Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Right, Sundawg, Bazookafied, Eleri, Duncan
Wanted to wish all my US-based fans a Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm very thankful for the support and interest of my readers here that keep me going.  I'm also thankful for the many great friends I've made through my hobbies.  Recently, I got a great surprise from one of my good friends over in Australia.  Yesterday I got a great surprise from one of my good friends at CTDYNE!  Duncan MacKinnon of Custom Tag Dynamics was in town yesterday visiting family and made a quick stop by where I work.

For me, having Duncan stop by is like having Psyk or Bobololo run into a fellow Nerfer in their hometown.  Usually I get an e-mail from him saying he'll be in town, so I was not prepared for this appearance.  I probably squealed like a fanboy a few too many times, so I hope I didnt' scare him off.  Just another reminder of why I'm thankful for these hobbies that I've made so many great friends through!  Hope all of you have a great day with family and friends!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tactical Ties

So most of you know that I recently purchased a new home.  There are fun things that go along with that and some troubles.  One of the issues I learned quickly was that my "shipping address" changed, so my previous home was getting much of my mail.  Well yesterday, I got a letter (though it arrived here months ago) that had been sent from a good friend across the pond.  It's from one of my good ties from Australia and, while I won't disclose his name on the blog, it was a nice surprise to get from him!  Enclosed, with a hand-written letter, was a set of dog tags that had "Tactical Tag" stamped on them.  I suppose you could say they're "Tactical Tags"!

Just a reminder of the many great connections I've made through this blog's history so far.  It's such a thoughtful gift I thought I'd take the time to thank him publicly for this.  I wish I had gotten them sooner, but I almost preferred getting something like this around this busy holiday season.  It also gives me something new to report amidst my ever-increasingly busy schedule that comes with this time of year.

Thanks, buddy!  Your friendship is invaluable and it was great hearing from you!

Now the next trick: figuring out how to repay his kindness!  Challenge accepted!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shell in a Shell (2)

So I've really been hitting the drawing board more than my workbench recently because I'm really at a loss of what direction to go with this idea.  Figured I'd keep sharking the ideas with you guys here not only as a way for me to sort them out as well as gauge opinions from you about them.

When we last left our heroes, we were thinking about this concept of building a laser tag rifle AROUND an existing blaster like the LTAR.  This is still the concept I'm sticking with, but now the question is how to approach it and what platform to use for it.  With the LTAR, the idea would obviously be to still work the blaster into the shell by not interfering with the internals and switches too much... but then the question comes to be about how integrated it'll actually be?  I know I want to keep the sensor housing construction intact and the motherboard and batteries, but what portions would be rewired through the rest of the blaster.

I saw that hunk of red plastic known as the Centurion sitting in the corner of my workshop and thought "Hey, look at that nice big oversized shell.  It'd be really easy to fit something else inside there!"  The only trouble with using such a LARGE blaster for Laser Tag is that it can be really ineffective to use with anything BUT long range attacks.  A sniper's role really doesn't stick around for too long in our laser tag games as it's only a matter of time before your opponent is quickly in range to engage you.  If you think about effective combat radius of a Sniper-class laser tag blaster, which maxes out between 900-1100 feet, there's not a TON of space in a part to really utilize that much range.  Finding a space clear enough to hit somebody at that range is difficult.  Plus, standard blasters usually have 400-600 maximum feet of range, so it's not long before your opponent is withing range to engage you anyways.  I learned this the hard way with the M43A Sentry, pictured above.

So what if this "Shell in a Shell" concept came in the way of a blaster inside a big "accessory" blaster?  Hear me out on this one.  What if we took something like a Phoenix LTX, the backbone of the MLTA's armory, and modified a big rifle like the Centurion to fit over the LTX to plug into the Accessory Port like a Shotblast would?  Have the temporary ability to have a sniper-class blaster when you need it without the need to hang on to it for the whole game?  The user could be running around, find the Centurion Sniper Accessory, load their stock LTX into it, land some killer long-range shots, and once the opponent gets too close for that hefty rifle to be useful, disconnect the LTX from it and continue playing!

So the concept seems like it'd work, but the trouble would be executing a design like that.  The Centurion would have it's own optics in it that would transfer over to the LTX.  The sensor dome would need to be visible enough to your opponent to make things fair to take hits as you utilized the Centurion, and it'd need to be sturdy enough to be a solid rifle, but easy enough to detach in the heat of battle.  I'm not sure a design to meet all those requirements would be feasible.  What do you think?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Barrel Extensions: Part 2 (Final)

With all the data out there, it simply comes down to usage of these Barrel Extensions.  I've read LOTS of great articles and gone through a lot of testing on my own to come to the conclusion that there are certain unavoidable facts that either make these accessories useful to you or if they really just get in the way.

Probably the most helpful/indepth analysis I've found was by noneother than torukmakto4.  His findings can be viewed here.  In a pinch, his findings are quite clear although they only pertain to the N-Strike Elite Retaliator barrel.  It's best summed up in this comment he posted.
"It is a given that "guide barrels" can only act as a velocity reducing device. Usually, velocity and range can be considered the same parameter, so the usual observation that the smaller-bore extensions reduce range test results makes sense.  Effective range and accuracy effects are more complex, though. If you are going to properly quantify them, you must account for the instability of many of our darts at higher velocities; in a very common situation such as a 100fps Retaliator or Stryfe, nerfing the muzzle velocity slightly will often itself yield an accuracy increase independent of any other effect (such as correcting initial yaw, or reducing the effects of muzzle blast on projectiles, which have both been theorized about with these barrel extensions)."
Then there's other types of barrels, namely the Longstrike and Spectre barrels that have a larger diameter bore.  I think most folks would argue that the Spectre barrel is more for looks as it is very short and has no ability to add accessories to it (which is often an advantage for other barrels), but the Longstrike barrel has quite a bit of length.  irishknots came to the same conclusion I had... the wider diameter barrels don't do as much to accuracy/range with these darts.  I think that's probably why I prefer the Longstrike barrel (that and I think it looks killer).

I'd say that barrel extensions like the Longshot and Recon are probably a waste at this point.  Longstrike and Spectre barrels haven't really done a lot to effect much of anything because of their diameter.  Numbers have been crunched on the Retaliator's controversial "rifled" barrel enough to be helpful for stock AND modded blasters.  So if you are going to use one, use one that's useful to you.

In the end... it seems like if accuracy is really your thing... a clip-fed blaster that uses barrel extensions is probably not for you anyways.  Singled blasters always seem to have a leg up on straightline accuracy and power over that of one in a chamber.  What this information REALLY does is make sure that high-capacity users who favor clip-fed blasters know what variables they're facing when they utilize accessories like a Barrel Extension.

As with anything, certain choices can add a feature while sacrificing another.  It's up to the user to utilize the information out there (and there's a lot) to figure out what works best for them.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Barrel Extensions Part "Oops"

So somehow I forgot about this Barrel Extension thing.  I'll get to Part Two soon, but I've got a busy weekend ahead of me visiting relatives out-of-town.  Anyways, thought I'd plug it once more to get a few more angles on this matter!

Part 2 will include all of your input plus my "final" verdict on these accessories.  COMING NOVEMBER 18th!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Shell in a Shell

Something dawned on me as I was going through some ideas for a Lazer Tag Augmented Reality recasing the other night... and I hope it's something that can actually work.  As I build more blasters for our laser tag group, the one thing I battle is their longevity.  The LTX DMR, after finally solving it's power supply issues, has been an electronic nightmare to work on.  Even my newer LTX EF5 suddenly has a sensor dome that doesn't receive hits.  Both would need quite the diagnostic analysis to find the problems and it may not even be something that's able to be solved.

Recasings are a wiring nightmare most of the time.  Their internals can become frail very easily if things aren't anchored just right or if the blaster is dropped or jolted that breaks something free.  It's mostly because those internals, that were once nice and secure inside the stock blaster shell, are where they're supposed to be and are designed for the long-haul.  Which brings me to this idea with the LTAR...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New! Well... sorta

Looks like there's another heaping hand of "New" coming to shelves for Nerf.  The overload of products from Hasbro continues with the Magnus (which we all know about), a repainted Jolt (surprise!), an Ice-Cube Super Soaker (which has been done before), and the "RipShot" for the ZombieStrike Lineup.  Well... it's not much too new for us, but we'll take it.

Thanks to a tip from "Mr Raccoon", there's a link to Baidu showing off the latest Nerf products to hit shelves.  Which one are you most looking forward to?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Darts with a Book

So this is an interesting move, especially considering it includes a dart design I thought I had seen on a "Double Your Darts" promo at Toys R Us that proved unfruitful.  Nerf has a book out that includes some special Elite Darts.  I suppose these are the tricks we must resort to get kids reading books again?

Gotta wonder how thorough it is... though I'd imagine it's just N-Strike stuff.  A book with all the Nerf Blasters they've made would be quite epic, now that I think about it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Magnus for Real

Man, I love the intel we get from our Australian friends!  Saw this link on SBNC that listed a LOT of goodies, but this one stuck out to me.  Psyk's "PWND" series has an unboxing of the new N-Strike Elite MEGA Magnus pistol.  As a hefty pistol-sized, direct plunger, in-built magazine, MEGA dart-slinging blaster... I've personally got high hopes that this will be better than that Centurion I picked up at summer's end.  Sometimes I wonder if we like the Magnus because we need it to be better than an overpriced bi-pod blaster.

HOWEVER... as you watch the review, skip ahead to the actual loading of the in-built magazine on the Magnus.  It's about 9 minutes into the video.  This loading system looks troublesome for the Magnus.  I don't anticipate this being good for the darts.  Now Psyk, in his review, notes that the Mega darts feel a little stiffer and more ridgid than the original ones... so I wonder if they really are going to be improving the Mega darts as the line continues.  You'll remember how Nerf kept tweaking the Streamline Dart when those first made their debut with the Longshot.

Psyk also loaded the Mega darts with Elite Darts, something which didn't work well on the Centurion.  While they work, his testing of this trick didn't look to have good results just yet.  More to come on this blaster later, as I am interested in personally testing this video out.

Barrel Extensions: Part 1

Over the years, I've read a lot about N-Strike Barrel Extensions and how they decrease range or increase accuracy.  There's a bunch of different "studies" that enthusiasts of Nerf have conducted with their findings, but there seems to still be a divide between opinions.  Well, I'd like to put those opinions to rest with some cold-hard facts.  Trouble is... there are so many "Facts" out there, that it can be difficult to pin down a concrete answer.

So, for Part 1 of our fact-finding mission, I'll be gathering information both from sources online and from your comments.  Be it opinions, personal experience, or the results of tests you've conducted, I wanna get a good collection of info on this so we can start drawing some clearer lines in this debate.  Part 2 will show the collected information as well as the conclusion this information will point to.  Get to work, detectives!  We've got a score to settle with Nerf's most misunderstood accessory!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Triangle Wins!

Well, I gotta say I was surprised that no-one got a perfect score on the scavenger hunt... but not surprised that this guy got it the most amount of "right".  Triangle is the winner for the Scavenger Hunt Prize: a ZombieStrike HammerShot.  Thanks to everyone who participated!

What did you guys think?  Was that a better way to do giveaway stuff, or is there another format I've done before (or that I haven't done) that you'd prefer.  Just curious!