Modified R/C Jet Cannon Spews Nerf, Slays Cardboard Tanks

[ajw61185] made a video overview of a radio-controlled A-10 jet modified to spew a hail of harmless Nerf balls as it strafes helpless cardboard cutouts of T-72 tanks on a bright, sunny day.

A10 Nerf LoadingThe firing assembly in the jet comes from a Nerf Rival Zeus Blaster, which is itself an interesting device. It uses two electric flywheels to launch soft foam balls – much like a pitching machine. With one flywheel running a little faster than the other, the trajectory can be modified. For example, a slight topspin gives the balls a longer and more stable flight path. Of course, foam balls slow down quickly once launched and at high speeds the aircraft can overtake the same projectiles it just fired, but it’s fun all the same.

Cramming the firing assembly into aircraft took some cleverness. The front of the jet contains the flywheel assembly, and a stripped-down removable magazine containing the foam balls fits behind it. A flick of a switch on the controller spins up the flywheels, and another flick controls a servo that allows the balls to enter the firing assembly and get launched. The ammo capacity on the jet is low at only twelve shots per load, and it fires all twelve in roughly half a second. Since the balls are fired at the ground in a known area, they’re easy to retrieve.

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35 MPH NERF Darts!

Did you know the muzzle velocity of a NERF dart out of a toy gun? Neither did [MJHanagan] until he did all sorts of measurement. And now we all know: between 35 and 40 miles per hour (around 60 km/h).

foo_thumbnailFirst, he prototyped a single beam-break detector (shown above) and then expanded his build to two in order to get velocity info. A Propeller microcontroller took care of measuring the timing. Then came the gratuitous statistics. He took six different darts and shot them each 21 times, recording the timings. Dart #3 was the winner, but they all had similar average speeds. You’re not going to win the office NERF war by cherry-picking darts.

Anyway, [MJ] and his son had a good time testing them out, and he thinks this might make a good kids’ intro to science and statistics. We think that’s a great idea. You won’t be surprised that we’ve covered NERF chronographs before, but this implementation is definitely the scienciest!

Thanks [drudrudru] for the tip!

Shoot Darts at the Shins of Total Strangers

[Michael Brumlow] found us and sent us a link. Within a few seconds, we were driving a webcam-enabled Nerf dart tank through his office and trying not to hit walls or get stepped on by his co-workers. Unfortunately, it was out of darts at the time, but you can find them all over the floor if you scout around.

screenshot_remote_botAll of the code details, including the link where you can test drive it yourself, are up on [Michael]’s GitHub. The brains are an Intel Edison board, and the brawns are supplied by an Arduino motor controller shield and (for the latest version) a chassis bought from China.

It runs fairly smoothly, considering the long round trip from [Michael]’s office in Texas, through wherever Amazon keeps their Web Services, over to us in Germany and back. Once we got used to the slight lag, and started using the keyboard’s arrow keys for control, we were driving around like a pro.

It’s got a few glitches still, like the camera periodically overheating and running out of WiFi distance. [Michael] said he’d try to keep it charged up and running while you give it a shot. The controls are multiplexed in the cloud, so your chance of steering it is as good as anyone else’s. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when thousands of Hackaday readers try to control it at once!

It takes a certain kind of bravery to put your telepresence robot up on the open Internets. So kudos to you, [Michael], and we hope that you manage to get some work done this week, even though you will have all of Hackaday driving into your cubicle walls.

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?