Orbeez guns have recently exploded in popularity as a unique and entertaining outdoor toy. These colorful blasters allow kids and adults alike to engage in exciting mock battles using soft, squishy Orbeez beads as ammunition. But how exactly do Orbeez guns work to shoot these tiny gel pellets?
Let’s take an in-depth look at the mechanics, firing process, power sources, and loading mechanisms that make Orbeez blasters function.
An Overview of Orbeez Gun Designs
The term “Orbeez gun” refers to a category of toy blasters designed specifically to shoot Orbeez, which are small, soft, water-absorbing polymer beads. There are a few common design variations of Orbeez guns:
- Spring-powered – These basic Orbeez guns use a spring-loaded piston that must be manually cocked before each shot. When the trigger is pulled, the spring provides air pressure to shoot the Orbeez.
- Electric – More advanced electric Orbeez guns use batteries and an internal electric motor to automatically generate air pressure to fire the Orbeez beads in rapid succession.
- Pressurized air – Higher-end Orbeez blasters utilize compressed air canisters to provide power, similar to paintball markers.
While features like ammunition capacity, firing modes, and external appearance vary between models, the core firing mechanism remains fundamentally similar across most Orbeez gun types.
Key Takeaway: Orbeez guns come in spring-powered, electric, and pressurized air varieties, but all fire using a method of generating air pressure to shoot soft Orbeez beads.
How Do Spring-Powered Orbeez Guns Work?
The simplest variety of Orbeez blasters are spring-powered models. These manually-operated guns rely on a cocked piston spring to propel the Orbeez beads. Here are the key components and firing sequence:
- Piston – A cylindrical piston fits snugly inside the gun barrel. It can slide back and forth within the barrel.
- Return spring – This large spring connects the back of the piston to the rear of the gun housing. When uncompressed, it holds the piston at the front of the barrel.
- Cocking mechanism – A sliding cocking handle or lever is attached to the rear of the piston. Pulling this back compresses the return spring.
- Trigger mechanism – The trigger controls a catch that holds the cocked piston in place until firing.
- Orbeez chamber – This small cavity at the front of the barrel holds the Orbeez bead ready to fire.
To fire a spring Orbeez gun, you first cock the blaster by pulling the cocking mechanism, which compresses the return spring and slides the piston back. The trigger catch then holds the piston in the cocked position.
When you pull the trigger, it releases the catch, allowing the compressed spring to thrust the piston forcefully forward. This rapid motion propels the Orbeez bead out of the barrel at high speed.
After firing, the return spring expands and draws the piston back to the starting position, ready for the next shot. This process repeats every time the blaster is cocked and fired.
Key Takeaway: Spring Orbeez guns work by using a cocked piston and return spring to generate air pressure to fire each Orbeez bead when the trigger is pulled.
Electric Orbeez Guns Rely on Motorized Power
While spring-powered blasters require manual cocking before each shot, electric Orbeez guns use battery-powered motors to automatically generate rapid firing power. Here are the main components:
- Electric motor – Powered by batteries, the motor contains gear assemblies that generate spinning force when activated.
- Gearbox – This component converts the motor’s spinning force into linear motion to drive the piston assembly.
- Piston – Identical in function to a spring Orbeez gun, the motorized piston pumps air pressure.
- Battery – Rechargeable battery packs provide power to the electric motor.
- Trigger contacts – Wiring connects the trigger to the motor to activate it when firing.
- Fire selector – Allows switching between safety, semi-auto, and full-auto firing modes.
When you pull the trigger of an electric Orbeez blaster, it closes an electrical circuit that delivers power from the batteries to the motor. The motor spins the geared assemblies in the gearbox, which drives the piston rapidly back and forth. This pumping action pressurizes air to launch the Orbeez beads.
The trigger contacts control how long the circuit remains active, enabling capabilities like fully automatic operation. The fire selector switch determines if the trigger provides continuous power or just short bursts.
Key Takeaway: Electric Orbeez guns use a motorized piston assembly instead of a manual cocking mechanism to produce automated, rapid-fire bead launching power.
Pressurized Air Orbeez Blasters Provide Realistic Power
For experienced enthusiasts seeking maximum power, some high-performance Orbeez guns operate using compressed air tanks, much like paintball markers. Here are the key components that enable this:
- Air tank – Made of metal or carbon fiber, this cylindrical tank stores compressed air or CO2.
- Regulator – Reduces pressure from the tank to safer operating levels for the blaster.
- Firing valve – Electronically controlled valve that releases bursts of air from the tank when firing.
- Solenoid – Electromagnet that actuates the firing valve after the trigger pull.
- Bolt – Piston-like rod that seals the barrel and loads the Orbeez beads.
When the trigger is pulled, it activates the electronic solenoid, which opens the firing valve to release a controlled burst of compressed air from the tank into the bolt chamber. The pressurized air drives the bolt forward, sealing the barrel and launching the Orbeez bead at high velocity.
These high-powered air systems allow for realistic rapid-fire capabilities and give players an authentic shooting experience. The air tank is refillable at specialized stations, providing consistent power with just occasional recharging.
Key Takeaway: Pressurized air Orbeez blasters offer the most powerful performance through use of regulated, compressed air tanks rather than springs or motors.
Loading and Firing Methods for Orbeez Beads
In addition to the firing power source, the other key factor in Orbeez guns is the loading and bead delivery mechanism. There are two common systems used:
Gravity Hopper Feed
The simplest feeding design relies on a gravity hopper mounted on top of the gun. This transparent lidded container holds a larger quantity of Orbeez beads. The gun is oriented so that gravity causes the Orbeez to fall into the firing chamber below the hopper as shots are fired.
To reload, the player simply pours more beads into the open hopper. This design allows for rapid reloading but limits ammunition capacity compared to other options. Players must also keep the blaster upright to avoid jamming.
More advanced Orbeez blasters use a detachable magazine that holds a stack of Orbeez beads under spring pressure. The magazine feeds each new bead into the barrel automatically after a shot.
When the magazine empties, the player can quickly detach it and insert a full replacement magazine from their gear. This provides faster reloads and more ammunition capacity compared to a hopper. However, magazines are more complex and costly components.
Maintenance Tips for Reliable Operation
To keep your Orbeez gun firing properly shot after shot, follow these recommended maintenance practices:
- Remove unfired Orbeez from the gun after each use and allow it to dry completely to prevent jamming issues.
- Clean the barrel and firing mechanism regularly using a soft cloth to remove dust, dirt, and grime.
- Avoid getting the exterior of the gun wet, and never submerge in water. Wipe down with a damp cloth.
- Check o-rings and seals periodically for wear and replace as needed to maintain proper air pressure.
- Inspect wiring contacts in electric guns to ensure clean, snug connections for uninterrupted power.
- Recharge batteries before complete depletion to maximize longevity. Remove batteries for long-term storage.
- Lubricate moving parts like pump handles occasionally with silicone oil to prevent sticking and wear.
- Check external screws and fasteners routinely and tighten as needed to avoid loose or lost components.
Proper care and upkeep will maximize the lifespan of your Orbeez blaster and prevent untimely performance issues.
How do Orbeez beads shoot so far out of such a small barrel?
Despite their compact size, Orbeez beads can reach ranges of 50 feet or more from many Orbeez guns. This is because the beads are extremely lightweight, allowing them to coast significant distances once propelled from the barrel.
What gas is used in air-powered Orbeez guns?
Most compressed-air Orbeez guns rely on simple air tanks, but some use CO2. Refillable air tanks are preferred for cost and performance. CO2 works but provides less consistent velocities as pressure drops with each shot.
Why do some Orbeez beads curve off course during flight?
Inconsistency in the roundness of the beads, uneven lubrication, and imperfect barrel alignment can cause some Orbeez rounds to spin or curve during flight rather than flying straight.
How many shots can I expect per charge from an electric Orbeez blaster?
Depending on battery capacity, electric Orbeez guns may provide several hundred shots or more per charge. Higher-capacity batteries will deliver more shots before requiring a recharge.
What causes my Orbeez gun to occasionally jam?
Partial or deformed beads, dirt buildup in the firing chamber, worn o-rings, bent mechanisms, and lubrication issues are common causes of Orbeez gun jams. Proper cleaning and maintenance help minimize jam frequency.
Understanding how Orbeez guns work provides great insight into maximizing the performance and enjoyment of these unique toy blasters. While individual models vary in features and capabilities, the core components of air pumping mechanisms, power sources, and bead loading systems remain largely consistent across spring, electric, and compressed air designs.
Taking proper care of your Orbeez gun through regular cleaning, o-ring replacement, battery management, and component inspections will help keep it operating reliably for many action-packed adventures. With a bit of practice, you’ll be launching Orbeez beads straight and true as a pro in no time.