The Etha comes in a brand new case from Planet Eclipse. Outside there is a full color cardboard box. Inside that box you will find a hard plastic, foam lined case. The case has plastic latches to keep it closed and built in plastic hinges. Open the latches and inside the case and you will find the gun, barrel front, barrel back, manual, lube, allen keys, and barrel sock. All of these items are held in pre-cut slots in the foam case. As mentioned, the gun comes with all the accessories you need to keep your Etha running smoothly. The tool kit is a nice touch, as is the high quality Eclipse barrel sock. Planet Eclipse guns always come with great cases, but as far as durability and protection are concerned, this is probably one of the best that they have offered.
The Etha comes with Planet Eclipse's Shaft 4 barrel. This barrel was first seen on the GEO2. It features male threading on both ends of the barrel back, effectively increasing the control bore by 1.5", with no change in external appearance. The Etha comes with a 0.693" back and a tip that makes the barrel just over 14" when assembled. The added control bore length generally results in greater velocity given the same settings, and thus greater efficiency. It also makes it possible to shoot the gun at reasonable velocity even if the tip has to be removed during the game for some reason. The front and back still utilize a reverse threaded connection, as seen on previous Shaft barrels. The Shaft 4 barrel found on the Etha has simple milling and minimal porting (similar to the Etek3 barrel). Despite its plain looks, it shoots very well. The sound signature is not as quiet as a more heavily ported barrel would be, but it does perform very well.
Also included with the Etha is the SL3 regulator. This was first seen on the SLs and then the GEO2. The new regulator now threads directly on to the body with female threads on the regulator, and male on the Etha's body. This allows the profile to be reduced even more. The SL3 regulator allows for the use of both HP and LP tank regulators with no change in pressure to the gun, or velocity over the chrono. It also allows you to shoot down to the last 200-300psi of tank pressure and still achieve workable velocity. The SL3 regulator on the Etha feature smooth, simple milling, and offers all of the great performance features that you would find on any other Planet Eclipse gun.
The Etha also sees a modified version of Eclipse's brand new on/off ASA. The original version (seen on the EGO11 and GEO2.1) is called the POPS (Push On Purge System). The new version on the Etha is not a push button system, but operates on the same basic design. The Etha ASA features a screw on knob instead of a push button. The ASA is extrememly simple to use and retains on/off and purge functionality. The Etha ASA features a front macro fitting. Gone is the 90 degree fitting out the side of the ASA. The angle of the fittings also produces much less stress on the macroline itself.
The next all new aspect of the Etha, is the the trigger frame. The frame is made of glass reinforced Nylon and features brand new grip panels. The frame is nicely rounded front and rear, and actually has finger groves molded into the front. The separate (non-wraparound) grip panels are made of multi-density rubber and plastic. They are very comfortable and easy to hold, and they appear that they will last a much longer time than previous soft grips. As well as the grip frame being composite, the Etha also feature composite eye covers, feedneck lever, and on/off ASA knob. These parts function equally well as aluminum parts, but they help to further reduce weight and cost.
The overall size and proportions of the Etha will be very familiar to anyone who has owned or shot a GEO or GEO2. The single tube body, and comfortable grip frame to regulator spacing bear an obvious resemblance to previous Planet Eclipse spool valve guns. Overall the milling is more streamlined and simple than previous guns, but still looks sleek and very well done. The new grips give a slightly different feel than previous guns. The grip frame feels very solid is easy to get used to. The trigger is a reverse curve and features multiple adjustments in order to suite your liking. I find that the overall feel of the gun is very good, and it handles extremely well on the field.
And now, the part that everyone cares about, the drivetrain. Unscrews out the back, just like a GEO. When you unscrew it you will be able to remove the whole assembly including the soft tip bolt and the spring. The assembly can be further disassembled into the parts seen below. Here's a quick rundown of the operation (taken from the manual).
Assuming the Etha is gassed up and turned on the marker will be in its idle position. The bolt is held back under the tension from the bolt spring, with the bolt guide filled with pressurized gas directly from the inline regulator. The firing poppet is held in its forward positioning by the firing poppet spring, keeping the bolt guide sealed.
When the trigger is pulled and electrical signal is sent to the solenoid which directs a supply of air to the rear of the firing poppet. The force of this gas is greater than the spring tension pushing the firing poppet forward, and the firing poppet is pushed back to its rear position. In the bolt guide this opens the exhaust port to the bolt and seals off the supply port from the inline regulator.
The gas pressure in the bolt guide forces the bolt forward, overcoming the spring tension from the bolt spring, this pushes a ball into the breach and closes off the feed tube. The internal stem of the bolt is pushed out of the bold guide, which then fully opens the exhaust port, allowing the pressurized gas in the bolt guide to exhaust through the bold propelling a ball.
As the bolt guide volume empties, the force pushing the bolt forwards decreases and the bolt spring starts to push the bolt back into the bolt guide exhaust port. The spring continues to push the bolt back up to its rest position against the rear bolt bumper.
The solenoid continues to hold the firing poppet in its rear position until the Dwell time expires. When this expires the solenoid exhausts the supply of air from the rear of the firing poppet, removing the force holding the firing poppet in this position. The firing poppet spring forces the firing poppet forwards, closing the exhaust port and opening the supply from the inline regulator.
The bolt guide begins to fill with pressurized gas. The Etha has now completed a full cycle.
More thoughts and videos coming soon....