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Old 08-03-2011, 02:04 PM #1
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Valken VMax Loader - First Impressions - UPDATED 08-09-11

First let me say I was extremely excited to see this loader. I really wanted it to succeed. I love dealing with Valken and Valken products so my view might be slightly biased toward Valken. 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 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. Someday I will test this.

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, which is probably true in bursts. Since most will measure how long it takes to fill a pod this is an AVERAGE feed and for me came out to an average feed of 25BPS. Still very solid and faster than you will ever need to shoot. The best part is how simple this feed system is; no springs, no magnets, no parts turning inside each other to jam up,(I'm looking at you Dye) it just w-o-r-k-s. Valken kept it simple.

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




In Closing Revised 08-09-11
This loader is great for what it's designed for; being light, simple, easy to clean. It is simpler to take apart than a rotor and feeds just as well. For today's tournament speeds I see it having no problem at all with an on-gun speed of 20bps. What I like most about it is that it WILL NOT jam, even with sun soaked stuck together paint I could not get it to completely stop up. Also worth noting, there is nothing holding the paint back while the loader is off; the feed tube is still open. This means even if your batteries die or something fails the loader will STILL FEED via gravity, UNLIKE the rotor, prophecy and egg4 where if it fails, you are stuck.

Bottom line: One of the best feeding, simplest loaders you can buy in its price range. As a front player I would prefer this over my Revy, Rotor or Prophecy.

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 : 08-09-2011 at 04:15 PM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 03:50 PM #2
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nice little review! excited to see more
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Old 08-03-2011, 11:20 PM #3
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How loud is the hopper when its running?
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Old 08-04-2011, 10:24 AM #4
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the flat paint tray is the biggest design flaw IMO, if they would angle it ever so slightly would probably be enough to help it feed those last few paintball without really decreasing the capacity.... i dont think too many people would be angry if it held 5 less paintballs if it fixed that issue.

I'm hoping they'll fix that with a small revision

I'm also wondering, since it's not a force fed loader, how well would it work if say you're in the snake your is sideways, would it still feed?

Last but not least I'm very curious how the shell is gonna hold up, especially the battery tray of which I'm not too fond of, i can see those tabs breaking off pretty easily like the old eggs

I havent used this hopper yet so I'm basing all of this purely from all the reviews I've seen
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Old 08-04-2011, 12:38 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MoogLe View Post
the flat paint tray is the biggest design flaw IMO, if they would angle it ever so slightly would probably be enough to help it feed those last few paintball without really decreasing the capacity.... i dont think too many people would be angry if it held 5 less paintballs if it fixed that issue.

I'm hoping they'll fix that with a small revision

I'm also wondering, since it's not a force fed loader, how well would it work if say you're in the snake your is sideways, would it still feed?

Last but not least I'm very curious how the shell is gonna hold up, especially the battery tray of which I'm not too fond of, i can see those tabs breaking off pretty easily like the old eggs

I havent used this hopper yet so I'm basing all of this purely from all the reviews I've seen

The feed system is pretty much identical to the Fasta, which I have plenty of exerience with. The Fasta fed fine on it's side, the cup and paddles always kept paint in the feedneck. If it weren't for the weak feedneck I'd still be rocking a Fasta....and if I didn't own rotors already I'd think about picking up a vmax. It's a good feed system

As for the flat tray, I imagine it won't be an issue while playing because you're constantly moving and so is the paint. In drop tests and shooting vids the loader is held very still on purpose, so it doesn't simulate a real play environment. You'll never be that still for long in a game.
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:55 PM #6
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I agree man, it's right to say that you will never be so still in real playing enviroment. i'm exited to get my vmax, hopefully next week to see by my own how strong and reliable it is
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:19 PM #7
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super impressed so far.

Reball video 1
http://youtu.be/r2CPyBhTO8c
Reball video 2
http://youtu.be/h-38jD3kXYc

Hopper on CSL
http://youtu.be/bs5OnSOsEm4


I think its a great hopper and well worth the money. Super light, looks good, feeds great, the lid is amazing and its super simple to tear apart, its actually alot faster to break down then the rotor and I own 4 rotors. I think this will be my primary loader

I want to touch base with the tray, yes its flat. however In all the tests Ive done so far with it, i havnt had to shake or tilt the hopper. The paint has rolled down without a problem. And im sure when playing it wont be a problem at all bc your moving so thats going to make the paint move around anyway.
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:10 AM #8
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I'm very impressed with the performance of this hopper works awesome, can't wait to get mine
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Old 08-05-2011, 10:24 AM #9
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Pictures and more information have been added to the OP.

My noise data would not fit so here it is:


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.


Quote:
Originally Posted by papaintballer15 View Post
I want to touch base with the tray, yes its flat. however In all the tests Ive done so far with it, i havnt had to shake or tilt the hopper. The paint has rolled down without a problem. And im sure when playing it wont be a problem at all bc your moving so thats going to make the paint move around anyway.
I agree with you. In my drop tests (videos still being edited) I found I had to rock the rotor a lot more than the VMax to get those last few rounds out. The rotor also had a MUCH harder time with drop tests using older paint than the VMax. Simplicity is the beauty of this loader.
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Last edited by Nevit : 08-05-2011 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:37 PM #10
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Ran some paint through mine last night on my 07 Ego, works like a dream. Out of 5 reloads, only once I have to move the hopper around to load the last ball.
I shot till it was empty and then reloaded and I DID NOT HAVE TO PRIME IT AT ALL.
Great hopper, especially considering the price.
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:23 AM #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theVicious1 View Post
The feed system is pretty much identical to the Fasta, which I have plenty of exerience with. The Fasta fed fine on it's side, the cup and paddles always kept paint in the feedneck. If it weren't for the weak feedneck I'd still be rocking a Fasta....and if I didn't own rotors already I'd think about picking up a vmax. It's a good feed system

As for the flat tray, I imagine it won't be an issue while playing because you're constantly moving and so is the paint. In drop tests and shooting vids the loader is held very still on purpose, so it doesn't simulate a real play environment. You'll never be that still for long in a game.
unless you're shooting lanes....

then again, you shouldnt be shooting the loader dry anyway sooo yea i guess it shouldnt be such a big problem now that i think about it a bit better
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:47 AM #12
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My biggest gripe with it is HOW incredibly soft the agitators are. Nothing anywhere near as thick and durable feeling/looking as a Pinokio, Fasta, Apache, SSL-200. I think that'll be the biggest issue, I have no doubts they'll break after a few months of heavy usage with how flimsy they are.

However, so far no issues with the performance. Definitely fast enough, holds a good amount, and darn simple. Not going to take the Prophecy's spot as my favorite, and I probably still would prefer the new Pinokio to it also when it comes out, but good, solid, and most importantly, affordable hopper.
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Old 08-08-2011, 09:55 AM #13
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with all the gripes of no eyes, and a flat trays and such i see a decent market on upgrade parts flowing.. the way its designed it looks like it wouldnt be incredibly hard to put a hinged floor in it.. i think its going to be a solid loader.. but i cant give up my halo b's, ill probably buy one used eventually tho
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:34 PM #14
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Definitely would love to pick up aftermarket arms. I really, really believe they're not going to last long at all.
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Old 08-09-2011, 09:11 AM #15
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Just used mine this weekend. I like the feel of the loader on the gun, weight and profile but that's really about it.

My likes:
-shell construction feels very sturdy
-it is very easy to take apart
-I like how the spring is integrated to the lid so when you remove the lid the spring stays with it.
-it really does feel light on the gun

My gripes (some bigger than others):

-The agitator spins slow and weak (with brand new energizers, volt tested)
-The on/off button feels flimsy, the light is very hard to see on a bright day, and I dont like how when powering down the loader you have to hold it down and the light doesnt turn off till you release it.
-I also think that agitator arms are flimsy have the potential to degrade
-the lid pops open way too easily, every chest slide it popped open on me, even with my gun standing on the ground and it just tipping over would pop the lid open
-dont know what it was about the design, but when running and gunning the hopper would not feed fast enough for psp 12bps. i guess take this for what it is because maybe I dont run as smooth as most but I have never had a problem with a rotor/proph/pinokio

Overall it was decent if I were to rate it I would give it a 6/10. It is definitely not worth the price point imo. I doubt I will be using it in anything but practice or recball at the moment. I would like to see a better board and agitator for it (cmon Virtue, get on it) and I am looking to try out the speedfeed. It has potential but needs modification.
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Old 08-09-2011, 11:50 AM #16
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not keeping up while running and gunning is a HUGE flaw if that's true, I wonder if anyone else has experienced that.

I would assume that it may very well be true since it's gravity fed...
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Old 08-09-2011, 12:45 PM #17
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I won't get to really test until NEXT weekend on a marker.
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:06 PM #18
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I have updated my "In Closing" portion on the op after some more time with the V-Max:

This loader is great for what it's designed for; being light, simple, easy to clean. It is simpler to take apart than a Rotor and feeds just as well. For today's tournament speeds I see it having no problem at all with an on-gun speed of 20bps. What I like most about it is that it WILL NOT jam, even with sun soaked stuck together paint I could not get it to completely stop up. Also worth noting, there is nothing holding the paint back while the loader is off; the feed tube is still open. This means even if your batteries die or something fails the loader will STILL FEED via gravity, UNLIKE the rotor, prophecy and egg4 where if it fails, you are stuck.

Also updated:
Sensor and Feed Mechanism sections.

Awaiting PBN moderator approval to post a complete review the "Reviews" section.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:14 AM #19
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Finished analyzing my drop test data the most accurate way I could. Unlike most drop tests which are ridiculously inaccurate and lead to lower than desired scores, I measured the sound waves created from the drops and counted the spikes across a fraction of a second to calculate the actual peak drop speed. It looks like this.

V-Max: 15 spikes in .5 seconds = 30 BPS



Rotor: 20 spikes in .5 seconds = 40 BPS



Revy: 12 spikes in one second = 12 BPS



Eggy4: 10 spikes in .5 seconds = 20 BPS


:sigh: Beautiful, each exactly what the manufacture claims.
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Old 08-10-2011, 12:02 PM #20
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30 bps drop test =/= 30 bps on gun.

Drop tests are useless and mean very little other than the fact that paint will indeed come out of the feed tube
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Old 08-10-2011, 01:44 PM #21
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30 bps drop test =/= 30 bps on gun.

Drop tests are useless and mean very little other than the fact that paint will indeed come out of the feed tube
This is entirely true and I already knew this, yet it still seems to be a measure of how well a hopper feeds. You can usually expect an on-gun feed rate of 5-8 BPS less than the drop tests. Still a neat comparison.
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