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Publication numberUS20080099005 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/925,660
Publication dateMay 1, 2008
Filing dateOct 26, 2007
Priority dateOct 27, 2006
Publication number11925660, 925660, US 2008/0099005 A1, US 2008/099005 A1, US 20080099005 A1, US 20080099005A1, US 2008099005 A1, US 2008099005A1, US-A1-20080099005, US-A1-2008099005, US2008/0099005A1, US2008/099005A1, US20080099005 A1, US20080099005A1, US2008099005 A1, US2008099005A1
InventorsEero Kaakkola, Adam Thorp
Original AssigneeDye Precision, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Paintball marker
US 20080099005 A1
Abstract
A pneumatic paintball marker has, for example, a bolt assembly with a boost feature. The bolt assembly has multiple air supply chambers which apply force to move the bolt towards the firing position. Preferably, the air supply chambers push the bolt in series. The marker includes a handgrip frame that has a rear portion that flows into the base of the body. The material of the rear portion preferably is a rubber. The bolt assembly includes a set screw so as to prevent the bolt assembly from rotating within the body. A pin depth of the airport component is user adjustable.
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Claims(25)
1. A pneumatic marker comprising:
a bolt configured to move between a first position and a second position;
a first chamber disposed so that pressurized gas in the first chamber moves the bolt towards the second position during a first time period; and
a second chamber disposed so that gas entering the second chamber moves the bolt towards the second position during a second time period, the second time period beginning after the first time period begins.
2. The marker of claim 1, wherein the second time period partially overlaps the first time period.
3. The marker of claim 1, wherein the first and second time periods end when the bolt reaches the second position.
4. The marker of claim 1, wherein the bolt is moving towards the second position before the gas in the second chamber further moves the bolt towards the second position.
5. The marker of claim 1, wherein the gas entering the second chamber accelerates the bolt towards the second position during the second time period.
6. The marker of claim 1 further comprising a manifold, the bolt being configured to reciprocate within the manifold.
7. The marker of claim 6 further comprising a recharge chamber, at least a portion of the recharge chamber being formed by the manifold.
8. The marker of claim 7 further comprising a gas inlet, the gas inlet connecting the recharge chamber to the second chamber after connecting the recharge chamber to the first chamber at least when the bolt moves from the first position to the second position.
9. The marker of claim 1, further comprising an exit channel in flow communication with the first chamber at least when the bolt is in the second position, at least some of the gas entering the exit channel from the first chamber propelling a paintball from the marker.
10. The marker of claim 1 further comprising a third chamber disposed so that gas entering the third chamber moves the bolt towards the second position during a third time period, the third time period beginning after the second time period begins.
11. The marker of claim 1, wherein the bolt is a sleeve.
12. A marker comprising:
an outer member having a receptacle disposed generally axially therethrough and a transfer passage;
an inner member configured to move relative to the outer member between a first position and a second position;
a first chamber being in flow communication with the transfer passage when the inner member is in the first position; and
a second chamber being in flow communication with the transfer passage when the inner member is at an intermediate position between the first and second positions.
13. The marker of claim 12, wherein pressurized gas within the first chamber moves the inner member axially from the first position and toward the second position.
14. The marker of claim 12, wherein gas entering the second chamber accelerates the inner member toward the second position.
15. The marker of claim 12 further comprising a third chamber being in flow communication with the transfer passage when the inner member is at a second intermediate position between the intermediate position and the second position.
16. The marker of claim 12, wherein the second chamber is pressurized after the first chamber is pressurized.
17. The marker of claim 12, wherein the inner member and the outer member are configured such that a gas begins pressurizing the first chamber before the gas begins entering the second chamber.
18. A marker comprising:
an outer member;
a transfer passage extending through the outer member and configured to route pressurized gas through the outer member; and
a member configured to slide between a first position and a second position, the member having at least a first pressure surface and a second pressure surface, the first pressure surface and the second pressure surface being configured to move the member towards the second position, the second pressure surface being exposed to pressurized gas at a time after the first pressure surface is exposed to the pressurized gas.
19. The marker of claim 18 further comprising a manifold having a recharge chamber, the recharge chamber routing the pressurized gas to the second pressure surface after routing the pressurized gas to the first pressure surface, the member being configured to reciprocate within the manifold, wherein the transfer passage routes the pressurized gas to the recharge chamber.
20. A marker comprising:
an outer member having an axially extending receptacle, a transfer passage, and a first engagement member, the first engagement member being disposed on a surface of the receptacle;
a bolt assembly having a manifold and a bolt configured to slide with respect to the manifold; and
a second engagement member configured to engage with the first engagement member so as to inhibit rotation of the manifold with respect to the outer member.
21. The marker of claim 20, wherein the first engagement member is a slot and the second engagement member is a set screw.
22. The marker of claim 20 further comprising a recharge chamber disposed between the outer member and the manifold, the recharge chamber being substantially aligned with the transfer passage when the first engagement member is engage with the second engagement member.
23. The marker of claim 22, wherein the recharge chamber extends for less than 360 degrees around an outer circumference of the manifold.
24. An airport adapter for attaching to a handgrip frame of a marker, the airport adapter comprising:
an upper engagement surface disposed so as to engage with a handgrip frame;
a rear-facing connection for engaging with a gas tank; and
a pin depressor having a first end and a second end, the first end facing in a generally forward direction and being configured to allow a user to change the extension length of the second end by rotating the pin depressor from the first end while the gas tank is connected to the airport adapter.
25. The airport adapter of claim 24 further comprising a groove configured to slide within a dovetail shaped bottom surface of the handgrip frame.
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/854,966 (filed Oct. 27, 2006) which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to pneumatic guns. More specifically, this invention relates to a paintball marker.

2. Description of the Related Art

This invention relates to pneumatic paintball markers, which typically are used for target practice and in mock war games. The markers use a compressed gas, such as air or nitrogen, to propel spherical projectiles called paintballs out of the barrel of the device. Paintballs are typically comprised of a colored liquid enclosed in a fragile gelatin casing. The paintballs are designed to rupture upon impact to mark the target.

In the sport known as “Paintball”, the spherical projectiles containing colored liquid are fired at an opponent and burst upon contact so that the colored liquid is deposited on the opponent scoring a hit for the combatant. All the participants involved in the sport are required to wear an abundance of protective gear, so that the paintballs can not hit vital parts of the player's anatomy. The sport of paintball has become very popular within a relatively short period of time, but there is still a need for a pneumatic paintball marker with improved features.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, a need exists for an improved pneumatic marker.

An aspect of the invention is directed to a pneumatic marker that has a bolt configured to move between a first position and a second position. The marker further includes a first chamber disposed so that pressurized gas in the first chamber moves the bolt towards the second position during a first time period and a second chamber disposed so that gas entering the second chamber moves the bolt towards the second position during a second time period, the second time period beginning after the first time period begins.

Another aspect is directed a marker that has an outer member that includes a receptacle disposed generally axially therethrough and a transfer passage. The marker further includes an inner member configured to move relative to the outer member between a first position and a second position and a first chamber that is in flow communication with the transfer passage when the inner member is in the first position. The marker further includes a second chamber that is in flow communication with the transfer passage when the inner member is at an intermediate position between the first and second positions.

Another aspect is directed to a marker that has an outer member and a transfer passage extending through the outer member and configured to route pressurized gas through the outer member. The marker further includes a member configured to slide between a first position and a second position. The member has at least a first pressure surface and a second pressure surface. The first pressure surface and the second pressure surface are configured to move the member towards the second position. The second pressure surface is exposed to pressurized gas at a time after the first pressure surface is exposed to the pressurized gas.

Another aspect is directed to a marker that has an outer member that includes an axially extending receptacle, a transfer passage, and a first engagement member. The first engagement member is disposed on a surface of the receptacle. The marker further includes a bolt assembly that has a manifold and a bolt configured to slide with respect to the manifold and a second engagement member configured to engage with the first engagement member so as to inhibit rotation of the manifold with respect to the outer member.

Another aspect is directed to an airport adapter for attaching to a handgrip frame of a marker. The airport adapter comprises an upper engagement surface disposed so as to engage with a handgrip frame and a rear-facing connection for engaging with a gas tank. The adapter further includes a pin depressor that has a first end and a second end. The first end faces in a generally forward direction and is configured to allow a user to change the extension length of the second end by rotating the pin depressor from the first end while the gas tank is connected to the airport adapter.

The systems and methods of the invention have several features, no single one of which is solely responsible for its desirable attributes. Without limiting the scope of the invention as expressed by the claims, its more prominent features have been discussed briefly above. After considering this discussion, and particularly after reading the section entitled “Detailed Description of the Preferred Embodiments,” one will understand how the features of the system and methods provide several advantages over conventional paintball markers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will now be described in connection with preferred embodiments of the invention, in reference to the accompanying drawings. The illustrated embodiments, however, are merely examples and are not intended to limit the invention. The following are brief descriptions of the drawings.

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of an embodiment of the pneumatic paintball marker.

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the pneumatic paintball marker from FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the pneumatic paintball marker from FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a right side view of the pneumatic paintball marker from FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a trigger for the pneumatic paintball marker that comprises a higher grip outer surface material molded to a base trigger structure.

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a rear portion of the handgrip frame that comprises a higher grip material than the rest of the handgrip frame.

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of an airport insert that comprises a different material than the handgrip frame.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section through the center of the airport from FIG. 4 showing an adjustable pin within the airport.

FIG. 9 is a block diagram describing the air movement through the pneumatic paintball marker.

FIG. 10A is a cross-section through the center of the pneumatic paintball marker of FIG. 1 with a bolt in a rear position where gas is allowed to pressurize the bolt assembly.

FIG. 10B is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10A except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10A to a position where gas is inhibited from entering the first air supply chamber of the bolt assembly.

FIG. 10C is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10B except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10B to a position where pressurized gas enters the second air supply chamber of the bolt assembly and further propels the bolt.

FIG. 10D is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10C except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10C to a fully extended position.

FIG. 11A is a perspective view of a bolt assembly.

FIG. 11B is a top view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 11C is a side view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 11D is a bottom view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 11E is a rear view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 11F is a front view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A.

FIG. 13A is a side view of a can of the bolt assembly from FIG. 12.

FIG. 13B is a rear view of the can from FIG. 13A.

FIG. 13C is a front view of the can from FIG. 13A.

FIG. 14A is a side view of a bolt of the bolt assembly from FIG. 12.

FIG. 14B is a rear view of the bolt from FIG. 14A.

FIG. 14C is a front view of the bolt from FIG. 14A.

FIG. 15A is a side view of a manifold of the bolt assembly from FIG. 12.

FIG. 15B is a rear view of the manifold from FIG. 15A.

FIG. 15C is a front view of the manifold from FIG. 15A.

FIG. 15D is a bottom view of the manifold from FIG. 15A showing a bolt recharge chamber.

FIG. 15E is a top view of the manifold from FIG. 15A.

FIG. 16A is a side view of a back cap of the bolt assembly from FIG. 12.

FIG. 16B is a rear view of the back cap from FIG. 16A.

FIG. 16C is a front view of the back cap from FIG. 16A.

FIG. 17A is a cross-section through the bolt assembly of FIG. 11A with a bolt in a rear position where gas is allowed to pressurize the bolt assembly.

FIG. 17B is a cross-section similar to FIG. 17A except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17A to a position where gas is inhibited from entering the first air supply chamber.

FIG. 17C is a cross-section similar to FIG. 17B except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17B to a position where gas enters the second air supply chamber and further propels the bolt.

FIG. 17D is a cross-section similar to FIG. 17C except that the bolt is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17C to a fully extended position.

FIG. 18A is a partial cross-section through the pneumatic marker of FIG. 1 showing the clocking of the air inlet to the bolt assembly relative to a pin in the back cap.

FIG. 18B is a side view of the body of the pneumatic marker of FIG. 1 showing the air passages in the body superimposed over each other.

FIG. 19 is an exploded view of exemplary components of an anti-chop eye system that are located under the right cover plate.

FIG. 20 is a cross-section view taken along lines 20-20 in FIG. 19 and shows first and second lenses of the anti-chop eye system disposed on opposite sides of the breech.

FIG. 21A is a partial cross-section view through the pneumatic paintball marker 20 showing the pneumatic bolt in a loading position.

FIG. 21B is the partial cross-section view shown in FIG. 21A with the pneumatic bolt in a position so as to contact the anti-chop eye system.

FIG. 21C is the partial cross-section view shown in FIG. 21A with the pneumatic bolt moved to a firing position.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the first and second lenses of the anti-chop eye system.

FIG. 23 is a top view of the first lens shown in FIG. 22.

FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the first lens from FIG. 22.

FIG. 25 is side view of the first lens from FIG. 22.

FIG. 26 is a cross-section view taken along lines 23-23 in FIG. 23.

FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the first lens of the anti-chop eye system from FIG. 22.

FIG. 28 is an exploded perspective view of the pneumatic marker from FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following detailed description is now directed to certain specific embodiments of the invention. In this description, reference is made to the drawings wherein like parts are designated with like numerals throughout the description and the drawings.

FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of a pneumatic paintball marker 20 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The view generally shows the right side of the pneumatic paintball marker 20. The pneumatic paintball marker 20 includes a body 26 and a handgrip frame 24. A barrel 22 is located at the front of the body 26.

The body 26 is generally gun-shaped, and in one embodiment is manufactured as a single metal piece with a computer numerically controlled (“CNC”) machine. At least a portion of a bolt assembly 36 reciprocates within the body 26 generally along the longitudinal axis of the barrel 22 and between forward and back positions.

The pneumatic paintball marker 20 includes an in-line pressure regulator 30. The in-line pressure regulator 30 threads into the in-line pressure regulator adapter 32 that is attached at the front of the body 26 of the pneumatic paintball marker 20 below the barrel 22. The regulator 30 receives high pressure gas, such as air or nitrogen, and supplied to gas to the pneumatic paintball marker 20. A wide variety of compressed gasses will work equally well within the pneumatic paintball marker 20 as well as compressed air and all will be covered within the scope of this patent, although references within this patent will be made to compressed air only.

The output pressure of the in-line pressure regulator 30 is adjusted by turning a metal air regulating screw located up inside the base of the in-line pressure regulator 30. By turning the air regulating screw counter-clockwise, a user will increase the output pressure of the in-line pressure regulator 30 to the pneumatic paintball marker 20. By turning the air regulating screw clockwise, the user will decrease the output pressure of the in-line pressure regulator 30 to the pneumatic paintball marker 20. High-pressure compressed air is supplied to the in-line pressure regulator 30 at the air fitting 46 at the base. In one embodiment, the in-line pressure regulator 30 adjusts the pressure of the compressed gas within a 350-3100 kPa range.

The pneumatic paintball marker 20 further includes an anti-chop eye system within the body 26. Removable cover plates 34 on either side of the body 26 allow a user to access the anti-chop eye system. The anti-chop is described with reference to FIGS. 19 through 27.

The barrel 22 may be a one-piece or two-piece type barrel and thread into the front of the body 26 of the pneumatic paintball marker 20. A paintball loading chamber is disposed on the top of the body 26 and may comprise an adjustable feed neck 28 to fit paintball loaders of different dimensions.

FIG. 2 is a rear view of the pneumatic paintball marker 20 from FIG. 1. At the back of the body 26 is an exposed rear portion or cap 37. The rear cap 37 of the bolt assembly 36 is accessible from the outside of the paintball marker 20 through an opening in the body 26. At least a portion of the bolt assembly 36 is fastened to the opening in the body 26 by, for example, a threaded connection. Consequently, the bolt assembly 36 can be removed as a single piece by unscrewing the rear cap from the opening. The bolt assembly 36 (described in greater detail below) is installed into the body 26 by sliding the bolt assembly 36 into the back of the body 16. Once installed, the bolt assembly 36 is disposed above the handgrip frame 14.

At the back of the body is the air supply passage 62. The air supply passage 62 routes air from the in-line regulator 30 along the length of the body 26. In the illustrated embodiment, the air supply passage 62 supplies air to the bolt assembly 36 at two locations along the length of the body 26.

The pneumatic paintball marker 20 preferably comprises only one moving part, namely, a bolt 110 located within the bolt assembly 36. A supply of air is routed to the middle of the bolt assembly 36 through the air supply passage 62 into a bolt-recharging chamber 66 via a transfer passage 68. The air passing through the bolt recharging chamber 66 is responsible for propelling the paintball out of the barrel 22. A second supply of air is routed to a front portion of the bolt assembly 36 and eventually to a solenoid 78. The firing sequence is initiated via the solenoid 78.

As most clearly shown in FIG. 2, the air supply passage 62 is offset from the longitudinal axis or centerline of the marker 20 near a five o'clock position. As most clearly shown in FIG. 18B, the air supply passage 62 extends rearward along the length of the body 26. After the air supply passage 62 is machined, the opening to the air supply passage 62 through the back of the marker 20 is sealed as illustrated in FIG. 2.

FIG. 3 is a front view of the pneumatic paintball marker from FIG. 1. FIG. 4 is a side view of the pneumatic paintball marker from FIG. 1. The bolt assembly 36 within the body 26 includes the translating bolt 110 that moves during operation of the paintball marker 20. The marker 20 further includes a bolt boost feature which moves or accelerates the bolt 110 in two stages. During the first and second stages, a series of bursts of air push the bolt 110 towards the firing position.

Each stage may occur during different time frames or periods of time, occur in series, and/or partially overlap with each other. The entire time frame is the time it takes the bolt 110 to move from the loading position to the firing position. The second time frame begins after the first time frame begins. The first time frame may or may not overlap with the second time frame. Together, the first and second time frames need not extend for the entire time frame.

For example, the first time frame may begin when the bolt 110 is in a loading position and the trigger 38 is pulled. The gas in a first air supply chamber 124 that is holding the bolt 110 in the loading position is vented out the solenoid 78 allowing the bolt 110 to beginning moving towards the firing position. The second time frame preferably begins when gas in a second air supply chamber 125 further moves or accelerates the bolt 110 towards the firing position.

The bolt 110 may move at a relatively constant velocity towards the firing position or change velocity one or more times when moving towards the firing position. For example, the bolt 110 may initially accelerate towards the firing position in response to gas pressurizing the first air supply chamber 124 in the first time frame and further accelerate towards the firing position in response to gas pressurizing the second air supply chamber 125 in the second time frame.

Of course the invention is not limited to only having two stages, time periods, or time frames and thus three or more stages, time periods, or time frames may be employed. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the bolt 110 reciprocates between a forward or firing position and a rearward or loading position during operation of the paintball marker 20.

The handgrip frame 24 is located below the body 26. The handgrip frame 24 preferably houses the electronics of the pneumatic paintball marker 20. The electronics are arranged on a circuit board 48 and further include a power source. The electronics may include, for example, an arrangement of resistors, capacitors, and transistors which supply a signal to a processor running software and which is located on the circuit board 48 in the handgrip frame 24. The processor receives at least data coming from the anti-chop eye system to determine whether the paintball is correctly positioned within the breech. The electronics control operational aspects of the paintball marker 20. For example, the electronics inhibit the pneumatic paintball marker 20 from breaking the paintballs within the marker by not allowing the pneumatic paintball marker 20 to fire until a paintball is fully seated in a breech in front of the bolt assembly 36.

Power is supplied to the pneumatic paintball marker 20 by a battery 40 or capacitor housed along with the printed circuit board 48 within the handgrip frame 24. A common power source for the electronics is preferably employed.

The handgrip frame 24 may be made from a combination of plastic and metal materials. Further, different types of plastics may be used for the handgrip frame 24. For example, the handgrip frame 24 may principally comprise a combination of Nylon and glass fibers.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a trigger 38 for the pneumatic paintball marker 20. The trigger 38 preferably comprises a higher grip outer surface material 33 molded to a base trigger structure 35. The outer surface material 33 and the rear surface of the handgrip frame 24 may comprise a softer material, such as, for example, a thermo plastic elastomer (TPE).

The forward and over travels of the trigger 38 are user adjustable. A screw 39A located on top front of the trigger 38 is used to control the forward travel of the trigger 38. For example, turning the screw 39A shortens the length of pull. A screw 39B located on the back of the trigger 38 controls the over travel. For example, turning the screw 39B adjust how far back the trigger 38 will travel. A spring 49 biases the trigger 38 in a downward direction so as to rotate the trigger 38 away from a micro switch 126. Signals from the micro switch 126 control operation of the solenoid 78.

As most clearly illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 4, the handgrip frame 24 may be enclosed on the sides and front by a grip cover 44. The grip cover 44 may comprise urethane, plastic, or the like. The grip cover 44 may comprise a combination of materials, for example, a poly propylene base and a thermo plastic elastomer (TPE) outer surface.

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a rear portion 51 of the handgrip frame 24 spaced from the base structure of the handgrip frame 24. The rear portion 51 incorporates an on/off switch 43 for the electronics, an on/off switch 45 for the eye feature, and a status indicator lamp 47. The rear portion 51 may have a variety of shapes, such as a sculpted shape, both to improve the grip of the user and for aesthetic reasons.

Rear portion 51 may be made of an anti-slip material, and have waterproofing properties that protect frame 24 and its contents. The rear portion 51 of the handgrip frame 24 preferably comprises a higher grip material than the base of the handgrip frame 24.

The base of the handgrip frame 24 and the rear portion 51 interlock via interengaging structure. The interengaging structure may include an adhesive, fasteners, or other structure. For example, the base of the handgrip frame 24 may include one or more dovetail shaped protrusions 53. The rear portion 51 is then molded around the one or more protrusions 53 so as to fix the rear portion 51 to the handgrip frame 24 during the molding process.

As most clearly illustrated in FIG. 2, the marker 20 is turned on using the on/off switch 43. To activate or de-activate the pneumatic paintball marker 20 the user will press the on or off button on the rear portion 51 at the back of the handgrip frame 24 which contacts the switch 43. The lamp 47 turns on when the marker 20 is on. The eye feature is turned on or off using switch 45. The lamp 47 blinks, for example a red color, indicating that the eye feature is turned off.

In normal operation mode the lamp 47 indicates the following information. Yellow: Boot up Sequence; Red: No ball detected inside the marker 20, eye feature is turned on; Green: Ball detected inside the marker 20, eye feature is turned on; Blinking red: Eye feature is turned off; and Blinking green: Eye feature is blocked by, for example, dirty; the marker 20 is not pressurized; there is a bad connection between the electronics and the eye feature; or the battery 40 is low.

The electronics may be configured by a user. For example, the marker 20 may have five configuration settings including settings for an ABS (Anti Bolt Stick) feature, trigger sensitivity, dwell, ROF (Rate Of Fire), and Fire Mode. For example, the Anti Bolt Stick feature can be changed by turning DIP switch #1 on the circuit board 48 either ON or OFF. When the ABS is turned on, the dwell is increased after 15 seconds of non-use for the next shot fired to prevent the bolt from sticking.

The trigger sensitivity, dwell, ROF (Rate of Fire), and fire mode features may be altered from a configuration mode. To activate the configuration mode, the user turns the marker 20 off and opens the grip cover 44 to expose the circuit board 48. DIP switch 2 is set to the on position to enter the configuration mode. Next, the user turns the marker 20 on. The user pulls the trigger 38 to cycle through the different settings.

The trigger sensitivity may be set to values from 1 to 20 and corresponds to the amount of time that the trigger 38 has to be released before the next trigger 38 pull is allowed. The dwell may be set to values from 1 to 40 and corresponds to the amount of time that the solenoid 78 is activated. The rate of fire may be set to values from 1 to 20, with 20 having the highest rate of fire. The fire mode may be set to values from 1 to 3. Mode 1 corresponds to a semi automatic mode. Mode two corresponds to a Millennium mode for Millennium play. Mode three corresponds to a PSP mode for PSP play.

The settings for the trigger sensitivity, dwell, ROF (Rate of Fire), and fire mode features may be changed when in the configuration mode by cycling through the modes using the trigger and then pulling the trigger a number of times corresponding to the selected value for the selected feature.

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of an airport insert 41 for the handgrip frame 24. The airport insert 41 is disposed within a lower portion of the handgrip frame 24 and includes a dovetail shaped bottom surface for slidingly receiving an airport adapter 55. The airport insert 41 preferably comprise a different material than the material of the handgrip frame 24 when the handgrip frame 24 comprises a plastic or the like. For example, the airport insert 41 may comprise a metal, such as aluminum, while the handgrip frame 24 comprises a nylon material. The selection of a metal for the airport insert 41 advantageously provides a suitably rigid structure for attaching the airport adapter 55 and gas tank.

As most clearly shown in FIG. 2, the airport adapter 55 preferably includes a channel having a truncated cross-sectional shape that runs along an upper surface of the airport adapter 55. The channel is disposed so that as the airport adapter 55 is slid back and forth the dovetail shaped bottom surface of the airport insert 41 slidingly engages the channel of the airport adapter 55. A user may turn a screw 57 to fix the longitudinal location of the airport adapter 55 relative to the airport insert 41. The screw 57 is accessible by removing the grip cover 44.

FIG. 8 is a cross-section through the center of the airport adapter 55 showing a pin depressor 59. The rear side of the airport adapter 55 engages with the gas tank via, for example, a threaded connection. The distance that the pin depressor 59 extends towards the engaged air tank is preferably adjustable so as to accommodate different dimensions of gas tanks. A user accesses the pin depressor 59 by removing an air hose from the front of the airport adapter 55. A use may adjust or fine tune the extension length of the pin depressor 59 by rotating the pin depressor 59 via a set screw in the pin depressor 59 to achieve the desired flow from the selected gas tank.

FIG. 9 is a block diagram describing the air movement through the pneumatic paintball marker. In the illustrated embodiment, air is supplied to the bolt assembly 36 at two locations along the longitudinal axis of the bolt assembly 36. Air from the gas tank passes through the airport adapter 55 and enters the in-line regulator 30. A user may adjust the in-line regulator 30 to select an operating air pressure for the marker 20.

The air leaves the in-line regulator 30 and enters an inlet passage 60 before reaching the air supply passage 62. Once in the air supply passage 62, the air flows in a rearward direction along the length of the body 26. As most clearly shown in FIG. 18B, the air exits the air supply passage 62 at two locations in the illustrated embodiment.

Air from the air supply passage 62 is routed to the middle of the bolt assembly 36. The air supply passage 62 connects to the transfer passage 68. The transfer passage 68 passes through the body 26 and is in flow communication with a bolt recharge chamber 66 (see FIG. 17A). The bolt recharge chamber 66 communicates in series with first and second air supply chambers 124, 125, respectively, depending on the position of the bolt 110. Of course the invention is not limited to communicating with the air supply chambers 124, 125 in series and alternatively the bolt recharge chamber 66 may overlap its communication with the air supply chambers 124, 125. Preferably, the bolt recharge chamber 66 begins communicating with a first air supply chamber 124 by flowing air into the air supply chamber 124 before flowing air into a second air supply chamber 125.

The air supply passage 62 further routes air eventually to the solenoid 78. For example, the air supply passage 62 is in flow communication with an air outlet port 76 (see FIGS. 18A and 18B). Air from the air outlet port 76 enters an air transfer groove 74 which circumscribes the outside of the can 84. The air is routed from the air transfer groove 74 into an angled pressure air outlet port 72 and into the solenoid 78. From the solenoid 78, the air is routed upward through an air transfer hole 80 and back toward the can 84.

The air from the air transfer hole 80 enters the rear drive air transfer groove 116 in the can 84 and down the rear drive air supply hole 118 into the rear drive chamber 120. This air pushes against the bolt sail 122 providing a restraining pneumatic pressure, and the bolt 110 is held in the back position and cannot translate forward. When the bolt 110 is held back, an o-ring 61 (see FIG. 17A) in the manifold 112 substantially seals around the bolt 110 and contains the high-pressure air in the air supply chamber 124.

When the pneumatic paintball marker 20 is fired, the micro switch 126 is pressed by the trigger mechanism 38 telling the solenoid 78 to vent the air in the rear drive chamber 120 back through the solenoid 78. With the rear drive chamber 120 vented, the pressurized air in the first air supply chamber 124 forces the bolt 110 to begin translating in a forward direction.

When the bolt 110 is in the back position, the first air supply chamber 124 is pressurized via the plurality of orifices 138. As the bolt 110 moves forward, a tapered stem 140 on the bolt 110 begins passing through the manifold 112. Once the bolt 110 moves a sufficient distance toward the firing position aligning at least one of the plurality of orifices 138 with the second air supply chamber 125, air then enters the second air supply chamber 125. The air entering the second air supply chamber 125 further pushes the bolt 110 toward the firing position. The air from the first and second air supply chambers 124, 125 is responsible for translating the bolt 110 towards the fire position.

Once the tapered stem 140 can no longer provide a substantial seal against the o-ring 56 or inhibit flow, the air contained in the first air supply chamber 124 is released through the air channel 127. The air passes through the air transfer orifices 142 in the bolt 110 and out the bolt central chamber 144 to the front of the bolt 110 to propel the paintball. When the bolt 110 is in the forward position, one or more o-rings 63, 65 on a rear bolt stem 143 preferably inhibit the flow of air from continuously flowing through the pneumatic paintball marker 20. This helps the marker 20 shoot much more efficiently and reduces any loss of compressed air. Of course the invention is not limited to embodiments that prevent or inhibit flow of air through the marker 20. For example, the speed of the bolt 110 may be increased so that even if the air flows continuously through the marker 20 the amount of wasted air is small.

FIG. 10A is a cross-section through the center of the pneumatic paintball marker 20 of FIG. 1 with a bolt 110 in a rear position where gas is allowed to pressurize the first air supply chamber 124 in the bolt assembly 36. FIG. 10B is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10A except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10A to a position where gas is inhibited from entering the first air supply chamber 124 in the bolt assembly 36.

FIG. 10C is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10B except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10B to a position where gas enters the second air supply chamber 125 of the bolt assembly 36 and further propels the bolt 110. FIG. 10D is a cross-section similar to FIG. 10C except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 10C to a fully extended position. In this position, the air in the first air supply chamber 124 exits through the front of the bolt assembly 36 propelling the paintball. The air in the second air supply chamber 125 preferably stays within the second air supply chamber 125 and is eventually exhausted through the back of the rear cap 114 of the bolt assembly 36 when the bolt 110 returns to the loading position. Of course some or all of the air in the second air supply chamber 125 may be expelled through the front of the bolt assembly 36, either along the same path used to expel the air from the first air supply chamber 124 or a different path.

The marker 20 includes forward and rearward travel stop bumpers 86, 88, respectively, on the front of the bolt 110. The bumpers 86, 88 are lesser diameter rims located at the front of the can 84 and the back of the can 84. The function of the forward and rearward travel stop bumpers 86 and 88, respectively, are to cushion the impact of the bolt when the bolt translates hitting the forward and rear bolt stops.

The forward travel stop bumper 86 prevents the bolt from bouncing off the face of the forward bolt stop at the front of the can 84. When the forward travel stop bumper 86 is not present the bolt impacts the forward bolt stop, so hard that is bounces back off the face of the bolt stop. When the gun is fired, this bolt bounce interferes with the forward flow of air, and out through the front of the bolt. This disruption in optimal airflow prevents the ball from being accelerated as efficiently as possible. The forward, and rear travel stop bumpers 86 and 88 respectively, also eliminate a significant amount of shock when the bolt slams against each stop. This shock is felt as a recoil, or kick, by the shooter. This recoil makes it significantly harder to hold the gun on target during high rates of fire.

FIG. 11A is a perspective view of the bolt assembly 36. The bolt assembly 36 comprises a can 84, a bolt 110, a manifold 112, and a rear cap 114. The can 84 is positioned closest to the barrel 22. The rear cap 114 is positioned instead opposite to the barrel 22. The manifold 112 is positioned in between. These parts may be joined to each other is a variety of ways; for example, they may be joined with a threaded connection, preferably with a connection having four lead threads for a quick lock.

Air is supplied into two points on the bolt assembly 36. Near the back air is routed through the manifold 112 and fills up the air supply chamber 124 around the manifold 112. At the front of the bolt assembly 36, air is routed through the solenoid 78 and into the can 84. The air in the can 84 pushes against the bolt sail 122 on the bolt 110 which keeps the bolt 110 in the back position. When fired, the solenoid 78 is actuated and the air inside the can 84 is exhausted out. Exhausting of the air causes the bolt 110 to start moving forward due to the force created by the air inside the air supply chamber 124. Once the bolt 110 has moved about, for example, half way forward the input into the air supply chamber 124 is inhibited or closed. As the bolt 110 continues translating, a second air supply chamber 125 is supplied with air through the manifold 112. The air in the second air supply chamber 125 acts on a rear portion of the bolt 110 and further moves the bolt 110 forward. The second air supply chamber 125 gives the bolt 110 an extra push forward. The second push also allows the main valve to open fast and efficiently.

An additional advantage of the second air supply chamber 125 is that by spreading the force between the first and second push, the force of the first push is moderated so as to initially gently push the bolt 110 and paintball inside the breach. Ball breakage typically occurs upon initial impact with the bolt 110 which in prior art designs occurs with full force.

At the point where the full force is applied to the bolt 110 with the second push, the bolt 110 and paintball have already started to move thus lessening the chance ball breakage will occur.

Once the bolt 110 reaches the forward point the main valve of the bolt assembly 36 is opened and air inside the supply chamber 124 goes through the bolt 110 and fires the paintball. After firing, the solenoid 78 is deactivated and gas is applied through the solenoid back into the can 84. The pressure in the can 84 pushes against the bolt sail 122 and causes the bolt to return to the back position while the supply chamber 124 is re-charged. In the back position, a small amount of gas remaining in the second air supply chamber 125 is leaked out through the rear cap 114.

FIG. 11B is a top view of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 11A. FIG. 11C is a side view of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 11A and illustrates a set screw 42 extending from a back portion of the manifold 114. The set screw 42 clocks the bolt assembly 36 when the bolt assembly 36 is installed within the body 26. As most clearly illustrated in FIG. 18, the set screw 42 slides within a groove 31 in the body 26 as the bolt assembly 36 is installed within the body 26. The set screw 42 and groove 31 ensure that the bolt recharge chamber 66 aligns with the transfer passage 68 when the bolt assembly 36 is installed within the body 26. By clocking the bolt assembly 36 within the body 26 in contrast to prior art designs that allow the bolt assembly 36 to rotate within the body 26, the bolt recharge chamber 66 need not extend around the entire manifold 112.

FIG. 11D is a bottom view of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 11A. As most clearly shown in FIG. 11D, a plurality of orifices 138 extend between the bolt recharge chamber 66 and the air supply chamber 124, 125 depending on the position of the bolt 110. FIG. 11E is a rear view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A. FIG. 11F is a front view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A and shows the set screw 42 off center from the radial location of the bolt recharge chamber 66. Before installing the bolt assembly 36 in the body 26, the bolt assembly 36 is rotated clockwise relative to FIG. 11F so that the set screw 42 aligns with the groove 31 in the body 26.

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of the bolt assembly from FIG. 11A. A wide variety of sizes and shapes of conventional o-rings have been used throughout the pneumatic paintball marker 20. To simply the description, the o-rings are all given the identifying numeral 56.

FIG. 13A is a side view of a can 84 of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 12. FIG. 13B is a rear view of the can 84 from FIG. 13A. FIG. 13C is a front view of the can 84 from FIG. 13A. As most clearly shown in FIG. 13A, the can 84 includes a rear drive air transfer groove 116, an air transfer groove 74, and one or more rear drive air supply holes 118.

Air from the air outlet port 76 enters the air transfer groove 74 which circumscribes the outside of the can 84. The air is routed from the air transfer groove 74 into an angled pressure air outlet port 72 and into the solenoid 78. From the solenoid 78, the air is routed through the air transfer hole 80 and to the section of the bolt assembly 36 referred to as the can 84.

The air from the air transfer hole 80 enters the rear drive air transfer groove 116 and down one or more of the rear drive air supply holes 118. The air then enters the rear drive chamber 120 and pushes against the bolt sail 122 providing a restraining pneumatic pressure.

FIG. 14A is a side view of a bolt 110 of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 12. FIG. 14B is a rear view of the bolt 110 from FIG. 14A. The air passes through the air transfer orifices 142 in the bolt 110 and out the bolt central chamber 144 to the front of the bolt 110 to propel the paintball. FIG. 14C is a front view of the bolt 110 from FIG. 14A.

FIG. 15A is a side view of a manifold 112 of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 12. FIG. 15B is a rear view of the manifold 112 from FIG. 15A. FIG. 15C is a front view of the manifold 112 from FIG. 15A. FIG. 15D is a bottom view of the manifold 112 from FIG. 15A showing the bolt recharge chamber 66. FIG. 15E is a top view of the manifold 112 from FIG. 15A.

FIG. 16A is a side view of a back cap 114 of the bolt assembly 36 from FIG. 12. The back cap 114 includes one or more passages 115 through the side of the back cap 114. FIG. 16B is a rear view of the back cap 114 from FIG. 16A. FIG. 16C is a front view of the back cap 114 from FIG. 16A.

FIG. 17A is a cross-section through the bolt assembly of FIG. 11A with a bolt 110 in a rear position where gas is allowed to pressurize the air supply chamber 124 in the bolt assembly 36. FIG. 17B is a cross-section similar to FIG. 17A except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17A to a position where gas is inhibited from entering the air supply chamber 124 in the bolt assembly 36.

FIG. 17C is a cross-section similar to FIG. 117B except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17B to a position where gas enters the second air supply chamber 125 of the bolt assembly 36 and further propels the bolt 110. FIG. 17D is a cross-section similar to FIG. 17C except that the bolt 110 is moved slightly forward from the position illustrated in FIG. 17C to a fully extended position. After firing, the solenoid 78 is deactivated and gas is applied through the solenoid back into the rear drive chamber 120 in the can 84. The pressure in the rear drive chamber 120 pushes against the bolt sail 122 and causes the bolt 110 to return to the back position while the supply chamber 124 is re-charged. In the back position, a small amount of gas remaining in the second air supply chamber 125 is leaked out through the rear cap 114.

FIG. 18A is a partial cross-section through the pneumatic marker 20 of FIG. 1 showing the clocking of the transfer passage 68 to the bolt assembly 36 relative to a set screw 42 in the back cap 114.

FIG. 18B is a side view of the body 26 of the pneumatic marker 20 of FIG. 1 showing the air passages 60, 62, 68, 72, 76, and 80 in the body 26 superimposed over each other. While illustrated as overlapping, the air outlet port 76 does not intersect with the air outlet port 72. The air supply passage 62 intersects with the transfer passage 68, the air outlet port 76, and the inlet passage 60. The bottom of the air outlet port 76 is preferably sealed after being machined to prevent air from flowing between the bottom of the body 26 and the air supply passage 62. Air is permitted to flow in the portion of the air outlet passage 76 between the air supply passage 62 and the air transfer groove 74 (see FIG. 13A).

The anti-chop eye system will now be described. The anti-chop eye system inhibits a pneumatic paintball marker from breaking paintballs within the marker which is commonly called, chopping paint. The anti-chop eye system does not allow the marker to fire until a paintball is fully seated in front of the bolt or at least positioned so as to minimize the risk of chopping paint. Certain embodiments of the anti-chop eye system have a transmitting device that sends a beam in the barrel cavity to identify the paintball location. A sensing device may be located on the same or opposite side of the barrel cavity from the transmitting device. In certain embodiments the beam crosses the barrel cavity and is sensed by the sensing device when the paintball is unloaded. In certain embodiments the beam is reflected off the paintball and towards the sensing device when the paintball is loaded.

The beam passes through a transmitting surface before entering the breech or barrel cavity. After crossing the barrel cavity, the beam passes through a receiving or sensing surface. Preferably, the transmitting surface and the receiving surface are disposed relative to the surface of the barrel cavity so as to be automatically wiped or cleaned during operation of the pneumatic paintball marker.

For example, the transmitting and sensing surfaces may be disposed relative to a reciprocating piston, sleeve, or the like so that during use of the paintball marker the reciprocating member removes contaminants or the like from the transmitting and/or sensing surfaces. In certain embodiments, the reciprocating member directly contacts the surfaces of a first lens associated with a transmitter and a second lens associated with a receiver. Preferably when the reciprocating member moves past the lenses, contaminants on the surfaces of the lenses are removed. In certain embodiments, the reciprocating member directly contacts the surface of a unitary transmitter and lens and the surface of a unitary receiver and lens. Accordingly, the transmitting surface may be a surface of a separate lens or of the transmitter itself. Similarly, the receiving surface may be a surface of a separate lens or of the receiver itself.

A user removes the left and right cover plates 34 to access components of the anti-chop eye system if necessary. Instead of being located on both sides of the body 26, the anti-chop eye system may be located on a single side of the body 26. In such an embodiment, a beam of light transmitted from a first side can be reflected back to the same side to indicate that a paintball is properly positioned within the breech prior to firing.

FIG. 19 is an exploded view of exemplary components of an anti-chop eye system that are located under the right cover plate 34. FIG. 20 is a cross-section view taken along lines 20-20 in FIG. 19 and shows first 520 and second 540 lenses of the anti-chop eye system disposed on opposite sides of the body 26. The anti-chop eye system includes a first lens 520 and a transmitter 500 on a first side of the body 26. The system further includes a second lens 540 and a receiver 510 disposed generally on the opposite side of the body 26. Wires from the receiver 510 and the transmitter 500 are routed through the housing 26 to the electronics in the handgrip frame 24. The processor running software processes the data signal received from the receiver 510 to determine whether the paintball is properly positioned and allows the pneumatic paintball marker 20 to fire the paintball.

The first lens 520 is positioned relative to the second lens 540 so that the light beam exiting the first lens 520 passes through the second lens 540 and is sensed by the receiver 510. The first lens 520 and the second lens 540 are located below the longitudinal axis of the barrel 22 or on the side of the longitudinal axis that is closest to the handgrip frame 24. The second lens 540 need not be on the diametrically opposite side of the breech relative to the location of the first lens 520. The second lens 540 need only be positioned around the breech so that a light beam passing between the first lens 520 and the second lens 540 crosses a portion of the breech.

Of course the first lens 520 and the second lens 540 could switch positions so that the first lens 520 is on the left side of the body 26 and the second lens 540 is on the right side of the body 26. The transmitter 500 could be associated with the second lens 540 with the receiver 510 being associated with the first lens 520.

In the illustrated embodiment, the transmitter 500 is on one side of the breech and the receiver 510 is on the opposite side of the breech. The transmitter 500 transmits a light beam across the barrel cavity and towards the second lens 540. The light beam may include one or more wavelengths of light.

In order for the marker 20 to fire with the anti-chop eyes turned on, the signal between the first and second lenses 520, 540 must be broken or at least diminished. After every shot and before the next paintball drops in the breech, the receiver 510 recognizes the transmitter 500. If the lenses 520, 540 are dirty and the receiver 510 cannot see the transmitter 500 between shots, the status lamp 47 alerts the user.

The pneumatic marker 20 further includes ball detents 530 on either side of the body 26. The ball detents 530 may be made of rubber or other like material. The ball detents 530 retain the paintballs in position between the transmitter 500 and the receiver 510 prior to the firing of the pneumatic paintball marker 20. The ball detents 530 inhibit the paintball positioned within the breech from rolling down the breech and out of the barrel 22. The ball detents 530 may also inhibit “double feeding” of paintballs.

The first lens 520 is preferably separate from the second lens 540. In other embodiments, the first and second lenses 520, 540 are part of a single assembly that is installed within the body 26. For example, the first and second lenses 520, 540 could be attached to a circular or horseshoe shaped insert. The insert is inserted into a slit or gap in the body 26 so that a beam passing between the first lens 520 and the second lens 540 passes through at least a portion of the breech so as to sense the presence of a paintball within the breech.

In the illustrated embodiment, each lens 520, 540 is a separate component from the transmitter 500 and the receiver 510. With this embodiment, an off the shelf transmitter 500 and receiver 510 may be employed in combination with the lens 520, 540. The receiver 510 and transmitter 500 may be combined into a single unit or transceiver as known to one having ordinary skill in the art.

Alternatively, the transmitter 500 includes an integral casing. For example, the first lens 520 may be integral to the transmitter 500. In such an embodiment, the outer surface of the casing or lens of the transmitter 500 preferably follows the radius of the breech and/or a portion of the bolt 110 which wipes the surface of the casing. The receiver 510 may include an integral casing that also follows the radius of the breech and/or the portion of the bolt 110 which wipes the surface of the casing.

The first and second lenses 520, 540 preferably pass through a predetermined wavelength of light. In certain embodiments, the anti-chop eye system includes one or more filters. For example, the receiver 510 and/or second lens 540 may include a filter medium which allows the predetermined wavelength of light to pass therethrough. The filter medium may filter other wavelengths of light which may interfere with the receiver 510 sensing the predetermined wavelength of light. Of course the filter medium may be a separate component of the anti-chop eye system and disposed in the path of the beam if light so that the beam of light passes through the filter. A polarizer may also be employed in the anti-chop eye system. The polarizer converts an unpolarized or mixed-polarization beam of electromagnetic waves (e.g., light) into a beam with a single polarization state.

Preferably, the intensity of the chosen wavelength does not appreciable drop as the light passes through the first and second lenses 520, 540 or at least maintains an adequate intensity so that the intensity of the light received by the receiver 510 may be sensed by the receiver 510. Exemplary materials for the lenses 520, 540 include plastics, glass, ceramics, or the like that allow the predetermined wavelength of light for the anti-chop eye system to pass there through. For example, the lenses may comprise an acrylic resin, a polycarbonate material, another thermoplastic material, or the like. Preferably, the lenses 520, 540 comprise a clear plastic or glass material.

The transmitter or sending part may be an Infra red light emitting diode (LED). Fore example, the transmitter 500 may be a light emitting diode (“LED”) and the receiver 510 may be a photo-transistor. An exemplary wavelength for the light generated by the transmitter 500 is 940 nm. In other embodiments, the wavelength is 880 nm. Of course the invention is not limited to a specific wavelength and accordingly may employ a transmitter 500 that transmits any wavelength of electromagnetic radiation including, for example, wavelengths on the visible spectrum as well as wavelengths in the IR spectrum. The signal received by the phototransistor may be processed by software resident in the paintball marker 20.

For embodiments of the anti-chop eye system that employ an LED transmitter 500 and a phototransistor receiver 510, a negative port of the LED transmitter 500 may be connected to a resistor. A positive port of the LED transmitter 500 may be connected to the processor running software. The processor is preferably located in the handgrip frame 24. The processor may operate the LED transmitter 500 continuously or in a pulsed fashion. By pulsing the LED transmitter 500 rather than continuously operating the LED transmitter 500, battery power may be saved.

A negative port of the phototransistor receiver 510 may be connected to the processor with a resistor, for example, a 4.7 kohm pull down resistor. A positive port of the phototransistor receiver 510 may be connected to a power supply, such as a microprocessor, which energizes the phototransistor receiver 510 when the anti-chop eye system is operating. In operation, when the phototransistor receiver 510 is receiving the light transmitted by the LED transmitter 500, the processor connected to the negative port of the phototransistor receiver 510 registers a high signal, for example, +5 volts. When the phototransistor receiver 510 is not receiving the light transmitted by the LED transmitter 500, the pull down resistor connected to the negative port of the phototransistor receiver 510 drops the signal to, for example, substantially 0 volts.

The reliability of the anti-chop eye system is improved if the receiver 510 is able to distinguish between the light being emitter by the transmitter 500 and any ambient light. Ambient light includes direct sunlight which contains the full spectrum of light and may be intense. Preferably, the receiver 510 does not receive light from other sources that contains the wavelength used by the transmitter 500. The receiver 510 may distinguish between light coming from the transmitter 500 and another source by being tuned to the transmission wavelength and/or by modulating the light transmitted by the transmitter 500. For example, the signal emitted by the transmitter 500 may be modulated by turning the signal on and off at a predetermined interval. The receiver 510 is configured to distinguish the modulated signal at a given wavelength from other potentially interfering signals having the same wavelength, for instance, from sunlight or the color of the paintball. This enables the device to be sure that the signal the receiver 510 is receiving is actually the one being sent by the transmitter 500.

FIG. 21A is a partial cross-section view through the pneumatic paintball marker 20 showing the pneumatic bolt in a loading position. FIG. 21B is the partial cross-section view shown in FIG. 21A with the pneumatic bolt 110 in a position so as to contact the outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540 of the anti-chop eye system. A portion of the moving member or bolt preferably wipes the outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540.

The moving member or bolt may have a raised surface that extends entirely around the bolt 110 or only locally in the region of one or both of the first and second lenses 520, 540. In the illustrated embodiment, the bolt has a radially extending surface that extends around the entire circumference of the bolt. The radially extending surface may be integral to the bolt or may be a separate member, such as an o-ring 56 or the like. As most clearly shown in FIG. 22B, an o-ring 56 is disposed within a circumferential groove in the bolt 110. The o-ring 56 may have a diameter greater than the depth of the groove. In this way, the outer surface of the o-ring 56 extends beyond the outer circumference of the bolt so as to wipe the outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540 when the moving member or bolt moves between the forward and rearward positions. The depth of the groove need not be less than the diameter of the o-ring 56. For example, the o-ring 56 need not protrude beyond the surface of the moving member or bolt in the regions that are not aligned with the first and second lenses 526, 546.

Alternatively, the outer surface of the bolt 110 may include a protrusion disposed at a specific radial location around the outer circumference of the bolt 110 that is aligned with one or both outer surfaces 660 so as to wipe across one or both outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540 when the moving member 110 moves between forward and rearward positions.

FIG. 21C is the partial cross-section view shown in FIG. 21B with the pneumatic bolt moved to a firing position. The bolt wipes the outer surfaces 660 and removes contaminants such as, for example, paint and dirt from the outer surfaces 660. The wiping of the surfaces preferably occurs each time the bolt moves between the forward and rearward positions. Alternatively, the surfaces are periodically wiped by the moving member or bolt. For example, the pneumatic paintball marker 20 may include a mechanical system that periodically moves the outer surfaces 660 towards the breech so that the outer surfaces 660 are periodically wiped by the moving member or bolt. This mechanical actuation may be user initiated by a button or lever.

The outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540 facing the breech may be substantially flat or curved. Preferably for embodiments having two lenses 520, 540, portions of the outer surfaces 660 of the first and second lenses 520, 540 through which the beam passes have shapes or radii that substantially match the radius of the breech and/or the portion of the moving member or bolt. For example, the surface of the lens and the moving member or bolt may have corresponding curved surfaces. In this way, the corresponding surfaces of the moving member or bolt will contact the corresponding surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 and remove enough dirt or other contaminants from at least the surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 to maintain operation of the anti-chop eye system. With the curvature of the outer surfaces of the lenses 520, 540 substantially matching the inside of the breech or outer surface of the bolt, a more complete wiping or cleaning of the outer surfaces may be achieved.

The first and second lenses 520, 540 may have substantially flat outer surfaces 660. The first and second lenses 520, 540 may be disposed so that a center region of the surfaces are tangent to the outer circumference of the moving member or bolt that wipes the first and second lenses 520, 540. The outer surfaces 660 may be positioned relative to the outer surface of the bolt so that the bolt only wipes the portions of the outer surfaces through which the beam passes. The other portions of the outer surfaces may be inset from the surface of the bolt. The inset portions may accumulate dirt or other contaminants. However, the bolt removes enough of the dirt or contaminants from the portions of the lenses 520, 540 through which the beams passes to maintain operation of the anti-chop eye system even if the inset portions are dirty.

The portion of the outer surface of the moving member or bolt that wipes the first and second lenses 520, 540 may have a substantially flat surface that corresponds to a substantially flat surface of the first and second lenses 520, 540. With this embodiment, a larger portion of the flat surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 may be wiped by the moving member or bolt as compared to an embodiment that has a flat outer surface 660 and a curved bolt.

One or both of the first and second lenses 520, 540 may be disposed so that at least portions of the outer surfaces 660 are tangent to the surface of the breech along the longitudinal axis of the breech or may slightly protrude into the breech. In this way, at least a portion of the moving member or bolt wipes across the outer surfaces 660 when the bolt moves between rearward and forward positions. With the first and second lenses 520, 540 protruding slightly into the breech, even if the diameter of the bolt 110 is slightly smaller than the diameter of the breech, the bolt 110 will still wipe the surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 when the bolt moves between the rearward and forward positions.

Alternatively, the first and second lenses 520, 540 may be slightly recessed from the surface of the breech with the bolt having a raised surface that protrudes slightly outside of the breech so as to wipe one or both lenses 520, 540. Importantly, at least a portion of the moving member or bolt passes close enough to at least a portion of one or both surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 so as to remove contaminants from the surfaces.

Of course the anti-chop eye system is not limited to embodiments of lenses and bolts that have surfaces with particular contours or to embodiments having lenses 520, 540 with surface contours that match surface contours of the corresponding portions of the moving member or bolt as long as the moving member or bolt removes enough dirt or other contaminants from at least a portion of the outer surface of at least one transmitting or receiving surface to maintain operation of the anti-chop eye system.

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the first lens 520 and the second lens 540 of the anti-chop eye system. Preferably the respective outer surfaces 660 and inner surfaces 680 of each lens 520, 540 have complementary surfaces contours so that the path of the light beam entering a lens is substantially parallel to the path of the light exiting that same lens. For example, the curvature of the outer surface 660 of the first lens 520 may be selected to correspond to the curvature of the inner surface 680 of the lens 520. Light enters the first lens 520 from the inner surface 680 of the first lens 520 or first boundary and exits through the outer surface 660 of the first lens 520 or second boundary before entering the breech. Light then enters the second lens 540 through the outer surface 660 of the second lens 540 or third boundary and exits through the inner surface 680 of the second lens 540 or fourth boundary. With complementary shapes, the refraction of the light as the light passes through the first boundary of the first lens 520 is cancelled by the refraction caused by the light passing through the second boundary of the first lens 520. Similarly, with complementary shapes, the refraction of the light as the light passes through the third boundary of the second lens 540 is cancelled by the refraction caused by the light passing through the fourth boundary of the second lens 540. In this way, the incident angle of the light entering the lenses 520, 540 is substantially the same as the exit angle of the light from the respective lens 520, 540. As explained above, it is also preferred that the outer surfaces 660 substantially match the contour of the wall of the breech so as to facilitate the cleaning of the outer surfaces 660.

Of course the inner surface 680 and the outer surface 660 are not required to have the same shape for a given lens in that the entering and exiting light paths through the lens need not be parallel. For example, the shapes of the inner surfaces 680 and the outer surfaces 660 may not be parallel and cause the exiting light beam to be at an angle relative to the entering light beam. In such an embodiment, the receiver 510 may be disposed on the other side of the breech so that the light beam exiting the first lens 520 reaches the receiver 510 and corrects for the bending of the light beam. Accordingly, the first lens 520 need not be directly aligned with the second lens 540. As explained above, in certain embodiments the receiver 510 is disposed on the same side of the breech and receives a signal reflected off the paintball.

FIG. 23 is a top view of the first lens 520 shown in FIG. 22. As most clearly shown in FIG. 22, the shape of the second lens 540 may be a mirror copy of the shape of the first lens 520 across the longitudinal axis of the pneumatic paintball marker 20. Accordingly, the description of the first lens 520 applies with equal force to the second lens 540 and will not be repeated. The first lens 520 includes a base 600 and a post 610 disposed on the base 600. The base 600 includes a recess 620 configured to receive the transmitter 500 of the anti-chop system. The second lens 540 includes a recess 620 configured to receive the receiver 510 of the anti-chop system. A light beam emitted by the transmitter 500 preferably is substantially parallel with axis 640. Of course, the first lens 520 and the transmitter 500 and/or the second lens 540 and the receiver 510 may each be a unitary component.

FIG. 24 is a bottom view of the first lens 520 and shows an inner surface 680. FIG. 25 is side view of the first lens 520. The post 610 includes an outer surface 660 or transmission surface through which light passes when entering or exiting the breech.

FIG. 26 is a cross-section view taken along lines 26-26 in FIG. 23 and shows a channel 700 extending from the base 600 toward the inner surface 680. The inner surface 680 and the outer surface 660 have substantially the same radius of curvature. The post 610 further includes an internal channel 700. The recess 620 may extend from an open side of the base 600 and across the opening to the channel 700. The bottom of the channel 700 defines the inner surface 680 of the first lens 520 through which light passes when entering or exiting the first lens 520. For embodiments of the anti-chop system that have first and second lenses 520, 540 on opposite sides of the breech, the inner surface 680 and the outer surface 660 of each lens preferably have substantially the same surface contour so as to limit bending of the light beam due to refraction caused by the light beam passing through the boundaries between the inner and outer surfaces of the first and second lenses 520, 540 and the air. FIG. 27 is a perspective view of the first lens 520 of the anti-chop eye system. FIG. 28 is an exploded perspective view of the pneumatic marker 20 from FIG. 1.

Although this invention has been disclosed in the context of a certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the present invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the invention and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. In addition, while a number of variations of the invention have been shown and described in detail, other modifications, which are within the scope of this invention, will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art based upon this disclosure. It is also contemplated that various combinations or subcombinations of the specific features and aspects of the embodiments may be made and still fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, it should be understood that various features and aspects of the disclosed embodiments can be combine with or substituted for one another in order to form varying modes of the disclosed invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
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US7594503May 25, 2005Sep 29, 2009Dye Precision, Inc.Pneumatic paintball marker
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Classifications
U.S. Classification124/74, 124/71
International ClassificationF41B11/00
Cooperative ClassificationF41B11/73, F41B11/72, F41B11/62
European ClassificationF41B11/72, F41B11/62, F41B11/73
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Sep 22, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: DYE PRECISION, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KAAKKOLA, EERO;THORP, ADAM H.;REEL/FRAME:021571/0711
Effective date: 20080724
Jan 16, 2008ASAssignment
Owner name: DYE PRECISION, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KAAKKOLA, EERO;THORP, ADAM H.;REEL/FRAME:020375/0578
Effective date: 20071129