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The Ratchetblast

An In-Depth Look

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#1 Carbon

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 12:04 AM

A question that always seems to come up is how exactly the RatchetBlast works. It has the reputation of being a confusing gun with complicated internals, so I decided to dig into mine and really see what makes it tick (and also see what deeper mods might be possible).

So, let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

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The venerable Ratchetblast. Let's crack 'er open.

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Here it is, with each of the important systems labeled in turn.

A. The trigger
This is just a hinged piece which pushes against the L-shape at the end of the plunger. We'll get into how that action fires the gun later.

B. The plunger
Contrary to popular opnion, it's possible to take it apart and replace the spring.

C. The air rotation system.
The RatchetBlast is unique because it rotates its air delivery, as opposed to rotating the barrels to the air outlet.

D. The turret.
This doesn't move. The turret has multiple openings, which the air moves to.

The orange piece at the top is the crosshair for the useless scope. I have no idea why they bothered to put a spring on it.


Let's take a closer look.

We're going to start with B, because that's where the action is.

Looking closer at the plunger, you can see that it's made of two parts, that slide inside each other slightly.
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The end of the piece which has the plunger head has a snap-ring. Using the catch, you can press down the spring and hold it, and detatch the inner piece. Slide it up and it's out.
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But the question remains: why is the plunger two parts? That's the beauty: this is the catch release system. Look closer:
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This picture shows the plunger as it would sit after charging the plunger. You can see the dent wheere the catch will sit, locking the plunger in place. The small ramp is attached to the L shape at the end of the plunger. Now, when the hunged trigger swings forward, it presses on the L, sliding the inner segment forward...
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...lifting the catch from the slot.

The action of charging the plunger is simple. There is a pin (which the L-shape sits behind) on the handle. When the handle rotates down, it is also pulling backwards on the plunger. When it rotates back up, the trigger is right next to teh extended plunger, ready to push the inner sleeve back, dislodging the catch. Elegant, really.

So we know about how the plunger works....but what about the air delivery? Like other parts, it's deceptively simple. You'll notice the sawtooth ring on the base of the plunger tube. It's identical to the system used on the Maverick to rotate the barrels. Except in this case, it's rotating the plunger tube.
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The white bar under the sawtooth ring has its backend attached to the pivoting handle. When the handle rotates down, it pulls the bar back. This causes the plunger to rotate.
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And this is what the end looks like...
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Which then nests into the turret.
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The turret is held firmly in place, and the foam pad at the end of the plunger mantains a seal. A very good one at that, surprisingly so.

So, I did some tests with a new spring:
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This was actually a little long. I had to cut it down a turn and a half or so. After doing so, I charged it up...and it promptly broke. Opening it up showed this:
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Duh. New spring, plastic part, lever action. SNAP. However, not all is lost: this just tells me that I need to do some reinforcement there. And since the inner plunger sleeve is hollow, it's a prime candidate for a bolt to repair and reinforce. More to come...

Edited by Carbon, 11 November 2007 - 12:09 AM.

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#2 penguin807

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 12:12 AM

Ah the Rachetblast, the nerf form of a Megabuster. Thanks for showing us.
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#3 badger

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 12:49 AM

This is funny. I was thinking to myself before DCNO, "I wonder if Carbon has ever tried to mod the RatchetBlast?" I opened mine up the night before DCNO to see if there was anything I could do to improve it's range. I know that the PETG that OMC sells fits beautifully into the barrels with no modding of the barrel structure, but the current airflow is not conducive to getting any decent range. I also know that reassembly is a real bitch, it took me nearly an hour to get it back together because of the spring for the plunger catch.

I'll be watching, Carbon, to see what comes of this gun from your point of view. Also, thanks for helping me to figure out the plunger rod. I thought that it was two pieces, but I hadn't tried to disassemble it since it is the only one I have for modding at this time.
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#4 Z-man12

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 12:58 AM

I really do like the way this gun looks. I know it gets bad press for being complex but then again so is the LS. Thank you carbon for explaneing how simple this gun really is.

Now I just hope some day I find my self one.
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#5 Axelion burnout

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 01:10 AM

Very nice job. I was trying to help Frost Vectron with RatchetBlast information a little while back. Right after I finished taking pictures I tried to cock the gun all "Terminator" like (with one hand) and it broke at the handle.

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Moral is, don't try to be awesome... Hopefully I can fix it up before you or Frost come out with a sweet mod. Thankfully everything that is essential to the gun firing wasn't harmed, just the grip.
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#6 Prometheus

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 01:59 AM

Carbon doing a mod? This is a first since I've been here... Nice work on the info.
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#7 Flaming Hilt

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 11:18 AM

Yeap, that's the ratchetblast for ya. I've tried about 4 different spring and it's broken in... yes, four places. One on the handle, one on the handle-piece inside the gun, one on the plunger rod, and then once again on the handle inside the gun. The nail I had reinforcing it slipped from its holding spot.

Other than saying there's a perfect spring for this gun (one not too strong as to break it, but otherwise still as strong as possible), I can tell you how I got to know what shot I was on. Color the plunger tube on the side the hole is on. Two contrasting colors work well... IE I did silver and black.

Then, on the shell, dremel four small holes (big enough to see through), one on the top, bottom, left and right. Now you can look through the hole to see where the air output will be.

Best of luck. If it ends up working I may have to pick mine up again...

Edited by Flaming Hilt, 11 November 2007 - 11:20 AM.

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#8 Carbon

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 04:22 PM

Thanks, guys.

Badger:That is funny, considering how often I post mod information. The airflow can be improved slightly, as it looks like the cateye shapesw on the turret could be carved away a bit. Beyond that I don't want to mess with it, as I think that has more of a chance to harm the seal to other barrels. The nice thing about teh posts at least is that they just pull out: they're inserted in little cups at the bottom of the barrel, no breakage required.

axelion: Thanks for the warning on the breakage. That's actually one of my favorite things about the RB, flipping it down with a smart snap of the wrist, then coming up and firing. I always thought it would be cool to have two of them, firing in turn. Too bad the ranges would never be worth wielding two-handed.

Prometheus: I think the number of topics I've made in the Mods forum can be counted on one hand. *counts* Yup.

Flaming Hilt: Man, the barrel indicator is a cool idea. Which gives me another idea...stuff to do, and soon as I get more super glue!

Edited by Carbon, 11 November 2007 - 07:34 PM.

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#9 jwasko

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 06:43 PM

The orange crosshair piece is also what keeps the gun straight. It locks into place in a notch on the back half of the blaster.

If you leave that part out (or just the spring), once you cock it it would be all...floppy...(yeah, that didn't sound quite right).

By the way, is anyone else's air rotation system a little...off? It didn't used to, but now mine shoots two darts at a time. And, if I look down the barrel, I see that the opening in the foam is in two barrels at the same time. A closer look, if I remember correctly, showed that the foam opening isn't perfectly lined up with the whole in the plastic (of the air rotation system).

One warning about breakage: The "bulkhead" that the spring pushes back on is a little prone to breaking. It actually happened when I was just putting the thing back together (a little wrongly) with the stock spring.

Good luck, Carbon.

Edited by jwasko, 13 November 2007 - 09:15 PM.

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#10 Carbon

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 07:47 PM

I've said it before...that's why I like about this place. Post something, and you'll get great info tossed at you. I see exactly what you mean, wasko...it's a retaining notch. I took some photos to show what you're talking about.

A close-up, with the handle bent. You can see the notch the sight sits in.
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And, with the gun straight. (I left the spring out...it would sit at the top, pressing down, of course.)
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More information. I went at the turrt today, to see if there was anything to be done about the airflow. The rear collars aren't even glued in place.
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Here's the air restrictor.
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It's not exactly promising...seeing as how if you carve away in one direction, it'll eat away at the plunger seal. Another direction, and you're destroying the barrel itself. And it's still limited by the hole in the end of the plunger. I think it'll get left alone...anyway, something that has enough airflow to fire megas will do better when it's firing stefans.

Thanks for the warning about the bulkhead as well...I'll keep it in mind.
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#11 Diablo

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 02:54 AM

I've always loved the Ratchet Blast, I'm glad to see someone taking a better look at it.

This might be a little over-ambitious, but do you think it's possible to hollow out the air restrictor segments and recreate a seal with rubber washers? I'm not sure how well that would work, and if you try and fail you're screwed....but it could potentially raise the quality of this gun.

It's hard for me to visualize how that would work, but it seems possible. You could carve out a bigger section in the foam piece and have it make a seal with a washer on the turret.

Do you think that extra air flow would benefit the gun in any way?
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#12 Carbon

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 12:29 PM

This might be a little over-ambitious, but do you think it's possible to hollow out the air restrictor segments and recreate a seal with rubber washers?

There seem to be two issues at work with the airflow, and trying to change it. One, is that whatever is used for the gasket material has to be slippery, or at the very least not bind up. Craft foam might have some potential, as that worked well in my turret.

The other problem (and the one which is much more troublesome) is the placement of the holes on th turret just don't allow for much hole enlargement. I think I can carve away a bit on the turret, but I'm mostly going to leave it alone, and figure a Mega firing gun will do better with stefans.

The way things are shaping up, I think a mod for this gun will largely consist of a stronger spring replacement, and figuring a way to do that and not have the gun blow up after two shots...while retaining easy access to four shots. Because man, the entire setup of the gun just isn't made to support much more force.

Anyway, I have a plan of action. When I start the mod in earnest, I'll create a new thread.

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions, everyone.
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#13 jwasko

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:09 PM

That may have been an ambitious idea, Rambo, but mine is...well, I might just have to go with "insane."

On Monday night, I was lying in bed, trying but failing to go to sleep. As they invariably do nowadays, my thoughts turned to Nerf:

I had been tossing around the idea of placing a pair of SMDTGs on a Mav rotating mechanism, but almost immediately realized that realized the problem that airlines cause when dealing with rotation. In order to avoid that, the "detonator"-style trigger would have to move around with the barrels/air chambers...which would then make it nearly impossible to use a fixed-trigger type of thing. But then, on Monday night, I suddenly thought about the Ratchetblast: it has a turret that doesn't turn.

So, getting to the mod/integration: It will be a Ratchetblast with four (yeah, that's right, four) SMDTGs clustered around it. The SMDTG triggers would actually be placed in the Ratchetblast barrels (with some modification to those barrels, of course).

Think that's crazy? Take a look at the plans for the internal modification:
Posted Image
I call it my "Firing-Pin Mod." Why? Well, can you see that brown piece at the end of the plunger chamber there? When the (slightly modified) plunger moves forward, it pushes against a block (the brown piece) which then pushes the pin out of the plunger chamber and into one of the Ratchetblast's barrels.

There, the firing pin pushes the SMDTG trigger all the way in and launches all three barrels of one of the SMDTGs. Recocking the Ratchetblast as normal allows a spring to pull the firing pin back, and the rotation of the plunger chamber will align the firing pin with the next SMDTG trigger.

Additional modifications to this thing would of course be to attach all of the SMDTGs to one (fair-sized) pump, or a backpack air tank. The net effect of all of the aforementioned mods will be to turn the Ratchetblast into a blaster capable of delivering four, (fairly) rapid-fire shotgun-like bursts. A benefit is that you shouldn't need to replace the spring. And, I don't know about you guys, but somehow I always thought of the thing being a shotgun. Maybe it was because of that Terminator 2 scene...I don't know.

As a little side note, I'm working on another idea that uses the same firing-pin Ratchetblast mod but (instead of one or more of the SMDTGs) it will integrate a homemade that utilizes a valve similar to what 3DBBQ used here

And, finally, a question: It looks like (although I don't particularly recall this feature from my childhood) that you can move the air output by repeatedly working the "lever." In other words, if the Ratchetblast is cocked but the output is lined up with an empty barrel, you can just work the lever and the output will switch to the next barrel...no need to dry fire in between shots. Can anyone confirm this feature?
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#14 SHADOW HUNTER ALPHA

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:33 PM

Carbon: Looking good so far. I hope to see the next version out soon...

jwasko: You would have to be careful about the placement of the tubing for the SMDTGs. The valves would have to be placed on the front of cut-down barrels or something, since I recall the individual lines for each barrel coming out of the side of the valve housing.

Random: Does anyone else think the RB looks and functions uncannily like the Dispersion Gun from Timesplitters: Future Perfect? Perhaps a muzzle extension would complete the effect.
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#15 jwasko

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:40 PM

jwasko: You would have to be careful about the placement of the tubing for the SMDTGs. The valves would have to be placed on the front of cut-down barrels or something, since I recall the individual lines for each barrel coming out of the side of the valve housing.

Random: Does anyone else think the RB looks and functions uncannily like the Dispersion Gun from Timesplitters: Future Perfect? Perhaps a muzzle extension would complete the effect.


Yes, I figured I would cut slits on the outermost side of each barrel for the tubing to slide down down into.

Hmm, Dispersion Gun...*googles*...hey, yeah, it kinda does. I loved that game.
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#16 Z-man12

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:42 PM

Jwasko: The only real problem that I can see with what your going to do is that the SMDTG's triggers are going to be takeing a serious beating from that spring. Remember it shoots mega's so its not a whimpy spring. It might be wiser to replace the spring with something lighter weight. It only has to hit the SMDTG tirgger hard enough to fire it off, which I am guessing isn't that hard at all. Any way thats my two cents on it. I think its do able but your going to have to do a spring replacement to be safe.

Jwasko: The only real problem that I can see with what your going to do is that the SMDTG's triggers are going to be takeing a serious beating from that spring. Remember it shoots mega's so its not a whimpy spring. It might be wiser to replace the spring with something lighter weight. It only has to hit the SMDTG tirgger hard enough to fire it off, which I am guessing isn't that hard at all. Any way thats my two cents on it. I think its do able but your going to have to do a spring replacement to be safe.
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#17 jwasko

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 10:49 PM

Actually, a pumped SMDTG's trigger can be fairly hard to press, but yes a lighter spring may be in order.

Another safety measure would be to limit the length of the firing pin itself...if it only barely has enough length to push the trigger all the way down, it should be less liable to do any damage to the triggering mechanism as a whole.
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#18 Carbon

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Posted 13 November 2007 - 11:25 PM

if the Ratchetblast is cocked but the output is lined up with an empty barrel, you can just work the lever and the output will switch to the next barrel...no need to dry fire in between shots. Can anyone confirm this feature?

Confirmed. Oh, and the idea of using the RB as a trigger for another gun? Freakin' genius.

Edited by Carbon, 13 November 2007 - 11:26 PM.

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#19 Diablo

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 05:44 PM

Jwasko, that idea is amazing. The only downside is that you would have to prime the gun twice between each shot. Even if you had one large airtank, you would need some sort of regulation system that would prevent all the air from the tank to be expensed on one shot. What if two airtanks were implemented? One large backpack air tank, and another smaller airtank that would hold the air to be used on the next shot. You would open and close a valve between the large and small airtanks, filling the small tank with air. When you fire a shot, the valve of the SMDTG would release the air from the small tank. Repeat the process as necessary.
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#20 jwasko

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:07 PM

Um...there would be two air tanks. Well, actually, there would be 13: one right behind each SMDTG barrel (3 barrels times 4 SMDTGs) plus one backpack tank.

And, yeah, of course there would be a valve between the backpack and the SMDTGs.

Edit: Actually, due to the way SMDTG valves work, I don't think you could fire if there was pressure coming from a backpack tank at all times...so, yeah, a valve in between is absolutely necessary if I am correct about that.

Edit-er: A backpack airtank wouldn't be 100% necessary for this, really. KBarker, in his SMDTG-into-LBB integration, was able to pump both SMDTGs (6 air chambers) with 7 pumps using an SM3k pump. A decent-sized double action bike pump should be able to fill 12 chambers fairly quickly...under 10 pumps would be fine, really.

Edit with a Vengeance: Wait...Diablo, you would only have to prime once between shots as long as all of the SMDTGs are filled...maybe I'll make a diagram to explain better.

I love MS Paint...

Live Free or Edit Hard: Here's the diagram, with accompanying explanations. That's a pretty big diagram. Oh, and a legend!
Posted Image

Edited by jwasko, 14 November 2007 - 07:09 PM.

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#21 Diablo

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:30 PM

It appears I stand corrected.

I took a better look at the way the SMDTG works, and I see exactly what you're saying now. I was under the impression that you would remove the original SMDTG airtank if you were going to add a backpack airtank, but I now see that that would be silly.

You would just have a valve in between the SMDTG tanks and the backpack tank, correct? That is, if you used a backpack....since your reference shows that it isn't necessary.

And by prime twice, I meant that you would prime the Ratchet Blast and the SMDTGs. Sorry if that was confusing.

Edited by Diablo, 14 November 2007 - 06:31 PM.

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#22 jwasko

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:16 PM

See previous post for the promised diagram. I had to get the whole edit series in. ;)

Yeah, when I first posted I didn't notice what all you were saying (thus, why I didn't bring up the priming issue until my third edit). I got it, it just took more careful reading.

And, as the diagram shows, yes you would need a single valve between the backpack tank and the SMDTGs.
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#23 Z-man12

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:23 PM

This is just something I thought of that I don't think you have answered yet. How/where are you going to stick four SMTDG bodies?
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#24 jwasko

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:46 PM

Where? Uh...somewhere?

To be more specific, somewhere on the Ratchetblast. I mean, I'm pretty sure I can get at least 2 SMDTGs (6 barrels and chambers) arranged around the front of the RB, although I don't have my RB with me to check.

You know, not being able to mod is probably my biggest complaint about living at college. I mean, sure I miss my family, but then again I go home most every weekend and I'm a loner anyway, so...

Where was I? Oh right. The other two SMDTGs, I suppose could go either around or "inside" the first two, I suppose. "Inside" means directly in front of where the RB barrels are now (and where the "detonator"-triggers will be upon the completion of the mod)

Or, if I can work out how to make 3DBBQ's valve and get the firing pin to open it, I can have 2 (or even three) SMDTGs for shorter ranges, in addition to 2 (or maybe just one) of the homemades for long range. It would be really cool if I could come up with a system to be able to swap between the two types:

Feel like playing close and fast? All SMDTGs. Want to be a idiot/loser? Go for all long-range homemades. Want versatility? Mix and match.

I cannot wait to start this. It's going to be expensive, though -- I'll need two SMDTG sets, and I'm getting a second RB (I don't want to mess up the one from my childhood) -- but I think it will definitely be worth it.

As far as how...well, I could just epoxy/goop/hot glue the crap out of everything, but like I said it would be nice to be able to remove them fairly easily...hmm, I foresee couplers and/or machine screws in my future. ;)
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#25 Lynx

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 07:51 PM

One on top of the other on one hand and the same on the other. Maybe just having the 4 sets of barrels all around one set? PETG barrels in a semi-circle glued on to ONE set of barrels with the top open and a cut out case around it.
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