Today, pneuVentures Inc. (PVI) is primarily known for their creation of the earliest production models of the PVI Shocker and Max Flo regulator systems. Some paintballers also remember when pneuVentures was brought back into the spotlight during the Smart Parts vs WDP LTD. case in August of 2004.
The looped and slowed down PVI Cyber 9000 animation, originally featured on the PVI site, shown above. Video based on the original QTVR video produced by Jay Vaughan in 1998. Used with the permission of PVI website and QTVR media creator Jay Vaughan.
pneuVentures did continue operating in some capacity after their agreement and production of the Shocker for Smart Parts ended in 1996. During this short window of time continued to innovate and refined their existing Shocker and Max Flo designs into the Warrior/Cyber 9000 and Super Flow systems.
But in 1998, PVI faded away from the paintball scene. Prototypes and early production models existed for the Cyber 9K but it is unclear whether any customers were actually able to purchase a released model at trade shows or from any retailers.
The circumstances surrounding PVI’s move away from paintball are also unclear. It could have been from a lack of distribution for their potentially innovative products, problems arising from their outsourced component production, or the legal proceedings from their earlier contract agreement with Smart Parts which led to their demise.
In the following brief article I’ve tried to lay out a partial timeline for PVI’s progression from the PVI Shocker to the Warrior/Cyber 9K and future products.
In late 1995, Dr. Edward Hensel, the main designer for PVI’s electronic paintball marker components, created their first working circuit board and prototyped what would become the PVI Shocker. While PVI’s Shocker wasn’t the first electro-pneumatic paintball marker prototyped, it was the first mass produced electro-pneumatic paintgun designed for paintball.
There are examples and stories of other battery powered prototypes, including paintguns by John Sosta, of AGD Europe (early-mid 90s), Flynt Smith, of the Ironmen (late 80s), and Mike Casady’s , of CCI, original semi automatic Phantom Revolution (early 90s to 96/97).
Mike is very adamant that his original design on the Phantom Revolution involved an electronic mechanism to load the paintball but not control the air release when firing, so the Revolution was not an Electro-pneumatic design.
On Casetext.com, in a summary of the Smart Parts Vs WDP LTD. case, which took place August 23, 2004, you can read a very concise explanation of Hensel’s early development of the Shocker from the court proceedings. Find this source at https://casetext.com/case/smart-parts the summary reads:
“Between 1995 and 1996, Dr. Hensel worked at his home in New Mexico on the design and development of an electropneumatic paintball gun. Dr. Hensel set up a mini manufacturing facility in his garage to research and develop the first circuit board to be used in the gun. Dr. Hensel worked at one point around the clock for three days trying to get the timing circuit used in the gun to work. Smart Parts admits that Dr. Hensel designed at least one circuit board for use in a paintball gun identical to the paintball gun shown in Figure 1 of the ‘326 patent, on or before the effective filing date. As admitted by named inventor Raymond Gaston, Dr. Hensel designed the original working circuit board for the SHOCKER, Smart Parts’ commercial embodiment. The circuit boards designed by Dr. Hensel were configured to send signals to one or more solenoid valves to control the timing of the loading and firing operations.”
Casetext.com goes on to quote Hugh Cronin, Chief Operating Officer of PVI, who explains Hensel’s importance in the development of the Shocker:
“Based on my communications with Professor Hensel, he designed and developed the electrical circuit to be placed on a circuit board within the paintball gun and configured to send electronic signals to one or more solenoids to control the timing of the loading and firing operations.”
From 1996 to 1997 PVI worked developing products and Smart Parts was their exclusive distributor. PVI and Smart Parts’ relationship during that time is summarized in the PVI “company info” on their 1998 archived website.
This page is viewable at: http://web.archive.org/web/19980703190202/http://www.pneuventures.com/company_info.html
“An exclusive sales agreement was signed in which, while remaining an independent company, pneuVentures would design, develop and manufacture pneumatic equipment for the paintball market and sell exclusively through Smart Parts. This agreement did not include other products which pneuVentures produced such as the Inflatable Rescue Signal™. Under this agreement, cylinder valves, Max Flow regulating systems, and Shocker paintball markers were successfully brought to market. This agreement was mutually dissolved in early August of 1997. Later that month, pneuVentures released a new group of In Your Face paintball products which include the new Cyber9000™ series of markers. (Formerly, for six weeks, the product was called “Warrior”. Reasons developed for us to make a name change.)”
The Warrior/Cyber9000 series of electronic pneumatic paintball markers was released (or set for release) in August of 1997.
Today, the early shoebox Shockers produced by PVI, and then after August 1997 by Smart Parts, are well documented but very little trace of the followup line of Cyber 9K markers exist.
Supposedly PVI ran ads in magazines for their “pneuLoader™ pneumatic agitated ball loader, superFlow regulating systems, and the In Your Face, Too™ electronics package” which the Cyber9K used.
The “In Your Face, Too electronics package,” featured a innovative LCD panel on the back of the Cyber 9K’s body.
PVI’s site describes the different models of the Cyber9k and features at http://web.archive.org/web/19980703185913/http://www.pneuventures.com/cyber902.html
“The CYBER9000™ has *NEW* digital In Your Face electronics with an LCD display giving the player instant information on marker performance – information you need to play the best game possible.”
PVI did make an appearance at the 97 World Cup, which went from October 21st until the 26th, 1997. PVI rep, Mary Ellen Mest, talked with Bills Mills, of Warpig, about the Cyber 9k’s features.
Find Warpig’s coverage of the World Cup 1997 event and a real player video interview with Mest at:
And PVI’s site, built by Jay Vaughan in 1997-98, can still be viewed through the Internet Archive Wayback machine. Likely live in 1997, the pneuVentures site was first archived on January 13th 1998 and last archived on July 3rd, 1998.
PVI’s homepages gives the update (no change for the homepage between the 1-13-98 and 7-3-98 updates) that PVI faced a problem with the manufacturer of their electronic components.
Find the following update at: http://web.archive.org/web/19980703185224/http://www.pneuventures.com/content.htm
“Cyber9000 Newsbreak: The first run of guns are in production, due for release in the very near future — problems with our electronics supplier have been resolved, and they’re doing their job to provide us with the degree of quality electronic control components we need in order to meet your demands for reliability on the field.”
Had the Cyber 9K made it to the market, the implementation of it’s revolutionary features definitely would have had some effect on innovation in electro-pneumatic markers. Unique features included:
•Plug in Chronograph
•Plug in Remote firing
•Possible plug in pneuLoader?
•Easily adjustable rate of fire.
As more information on the Cyber 9K is unearthed, more articles will appear. One will feature a transcript of Bill Mills, of Warpig, and Mary Ellen Mest’s conversation in their 1997 World Cup Interview (I have Bill’s permission). Another will be some additional information from Jay Vaughan, designer of the PVI site and producer of the QTVR animation embedded from youtube at the top of the page.
If anyone has scans of printed PVI advertisements and knows the publication and issue these ad originated from please post below and you will be contacted.
Special thanks to Jay Vaughan for interest in the Cyber 9K, 17-18 years after the project. Additional thanks to Tim at Paintball Tek dot com for his assistance in disassembling the pictured Cyber 9000 (several years ago) and his documenting the internal electronic components when I neglected to. Also, thanks to Carter Brown for selling me this Cyber 9K.