So how do I tell the difference between the two?
Without going into details about the internals (which I will later on in this thread) spool valve markers tend to shoot much quieter and smoother than poppet valve markers. Spool valve markers tend to have a much smoother sound like a "shuu" kind of sound, like we hear with Luxes and DM series markers, while with poppet valve markers you tend to hear a loud "pop" kind of noise, like we hear with Egos and Intimidators.
What's best for me?
It's all personal preference on the way they shoot. If you like having a super smooth, quiet marker, with almost un-noticeable "kick" and don't mind replacing the extra o-rings and lubing the bolt more often, then spool valves are probably the right marker for you. If you like having a low maintenance, super air efficent marker, and don't mind the extra "kick" you get with poppet valve markers, then poppet valve markers are generally the best bet for you. Again, you should try out both kinds of markers, as they both have a different kind of feel to them.
Why do Poppet Valve markers have more kick than Spool Valve Markers?
It's generally due to the fact that they are a "poppet" valve. They use a hammer to open the valve, which is normally closed. That is extra force that spool valves do not use, giving them more "kick"
Edit: Kowz_76 has a point on his statement aswell. The actual bolt/rammer on a poppet valve weigh more than a spool valves bolt would weigh. That also contributes to kick.
How do spool valve markers work?
Spool valve markers usually have much fewer moving parts than the poppet valve markers, but have more o-rings.
The spool valve works when the solenoid tells the bolt to move forward, and as it pushes the ball past the detents, there is a blast of air that comes from behind the bolt. When the blast of air reaches the paintball that is past the detents, the ball is fired through the barrel at the target.
Here is an animation that should hopefully help you understand this better.
How do poppet valve markers work?
Poppet valve markers use a hammer, or rammer, to hit a poppet valve that is shut when not hit by the rammer. The solenoid tells the bolt/rammer to move forward. When the rammer hits the poppet valve, pressured air is let through a pathway, to the bolt. The air then rushes through the bolt, that has pushed the ball through the detents while the rammer is moving toward the poppet valve, toward the ball, which is fired through the barrel at the target. Here is an animation that should hopefully help you understand this better.
Most poppet valve markers are stacked tube designs, with the exception of the Angel. Most spool valve markers are single tube designs.
Hopefully, I clairified any confusion you have with poppet/spool valve markers.
If you have any questions, or anything to add, please, reply to this thread, or shout a pm to me!
For other animations please visit http://www.zdspb.com...animations.html
EDIT: Here is some work by Lotus, explaining the differences between low end spools and poppets, and how they work.
This is an attempt to explain the different internals and also what differentiates the low-end, the mid-end, and the high-end markers. It can also help you understand exactly how your marker operates. Keep in mind this is going to be very technical, so be prepared.
Poppet Valves are basically a rubber seal held in place by a spring. They are opened by either a rammer striking it and opening it, or being pulled open. In paintball, we typically see the former. Most poppet valve designs are actually based off of the Spyder, seen below:
This basic design is typically referred to as a stacked tube "blowback" poppet. The bolt and ram are connected with a pin, and the ram is cycled backward and forward. At rest, the spring is compressed. When the trigger is pulled, a sear releases the rammer allowing the spring to move the rammer and bolt forward. At the end of the forward stroke, not only has the ball been sealed in the breech, but also the rammer strikes the poppet valve opening the airways not only to propel the ball forward, but also to push the rammer back to rest. While the rammer is returning to its resting position, it brings the bolt back with it. In this original Spyder design, the mechanisms used to cycle the rammer and hold it in place are 100% mechanical.
This changes in Dangerous Power's Fusion design, seen below:
Those moving red dots represent a spring in this diagram. You can see them being compressed to the right of the rammer (the rammer is green). This design is referred to as a FASOR design: forward air, spring operated return. Although this is still an electro, the solenoid only needs to direct air to one spot: behind the rammer. This air propels the rammer forward which then opens the poppet firing the ball. The spring which has been compressed during the forward movement then returns the rammer to its original position. Because air only needs to be directed to one spot, this marker makes use of a one-way solenoid. The use of a spring means a cheaper cost, but increased NVH (noise vibration harshness) and it can lead to more kick.
This is different from the Intimidator/Ego design seen below (note, this is an Ego. Intimidators are extremely similar but have one minor difference that I don't think is important enough to discuss)
As you can see, in this design the ram is cycled solely by air and there are no springs present. Also, the air is low pressured fed by an Low Pressure Regulator (LPR), making it smoother, gentler on paint, and more efficient. You'll also notice that the solenoid must direct air to two different locations in this design. First the air propels the rammer forward like the Fusion design, but there is no spring. Instead the return mechanism is air directed to the other side of the rammer. Because air needs to be directed to both sides of the rammer, a two-way solenoid is needed. This means this marker is going to be more expensive, but also higher performance since it will not require a spring and therefore has less NVH and kick than the Fusion design.
That's the basic hierarchy of the Stacked Tube Poppet. Next are two completely different and independent poppet designs. The first is the Marq series:
This is an in-line poppet, similar to the Intimidator/Ego design, except it has all been placed in the upper tube. This still requires a two-way solenoid and an LPR, and there are no return springs present. Also, since the rammer and bolt are in-line, there is greatly reduced kick to this marker because there is no off-axis forces (don't worry about that sentence if you didn't understand it. In short, in-line poppet = less kick). However, you can see that the compressed air used to fire the marker has area to expand before firing the ball, so this decreases efficiency. Maintenance is also more difficult, as you can imagine. However, the efficiency is still good and maintenance is very similar to a spool-valve, and it is also smooth.
Then we have the Invert Mini. I'm willing to bet that some of you will not be able to understand the following diagram, but I'll do my best to explain it:
Again, those red moving dots are a spring. This spring keeps the bolt held back in place. This uses a one-way solenoid to move the bolt forward against the spring. As you can see, when the bolt has moved forward all the way, there is an opening connecting the air pushing the bolt forward to the firing chamber. You'll see the purple air expand in both directions when this opens up, both towards the ball and towards the poppet. This opening I'm talking about is actually a spool-valve incorporated into the design. The air, after pushing the bolt forward, goes to the rear of the firing chamber, and then hits on the poppet. While this air strikes the poppet on one side, you can see that the pressure drops on the other side. This pull/push opens the poppet, thereby firing the ball. Yes, in this case the air is the rammer that opens the poppet. It's very strange, and I hope you can follow that because it's not the easiest to explain. This is also an in-line poppet. However, it uses a spring to return the marker to rest and uses a one-way solenoid. This means that it will have increased NVH and kick. Also, due to the way the air travels, it will not be as efficient as any other poppet since it is also a spool-valve. Worse even than the Marq. Also, maintenance is more difficult, however it's still not bad.
A spool-valve is a valve design where the bolt opens up an air chamber when it moves forward. The basic spool-valve design is the ProtoMatrixRail/Ion/Vibe design. The Ion and Rail have virtually the same valve design, with the rail having a weird extra feature that vents some excess air out the back of the bolt while sealing the firing chamber (don't worry about that). Here is the diagram:
As you can see, there are no springs. Spool-valves are typically smoother than Poppets, but less efficient and arguably harder to maintain due to the increased amount of moving O-Rings. The air is constantly applied to the rear of the chamber, with a one-way solenoid directing air to the front. When firing, the solenoid cuts off air flow to the front of the bolt. The constant air supply to the rear propels the bolt forward, eventually opening up a passageway for the air in the rear to launch the ball. The solenoid then re-applies the air to the front of the bolt to return the marker to rest. There are three important aspects to this design. First, there is no LPR. Second, it only requires a one-way solenoid. Third, the air acting on the two sides of the bolt are different from one another, or in other words this is an unbalanced spool-valve. These are very cheap to produce due to the one-way solenoid and lack of an LPR, yet are still very smooth with little NVH because there are no springs present. However they aren't as efficient or as smooth as the following designs because the valves are unbalanced and, to some degree, there is no LPR. Also, the increased amount of moving O-Rings in this design means that it is prone to bolt-stick, and will be a bit harder to maintain.
This is the Threshold/G3/Rev-I design:
This is very similar in principle to the Rail/Ion/Vibe design, but very different in practice. As you can see, it still uses a one-way solenoid holding the bolt back, there is no LPR, and the valve is still unbalanced. However, as you can also see, the bolt is very simple, much lighter, and it has fewer O-Rings. This means it is less prone to bolt stick, it can be more efficient, has less kick, and is also a bit easier to maintain. However, remember this is still cheap to produce and unbalanced so there's still room for improvement.
The Matrix Design (Proto Matrix and Dye Matrix, this is NOT the PMR design. the PMR's design is the same as the Ion's design):
This is similar to the Rail/Ion/Vibe design. However it has two major differences. First, the air cycling the bolt back and forth are applied to the exterior of the bolt in an even fashion by a two-way solenoid. This means that unlike the previous designs, the Matrix is actually balanced. It will be even smoother than the others. The second major difference is that the firing chamber seals itself when the marker fires. In all the previous designs, the firing chamber stayed open to the HPR the entire time. In this design you can clearly see how the air flow from the HPR is cut, or sealed during the firing cycle by those two rear-most o-rings. This seal means that the HPR's recharge rate does not effect the consistency of the marker at all. In other words, these markers are more consistent. The Matrix design also makes use of an LPR to cycle the bolt.
This is the Shocker/Luxe design:
As you can see, very similar to the Matrix design. The valve is balanced and fed by a two-way solenoid. However, where the Matrix's air was input near the rear, the Shocker is fed from near the feedneck. This does not use an LPR to cycle the bolt.
Edited by M01R, 31 July 2009 - 03:43 PM.