when it wasn’t level. Did several little tests not posted here, and one of them sought to find the best form of agitation for each loader. Rocking the Primo around using the feed gate as a fulcrum (rather like operating a gear shifter) turned the hopper into a paint hose. Not sure exactly what it all means. And certainly it is not a 'real world' test anyway. I tried to use a more generic mode of agitation in the comparison test.

As for the shelf, angles, and stacking, I have never subscribed to the ‘weight of the ballstack’ doctrine. A ballstack might be more stable in some senses, but it cannot feed faster than single balls can fall. Gravity is pretty fair-minded and doesn’t care whether a paintball has a million balls behind it, or none. The use of the shelf in the Primo prohibits ball stacking, yet it loads plenty fast in good conditions. But perhaps when shooting far, the angle, plus pump stroke, pulls the balls back from the feedgate. Maybe.

The Primo does seem very sensitive to the type of agitation. Gentle seems best, vice violent for the VL200. Found a couple videos that seem to support this. In the first case the hopper is gently slung with very good results:

YouTube - ‪Proto primo review‬‏

In the second case the hopper is throttled phrenetically with less than stellar results:

YouTube - ‪Proto Primo 8-10bps Test‬‏

Not sure why this is the case, but I will concur the Primo is an odd bird. People, as evidence by you and Silver, seem either to love it or hate it, and seem also to have good evidence to back up these positions. So it will be interesting to do more thinking and testing and above all, to get it into the field and see how it works in my own case with my own markers.

And it's funny that you mention the Sportshot. Everyone seems to love that thing. Never have heard a bad word about it, other than that it doesn't come in bigger. It does have a similar shape to the Primo, so maybe I'll remove the shelf and do some testing that way.

Cheers, and thanks to you both again for the great feedback.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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How did you calculate the feed rate on the revy? I mean... what tends to happen with a revy is the few balls in it, the worse it feeds. The last dozen or so tend to popcorn around in the hopper. I haven't run tests but I don't think any of my revys feed that slow unless you count the popcorn stage.

I find gravity hoppers are usually the opposite where they feed better with only a few balls but if they're up near capacity the balls tend to jam more. I tend to agree with DrP. I like the sportshot a lot and a close second are the old 100 round indian springs hoppers.

The Primo design seems pretty smart. It seems like the goal is to get the weight of the upper balls off of the ones going into the feed. I wonder if blocking off one side of the "platform" and only allowing balls feed from one side might lead to better results. Might result in more hopper movement to get the balls into position though.

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Old 07-08-2011, 03:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You raise a good point about the popcorn effect. However, I dealt with that during testing. For one thing, the volume of paint meant that even if there was some popcorning at the end, it still would not throw off the total count. Second, the feedrates are inverted between the two styles of hopper. The revvy feeds best when full, and sputters at the end. The gravity hoppers on the other hand sputter at the beginning, and typically dump at the end. So there is an inverted parity between the two that provides for a decent equation.

Finally, my revvy is older and the paddles don't zip around like many I've seen. It moves the balls but doesn't tend to pinball them. There was only one cycle in which the revvy popcorned significantly on the last couple of balls. In that case I stopped the timer and calculated based on how many balls actually fell through (153). It happened only once, and still maintained the same feedrate when all was accounted for.

EDIT: Again, I mistakenly used a VL2000, and erroneously referred to it as a Revvy.

To be fair, the same thing happened with both the Primo and the VL200. In a couple cases, the Primo held one or two balls on the shelf, and it wasn't noticed until I laid it down. This happened in both agitation tests. It only happened to the VL200 in the 'At need' test. All went silent until I laid it over, and a couple rolled out. It doesn't seem like it should happen, but believe me, after that many drops, I've learned that all kinds of weird stuff happens in those hoppers. Take a plate and put a golf ball on it. Now agitate it, earthquake style, like we agitate our hoppers. The golf ball might fall off, but it might also be perfectly content to steadily roll around on that plate, even with vigorous movement. Only when the plate is upended does it fall off. And with the Vl200, without continuous shaking, those last two or three can fall in just the right way to lodge each other up at the very end.

As for the blocking of one side or the other, already tried that. Blocked the front, blocked the back (not at the same time, obviously), and it didn't improve the feedrate. If anything it slowed a hair. I even made a domed top for the shelf out of a plastic cup, to ensure the balls would roll off, but it didn't meaningfully help, either.

Even thought of doing a half shelf, but at that point I realized it was time for a reality check.
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