"Beer Keg Stabilizer" Paintball CO2 System
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Old 06-17-2011, 03:21 AM   #1
NatCh
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"Beer Keg Stabilizer" Paintball CO2 System


I've mentioned this a few times, and I think I'm finally ready to write it up. Someone here on the forum pointed it out originally, so I don't claim credit for finding it, but I seem to be the only one who's given it a shot, so sharing would seem to be in order.

The background is that I have a 40 gallon tall tank which is the same footprint as a standard 29g, but it's 24" tall. That means I've got a fair amount of water, and not much space in the stand. Added to that, the tank is in the middle of the living room, and the wife for some bizarre reason doesn't want a big, honkin' CO2 tank sitting out for all to see, so the reality is that I don't have much space to work with, which pointed me toward a paintball setup. Complicating that, is that my stand is already pretty full, so if I was going to get a tank much above 9oz., I have to mount it horizontally ... hanging from the underside of a shelf.

Enter the "Beer Keg Stabilizer". After the system was pointed out to me, I did some looking about in paintballer forums, which turned out to be a wealth of knowledge. I'm still not sure what exactly a stabilizer is, but for a working definition, it's a preset regulator that has an expansion/evaporation chamber built into it so that if liquid CO2 enters the device, it lets it turn to gas before passing on. Thus allowing me to mount the rascal horizontally.

Anyway, as you can see from the link, this arrangement comes with a stabilizer set to 100 PSI, and a low-pressure regulator. To that, I've added a solenoid (if all I have to work with is 24oz, I very much want to turn it off at night!), a Fabco NV-55-18 needle valve, then the usual bubble counter, CO2 tubing, diffuser and such. I'm using an Atomic diffuser, which gets my drop checker in the green at 2bps.

One thing I've done that I haven't seen anyone else do is to use the push-to-connect connectors from Lowes/Home Depot. I had experience with them from my last job where we used them for 80PSI pneumatic control systems, and they're just dead easy to use (the line just presses in to lock and seal, pressing the ring releases the line). I figured out by direct testing that the quarter inch connectors fit the CO2 line nicely, and the fittings come in NPT sizes so they're convenient from that perspective. Is there some hidden pitfall to these which I'm not seeing? Or is it just that nobody else uses them?

I've been using this now for about a month and a half. The first filling only lasted about two weeks, but I wasted a lot of it experimenting with the set up, blowing out my gauge by hooking the regulator up backwards, that sort of thing. Fortunately gauges are inexpensive and readily available.

This current filling is now on day thirty, and still going strong. I'm hoping to get about 45 days per fill, but we'll have to see. One of the practical upshots of the "beer keg" arrangement is that it's effectively dual stage, so I don't have to worry about end of tank dump.

A word about this particular set up: I know the pieces are available separately, and can prowly be had for cheaper by the bargain hunter, but being new at this I wanted to minimize complications. I am pleased with what I've gotten, but certainly am not pushing the particular vendor. Just sayin'. I did have to remove the plug from the unused port on the regulator and Teflon it, it was leaky.

The attached pix illustrate the particulars of the tank installation including my fancy horizontal suspension system, from the CO2 line on it's unremarkable, so I didn't include anything on that.
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Last edited by NatCh; 10-12-2011 at 03:13 AM..
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Old 06-18-2011, 05:49 PM   #2
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Nobody has a comment on the push connectors?
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:03 PM   #3
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I have some on a clippard mouse solenoid, my only worry is that they'll become brittle and break from the constant contact with carbon dioxide. They are made for water after all.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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don't think there is any problems, with em. I personally just lack any need for connectors, needle valve is has the nib/screw connector, check valve is barbed and diffuser has a barbish connection it'self.

i could see me possibly using something like this, for when i decide to build a reactor. but knowing me i know i would cheap out and end up using barbed connectors.

being we use such low pressures, i dont see the need for a locking connection like those. Maybe those running the high pressure diffusers could benefit from this
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:34 PM   #5
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The Watts quick connectors you pickup from Lowe's are for water, but CO2 is fine also.

I use SMC made quick connectors, and prefer SMC AS1000 needle valve other than Fabco nv55.

be careful with the regulator, it looks like a 300psi max input SMC product. If the regulator max input(for co2) is lower than 2000 psi, not safe.
You don't want the CO2 burst out free.
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Old 06-18-2011, 07:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for that, Bettatail, the stabilizer brings the pressure down to ~100PSI so that's all the regulator sees.
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Old 06-18-2011, 10:07 PM   #7
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just a thought but i have a 29 gallon with space issues underneath and i fit a 5lb c02 tank in there with my cannister and all my wiring. a couple diy shelves that i messed up and put on backwards in the photo but heres a view of what my stand holds.

also just to think there isnt much there, on the left i have 7 test kits all my dry food and a few generic filter pads cut to size that make great glass cleaners. second shelf is carbon which i dont use anymore, aquarium salt, any medication that ive ever used and dechorinator plus my dosing cups and wrench. bottom is seachem 500ml bottles of N/P/K Micros, + iron and also excel which i dont use anymore.250ml bottle of 4dkh solution. full size generic filter pads, my cannister, 5lb bottle a spare 150watt heater and net. i have a few things in other locations but as u can see, you can suff a lot in there
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Old 06-18-2011, 10:24 PM   #8
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That is, indeed, a well-filled stand! Unfortunately, my shelf is fixed and runs the full depth and width of the interior -- the photos above only show the bottom, left quarter of the stand. If I had access to the full height of it anywhere, I'd've prowly gone with a "regular" tank and set it in upright as you did.
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Old 06-19-2011, 01:33 AM   #9
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awww sorrrrryyyy!!! i had hoped to help your situation. i did however check back on your photos and can see that it is a fixed shelf.. i should have noticed. oh well good luck! this is an interesting idea. the stabilizer works on the same principal of a paintball gun. i have a 40 psi stabilizer on mine, its all based on size and shape blah blah blah, physics and such.. THAT being said. you might check into a 6 or 7 stage expansion chamber. ill try to get a pick loaded up. it breaks down the liquid much more efficiently before it reaches the stabilizer. for Paint ball it increases shot consistency, in your case less trips to the refill station
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Old 06-19-2011, 01:38 AM   #10
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32 degree 6 stage expansion chamber. it was oddly 32 bux as well when i bought it 8 years ago
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Old 06-19-2011, 01:58 AM   #11
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Interesting. So that goes between the tank and the stabilizer?
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:24 AM   #12
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Re-found this link on stabilizers: http://palmer-pursuit.com/cart/index...id=1&chapter=2

It makes it sound like they're supposed to replace expansion chambers ... of course those are the same folks who are selling them. The only folks selling them, near as I can tell. :shrug:
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Old 06-19-2011, 02:56 AM   #13
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that's kind of funky..... i dont know of any NICE guns that use those. all of your top of the line guns comes preset and ready to roll with the best a manufacturer can offer now, not like they were 8 years ago when i was HUGE into paint ball. my stabilizer is the little protrusion sticking out from under where the barrel would screw in. its preset size rated it at 40 psi and springs determined the amount of punch that air could supply out of the barrel. that aside. those are some pretty ballsy claims they have. that is a very small area to expand c02 gas efficiently. check paint ball forums and see what they think


also yes, the expansion chamber would go before the stabilizer
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Old 06-19-2011, 03:31 AM   #14
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Palmer's stabilizers are some of the most well respected within the Tippmann (CO2, obviously) community. They have almost nothing but positive reviews within the A5, 98 Custom, and X7 user groups.

And as far as using an expansion chamber in an aquarium setting, I don't see the purpose, honestly. Expansion chambers are used because paintball markers use LARGE amounts of CO2 FAST. When this happens, they can pull CO2 out of the tank faster than it can expand into a gas, causing the marker to attempt to use liquid CO2, cooling the gun and potentially freezing up the lines. In an aquarium setting, as long as you aren't (somehow) spitting out CO2 so fast that it is still in liquid form or freezing your lines, I don't see it having any use.
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Old 06-19-2011, 12:00 PM   #15
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"Somehow" such as mounting the tank horizontally?
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