Didn't really know where to put this so I'll just add it here. Mods, feel free to move.
I recently acquired a Smartguide from xeonpb and used it at Canadian Carnage
. I thought I'd share my thoughts on it.Background Information:
I have just about the worst loader luck. It doesn't matter what loader it is, it will always jam on me. While my loader list isn't nearly as impressive as some people here, these are the ones that I've used:
-Quantum (garbage all around)
-VL Force (barely tolerable)
-VL Evlution II (liked it so much I bought two)
-Halo V35 (really liked)
-Magna (liked it so much I bought two)
Not an extensive list, but I've managed to get a jam in all of them at one point or another.
I had recently started a couple threads asking about hoppers.http://www.mcarterbr...ice-wanted.html
I had wanted a hopper that met the following criteria:
-ideally, a drop-in replacement part for one of my Magna's
I could have bought a used Prophecy v1 or v2, but it didn't have the auto unjam. It has the magnetic clutch similar to the Magna....which I already had. Thus, I didn't see much point in getting one for my personal needs. I already had a V35 and, while it was a great loader, I had to do the initial pot setup to read dark paint, its unjam sequence never seemed to work, and whenever it jammed I always had to rip crank and then cycle the marker. None of those on its own was a big deal, but add them all together and I felt I could maybe do better. My Magna's have always worked well, but I even managed to jam them (ie. 2 balls stuck together in one "slot" under the Freeway). Both of them worked well enough, but I wanted to see what else was out there. I thought my only options were Virtue or Cheetah boards. Or just shell out the big bucks for a Z2.
xeonpb contacted me after I made that board replacement thread. He said I was probably doing way too much research when there already was a product that did exactly what I wanted. I was, initially, a little bit wary. However, he sent me a vid link and I went snooping. TheePsycho had said that he used one at Living Legends 5. He had a Cheetah board, he turned off all its features, and just let the Smartguide do its thing. It worked great for him. Digging further, I found out that xeonpb was the man who invented the Rotor design.
That, combined with TheePsycho's review, made me say, "Eh, why not?"
"Take my money!"Ordering Process:
I ordered my piece from xeonpb's website:xeonp b
The prices listed include European VAT so North American prices will be adjusted for those of us on this continent. He would prefer, however, that you first ask for it at your local shop. He'd like to get North American awareness of his product higher so if you are interested, ask about it at your local paintball shop or favourite website. Last I heard, paintballgear.ca might start to carry it. Everything was easy and xeonpb was extremely helpful.
The only SNAFU that occured was outside of xeonpb's control. There was a break-in at xeonpb's driveshaft manufacturer so my order was a bit delayed. He rushed getting a new driveshaft made and shipped it out as soon as he could. I, literally, got the package a couple days before Canadian Carnage. Mad props to him for coming through.Hardware Overview:
TheePsycho's revision, from what I understand, would be what I call Version 1. The top and bottom of the driveshaft were held together with a screw. If you look at xeonpb's assembly video
on his Youtube channel
, you can see what this version looks like. My revision would what I call Version 2. I can be seen in this video
. The more mind-blowing video would be this one
. Tool-less cleaning for a Halo? Awesome. xeonpb calls this revision the "Smarguide TL" or "Smartguide Tool-less" edition.
I put mine together at about midnight, Friday night, before the big game Saturday. I was pretty much done by the end of Saturday because of this
As you can see from the pics, I basically put together the worst-case scenario to test the Smartguide.
-no tuning as I used the almost stock Magna settings (ie. setting 3 for motor speed and setting 3 for sound adjustment; however, I did turn off spring tension monitoring at xeonpb's suggestion as with Smartguide there is no longer a pre-tensioned spring)
-untested, brand new warrior shell
-hairline raceway cracked Magna
-motor was said to have a bunch of cases through it
-I solder together an electrical lead so that the battery connector could make it to the front
-this was all from a well-used Magna that I bought for parts/as a back up
It, basically, is probably equivalent to that ol' Halo you have kicking around. You can't bring yourself to get rid of it, but you keep it "just in case."
I noticed that the Smartguide also had fewer moving parts. It also got rid of rings snaps. I hate ring snaps. They work, but they're always a pain to deal with. All the Smartguide needed was the threaded top. It was simple enough that I manged to figure out how to put it together without an assembly video. The included instructions and the old assembly video were enough information that I figured out how it went together. Or so I thought.
The only way to find out was trial by fire. So I made it my main loader for the day at Canadian Carnage. In Game Testing:
I used the Magna in a Halo shell on my 04 Viking (full specs can be listed on the Viking if requested). I used semi for Canadian Carnage simply because I'm not made out of money. I bought a bag for Friday's pump night and a case for Saturday's game. My Viking uses an 07 MacDev Militia board. It has these options in regards to eyes:
Flickering White - Eyed Mode
Setting 1 = delayed (if there is no ball in breach when the trigger is pulled, the software will wait 1/2 sec and fire)
Setting 2 = forced (trigger can be held to force a shot)
Setting 3 = test mode with full dwell
Setting 4 = test mode with adjusted dwell (test mode dwell setting)
Setting 2 is the default and it's the one I routinely use. Why? It lets me know when there's a loader jam.
Loader Jam Chain of Events
-Viking fires (clear Dye sticky grips show green LED)
-Viking stops firing (clear Dye sticky grips show red LED)
Traditionally, I would do the following:
-crank Rip drive backwards
-power cycle the unit
-check Dye sticky grips LED colour
-crank the Rip drive backwards
-push the power button once to spin the cone and load a round
-check Dye sticky grips LED colour
I was actually hoping the Smartguide would jam.
Hear me out.
Every loader will eventually jam. I don't care how much you pay for it and what Greek god forged it--it will jam. At least, that's been the case in my experience.
In the horror that was Berlin at Canadian Carnage, I got my wish. Under heavy fire, my Viking was firing away at a seemingly unending hoarde of Red players. In the middle of a long string of finger taps, my Viking stopped shooting. I checked the Dye sticky grips and they were red. So, I know I have a loader jam. Rather than reach for the Rip drive, I thought I'd try the default method xeonpb recommends. I held the trigger for a second and forced a dry shot. I then checked the Dye grips again and they were green. I tapped the trigger again and it fired.
The Smartguide had automatically cleared the jam, loaded another round, and I was good to go. I went from fumbling around for a minute trying to get my setup play-worthy again like with my V35 to being ready to mow faces in seconds with the Smartguide.
I would now consider setting my Viking to fire automatically upon a trigger pull. The Smartguide really does what it's supposed to. It's been the best unjam sequence I've ever had happen. I was highly impressed.Pictures:
Please see them all here at this album.https://picasaweb.go...ccen/SmartguideConclusion:
So what do I think of the Smartguide? I firmly believe it is the best functional upgrade you can apply to any Halo based loader. That includes the following:
-any other Halo that uses the "standard" spring-tensioned cone and raceway
It provides these benefits:
-exceptional automatic unjam
-lower power consumption
-one of the best reball loaders on the market
-can be set for brittle tourney paint, rec paint, or reballs by simply flipping the discs or just changing loader speed (I would recommend fast bottom, slow top, and then just mess with your loader speeds. 3 worked great for paint. I'd probably up it for reballs)
-easy, tool-less cleaning
-no need for additional complicated programming....it just works
-a bang-for-buck not commonly found in the paintball world
-excellent customer service
-xeonpb is always striving to improve his product (ie. rev 1, rev 2, etc.)
-it gives new life to an old backup loader
-functionally, it may be one of the best loaders on the market
Improvements? Not really anything I can think of within xeonpb's control. The only thing I wish is that there was an option so that it would come bundled with a loader from the factory. An Invert Too or Reloader B2 with a Smartguide TL instead of a cone would be the best bang-for-buck loader on the market. I hope xeonpb can work out some sort of deal with Empire. Or, a really cool idea that will likely never happen, is if he could sell a kit that you assemble yourself. If it was a kit that addressed some of the traditional Halo short-comings it would be the best loader on the market. Period. For everyone else, if you've got an old Halo kicking around this is probably the best thing you can do for it.
I was impressed enough with its performance that it's now become my main loader and I don't think I'll bother with any of the "super loaders." I'm not on a pro team, but I still like having good equipment. However, I don't have an unlimited budget. I doubt you do either. Smartguide gives me the option to functionally upgrade my old Halo to keep up with the loaders of today while not breaking the bank.
I'm going to update this review throughout the summer with further tests (ie. high speed firing, reball, tourney paint, test with an Etha, etc.).
Edited by Jaccen, 02 July 2012 - 04:24 PM.