Since the OLCA started building/recasing their own blasters, one common dead-end that comes up is the board. Up until now, the only options we have had for platforms to build blasters around have been existing Laser Challenge boards. We can essentially change/customize everything but the settings that the board already has on it, which include sound effects, firing rate, and ammo. However, thanks to the R&D sector of the OLCA, we are now on the verge of building our own Laser Challenge-compatible boards that carry with them the complete freedom to design your own settings by programming an Arduino board with the proper functions.
Much of this work has been headed up by a player who goes by the name of "German" (due to the Flectarn Camouflage he wears during games). At last week's game, he brought a working prototype of an Arduino-powered Laser Challenge Blaster built into a Nerf Longstrike shell. Though the features were very basic and the blaster was largely unfinished, it was still a milestone in the OLCA's history... and as far as I know, no other group has used an Arduino like this before. He also has quite the optics setup in his Longstrike. A 35mm lens has been mounted almost seamlessly into the Longstrike's barrel.
There's obviously a lot more to this project, and we'll update you as it moves along. Right now, the Longstrike is in it's most basic form. It can fire (no reloads, just unlimited automatic fire) no sounds (only a white LED that blinks when it's firing right now) and it's sitting inside an unpainted Longstrike shell. Once German has more features working with this blaster, it's likely that it'll open the floodgates for more custom blasters. I'm REALLY excited to see what's in store for future projects thanks to this breakthrough!