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Old 08-03-2011, 02:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Valken VMax Loader - First Impressions

First let me say I was extremely excited to see this loader. I really wanted it to succeed. I love dealing with Valken and most of Valken products so my view might be slightly askew. With that being said, we got 3 of these loaders earlier this week and I have had a few hours to tinker with one.



Sensor:
I will jump right in with my biggest gripe with the loader and the most discussed feature (possibly flaw) of the loader, the sensor in the feedtube. Anyone who has used a Ricochet hopper is familiar with the "Tab" sensor; the VMax works in a much similar, but slightly more reliable, way. Rather than having a tab the VMax has a 4-point "ninja star" type roller switch that has almost no resistance to it. When paint rolls past it the loader runs the agitator to feed about 5 more balls past it. It keeps spinning, therefore it keeps feeding paint, until empty.

It sounds pretty good in theory, but most of the criticism that has come down on the new loader is that if you shoot the loader dry it will stop feeding. Luckily this is not entirely true; the feed tube is designed in a way where gravity will reliably carry those first few rounds down the feed tube when dumping a pod into an empty or nearly empty hopper even with the agitator not spinning.

In my bench testing the hopper almost always starts feeding again when paint is added. If the loader doesn't the power button also doubles as a "Prime" button; where when pushed will run the agitator for about one second to get the loader feeding aging. Fortunately I only needed to prime the loader once during testing and that was when I was testing the very old, left-in-the-sun clumps stuck together paint. Despite all the criticism the sensor works pretty well in bench testing.

In short: You do NOT have to prime it when you add paint! Try it before you criticize and don't listen to anusgear.

Picture of the 4 point sensor wheel:


Shells & Weight:
With that out of the way, one of the first things you will notice about the loader is how light it is. Almost 0.4 pounds lighter than the Dye Rotor when empty (with batteries installed). It reminds me a lot of a Revy in terms of weight and balance. The weight does come at a cost, the shells are half the thickness of a Rotor and just feel a bit cheap. I don't think it would survive a propane torch or 10ft drop without falling apart like the Rotor does.

Here are the actual weights with Energy Paintball batteries.
VMAX: 0.995 lbs
Rotor: 1.355 lbs
Eggy 4: 1.105 lbs
Revy: 0.830 lbs


Again, much like the Rotor the top shell pops off using a thumb tab under the lid and hinges off a tab in the front. Looking deeper inside the loader the tray on the bottom is not angled at all. It sits, more or less, perfectly flat above the recessed agitator tray. The last 20 rounds or so need to be rolled down into the recess and will not fall in on their own if the loader is held level. This is a minor gripe but if the tray was angled I suppose the capacity would be lessened. At the cost of this loader I would expect a simple pop-up ramp or something. I shouldn't have to shake or rock a $130 loader.





Here you can see the feedneck is made up of 2 parts. The outer is much thinner than the Rotor's one piece feedneck. Fortunately it is one molded piece. I dont see this breaking too easily like a halo or revy.



The Paint Tray takes a little bending to get it to pop out of its tabs and isn't held in place incredibly well. I don't really see it going anywhere unless you drop the loader. However you really need to make sure it is locked in place when re-installing. Again there are no flexible tabs, you just have to bend the tray into place. The agitator cup, motor, sensor and feed tube assembly come out as one piece by turning a tab and disconnecting a cable to the main board. You do, however need a screwdriver to remove the mainboard from the bottom shell, making this not entirely tool less. I see no real reason to remove the mainboard for normal cleaning or maintenance, but still, not completely tool less.

Here we have the trey removed. We can see the mainboard bolted down and the flexible paddles. Below is another look at the paint tray.




The Lid is pretty neat, however it opens a little high, about an inch longer than a standard lid. As a snake player this is a little frustrating. Luckily Valken does say the speed feeds are on the way. The neat part is how you can remove the lid without tools. The pin that holds it in place collapses (Much like a mini TP roll holder) and the lid, spring, and pin all come out in one piece. No more lost lid springs, and makes switching between a lid and a speed feed very easy. The lid can be removed easily with a small screwdriver or fingernail.

VMax open lid height versus Rotor & Revy:




The Battery Door works, it holds energy 9 volts well without excess force needed to close it. It slides out and folds down on small metal hinges I see them getting broken off easily, but not in game, just if enough force is used when changing batteries. The door is held shut with a small phillips screw, we are told this is optional and the door stay shut well enough with out one. I would still recommend using the screw but it takes away from the "Toolless" design. Currently I have no data on battery life from field testing or Valken...

Closer look at the metal hinges



Feed Mechanism:
Surprisingly there is no force feed here. Nothing, no springs, no winding, no load on the paint stack at all. Just a very flexible agitator. The surprising thing is that it actually works pretty well. The agitator is recessed in a cup shaped tray with the feed tube out the front. The spinning of the agitator lines the paint up in the trey and throws it down the tube. It feeds pretty consistently on a marker and works perfectly for today's 12.5 BPS tournament speeds. Valken claims 30+BPS drop speed.... I really couldn't get it there, even in a drop test using fresh energy batteries. Mainly because the last few dozen rounds needed to be rocked into the bottom tray and threw off my data. I averaged just over 5 seconds to fill a Valken (GxG type) 140 rd pod or about 20-25 BPS fall speed. Again, great for today's tournament speeds, but no 30bps.

How the paint is lined up in the agitator and a closer look at the agitator tray.



Noise:
The loader makes about the same ammout of noise as anything else, however is it a slightly higer pitch than the Rotor or even a Revy. I used a decible app for android to get an idea on how the Vmax compares to other loaders on noise. I took a reading with the meter at rest and while running to factor out the ambient noise (which was always 30db). The data looks like this:

Loader___Ambient___Running___Actual
VMax_____30db______85db______55db *
Rotor_____30db______85db______55db
Egg4_____30db______78db______48db *
Revy_____30db______83db______53db
*Noticeably higher pitch than other loaders.


In Closing
This loader is great for what it's designed for; being light, simple, easy to clean. It really wants to be a rotor but it is closer to a revy to me. The biggest gripe with the VMax is the darn sensor. It works, but I see it failing very easily. In the off chance that the paint doesn't make it down the feed tube you WILL need to press the power button once to prime it and get it feeding again. IF this loader had a simple break-beam sensor like a revy it would be my favorite loader by far. The roller sensor works on bench tests without priming but until I get some real field testing I cant say it works flawlessly in game.

Drop test videos are still being edited and voiceover'ed. I will have those up hopefully this weekend.

Thanks for reading!
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Last edited by Nevit; 08-05-2011 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I think the battery door design will prove to be a mistake. It's almost exactly the same as the infamous catastrophically-popping-battery-ejecting doors on the Eggys.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by russc View Post
I think the battery door design will prove to be a mistake. It's almost exactly the same as the infamous catastrophically-popping-battery-ejecting doors on the Eggys.
Yes, the battery door is rather flimsy, at least they added a screw to hold it shut and I would recommend using it. Valken does say it is optional and unfortunately I don't see many players using it. We will have to see how long the battery life is, maybe we will only have to open it once or twice a season and using the screw will make sense.

EDIT: The good thing is, even with the energy batteries, there isn't much force being exerted on the door from the batteries trying to force it open like other loaders. Much less downward force than the revys and the eggys.
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Old 08-03-2011, 02:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, depending on the design, they'll use the screw once the rails break Eggy style.
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Old 08-03-2011, 03:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You mention that the shells are thinner (sadly), but how does the feedneck look to hold up? I was a fan of the Fasta, which shares some design similarities, but they had stress concentrations in the feedneck that caused premature cracking.

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Old 08-03-2011, 03:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rip off.
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Old 08-03-2011, 04:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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tl;dr

It's a pinokio/fasta/ricochet shaped like a rotor.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Rip off.
your opinion is based upon what information?
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Old 08-04-2011, 04:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lomarandil View Post
You mention that the shells are thinner (sadly), but how does the feedneck look to hold up? I was a fan of the Fasta, which shares some design similarities, but they had stress concentrations in the feedneck that caused premature cracking.

Lo
The feedneck on these is much more akin to a Rotor than a Fasta. I won't go so far as to say it is as tough as a Rotor, but I'm confident it's much tougher than just about any other hopper out there these days. I loved my Fasta too, still have one in the closet somewhere...
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Old 08-04-2011, 06:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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