Hackaday Prize Entry: Gas Grenade Helps Instead of Exploding

If someone lobs a grenade, it’s fair to expect that something unpleasant is going to happen. Tear gas grenades are often used by riot police to disperse an unruly crowd, and the military might use a smoke grenade as cover to advance on an armed position, or to mark a location in need of an airstrike. But some gas grenades are meant to help, not hurt, like this talking gas-sensing grenade that’s a 2015 Hackaday Prize entry.

Confined space entry is a particularly dangerous aspect of rescue work, especially in the mining industry. A cave in or other accident can trap not only people, but also dangerous gasses, endangering victims and rescuers alike. Plenty of fancy robots have been developed that can take gas sensors deep into confined spaces ahead of rescuers, but [Eric William] figured out a cheaper way to sniff the air before entering. An MQ2 combination CO, LPG and smoke sensor is interfaced to an Arduino Nano, and a 433MHz transmitter is attached to an output. A little code measures the data from the sensors and synthesizes human voice readings which are fed to the transmitter. The whole package is stuffed into a tough, easily deployed package – a Nerf dog toy! Lobbed into a confined space, the grenade begins squawking its readings out in spoken English, which can be received by any UHF handy-talkie in range. [Eric] reports in the after-break video that he’s received signals over a block away – good standoff distance for a potentially explosive situation.

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Combining Musical Hatred with Target Practice

Not everyone can agree on what good music is, but in some cases you’ll find that just about everyone can agree on what is awful. That’s what the people over at Neo-Pangea discovered when they were listening to Internet radio. When one of those terrible songs hits their collective eardrums, the group’s rage increases and they just need to skip the track.

This is how Engineers act if the song is super-awful
This is how Engineers act if the song is super-awful

Rather than use a web app or simple push button to do the trick, they turned the “skip” button into a NERF target. They call their creation the Boom Box Blaster and made a fantastic demo film video about it which is found after the break.

Inspired by a painting in the office, the target takes the form of a small hot air balloon. The target obviously needed some kind of sensor that can detect when it is hit by a NERF dart. The group tried several different sensor types, but eventually settled on a medium vibration sensor. This sensor is connected to an Arduino, which then communicates with a Raspberry Pi over a Serial connection. The Pi uses a Python script to monitor the Arduino’s vibration sensor. The system also includes some orange LEDs to simulate flames and a servo attached to the string which suspends the balloon from the ceiling. Whenever a hit is registered, the flames light up and the balloon raises into the air to indicate that the shot was on target.

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MRRF: Mostly Harmless 3D Printed Arms

The Midwest RepRap Festival isn’t just people hanging out with their 3D printers all weekend; There are also people bringing all the things they made with their 3D printers. There was an R2D2 and half of a B1 Battle Droid, a 3D printed quadcopter and of course 3D printed weaponry. [Ryan] and [Kane] from Mostly Harmless Arms brought a collection of their totally not trademark infringing not-Nerf guns.

The guys have a few designs for guns that shoot silicone-tipped extruded foam darts much further than a Nerf gun. There’s a bow, a more traditional spring-powered blaster, and a crossbow. All the designs with the exception of a few pipes and tubes and springs are 3D printed, and all the parts are small enough to fit on an 8″ bed. The darts are made with a dome mold for silicon and insulation foam that’s normally wedged in window and door frames. They’re dusted with cornstarch to prevent sticking, although in the video below there were a few jams. That’s to be expected; there was a camera around.

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Supersonic NERF Dart Speedometer

ATtiny Chronograph

[John] was faced with an interesting problem: after he built his own air cannon, how could he tell exactly how fast his NERF darts were moving? Luckily he had some spare parts on hand and hacked together a fully functional projectile speedometer for less than the cost of an Arduino.

A device is essentially two detectors spaced a precise distance apart from one another. When something passes the first detector, a timer is activated which measures how long it takes the object to reach the second detector. From this, the device calculates the speed. [John] used infrared emitter/detector pairs spaced exactly three inches apart and wired them to an ATtiny2313. After a little bit of coding, he now knows just how fast he can fire those squishy ballistic missiles.

The infrared emitter/detector pairs are mounted to a PVC pipe through which the projectile travels. [John] notes that in theory this could be used to measure almost anything that could fit through the pipe, although this particular device might be damaged by muzzle flash or a pressure wave from an actual gun.

We’ve seen other NERF dart air cannons before, and we wonder if maybe there should be some sort of competition to see who can shoot a NERF dart the fastest now that there’s an easy way to measure speed?


Reactive target range for Nerf, Airsoft, etc.


Taking the time to build a reactive target range really adds to the fun of toy weapons. It lets you move beyond just point and shoot to actual games of skill.

The project is anchored by an Arduino board. It connects to a piezo element on the back of each of these sheet metal targets. Detecting when a projectile hits the target works pretty much the exact same way the ever popular Knock-block works. To provide interactive enjoyment each target has an LED which, when lit, indicates that the target is active. From here it’s just a matter of coding to add different challenges. So far [Viktor Criterion] has implemented quick draw, timed, and rapid fire modes. The demo after the break shows off everything, including the slick modular design he came up with to make the system portable.

We’d love to see these targets mounted on motorized tracks. Each round would have the targets moving closer to you at a faster pace to keep you on your toes.

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Sentrifying a Nerf gun


[Brittliv] made the mistake of getting her friends into Nerf weaponry, and so began the race to mutually secured destruction via foam darts. She may have the upper hand in this war, because her Nerf Vulcan sentry gun is both incredibly powerful and is able to be operated autonomously with a webcam featuring a friend or foe identification system.

The azimuth and elevation mount for the gun is made out of plywood, with each axis controlled by a single servo attached to an Arduino. Of course a stock Nerf gun would be fairly boring, so [BrittLiv] increased both the voltage going to the gun’s motor and the strength of the gun by replacing a 2kg spring with a 5kg spring.

Targets are tracked with a webcam using Processing and a bit of code from Project Sentry Gun. One interesting feature is a friend or foe tracking system; if the gun sees someone wearing a t-shirt with the Instructables logo, the target is identified as a friend and is not brutally mowed down with plastic darts.

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Nerf Sentry Gun for the Apocalypse


If you’ve ever wanted to shoot someone with a Nerf gun, but just didn’t have the energy to get off the couch, this hack may be for you. It’s also a good way to ward off zombies if another apocalypse, Mayan or otherwise, is on the horizon.

Although the effects are very cool, as seen in the video after the break, the method for making this setup was quite simple. The requirements for this project were that the gun could not be permanently modified, and everything had to fire automatically. These restrictions may have contributed to the simplicity of the design as many of us would start breaking things before we had to.

Instead of some elaborate hack, the trigger was tied back in the firing position at all times. A relay was then used to interrupt the power supply to the mechanism allowing an Arduino equipped with an infrared sensor to automatically control the firing. The setup is explained after the break, but skip to around 1:55 if you’d rather just see the guns in action. Continue reading “Nerf Sentry Gun for the Apocalypse”