Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Endless Thunderstorm Mod

While my focus is on Nerf and Laser Tag outdoor sports and modifications, I answered my door at 10am this morning to a face full of water.  Turns our the neighbor kids are out of school and ready to fight me (as usual).  So I went to Wal-Mart to get on an even footing with them.  I knew I'd be outnumbered, so I'd need a long-duration blaster.  The clip system in the Tornado Strike and Thunderstorm seemed like the ticket until I realized the dismal capacity of each clip.  Despite this, I decided to go for the Thundestorm since it was on sale and decided to give it a bit of an upgrade.

During that same visit to Wal-Mart, I nabbed a Hydration carrier with a bladder included that I purchased for the sole purpose of integrating into the Thunderstorm.  The results I got were just what I needed for this backyard skirmish.  Here's a quick vid on how it works.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nerf Whiteout Series

Thanks to our Singapore-based friends at SG Nerf, we have a look at the next recolor the N-Strike Line has seen.  Sure, it's ANOTHER Maverick in new colors... but better yet, this is the First recolor we've seen for the Longstrike and Spectre, and they look pretty schweet if you ask me!

We got a glimpse of the Maverick version from Urban Taggers awhile ago, but no news of it followed until now!  Photos courtesy of SG Nerf!

As far as I know, these should get regular circulation.  As always, Singapore gets the leg up on those of us in the US as far as new blasters go (most of the time!).  There's also the "Gear Up" colors for N-Strike in Black and orange, but I'm much more excited to get my hands on a white Longstrike than a Halloween-colored Recon.

Combat Shirt Review

Two weeks ago I looked into the TRU SPEC Xtreme line and decided to try one out.  It was a good price and the features on it looked like it'd be a good thing worth picking up.  I received it a few days ago and made a video review of it's abilities, compared it to the original TRU Combat Shirt, and my overall impression of it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Season 6 off to a great start!

Each year the OLCA gets it's massive Laser Challenge Armory ready for weekly use during their "Fight Night" games held over the summer.  Season 6 started on May 9th and had a cookout one hour before the games to kick things off.  We even had one of our players show up and play a few games in his Stormtrooper armor (just finished this Spring).  It was a great way to start the Fight Nights for the summer!

The park the OLCA plays at has a small Gazebo atop a hill overlooking the area with two grills.  Normally, cookouts are held to start and finish the season as well as to commemorate the Anniversary (June 6th) and the day before Independence Day for the US (July 3rd).  Cookouts are potluck and are always a hit with the players.  It's a nice time to socialize before you're gunning folks down.

Those that have built custom blasters have been cleaning house this year.  Two of our more outstanding players (pictured to the left) have been especially important to gaining victories for their teams and have kind ot started a friendly rivalry between themselves.  Sundawg, pictured switching from his combat barrel to his sniper barrel, has a modified Nerf Recon that gives him quite the edge in Combat.  So far, he's the only player to have developed a modular barrel system for his blaster.  It's very powerful and deadly.
Eleri at'Xalien was one of the original founders of the OLCA and has always been noted for his strategies and long-range precision.  He used to wield an LTTO TMB but now has been outfitted with the Longstrike Carbine (modified Nerf Longstrike).  This blaster has an excellent range and potent RoF, the fastest of any blaster in the group.  You're generally lucky if you manage to catch him at close range, but even then he has a great sidearm to take care of you. 

Me and the LTX DMR

 I've managed to get some combat testing in on some of my newer blasters, mainly the LTX DMR and the RE-Spectre.  Both of them have seen extensive use the past 3 weeks.  The LTX DMR is nearing completion and just recieved a sight on it that I tested out on the 23rd.  This GREATLY improved it's performance and I was finally able to aim it correctly to make full use of it's long range capabilities.  The RE-Spectre could use some more fine tuning and additional development, but still worked great as a mid-range combat pistol.  I've got ideas on the drawing board to continue to expand it's abilities.

Testing out the RE-Spectre

We are now 3 weeks into the OLCA's 6th Summer season and attendance continues to grow at each game.  This is typical for our group to see.  At the Season Opener, we only saw 18 folks whereas we just had 28 show up for yesterday's game.  I wouldn't be surprised if we're back at 30-35 in June again, but attendance is known to fluxuate from season to season.  Either way, I hope this has been a good insight to what things are like for the OLCA.  It's been fun to see it grow!

Turnout for May 16th

Monday, May 23, 2011

Work work work!

It's a Monday, which means I usually attend the weekly "Fight Night" game held by the OLCA.  So naturally, I'm getting some gear ready to go this evening.  I managed to get the Sight on and zeroed on the LTX DMR.  Needless to say, I'm a happy camper about that!

I'll likely run with it as my Main Blaster tonight.  I'll have my RE-Spectre on me as well for further testing.  If I can get a new battery for the sight, the RE-Spectre should have targeting optics too.  With the addition of a stock, it could make a nice main weapon for someone this evening.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

LC P.R.O. Blaster Upgrade

Before Jakks Pacific put a final bullet in the once-proud Laser Challenge Brand, they came out with some blasters that attempted to imiate LTTO/LTX with sensor domes built onto the blaster.  We picked up a few just to check them out when they were released but removed the sensor domes to make them standalone blasters to comply with OLCA rules.  They've held up alright, with 4 of the 6 blasters still around.

The P.R.O. Blaster was a step up from the first pistol they came out with.  It featured a removable front barrel extension with a folding bi-pod and a retractable stock on the back.  While the barrel extension was pretty neat (though technically useless), the stock was so tiny, even a 6-year-old would have a hard time making use of it.

The other day when I was going through gear, I noticed that one of our custom-painted LC P.R.O. blasters had a bad trigger/was in need of repair.  While I was getting ready to work on it, I thought instead that I could overhaul the weapon and actually make it a decent blaster.  One thing led to another and I thought up a few ways to improve this to really make it a nice solid laser tagger.
The bottom blaster is a stock LC P.R.O. Blaster with it's puny stock extended all the way.  The top one is the restoration I'm working on with an M4-style stock on the back of it.  It should be a much better alternative and might actually aide in aiming the blaster now!  It's not permanently attached right now, but as I'm working on this old fella, it is an upgrade I'm considering.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LTX DMR Progress Update 7

Paintjob is down on this guy, but power issues have resurfaced.  I've managed to get the Strength Indicator lights back up and running, but I need to find a better solution to fix this power problem.  Details are outlined in my video update.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Vortex Coverage

I may have my own reliable sources for Laser Tag news, but I rely on two other Blogs for new Nerf news, especially when it comes to Vortex.  In case you're in the dark about them, give 'em a look!

I'll have the inside scoop for the next Laser Tag system soon enough! ;)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nerf Spectre LC Recasing

In my frustration with working out wiring issues on the LTX DMR, I decided to take a break from that and build a different blaster.  I used to work with Laser Challenge for Recasings all the time and it was much more simplistic to work with than a complicated Lazer Tag Phoenix.  This project proves just how easy it is to do, as I started and finished this project today in just 4 hours. 
This is a Nerf Spectre that has been installed with Laser Challenge Radar Extreme internals.  It is now a fully functional laser tag blaster and I must say, I'm pleased with how flawlessly it went together and how it turned out.  Below is a short video explaining and outlining the functions of this fella and plans I may have for it in the future.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tru-Spec "Xtreme" Line

When Crye Precision developed the first version of their signature Combat Shirt, it would lead to widespread adoption as an alternative to the traditional BDU.  After it was released companies like Massif, Helikon-Tex, and Tru-Spec came out with their own variations on the design.  Of the designs, I felt the Tru-Spec one was the most watered down.  The lack of a Zippered Mandarin Collar, fewer storage options, and a generally weaker design overall didn't pique my interest.

However, Tru-Spec has recently improved their design with the "Xtreme" Series.  This lineup is much closer to Milspec designs of the other Combat Shirts out there.  It still manages to retain a cheaper cost than the others, which makes this kind of system much more affordable for the player with shallow pockets. 
It's at least worth a second look for those who want a cheaper alternative to the Combat Shirt.  Crye Precision G3 Combat Shirts Retail at $156 while the Tru-Spec "Xtreme" Series Combat Shirt retails for $83.95.  Of course, if you had no problems with the earlier designs, those are still readily available and retail around $60.  I currently own a custom-made Woodland MARPAT Combat Shirt and a genuine USMC FROG Shirt (similar to a Combat Shirt), but I've been thinking of picking up another with the warm weather we tend to play in.  The Tru-Spec "Xtreme" Combat Shirt looks like a good option for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

LTX DMR 95% Complete

I've completed much of the work on the LTX DMR.  Before the paint job went down, I added two Styrene plastic plates to either side of the blaster, where the large "Nerf" logo used to be.  One panel I kept blank, but the other, I made my own raised "LTX DMR" logo with thinner Styrene sheets of plastic.  I think it turned out pretty nice.

I will touch up parts of this paintjob and perhaps add a few more details and aesthetic work, but this is largely how the LTX DMR will look completed.  The only major thing it lacks at the moment is the weaver rail and Red-Dot sight.  I will add those while I also repair a few of the wires that have gone bad that I outlined in an earlier report.  I also used this blaster during the OLCA's Season 6 Opener on Monday, May 9th.  I didn't get much of a shot trying it out though, on account of the fact that the power glitched out on me again.  That issue has snuck back, but I think I know how to solve it.

Monday, May 9, 2011

LTX DMR Paint Progress

So I've finally settled on a Tan color to use for the LTX DMR.  I've chosen Model Masters Enamel 1995 "Afrika Mustard".  Here's an example of it shown on some smaller pieces I've been testing colors on.

Unfortunately, the can that I'm using is an older / already used one from when I used it on a model kit awhile back... so there's not enough here to finish the full paint job.  I'll have to pick some more up before I can finish the paintjob.  After that, I'll seal the paintjob and deem it complete. 

Why you add Padding

Thankfully I had a full spare part for this guy.  This is the plunger tube for my Red Strike Recon after months of use in wars.  I'll give you a hint:  you shouldn't be able to see through that! 

This is why you add padding to plunger tubes that have their AR's removed. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

UbiSoft and Wowee Laser Tag

Some of the blogs that I frequent have been noticing two new lines of laser tag systems coming out.  Light Strike was announced in February of this year and UbiSoft has been slowly releasing Battle Tag since Fall of 2010.  While it is good to see new laser tag systems being developed, I've got a few stipulations about each system as they stand currently.  These are merely my opinions of each system based on what I have seen and read from sources that I consider to be highly credible in the realm of Laser Tag.

Light Strike by Wowee

Reference Video
It's a Paper Jams version of Laser Tag, which aesthetically I already can't stand.  The claims in the video are just radical.  Everything from "First interactive game to bring Video Games in to the real world, live, and in color"... laser tag has been doing that for ages, so Light Strike certainly isn't the first.  The options that they boast with the "Super Ammo" that's in the machine gun bipod, or the Scope that gets you up to 100 feet don't sell for me either.  The sniper lens gets you ranges that every other consumer-grade system before this can already outshoot with their basic blasters.  It doesn't matter if you can have unlimited players or 4 teams if you have the effective range of an unmodified Nerf Blaster.  This system seems to have neat potential for modding and increasing performance, but it looks like too much work to get it to the level that I'd be able to enjoy it at. 

Battle Tag by UbiSoft

Reference Website
There's more that I like about Ubisoft's new Battle tag.  The Sensor System for starters looks awesome and is similar to my dream setup for use with Laser Challenge systems (torso mounted, good coverage, adjustable).  The options for medics and ammo pickups also seems neat.  However, the limits of the system are what turn this sour for me.  Currently the system can only support 8 players, which is dismal considering the group I tag with see's regular attendance between 25 and 35 players.  I've also seen video reviews (like this one by Matt Beachly) show problems with loosing connection with the main server, which is on a Windows-run Laptop.  This could mean a smaller playing field that what we're used to in the great outdoors.  The main thing that pushes me away from this is the availability and pricetag.  Currently Ubisoft is not on store shelves locally where I am.  While it can be purchased online, the hefty pricetag of a 2-player starter pack is 129.99 USD.  This system is far too expensive for us to consider using/switching to for the time being.  NERF-brand Lazer Tag Blasters retail at local TRU stores for 69.99 USD and for 59.99 USD on Amazon, which is a little more reasonable I think.

While I'm not trying to condemn these systems before I get a chance to really check them out myself, I'm not considering either of these systems for either my personal use or for the OLCA.  I'll wait for the Lazer Tag Brand (Shoot the Moon) to come out with their next product before looking to Wowee or Ubisoft for a new system.

LTX DMR Progress Update 6

I managed to work past the power issue and show you both forward progress on the blaster as well as a few other issues I'm still running into.  After solving the power issue on this, the blaster is functional enough to still be used in today's game, as well as the Season 6 Opener for the OLCA. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Problems Plauge the LTX DMR

As I continue to aim for a completion around this weekend, progress on the LTX DMR is hampered by wiring and system issues.  The culprit for the issues this time around was the Main Power Switch (which also handles Team Selection).  The mechanism of the switch broke a day ago and after opening it up to see if it could be fixed, the fragile nature of the thin strips of metal that make the contacts for the switch work were not looking good.  I managed to pull a good switch off of an already opened/awaiting repair/parts LTX and did a transplant.  All seemed to be going well.

After some work installing a new button for the Strength Selection (Option for 10-25 hits) I noticed the Strength gauge lights were acting up.  Two of the Five LEDs for Strength Selection (Both Green) were not lighting up at all.  I tried repairing the connections to them to see if that was the case, but they still didn't work.  Then the power switch started acting up, starting up with the sounds at half-speed (made the computer lady sound like a dude!) and the switch would only enable Solo mode and Team 2, skipping Team 1 entirely...

So there's suddenly a lot wrong with the LTX DMR.  I'll be pestering my usual sources for help, but if you've got anything that could shed some light on these issues, please comment!

Monday, May 2, 2011

One more week!

We're getting ready here in the Heartland of America to start up the OLCA's 6th Summer Season!  Every Monday from May 9th until August 15th, there will be evening Laser Tag events held at Mission Park West, a local park in town.

Here's some highlights of last summer I put together.

I'll be posting pictures and stories from these games over the summer, so check back for those!  Also, if you'd like to see pictures from our past games, check out this link.  If you'd like to read up on stories and summaries of our previous seasons, check this thread on the OLCA's Forum.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Preparing for the Summer

We're drawing near to the most active time of the year for our group's Laser Tag games.  As such, it means that the Armory needs work and all of our projects that we want to have completed in time for the games go full steam ahead!  From simple rewiring mods to full-on custom blasters, we'll be working this week to get things in order.

To maximize productivity and just because we like having excuses to hang out, we usually get a "Mod Night" together to work on things in bulk.  Personally, I'm hoping to get my LTX DMR closer to completion (it's operational, just got aesthetics work on it now).