Bonkers Nerf Blaster Sprays Balls Everywhere

Nerf blasters are fun toys, to be sure. However, they’re limited by factors like price and safety and what Hasbro thinks parents will put up with. Few caregivers would ever countenance a build like this one from [ItllProbablyWork].

It’s a blaster designed to fire 48 darts in a second or so, or a truly ludicrous 288 Nerf balls. Like so many rapid fire blaster designs, it’s based on a pair of rotating wheels which fling darts out at rapid speed. The trick to the rapid fire ability is the delivery of ammunition. In this case, the blaster has a rotating drum of 12 barrels, which can each be loaded with 4 darts or 24 balls. As the drum rotates into position, a trigger mechanism unlatches a spring which forces the contents of the barrel out through the wheels and on to the target.

It’s mostly pretty good with darts, but with balls, it tends to send them flying everywhere, including jamming a bunch into the blaster’s internals. It is very funny to watch, though.

We’ve seen some other great blaster builds recently, too. Video after the break.

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Explore Neural Radiance Fields In Real-time, Even On A Phone

Neural Radiance Fields (NeRF) is a method of reconstructing complex 3D scenes from sparse 2D inputs, and the field has been growing by leaps and bounds. Viewing a reconstructed scene is still nontrivial, but there’s a new innovation on the block: SMERF is a browser-based method of enabling full 3D navigation of even large scenes, efficient enough to render in real time on phones and laptops.

Don’t miss the gallery of demos which will run on anything from powerful desktops to smartphones. Notable is the distinct lack of blurry, cloudy, or distorted areas which tend to appear in under-observed areas of a NeRF scene (such as indoor corners and ceilings). The technical paper explains SMERF’s approach in more detail.

NeRFs as a concept first hit the scene in 2020 and the rate of advancement has been simply astounding, especially compared to demos from just last year. Watch the short video summarizing SMERF below, and marvel at how it compares to other methods, some of which are themselves only months old.

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Synthesizing 360-degree Views From Single Source Images

ZeroNVS is one of those research projects that is rather more impressive than it may look at first glance. On one hand, the 3D reconstructions — we urge you to click that first link to see them — look a bit grainy and imperfect. But on the other hand, it was reconstructed using a single still image as an input.

Most results look great, but some — like this bike visible through a park bench — come out a bit strange. A valiant effort for a single-image input, all things considered.

How is this done? It’s NeRFs (neural radiance fields) which leverages machine learning, but with yet another new twist. Existing methods mainly focus on single objects and masked backgrounds, but a new approach makes this method applicable to a variety of complex, in-the-wild images without the need to train new models.

There are a ton of sample outputs on the project summary page that are worth a browse if you find this sort of thing at all interesting. Some of the 360 degree reconstructions look rough, some are impressive, and some are a bit amusing. For example indoor shots tend to reconstruct rooms that look good, but lack doorways.

There is a research paper for those seeking additional details and a GitHub repository for the code, but the implementation requires some significant hardware.

Powerful Nerf Blaster Aims To Fire 100 Darts Per Second

Nerf has made plenty of fully-automatic blasters over the years, but their toys typically lack punch, precision, and fire rate. [3DprintedLife] set about building a blaster to rectify that last shortcoming, aiming for design that could fire 100 darts per second.

The design uses half length darts which tend to fly a little nicer from high-powered blasters. It fires them using belts driven by powerful motors, similar to wheel blasters. The darts themselves are loaded into a drum magazine which has sliders to push the darts into the wheels as the drum rotates by.

It all sounds straightforward enough, but getting it all working in harmony is a challenge—particularly at a fire rate of 100 darts per second. The build video explains the trials and tribulations involved in getting near that fire rate, with darts getting shredded and magazines throwing out parts along the way.  A good helping of iterative design helps get everything playing nice, with the darts neatly leaving the magazine and flying downrange at great speed. The slow-motion videos of darts flying out of the blaster in rapid succession are a special treat.

Files are available via Onshape for those looking to dive deeper into the design. We’ve seen some other neat Nerf blasters before, too. Video after the break.

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Modding A Nerf Blaster The Old Fashioned Way

The Pistol Splat was a very weak blaster built for children, designed to shoot toy-grade paintball-like ammunition. [Matt Yuan] recognised the potential of the single-shot design, though, and repurposed it as a powerful Nerf blaster.

The blaster is a simple spring-plunger design. Upon pulling the trigger, the spring drives the piston forward, shooting the ammunition out the barrel. As stock, the Pistol Splat featured an incredibly strong spring and an unrestricted barrel, giving it plenty of performance capability. With some finagling, it’s capable of shooting a Nerf dart at 100 feet per second in stock form.

[Matt] improved the blaster by removing its dry-fire protection spring, which consists of a second spring to resist the plunger’s motion. Modification also involved fitting a barrel sized to properly seal on the darts. These two mods boosted the dart velocity to 110 feet per second. Adding a spacer to ensure the spring fully drove the piston forward for its full travel further boosted the dart velocity to a mighty 145 feet per second.

It bears noting that serious Nerf blasters like these demand eye protection. Video after the break.

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High Quality 3D Scene Generation From 2D Source, In Realtime

Here’s some fascinating work presented at SIGGRAPH 2023 of a method for radiance field rendering using a novel technique called Gaussian Splatting. What’s that mean? It means synthesizing a 3D scene from 2D images, in high quality and in real time, as the short animation shown above shows.

Neural Radiance Fields (NeRFs) are a method of leveraging machine learning to, in a way, do what photogrammetry does: synthesize complex scenes and views based on input images. But NeRFs work in a fraction of the time, and require only a fraction of the source material. There are different ways to go about this and unsurprisingly, there tends to be a clear speed vs. quality tradeoff. But as the video accompanying this new work seems to show, clever techniques mean the best of both worlds.

A short video summary is embedded just below the page break. Interested in deeper details? The research PDF is here. The amount of development this field has seen is nothing short of staggering, and certainly higher in quality than what was state-of-the-art for NeRFs only a year ago.

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Escalate The NERF Arms Race With Self-Firing Missiles

NERF guns are a toy that appeals to adults and youngsters alike — if you’ve never had the chance to pelt your friends with safe and kid friendly foam darts in a surprise ambush, you haven’t lived. But just as with real-world weapons of the type superpowers put in shows of military strength, there’s an arms race in the world of NERF. Mere darts aren’t enough, and there’s a range of missiles for the bellicose youngster intent on skirting the brink of global foam dart annihilation. These come with a catch though in the shape of a lackluster launcher, and this has prompted [Joel Creates] to create a self-firing NERF missile with a secondary rocket motor.

A supercapacitor stores enough energy to light a small scrap of guncotton explosive when sent through a heater coil, and this should be enough to launch the missile. Perhaps this whole video should sit in “Don’t try this at home kids” territory, but try he does, with multiple dead ends along the way. The final try is a secondary rocket motor inside the missile that’s triggered by a micro switch upon leaving the standard NERF launcher. It’s not a resounding success, but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s an entertaining video to get there.

We’ve featured quite a few NERF hacks over the years, including this large auto-aimer.

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