Advanced Paintball Electronics (A.P.E.) is comprised of two members of Xtreme Fanatics (XF), and a third individual who wishes to remain anonymous (typical of most mad-scientist in this day/age) .
As a member of XF, I was afforded the unique opportunity to watch a new product in development, play test the prototypes through the Beta phase, and see the finished product launched to the public. For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to be involved in something like this, I would strongly suggest it. Seeing what it takes to bring the simplest of product to market, much less something like the A.P.E. Rampage Board, will give you a new appreciation of how difficult it is to break into todays dynamic paintball market.
I'm writing this review as an informational piece to players who are new to paintball, new to a Tippmann, and new to a board upgrade; so those of you "old-salts" will have to forgive me while I run through the basics here.
What is the APE Rampage Board ?
The APE Board is an aftermarket upgrade for the Tippmann A-5 E-grip, 98 Tippmann Custom Pro-E, and the SP Ion. This review will deal exclusively with the Tippmann A-5, but I may due a subsequent review on the Tippmann Custom Pro-E in the near future (I purchased upgrades for both markers).
What does the APE Rampage Board do ?
The Rampage board picks up where the Wicked Air Sports (WAS) left off. The WAS boards originally came out as an upgrade to the A-5 E-grip, and allowed the E-grip user to attain rates of fire (ROF) at & in excess of 15 BPS. The WAS board finally allowed Tippmann A-5 users to hang with some of the higher end marker users on the paintball fields across the country. Before the introduction of the WAS boards, only Reactive Trigger (RT) users who were tech-savy & nimble-fingered were able to achieve these ROF's.
The APE Rampage Boards are the next step in the A5/Custom Pro-E evolution. In addition to allowing a true 15 BPS on the E-grip, the board allows ROF's of 20, or 25 BPS, with only minor modifications to the marker (up to 20 BPs) and the addition of a Q-Loader (25 BPS). The APE Rampage board also allows additional mode selections, and future user defined custom modes.
A point worth mentioning here is that the WAS Boards have an advertised ROF up to 30 BPS, but this rate of fire has initially shown some deterimental effects of the A-5 cyclone (specifically the ratchet).
How are the APE Rampage Board and the WAS Board similar ?
As mentioned previously, both boards allow substantial ROF increases over the 12-14 BPS ROF on the A-5 E-Grip. Additionally, both boards share the following features;
- Multicolor LED indicators (no more micro tools and stripping out nylon adjustment switches on your E-grip).
- Adjustable Solenoid Dwell
- Adjustable Trigger Debounce
What does the Rampage Board do that the original A-5 Boards and the WAS boards don't ?
- Push Button Firing Mode Selection (APE Board requires the push button only, WAS board relies on push button AND trigger pulls to change modes. In addition, the WAS board must first be in programming mode before you can even change modes.
- 2 additional standard modes of fire (E-grip has 5, WAS board has 5, Rampage board has 7).
- Adjustable Ramping Mode
- Adjustable Turbo Mode
- Adjustable Mechanical Bounce
- Water resistant
- Longer battery life (3x the life of the standard E-grip )
- customizable programming (future public release)
What are the seven modes on the APE Board ?
- Semi-Automatic - One trigger pull, one shot.
- Turbo+ - Semi-Automatic until a 5 trigger-per-second pull rate, then transitions to Response Mode on the 5th trigger pull (the default TTP value). Maintains Response Mode until the trigger pull rate drops below 5 per second.
-Full Automatic - Continues to fire as long as the trigger is held (the default MGRF value is 15BPS).
-3-Round Burst - Fires 3 shots per each trigger pull.
- Response - Fires 1 shot for each trigger pull and 1 shot on trigger release.
- Rampage - Semi-Automatic until a 5 trigger-per-second pull rate, then transitions to Full Automatic on the 5th trigger pull (the default RTP value). Maintains Full Automatic Mode until the trigger pull rate drops below 5 per second.
X-Mode - Semi-Automatic for the first 3 shots, then Full Automatic on the 4th pull and hold (This is a modified NXL-Style mode. You reset to Semi-Automatic after every Full-Automatic trigger release).
What does the Ape Rampage Board cost ?
Well, if your quick (order before the 500th board is sold or February 28, 2006), the board will cost you $49.95 (board only) or $$67.96 (board and solenoid). After the 500th board sold or the end of the month, the intriductory price expires and the MSRP is $69.95 for the board and $84.95
for the board/solenoid.
Where can I read more on the APE Rampage board ?
Probably one of the nicest thing about APE, is that it was founded by scenario paintball players. Like most of us, the APE guys had purchased numerous product which had little or no product details, information, technical specifications or support. APE decided to change that & has their own website (www.goapeonline.com) which has technical information, support forums, instruction guides, installation videos, and actual footage of the board in action.
You can also check out their FAQ section (http://goapeonline.com/faq-1-Rampage+A5+an...tml-E+Board+FAQ)
Can I install it myself ?
Absolutely. The board comes with instructions & as mentioned above ... a installation video is available on the website. If all else fails, APE will install the board for you for a nominal fee (details on the website).
What does it look like installed ?
The major components;
The board face, showing the select button/LED indicator;
The board fully installed in the grip;
The selector switch (camera just didn't seem to want to focus on this one ...sorry);
How does the A.P.E. Rampage board perform ?
In a controlled / test enviroment;
How about in a real scenario?
I've played with this board since November of last year, and it is an enormous upgrade. Forget the chrono, advertised BPS and soundfiles ... that stuff can wait (and can be viewed at your leisure on the APE website). Install the grip, air up the marker, and let it rip. The biggest thing that amazed me when I first installed the board, was that you could actually hear the difference from the original E-grip ROF. The Full Auto mode is nothing short of amazing and you really have to watch your paint if you get carried away. The most useful mode (IMHO) is the adjustible ramping mode. I can throw a little, or a lot of paint with the twitch of a finger & without worrying about overshooting an opponent.
The mode selector switch and indicator LED are a godsend. No more futzing with the marker at night chrono, emptying the hopper, degassing, holding the marker between your knees with a microscrewdriver in one hand, maglight in your mouth, while pulling the trigger between clicks of the adjustment screw, to make sure your on semi-auto. Just turn down your velocity & a couple of taps with the selector tool and your all set.
The new board design and selector swith also make playing in the rain no problem. Other than extended imersion, your not going to have any water-worries.
How do I get my marker to fire as fast as the one in the APE video ?
Three simple parts;
A) A Quick Exaust Valve (QEV), available from APE, UMS, Palmer Pursuit, etc. (silver), or the black-anno version from Eclipse. It will only set you back $20.00-$30.00.
New ratchet. It's not mandatory, but the older cyclone ratchets (clear) were softer than the new ones (Tan/opaque). It's a simple matter of life ... friction creates heat and wear and the higher ROF's that the Rampage board delivers are going to affect your ratchet wear. The newer ratchets are available from TippmannParts.com (Part Number: 02-53) and other retailers.
C) If your looking for sustained ROF's above 20 BPS, you'll need to invest in a Q-Loader.
In short, the new A.P.E. Rampage boards are everything they advertise to be, and then some. Whether you elect to use them at 15, 20 or 25 BPS; they perform reliably, and give your trusty Tippmann some additional firepower in the field, at a reasonable cost.
This post has been edited by Acara: 24 February 2006 - 07:34 PM