How to Time an E-Blade

OK, so the E2 is out, and I'm finally getting around to writing the "How to Tune an E-Blade" article..... Yes, I know, but better late than never.

OK, the first thing we need to know is what it all means, so here is a detailed description of the timing settings you will be working with:

SON: Sear Solenoid On Time: This controls how long the sear solenoid will be energized to lower the sear. If the SON time is too low, the sear won't release the hammer reliably, and that will lead to double feeding of paint. If the SON is higher than it needs to be, battery life suffers.

CDEL: Cocking Solenoid Delay Time: After the hammer has been released, time is needed to allow the hammer to open the valve, and for the ball to leave the barrel completely before the bolt opens. That is the CDEL. If the CDEL is too short, blow back up the feed tube is the result, if it is too long, it needlessly slows down the cycle of the gun.

CON: Cocking Solenoid On Time. This setting determines how long the cocking solenoid will channel air to the front of the ram, to open the breach. If the CON time is too low, either the gun won't load paint, or it will chop. This is the setting that is over ridden by the eye in the breach when it is turned on.

CTO: Cocking Solenoid Time Out. This setting is the longest delay that the bolt will stay open when the eye is turned on. If the eye detects a ball in the feed tube, it will close immediately. If the eye does not detect a ball, then the bolt will stay open till the CTO ends.

COFF: Cocking Solenoid Off Time. This setting controls the minimum amount of time the cocking solenoid directs air to the back of the ram, to close the breach. If the COFF time is too low, the bolt won't close completely after each shot. This can cause shoot down when the gun is firing quickly because the air port in the bolt will not be aligned with the air port in the body, causing a drop in velocity. Worst case, this can cause balls to break in the barrel, because they are smashing into each other.

TPUL: This is the amount of time the trigger must be pulled back and blocking the optic sensor for it to count as a trigger pull. If this is set too low, any movement of the trigger can count as a pull, and fire the gun, leading to added shots, or a run away marker.

TREL: This is the minimum amount of time that is required for the trigger to be released before the frame will accept a new, valid trigger pull.

OK, so everyone wants a fast gun, right? Most people want to set all the settings as low as they can get away with, and thus they figure that will let them shoot faster. To a point, yes, it will. The question is, exactly how fast can you shoot? Why run razors edge of performance, balancing between a fast gun, and one that has broken down by using settings in your frame when you aren't even coming close to pulling the trigger that fast? If you can pull the trigger 22 times a second, good for you, set the gun up to shoot 25, and you will be happy. For the rest of us who happen to be human, there is no point in setting the gun for 25 BPS when we can only pull the trigger 13 times a second.

Now, if you intend to set your gun to bounce, well, stop reading, the rest of this won't help you at all.
If you want bounce, it's simple:
1: Jack up the LPR as high as you can whithout the solenoid leasing.
2: Set the COFF as low as you can get it without shoot down.
3: Turn the TREL and TPUL down to 1.
4:Set the trigger as short, and as soft as you can.
You now have a machine gun that won't stop shooting till you hold the trigger down. Go have fun.
For the rest of us, who would like to set the guns up legally and so it doesn't kick like a jackhammer on speed, keep reading.

So, there are the settings, let's start lowering some numbers, right? Wrong.
The first thing you need to do is to check each, and every mechanical setting on the gun. Make sure the cocking rod is being pulled back far enough to cock the gun, but not so far that it limits the back blocks travel. You also need to check the back block spacing, and the hammer lug setting. All of these mechanical settings will effect the electronic settings used in the frame.
The first step is to go to the Factory Menu, and set it to Factory Fast. This will give you a base line of electronic settings that you can work from.
Now, gas up the gun, and set the LPR high enough to cock the gun reliably.
Once the LPR is set, look at the space between the back block, and the back of the body. There should be a gap about 1/16" wide. That will prevent the back block from slapping the body on the closing stroke of the ram, and preserve the threads that the pump arm goes into on the back block.
If the cocking rod is stopping the back block, then the hammer lug is slamming into the slot in the body, and that can be bad news in the long run. You want the cocking rod to pull the hammer lug about 1/8" past the sear. To check this, tighten the cocking rod, and pull the back block slowly back. You will hear the hammer lug click past the sear. There should then be about 1/8" of travel left in the back block movement. Setting the cocking rod this way will prevent the ram from having to compress the main spring more than is needed, and that will make the gun cycle more smoothly, and prevent the lug from beating up the body.
The last thing to check is the hammer lug depth. Take off the grip frame, and then cock the gun. Slow push the sear solenoid plunger up until the hammer lug is released. It should release the hammer lug about 1/2 way though it's travel.

A few notes before we start changing things:
Use good paint. I can not stress this enough. If you want good results, then use good paint.
Make sure you have a full air tank. If the tank is mostly empty, don't waste your time, just wait until you have a full tank, since the cycle speed of the gun can change when the tank gets very low.
Properly set the LPR. You will want to turn the LPR up until it will cycle the back block completely, then add about 1/8to 1/4 of a turn more. Keep in mind that some regs, like the Tickler, and stock WGP 04 regs are very, very touchy when it comes to adjustments, so only increase them a hair. This will ensure that the ram is getting plenty of pressure to cycle under high rates of fire.
You will also want to set the gun to Factory Fast, so you have a good base line to start from. If there are any problems shooting the gun when it's set to Factory Fast, 99% of the time there is a mechanical issue with the gun that must be found, and corrected.

Now, on to tuning an E-Blade

The first step is to set the SON time to drop the hammer reliably each and every time the trigger is pulled. Now, to make it reliable, the first thing you have to do is sweet spot your inline regulator. Once that is done, chrono the gun to between 300 fps, and 320 fps.
By setting the SON time with the gun chronoed with more spring tension that you will normally need, you can be guarantied the release the of the hammer no matter what the power level of the battery is. The sacrifice is a little bit of battery life, but in my eyes, it's better to replace a battery a hair more often than to have to crack open the grip frame, and make timing adjustments when you should be at the chrono.

Set the SON time to 1, and cock the gun. Most likely, it will not release the hammer. Increase it to 2, then pull the cocking rod back, and pull the trigger again. It may or may not release the hammer.
If it does release the hammer, repeat the test 10 times. If it drops the hammer each and every time, then that is high enough, and move on to the next setting.
If it does not release the hammer, increase the SON in increments of one until it releases the hammer each and every time, 10 times in a row.

So, the SON is set, it's time to play with the CON. Load the gun with a hopper full of paint, and a full tank. Keep the gun chronoed at 320 fps. Again, this will ensure that the gun will always work, since it builds in a margin of error to accommodate all the odd things that can change from day to day, such as paint batch to paint batch.

Make sure the gun is set to Semi mode, and the eye is turned off. If the eye is on, then it will over ride the CON, and you are just going to waste paint.
By setting the CON time with the eye turned off, you will be able to shut the eye off in the middle of a game if there is a problem, and keep playing. If the CON is set to some ridiculously low number so you can brag about how fast you can shoot and the eye has a problem on the field, well, you are screwed. We want a reliable set up that is as fast as it can be, not a set up that is useless if the tinniest thing goes wrong.
If the gun is in Classic mode, the bolt will stay back longer than it will in Semi, and the whole point of this is to set the gun up for the worst possible case, so set it to Semi Mode.

Gas up the gun, and load up the paint. You will want what ever flavor of loader you plan to use filled with fresh batteries. With the CON set to the factory default of 65, you should be able to shoot without chopping paint. Lower the CON time in increments of 5 until you chop a ball. Once you chop a ball, clean the gun, and go back to the previous setting. You should now be able to shoot long strings of paint without breaking any. If you can not, then increase the CON until you can shoot 20 balls as fast as you can pull the trigger, and not chop a ball.

Your CON time is now set so that if there is a problem with the eye on the field, you can turn it off, and keep playing without turning a hopper full of paint into gelatin soup.

Now, turn the eye one, and set it for the type of paint you are using. Degas the gun, put the frame on "EYE" then "SHOW", and remove the loader. Now, hold the bolt back, and drop a ball into the breach. If you are using split shell paint, you want the darker side toward the eye. Your frame will now show a reading between 1 and 255. That is an indicator of how much light is bouncing off the ball, and back to the eye. You will want to make sure the ball is in the center of the feed tube, and that it hasn't rolled back or forward at all. Repeat this 5 times, taking note of each reading. Now Eclipse tells you to get an average of all the readings, and add a little to it. I prefer to take the highest reading, and add a little, but that's just me, and ROF isn't my biggest concern. Either way, once you have a number, go to "EYE" then "SET" and set the eye sensitivity to the number you came up with.
Why is setting the eye important? Simple, if the eye setting is too high, it won't detect the ball correctly, and it will slow down the cycle of the gun. If it's set too low, it will detect the ball early, and cause chopping. The eye readings are dependent on the condition of the shell, and it's color, so you should reset the eye for each type of paint you are using.

OK, fresh batteries in the loader, and the gun, a full air tank, and a gun set to 320 fps. The first step is to chrono the gun to a more normal 280 fps, and turn your trigger filters to 1. Yes, we are now going to intentionally make the gun a machine gun, but for a good reason, for this part, you need to shoot the gun as fast as it can cycle to get the best setting to prevent shoot down. If the COFF is too low, the bolt won't be able to return the full forward position before the start of the next cycle, and that means the port in the bolt won't be lined up with the port in the body, so the pressure that should fire the ball will be restricted.

So, fresh batteries, full tank, full loader, and a bouncing gun. Shoot one shot over the chrono, and check the results. Repeat this 4 or 5 times to get an idea of the lowest velocity the gun will hit when shooting slowly. Don't forget to keep the barrel pointed slightly up, to prevent the ball from rolling away from the bolt, and giving a low reading.

Now shoot a stream of paint, just to do it. If you are breaking paint, then you didn't set the eye correctly. Go back, and try again.

If you happen to have one of the older Radar Chronographs without the nifty, cool, pointless ROF feature, let a stream of paint go, and note the reading on the last shot. If the last shot when you are shooting fast is below the range of the slow shots, increase the COFF until that doesn't happen. If there is no change, lower the COFF until it does, then increase it slightly to make the drop off go away.

If you don't have access to one of the older big red chronos, it's going to be a little less precise. Shoot a stream of paint with the gun held as steady as you can, and watch for drop off. Of the gun is dropping off, the first shot or two will seem normal, then there will be a steady drop in velocity as the stream goes on.

If you do not see any drop off, turn the COFF time down by 3, and check again. Keep lowering the COFF time until you do see noticeable drop off in the stream of paint.
Once you found the drop off, slowly increase the COFF until it goes away.

Now that we have the bolt settings dialed in, it's time to tweak the CDEL time a little. The ideal case is to have the gun create a slight vacuum with each shot if you are using a agitated loader, or to at least have there be no blow back if you are using a Halo, or Evolution.
A good paint to barrel match is a very important part of this step. If the ball is too big for the barrel you have, it can create blow back, so make sure you have a good match. It is always better to use a barrel that bigger than a perfect match if the choice is between too big or too small.

Take off your loader, put two balls in the feed tube, and cycle the gun to load the first one. Shoot the first ball while watching the paintball that is resting in the feed tube. The ball in the feed tube will either bounce up, or drop right in. If it bounces up, you need to check the fit of the bolt before you go any farther.

To check the bolt to body fit, just load two balls into the feed tube, then cycle one into the breach. Now, hold the back block in place with one hand, and watch the ball when you shoot. If it still bounces up from blow back gasses, then you have a poor bolt to body fit. The only way to fix this is to use larger o-rings if there are slots for them, or to replace the bolt if there are not. The best you can do with the gun if there is a bad bolt to body fit and you don't want to replace the bolt, then set the CDEL so it doesn't make the blow back problem worse than it already is, and live with it.

If the bolt to body fit is good, but you still have blow back, slowly increase the CDEL until there is no blow back. You will want to check 3 or 4 times, loading two balls, and shooting one, after each change to the CDEL. Once the CDEL is set to the point where there is no blow back, or there is a slight vacuum, you are done with it.

It is important to do this part with paint in the breach. If there is no paint, then the pressure balance in the valve, and barrel will be different than when there is paint there to create back pressure. Always check for blow back with paint, no matter what.

Now, why do CDEL last? Simple, it leads to a more reliable setup. By doing all the settings that effect bolt open and closed times first, you have the gun set to the worst case scenario, so once you hit the field, you won't have any problems.

Now, the long time consuming part, eliminating trigger bounce.
There are three electronic settings that can effect trigger bounce, the TPUL, TREL, and CDEL. The other factors in trigger bounce are cocking mass, LPR setting, trigger weight, magnetic return force, and the location of the firing point in the trigger travel.
If you set the gun up following the above directions, then the LPR is going to be set about as low as you can get it reliably, and you won't have to jack up the LPR to accommodate "super fast" settings, so that's taken care of.
Now, cocking mass is the total weight of the back block, bolt, and pump arm. The lighter to cocking mass, the less inertia it will have when it closes the bolt, and thus the less jumpy the cycle of the gun will be. Lighter components allow for a faster cycle with the same LPR setting, and thus the same amount of movement from the gun, or a lower LPR setting, and the same cycle speed. To help eliminate trigger bounce, you want the latter, lower pressure running into the ram, so there is less inertia when the bolt closes.

The firing point also plays a huge roll in trigger bounce. If the firing point is at the very end of the trigger pull, the magnetic strength will be it's weakest, and the trigger can flop around, firing the gun more than once per trigger pull. If the firing point is at the very beginning of the trigger pull, the slight movement of the gun can activate it, and add shots. To eliminate bounce, I use a mild return strength, with the firing point about 1/3 though the trigger pull.
The only thing I can tell you on the firing point is to try different locations in the pull, and use the best one you can find to eliminate bounce, and still be happy with the trigger feel.

Once you have the trigger set, turn the both filters to 30. There should now be no way to bounce the trigger, but also almost no way to shoot the gun quickly.
To check for bounce, hold the gun in your off hand, and balance it there. The point of this is the make the gun move as much as possible when it cycles, so don't hold it real tight, or put the tank on your shoulder. Now, with your other hand, slowly, and gently pull the trigger over the course of a second. The gun should cycle once, and only once. If it shoots more than once, there is trigger bounce.
Slowly turn the TPUL filter down until the gun starts to bounce a little. It won't bounce a lot, but you might be able to get it to shoot twice with each check. Turn the TPUL back up by one, and move on.
Now do the same check with the TREL, while you slowly turn it down. Again, once the gun bounces, turn it back up by one.
By altering the firing point, magnetic return, and filters, you will be able to either tune the gun to bounce a little, a lot, or not at all.. Your gun is now set with no bounce what so ever, so you have a starting point to work from. The amount of acceptable bounce is up to the player to a degree, but more importantly, up to the Ref checking it before you go onto the field.

That's about it. The biggest thing is to take your time, and tune the gun for the parts, and setup you are currently running. Don't pull some setting off the net, and then wonder why it doesn't work. Most times, people haven't set the gun up correctly, and they live with the problems it creates, or they are flat out lying to make their guns sound faster than it really is.