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Publication numberUS20050145235 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/039,801
Publication dateJul 7, 2005
Filing dateJan 24, 2005
Priority dateFeb 11, 2003
Also published asCA2533706A1, EP1754948A1
Publication number039801, 11039801, US 2005/0145235 A1, US 2005/145235 A1, US 20050145235 A1, US 20050145235A1, US 2005145235 A1, US 2005145235A1, US-A1-20050145235, US-A1-2005145235, US2005/0145235A1, US2005/145235A1, US20050145235 A1, US20050145235A1, US2005145235 A1, US2005145235A1
InventorsPaul Jong
Original AssigneeJong Paul G.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Trigger system for paintball marker
US 20050145235 A1
Abstract
A paintball marker is provided including a body, a first pneumatic component, a second pneumatic component, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, and a trigger. The trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves. The marker is configured to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of a player releasing the trigger after only actuating one of the control valves.
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Claims(23)
1. A paintball marker, comprising:
a body;
a first pneumatic component;
a second pneumatic component;
a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component;
a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, wherein the first and second control valves are free of solenoids; and
a trigger, wherein the trigger is pivotally connected with respect to the body for movement about a pivot, wherein the trigger includes a first valve actuation portion and a second valve actuation portion, wherein the trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves by means of the first and second valve actuation portions, and wherein the first and second valve actuation portions are proximate the pivot.
2. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first and second control valves are positioned immediately adjacent one another and are directly engageable by the first and second valve actuation portions.
3. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 1, wherein the trigger is movable along a path and includes adjustment means for adjusting where along the path the trigger actuates the first and second control valves.
4. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 1, further comprising a pivot arm, wherein the pivot arm is pivotable with respect to the body, wherein the pivot arm is actuatable by one of the valve actuation portions of the trigger, and wherein the pivot arm is operatively connected to one of the control valves.
5. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 1, wherein the trigger has a finger grip portion and wherein the finger grip portion has at least one locator bump thereon, wherein one of the at least one locator bump is an uppermost locator bump, wherein the uppermost locator bump has an upper end, wherein the upper end of the uppermost locator bump is movable along a path between a rest position and a position wherein both the first and second valves are actuated, and wherein the path is between 0.2 and 5 mm long.
6. A paintball marker, comprising:
a body;
a first pneumatic component;
a second pneumatic component;
a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, wherein the first control valve includes a first housing and a first spool, wherein the first spool is movable for actuation of the first control valve, wherein the first control valve includes a first biasing means for biasing the first spool to extend outward from the first housing;
a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, wherein the second control valve includes a second housing and a second spool, wherein the second spool is movable for actuation of the second control valve, wherein the second control valve includes a second biasing means for biasing the second spool to extend outward from the second housing, wherein the first and second control valves are free of solenoids; and
a trigger, wherein the trigger is movably connected with respect to the body for movement along a path, wherein the trigger includes a first valve actuation portion and a second valve actuation portion, wherein the trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves by means of the first and second valve actuation portions, wherein the trigger includes an arm, wherein the first and second valve actuation portions are positioned on opposing sides of the arm and wherein the arm is movable in a direction towards one of the spools and away from the other of the spools.
7. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 6, wherein the first and second control valves are poppet-style spool valves.
8. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 6, wherein one of the first and second pneumatic components controls movement of an inlet control device for the paintball marker and wherein the other of the first and second pneumatic components controls movement of a firing valve for the paintball marker.
9. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 8, wherein the movement of the arm towards the second housing causes actuation of the first control valve prior to actuation of the second control valve taking place.
10. A paintball marker, comprising:
a body;
a first pneumatic component;
a second pneumatic component;
a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component;
a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component;
a master valve, wherein the master valve is operatively connected to the first and second control valves, wherein the master valve and the first and second control valves are free of solenoids; and
a trigger, wherein the trigger is movably connected with respect to the body for movement along a path and wherein the trigger is operatively connected to the master valve.
11. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 10, further comprising a cylinder and a valve actuation link, wherein the valve actuation link is movable with respect to the body and is operatively connected to the first and second control valves, wherein the cylinder is operatively connected to the valve actuation link, and wherein the master valve is operatively connected to the cylinder.
12. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 11, wherein the first control valve has a first housing and a first spool, wherein the first spool is movable between a first position and a second position,
wherein the second control valve has a second housing and a second spool, wherein the second spool is movable between a first position and a second position,
wherein the valve actuation link is movable between a first valve actuation link position and a second valve actuation link position,
wherein in the first valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the first spool to the first position for the first spool and the second spool is biased to the first position for the second spool,
and wherein in the second valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the second spool to the second position for the second spool and the first spool is biased to the second position for the first spool.
13. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 12, wherein the valve actuation link is movable along a valve actuation link path in a first direction from the first valve actuation link position to the second valve actuation position, wherein the second spool reaches the second position for the second spool at a point along the valve actuation link path in the first direction and the first spool reaches the second position for the first spool at an earlier point along the valve actuation link path in the first direction.
14. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 13, wherein the valve actuation link is movable along a valve actuation link path in a second direction from the second valve actuation link position to the first valve actuation link position, wherein the second spool reaches the first position for the second spool at a point along the valve actuation link path in the second direction and the first spool reaches the first position for the first spool at a later point along the valve actuation link path in the second direction.
15. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 10, wherein one of the first and second pneumatic components controls movement of an inlet control device for the paintball marker and wherein the other of the first and second pneumatic components controls movement of a firing valve for the paintball marker.
16. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 10, wherein the first control valve has a first housing and a first spool, wherein the first spool is movable between a first position and a second position and wherein the second control valve has a second housing and a second spool, wherein the second spool is movable between a first position and a second position.
17. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 16, wherein the first and second control valves are poppet-style spool valves.
18. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 16, wherein the master valve has a first outlet port and a second outlet port and wherein the second control valve has a pilot section, wherein the pilot section controls the movement of the second spool, wherein the second spool is operatively connected to the first spool such that movement of the second spool to the second position for the second spool urges the first spool to the second position for the first spool.
19. A paintball marker, comprising:
a body;
a firing valve actuation cylinder;
a bolt actuation cylinder;
a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate one of the firing valve actuation cylinder and the bolt actuation cylinder, wherein the first control valve has a first housing and a first spool, wherein the first spool is movable between a first position and a second position;
a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the other of the firing valve actuation cylinder and the bolt actuation cylinder, wherein the second control valve has a second housing and a second spool, wherein the second spool is movable between a first position and a second position;
a valve actuation link, wherein the valve actuation link is movable with respect to the body between a first valve actuation link position and a second valve actuation link position, wherein the valve actuation link is operatively connected to the first and second control valves, wherein in the first valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the first spool to the first position for the first spool and the second spool is biased to the first position for the second spool, and wherein in the second valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the second spool to the second position for the second spool and the first spool is biased to the second position for the first spool;
a linkage cylinder, wherein the linkage cylinder is operatively connected to the valve actuation link;
a master valve, wherein the master valve is operatively connected to the linkage cylinder, wherein the master valve and the first and second control valves are free of solenoids; and
a trigger, wherein the trigger is movably connected with respect to the body and wherein the trigger is operatively connected to the master valve.
20. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 19, wherein the valve actuation link is movable along a valve actuation link path in a first direction from the first valve actuation link position to the second valve actuation position, wherein the second spool reaches the second position for the second spool at a point along the valve actuation link path in the first direction and the first spool reaches the second position for the first spool at an earlier point along the valve actuation link path in the first direction.
21. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 20, wherein the valve actuation link is movable along a valve actuation link path in a second direction from the second valve actuation link position to the first valve actuation link position, wherein the second spool reaches the first position for the second spool at a point along the valve actuation link path in the second direction and the first spool reaches the first position for the first spool at a later point along the valve actuation link path in the second direction.
22. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 21, wherein the first control valve controls the flow of gas to actuate the firing valve actuation cylinder.
23. A paintball marker as claimed in claim 21, wherein the first control valve controls the flow of gas to actuate the bolt actuation cylinder.
Description
    FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to paintball markers and more particularly to a trigger system for a paintball marker.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    Many people today enjoy playing paintball games with sophisticated paintball markers. A typical paintball marker has a barrel from which paintballs are fired. A breech is provided which receives paintballs through an inlet, and which communicates with the barrel. A paintball tube holds paintballs for feeding into the breech. A bolt slides within the breech to chamber a paintball, ie. to move a paintball that has been fed into the breech, into the barrel. The bolt also controls the entry of paintballs from the paintball tube into the breech. The bolt is typically moved between an open position whereby a paintball is permitted to enter the breech and a closed position whereby the entry of paintballs into the breech is prevented. A pneumatic actuator, such as a pneumatic cylinder is typically used to move the bolt.
  • [0003]
    If a paintball does not feed correctly in the breech, the bolt can squash and rupture the paintball, releasing paint onto the interior mechanisms of the marker. As a result, the released paint can disrupt the proper functioning of the marker. Consequently, after a paintball is squashed inside a marker, it is usually required for the marker to be disassembled and cleaned to remove any paint on the interior mechanisms.
  • [0004]
    Another problem with current markers is the use of solenoid valves, which have been incorporated into markers to operate the firing valve and the bolt. Solenoid valves are favoured at least in part for their seemingly quick response time, however, several problems exist with markers in which solenoid valves are present. These markers by necessity include relatively complex electrical systems, which include a battery and typically a control circuit which assists in timing the sequence of operation of the solenoids. All of these electrical components are a source of unreliability in such paintball markers. For example, during play a battery could run out of power. Furthermore, during adverse conditions, such as wet, cold or hot conditions, the electrical components are at risk of failing. Typically, electrical components are not sufficiently robust to withstand repeated impacts, which can occur as a player inadvertently drops or otherwise impacts a marker during play.
  • [0005]
    There is, therefore, a continuing need for improved paintball markers that have a reduced tendency to squash and rupture paintballs during a loading and chambering operation. Also, in another aspect, there is a need for improved markers that are capable of firing quickly and at high frequency, but that have a reduced dependence on electrical components, such as solenoids.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0006]
    In a first aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker including a body, an inlet control device, a firing system, a first regulator and a second regulator. The body has a paintball inlet and a barrel for receiving a paintball from the paintball inlet. The inlet control device is movable between an open position wherein the inlet control device permits entry of a paintball through the paintball inlet, and a closed position for chambering a paintball. In the closed position the inlet control device prevents entry of a paintball through the paintball inlet. The firing system includes a firing valve that is moveable between a firing position wherein the valve permits firing gas at a selected pressure to flow to the barrel and a non-firing position wherein the firing valve prevents flow of firing gas to the barrel. The first regulator is fluidically connectable to the pressurized gas source and is configurable to provide gas at a first pressure. The first regulator is operatively connected to the firing valve for movement of the firing valve between the firing and non-firing positions. The second regulator is fluidically connectable to the pressurized gas source and is configurable to provide gas at a second pressure that is lower than the first pressure. The second regulator is operatively connected to the inlet control device for movement of the inlet control device towards the closed position. The inlet control device may be, for example, a bolt.
  • [0007]
    In a second aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker having a trigger and a flow control valve. The trigger is operatively connected to the flow control valve. The flow control valve includes a housing defining an interior. The housing has a first, a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth port, wherein the ports are longitudinally spaced apart. The housing further includes a first, a second, a third and a fourth housing projections extending into the interior longitudinally between the first and second ports, the second and third ports, the third and fourth ports and the fourth and fifth ports respectively. The housing projections have a first, a second, a third and a fourth housing sealing surface thereon respectively. The flow control valve further includes an elongate valve spool that is slidably mounted in the housing. The valve spool has a first, a second, a third and a fourth generally ring-shaped spool projection. The spool projections are longitudinally spaced apart. The spool projections have a first, a second, a third and a fourth spool sealing surface thereon respectively for sealing engagement with the housing sealing surfaces. The valve spool is moveable between a first position wherein the second and fourth spool sealing surfaces seal against the second and fourth housing sealing surfaces respectively to permit fluid communication between the third port and the fourth port and between the first port and the second port, and a second position wherein the first and third spool sealing surfaces seal against the first and third housing sealing surfaces respectively to permit fluid communication between the second port and the third port and between the fourth port and the fifth port. The valve spool is engageable by the trigger by at least one of a mechanical and a pneumatic connection for movement to at least one of the first and second positions, without the use of a solenoid to actuate the valve. For example, the valve spool may be engageable directly by the trigger. Furthermore, actuation of the valve spool mechanically or pneumatically by the trigger removes steps that occur in a solenoid actuated valve, namely the steps of contacting the trigger with the sensor and actuating the solenoid. Because of the configuration of the valve sealing surfaces, and because the valve spool is actuated by the trigger mechanically or pneumatically instead of through an intermediate solenoid, the overall response time of the valve is fast, and the marker does not suffer any of the problems associated with electrical components, such as their relatively poor reliability, particularly in wet, cold or hot conditions.
  • [0008]
    In a third aspect, the invention is directed to a gas storage chamber and an adjustment member. The gas storage chamber is configured for storing gas for use in firing a paintball. The adjustment member is moveably connected to the gas storage chamber for movement within a range of adjustment. The adjustment member occupies a selectable portion of the volume contained within the gas storage chamber. This permits the player to optimize the use of the air in the air tank for the marker. For example, the player can incrementally adjust down the volume of the chamber until the velocity of a fired paintball is observed to drop off. In this way, the player can obtain an increased number of shots per tank. Also, the player can adjust the chamber volume in general, in response to playing conditions.
  • [0009]
    In a fourth aspect the invention is directed to a method for controlling pneumatic operations of a paintball marker, the paintball marker having a body having a paintball inlet and an inlet control device, wherein the inlet control device is moveable between an open position and closed position for controlling the flow of paintballs through the paintball inlet and for chambering a paintball, wherein the inlet control device is movable by means of an inlet control device actuator, wherein the inlet control device actuator is pneumatically operated, the paintball marker further including a firing valve, wherein the firing valve is moveable between an open position and a closed position and is movable to at least one of the open and closed positions by a firing valve actuator, wherein the firing valve actuator is pneumatically operated, the method comprising:
      • providing gas at a first pressure to the inlet control device actuator to move the inlet control device to an open position to permit entry of a paintball through the paintball inlet;
      • providing gas at a second pressure the pneumatic cylinder to move the inlet control device to a closed position to prevent entry of a paintball through the paintball inlet and to chamber a paintball, wherein the second pressure is selected to be sufficiently low to inhibit rupturing of a paintball if, during use, the paintball is confined by the inlet control device during movement of the inlet control device towards the closed position; and
      • providing gas at a third pressure to the firing valve actuator for movement of the firing valve to at least one of the open and closed positions, wherein the third pressure is higher than the second pressure.
  • [0013]
    In a fifth aspect the invention is directed to a paint ball marker having a trigger and a flow control valve. The trigger is operatively connected to the flow control valve. The flow control valve includes a housing defining an interior. The housing has a plurality of longitudinally spaced projections extending into the interior. The projections have housings sealing surfaces thereon. The flow control valve further includes an elongate valve spool that is slideably mounted in the housing. The valve spool has a plurality of longitudinally spaced generally ring shaped spool projections. The spool projections have spool sealing surfaces thereon for sealing engagement with the housing sealing surfaces. The valve spool is moveable between a first position and a second position to control the flow of pressurized gas through the valve in one direction and the exhaustion of the gas through the valve in another direction. The valve spool is engageable by the trigger by one of a mechanical and a pneumatic connection for movement to at least one of the first and second positions, without the use of a solenoid to actuate the valve. Furthermore, actuation of the valve spool mechanically or pneumatically by the trigger removes steps that occur in a solenoid actuated valve, namely the steps of contacting the trigger with the sensor and actuating the solenoid. Because of the configuration of the valve sealing surfaces, and because the valve spool is actuated by the trigger mechanically or pneumatically instead of through an intermediate solenoid, the overall response time of the valve is fast, and the marker does not suffer any of the problems associated with electrical components, such as their relatively poor reliability, particularly in wet, cold or hot conditions.
  • [0014]
    In a sixth aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker comprising a body, a first pneumatic component, a second pneumatic component, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, and a trigger. The first and second control valves are free of solenoids. The trigger is pivotally connected with respect to the body for movement about a pivot. The trigger includes a first valve actuation portion and a second valve actuation portion. The trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves by means of the first and second valve actuation portions. The first and second valve actuation portions are proximate the pivot.
  • [0015]
    In a seventh aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker comprising a body, a first pneumatic component, a second pneumatic component, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, and a trigger. The first control valve includes a first housing and a first spool that is movable for actuation of the first control valve. The first control valve includes a first biasing means for biasing the first spool to extend outward from the first housing. The second control valve includes a second housing and a second spool. The second spool is movable for actuation of the second control valve. The second control valve includes a second biasing means for biasing the second spool to extend outward from the second housing. The first and second control valves are free of solenoids. The trigger is movably connected with respect to the body for movement along a path. The trigger includes a first valve actuation portion and a second valve actuation portion. The trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves by means of the first and second valve actuation portions. The trigger includes an arm. The first and second valve actuation portions are positioned on opposing sides of the arm. The arm is movable in a direction towards one of the spools and away from the other of the spools.
  • [0016]
    In an eighth aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker comprising a body, a first pneumatic component, a second pneumatic component, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, a master valve, and a trigger. The master valve is operatively connected to the first and second control valves. The master valve and the first and second control valves are free of solenoids. The trigger is movably connected with respect to the body for movement along a path and wherein the trigger is operatively connected to the master valve.
  • [0017]
    In a ninth aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker comprising a body, a firing valve actuation cylinder, a bolt actuation cylinder, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate one of the firing valve actuation cylinder and the bolt actuation cylinder, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the other of the firing valve actuation cylinder and the bolt actuation cylinder, a valve actuation link, a linkage cylinder, a master valve, and a trigger. The first control valve has a first housing and a first spool. The first spool is movable between a first position and a second position. The second control valve has a second housing and a second spool. The second spool is movable between a first position and a second position. The valve actuation link is movable with respect to the body between a first valve actuation link position and a second valve actuation link position. The valve actuation link is operatively connected to the first and second control valves. In the first valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the first spool to the first position for the first spool and the second spool is biased to the first position for the second spool. In the second valve actuation link position the valve actuation link urges the second spool to the second position for the second spool and the first spool is biased to the second position for the first spool. The linkage cylinder is operatively connected to the valve actuation link. The master valve is operatively connected to the linkage cylinder. The master valve and the first and second control valves are free of solenoids. The trigger is movably connected with respect to the body and is operatively connected to the master valve.
  • [0018]
    In a tenth aspect, the invention is directed to a paintball marker comprising a body, a first pneumatic component, a second pneumatic component, a first control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the first pneumatic component, a second control valve for controlling the flow of gas to actuate the second pneumatic component, and a trigger. The trigger is operatively connected to the first and second control valves. The marker is configured to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of a player releasing the trigger after only moving it far enough to actuate one of the control valves.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0019]
    The present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the attached drawings, in which:
  • [0020]
    FIG. 1 a is a partially sectional side view of a paintball marker in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention, in a bolt-closed position;
  • [0021]
    FIG. 1 b is a partially sectional side view of the paintball marker shown in FIG. 1 a, in a bolt-open position;
  • [0022]
    FIGS. 1 c and 1 d are side views that illustrate the operation of a firing mechanism that may be used with the marker shown in FIG. 1 a;
  • [0023]
    FIGS. 1 e and 1 f are side views that illustrate the operation of an alternative firing mechanism that may be used with the marker shown in FIG. 1 a;
  • [0024]
    FIGS. 1 g and 1 h are side views that illustrate the operation of another alternative firing mechanism that may be used with the marker shown in FIG. 1 a; and
  • [0025]
    FIGS. 1 i and 1 j are side views of a marker using any of the three firing mechanisms shown in FIGS. 1 c and 1 d, 1 e and 1 f and 1 g and 1 h, in a two-tube configuration;
  • [0026]
    FIG. 2 is a partially sectional side view of the paintball marker shown in FIG. 1 a, illustrating a misfeed of a paintball;
  • [0027]
    FIGS. 3 a and 3 b are magnified sectional side views illustrating the operation of a control valve for the paintball marker shown in FIG. 1 a;
  • [0028]
    FIG. 4 a is a partially sectional side view of a paintball marker in accordance with a second embodiment of the present invention, in a bolt-closed position;
  • [0029]
    FIG. 4 b is a partially sectional side view of the paintball marker shown in FIG. 4 a, in a bolt-open position;
  • [0030]
    FIGS. 5 a and 5 b are magnified sectional side views of a control valve for use with the paintball marker shown in FIG. 4 a;
  • [0031]
    FIG. 6 is a kit of parts in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention for retrofit to a paintball marker of the prior art;
  • [0032]
    FIG. 7 is a paintball marker of the prior art;
  • [0033]
    FIG. 8 is a paintball marker derived from retrofitting the kit of parts of FIG. 6 to the paintball marker of FIG. 7; and
  • [0034]
    FIG. 9 is a magnified sectional side view of a combined cylinder/control valve unit that may be incorporated into the paintball markers shown in FIGS. 1 a and 8;
  • [0035]
    FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c are side views of a marker in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, illustrating the operation of an optional linkage between a trigger with the firing mechanism shown in FIGS. 1 g and 1 h, and an optional linkage between the trigger and a bolt on the marker;
  • [0036]
    FIGS. 11 a and 11 b are magnified sectional side views illustrating the operation of a control valve that is part of one of the linkages shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c;
  • [0037]
    FIGS. 12 a, 12 b, 12 c and 12 d are side views that illustrate the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with the alternative firing mechanism shown in FIGS. 1 e and 1 f, in a closed bolt configuration;
  • [0038]
    FIGS. 13 a, 13 b and 13 c are side views that illustrate the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with the alternative firing mechanism shown in FIGS. 1 e and 1 f, in an open bolt configuration;
  • [0039]
    FIGS. 14 a and 14 b are side views of a marker in accordance with another embodiment of the invention, having a one tube configuration; and
  • [0040]
    FIGS. 15 a, 15 b, 15 c, 15 d and 15 e show alternative configurations for sealing surfaces on control valves shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b, 10 c, 11 a and 11 b;
  • [0041]
    FIG. 16 shows a sectional side view of an air storage chamber and adjustment member shown in FIGS. 1 g and 1 h; and
  • [0042]
    FIGS. 17 a, 17 b, 17 c, 17 d and 17 e show alternative configurations for sealing surfaces on the firing valve shown in FIGS. 1 g, and 1 h;
  • [0043]
    FIGS. 18 a and 18 b are sectional side views of an alternative inlet control device to that shown in FIG. 1, for use with a marker in accordance with the present invention;
  • [0044]
    FIG. 18 c is a sectional view along section lines 18 c-18 c in FIG. 18 b;
  • [0045]
    FIGS. 19 a and 19 b are perspective views of another alternative inlet control device to that shown in FIG. 1, for use with a marker in accordance with the present invention, wherein FIG. 19 b has a component removed for greater clarity;
  • [0046]
    FIG. 19 c is a sectional side view of the inlet control device shown in FIG. 19 b;
  • [0047]
    FIG. 19 d is a sectional view along section lines 19 d-19 d in FIG. 19 c;
  • [0048]
    FIGS. 20 a and 20 b are sectional side views of yet another alternative inlet control device to that shown in FIG. 1, for use with a marker in accordance with the present invention;
  • [0049]
    FIGS. 21 a and 21 b illustrate the operation of two alternative control valves to replace the control valve shown in FIGS. 11 a and 11 b;
  • [0050]
    FIGS. 22 a and 22 b illustrate the operation of the two control valves shown in FIGS. 21 a and 21 b controlling a bolt, whereby both control valves are connected to a single pressure regulator;
  • [0051]
    FIG. 23 shows the two control valves shown in FIGS. 22 a and 22 b connected to separate pressure regulators;
  • [0052]
    FIG. 24 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0053]
    FIG. 25 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger, linkage and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0054]
    FIG. 26 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger, linkage and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0055]
    FIG. 27 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0056]
    FIG. 28 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger, linkage and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;
  • [0057]
    FIG. 29 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger, linkage and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0058]
    FIG. 30 is a sectional side view of the marker shown in FIG. 10 a, with selected components omitted for clarity, illustrating a trigger, linkage and valve configuration in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0059]
    Reference is made to FIG. 1 a, which shows a paintball marker 10 in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. The paintball marker 10 is used to fire paintballs 12 during, for example, a paintball game. For simplicity and greater clarity of the Figures, several of the components of the paintball marker 10 that are involved in the firing of paintballs 12 have not been shown in the Figures.
  • [0060]
    The paintball marker 10 includes a body 14, an inlet control device 15, which may be, for example, a bolt 16, and an actuation system 18. The body 14 defines a chamber 20, that is typically called a breech, for holding a paintball 12 to be fired. The breech 20 has a paintball inlet 22 through which paintballs 12 are fed one at a time for firing. A paintball tube 24 may extend outwards from the body 14 for holding a plurality of paintballs 12 to be fed into the breech 20. The breech 20 may extend generally linearly and may have a front end 26, which is open. The breech 20 has a diameter that is sufficiently large that it does not hamper the movement of the paintball 12 therein.
  • [0061]
    A barrel 28 may be mounted in the front end 26 in fluid communication with the breech 20. The barrel 28 may have a diameter that is the same or optionally slightly smaller than the diameter of the paintballs 12. It will be appreciated that the diameter of the barrel 28 is also smaller than the diameter of the breech 20.
  • [0062]
    The barrel 28 has an inlet which is shown at 29. The inlet 29 includes a transition portion 29 a (shown more clearly in FIG. 1 b), which smoothly transitions from the diameter of the breech 20 to the diameter of the barrel 28.
  • [0063]
    The breech 20 has a rear end 30 in which there is an opening 32. The bolt 16 is slideable within the breech 20 and connects to the actuation system 18 through the opening 32. The bolt 16 is moveable by means of the actuation system 18, between a closed position, as shown in FIG. 1 a and an open position, as shown in FIG. 1 b. When the bolt 16 is in the closed position, a paintball 12 is held in position between the forward end of the bolt 16, which is shown at 35, and the inlet 29 of the barrel 28. Because of the snug fit of the paintball 12 in the barrel 28, the paintball 12 is prevented from rolling out of the barrel 28 prior to firing of the paintball marker 10. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 a, the paintball 12 is positioned only partially in the barrel 28 when the bolt 16 is in the closed position. It is alternatively possible, however, to have an embodiment (not shown), wherein the bolt 16 pushes the paintball 12 further into the barrel 28 prior to firing of the marker 10.
  • [0064]
    When the bolt 16 chambers a paintball 12, the bolt 16 also blocks the paintball inlet 22, and prevents other paintballs 12 from entering the breech 20, when in the closed position shown in FIG. 1 a. An outlet 35 a is provided in the forward end 35 of the bolt 16, for pressurized air. When the paintball marker 10 is fired, pressurized air exits through the outlet 35 a to fire the paintball 12 through the barrel 28 and out of the marker 10.
  • [0065]
    Reference is made to FIG. 1 b, which shows the paintball marker 10 in the bolt-open position. When the bolt 16 is in the open position, the bolt 16 does not block the paintball inlet 22, and thus permits the entry of a paintball 12 into the breech 20. As shown in FIG. 1 b, when in the open position, the bolt 16 may extend outwards from the breech 20 through the opening 32.
  • [0066]
    When in the open position, the front end 35 of the bolt 16 may be positioned generally aligned with the rearmost edge of the paintball inlet 22. A detent 34 extends into the breech 20 proximate the forwardmost edge of the paintball inlet 22. When the bolt 16 is open, the detent 34 and the bolt 16 cooperate to retain a paintball 12 in the breech 20. The paintball 12 in the breech 20 is positioned in such a way as to block other paintballs 12 from entering the breech 20.
  • [0067]
    The detent 34 is resilient so as to permit the bolt 16 to push a paintball 12 therepast during closure of the bolt 16. The detent 34 may be resilient by any suitable means, such as by being spring loaded.
  • [0068]
    The detent 34 is shaped so as not to rupture the paintball 12 as it moves therepast. For example the detent 34 may be spherical.
  • [0069]
    The actuation system 18 is used to move the bolt 16 between the open and closed positions. The actuation system 18 may be any suitable type of actuation system. For example, the actuation system 18 may utilize gas pressure from a suitable gas source such as a pressurized air tank 400 (see FIG. 1 i), to drive the bolt 16 between the open and closed positions. The pressurized air tank 400 (FIG. 1 i) may contain an actuation gas, such as air, at several thousand psi, at least initially. A primary regulator (not shown) may be connected to the air tank to reduce the air pressure down to a pressure suitable for firing a paintball 12, eg. approximately 150 psi to approximately 350 psi. The primary regulator (not shown) may be a single stage regulator, or alternatively may be a dual stage regulator, essentially consisting of two regulators in series to reduce the air pressure in stages down to the firing pressure. The marker 10 includes an air conduit 36 for transporting air from the primary regulator (not shown) through an inlet 36 a, to the firing mechanism (not shown in this Figure) and to the actuation system 18.
  • [0070]
    The actuation system 18 includes an actuator 37, which may be a pneumatic cylinder 37, a control valve 38, a first low pressure regulator 40, and a second low pressure regulator 42. The pneumatic cylinder 37 includes a housing 44 and a piston 46. Movement of the piston 46 within the housing 44 is controlled by the entry and discharge of air in the housing 44 through a first port 48 and a second port 50. A rod 52 extends from the piston 46 out from the pneumatic cylinder 37 and through the body 14 of the paintball marker 10. The rod 52 connects the piston 46 to a back plate 53, to which the bolt 16 is also connected. By virtue of the connection of the piston 46 to the bolt 16 by means of the rod 52 and the back plate 53, movement of the piston 46 in the housing 44 causes movement of the bolt 16 in the breech 20.
  • [0071]
    The first and second low pressure regulators 40 and 42 are mounted in fluid communication with the air conduit 36 to receive air from the primary regulator (not shown). More specifically, the paintball marker 10 may include a manifold 54 that has an internal air conduit 55 therein that is in fluid communication with the air conduit 36.
  • [0072]
    The manifold 54 has a first port 55 a for connection to the first low pressure regulator 40 and a second port 55 b for connection to the second low pressure regulator 42. The manifold 54 may optionally also include a third port 55 c, which may be used as desired, or which may be plugged when not in use.
  • [0073]
    The manifold 54 may be a separate component that mounts to the body 16 of the paintball marker 10, or alternatively, the manifold 54 may be integral with the body 16. The manifold 54 may include mounting means for the first and second low pressure regulators 40 and 42, for the control valve 38 and for the pneumatic cylinder 37, as shown in FIG. 1 a. It is alternatively possible, however, for some or all of these components to mount to the body 16 instead of mounting onto the manifold 54.
  • [0074]
    Pressurized air travels from the air tank 400 (FIG. 1 i) through the primary regulator (not shown), where it is reduced to the firing pressure. From there the air travels through the air conduit 36 in the body 16, and from the air conduit 36, through the internal air conduit 55 in the manifold 54. From the air conduit 55, the air is distributed to the first and second low pressure regulators 40 and 42.
  • [0075]
    It is alternatively possible, however, for the primary regulator (not shown) to be connected directly into the manifold 54 using the optional port 55 c, instead of being connected to the air conduit inlet 36 a on the body 16. In that case, it will be appreciated that the inlet 36 a on the body 16 would require plugging.
  • [0076]
    The low pressure regulators 40 and 42 reduce the pressure of the air received from the primary regulator (not shown), down to two different outlet pressures. The first low pressure regulator 40 may reduce the pressure of the air to between approximately 50 psi and approximately 100 psi, and the second low pressure regulator 42 may reduce the pressure of the air to between approximately 5 psi and approximately 50 psi. The air pressures provided by the low pressure regulators 40 and 42 may be selected based on the specific characteristics of the components of the paintball marker 10. For example, if there is significant resistance in the movement of the bolt 16 in the breech 20, the regulators 40 and 42 may be selected to provide air at higher pressures. Conversely, if for example, the bolt 16 moves with little resistance in the breech 20 then accordingly, lower pressure may be selected for the second regulator 42 and for the first regulator 40 if it is involved in movement of the bolt 16 towards its open position.
  • [0077]
    The control valve 38 controls the movement of the piston 46 by controlling the flow of air from the regulators 40 and 42 to the first and second ports 48 and 50. The control valve 38 includes a first inlet port 56, a second inlet port 58, a first outlet port 60 and a second outlet port 62. The first inlet port 56 is connected to the outlet of the regulator 40 by means of a first conduit 64. The first outlet port 60 is connected to the first port 48 of the pneumatic cylinder 37 by means of a second conduit 68. The second inlet port 58 is connected to the outlet of the regulator 42 by means of a third conduit 66. The second outlet port 62 is connected to the second port 50 of the pneumatic cylinder 37 by means of a fourth conduit 70. The conduits 64, 66, 68 and 70 may be flexible conduits, such as, for example, flexible plastic tubing. Alternatively, they may be rigid or semi-rigid conduits, such as, for example, stainless steel tubing.
  • [0078]
    When it is desired to move the bolt 16 from the closed position shown in FIG. 1 a to the open position shown in FIG. 1 b, the control valve 38 directs air from the first regulator 40 to the first port 48 on the pneumatic cylinder 37. The increase in pressure in the housing 44 in front of the piston 46 drives the piston 46 rearwardly. Because the bolt 16 is connected to the piston 46 by means of the back plate 53 and the rod 52, the bolt 16 is also moved rearwardly as a result of the movement of the piston 46.
  • [0079]
    When it is desired to move the bolt 16 from the open position shown in FIG. 1 b to the closed position shown in 1 a, the control valve 38 directs air from the regulator 42 to the second port 50 on the pneumatic cylinder 37. The increase in air pressure in the housing 44 behind the piston 46 drives the piston 46, and in turn, the bolt 16 forward to the closed position.
  • [0080]
    Reference is made to FIG. 2. When the bolt 16 is in the open position to permit the entry of a paintball 12 into the breech 20, it is possible for a variety of reasons for the paintball 12 not to have fully entered the breech 20 when the bolt moves towards the closed position. In such an instance, the bolt 16 can jam against the mis-fed paintball, pinning the paintball 12 in the paintball inlet 22. Because of the relatively low air pressure and corresponding relatively low force used to drive the piston 46 and the bolt 16 forward, the bolt 16 has a reduced likelihood of rupturing the mis-fed paintball 12 upon jamming there against.
  • [0081]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 3 a and 3 b which show the control valve 38 in more detail, and which illustrate its operation. The control valve 38 includes a housing 72 and a valving element 74. The inlet ports 56 and 58 and the outlet ports 60 and 62 may be positioned in a linear arrangement on the housing 72, and may be in the order shown in the Figures, whereby the first and second inlet ports 56 and 58 are positioned inside the first and second outlet ports 60 and 62. The housing 72 defines an internal passage 76 with which all of the ports 56, 58, 60 and 62 communicate. The housing 72 has a first end 78. The internal passage 76 has a first vent 80 in the first end 78. The housing 72 has a second end 82 in which there is positioned a second vent 84 for the internal passage 76.
  • [0082]
    The valving element 74 is moveable within the internal passage 76 to direct the flow of air into and out of the control valve 38. The valving element 74 includes a first seal 86, a second seal 88, and a third seal 90. When the control valve 38 is in a first control valve position, as shown in FIG. 3 a, the first seal 86 is positioned between the first inlet port 56 and the first outlet port 60, thereby preventing them from communicating with each other. Furthermore, the first outlet port 60 is in fluid communication with the first vent 80. Because the first outlet port 60 is also in fluid communication with the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 44 in front of the piston 46, this portion of the housing 44 is at substantially atmospheric pressure.
  • [0083]
    In the first control valve position shown in FIG. 3 a, the second and third seals 88 and 90 are positioned to form a chamber with which the second inlet port 58 and the second outlet port 62 communicate. Thus, in this position, air from the outlet of the second regulator 42 is transmitted to the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 44 behind the piston 46. This, in turn, causes the piston 46 to move to its forwardmost position, as shown in FIG. 1 a. This, in turn, causes the bolt 16 to move to the closed position, as shown in FIG. 1 a.
  • [0084]
    Reference is made to FIG. 3 b, which shows the control valve 38 in a second control valve position. In the second control valve position, the valving element 74 is moved so that the third seal 90 is positioned between the second inlet port 58 and the second outlet port 62, thus preventing them from communicating with each other. Furthermore, in the position shown in FIG. 3 b, the second outlet port 62 is in fluid communication with the second vent 84, which in turn causes the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 44 behind the piston 46 to be at substantially atmospheric pressure.
  • [0085]
    Furthermore, the first and second seals 86 and 88 cooperate to define a chamber around the first inlet port 56 and the first outlet port 60, permitting them to be in fluid communication with each other. Thus, in the position shown in FIG. 3 b air from the outlet of the first regulator 40 is transmitted to the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 44 in front of the piston 46, which drives the piston 46 to its rearwardmost position, as shown in FIG. 1 b.
  • [0086]
    Referring to FIG. 1 a, when it is desired to fire the paintball marker 10, a trigger 92 that is positioned on the body 14, is pulled. Pulling of the trigger 92 causes pressurized air to be released through the outlet 35 a in the bolt 16, to fire the chambered paintball 12 from the barrel 28. The linkage between the trigger 92 and the firing mechanism may be mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, electrical, electronic or any combination thereof.
  • [0087]
    The trigger 92 is operatively connected to the actuation system 18, and more specifically to the valving element 74 (FIGS. 3 a and 3 b). The connection may be by any suitable means, such as, for example, a mechanical linkage (not shown), a pneumatic connection (not shown), an electrical connection (not shown), an electronic connection (not shown), or any combination thereof. Pulling of the trigger 92 causes firing of the chambered paintball 12 as described above, and then causes movement of the valving element 74 between the first control valve position (see FIG. 3 a) and the second control valve position (see FIG. 3 b). The valving element 74 may extend out of the housing 72 (see FIGS. 3 a and 3 b) for operatively connecting to the trigger 92.
  • [0088]
    The paintball marker 10 shown in the embodiment in FIGS. 1 a and 1 b is a “closed bolt” configuration, because the bolt 16 remains in the closed position (shown in FIG. 1 a) when the trigger 92 is at rest. It is alternatively possible, however, for a paintball marker within the scope of this invention to have an open bolt configuration, whereby the bolt remains in the open position when the trigger is at rest. In that case, when the trigger is pulled, the bolt closes with a closing force that is sufficiently low so as to inhibit rupturing of the paintball. Once in the closed position, the paintball that has been chambered is held between the bolt and the barrel. At this point, pressurized air is released to fire the paintball 12 from the barrel 28.
  • [0089]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 1 c, 1 d, 1 e, 1 f, 1 g and 1 h, which illustrate alternative firing mechanisms 300 that may be used with the marker 10. The firing mechanism 300 in general controls the release of a volume of high-pressure air into the bolt 16 for firing the paintball 12.
  • [0090]
    Referring to FIGS. 1 c and 1 d, the firing mechanism 300 may comprise a firing valve 302 and an actuator 303, which may include a striker 304 and a spring 306 connected between a fixed element of the marker 10 and the striker 302. The striker 304 is held in a rest position wherein the spring 306 is compressed (see FIG. 1 c), by a holding means, such as a sear (not shown). The trigger 92 (FIG. 1 a) may be operatively connected to the holding means (not shown). When the trigger 92 is pulled, the holding means, eg. the sear, releases the striker 304, at which point the spring 306 drives the striker 304 into a valving element 308 in the firing valve 302. The valving element 308 is engaged by the striker 304 and is moved into an open position (see FIG. 1 d) to permit a volume of air to pass through the valve 302, as shown by the arrow A, out the valve outlet, shown at 312, and indirectly or directly into the bolt 16 (see FIG. 1 a), for firing the paintball 12.
  • [0091]
    After releasing air through the valve 302, the valving element 312 moves from the open position to the closed position (see FIG. 1 c). The valving element 312 may be driven towards the closed position by any suitable means, such as, for example, by means of air pressure from the firing air acting on the valving element 312 or by a spring (not shown).
  • [0092]
    Any suitable means, eg. pneumatic pressure from the first low pressure regulator 40 (FIG. 1 a), may be used to drive the striker 304 back to re-compress the spring 306 and re-engage the sear (not shown).
  • [0093]
    Movement of the sear (not shown) may be accomplished by any means known in the art. For example, the sear may be actuated by a mechanical linkage connected to the trigger 92. Alternatively, movement of the sear may be controlled by an electric solenoid or by an electronic solenoid valve.
  • [0094]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 1 e and 1 f, which show an alternative firing mechanism 300. In this alternative, the actuator 303 may include the striker 304 and a pneumatic cylinder 314 instead of a spring and sear. The pneumatic cylinder 314 includes a first port 316 and a second port 318, which may both be configured to selectively receive air from the first regulator 40. The trigger 92 (FIG. 1 a) is operatively connected to the pneumatic cylinder 314 to control air from the first regulator 40 through each of the ports 316 and 318. Air flow to the first and second ports 316 and 318 controls the movement of a piston (not shown) inside the cylinder 314. A piston rod 320 is connected at one end, to the piston (not shown). The striker 304 is connected to the other end of the piston rod 320.
  • [0095]
    When the trigger 92 (FIG. 1 a) is pulled, air from the first regulator 40 is released into the first port, and drive the piston (not shown), the piston rod 320 and striker 304 into engagement with the valving element 312, pushing the valving element 312 open to permit a volume of high pressure air through the valve 306 and into the bolt 16 (see FIG. 1 a) for firing.
  • [0096]
    The firing valve 302 may be configured to close by the same means used in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 c and 1 d, eg, by means of the high pressure firing air. The trigger 92 (FIG. 1 a) may be operatively connected to the pneumatic cylinder to control air flow thereto from the first regulator 40, by any suitable means.
  • [0097]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 1 i and 1 j, which illustrate the operation of the marker 10, configured as a two-tube marker, incorporating the firing valve 302, the striker 304 and optionally either one of the spring 306 or the pneumatic cylinder 314. The bolt 16 is open in the position shown in FIG. 1 i, and is closed in the position shown in FIG. 1 j. In the position shown in FIG. 1 j, the paintball is chambered and ready for firing.
  • [0098]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 1 g and 1 h, which show another alternative embodiment of the firing mechanism 300. In this embodiment, the firing mechanism 300 comprises a pneumatic valve 322. The pneumatic valve 322 includes a housing 324 and a spool 326. The housing 324 is generally elongate and may be more specifically generally cylindrical. The housing 324 has an inlet 328 and an outlet 330, which are spaced from each other longitudinally. The inlet 328 is connected fluidically to the high pressure firing air from the primary regulator (not shown). The outlet 330 is connected fluidically to the bolt 16 (FIG. 1 a) to convey firing air to a chambered paintball 12.
  • [0099]
    First and second housing sealing surfaces 332 and 334 extend on projections 332 a and 334 a, into the interior of the housing 324 from its inside wall 335. The housing sealing 332 and 334 may extend about the entire circumference of the housing 324. The first and second housing sealing surfaces 332 and 334 are positioned longitudinally between the inlet 328 and outlet 330, and are at selected longitudinal distances from each other in the housing 324.
  • [0100]
    The spool 326 is elongate and may be generally cylindrical. The spool 326 is movable in the housing 324 and extends through at least one end of the housing 324 to the exterior thereof. The spool 326 includes first and second spool sealing surfaces 336 and 338, which extend outwardly on projections 336 a and 338 a, from the spool exterior surface, shown at 340. The first and second spool sealing surfaces 336 and 338 may be spaced from each other by a distance that differs from the distance between the housing sealing surfaces 332 and 334. The spool 326 is movable in the housing between a first position (see FIG. 1 g) wherein the first spool and housing sealing surfaces 336 and 332 align and seal, and a second position (see FIG. 1 h), wherein the second spool and housing sealing surfaces 338 and 334 align and seal.
  • [0101]
    In the position shown in FIG. 1 g, high pressure firing air is permitted into a space 342 defined between the two housing sealing surfaces 332 and 334, but is prevented from flowing out of the pneumatic valve outlet 330 by the seal formed by the second sealing surfaces 334 and 338. The space 342 communicates with a firing air storage chamber 344. Accordingly, high pressure firing air fills the storage chamber 344 when the valve 322 is in the position in FIG. 1 g. In the position shown in FIG. 1 h, the high-pressure firing air is permitted to flow from the storage chamber 344, though the space 342, out the valve outlet 330 and into the bolt 16 for firing the paintball 12. The firing air is prevented from backflowing out the valve inlet 328 by the seal formed by the first spool and housing sealing surfaces 336 and 332.
  • [0102]
    The air storage chamber 344 shown in FIGS. 1 g and 1 h stores a selected volume of air for use in firing a paintball 12. The chamber 344 has an adjustment member 348 connected thereto for adjusting the overall contained volume of the chamber 344. This permits a player to adjust the volume of air used for each shot, thereby controlling the number of shots available in the air tank 400 (FIG. 1 i). Furthermore, when too much air is released during a shot, some of that air is released after the paintball is ejected from the marker, and therefore, some portion of that air is wasted. Accordingly, providing adjustability to the volume of the air storage chamber 344 permits a player to find the lowest volume at which the. velocity of the fired paintball 12 is substantially unchanged. Thus, the number of shots per tank can be maximized for any given firing velocity.
  • [0103]
    The adjustment member 348 is preferably infinitely adjustable between over a range of adjustment. To provide infinite adjustability, the adjustment member 348 may, for example, include a threaded insert that sealingly engages a threaded aperture 349 in the air storage chamber 344. The volume of the chamber 344 can thus be controlled by screwing in or screwing out of the adjustment member 348. The adjustment member 348 is preferably adjustable by hand without the need for tools, to facilitate volume adjustment.
  • [0104]
    Referring to FIG. 16, the adjustment member 348 may include a sealing element 348 a, which mates with a sealing surface 349 a adjacent the threaded aperture 349. This provides a seal between the adjustment member 348 and the chamber 344 regardless of the position of the adjustment member 348.
  • [0105]
    The inlet 328 and outlet 330 on the pneumatic valve 322 may be of relatively large size on the valve 322, thereby reducing pressure drop therethrough, reducing the amount of time required to fill the firing air storage chamber 344 with firing air, and reducing the amount of time to release the firing air contained in the air storage chamber 344. One reason that the inlet 328 and outlet 330 may be sized relatively large, lies in the configuration of the sealing surfaces 332, 334, 336 and 338. Because the sealing surfaces 334 and 338 on the spool 326 do not engage or sweep past the inlet 328 or outlet 330, as they do on other types of spool valve, the inlet 328 and outlet 330 may be made relatively large without impacting the overall stroke required by the spool 326 to open or close the valve 322. The large inlet 328 and outlet 330 reduce the pressure drop thereacross, which increases the firing efficiency of the marker 10, in that less energy is lost during passage of firing air from the air storage chamber to the bolt 16. Furthermore a large inlet 328 and a large outlet 330 also reduce the amount of time required to fill the air storage chamber 344 to its target pressure, and also analogously reduces the amount of time required for the firing air to leave the air storage chamber 344.
  • [0106]
    By contrast, spool valves that incorporate sealing surfaces that sweep past the valve inlet and valve outlet (such as the spool valve 38 shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b) typically have relatively small inlet and outlet apertures in an effort to reduce the actuation stroke and thus the actuation time of the spool. The small inlet and outlet of such spool valves typically provide a relatively high pressure drop, and increase the amount of time required for a selected volume of air to pass through them for firing a paintball.
  • [0107]
    The spool 326 requires a relatively short stroke to move between the first or filling position shown in FIG. 1 g and the second or firing position shown in FIG. 1 h. The short stroke required makes the actuation of the pneumatic valve 322 relatively quick compared to valves that have longer travel between the closed and open positions.
  • [0108]
    The quick actuation of the valve 322 makes for an overall quicker firing of the paintball 12 from the time the trigger 92 is pulled. Furthermore, the overall cycle time to complete a firing of the paintball 12, which makes the marker 10 capable of an increased firing frequency.
  • [0109]
    The sealing surfaces 332 and 334, and 336 and 338 may have several configurations. For example, referring to FIG. 17 a, the sealing surfaces 332 and 334 may be generally cylindrical, and the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 may be generally toroidal (ie. O-ring shaped). In this configuration, the seals are formed by sliding the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 within the cylindrical sealing surfaces 332 and 334.
  • [0110]
    Referring to FIG. 17 b, the sealing surfaces 332 and 334 may have edges 367 b, 368 b, 369 b and 370 b respectively. In this alternative, the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 are configured to engage the edges 367 b, 368 b, 369 b and 370 b and form a seal therewith. The sealing surfaces 336 and 338 may be generally toroidal (ie. O-ring shaped). Alternatively, they may have another configuration, such as, for example, a generally frusto-conical configuration as shown in FIG. 17 c.
  • [0111]
    Referring to FIG. 17 d, the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 and 332 and 334 may all be frusto-conical, thereby mating to form seals with more surface-to-surface contact than the seal shown in FIG. 17 b whereby a seal is formed incorporating surface-to-edge contact.
  • [0112]
    Referring to FIG. 17 e, the sealing surfaces 332 and 334 may be frusto-conical and the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 may be generally toroidal (ie. o-ring shaped). In this way, seals are formed without the need for matching of cone angles on the mating sealing surfaces.
  • [0113]
    In the configuration shown in FIG. 17 a, the seals are formed between the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 and 332 and 334 by sliding contact between the mating pairs of sealing surfaces.
  • [0114]
    In the configurations shown in FIGS. 17 b, 17 c, 17 d and 17 e, the seals may be formed between the sealing surfaces 336 and 338 and 332 and 334 with reduced sliding contact than occurs in the embodiment shown in FIG. 17 a. Accordingly, less energy may be required to move the spool 360 from one position to another, to form seals between selected pairs of sealing surfaces. Furthermore, less wear may occur between the sealing surfaces as a result of the reduced sliding contact therebetween. Configurations such as those shown in FIGS. 17 b, 17 c, 17 d and 17 e may be referred to as poppet-style spool valve configurations.
  • [0115]
    The trigger 92 may be operatively connected to the spool 326 for movement of the spool 326 in the housing 324, by any suitable means. For example, the trigger 92 may be connected to the spool 326 by one or more of a mechanical linkage, a pneumatic connection, an electric solenoid, and an electronic solenoid valve.
  • [0116]
    An exemplary linkage 350 between the trigger 92 and the firing mechanism 300 is shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c. The linkage 350 includes a firing valve actuation valve 352. The firing valve actuation valve 352 is configured to selectively direct air from the first low pressure regulator 40 to an actuator 354 that may be, for example, a pneumatic cylinder 354, that is operatively connected to the spool 326 of the firing valve 322. The cylinder has a first port 355 a and a second port 355 b.
  • [0117]
    Preferably, the firing valve actuation valve 352 is sized to fit within the grip of the marker 10, shown at 356. The firing valve actuation valve 352 may be configured similarly to the firing valve 322, in that it contains sealing surfaces that do not sweep past the inlet and outlet ports. Referring to FIGS. 11 a and 11 b, the firing valve actuation valve 352 includes a housing 358 and an elongate valve spool 360 that is positionable in a first position or non-firing position (FIG. 11 a) and a second position or firing position (FIG. 11 b). The housing 358 is generally elongate and may be more specifically generally cylindrical. The housing 358 has an inlet 362 and two outlets 363 and 364, one on either side of the inlet 362. The housing 358 also has two exhausts 365 and 366, which may be the two outermost ports on the housing 358.
  • [0118]
    The inlet 362 is connected fluidically to air from the first low pressure regulator 40 (see FIG. 10 a—the fluid path from the regulator 40 to the inlet 362 is not shown, however). The outlets 363 and 364 are connected fluidically to the two ports 355 a and 355 b respectively on the pneumatic cylinder 354 for actuating the cylinder and in turn the spool 326 on the firing valve 322, (the fluid paths from the outlets 363 and 364 to the ports 355 a and 355 b on the pneumatic cylinder 354 are not shown).
  • [0119]
    The housing has first, second, third and fourth housing sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370, which are positioned on circumferential projections 367 a, 368 a, 369 a and 370 a respectively, which project into the interior of the housing 358 from its inside wall 371. The housing sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370 extend about the entire circumference of the housing 358. The sealing surface 367 is positioned longitudinally between the first exhaust port 365 and the first outlet 363. The sealing surface 368 is positioned longitudinally between the first outlet 363 and the inlet 362. The sealing surface 369 is positioned longitudinally between the inlet 362 and the second outlet 364. The sealing surface 370 is positioned longitudinally between the second outlet 364 and the second exhaust port 366. The sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370 are positioned at selected longitudinal distances from each other in the housing 358.
  • [0120]
    The spool 360 is elongate and may be generally cylindrical. The spool 360 is movable in the housing 358 and extends through at least one end of the housing 358 to the exterior thereof. The spool 360 includes first, second, third and fourth spool sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375, which are positioned on ring-shaped projections 372 a, 373 a, 374 a and 375 a, which extend outwardly from its exterior surface, shown at 376. The spool sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 are positioned on the spool 360 at a selected spacing so that, when the spool 360 is in a firing position (see FIG. 11 b), the first sealing surfaces 367 and 372 engage and the third sealing surfaces 369 and 374 engage. Air from the first low pressure regulator 40 passes through the inlet 362 and through the first outlet 363 to the first cylinder port 355 a. Simultaneously air passes from the cylinder port 355 b into the valve 352 through the second outlet 364 and out through the second exhaust 366. Thus, the cylinder 354 is actuated in a direction which operates the firing valve 322 to fire a paintball 12.
  • [0121]
    When the spool 360 is in the non-firing position (see FIG. 11 a), the second sealing surfaces 368 and 373 engage and the fourth sealing surfaces 370 and 375 engage. Air from the first low pressure regulator 40 passes through the inlet 362 and through the second outlet 364 to the second cylinder port 355 b. Simultaneously air passes from the cylinder port 355 a into the valve 352 through the first outlet 363 and out through the first exhaust 365. Thus, the cylinder 354 is actuated in a direction which returns the firing valve 322 to its non-firing position for filling the air storage chamber 344.
  • [0122]
    The inlet 362, outlets 363 and 364, and exhaust ports 365 and 366 may be of relatively large size, thereby reducing pressure drop therethrough, and reducing the actuation time for the cylinder 354 by reducing resistance (ie. pressure drop) to air passing therethrough. The reasons for this are the same as the reasons provided above in relation to the valve 322.
  • [0123]
    Furthermore, the valve 352 requires a relatively short stroke of the spool 360 to move the spool 360 between the non-firing position shown in FIG. 11 a and the firing position shown in FIG. 11 b, for the same reasons as explained above in relation to the valve 322. Accordingly, the actuation time of the valve 352 is reduced as a result of the short stroke.
  • [0124]
    The quick actuation of the valve 352 makes for an overall quicker actuation of the pneumatic cylinder 354. Because the valve 352 transmits the pulling of the trigger 92 to the valve 322 more quickly, the overall actuation of the firing valve 322 is quicker, which contributes to reducing the overall cycle time to complete a firing of the paintball 12 from the pulling of the trigger 92. The reduced firing cycle time makes for an increased firing frequency capability for the marker 10.
  • [0125]
    The sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370, and 372, 373, 374 and 375 may have several configurations. For example, referring to FIG. 15 a, the sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370 may be generally cylindrical, and the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 may be generally toroidal (ie. O-ring shaped). In this configuration, the seals are formed by sliding the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 within the cylindrical sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370.
  • [0126]
    Referring to FIG. 15 b, the sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370 may have edges 367 b, 368 b, 369 b and 370 b respectively. In this alternative, the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 are configured to engage the edges 367 b, 368 b, 369 b and 370 b and form a seal therewith. The sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 may be generally toroidal (ie. O-ring shaped). Alternatively, they may have another configuration, such as, for example, a generally frusto-conical configuration as shown in FIG. 15 c.
  • [0127]
    Referring to FIG. 15 d, the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 and 367, 368, 369 and 370 may all be frusto-conical, thereby mating to form seals with more surface-to-surface contact than the seal shown in FIG. 15 b whereby a seal is formed incorporating surface-to-edge contact.
  • [0128]
    Referring to FIG. 15 e, the sealing surfaces 367, 368, 369 and 370 may be frusto-conical and the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 may be generally toroidal (ie. o-ring shaped). In this way, seals are formed without the need for matching of cone angles on the mating sealing surfaces.
  • [0129]
    In the configuration shown in FIG. 15 a, the seals are formed between the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 and 367, 368, 369 and 370 by sliding contact between the mating pairs of sealing surfaces.
  • [0130]
    In the configurations shown in FIGS. 15 b, 15 c, 15 d and 15 e, the seals may be formed between the sealing surfaces 372, 373, 374 and 375 and 367, 368, 369 and 370 with reduced sliding contact than occurs in the embodiment shown in FIG. 15 a. Accordingly, less energy may be required to move the spool 360 from one position to another, to form seals between selected pairs of sealing surfaces. Furthermore, less wear may occur between the sealing surfaces as a result of the reduced sliding contact therebetween. Configurations such as those shown in FIGS. 15 b, 15 c, 15 d and 15 e may be referred to as poppet-style spool valve configurations.
  • [0131]
    Referring to FIGS. 10 a and 10 c particularly, the spool 360 may be configured to be directly engaged by the trigger 92. In other words, when it is desired to fire a paintball 12, the trigger 92 is pulled. Pulling the trigger 92 brings the trigger 92 into engagement with the spool 360 and moves the spool 360 to actuate the pneumatic cylinder 354, which in turn actuates the firing valve 322.
  • [0132]
    The valve 352 may include a biasing mechanism 379 for biasing the spool 360 in the position shown in FIG. 11 b, so that the firing valve 322 is positioned in the filling position.
  • [0133]
    The pneumatic cylinder 354 may be operatively connected to the spool 326 of the firing valve 322 in any suitable way. For example, the cylinder 354 may be integrally formed with the firing valve 322.
  • [0134]
    As shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c, the marker 10 may further include a bolt-actuating valve 380 instead of the bolt-actuating valve 38. The bolt-actuating valve 380 may be actuated directly from the trigger 92 in a manner similar to the valve 352. It is preferable for the valve 380, like the valve 352, to be positioned in the grip 356 of the marker 10, however, it is alternatively possible for the valve 380 to be positioned elsewhere within the marker 10.
  • [0135]
    The valve 380 may be similar in configuration to the valve 352, except that the outputs of the valve 380, shown at 382 and 384 are connected fluidically to the ports 386 and 388 on the pneumatic cylinder 390. The pneumatic cylinder 390 is operatively connected to the bolt 16. The valve may also include two exhaust ports 391 and 392, which are associated with the outlet ports 382 and 384 respectively.
  • [0136]
    The valve 380 may be configured to have a single input 393, as shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c. The input 393 may be fluidically connected to the second low pressure regulator 42 (connection not shown). When the valve 380 is in a first position, air from the second regulator 42 is directed through the inlet 393, out through the second outlet 384 and into the cylinder 390 through the port 388. In this position, air is also permitted to pass from the cylinder port 386, into the first valve 380 through the first outlet 382 and out through the first exhaust port 391. In this position, the cylinder 390 is driven to move the bolt 16 to an open position, permitting entry of a paintball 12 into the breech 20.
  • [0137]
    When the valve 380 is positioned in a second position, air from the second regulator 42 is directed through the inlet, out through the first outlet 382 and into the cylinder 390 through the port 386. In this position, air is also permitted to pass from the cylinder port 388, into the first valve 380 through the second outlet 384 and out through the second exhaust port 392. In this position, the cylinder 390 is driven to move the bolt 16 to a closed position, thereby chambering a paintball 12. It will be noted that the valve 380 configured as shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c uses air from the second low pressure regulator 42 to move the bolt 16 to both the open and closed positions. The valve 352 uses air from the first low pressure regulator 40 to control the firing valve 322. In embodiments wherein air from regulator 42 is used to control bolt movement and air from regulator 40 is used to control the firing valve 322, or any other firing valve, the linkages used to control the bolt and firing valve may be mechanical, pneumatic, electrical, electronic or any combination thereof. Regardless of what is used to operatively link the trigger 92 to the firing mechanism 300, and what is used to operatively link the trigger 92 to the bolt 16, it is advantageous to operate with air from the second regulator 42 to close the bolt 16 and to operate the firing mechanism with air from the first regulator 40. The bolt 16 may also moved to the open position using air from the second regulator 42.
  • [0138]
    For quick actuation and good reliability, however, it is preferable to use at least one of the valves 322, 352 and 380 in the marker 10. Preferably, all three may be included in the marker 10 to control both the firing and the bolt movement without using solenoids.
  • [0139]
    The valve 380 may include a biasing mechanism 394 for biasing the valve 380 in either the first or second positions. Accordingly, the biasing mechanism effectively biases the bolt in either the bolt-open or bolt-closed positions. In the system shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c, the valve 380 when not actuated by the trigger 92 (see FIG. 10 a) is in the first position, whereby the bolt 16 is open. When the marker 10 is configured this way, it may be referred to as an open bolt marker 10.
  • [0140]
    The valve 380 may advantageously incorporate any of the configurations of sealing surfaces 372, 373, 274 and 375, and 367, 368, 369 and 370 shown in FIGS. 15 a, 15 b, 15 c, 15 d and 15 e.
  • [0141]
    Referring to FIG. 10 b, when the trigger 92 is first pulled, it first engages the spool of the valve 380, which is shown at 395. The valve 380 is moved to its second position, thereby moving the bolt 16 forward to chamber the paintball 12. As the trigger 92 is pulled further, the valve 352 is engaged (see FIG. 3), thereby firing the paintball 12 from the marker 10.
  • [0142]
    It will be noted that until the bolt 16 has chambered the paintball 12, the fluid path, shown at 396, from the firing valve 322 into the bolt 16 is closed (see FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c).
  • [0143]
    Releasing the trigger 92 returns the valves 352 and 380 to their rest positions. The bolt 16 returns to the open position to permit another paintball 12 into the breech 20. The firing valve 322 returns to the filling position for filing the air storage chamber 344.
  • [0144]
    It is alternatively possible for the marker 10 shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c to be a closed bolt design. In a closed bolt design, the bolt 16 remains in at rest in the closed position. Thus, when the trigger 92 is pulled the valve 352 would be actuated first instead of the valve 380, thereby firing the paintball 12. Then, as the trigger 92 is pulled further, the valve 380 is actuated to move to its first position which would move the bolt to its open position for receiving another paintball 12 in the breech 20. When the trigger 92 would be released, the valve 380 would return to its second position, closing the bolt 16 and chambering another paintball 12. In this alternative embodiment, the valve 380 would be biased towards its second position. The valve 352 would still be biased towards its first position, for filling the air storage chamber 344.
  • [0145]
    Referring to FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c, by incorporating the aforementioned quick-acting, high air flow pneumatic valves 322, 352 and 380 and by operating the actuation valves 352 and 380 from the trigger 92 without the use of a solenoid, the performance of the marker 10 in terms of firing frequency remains good, without incurring the drawbacks associated with having solenoids and their attendant power delivery and electrical systems. For example, the marker 10 shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c does not require a battery, and accordingly is not at risk of stranding a player as a result of a dead or weak battery. Furthermore, by eliminating the solenoids and associated electrical systems, the marker 10 can be operated with reduced risk of damage during wet, hot or cold playing conditions, all of which pose a risk to electrical components.
  • [0146]
    In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c, the trigger 92 is operatively connected to the control valves 352 and 380 by means of a direct connection between the trigger 92 and the valves 352 and 380. When pulling the trigger 92 it is possible that a player might sense the engagement of the trigger 92 and whichever of the valves 352 and 380 is first actuated by the trigger 92 during its stroke. In the open bolt design shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c that would be the valve 380. In the closed bolt alternative configuration discussed above, that would be the valve 352. Upon sensing the engagement between the trigger 92 and whichever is the first valve actuated by the trigger 92, it is possible that the player might inadvertently release the trigger 92 instead of following through further on the stroke of the trigger 92 so that the second valve 352 or 380 is actuated to complete a proper firing sequence. Furthermore, if there is a substantial increase in force required to actuate the second-actuated valve, eg. valve 352 in FIGS. 10 a-10 c, relative to the force required to actuate the first-actuated valve, eg. valve 380 in FIGS. 10 a-10 c, then this might exacerbate the problem by causing the player to inadvertently release the trigger 92 thinking that they have arrived at the end of the stroke of the trigger 92 before actuating the second actuated valve. In a closed-bolt design, ie. where the second-actuated valve is the valve 380, this will cause the marker 10 to fire a paintball 12, but the bolt will not move to permit loading of a new paintball 12. Conversely, in an open-bolt design, this will cause the marker 10 to chamber a paintball 12, but not to fire it.
  • [0147]
    Reference is made to FIG. 24, which shows a positioning for first and second valves, shown at 549 a and 549 b, for reducing inadvertent trigger release by the player prior to actuation of both valves 549 a and 549 b. The first and second valves 549 a and 549 b control the flow of gas to first and second pneumatic components 551 a and 551 b respectively. The marker pneumatic components 551 a and 551 b may, for example, be the bolt actuation cylinder 390 (FIG. 10 a) and the firing valve actuation cylinder 354 (FIG. 10 a) respectively. Alternatively, the pneumatic components 551 a and 551 b may be any other suitable pneumatic components that are associated with the marker 10. For example, one of the pneumatic components may be a cylinder that actuates some mechanism in a loader device for feeding paintballs into the inlet 24 of the marker 10.
  • [0148]
    The first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b are spool valves and may be poppet-style spool valves. The first control valve 549 a may, for example, be the bolt actuation valve 380 (FIG. 10 a) or the bolt actuation valve 38 (FIG. 1 a) or the actuation valve for other types of inlet control device for the marker 10, and the second control valve 549 b may be, for example, the firing valve control valve 352 (FIG. 10 a). Alternatively, the first control valve 549 a may, for example, be the firing valve control valve 352, and the second control valve 549 b may be the bolt actuation valve 380 (FIG. 10 a) or the bolt actuation valve 38 (FIG. 1 a).
  • [0149]
    The first control valve 549 a has a housing 553 a and a spool 555 a. The housing 553 a of the first control valve 549 a may have five gas ports, ie. an input port 557 a, two outlet ports 557 b and 557 c and two vent ports 557 d and 557 e. For a given size of gas port 557 a-e, a poppet-style spool valve provides for a relatively short stroke for the valve spool 555 a, relative to a spool valve, such as the valve 38 shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b.
  • [0150]
    The second control valve 549 b may be similar to the first control valve 549 a. The second control valve 549 b has a housing 553 b and a spool 555 b. The housing 553 b of the second control valve 549 b may have five gas ports, ie. an input port 559 a, two outlet ports 559 b and 559 c and two vent ports 559 d and 559 e.
  • [0151]
    The first and second valves 549 a and 549 b may have fewer than, or more than five gas ports. For example, one of the control valves 549 a or 549 b may be the bolt actuation valve 38, which has six ports. Alternatively, one or both of the control valves 549 a and 549 b may be a three port valve, and may have an input port, an outlet port and a vent port, and may be used to control a pneumatic component that uses gas to operate in one direction and a spring or some other biasing means to operate in a second direction.
  • [0152]
    The first and second valves 549 a and 549 b are free of solenoids (ie. they do not incorporate solenoids).
  • [0153]
    The first and second valves 549 a and 549 b are each movable between a first and a second position. Biasing means 561 a may be provided for the valve 549 a to bias the spool 555 a in one of its first and second positions. Biasing means 561 b may be provided for the valve 549 b to bias the spool 555 b in one of its first and second positions.
  • [0154]
    The first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b are operated sequentially by the trigger 92. The first valve 549 a is the first valve of the two that is actuated by the trigger 92. The second valve 549 a is the second valve of the two that is actuated by the trigger 92.
  • [0155]
    In embodiments wherein the first actuated valve 549 a is the bolt actuation valve 380 (FIG. 10 a) or 38 (FIG. 1 a) and the second actuated valve 549 b is the firing valve control valve 352 (FIG. 10 a), the marker 10 is considered to have an open-bolt configuration. In embodiments wherein the firing valve control valve 352 (FIG. 10 a) is the first actuated valve 549 a and the bolt actuation valve 380 (FIG. 10 a) or 38 (FIG. 1 a) is the second actuated valve 549 b, the marker 10 is considered to have a closed-bolt configuration.
  • [0156]
    The trigger 92 may include a finger grip portion 550, a pivot 552, a first valve actuation portion 554 and a second valve actuation portion 556. The pivot 552 permits the trigger 92 to pivot along a path with respect to the body 14 of the marker. The finger grip portion 550 is positioned for receiving one or more fingers of the player. The valve actuation portions 554 and 556 may directly actuate the spools 555 a and 555 b of the control valves 549 a and 549 b respectively, with no intermediate mechanical, pneumatic or electric linkage.
  • [0157]
    The relationship between the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 and the finger grip portion 550 is as follows. Forces F1 and F2 are the forces required to overcome the resistance of the first spool 555 a and the second spool 555 b respectively, thereby actuating the first valve 549 a and the second valve 549 b. To develop force F1 at the first valve actuation portion 554, a force Ffg1 is required to be exerted by the fingers of the user on the finger grip portion 550 of the trigger 92. The force Ffg1 required to develop the force F1 is dependent on, among other things, the moment arm shown at Mfg between the pivot 552 and the upper end shown at 576 of the uppermost locator bump shown at 578 on the finger grip portion 550, and the moment arm shown at M1 between the valve actuation portion 554 and pivot 552. The moment arm Mfg is measured from the upper end 576 of the uppermost locator bump 578 on the finger grip portion 550, because this point represents the center of the finger that would be positioned highest up on the finger grip portion 552, through which a user would exert a force to actuate the trigger. The relationship between Ffg1 and F1 is: Ffg1 = F1 M1 Mfg
  • [0158]
    To develop force F2 at the first valve actuation portion 556, a force Ffg2 is required to be exerted by the fingers of the user on the finger grip portion 550 of the trigger 92. The force Ffg2 required to develop the force F2 is dependent on, among other things, the moment arm Mfg and the moment arm shown at M2 between the valve actuation portion 556 and pivot 552. Additionally, it will be noted that when actuating the second valve 549 b, the user still exerts force F1 which is exerted to maintain the second position of the spool 555 a in the first valve 549 a. The relationship between Ffg2 and F2 is: Ffg2 = F2 M2 Mfg + Ffg1
  • [0159]
    The valve actuation portions 554 and 556 may be positioned proximate the pivot 552 to reduce the force Ffg1 and Ffg2 required to be developed at the finger grip portion of the trigger, relative to a configuration with control valves positioned farther from the pivot 552. Reducing the force required to move the finger grip portion 550 to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b reduces the sensation of actuating a valve to a player during use, which in turn, reduces the tendency for the player to inadvertently release the trigger 92 prior to actuating both of the control valves 549 a and 549 b.
  • [0160]
    Positioning the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 close to the pivot 552 reduces the forces Ffg1 and Ffg2 required at the finger grip 550, as explained above. However, by positioning the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 closer to the pivot 552, the trigger 92 must travel through a correspondingly greater angular stroke for the actuation portions 554 and 556 to displace the spools 555 a and 555 b sufficiently to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b. It is desirable for the trigger 92 to have a relatively short stroke to effect actuation of the control valves 549 a and 549 b, since a shorter trigger stroke facilitates a higher firing rate for the marker 10. Accordingly, the positions of the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 may be selected so that the forces Ffg1 and Ffg2 are reduced while still providing an acceptably short trigger stroke.
  • [0161]
    The trigger 92 may have a stroke of between about 0.2 and about 5 mm, preferably between about 1 and about 3 mm and more preferably between about 1 and about 2 mm, as measured by the distance traveled by the upper end 576 of the uppermost locator bump 578 on the finger grip portion 550 between the rest position and the firing position for the trigger 92 wherein it has actuated both control valves 549 a and 549 b. This stroke is sufficiently short that a user can achieve a relatively high firing rate with the marker 10. Selecting the maximum travel of the trigger, accordingly affects how close the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 can be positioned to the pivot 552. In general, for a relatively longer trigger 92 stroke, the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 can be positioned relatively closer to the pivot 552. For a relatively shorter trigger 92 stroke, the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 would be positioned relatively farther to the pivot 552.
  • [0162]
    Adjustment means 558 and 560 may be provided in the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 respectively for adjusting where in the stroke of the trigger 92 each of the spools 555 a and 555 b are contacted. The adjustment means 558 and 560 may include set screws 562 and 564 respectively which are positioned in holes 566 and 568 respectively that pass through the trigger 92 so that they can be accessed with a suitable tool (not shown) from outside the marker. The set screws 562 and 564 have contact surfaces 570 and 572 respectively which engage and move the spools 555 a and 555 b respectively when the trigger 92 is pulled. The set screws 562 and 564 are individually adjustable in the holes 566 and 568 respectively to adjust where along the stroke of the trigger 92 each of the contact surfaces 570 and 572 make contact with the spools 555 a and 555 b respectively.
  • [0163]
    It will be appreciated that the amount of travel of the trigger 92 that exists between actuation of the two spools 555 a and 555 b at least in part determines the expected time interval between actuation of the valve 549 a and actuation of the valve 549 b. By providing two individually adjustable adjustment means 558 and 560, some control is provided for adjusting the aforementioned expected time interval.
  • [0164]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 24 wherein the control valves 549 a and 549 b are positioned in the grip 356, the control valves 549 a and 549 b may be positioned one beneath the other to keep the grip 356 sufficiently thin to be comfortably held in one hand. The width of the grip 356 is the dimension in the direction that is perpendicular to the plane of the drawing in FIG. 24.
  • [0165]
    Instead of positioning the control valves 549 a and 549 b one above the other, it is alternatively possible for the control valves 549 a and 549 b in a side-by-side configuration. Preferably, if the valves were side-by-side in the grip 356, they would be sufficiently thin so as not to make the grip 356 too wide to comfortably hold in one hand. The control valves 549 a and 549 b could alternatively be positioned side-by-side in the body 14 of the marker 10 where their width will not have an impact on the width of the grip 356. In an embodiment wherein the control valves 549 a and 549 b are side-by-side, they can both be positioned proximate the pivot 552 so as to provide a reduced sensation of actuation of their spools 555 a and 555 b during use. The trigger 92 could include actuation portions that are positioned side-by-side to engage the spools 555 a and 555 b.
  • [0166]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 24, it is preferable to position the two valves as close to the pivot 552 as possible without positioning them to close that the trigger stroke required to cause actuation is too large. Accordingly, it is desirable to position the lower of the valves, eg. valve 549 b, as close to the pivot 552 and therefore as close to the upper of the two valves, eg. valve 549 a. To facilitate positioning them close together, the control valves 549 a and 549 b may be configured so that mutually facing portions of their exterior surface area are devoid of any connection points 557 a-e and 559 a-e for fluid conduits. In other words, the connection points 557 a-e and 559 a-e for fluid conduits on the two valves 549 a and 549 b are preferably positioned anywhere on the exterior surface except the portions of their exterior surfaces that face each other.
  • [0167]
    It is, for example, optionally possible for the connection points to be aligned in an axially-extending row on the exterior of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. ‘Axially’ in this instance refers to the length direction of each of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. By providing all of the connection points in a row, the control valves 549 a and 549 b can be oriented so that their respective rows of pneumatic connection points face away from each other, thus permitting the control valves 549 a and 549 b to be positioned close together.
  • [0168]
    The connection points may be provided either directly on the control valves 549 a and 549 b themselves, or it may alternatively be provided by means of a separate manifold, shown at 573 in association with the valve 549 a, and shown at 574 in association with the valve 549 b. The manifolds 573 and 574 are mounted to the control valves 549 a and 549 b and each include a row of connection points for fluid conduits.
  • [0169]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 24, the trigger 92 has been shown to have a planar surface from which the set screws 562 and 564 project for contacting the valve spools 555 a and 555 b. In this way, the positions of the set screws 562 and 564 have been relied upon to provide the delay between the actuation of the two valves 549 a and 549 b. In an alternative embodiment that is not shown, it is possible, for the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 to be portions of a stepped or otherwise non-planar surface (not shown) that directly engages the valve spools 555 a and 555 b and which provides a selected delay between actuation of the control valves 549 a and 549 b that is fixed. It is also alternatively possible for the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 to comprise a single planar surface that does not include the set screws 562 and 564. In this alternative, the delay between actuation of the control valves 549 a and 549 b could be provided by a difference in the positions of the ends of the spools 555 a and 555 b relative to the single planar surface.
  • [0170]
    An optional biasing means 581 biases the trigger 92 towards the rest position shown in FIG. 24, and is used to return the trigger 92 back to the position shown in FIG. 24 after being pulled through some or all of the trigger stroke. The biasing means 581 may be any suitable biasing means, such as a compression spring.
  • [0171]
    As described above, there is a selected amount of travel of the trigger 92 that occurs after actuation of the first valve 549 a and prior to actuation of the second valve 549 b. The marker 10 may include any of several optional structures to prevent the spool 555 a from traveling too far into the housing 553 a of the first valve 549 a and damaging the valve 549 a during the trigger's travel towards actuation of the second valve 549 b. For example, the valve 549 a may be provided with the spool-type seals shown in FIG. 15 a so that the valve 549 a may achieve a seal while still permitting additional spool travel. Alternatively, where the seals are poppet-type, as shown in FIGS. 15 b, 15 c, 15 d and 15 e, the seals on either or both of the spool 555 a and the housing 553 a may be made sufficiently compliant that sufficient compression occurs in one or both of the seals to permit some overtravel of the spool 555 a. As another alternative, the set screw 554 may be provided with a biasing member of its own, so that it can be compressed into the trigger 92 during the travel of the trigger 92 that occurs between actuation of the first valve 549 a and the second valve 549 b. Such a biasing member would be selected so that the set screw 554 would apply a sufficient force to actuate and maintain the spool 555 a in its second position throughout a selected portion of the travel of the trigger 92. Alternatively, the marker 10 may include any other suitable structure to permit the overtravel of the first spool 555 a.
  • [0172]
    It is alternatively possible however, for the trigger 92 to connect to the control valves 549 a and 549 b indirectly by means of a mechanical connection, a pneumatic connection or a combination of the two. Reference is made to FIG. 25, which shows a trigger 582 and a pivot arm 583 for actuating the control valves 549 a and 549 b in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0173]
    The trigger 582 includes a finger grip portion 584, a pivot 586 about which the trigger 582 pivots along a path relative to the body 14 of the marker 10, a first valve actuation portion 588 and a second valve actuation portion 590.
  • [0174]
    The first and second valve actuation portions 588 and 590 may include set screws 562 and 564 which are positioned for engaging and actuating the control valves 549 a and 549 b at selected points along the stroke of the trigger 582. The set screw 562 may directly actuate the spool 555 a of the valve 549 a. The set screw 564 may be positioned proximate the set screw 562 and may be used to actuate the pivot arm 583, which operatively connects the trigger 582 to the valve 549 b.
  • [0175]
    The pivot arm 583 pivots about a pivot 592 and has a free end 594, which is engageable by the set screw 564 on the trigger 582. The pivot arm 583 has a valve actuation portion 596 which may include a set screw 598 for engagement of the spool 555 b of the valve 549 b. Providing the pivot arm 583 permits the first and second valve actuation portions 588 and 590 to be positioned relatively close together. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 25, the pivot arm 583 permits the portions of the trigger 582 that actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b. to be positioned close together without being affected by the size or positions of the control valves 549 a and 549 b themselves. By contrast, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 24, the relative proximity of the first and second valve actuation portions 554 and 556 is affected by the size and positions of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. However, in the embodiment shown in FIG. 25, even though the control valves 549 a and 549 b may be of the same sizes as those in FIG. 24, and may be in the same positions as they are in the embodiment shown in FIG. 24, the pivot arm 583 permits the first and second valve actuation portions 588 and 590 to be closer together than the valve actuation portions 554 and 556 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 24. Additionally, the pivot arm 583 permits greater flexibility in the positioning of the control valves 549 a and 549 b, while keeping the first and second valve actuation portions 588 and 590 close together.
  • [0176]
    The set screw 598 permits adjustment of the position of the pivot arm 583 at which it engages and actuates the spool 555 b.
  • [0177]
    It is optionally possible for the control valves 549 a and 549 b to include the manifolds 573 and 574, so that the control valves 549 a and 549 b are positionable relatively close together.
  • [0178]
    An optional biasing means 599 biases the trigger 582 towards the rest position shown in FIG. 25, and is used to return the trigger 582 back to the position shown in FIG. 25 after being pulled through some or all of the trigger stroke. The biasing means 599 may be any suitable biasing means, such as a compression spring.
  • [0179]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 25, the pivot arm 583 is shown as being associated with the valve 549 b. It is alternatively possible for the pivot arm 583 to instead be associated with the valve 549 a. Furthermore, it is possible for two pivot arms to be provided, one associated with each of the control valves 549 a and 549 b.
  • [0180]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 25, the marker 10 is provided with a means to prevent the overtravel of the spool 555 a in the housing 553 a during the portion of the travel of the trigger between actuating the first valve 549 a and actuating the second valve 549 b. The marker 10 may include any of the structures described above with respect to reducing the problem of spool overtravel in the embodiment shown in FIG. 24. Additionally, if the first valve 549 a is actuated by means of a pivot arm, it is optionally possible to incorporate a suitable spring, eg. a torsion spring, into the pivot arm so that the pivot arm can apply sufficient force on the valve 549 a, while reducing the problem of spool overtravel.
  • [0181]
    Reference is made to FIG. 26, which shows a trigger 600 and a linkage 602, which are used to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The linkage 602 includes a master valve 604 which is directly actuated by the trigger 600. The master valve 604, which is operatively connected to the first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 26, the master valve 604 actuates a pneumatic linkage cylinder 606. The pneumatic linkage cylinder 606 in turn actuates a valve actuation link 607, which may be, for example a pivot arm 608. The valve actuation link 607 is movable with respect to the body 14 and is operatively connected to the control valves 549 a and 549 b for actuating them.
  • [0182]
    The trigger 600 has a finger grip portion 610, a pivot 612 and a master valve actuation portion 614. The master valve actuation portion 614 may include an adjustment means 615, eg. a set screw, which is adjustable for engaging and actuating the master valve 604 at a selected position in the stroke of the trigger 600. In the sense that the master valve actuation portion 614 actuates the master valve 604, which in turn is operatively connected to the first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b, the master valve actuation portion 614 is both the first and second valve actuation portions for the configuration of the marker shown in FIG. 26.
  • [0183]
    The master valve 604 may be any suitable type of valve, such as, for example, a valve that is similar to one of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. For example, the valve 604 may be a spool valve, such as a poppet-style spool valve, and may have five ports, ie. an input port, two outlet ports and two vent ports. Providing a poppet-style spool valve for the valve 604 provides for a relatively short stroke for the valve spool, as explained above with respect to the control valves 549 a and 549 b. It is alternatively possible for the valve 604 to be a spool valve that is not a poppet-style. For example, the valve 604 could be similar to the valve 100 shown in FIGS. 5 a and 5 b.
  • [0184]
    The master valve 604 is free of solenoids (ie. it does not incorporate a solenoid).
  • [0185]
    The master valve 604 has an input port 616 which receives input air from the first regulator 40 (see FIG. 1 a). The master valve 604 has a first outlet port 618 and a second outlet port 620. The first and second outlet ports 618 and 620 are connected via conduits 622 and 624 to first and second ports 626 and 628 on the linkage cylinder 606. By means of these connections, the master valve 604 is operatively connected to the linkage cylinder 606. The master valve 604 may be connected to the linkage cylinder 606 by other means, however. For example, the master valve 604 and the linkage cylinder 606 may be integrally connected together in a single structure, similar to the combined valve/cylinder unit 212 shown in FIG. 9.
  • [0186]
    The linkage cylinder 606 has a piston (not shown) to which a piston rod 630 is connected. The piston rod 630 extends out from the housing of the linkage cylinder 606 and is pivotally connected to a free end 632 of the pivot arm 608. The pivot arm 608 is mounted at its other end for pivotable movement with respect to the body 14 by means of a pivot 634. Actuation of the linkage cylinder 606, ie. extension and retraction of the piston (not shown) and piston rod 630, causes pivotal movement back and forth of the pivot arm 608. When the linkage cylinder 606 and the pivot arm 608 are in their respective first positions, as shown in FIG. 26, the valve spools 555 a and 555 b are in respective first positions. Accordingly, the pneumatic components 551 a and 551 b are in respective first positions. When the linkage cylinder 606 and the pivot arm 608 are in their respective second positions (not shown), the pivot arm 608 engages and actuates the control valves 549 a and 549 b, moving the valve spools 555 a and 555 b to respective second positions, which in turn, moves the bolt 16 and firing valve 322 to respective second positions (see FIG. 10 c). In the embodiment shown in FIG. 26, the first position for the linkage cylinder 606 is one in which the piston rod 630 is maximally extended outward from the cylinder housing, and the second position is one in which the piston rod 630 is retracted within the cylinder housing. It is alternatively possible however, to have a linkage whereby the linkage cylinder 606 extends outwards to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b and retracts back to a first position.
  • [0187]
    The pivot arm 608 includes a first set screw 638 and a second set screw 639 for engaging the spools 555 a and 555 b of the control valves 549 a and 549 b respectively. The first and second set screws 638 and 639 provide adjustability for the position of the pivot arm 608 when it actuates the two valves 549 a and 549 b. Providing the master valve 604 which actuates the two valves 549 a and 549 b eliminates the chance for inadvertent release of the trigger 600 prior to engagement of the two valves 549 a and 549 b.
  • [0188]
    A biasing means 640, such as a compression spring, may be included for urging the trigger 600 outwards. Furthermore, the master valve 604 may have a biasing means 641, such as a compression spring, for urging its spool, shown at 642, outwards. It is optionally possible that the biasing means 641 on the master valve 604 could be configured to act on the spool 642 with sufficient force that the spool 642 urges the trigger 600 back outwards after the trigger 600 is pulled, thereby eliminating the need for a separate biasing means 640.
  • [0189]
    Reference is made to FIG. 27, which shows a trigger 643 and a configuration for the control valves 549 a and 549 b in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The trigger 643 includes a finger grip portion 644, a pivot 646, a first valve actuation portion 648 and a second valve actuation portion 649. The first and second valve actuation portions 648 and 649 may be positioned on an arm 650 that extends directly rearwardly from the rest of the trigger 643. The first and second actuation portions 648 and 649 may comprise a first arcuate surface 652 and a second arcuate surface 654 on an opposing portion of the arm (ie. such that it faces in the opposite direction, away from the first arcuate surface 652). The control valves 549 a and 549 b may be configured so that their spools 555 a and 555 b face each other and are engageable the arcuate surfaces 652 and 654 on the arm 650 of the trigger 643. The valve 549 a is configured so that the first spool 555 a is in a state of decreased extension from the housing 553 a in its first position (shown in FIG. 27) and is in a state of increased extension in its second position. The valve 549 b is configured so that the second spool 555 b state of increased extension in its first position (shown in FIG. 27) and is in a state of decreased extension in its second position.
  • [0190]
    The trigger 643 is movable along a path between a rest position or first position, shown in FIG. 27, and a firing position, or second position. A first direction along the trigger path is defined as the direction of motion of the trigger from the first position towards the second position. A second direction along the trigger path is defined as the direction of motion of the trigger from the second position to the first position.
  • [0191]
    When the trigger 643 is pulled, ie. is moved in the first direction along its path, the arm 650 pushes against the spool 555 a causing movement of the spool 555 b into the valve housing 553 b thereby actuating the valve 549 b. Additionally, the arm 650 moves away from the valve housing 553 a. The biasing means 561 a on the valve 549 a causes extension of the spool 555 a from the valve housing 553 a in the absence of resistance from the arm 650. Thus, movement of the arm 650 away from the valve 549 a permits extension of the spool 555 a to its second position.
  • [0192]
    The engagement of the spools 555 a and 555 b in this way reduces or eliminates the sensation of separately engaging the two spools 555 a and 555 b at different times.
  • [0193]
    The shapes of the arcuate surfaces 652 and 654 may be selected so that the arm 650 maintains a centered engagement on the spools 555 a and 555 b throughout the travel of the trigger 643.
  • [0194]
    During movement of the trigger 643 in the first direction, actuation of the valve 549 a occurs when the spool 555 a extends outwards sufficiently, and occurs prior to actuation of the valve 549 b. After actuation of the first control valve 549 a, the spool 555 a may reach the end of its outward travel from the first housing 553 a. The arm 650, however, continues moving against the spool 555 b. After a sufficient amount of continued movement of the arm 650, the spool 555 b is urged to its second position.
  • [0195]
    A biasing means 658 such as a compression spring may be positioned to urge the trigger 643 back towards its rest position. Once the trigger 643 is released by a player, the movement of the trigger 643 back to its rest position will push the spool 555 a back towards the valve housing 553 a. The biasing means 651 b urges the spool 555 b to extend outwards from the valve housing 553 b. The biasing means 651 b and 658 together provide sufficient force to overcome the biasing means 651 a. Movement of the arm 650 back to its rest position permits extension of the spool 555 b back to its first position and urges the spool 555 a back to its first position.
  • [0196]
    A manifold 662 may be provided which receives both of the control valves 549 a and 549 b thereon. The manifold 662 has all of the inlet and outlet ports for both valves. The inlet and outlet ports can thus all be positioned to extend outwards from the control valves 549 a and 549 b in a common direction. It is alternatively possible to provide two separate manifolds for the two valves 549 a and 549 b. It is also alternatively possible for the control valves 549 a and 549 b to not have manifolds.
  • [0197]
    It is not necessary for the valve actuation portions 648 and 649 to be positioned mutually opposite each other along the arm 650, or for them to be positioned at the same position axially along the length of the arm. They could alternatively be positioned at different axial positions along mutually opposed portions of the arm 650.
  • [0198]
    Reference is made to FIG. 28, which shows a trigger 700 and a linkage 702, which are used to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0199]
    The trigger 700 may be movable between a rest position and a second or firing position in any suitable way. For example, the trigger 700 may include a pivot 704 about which the trigger 700 pivots along a path. Instead of a pivot, the trigger 700 may alternatively slide along a path defined by guide means, such as a channel.
  • [0200]
    The trigger 700 further includes finger grip portion 706 and a valve actuation portion 708. The trigger 700 may further include an adjustment system 710 to set the limits of travel of the trigger 700 towards both the firing position and the rest position. The adjustment system 710 may include a first set screw 712 and a second set screw 714, which are both adjustable to abut the body 14 at selectable angular positions in the clockwise and counterclockwise directions of rotation of the trigger 700 about the pivot 704. The set screws 712 and 714 are preferably positioned in threaded apertures 716 and 718 which pass completely through the trigger 700 to permit access to the set screws 712 and 714 with a suitable tool without having to disassemble any portion of the body 14.
  • [0201]
    The trigger 700 may further include a biasing means 720, such as, for example, a compression spring, to bias the trigger 700 in the rest position.
  • [0202]
    The linkage 702 includes a master valve 722 to which the trigger 700 may be operatively connected by means of an intermediate link 724, which may be, for example, a pivot arm 726. The linkage 702 further includes a linkage cylinder 728, and a valve actuation link 730, which may be, for example, a pivot arm 732.
  • [0203]
    The master valve 722 is operatively connected to the first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b. The master valve 722 may be any suitable type of valve, such as, for example, a spool valve similar to valve 100 shown in FIG. 5 a. Alternatively, the master valve 722 may be a spool valve similar to valves 352 or 380 (FIG. 10 a). The master valve 722 is free of solenoids (ie. it does not incorporate a solenoid).
  • [0204]
    The master valve 722 has an inlet port 733, which may receive gas from either the first regulator 40 or alternatively from the second regulator 42 (FIG. 1 a) in embodiments wherein the second regulator 42 is present. Alternatively, if the master valve 722 and the rest of the linkage 702 are configured to operate with a lower pressure gas than is provided by the second regulator 42, a master valve regulator 734 may optionally be provided. The master valve regulator 734 may be configured to provide gas at, for example, 5-60 psi, preferably 10-20 psi, to the inlet port 733 of the master valve 722. The master valve 722 has first and second outlet ports 736 and 738. It will be noted that while the regulator 734 may be operable to provide gas in the same range of pressures as the second regulator 42 (see FIG. 1 a), in use, the two regulators 734 and 42 may be set to two different pressures.
  • [0205]
    The master valve 722 has a housing 740 and an actuator 742, which may be, for example, a spool. The actuator 742 is movable between a first position shown in FIG. 28, and a second position wherein the actuator 742 is moved in towards the housing 740. In the first position, the master valve 722 permits gas from its inlet port 733 to communicate with the first outlet port 736. In the second position, the master valve 722 permits gas from its inlet port 733 to communicate with the second outlet port 738. The master valve 722 additionally includes first and second vents 743 a and 743 b, which permit venting of gas contained at the second outlet port 738 when the actuator 742 is in the first position and venting of gas contained at the first outlet port 736 when the actuator 742 is in the second position.
  • [0206]
    The master valve 722 additionally includes a biasing means 744 to bias the actuator 742 to the first position. The biasing means 744 may be, for example, a compression spring.
  • [0207]
    The pivot arm 726 includes a pivot 745 about which the pivot arm 726 pivots with respect to the body 14. The pivot arm 726 has a first end 746 which is engaged by the valve actuation portion 708 on the trigger 700, and a second end 748 which engages the actuator 742 of the master valve 722.
  • [0208]
    The linkage cylinder 728 may be similar to the linkage cylinder 606 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 26. The linkage cylinder 728 has a housing 750 and a piston 752 on which there is a piston rod 754 that extends out of the housing 750. The housing 750 includes a first cylinder port 756 and a second cylinder port 758, which are in communication with the first and second outlet ports 736 and 738 respectively.
  • [0209]
    The piston 752 and piston rod 754 are movable between a first position (shown in FIG. 28) to a second position, wherein the piston rod 754 inwards towards the housing 750. The piston 752 and piston rod 754 are movable between the first and second positions by the introduction of gas at one of the first and second cylinder ports 756 and 758 and the venting of gas at the other of the first and second ports 756 and 758. The piston rod 754 is operatively connected at its exposed end to the valve actuation link 730.
  • [0210]
    The master valve 722 and linkage cylinder 728 may together form part of a combined valve/cylinder unit 759. The combined valve/cylinder unit 759 may, for example, be similar to the valve/cylinder unit 212 shown in FIG. 9. In the combined valve/cylinder unit, the outlet ports 736 and 738 open directly into the cylinder 728 and thus are also the first and second cylinder ports 756 and 758. It is alternatively possible for the master valve 722 and the linkage cylinder 728 to be separate units with conduits such as hoses connecting the two outlet ports 736 and 738 from the valve 722 to the first and second cylinder ports 756 and 758.
  • [0211]
    The valve actuation pivot arm 732 includes a pivot 760 about which the pivot arm 732 pivots along a path with respect to the body 14. The pivot arm 732 has a first end 762 which is engageable by the linkage cylinder 728, and a second end 764 which is engageable with the control valves 549 a and 549 b. The first end 762 and the exposed end of the piston rod 754 may be connected by any suitable means, such as a pin connection. In an embodiment where the connection is a pin connection, a slotted hole may optionally be provided to receive the pin to permit a bit of overtravel by the cylinder 728 without causing damage to the valve 557 a. Alternatively, the piston rod 754 may abut the second end 764 of the pivot arm 732 without being permanently connected thereto.
  • [0212]
    The second end 764 of the pivot arm 732 includes first and second valve actuation surfaces 766 and 768 which engage and actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b during movement of the pivot arm 732 in both directions along the path about the pivot 760. The first and second valve actuation surfaces 766 and 768 may be arcuate to permit the pivot arm 732 to contact the centers of the ends of the spools 555 a and 555 b throughout the range of movement of the pivot arm 732. One or both of the valve actuation surfaces 766 and 768 may be on components that are spring loaded (eg. spring loaded metallic balls) that permit some movement of one or both of the actuation surfaces 766 and 768 in the event of overtravel of the cylinder 728 in either the outward or inward directions, thereby preventing damage to the valves 549 a and 549 b.
  • [0213]
    The pivot arm 732 is movable between a first position (shown in FIG. 28) and a second position. In the first position of the pivot arm 732, the first valve actuation surface 766 pushes the spool 555 a of the valve 549 a into its first position. Additionally, in the first pivot arm position the spool 555 b of the valve 549 b is biased outwards by the biasing means 651 b to its first position and is preferably not in contact with the second valve actuation surface 768. In the second position of the pivot arm 732, the spool 555 a is biased outwards to its second position and is preferably not in contact with the first actuation surface 766. Additionally, in the second pivot arm position, the second actuation surface 768 moves the spool 555 b to its second position.
  • [0214]
    A biasing means 770 may be provided to bias the pivot arm 732 towards its first position. For example, the biasing means 770 may be a compression spring positioned between the first end 762 and the cylinder housing 750. The biasing means 770 may also keep the first end 762 and the piston rod 754 in engagement with each other in embodiments wherein the piston rod 754 abuts the pivot arm 732 without being permanently attached thereto.
  • [0215]
    When the trigger 700 is depressed, the intermediate link pivot arm 726 is pivoted and pushes in the spool 742 of the master valve 722 to its second position, thereby sending gas to move the piston 752 and piston rod 754 inwards to their second positions. This, in turn, moves the pivot arm 732 to its second position whereat it permits the extension of the spool 555 a to its second position and whereat it pushes the spool 555 b to its second position. When the trigger 700 is released, the biasing means 720 moves the trigger 700 back to its rest position. The biasing means 744 pushes the actuator 742 of the master valve 722 outwards to its first position, which pushes the intermediate link pivot arm 726 to its first position. When the spool 742 is in the first position, the master valve 722 causes movement of the piston 752 and piston rod 754 to their respective first positions. As a result of the movement of the piston 752 and piston rod 754, the pivot arm 732 moves to its first position, eg. by means of the biasing means 770. In the first position of the pivot arm 732, it permits the extension of the spool 555 b to its first position and it urges the spool 555 a to its first position.
  • [0216]
    During movement of the pivot arm 732 along the path in a first direction from the first pivot arm position to the second pivot arm position, the first spool 555 a is moved to its second position at a point earlier along the path than the point at which the second spool 555 b is moved to its second position.
  • [0217]
    Conversely, during movement of the pivot arm 732 along the path in a second direction from the second pivot arm position to the first pivot arm position, the first spool 555 a is moved to its first position at a point later along the path than the point at which the second spool 555 b is moved to its first position.
  • [0218]
    The intermediate link 724 may have a structure other than the pivot arm 726 shown in FIG. 28. The intermediate link 724 may include any means for transferring the motion of the trigger 700 into engagement with the actuator 742 of the master valve 722. As an alternative to having the intermediate link 724, the master valve 722 may be directly engaged by the trigger 700.
  • [0219]
    Instead of the pivot arm 732 shown in FIG. 28, the valve actuation link 730 may comprise any other suitable structure that is movable with respect to the body 14, such as an arm that slides within a guide channel towards and away from the valve housings 553 a and 553 b.
  • [0220]
    Reference is made to FIG. 29, which shows the trigger 700 and a linkage 802, which are used to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0221]
    The linkage 802 includes the master valve 722 which may be engaged by the trigger 700 by means of the optional intermediate link 724, such as the pivot arm 726. The linkage 802 further includes a linkage cylinder 804, and a valve actuation link 806, which may be, for example, a pivot arm 808.
  • [0222]
    The linkage cylinder 804 may be similar to the linkage cylinder 728 (FIG. 28) and has a housing 810 with first and second cylinder ports 812 and 814, and further includes a piston 816 which is connected to a piston rod 818. The piston rod 818 extends out of the housing and engages a first end 820 of the pivot arm 808. The linkage cylinder 804 is oriented so that the piston rod 818 extends generally in a direction that is parallel to the spools 555 a and 555 b of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. In this orientation, the linkage cylinder 804 extends lengthwise transversely across the grip 356. The linkage cylinder 804 may be smaller than the linkage cylinder 728 (FIG. 28) to fit in this orientation. The first and second cylinder ports 812 and 814 may communicate with the first and second master valve outlet ports 736 and 738 through a manifold 822. Alternatively, they may communicate by means of conduits, such as hoses, extending between the master valve outlet ports 736 and 738 to the cylinder ports 812 and 814.
  • [0223]
    The pivot arm 808 may be similar to the pivot arm 732 (FIG. 28), but is configured to be engaged by the transversely oriented cylinder 804, instead of the linkage cylinder 728 (FIG. 28). The pivot arm 808 pivots about a pivot 824 and has a second end 826 that moves the valve spools 555 a and 555 b between their respective first and second positions in a similar manner to the second end 764 on the pivot arm 732 (FIG. 28). The second end 826 has first and second valve actuations surfaces 829 a and 829 b which engage the valves 549 a and 549 b respectively.
  • [0224]
    Depending on the operating pressures that can be used with the linkage 802, an optional regulator 828 may be provided which is configurable to operate at a different pressure than the first and second regulators 40 and 42.
  • [0225]
    A biasing means 830, such as a compression spring, may be provided to keep the pivot arm 808 in its first position, shown in FIG. 29.
  • [0226]
    Reference is made to FIG. 30, which shows the trigger 700 and a linkage 850, which are used to actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0227]
    The linkage 850 includes the master valve 722 which may be engaged by the trigger 700 by means of the optional intermediate link 724, such as the pivot arm 726. The master valve 722 communicates directly with the valve 549 b. In the embodiment in FIG. 30, the valve 549 b includes a pneumatic pilot section 858. The pneumatic pilot section 858 controls the movement of the spool 555 b. The pneumatic pilot section 858 includes first and second pilot ports 860 and 862, which communicate with the first and second outlet ports 736 and 738 of the master valve 722. The communication may be made by means of a manifold 864 associated with the master valve 722 and first and second conduits 866 and 868 extending between the manifold 864 and the pilot ports 860 and 862. Alternatively, any other communication means for providing fluid communication between the pilot ports 860 and 862 and the master valve outlet ports 736 and 738 may be provided. For example, the conduits 866 and 868 may run directly between the pilot ports 860 and 862 and the master valve outlet ports 736 and 738 without an intermediate manifold.
  • [0228]
    The pneumatic pilot section 858 is configured to move the spool 555 b in one direction or the other depending on which pilot port 860 or 862 receives pressurized gas from the master valve 722. When gas is sent to one of the pilot ports 860 or 862, gas that is present in the other of the pilot ports 860 or 862 is vented through the master valve vent ports 743 a and 743 b.
  • [0229]
    The spool 555 b is movable between a first position, shown in FIG. 30, and a second position wherein the spool 555 b extends relatively farther out of the housing 854 and moves the spool 555 a of the valve 549 a to its second position. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 30 the spool 555 a of the valve 549 a is, in its first position, extended at its farthest outward from the housing 553 a. In the second position, the spool 555 a is pushed some distance in towards the housing 553 a. The biasing means 394 biases the spool 555 a towards its first position. The spool 555 a reaches its second position prior to the spool 555 b reaching its second position. There are several ways in which this can be achieved, such as, for example, providing sufficiently compressible sealing portions in the valve 549 a to permit some overtravel in the spool 555 a, even after the initial seal is formed between the spool 555 a in the second position and the housing 553 a.
  • [0230]
    When the trigger 700 is moved to its second position, ie. its firing position, the master valve 722 sends gas to the second pilot port 862 on the valve 852, thereby moving the spools 555 a and 555 b to their respective second positions. With their spools 555 a and 555 b in their respective second positions, the control valves 549 a and 549 b chamber and fire a paintball 12.
  • [0231]
    When the trigger 700 is released, the master valve 722 returns to its first position thereby sending gas to the first pilot port 860, which moves the spool 555 b to its first position, which in turn permits the movement of the spool 555 a to its first position. In the first position, the bolt 16 (FIG. 10 a) is open permitting entry of a paintball 12 into the marker 10, and the firing valve 322 (FIG. 10 a) is closed.
  • [0232]
    In the embodiment shown in FIG. 30, the valve 549 b is shown as having the pilot section 858. It is alternatively possible for the valve 549 a to have the pilot portion 858 and for the spool 555 a to engage and move the spool 555 b to its second position. For example, the valve 549 a may be configured in a suitable way so that the 555 a is capable of overtravel beyond its second position, so that after the valve 549 a is actuated upon the spool 555 a reaching the second position, the spool 555 a continues further movement to cause subsequent actuation of the valve 549 b.
  • [0233]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 the biasing means for biasing the trigger towards a first position have been shown to be a compression spring. It is alternatively possible for the biasing means to comprise some other structure, such as, for example, one or more magnets. For example, a first magnet could be positioned on the trigger, and another second magnet could be positioned behind the trigger in the grip 356. The magnets could be oriented so that the surfaces of the magnets that face each other have the same polarity. Thus the magnets would exert a repulsive force on each other, which would in turn urge the trigger back towards its rest position.
  • [0234]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 the valves 549 a, 549 b, 604 (FIG. 26), and 722 (FIGS. 28, 29 and 30) are described as each having two vent ports. The vent ports may extend outwards at points along the length of the valve housing. Alternatively they may have some other configuration, such as, for example, a pair of annular apertures at the ends of the housings, through which the spool protrudes.
  • [0235]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30 a separate biasing means is provided to urge the trigger back to its rest position. It is alternatively possible for the biasing of the trigger to be achieved by some other means other than a dedicated biasing means. For example, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25 and 27 a biasing spring positioned in one or both of the control valves 549 a and 549 b for returning one or both of the valve spools 555 a and 555 b back to their respective first positions could be made sufficiently strong to move the trigger back to its own rest position when the player releases the trigger.
  • [0236]
    As shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, the trigger can directly actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b (FIGS. 24 and 27), or can actuate the control valves 549 a and 549 b by means of an indirect connection. The indirect connection can be in the form of a mechanical linkage (FIG. 25) or a linkage including pneumatic and mechanical components (FIGS. 26, 28, 29 and 30). It is alternatively possible for the linkage to be entirely pneumatic.
  • [0237]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, each of the valves 549 b, 549 a, 604 and 722 is described as having a spool that extends out of the valve housing. It is optionally possible for the spool to have a two piece configuration, including a first spool piece, which has the sealing portions 372, 373, 374 and 375 on it and which is entirely inside the housing, and including a second spool piece which may be separate from the first spool piece and which extends out of the housing for engagement by the trigger or by a linkage actuated by the trigger. It is alternatively possible for the spool to be an integral spool piece which has the sealing portions 372, 373, 374 and 375 thereon, and which extends directly out of the housing. It will be appreciated that an integral spool piece may be made from a plurality of elements, however, the elements are all fixedly attached together, as distinct from a two-piece spool described above. Throughout this description, where a direct connection is described between a component, eg. the trigger 92, and a spool, eg. spool 555 a or spool 555 b, the direct connection may be between the component and spool piece of a multi-piece spool, or alternatively the direct connection may be between the component and an integral spool piece.
  • [0238]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, the trigger is shown as being pivotably movable about a pivot along a path with respect to the body 14. It is alternatively possible for the trigger to be movable in other ways, with respect to the body 14. In particular, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, the trigger could, for example, be slidably moveable along a path by means of a guide channel or the like. The path may be linear, curved or any combination of the two.
  • [0239]
    In the embodiments shown particularly in FIGS. 24 and 25, the marker is configured so that the first and second valve actuation portions are positioned proximate the pivot, thereby reducing the sensation of actuating the two valves during pulling of the trigger, which will reduce the likelihood of a player pulling the trigger and releasing it after actuating only one of the control valves 549 a and 549 b. The actual proximity of the first and second valve actuation portions to the pivot that is necessary to achieve this function depends on several characteristics of the marker, such as the resistance to movement of the valve spools 555 a and 555 b and the amount of trigger travel that is desired between the rest position and the firing position. However, routine experimentation is all that is required to determine the proximity that achieves the function. In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 26, 28, 29 and 30 the inadvertent actuation of only one of the first and second control valves 549 a and 549 b is eliminated because the trigger itself only actuates a single valve, ie the master valve 604 or 722, which in turn, actuates the control valves 549 a and 549 b. Accordingly, proximity between valve actuation portions is not important with the embodiments shown in FIGS. 26, 28, 29 and 30. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 27, the arm 650 of the trigger 643 only moves against the spool of one control valve 549 a or 549 b at a time, while the spool of the opposing control valve simply follows the arm 650. Accordingly, the sensation of sequentially engaging two control valves is either reduced or eliminated in the embodiment shown in FIG. 27, independent of the proximity of the first and second valve actuation portions to the trigger's pivot.
  • [0240]
    In the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24, 25 and 27, the trigger directly engages the valves 549 a and 549 b. In cases where the valves 549 a and 549 b are spool valves having housing seals positioned on lands, such as those shown in FIGS. 17 a-17 e, their relatively short spool stroke is advantageous in that it provides for a relatively short trigger stroke required for their actuation. In particular, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 24 and 25, the valve spools and the corresponding valve actuation portions of the trigger can be positioned closer to the trigger's pivot while maintaining an acceptably short trigger stroke, relative to an embodiment employing a spool valve similar to valve 38, shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b.
  • [0241]
    A selected set of linkages have been shown to connect the trigger to the control valves 549 a and 549 b in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30. It is alternatively possible, however, that other linkages be used including elements such as cams, gears or any other suitable element to achieve the effect of reducing the sensation that two separate valves are being actuated by the trigger.
  • [0242]
    In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c, the marker 10 included a pneumatic valve 322 as the firing valve. Referring to FIGS. 12 a, 12 b, 12 c and 12 d, it is alternatively possible for the marker 10 to include the firing valve 302 and, for example, the pneumatic cylinder 314. The valve 352 may be used to operate the cylinder 314 in similar manner to the operation of the cylinder 354 in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 a, 10 b and 10 c.
  • [0243]
    The embodiment shown in FIGS. 12 a, 12 b, 12 c and 12 d is a closed bolt marker. Thus, the valve (not shown) that actuates the bolt 16 is biased in a position for closing the bolt 16 (see FIG. 12 a). When the trigger 92 is pulled, a valve (not shown) actuates the cylinder 314 and a paintball 12 is fired from the marker 10 (see FIG. 12 b). The firing air may be sent to the bolt 16 from an air storage chamber 344 (FIG. 1 g), through the firing valve 302. The bolt 16 is then opened to permit entry of another paintball 12 into the breech 20 (FIG. 12 c). The bolt 16 is then closed thereby chambering the new paintball 12 (FIG. 12 d).
  • [0244]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 13 a, 13 b and 13 c, which illustrate the operation of the marker 10 with the firing valve 302 and the pneumatic cylinder 314 in an open bolt configuration. Prior to pulling the trigger 92, the bolt 16 is open and a paintball 12 is in the breech 20. When the trigger 92 is pulled, the bolt 16 is closed thereby chambering the paintball 12 (see FIG. 13 b). A valve (not shown) actuates the cylinder 314 and the chambered paintball 12 is fired from the marker 10 (see FIG. 13 c). The firing air may be sent to the bolt 16 from an air storage chamber 344 (FIG. 1 g), through the firing valve 302. The bolt 16 is opened to permit entry of another paintball 12 into the breech 20 (FIG. 12 a).
  • [0245]
    It will be noted that the embodiments shown in FIGS. 12 a, 12 b, 12 c and 12 d and 13 a, 13 b and 13 c can be referred to as a two-tube configuration, in that the body 14 of the marker 10 includes two chambers, one housing the firing mechanism 300 and one housing the bolt 16 and bolt-actuating cylinder. It is alternatively possible for the marker 10 to have a one-tube or a three-tube configuration, or to incorporate any of the firing mechanisms disclosed herein.
  • [0246]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 14 a and 14 b, which illustrate the operation of the marker 10 with the firing mechanism 300, the bolt 16 and the bolt-actuating cylinder all in-line. This is referred to as a single-tube or one-tube configuration.
  • [0247]
    Reference is made to FIG. 4 a, which shows a paintball marker 94 in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The paintball marker 94 may be similar to the paintball marker 10, except that the paintball marker 94 incorporates an actuation system 96 instead of the actuation system 18 (see FIG. 1 a).
  • [0248]
    In similar fashion to the actuation system 18 (FIG. 1 a), the actuation system 96 may utilize air pressure from a pressurized air tank 400 (see FIG. 1 i), to drive a bolt 97 between open and closed positions (FIG. 4 b and 4 a respectively). A primary regulator (not shown) may be fluidically connected to the air tank 400 (FIG. 1 i) to reduce the air pressure from the air tank 400 down to a pressure suitable for use in firing the paintball marker 94. The primary regulator (not shown) may be a single stage regulator, or alternatively may be a dual stage regulator, essentially consisting of two regulators in series to reduce the air pressure in two stages down to the firing pressure. The marker 94 includes an air conduit 98 for transporting air from the primary regulator (not shown) through an inlet 98 a, to the firing mechanism (not shown) and to the actuation system 96.
  • [0249]
    The actuation system 96 includes a pneumatic cylinder 99, a control valve 100 and an actuation system regulator 101. The pneumatic cylinder 99 includes a housing 102 and a piston 104. The housing 102 may be similar to the pneumatic cylinder housing 44 (see FIG. 1 a), and may have a first port 106 proximate its front end and a second port 108 proximate its rear end. The piston 104 is moveable within the housing 102 between a forwardmost position as shown in FIG. 4 a, and a rearwardmost position, as shown in FIG. 4 b.
  • [0250]
    The piston 104 has a front face 110 and a rear face 112. A rod 114 may be connected at a first end to the rear face 112 of the piston 104, and at a second end to a back plate 116. The back plate 116 may, in turn, be connected to the bolt 97. The rod 114 may be a two stage rod, and may have a front portion 120 and a rear portion 121. The front portion 120 is connected to the rear face 112 of the piston 104, and extends out of the rearwardmost end of the pneumatic cylinder housing 102. Thus, the pressure bearing surface area of the rear face 112 is smaller than the pressure bearing surface area of the front face 110, because of the surface area occupied on the rear face 112 by the front portion 120 of the rod 114. For example, if the front portion 120 of the rod 114 is generally cylindrical, the pressure bearing surface area on the rear face 112 will be an annulus having a surface area that is equal to the overall surface area of the rear face 112 minus the cross-sectional area of the front portion 120. It will be noted that, the front portion 120 of the rod 114 extends out of the housing 102, throughout the range of motion of the piston 104. This provides a constant pressure bearing surface area on the rear face 112 of the piston 104, that is smaller than that of the front face 110. The pressure bearing surface areas on the rear and the front faces 112 and 110 are discussed further below.
  • [0251]
    The rear portion 121 has been described as being smaller in diameter than the front portion 120. It is alternatively possible for a rod to be provided wherein the rear portion is the same diameter as the front portion (ie. whereby the entire rod is of a constant diameter, and is suited to occupy a selected portion of the surface area on the rear face 112 of the piston 104). However, it is not necessary for the entire rod to be of a constant diameter.
  • [0252]
    The actuation system regulator 101 is mounted in fluid communication with the air conduit 98 to receive air from the primary regulator (not shown). More specifically, the paintball marker 94 may include a manifold 122 that has an internal air conduit 123 therein that is in fluid communication with the air conduit 98.
  • [0253]
    The manifold 122 has a first port 123 a for connection to the actuation system regulator 101. The manifold 122 may optionally also include a second port 123 b, which may be used as desired, or which may be plugged when not in use. It is alternatively possible for the primary regulator (not shown) to be connected directly into the manifold 122 using the optional port 123 b, instead of being connected to the air conduit inlet 98 a. In that case, it will be appreciated that the inlet 98 a would require plugging.
  • [0254]
    The control valve 100 controls the movement of the piston 104 by controlling the flow of air from the regulator 101 to the first and second ports 106 and 108 on the pneumatic cylinder 99. The control valve 100 has a single inlet port 124, a first outlet port 126 and a second outlet port 128. The inlet port 124 is connected to the regulator 101 by means of a first conduit 130. The first outlet port 126 is connected to the first port 106 on the pneumatic cylinder 99 by means of a second conduit 132. The second outlet port 128 is connected to the second port 108 on the pneumatic cylinder 99 by means of a third conduit 134.
  • [0255]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 5 a and 5 b which show the control valve 100 in more detail, and which illustrate its operation. The control valve 100 includes a housing 136 and a valving element 138. The housing 136 defines an internal passage 140 therethrough. The inlet port 124 and the first and second outlet ports 126 and 128 each communicate with the internal passage 140 and are arranged in a linear orientation on the housing 136, with the inlet port 124 positioned between the two outlet ports 126 and 128. The housing 136 has a first end 142 in which is positioned a first vent 144. The housing 136 has a second end 146 in which is positioned a second vent 148. The valving element 138 includes a first seal 150 and a second seal 152. In a first control valve position, which is shown in FIG. 5 a, the first seal 150 is positioned between the inlet port 124 and the first outlet port 126, so that fluid communication between these two ports is prevented. Furthermore, the first outlet port 126 is in fluid communication with the first vent 144, which causes the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 102 in front of the piston 104 to be at substantially atmospheric pressure (see FIG. 4 a). The first and second seals 150 and 152 cooperate to define a chamber around the inlet port 124 and the second outlet port 128. In doing so, the control valve 100 transmits air from the regulator 101 to the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 102 behind the piston 104, which drives the piston 104 to its forwardmost position, as shown in FIG. 4 a.
  • [0256]
    Reference is made to FIG. 5 b, which shows the control valve 100 in a second control valve position. In this position, the second seal 152 is positioned between the inlet port 124 and the second outlet port 128, preventing them from communicating with each other. Furthermore, the second outlet port 128 is in fluid communication with the second vent 148, and consequently the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing 102 behind the piston 104 is at substantially atmospheric pressure (see FIG. 4 b). Furthermore, the first and second seals 150 and 152 cooperate to define a chamber around the inlet port 124 and the first outlet port 126, so that air is transmitted from the actuation system regulator 101 to the portion of the pneumatic cylinder housing in front of the piston 104 (see FIG. 4 b).
  • [0257]
    The movement of the valving element 138 between the first and second control valve positions may be initiated by moving a trigger 154 which may be connected to the valving element 138 by any suitable means (not shown). The connection means may be mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, electrical, electronic, or any combination thereof.
  • [0258]
    It will be noted that in the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4 a and 4 b, the same air pressure is used to actuate the piston 104 in both directions, i.e. towards its forwardmost position and towards its rearwardmost position. However, because the pressure bearing surface area of the rear face 112 of the piston 104 is smaller than that of the front face 110, the force with which the piston 104 is driven towards its forwardmost position is smaller than the force with which the piston 104 is driven towards its rearwardmost position. The pressure bearing surface area on the rear face 112 may be selected so that the force with which the bolt 97 is moved towards the closed position is low enough to inhibit the rupturing of a paintball 12 in the event of a paintball mis-feed.
  • [0259]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 6 and 7. A kit of parts 156 is shown in FIG. 6, in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention. The kit of parts 156 can be retrofitted to a paintball marker 158 of the prior art, as shown in FIG. 7, to provide the paintball marker 158 with a reduced tendency for rupturing paintballs during bolt closure. The kit of parts 156 includes a control valve 160, a regulator 162, a conduit 163 and a manifold 164.
  • [0260]
    The control valve 160 may be similar to the control valve 38 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 a. The control valve 160 includes a first inlet port 166, a second inlet port 168, a first outlet port 170 and a second outlet port 171.
  • [0261]
    The regulator 162 may be similar to the regulator 42 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 a. The regulator 162 may be configured to produce an outlet pressure of approximately 5 psi to approximately 50 psi, is preferably configured to produce an outlet pressure of approximately 10 psi to approximately 50 psi, and is more preferably configured to produce an outlet pressure of approximately 10 psi to approximately 20 psi.
  • [0262]
    The manifold 164 may be similar to the manifold 54 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 a. The manifold 164 has an air conduit 165 therein, and has a first port 165 a and a second port 165 b in communication with the air conduit 165. The manifold 164 may also have a third port 165 c in communication with the air conduit 165. The port 165 c is shown as being plugged in FIG. 6, since the kit of parts 156 can operate without the need for the port 165 c.
  • [0263]
    Referring to FIG. 7, the paintball marker 158 of the prior art includes a body 172 that defines a breech 174 for receiving a paintball 12 to be fired. A bolt 176 is slideable within the breech 174, between a closed position, as shown in FIG. 7, and an open position (not shown).
  • [0264]
    An actuator, eg. a pneumatic cylinder 178 is operatively connected the bolt 176 for moving the bolt 176 between the open and closed positions. The pneumatic cylinder 178 includes a housing 180 and a piston 182. The housing 180 has a first port 184 and a second port 186.
  • [0265]
    A control valve 188 is used to control the movement of the piston 182 in the pneumatic cylinder 178. The control valve 188 may be similar to the control valve 100 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 4 a, and includes an inlet port 190, a first outlet port 192 and a second outlet port 194. The inlet port 190 is connected to the outlet of a pressure regulator 196 by means of a first conduit 198. The first outlet port 192 is connected to the first port 184 on the pneumatic cylinder 178 by means of a second conduit 200. The second outlet port 194 is connected to the second port 186 on the pneumatic cylinder 178 by means of a third conduit 202.
  • [0266]
    The control valve 188 is used to direct air from the regulator 196 to either of the two ports 184 and 186 on the pneumatic cylinder 178. Thus, the same air pressure is used to drive the piston 182 in both directions, i.e., towards its forwardmost position, and towards its rearwardmost position. The pressure bearing surface area of the piston 182 is substantially the same on both its front face and its rear face, and as a result, the force exerted on the piston 182 by the air is substantially the same in both directions.
  • [0267]
    The paintball marker 158 may be connectable to a pressurized air tank 400 (FIG. 1 i) and a primary regulator (not shown) through an air conduit 204 which has an inlet 204 a, and in turn, through a manifold 206, which has an air conduit 208 that is in communication with the air conduit 204. The manifold 206 has a first port 208 a, which communicates pressurized air from the primary regulator (not shown) to the actuation system regulator 196. The manifold 206 may have a second port 208 b, which is typically plugged. The manifold 206 may be removable from the body 172 of the marker 158.
  • [0268]
    In order to prepare the paintball marker 158 for retrofit with the kit of parts 156, the control valve 188 is removed from the paintball marker 158. The manifold 196 may be removed from the paintball marker 158. The conduits 198, 200, and 202 are not required to be removed from the regulator 196 and the pneumatic cylinder 178, respectively.
  • [0269]
    The manifold 164 may be mounted to the body 172 so that the manifold air conduit 165 is in fluid communication with the air conduit 204. The control valve 160 (FIG. 6) may be attached to the manifold 164, or alternatively to the body 172. The regulators 196 and 162 and the pneumatic cylinder 178 may be mounted to the manifold 164. Alternatively, some or all of these components may be mounted to the body 172. However, the regulators 196 and 162 are to be mounted in any case so that they are each in fluid communication with the air conduit 165, eg. through the ports 165 a and 165 b.
  • [0270]
    Reference is made to FIG. 8, which shows a paintball marker 210, which is the paintball marker 158 of FIG. 7 retrofitted with the kit of parts 156 of FIG. 6. The conduit 198 leading from the regulator 196 may be connected to the first inlet port 166. The conduit 200 leading from the first port 184 on the pneumatic cylinder 178 may be connected to the first outlet port 170. The conduit 202 leading from the second port 186 on the pneumatic cylinder 178 may be connected to the second outlet port 171. The outlet of the regulator 162 may be connected to the second inlet port 168 on the control valve 160 by means of the conduit 163. Once the above steps are completed, the paintball marker 158 of the prior art (FIG. 7) has been converted into the paintball marker 210. The control valve 160 controls the actuation of the pneumatic cylinder 178, instead of the control valve 188 (FIG. 7). Similarly to the control valve 38 in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1 a, the control valve 160 directs air from the regulator 162 to drive the piston 182 towards its forwardmost position, and directs air from the regulator 196 to drive the piston 182 towards its rearwardmost position. Because the regulator 162 provides air at a lower pressure than the regulator 196, the force with which the bolt 176 closes is less than the force with which the bolt 176 opens. The pressure of the air provided by the regulator 162 may be selected to inhibit rupturing of paintballs 12 in the event that the bolt 176 jams against a paintball 12 during bolt closure.
  • [0271]
    Optionally, the kit of parts 156 of FIG. 6 may be provided with enough conduit to replace the conduits 198, 200 and 202. The conduits 198, 200 and 202 may require replacement if they are damaged during disconnection from the control valve 188 and from the regulator 196. The conduit provided with the kit of parts 156 may be cut into separate lengths configured to replace the conduits 198, 200 and 202, as well as a length for the conduit 163. Alternatively, the conduit provided with the kit of parts 156 may be a single length of conduit that the user can cut as desired to provide the conduit 163 and to replace whichever of the conduits 198, 200 and 202 require replacement, if any. As another option, the kit of parts 156 of FIG. 6 may lack any conduits, with the expectation that any conduits that are required may be supplied by the user who acquires the kit of parts 156 for retrofit it to the marker 158.
  • [0272]
    In the case where the existing manifold 206 (FIG. 7) on the paintball marker 158 of the prior art, includes the second port 208 b (FIG. 7), the manifold 164 (FIG. 6) is not required to be included in the kit of parts 156 (FIG. 6). This is because the second regulator 162 (FIG. 6) may be connected into the port 208 b (FIG. 6) on the existing manifold 206 (FIG. 6). In this case, it is not important whether the existing manifold 206 (FIG. 6) is a separate piece that is removable from the paintball marker 158 (FIG. 7) or is integral with the body 172 (FIG. 7) of the marker 158 (FIG. 6).
  • [0273]
    Furthermore, the second regulator 162 (FIG. 8) has been described as being connected to a second port 165 b (FIG. 8) or 208 b (FIG. 7) that is provided on the manifold 164 (FIG. 8) or 206 (FIG. 7), so that the second regulator 162 (FIG. 8) is in fluid communication with the pressurized air from the primary regulator (not shown). It is not important how the second regulator 162 (FIG. 8) is made to be in communication with the pressurized air. It may be by any means. For example, in the case (not shown) where the existing manifold does not include a second port and is not removable, the user may be instructed to machine a second port into the existing manifold for receiving the second regulator 162 (FIG. 8). Thus, in this instance, the new manifold 164 (FIG. 6) may be omitted from the kit of parts 156 (FIG. 6).
  • [0274]
    Referring to FIG. 6, the regulator 162 has been described as being included as part of the kit of parts 156. It is alternatively possible for the kit of parts 156 to not have a regulator for providing air at a second pressure. Instead, the user may be instructed to provide an equivalent to the regulator 162, and to connect it to the marker 158 to provide air at the second pressure, eg. approximately 5 psi to approximately 50 psi.
  • [0275]
    Reference is made to FIG. 9, which shows a combined unit 212, having therein a pneumatic cylinder 214 and a control valve 216. The combined cylinder/valve unit 212 may be used to replace the pneumatic cylinder 37 and the control valve 38 in the embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 1 a. Furthermore, it is possible that the combined cylinder/valve unit 212 may be included as part of the kit of parts 156 shown in FIG. 6, instead of the control valve 160. Referring to FIG. 7, the pneumatic cylinder 178 and the control valve 188 would, in this case, be removed from the paintball marker 158 and replaced by the combined unit 212. The connection means between the trigger and the control valve 216 may, in this case, require some reconfiguring due to the new positioning of the control valve 216, relative to the position of the original control valve 188.
  • [0276]
    The combined unit 212 has a body 218. The body 218 has a first portion 220 that serves as a cylinder housing, and a second portion 222 that serves as a control valve housing. A first port 224 and a second port 226 permit fluid communication between the cylinder housing 220 and the control valve housing 222. The first and second ports 224 and 226 serve as first and second outlet ports from the control valve 216, and also serve as first and second inlet ports for the cylinder 214.
  • [0277]
    A piston 228 is positioned in the cylinder housing 220. The piston 228 is moveable in the cylinder housing 220 between the first and second ports 224 and 226, based on the entry and discharge of pressurized air through the first and second ports 224 and 226. A rod 230 extends from the piston and may be connected directly or indirectly to a back plate on a paintball marker of the present invention.
  • [0278]
    The control valve housing 222 has a first end 232 in which there is a first vent 234, and a second end 236 in which there is a second vent 238. The first and second vents 234 and 238 permit pressurized air in the cylinder 214 to discharge as required during movement of the piston 228.
  • [0279]
    The control valve housing 222 has a first inlet port 240 and a second inlet port 242. The inlet ports 240 and 242 are positioned generally centrally, and may be circumferentially opposed to the first and second outlet ports 224 and 226, to facilitate connection to other components, such as conduits for pressurized air.
  • [0280]
    A valving element 244, which may be similar to the valving element 74, is positioned in the control valve housing 222. The valving element 244 is moveable within the control valve housing 222 to permit fluid communication between either the first inlet and outlet ports 240 and 224, or between the second inlet and outlet ports 242 and 226. If the first inlet and outlet ports 240 and 224 are permitted to communicate, eg. in the control valve position shown in FIG. 9, the second outlet port 226 is in fluid communication with the second vent 238. If the second inlet and outlet ports 242 and 226 are permitted to communicate (not shown), the first outlet port 224 is in fluid communication with the first vent 234. In this way, when the portion of the cylinder housing 220 behind the piston 228 is being charged with pressurized air, the portion of the cylinder housing 220 in front of the piston 228 is venting pressurized air, and vice versa.
  • [0281]
    It has been described that the combined cylinder/control valve unit 212 could be provided with the paintball marker 10 (FIG. 1 a) and the kit of parts 156 (FIG. 6). It is alternatively possible to have a similar combined cylinder/control valve unit (not shown) that would be an analogous combination of the pneumatic cylinder 99 and the control valve 100 (FIG. 4 a). In that instance, the cylinder would include first and second ports which would communicate with the control valve, however, the control valve would include a single inlet port, since the unit would not require inlet air at two different pressures to operate.
  • [0282]
    Particular examples of flow control valve have been described above. It will be noted that any suitable type of flow control valve may be used instead of those described above.
  • [0283]
    In the embodiments described above the inlet control device 15 has comprised a bolt. It is alternatively possible for the inlet control device 15 to include any other suitable device instead of, or in addition to, a bolt. For example, referring to FIGS. 18 a, 18 b and 18 c, a marker in accordance with the present invention may include a sliding door 420 that is movable between an open position (FIG. 18 a) and a closed position (FIG. 18 b). In the open position (FIG. 18 a), the sliding door 420 permits entry of a paintball 12 through the paintball inlet 22 into a chamber 424 in the body 14 of the marker. In the closed position (FIG. 18 b), the door 420 captures the paintball 12 in the chamber 424. The chamber 424 may comprise the inlet to a barrel 426, and is configured so that when the door 420 is closed, the paintball 12 is chambered in the barrel 426. Aft of the paintball 12 is an outlet 428 for releasing firing gas to fire the paintball 12 through the barrel 42 and out of the marker 10.
  • [0284]
    As shown in FIG. 18 c, the sliding door 420 may have a curved cross-sectional shape to more closely mate with the paintball 12, thereby reducing any leakage of firing gas around the paintball 12 during firing (See FIG. 18 c).
  • [0285]
    The door 420 may be operated pneumatically by the actuation system 18. The actuation system 18 may include, for example, the pneumatic cylinder 37, or may alternatively include any other suitable actuator.
  • [0286]
    Accordingly, the sliding door 420 could be operated advantageously with gas from the second regulator 42 (see FIG. 1 a), ie. at a pressure that is selected to be sufficiently low to inhibit rupturing of a paintball 12 in the event that the sliding door 420 confines a paintball 12. The reduced pressure gas may also be used to open the sliding door 420. Furthermore, the sliding door 420 may be controlled by means of a flow control valve such as the valve 380.
  • [0287]
    As a further alternative (not shown) to the inlet control device 15 shown in FIGS. 18 a and 18 b, the marker may include both the sliding door 420 and a moveable bolt such as the bolt 16 shown in FIG. 1 a. The bolt may be separately moveable relative to the sliding door 420 so that a loading sequence may comprise: opening the sliding door 420 and the bolt to permit entry of a paintball 12 into a breech; closing the sliding door 420; and finally moving the bolt forward to chamber the paintball 12. In this case, the sliding door 420 may be flat, since it would not necessarily form part of the barrel and accordingly would not be involved in inhibiting air leakage past the paintball 12 during firing, in contrast to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 18 a and 18 b. In this alternative that is not shown, one or both of the bolt and the sliding door 420 could be operated advantageously with gas from the second regulator 42 (see FIG. 1 a), ie. at a pressure that is selected to be sufficiently low to inhibit rupturing of a paintball 12 in the event that it confines a paintball 12 during closure. The reduced pressure gas from the second regulator 42 (FIG. 1 a), may also be used to open the sliding door 420 and/or the bolt. Furthermore, one or both of the sliding door 420 and the bolt may be controlled by means of a flow control valve such as the valve 380. In other words, one flow control valve 380 may be used to control either or both of the sliding door 420 and the bolt; or alternatively, two flow control valves 380 may be provided, wherein one valve 380 is provided for each of the sliding door 420 and the bolt.
  • [0288]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 19 a, 19 b, 19 c and 19 d, which show another alternative inlet control device 15 for use with a marker in accordance with the present invention. The inlet control device 15 in this embodiment includes a rotary sliding door 430. The rotary sliding door 430 may be actuated by any suitable actuator, such as by a pneumatic cylinder 432 (not shown in FIG. 19 b), which may be similar to the pneumatic cylinder 37 (FIG. 1 a). The pneumatic cylinder 432 may be connected by pin connections to both the marker body 16 and to the rotary sliding door 430 to permit rotational movement of the rotary sliding door 430 about its pivot 434, during extension and retraction of the cylinder 432. The rotary sliding door 430 may be similar to the sliding door 420 (FIG. 18 a) in that it may be moveable between an open position shown in FIG. 19 a and a closed position shown in FIG. 19 b. In the open position, the sliding door 430 permits entry of a paintball 12 into a chamber 436 in the body 16. If a moveable bolt is not provided, then the chamber 436 may function as the inlet to a barrel 438. When the sliding door 430 is in the closed position, it may also make up a portion of the inlet to the barrel 438. The rotary sliding door 430 may move along an arcuate channel 439 that includes at one end, the paintball inlet 22 to the marker.
  • [0289]
    A gas outlet 440 may be provided at the aft end of the chamber 436 for releasing firing gas to the paintball for firing the paintball through the barrel 438. Referring to FIG. 19 d, the sliding door 430 may be contoured to match the curvature of the paintball 12 to inhibit air leakage from around the paintball 12 during firing.
  • [0290]
    In a further alternative (not shown) to the embodiment shown in FIGS. 19 a, 19 b and 19 c a moveable bolt may be provided in the chamber 436 for moving the paintball to a barrel after the paintball 12 has been fed into the chamber 436. In this alternative, the chamber functions as a breech. The sliding door 430 may be controlled using gas at a selected sufficiently low pressure eg. by gas from the second regulator 42, to inhibit paintball rupture during closure. The reduced pressure gas may also be used to open the sliding door 430. Additionally, the sliding door 430 may be controlled by a flow control valve such as the flow control valve 380. Furthermore, if a bolt is provided for use in conjunction with the sliding door 430, the bolt may also be controlled by the same flow control valve, or by a dedicated flow control valve such as the valve 380.
  • [0291]
    Reference is made to FIGS. 20 a and 20 b, which show another alternative inlet control device 15 for use with a marker in accordance with the present invention. The inlet control device 15 may include a barrel 450 that is movable in a breech 452. When the barrel 450 is in an open position (FIG. 20 a), entry of a paintball 12 through the inlet 22 into the breech 452 is permitted. The breech 452 includes an aft wall 454 which includes a gas outlet 456 for the firing gas.
  • [0292]
    When the barrel 450 moves aftwards to a closed position, it brings the paintball 12 into its inlet, since the paintball 12 is prevented from aft movement by the aft wall 454 of the breech 452. Also, in the closed position, paintballs are prevented from entry into the breech 452. Firing gas may then be released for firing of the paintball 12 from the barrel 450. The barrel 450 may be moved by means of the actuator 37, which may be a pneumatic cylinder 37. For example, the cylinder 37 may include a piston rod 458 which may be connected by any suitable means to the barrel 450 so that when the piston in the cylinder 37 moves, the barrel 450 moves.
  • [0293]
    The movable barrel may be controlled using gas at a selected sufficiently low pressure eg. by gas from the second regulator 42 (FIG. 1 a), to inhibit paintball rupture during closure. The reduced pressure gas may also be used to open the movable barrel 450. Additionally, the movable barrel 450 may be controlled by a flow control valve such as the flow control valve 380.
  • [0294]
    One or both of the firing valve actuation valve 352 and the inlet control device and actuation valve 380, each of which has five ports, may alternatively be functionally replaced by two actuation valves 500 a and 500 b each having three ports. For example, the firing valve actuation valve 352 (FIGS. 10 a-10 c) may be replaced by the two valves 500 a and 500 b, as shown in FIGS. 21 a and 21 b.
  • [0295]
    The first actuation valve 500 a may be connected to the cylinder port 355 a and may control filling and exhaustion of gas with respect to that port. The second actuation valve 500 b may be connected to the cylinder port 355 b for controlling filling and exhaustion of gas with respect to that port. The valves 500 a and 500 b may both be actuated directly from the trigger 92, as shown in FIGS. 21 a and 21 b. In the first position, shown in FIG. 21 a, the trigger 92 is not actuated and the valves 500 a and 500 b are positioned to provide pressurized gas to the cylinder port 355 b of the firing valve actuator 354 and to exhaust gas from the cylinder port 355 a, so that the firing valve 322 is in its non-firing position. In the second position shown in FIG. 21 b, the trigger is actuated and the valves 500 a and 500 b are positioned to provide pressurized gas to the cylinder port 355 a of the firing valve actuator 354 and to exhaust gas from the cylinder port 355 b, so that the firing valve 322 is in the firing position, whereby it releases firing gas to the barrel 28. A biasing mechanism 514, such as a spring may be included to bias the valves 500 a and 500 b to the first positions.
  • [0296]
    The valves 500 a and 500 b each may include a housing 501 and a spool 502. The housing 501 includes first second and third ports 503, 504 and 505. Housing sealing surfaces 506 and 507 may be positioned on housing projections 508 and 509, which are positioned between the first and second ports 503 and 504 and between the second and third ports 504 and 505 respectively. The spool 502 includes two spool projections 510 and 511, which have spool sealing surfaces 512 and 513 thereon respectively. The spool sealing surfaces 512 and 513 and the housing sealing surfaces 506 and 507 may be configured similarly to any of the configurations shown for sealing surfaces 372-375 and 367-370 in FIGS. 15 a-15 e.
  • [0297]
    The valve 500 a may be configured so that the first port is an exhaust port, the second port 504 is connected to the cylinder port 355 a, and the third port is connected to the first regulator 40.
  • [0298]
    Instead of both valves 500 a and 500 b being directly connected to the trigger 92, they may alternatively be mechanically or pneumatically connected to each other so that the trigger 92 engages one of the valves 500 a and that valve engages the other of the valves 500 a and 500 b.
  • [0299]
    Referring to FIGS. 22 a and 22 b, the inlet control device actuation valve 380 (FIGS. 10 a-10 c) may be replaced by the two valves 500 a and 500 b. The valves 500 a and 500 b may be moveable between a bolt-open position shown in FIG. 22 a, wherein pressurized gas from the second regulator 42 actuates the cylinder 37 and a bolt-closed position wherein pressurized gas from the second regulator 42 actuates the cylinder 37 to move the bolt 16 to a closed position. Referring to FIG. 23, it is alternatively possible for the first regulator 40 to be connected to the valve 500 b for actuation of the bolt 16 to the bolt-open position, while the second regulator 42 is connected to the valve 500 a for actuation of the cylinder 37 to the bolt-closed position.
  • [0300]
    In the embodiments wherein the markers have two regulators, one of which provides a higher pressure for opening the bolt, and one of which provides a lower pressure for closing the bolt. It is alternatively possible for the markers 10 and 210 to have a single regulator (not shown) that has two outputs, one output at a higher pressure and one output at a lower pressure, to replace the two separate regulators included in the markers 10 and 210.
  • [0301]
    In each of the embodiments described above, the outputs of the control valves have been shown to be connected to the ports on the pneumatic cylinder in a certain way. It is alternatively possible for the connections between the ports on the control valve and the ports on the pneumatic cylinder to be reversed, so that the control valve actuator would move forward to effect forward movement of the piston, and the control valve actuator would move rearward to effect rearward movement of the piston. Such a configuration may be used, depending on the mechanism connecting the trigger to the control valve.
  • [0302]
    It has been described as being advantageous to provide a paintball marker wherein a flow control valve is incorporated without a solenoid actuator, and with a mechanical or pneumatic connection to the trigger. One or more such flow control valves may be used to control one or both of the firing system and the inlet control device. By eliminating the solenoid, the reliability of operation of at least one of the firing system and the loading and chambering of a paintball is improved, since a solenoid or a sensor for contact by the trigger for actuating a solenoid, can be inadvertently rendered inoperative for example by a dead battery, or by damage during play from temperature conditions or from moisture. It will be appreciated that the marker in accordance with one particular embodiment of the present invention can include the one or more non-solenoid actuated flow control valves while still containing electronic components for control of other valves or other functions, such as an information display or in a loader flow assistor. In other embodiments of the present invention, the marker can include solenoid-actuated flow control valves, for example, in embodiments relating to the use of a selected low pressure used at least for closure of the inlet control device, and optionally for the opening of the inlet control device.
  • [0303]
    Reference has been made in this description to an air tank and to using air to operate the actuators in accordance with the present invention. It will be appreciated that any suitable gas may be used instead of air, to operate the actuators of the embodiments described herein.
  • [0304]
    Reference has been made to conduits throughout the description. In many instances, these conduits have been shown to be, for example, flexible hoses. The conduits may, however, be any suitable structure for conveying a fluid, eg. a compressed gas. The conduits may be flexible or solid. For example, they may be made from hose or tube, or alternatively they may be passages formed in components of the body of the marker or in some other component.
  • [0305]
    While the above description constitutes the preferred embodiments, it will be appreciated that the present invention is susceptible to modification and change without departing from the fair meaning of the accompanying claims.
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Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification124/73, 124/74
International ClassificationF41B11/32
Cooperative ClassificationF41B11/721, F41B11/57
European ClassificationF41B11/72, F41B11/57