12/11/12

The "Baby Boomer", a new pint-sized air cannon

Finals are over for me, but for no other schools in the area. To alleviate boredom, I took my air cannons out for a spin today. 
 Here's the newest addition to my air cannon arsenal. It's my third creation, created from the guts of the first and the spare parts from the second. Compact enough to fit in a backpack, but retains 2/3rds the power of the large (second) cannon.
 Little improvements are everywhere. Instead of a friction fit, epoxy laden schraeder valve I used a metal fill valve. It threads on, has a rubber washer on the back, and is epoxied in to seal any possible leaks. It's rock solid, and I have no fears of accidentally breaking it.
The parts of the Baby Boomer, compared to the old, long one. 1/3rd the size, 2/3rds the power.
One night I went a little over-board with a sharpie. Not only does it have a sweet logo, but I also used the sharpie on:
 Most of the ammo! Each has a unique face, and a...
 Tail number. Tail numbers help you ensure that you have all your ammo at the end of the day. After these pictures, I also added my phone number. I've lost a few of them, but because of the phone number people seem to be returning them.
 Me gusta face.
 Some sort of... Vampire shark thing. This was the first face, inspired by the A-10 Warthog nose paint. Please forgive the fingerless gloves, it's cold.
Some sort of starry-eyed smiling guy. A word of caution, if you shoot sharpied footballs at a white wall, the faces will rub off on the wall. I have a couple faces stamped on my room's wall right now. Now to go find a magic eraser...

Air cannons are great, cheap fun. After an initial ~$50 investment, you can use them for more or less free! Cheaper than going out on the weekends, that's for sure. If you've got a good head on your shoulders, consider making your own!

AK Stanag mag converter

During the summer of 2012 I designed a magazine converter for AK AEGs to allow them to accept M4 magazines. I sent it to my university's 3d printer to get a prototype made, and so far I am very pleased with the results! Almost all the tolerances are perfect. A second print, and it will be perfect.


Here you can see how the internals work. The M4 mags feed BBs from the front, and AKs feed them from the center. A curved tube allows the BBs to feed from the M4 magazine to the hopup. A cool little trick in solidworks is called "Shelling". You can take solid items, and create cavities within them. This comes in handy for saving weight, or saving material. In this case, I had to pay ~$12 per cubic inch of plastic. Shelling helped me cut the price of this part in half.
 When I found out I could add trademarks, I was incredibly tickled.
 Here the beginnings of the mag catch are visible. The ridges here are far too small, and the hole was removed before I printed the part.
Here's one of the earlier pictures of the solidworks file.
 This is a picture of the bath the printed parts are placed in after they are printed. Each part is printed out of two plastics. The first plastic is the actual composition of your part. In this case, it's ABS plastic - The same stuff Lego are made of. The second type of plastic is a structural support, brown in color. The structural supports are dissolved after the part is immersed in this machine for a few hours. During those few hours, the bath becomes very basic, and is heated.
 My part was placed in this little metal box to allow the studio attendant to place and retrieve parts without getting the solution on their skin.
This picture is the birth of my magwell converter, still wet from the bath. It is so exciting to see your work come to life. Nikola Tesla has a wonderful quote to describe it:
I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success . . . Such emotions make a man forget food, sleep, friends, love, everything - Nikola Tesla

Thanks for reading. I hope I have inspired a few of you to get something printed. Check your local university, or online.

10/18/12

Expanded Camo Tests

 As a sort of amateur camouflage uniform collector, I've been curious about the effectiveness of each pattern in my hometown. So one day I packed up a backpack with all the cammies I had, and rucked out to the woods. Here you can see the various camouflage uniforms in the woods. I was able to include some rare camouflage, such as vegetato, alpenflage, and CADPAT. I'll let you, the viewers, be the judge of the most effective patterns!
From left to right: Italian Vegetato, M81 Woodland, CADPAT, German Flecktarn, Multicam, Alpenflage, and Tiger Stripe.


10/4/12

Air Cannon/Nerf football launcher, now with video


 Yesterday was the second time I took my air cannon out for a whirl. With a couple friends and a couple cameras, I was able to get video (including slow motion shots) or shots, as well as a test of the experimental whistler RPG-style rounds.


This was my first chance to play with video and 240 fps slow-motion on my new camera, and I was pretty pleased with the results. The videos will be more common as I get better with Youtube and my equipment, and as time allows.

Anyway, what do you guys think? Would you like to see milsim (AT4 or RPG style) air cannons? Keep checking back for updates.

9/12/12

Labor Day Artillery (Airsoft air Cannon)

School is back in session, and my postings have dropped off. I have, however, finished a few projects right before I went back to school, so some of those will be posted soon. Hurricane Issac screwed up my city pretty badly, and I got a week off school for it. So what did I do? Made an air cannon.
First step was to choose an ammo choice. Airsofters use Nerf Pocket Vortex footballs in their 40mm launchers, which is a little under a 2" diameter. With that in mind, I went to the store.
Three seemed like a good number. They used to be available in lime green and orange with contrasting fins (Which would have been ideal for retrieval in the grass), but now only brown, white and black are available.
At the store, I checked the various sizes of PVC for a good fit. 2" ID won.
The fins need to be trimmed about a 1/4th of an inch. My buddy used a pocket knife so it isn't super straight, but the ballistics don't seem to have been damaged at all.
This is the true gullyworks of the air cannon - The black piece is a sprinkler valve, piloted by a blowgun valve.  The U trap is to re-orient the airflow so the cannon won't be 8 feet long. The air tank screws into the left of the sprinkler valve, and the barrel plugs into the top of the U trap.
As seen before, here's the cannon all layed out. It's a pretty huge air tank, a little bigger than the barrel. I have read that a 1:1-1.5:1 Tank/Barrel ratio is ideal, so I shot for that range. Note that the air tank is schedule 80 PVC, the thicker walled cousin of normal PVC.
And, fully assembled. A scrap of SCH80 was duct taped between the barrel and air tank as a spacer, and the blowgun valve was pulled through. The air tube attached to the sprinkler valve was way longer than I really wanted it to be. Ideally, an air cannon would replicate an RPG-7, LAW, AT4, SMAW, or one of various other military rocket launchers. As a proof of concept, this air cannon was a valuable training aid. Using knowledge and scraps from this one, I can make a smaller cannon with a more realistic appearance. I also have a better idea of how I could make a mortar, or even a towed Howitzer shooting Nerf Mega Howlers.
As for ranges, the first effective shot was at 40PSI, and shot all the way over a nearby building. The estimated range was approximately 200 feet, at about a 45* angle. Subsequent tests have yielded wonderful results at pressures ranging from 20-60 PSI, launching the Nerf footballs an estimated 80 feet straight up. You can even load all three footballs at once, and ranges don't seem to be damaged too badly.

Surprisingly, the Nerf footballs appear to be the weakest part of the design. Pressures of 60 PSI or higher can rip the foam apart. But, soft foam is also a good thing; My car has taken direct hits (And I have as well), without damage. The car was unmarked, and I wasn't even bruised. Shooting footballs in an arc at range would allow you to safely play a great game of long range catch.

I'm trying to find a good location near my school to launch it off. At that time, I'll take and upload a video. Thanks for reading.

7/25/12

WTS: Joytech HDMI Trilink Switcher

Hey readers, today I'm trying to sell a Joytech HDMI Trilink Switcher. Three HDMI cables in, one goes to your TV, and you can switch back and forth. There's even a nifty plastic bag, which should not be used as a toy.

Buy the sweet plastic bag, including it's contents, here.

7/19/12

WTB: Crosman Airmag M50 - CO2 Micro Uzi

Hello readers. Today I need some help tracking down an old airsoft gun, the Crosman Airmag M50. It's a MicroUzi replica, utilizing CO2. If you have one to sell, drop me a line through the contact page above. Price negotiable. It has to work, and have a magazine. Whether it's clear or black, modded or not isn't of much importance, besides the price I'll pay out for it.

Thanks, and good hunting!

7/15/12

Rap4 Fusion BDU Cadpat & Vegetato Review

 At long last, I received the camo I ordered back in May! I ordered two uniforms, CADPAT and Vegetato. Pictured above is RAP4's Vegetato (Italian Camo) Fusion BDU. It's a little different than issue gear, as I'll detail:
 First off, the cut is similar to ACUs, but not identical. First and foremost, the sizing is different. I'm a Medium Regular for issue gear, but RAP4's Fusion BDUs apparently run small, so  I had to return my order and get a larger size. This is an expensive pain, and takes quite a while, so be sure to order exactly what you need if you're going to buy from RAP4.

Most of the features echo those of the ACU, but instead of a zipper closure on the jacket, it uses buttons like BDUs. These buttons are also in a different position than BDU buttons, enhancing the feeling of it being a differently cut jacket.
 The arm's features are all rotated forward slightly, and I feel like the pocket is at a more vertical angle than issue ACUs. The velcro is also a little too blue of a green to match the uniform. The arm pocket is a pretty accurate copy of an ACU pocket, down to the pull tabs. The left arm features a 3 pen pocket. There's also elbow reinforcements, and velcro cuff adjustments.
 ACU style Name/rank/organizational velcro comes installed. I will be taking this off, because extra velcro becomes useless after excessive washing, and I don't have rank to attach to it. In the near future, this will be getting "CARDELLA" name tape, and "REGULAR GUY" sewed directly on. The chest pockets are just like issue ACUs.
 The collar is mandarin-style, complete with velcro closure. Due to the design of the ACU (Aka, a problem with all ACU cut jackets, not just RAP4's iteration) is that this velcro makes the collar hard to lay down without looking wonky.
 Here are the buttons described before. I'm going to see what I can do about replacing these with a zipper.
 Moving on to the pants, here's a calf pocket. Velcro closure, handy to have.
 I'm a big fan of the cargo pockets. The way they attach, in addition to the velcro, ensure that it will lay flat.
 View of the velcro and shock cord keeper. Not pictured, there is an excessively large cotton waist tie inside of the waistband.
 The butt pockets are button closure. I prefer velcro butt pockets, but you can't win every time. Replacing the buttons with velcro is a quick home fix, so it's not a big deal.
 I wanted to get a detailed picture of some of the plastic components, and the fabric. The plastic feels cheap, and has mold lines. The buttons are shorter/thinner than the kind of buttons you find on issue gear, and are a lower quality plastic. Once again, it's not the end of the world.

The fabric is a 65/35 Cotton/polyester blend. That's a higher cotton content than issue military uniforms, commonly found in 50/50 Nylon cotton blends. As a result, the fabric is very flexible, and feels pretty robust. The ripstop squares are a little smaller than issue gear.
 The CADPAT uniform is my favorite, out of the two. I like the novelty of having the pattern (A clone, anyway) the Army's UCP was based on.
 I'm a big fan of the colors present in this uniform. It practically begs to be used in the woods at night, with such a dark green color palette.
 With an old RAID BDU top on top, you can tell that the RAP4 Fusion BDU tapers at the waist, where the old BDU flares out. I prefer the cut of the old BDUs.
 A comparison of the three woodland patterns. I have not had a chance to take test pictures in the woods, but I think Vegetato will be most effective in daylight woodland, but a giveaway at night. Compared to real-deal Vegetato, I think this clone has more highlights. The CADPAT seems well suited to overcast, rainy weather, and night woodland. Each provide a little more visual flair than the M81 Woodland of the old BDUs, for fashion-conscious camouflage hobbyists.
And finally, some Cardella swag. Gotta love the old OD name tape.

So here's what it comes down to: The RAP4 Fusion BDUs are pretty much ACUs that fit small, and a little differently. Should you buy them? If you want CADPAT or Vegetato in a reasonably familiar platform they are not a bad buy, though they could be improved. $50 per pair is a hard price to beat, especially in such unique patterns.

6/22/12

Review - Tactical Advantage Inc


Today I'd like to give a good word to my readers about Tactical Advantage Inc. They sell new gear, at about average prices. I've been trying to recreate my issue FLC in woodland rather than tan, and they not only stocked hard to find gear, but it arrived at my doorstep a day and a half after I ordered it. Great selection, and super fast shipping. I would consider myself a fan, and I'll be buying from them again.

Pictured is the mag pouches I needed; SDS Triple mag shingles, style 4070. The white stuff appears to be chalk marking where they tacked down the molle strips. Each color of pouch has a slightly different cut as well.
(From the Tactical Advantage site)

So, if you ever need some issue gear, I'd say give Tactical Advantage a look!