Have paintball CO2 systems gotten a bad rap?
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Old 07-06-2011, 07:57 PM   #1
NatCh
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Have paintball CO2 systems gotten a bad rap?


I'm beginning to think that some of the bad reputation that paintball systems have is at least somewhat undeserved.

I recently added CO2 injection to my 40g tall tank (30"x12"x24), due to space constraints I went with a paintball tank based system.

Since the space was far more limited than budget on this project, I went ahead and sprang for a decent diffuser (Atomic one), needle valve (Fabco NV-55-18), solenoid, etc., for the project. I figured that if I ever get more space to work with, I'll only have to replace the tank and regulator (I used a special initial regulator that allows me to keep the bottle horizontal -- space limitations again), and in the long run that would save me money by having to replace less equipment. I also went for the biggest paintball tank I could scare up, a 1.5# one, since it was still small enough to fit where I could put it. The set up allows me to stay "in the green" at 2 bps, 10 hours/day.

I expected to have to fill it pretty frequently, and recognized that I was accepting a higher cost of ownership, but given my space constraints, my only other option was to forgo CO2 entirely, so .... :shrug:


Cutting to the chase, I'm now on Day 50 of my first post-set-up tank (I blew a lot of gas in the set up and testing phase, so the first fill only lasted a couple of weeks). I expect it to go any time now, and I've half decided to go ahead and fill it this weekend even if it's still running, because I'll be out of town part of next week.

At 50 days per fill, I'm looking at just over 7 fillings a year, at $4 bucks a pop that's only a bit over $28/year, and the place I get my refills does a buy 4 get one free thing, so it's closer to $25 a year. Yes, that's more than I'd pay if I had a 10# tank and filled it once a year for $15 or so, but it's not that burdensome a refill cost.

This has me wondering if part of the reason that paintball tanks have the reputation of not lasting very long may be because the support equipment is cheaper, and consequently less efficient. For example, if I hadn't bothered with a solenoid, and just let it run 24/7 I'd be looking at 24 hours/day instead of 10, which would put me closer to 20 days to empty the tank to the level I'm at now (whatever that actually is). If I were using a less efficient, less expensive diffuser, I'd prowly have to run more bps to get the CO2 concentrations where my drop checker wants them, resulting in still faster gas consumption. If I had a less precise needle valve (for instance, like the first one I bought ) I might have fluctuating gas flow, which could affect the consumption in either direction. Obviously, if I had a bigger aquarium I'd need to use gas faster, but then I'd have a bigger stand to hide the CO2 tank in, and would not have gone this route in the first place.


What do y'all think, could it be that part of the reputation for short-livedness of paintball systems might be a result of the use of cheaper, less efficient, less effective ancillary CO2 equipment?

I'm not suggesting that paintball is as cost-effective as a larger tank, or anything, I'm just wondering if it might not be as bad as seems to be the generally accepted belief.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:20 PM   #2
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I would still use a regulator. Having 800 psi running through the needlevalve and solenoid maybe problematic.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/h_bosma...7622829944660/
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:23 PM   #3
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Thank you, hbosman, I am using a regulator. Two of them, in fact.

I realize looking back that I didn't actually explain that I was using one at all, though (I discussed it a good deal in the linked thread, and was mentally swapping it into this one). In any case, here's a picture.

The marbled-y blue/black tube is a "stabilizer", which -- nearly as I can interpolate -- is a fixed output regulator (set to 100 PSI) that can handle liquid CO2 getting into it (which allows me to mount the tank horizontally), and the part with the gauge is, obviously, the low pressure regulator, which brings my 100 PSI down to the 40 PSI I want to run things at.


Last edited by NatCh; 07-07-2011 at 01:42 AM..
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:31 PM   #4
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well there you go, a DS paintball red.
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:49 AM   #5
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I dont think paintball systems are bad at all. I just wouldnt use them on any of my tanks that are larger than 10g. I dont like the refilling of a paintball system.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:21 AM   #6
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The downsides to the paintball setup are:

1) Generally is not run with a regulator, so it's more likely that other components will fail due to high psi.
2) Generally is not run with a solenoid, so it runs out 3x as fast and can gas out fish at night if it's set very high.
3) Generally is not run with an actual needle or metering valve, so it's difficult to "tweak" the bubble count.
4) Cost of refills
5) Frequency of refills

You've dealt with the first 3 issues by upgrading your system.
You've minimized the last 2 issues the same way.

The only issue where traditional rigs really have you beat is the frequency of refills, which is more a PITA than a money pit. Going for refills twice a year is better than 7 times a year, but, as you say, it's not all that bad.

So, I'd say that you have a pretty good thing going because of the upgrades you've made to a basic paintball rig. And since space is an issue, it works for you. However, unless folks are willing to make the upgrades that are necessary for a functional (and even efficient) paintball rig, I'll still claim that a traditional rig is almost always a better bet.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevmo911 View Post
However, unless folks are willing to make the upgrades that are necessary for a functional (and even efficient) paintball rig, I'll still claim that a traditional rig is almost always a better bet.
I wouldn't disagree with that, except on the point that if folks aren't willing to spend the money on a decent paintball set up, they prowly wouldn't be willing to spend it on a decent traditional set up either. :shrug:

In any case, I very much agree that the traditional is superior to a paintball, assuming equivalent or better support parts. My point was just that it seems to me that given the willingness to do it right, most of the "downsides" of a paintball system are partially or wholly addressable, which is of course just what you've just said.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:56 AM   #8
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Update: 50 days it is, I just ran out of gas.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:41 AM   #9
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YOUR paintball setup is not a traditional paintball setup.

There are now 3 types:

a standard regulator adapted to a paintball tank
a paintball asa and needle valve
and the one you show
(actually a fourth, using the small leland regs is out there too. They're spendy buggers though)


I will not use and will not recommend the use of a paintball asa and needle valve without a regulator. It is downright dangerous and someone is going to get hurt eventually. The others, including yours, are perfectly reasonable, if you understand the limitations.
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:51 AM   #10
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ditto. I have never heard of a reg like yours, I didn't know they made preset mid-pressure paintball tank regulators. That changes my perspective on paintball co2. How much did all that cost?

BTW you have the input/output reversed on the NV. Does that matter? I always thought it did...
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:28 AM   #11
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Evidently these "stabilizers" are only made by the one set of folks. Leastwise, Google and I can only find them on the one site. The pressure on them is actually adjustable, but it's by way of an Allen bolt, and I guess you'd have to have a gauge somewhere to see what you were setting it to. Since it was bought as a package, they'd already pre-set it appropriately.

The stabilizer and low-pressure regulator together were $146. It looks like I could have had the stabilizer alone for ~$80, and the low pressure regulator from ebay for around $20 more, but I'm new to this and wanted to reduce my probability of getting incompatible parts, so I went for the package.

If you want more details than that, the thread linked in the first post has some, including source links and such.

The needle valve doesn't have any indication on it as to which is in and out, so I connected it in the way that best fit the space (did I mention that my space is limited? ). So far I've had no trouble at all setting it where I wanted it, and I prowly won't swap it unless it starts giving me trouble or someone persuades me that hooking it up this way is a Bad Thing. :shrug:
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:38 AM   #12
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I bought the GLA paintball dual guage regulator for 176$.. came with solenoid, bubble counter, good quality needle valve and I love it. Currently running 24/7 on my fluval edge at 1bps and maintain a nice green throughout the photoperiod and just starting to yellow o/n until lights come on again. With my calculations each paintball tank will, once I get my lazy butt out to walmart to get a timer should last me at least 6 months.. at 5$ a fill, that's not too bad maintenance or yearly fees at all. Could have gotten a normal tank reg and adaptor, but I'm never going to need a bigger tank on the edge and don't plan on stopping my edge anytime soon as its loved by EVERYONE that sees it.

Once I get a larger tank I'll just buy a good 10# setup and call it a day and live happily ever after
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Old 07-07-2011, 04:46 AM   #13
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Beauty/the perfect co2 system is in the eye of the beholder.

I took my time, did research, asked a bunch or questions and found some great deals.

In my whole system (victor dual stage regulator, swagelok needle valve, clippard solenoid, co2 tank) I have less than $100. Certainly not the norm but the components (save for the clippard solenoid but it is a pre-chinese made clippard so its pretty decent) will outlast me most likely and allow me very precise and reliable use of my system.

I really like how you went outside the box to get what you needed. There are certain unnamed SS regulator brands (one that starts with the letter M) that are probably not as well built or reliable as yours but it is a pretty safe bet to say that just about every full size co2 system is better in about every aspect then even the most prestigious paint ball rig.
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Old 07-07-2011, 05:51 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsmith View Post
it is a pretty safe bet to say that just about every full size co2 system is better in about every aspect then even the most prestigious paint ball rig.
I disagree. I think Natch's painbtall system would be better than a milwaukee in every way.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:10 AM   #15
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That's exactly what I said. His is better but every other one out there is not.
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