Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Gameplay Footage: USF/Tampa Bay Nerf Club HvZ Day Game 07-16-16

Videos are up on The Dart Zone Youtube channel.

Background on this game: The mod team for this event had it all planned out, and then a TON of people who registered didn't fucking show up. Thus it was HvZ with something like 17 players. You know that won't be what even 25 or 30 players will be like. Also, the mods had to change everything on the fly, so keep that in mind. The mods did a good job. So while there may be little action especially in that first mission video (which I will just leave for you to go to the channel and see if you want to along with the mission briefing for this one), consider it a good camera test.

Lore information: The scenario in the original planned game is that locals find areas of land with toxic chemicals seeping out of the ground (a lot like the Love Canal disaster in which a town was built over an undisclosed hazmat landfill) and strange occurrences nearby, including zombie-like creatures. We the humans are there to investigate.

After lunch, we lost even more players (If you were one of those, shame on you, you ARE the reason games occasionally end up in this sort of jam and aren't as big or fun). With HvZ off the board we ...kinda halfheartedly played King of the Hill. I was sure not on my A game by this point. At least there is some on camera Tacmod and WASP action in here:

The Mobius really made the grade. It takes GREAT video, the battery lasted through multiple missions (I charged it in the field during lunch with my Miller ML102 and some 18650 cells, I didn't try to stretch it past 3 missions) and at 848x480, which is MUCH MUCH sharper than the compressed shitty youtube FLVs, it is really easy on storage at around 4.25GB for 80 minutes of clips, while also being capable of 1080P if I wanted to do that. It didn't glitch or shut down in the blazing heat that day and the hat rig is great... for video at least, it is in the perfect place. Not too low so all you see is the gun/sight, not too high like a gopro head strap so you can't figure out what I am shooting at. The one annoying flaw is that being on the underside of my hat brim the mic is way too close to my face and gets breathing making me sound like an asthmatic. Gonna have to try solutions for that.

NvZ'16 Dart Observations

At the past Nation vs. Zombies, arguably the 800 pound gorilla of the big games with all the high level players in North America attending, most every modern dart in use was being fired (and sold). Koosh really proved itself with Gen3 by the pallet load. I also got to test the most recent production of a few darts known in the SSC as offenders...

ACC (ACCurate)

I picked only one of these up from the field. No news to report on the factory dart (it caused the expected annoying squib when I stuck it in my Tacmod) but I do have something to report as to the cause of the notorious flywheel incompatibility: It is simply the tip glue. My factory dart was assembled with CA glue on the tip core ONLY and while the tip wanted to stay on, the super elastic compound let it stretch and bend and flop around on the front of the dart.

I refoamed it with a new foam shown in the image and glued the tip properly (by the surface, not the core) and it now shoots fine from flywheels.


These solid ogive things were constantly around Thunderdome. I saved two from the NvZ dart pile for documentation.

I was putting these through my pistol at Thunderdome and they did perfectly fine. Tacmod doesn't mind them either.

Compared to a classic flat dome FVJ:

And to its less painful competitor, the ACC tip.

Yes, these are sharp and hard and not friendly. I wouldn't want them marauding around the field unless eyepro was mandated and bystanders not a factor. The ACC (which is the same tip as used on Artifact short darts) by contrast is VERY cushy and safe.


These were in the minority compared to koosh but I still came home with around a dozen. The "Little Valentine" is a distributor, they also have Gen2 Voberry with the same printing and sell on Amazon. Nice advertising plan, put your brand on your darts which get shot everywhere leaving everyone wondering and googling.

Anyway, these are reportedly awful for flywheel apps: (1) the tips cause malfunctions, and (2) some have overly short foam and FTF. Neither problem is apparent with these, they have correct length foam for a full length dart and have never jammed my Tacmod. They are also accurate as hell! It's seriously impressive. Unfortunately they still have crappy velocity retention and crazy drop, so it's like a weak sagging laser beam. I prefer aiming and I do not lob shots, so they are still a big nope for me.

These tips are plasticized PVC. They are slick, like Voberry, Gen1 koosh and old school chinawhite tips, and feed great. The suction cups overhang the nominal caliber considerably which is weird but seem to flex enough to avoid "rimlock" no matter how you load them.

They would be GREAT darts in an indoor CQB situation being cheap, reliable and dead nuts accurate.

But what about velocity?

Seriously, these darts are all used and beat up, I only have one of one and two of the other, and it could be misleading. Generally the FVN did what I expected from FVJ darts, the ACC was a bit down on velocity as well, and the USC seemed to be close-ish to what Elite does from the same setups. All speaking of flywheel... master race that is.

Sock Grenades For The Modern Era

WHAT? A post about socks? From the most hardline of the Gun People in HvZ?

Yes. Socks! No matter what, even if I "know I won't use them", I always have them in case I am wrong, and you should too. That matter is worsened by the modern trend toward using socks as the alternate ammo of choice for stunning partially-invulnerable special zombies. But as everything else escalates, socks need a bit of attention.

Some of the problems originally experienced with socks were that the result did not have any durability and was far too soft and low-density to throw effectively. Thus, players began using more engineered rolling techniques and tape by the late dark ages (2010). Carrying socks was troublesome, so velcro was often added. That is where the mainstream of sock technology is left, with these main troubles:
  • The hook and loop system (Velcro) may detach from the sock when it is ripped off the carrying gear, whether it is PSA backed peel/stick type or is glued on with a separate adhesive.
  • The typical flat rolling method creates a tendency for the inside end of the sock to work its way out the axis of the roll and then the whole thing unravels.
So this is how I do mine, which is based on work by one of the UF sock gods.

You need:

  • Scissors.
  • Medium size men's ankle socks (work best, use your brain for alternatives)
  • Duct tape
  • Adhesive back hook and loop fastener (Velcro), loop side (*)

The first step is to lay out your sock as if it came out of the package and cut it lengthwise in half.

Now prep your tape so it is handy because you WILL NOT have free hands in the next 2 steps. All strips should be around 10" long. You need one 1-1.25" wide strip and a number of 1/4" to 1/2" strips.


Start at the elastic end of the sock strip and start tightly rolling. The more tension during this process, the denser the result. Note that you leave the sock strip folded as it was after cutting.


When you complete the roll, hold it with one hand and grab the 1-1.25" tape strip with the other. Tightly tape the roll in the same direction of winding as the sock strip. 

Your sock roll is now a bit sloppy and uneven at the ends. We can get cleaner results and better compaction. Use a somewhat blunt stabby instrument such as the tip of your scissors or a letter opener to repeatedly poke the protruding material into the center of the sock roll until it is flat. It will act like a sewing needle and carry the fabric with it. CAUTION: Don't stab yourself in the hand while doing this!

Repeat on both ends. This is the result:

Finish it by placing against a solid object (not the carpet shown) and hammering with anything convenient until you have a dense, flat-ended cylinder.

This is what you want a sock to look like.

Now grab one of your narrow tape strips and wrap, tightly, in the orthogonal direction to the winding as shown.

This secures the ends of the roll, preventing end unravelling and loss of compaction.

Cut adhesive backed Velcro to approximately the size shown - about as wide as the diameter of the sock and slightly shorter than the width of the rolling tape strip.


Now this is the key.

Grab another narrow tape strip and wrap tightly near the end of the roll, overlapping the end of the Velcro. You don't need much overlap (it is lost surface area of fastener, so try to minimize it).

Repeat on the other end and you have a finished sock grenade.

The Velcro is secured by the tape at the corners, which are where peeling starts, and will rarely if ever fail no matter how frantically you rip socks off your gear as specials come barreling at you.

Now you just need sock gear of your choice.


This guide assumes the following:
  • Your game does not prohibit using less than a whole as-manufactured sock. In that case, choose smaller socks or adapt to a larger end product.
  • Your game does not prohibit tape on socks. In that case, you are SOL.
  • (*) You follow the common HvZ standard of using loop side "soft" velcro on socks and having dedicated sock gear with hook-side "scratchy" velcro, which is the inverse of the normal standard for LBE velcro use, in order to not throw hook side velcro at people. If you put socks on standard gear hook/loop areas, check that your game does not ban hook velcro on socks, because some do.

Some Monolith Battery Builds

I did these two recently. The 2 cell flat is for irishknots of the Howling Commandos, the 3 cell "triad" configuration is for a local to go on his Nitron primary and replace a clunker brick-sized 12V nicad pack of the same capacity that has faded away to nothing.

Both are Samsung INR18650-20R 2000mAh, which is my current go-to hybrid cylindrical cell, cheaply available, and having an impeccable service record and as low an IR as any other cell in that form factor.

And a small sample of the packs I have made:

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mobius Action Camera

If you have seen my last post about the clone 808-18 camera testing, you will recall that venture didn't go well. It was awesome when it DID work, being tiny and minimal, running forever on the external battery; but I couldn't get mine to stop mangling files. Thing delayed my first ever combat video by 2 whole games worth of lost footage and I was fed up. I may eventually get the 808 working; I am watching the FPV community for firmware info or awareness of this clone version and I may also try a class-4 Kingston card since it may just be picky and need one of those as some cams do.

But in the meantime, I bought a Mobius.

I figured I would want a good full resolution configurable camera anyway and didn't want a big clunky GoPro style one, so instead of screwing around with 808s again I just pulled the trigger. This is a Mobius V3 equipped with the wide angle C2 lens

What's a Mobius? Well, oddly, these actually derive from the 808 lineage. The developer of the Mobius is the same one behind the 808 version 16 (which is incidentally the 808 you should buy, the best supported and least buggy one). The 808 was initially designed as a covert camera disguised as a car remote lock keyfob, hence the familiar 808 case design. What the actual market ended up as was the action camera market and didn't need that. Also, the capabilities of the 808 were limited (usually 1280x720 max, tiny lenses and sensors, noisy video) and reliability/quality subpar. The Mobius was meant to tackle these problems, offering better video quality, a bigger battery and much more general robustness.

It's big and heavy enough to notice a bit more on the hat rig than the featherweight 808 (especially with the remote battery on the latter versus the big lipo cell inside the Mobius case) but it works fine on the hat rig, too. I just tightened the strap on the hat a bit to be sure it won't move.

By the way, probably the most asked question on the Mobius, the silver metal sticking out of the case is a heatsink, not buttons.

$78.99 shipped from USA eBay seller novotm. And I am impressed with the service for sure, package arrived in a few days. Here's what was inside:

Camera packed very safely in a brick of cut PE foam sheets, 3 lens caps, 2 cleaning cloths, snap-on mount base with strap slots and 1/4-20 thread adapter, a set of adhesive back Velcro (*see note), a screwdriver for case disassembly (Hell yeah this is a hobby product!), a tiny allen wrench which is included as a reset button poker, mini-USB to A cable, and a USB microSD adapter. Holy crap!

* Note: As with the 808 cases, that weird "soft" feeling paint/coating on the case must be removed where you want velcro to get the adhesive to bond. A blade does this cleanly. The paint is actually clear. When you start getting black chips off you have hit the ABS.

These have an internal 820mAh lipo. I haven't tested the life of that, but it is not shabby, and supposedly gets a few hours or so. I am not sure whether I am going to set this up for the external or not.

I gave it a good test run on the hat rig and dashboard and it performed flawlessly. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2sicsClf3U

This will be trialled by fire at the TBNC day game Jul 16.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Misadventures with painter's tape

This is going to be a quick one.

Last weekend, I tried to apply some paint to the Demolisher shell pieces that you see in this picture. To make a long story short progress on the Chaotic Shortbus has stymied, partially because I wasn't happy with the way it was turning out aesthetically for reasons that I previously just couldn't quite put my finger on. This paint was intended to break up the large chunk of uninterrupted orange near the front of the blaster and help the whole thing to come together.

As you can see, blue painter's tape was used to ensure good solid lines around the painted area. The spray can ran out just as I started painting - and it's a good thing that it did, because when I removed the tape, I discovered that the primer that I was using had run under the tape and made a mess of the surrounding shell! There are no pictures of that, because I went to scrub the affected area with isopropyl alcohol as soon as I noticed the problem, but it really was quite a mess. I believe that this was due to the thickness and stiffness and relatively weak adhesive of blue painter's tape, which makes it unsuitable for fitting over rough surfaces (such as parts of the Demolisher's shell and crossing the edge of other pieces of tape).

Lessons learned:
  • Don't trust blue painter's tape. It works well for making straight lines on smooth surfaces. It doesn't work so well for fitting around awkward shapes or on rough surfaces. 
  • Isopropyl alcohol is a handy thing to have around when painting. You probably won't need it, but it you do, you'll want to have it to hand before the paint has a chance to set.
  • Testing a paintjob on a similar shell from another blaster - one where it doesn't matter if things go wrong, because you can paint over it later - is always a good idea when you need to get it right the first time on your main project, even if you aren't doing anything new or experimental.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


A number of readers have noticed that posts have slowed down on DZ. I haven't put up much of anything past my last action cam stuff a month or so ago.

Don't worry.

Nothing is wrong. I am just a bit busy. I still play regularly. I just played 2 HvZ events this weekend, but lately I get home from games and don't have the energy to blog about them, just stick some usual reddit/facebrick banter in here and there. Same with superstock builds, all of those are in cryo right now. I might not even bother with the Nerf Hyperfire for now, probably just the Rival Khaos, long story.

But before we get to what is going on, let's look at what is coming up for the near future.

For a while now I have been showing up in discussions of open class equipment (high velocity, stored energy) on reddit and facebrick, and been dropping mentions here and there of something called "Prometheus".

Prometheus is an ongoing development project of mine for a "kit bash" (discrete component) automatic pneumatic primary. Like many other cases, I don't just want to make my own version of the latest cool new thing, I want to jump ahead of the game, and this is no exception. I have been looking to everything that is wrong with the "current generation" openclass guns like the Red Baron, FAAG, Uglystick, and all their kin.

What I noted on facebrick:

Reciprocating barrel, pull type ram, coaxial action spring, Humphrey Products QE-3 main and 31P 3way trigger, shooting for 300fps@150psi, Upper and front top cover are 1.5" aluminum square tubing, lower is built up as in that homemade magfed flywheel thing from years ago, mounts at front with a hook and rear with screw. Internals all locate and mount on the 3 trunnions and nothing else, the trunnions and the barrel lug are the only critical dimension parts in the whole thing. Barrel is .527x5/8 aluminum tubing and breech cover and guide sleeve are 1/2" PVC schedule 40 which fits perfectly on the tubing I have. Dump chamber will stickout the side of the receiver to get it out of the way. 2" stroke and set up for short darts and Artifact mags, ram is an off the shelf cylinder probably a 9/16" bore double action like the parker one I have, with the cap side left open, or maybe a bigger one for bolt force balancing since the action spring needs accounting for there.

The basic concept is the closed bolt ram/exhaust valve engine which has been around nerf and spudguns for years. Since that post, I have changed things:

Main valve is to be a SQE-2 Humphrey, which will be much more manageable than the clunky QE-3 and yet will flow well enough for any legal nerf application (better than the majority of paintball marker valves), particularly given the operating pressure.

I have built the dump chamber, which is primarily 3/8" steel pipe, and is itself the line connecting the ram to the valve. There are no flexible lines. The chamber as-assembled will locate the valve in the receiver and itself be placed by the front ram threads. I forgot to photograph it. Volume is about 2 ci which should be about right for 150psi operation. The potential pipe tumor on the side is being reduced to a mere bulge with a cover over it.

The ram has been changed to 3/4" bore which will give me a bit more bolt closing force to allow for better barrel tuning. The 3/4" ram also relocates some dump chamber volume into the ram for slimmer profile and offers larger 1/8" NPT ports, which mean that (given proper fittings and some mild porting work) unlike the smaller cylinders with miniscule 10-32 miniature-pneumatic fittings, the air in that volume is not becoming wasted energy on throttling losses (an issue apparent to me in i.e. the Red Baron's extensive tiny hose runs between ram and dump chamber).

The grip frame concept still holds, the 31P is still going in there, and everything else.

Mandatory mention that Google Sketchup sucks, don't bother hating on my mockups, I hate it too. I am slipping toward yet another hand fitted prototype, as I have a history of, because of the lack of working CAD. Anyone know of a good 3D noncommercial CAD package?

Okay, now as to what is going on right now.

It isn't nerf. Well, wait. It is actually nerf equipment. I drive it to every game.

1993 Suzuki Sidekick LWB 4wd:

The 4 speed Aisin transmission that is in mine is not in a good state. 23 years of deferred maintenance before my ownership of this rig has taken a toll. So I have been putting together a 5 speed for it. Countershaft section finished:

Mainshaft parts all cleaned and inspected. Still waiting on a few to arrive.

The core I started with came out of a 1997 Geo Tracker (which is a rebadged Suzuki Sidekick) and supposedly worked OK. Well, one look and I wasn't about to put it in my car. The trashed input shaft and wasted bearings were apparent from the outside. Removed shifter, saw a bunch of metal particulate, uh-oh. Tore it down, found a munchy looking 5-R slider and reverse gear. Both getting replaced. Other gears all good.

I'm about a weekend away from having it assembled. It doesn't help that a supplier sent me an input shaft with a chip out of it from poor packing (shipping damage) and is now unreachable (never buy from American Powertrain Warehouse) so I am most likely out $62 and have to wait on a new one from another source. All changeover parts (wild geese, unobtanium Suzuki hardware) for the truck have been chased down to the last 2 dowel pins. Ahead of me is swap day, and this sort of stuff putting freshly worked-on equipment in service is always stressful as hell, but it will be a relief afterward. Thing's been going downhill for years and the thought of it cratering completely has been a constant burden.

All along has been the matter of my employment, slowing things down, nerf and otherwise. My primary hobby workshop is in a different city. I work late nights at a hard job all week, get nothing done while off work, and then have 2 free days to take another chip out of a project, then repeat. Oh and I just finished moving to a new apartment. So cut me some slack. Some of you guys on reddit who have given me heat about lack of new nerf content just joined r/nerf within the last 2 months, particularly you, you know who you are, you have attracted my unwanted attention. How about you take a look at my history before you make accusations like that; and on top of that, not to be elitist myself but you routinely take for granted stuff I helped lay the groundwork for. You have shown up, posted stuff that flat out entered the community because of me, and then flamed me for having the same answer. I am not sure if you are just too green to realize people have years of backstory in the nerf world or just egotistical and want to pick a fight, but get a grip, you little shit. I'm not your enemy.