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Homemade Vortex Discs

Supa Simple - Thinwall and Foam.

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#1 Darksircam

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 02:28 PM

When I first saw the Vortex disc, I thought they would be pretty simple to make - just get a foam disc and punch a hole in it, right?

The foam disc broke. Consequent attempts also failed.

To make it work in the stock blaster, the disc must satisfy three main requirements:
1. Correct height/thickness. There's two buttons that must be pressed, on the top and bottom of the "barrel," in order for the trigger to be pulled.
2. The hole in the middle of the disc must have sturdy walls and be about the right size. This allows the disc to actually fire well.
3. Low friction. Self-explanatory.

Posted Image
Silicone mold. Used for molding any disc-shaped things. I used Oogoo, AKA silicone + cornstarch as a catalyst. Basically the same as the gumdrop darts material, chemical-resistant so most materials don't stick well. Hot glue just falls off.

Actually didn't need to use this in my current version of disc-making, but just throwing this out there as a possible mold material.

Posted Image
Failed designs.

Blue is pure foam, I was stupid and didn't think about how the disc was going to fire before I tried it. This actually worked for 2-3 shots, but then the foam broke. This is pretty good-quality closed cell foam too.

Yellow is silicone, the actual yellow part is felt that I stuck in there for structural stability. Waaayyy too much grippiness on this, it also folded up and got stuck in the barrel repeatedly.

Green is bottle cap with craft foam, it shoots but is unstable and bottlecaps might be hard to get. I had to cut it to the right height, which is another step I'd like to remove.

White is hot glue. The silicone does not stick to hot glue at all, so it was incredibly easy to get the whole thing. Problem is, it's too heavy.

Brown is my "bottlecap+Model Magic" disc, which failed horribly on two levels. Model Magic is that Crayola air-dry clay stuff, dries foamy. This disc failed to fire, and Model Magic actually stuck to the silicone mold even when dry so it was annoying to remove.

Red one's pretty successful, but the hot glue just doesn't cut it for durability. After 10 or so shots, the hot glue started cracking.

So you need solid durable material for the inner edge, and it needs to be fairly light so it goes somewhere.

=WRITEUP=

What you need to have:
3/4" THINWALL PVC
Craft Foam
Hot Glue + Glue gun, or similar glue.
Thin plastic sheet or duct tape

Thanks to Kyrativ for suggesting wrapping the PVC before cutting. It is pretty fast, just glue, cut, and glue.

Glue craft foam around the PVC until you reach a diameter similar to that of a Vortex disc, 4 cm or a hair more than 1.5 inches.
Already cut once, but you get the idea. Number of layers depends on foam thickness, but it'll probably be three or four layers thick.
Posted Image


And then make foam slices.
Posted Image

If your slices end up being a bit too thick, make thinner slices. This is about the maximum. Anything more and you need to trim down the disc.
Posted Image

You should cap it with duct tape or some kind of thin, resilient material, craft foam or duct tape.

And there you go. Do some fire testing.

Adjustments: You should be cutting each slice to a similar thickness, so there is little change in weight. My discs fly best with no extra hot glue, but if yours curve to the left consistently it might be a bit too light. Add some hot glue to the bottom side of the foam cap.

I've found that heavy discs curve to the right, so logically light discs would curve to the left...? Haven't made one that's light enough to do that though, so this is all theoretical.

Edited by Darksircam, 15 September 2011 - 11:21 PM.

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#2 chavez guy

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 02:54 PM

Very nice. The Vortex guns aren't even officially released yet, and the community is already making home-made ammo. My crystal ball and I predict some sort of usable disk ammo sometime next year. Or not. Who knows? Not me.

Either way, I am very excited to see where this whole disk shooting guns thing takes this hobby. Keep up the good work. I am very much looking forward to seeing where this goes.
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#3 RedShot

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 03:03 PM

This is actually pretty cool! ...I MIGHT just have to shell out some money to buy a vortex blaster now! :]
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#4 Kyrativ

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:57 PM

i could see this being easier if you were to get 3/4" id foam and place it over the PVC, wrap the entire rod in craft foam, head over to a cutting device, and make your sushi, basically it would cut out 2 or 3 steps.
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#5 Darksircam

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 09:18 PM

Kyrativ: Thanks. That should make it a loooot simpler to do, cuts out the melting part as well.

Instead of the insulation foam, I wrapped craft foam around the PVC until the OD was the right size. 3/4" pipe insulation is too big.

The glue used to hold the entire mess together gums up the teeth, forcing you to peel it off every once in a while. Still makes it a hecukva lot easier.

Edited by Darksircam, 04 September 2011 - 09:22 PM.

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#6 roboman

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 11:44 AM

After looking closely at the stock vortex discs, it seems that the most important part of the disc is the plastic insert. It may be a better approach to try casting these out of some sort of a resin, then casting foam (spray-foam, anyone?) around it. This could have the potential to make very strong discs that function just as well as the stock ones, assuming weight is kept the same. Using cast parts would also remove the need for glue, eliminating a potential cause of friction.
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#7 Phree Agent

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 05:33 PM

After looking closely at the stock vortex discs, it seems that the most important part of the disc is the plastic insert. It may be a better approach to try casting these out of some sort of a resin, then casting foam (spray-foam, anyone?) around it. This could have the potential to make very strong discs that function just as well as the stock ones, assuming weight is kept the same. Using cast parts would also remove the need for glue, eliminating a potential cause of friction.


Using cast parts also lends itself to what I think is going to be the most important factor in trying to create homemade disks for these blasters: Repeatability and consistency. If the disk doesn't fly in at least a slightly predictable way, then it will be worthless in a war situation. And, unlike a homemade dart, a spinning disk needs to be nearly perfect in order to fly straight/well.
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#8 Darksircam

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 11:13 PM

The discs I make with craft foam wrapped around 3/4" thinwall work well. They fly straight, and range loss is minimal.
Yes, a mold would be preferable, but some people don't want to shell out the money for mold materials.

I was looking for a form of castable foam, dunno if spray foam works. Startup cost is higher, overall costs might be higher, but you don't have the deterioration of hot glue.

Anyone who would want to try this, go ahead. Not going to kill any of my stock discs for molds until I get more.

Only problem I'm seeing is the cost. DAP Kwik Foam + casting resin is almost $20, so if you don't get more than 50 discs from that amount it's a net loss of money, counting the time taken to cast as part of the cost.

Terribly bad at estimating volume, 50 is a low-end guess without any calculations.
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#9 joeri

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 10:02 AM

How bout 5 or 6 layers of craft foam with a hole in, and 2 without hole.
Sandwich and then hotglue together. ^_^
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#10 taerKitty

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 11:10 AM

I'm not a mod, but I'd rather not see this turn into a "what-if" thread. The mods tend to be down on those threads, and I'd hate to see this one shut down.

Speaking for myself,

1. I do plan to get one of these blasters.

2. I do plan to try making my own discs.

3. I do plan to STFU about my ideas until I actually have a chance to try them out so I can report hard data.
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#11 Darksircam

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 07:46 PM

How bout 5 or 6 layers of craft foam with a hole in, and 2 without hole.
Sandwich and then hotglue together. ^_^


Please read the first post. My blue discs are what you are talking about, essentially. Foam discs will die. Even hot glue discs with thin hot glue will break pretty quickly.

Relevant post: Updated with new writeup, which is simple and arguably takes less skill than making glue dome stefans. Unless you suck at judging cut width.
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#12 Kyrativ

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 11:37 PM

Heh thanks for the credit in the write-up, Im for anything that helps the community as a whole. I'm defiantly excited for when these blasters come out and to make some homemade disks and do some testing of my own.
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#13 evilbunnyo

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 12:41 AM

I like robomans idea of casting the discs and then producing them. Then all that's needed is a foam layer which shouldn't be to hard.

Edited by evilbunnyo, 08 September 2011 - 12:43 AM.

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#14 roboman

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 10:00 PM

I like robomans idea of casting the discs and then producing them. Then all that's needed is a foam layer which shouldn't be to hard.


I'm planning on getting something from the Vortex series on Saturday, so I can start designing a mold then. I think I'll use the scrap UHMW from Ryan's handle molds to make a prototype.

EDIT: Just looked up at the latest revision of the homemade discs - I like them. It would appear that a thin layer of plastic underneath the craft foam would help. I would suggest some thin (1/16") polycarbonate or some expanded PVC sheet.

Edited by roboman, 08 September 2011 - 10:01 PM.

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#15 Buffdaddy

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 11:09 PM

Also, I would have to check, but I think the tubing used to cover fluorescent lights would be about the right diameter for homemade clips. I'll get back to you on that end after classes finish tomorrow.

Also, I think any thin plastic would do; if you have containers/bins of things like pretzel rods or other items, the plastic is pretty thin, and would work for the top of the discs.
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#16 Darksircam

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 01:53 AM

Yeah, pretty much all you need for the covering is something that is firm enough to trigger the switches and lasts long - the foam works, but I'm afraid it will dent after a while and not depress the switch completely.

Duct tape works for a cheap, resilient covering that's trimmable with scissors. A little added weight also helps. I put a thin layer of hot glue on the inside of the cover (basically in the hole) so it provides structural support and weight.


As far as homemade clips are concerned, I'm interested but can't help much due to lacking a Praxis/Nitron. And that would be a topic for a different thread.
(1 1/2" PVC might also be a viable clip tube material)
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#17 Meaker VI

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 11:52 AM

Just picked up my vortex-series blasters, and I can't help but notice that the plastic thing on the inside looks like something I've seen before- I'm having a hard time finding it but some kind of bushing, cap, plug, or cover. It's probably custom, and so we might not be able to fully replicate it, but I think there must be some bulk-available plastic thing that would substitute. Alternatively, PVC probably works fine. As for the foam, I think an ideal solution would be a washer or bushing of some sort (like what I think I remember on stream-machine type water cannons), but a likely placeholder appears to be foam weather-stripping tape like this: http://lh3.googleuse...bD0I9NVLuipCyF8

(huh... I'm not allowed to use the image tags on this board? Since when did that happen?)

I also took measurements of the discs -
outside dia: 1 9/16" or 4cm
thickness: 3/8" or 1cm
plastic plug top outside dia: ~1 1/16" or ~27mm
plastic plug bottom inside dia: ~1" or ~25mm
plastic plug bottom outside dia: ~1 1/4" or ~33mm

Having not pulled the plug out from the foam, the plug measurements aren't as solid.
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#18 roboman

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 06:29 PM

Just picked up my vortex-series blasters, and I can't help but notice that the plastic thing on the inside looks like something I've seen before- I'm having a hard time finding it but some kind of bushing, cap, plug, or cover. It's probably custom, and so we might not be able to fully replicate it, but I think there must be some bulk-available plastic thing that would substitute. Alternatively, PVC probably works fine. As for the foam, I think an ideal solution would be a washer or bushing of some sort (like what I think I remember on stream-machine type water cannons), but a likely placeholder appears to be foam weather-stripping tape like this: http://lh3.googleuse...bD0I9NVLuipCyF8

(huh... I'm not allowed to use the image tags on this board? Since when did that happen?)

I also took measurements of the discs -
outside dia: 1 9/16" or 4cm
thickness: 3/8" or 1cm
plastic plug top outside dia: ~1 1/16" or ~27mm
plastic plug bottom inside dia: ~1" or ~25mm
plastic plug bottom outside dia: ~1 1/4" or ~33mm

Having not pulled the plug out from the foam, the plug measurements aren't as solid.


I just picked up a Praxis today, and I was interested that the centers of the discs are made of rubber, rather than hard plastic. I think some sort of a Silicone RTV would work nicely to replicate this, similar to what Ryan/Kane are using on their rubber domes.

Also, from what I've seen, the geometry of the cross-section of the disc seems to be important to its flight characteristics. A mold would be fairly easy to make. However, since the refill packs are only $4.99 at Target, and include 10 discs and a magazine, homemade discs are not looking particularly cost-effective right now.
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#19 taerKitty

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Posted 10 September 2011 - 10:00 PM

We'll have dead ends and WTFs along the way as we determine once-and-for-all if it's worth it to make replacement discs.

Stefans came about as an evolutionary process. FA24 came up with his 'matchsticks', which were one of the first metal-free darts. They were also incredibly expensive and time-consuming. An interesting experiment, but, on the taxonomy tree of dart evolution, an unfortunate dead end.

Recently, I came up with bumper heads and nuthead darts. Both of these relied on casts and molds to make the heads consistent. The bumper heads were a hemispherical mold, and the washer had exposed edges and was not consistently centered.

The nuthead was a full 3-D mold and was incredibly cheap, but required the mounting hole in the foam to be ABSOLUTELY centered. However, it was 99% consistent, and the first time I saw RTV used in dartsmithing, albeit as the mold material.

I'm not saying that MHA's work is based on mine. I'm saying we were both on the same major branch off the evolutionary tree. Mine are dead ends - the bumper heads because the exposed washer edges, and the nutheads because they're still chunks of hot glue, and aren't as safe as slugs, or as MHA's RTV heads.

===

Long story short: don't give up on homemaking discs until a bunch of people have tried it.
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#20 shardbearer

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 07:52 PM

I think that RTV is a good idea. Maybe glue a washer in the hole for more weight?

And instead of making our darts stronger to not get messed up by the disc check, just take it out!

Edited by shardbearer, 11 September 2011 - 08:13 PM.

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#21 Exo

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 10:54 AM

I just got the proton yesterday, and all the locks are pretty easy to find and remove. I think that the molds would be a good idea, but would the entire thing be silicone?

There's a little wheel on the right side of the disc channel that acts as a disc lock/spin applier, and I think if the silicone won't compress like the foam would, That might be a problem.

But here's another question. How would you use these guns? would you use it as an "anti-sheild alternative ammo" gun, like mongos, missiles, balls, etc. like some games are set up like? Because if you were, you probably wouldn't need that much ammo, so just buying an ammo pack would be less time-consuming.
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#22 roboman

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 10:44 PM

I just got the proton yesterday, and all the locks are pretty easy to find and remove. I think that the molds would be a good idea, but would the entire thing be silicone?

There's a little wheel on the right side of the disc channel that acts as a disc lock/spin applier, and I think if the silicone won't compress like the foam would, That might be a problem.

But here's another question. How would you use these guns? would you use it as an "anti-sheild alternative ammo" gun, like mongos, missiles, balls, etc. like some games are set up like? Because if you were, you probably wouldn't need that much ammo, so just buying an ammo pack would be less time-consuming.


If/when I end up making a mold, I intend to make the inner portion RTV, and the outer section foam. I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do for the foam part, but I'll figure something out.
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#23 shardbearer

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 06:22 AM

There's a little wheel on the right side of the disc channel that acts as a disc lock/spin applier, and I think if the silicone won't compress like the foam would, That might be a problem.

But here's another question. How would you use these guns? would you use it as an "anti-sheild alternative ammo" gun, like mongos, missiles, balls, etc. like some games are set up like? Because if you were, you probably wouldn't need that much ammo, so just buying an ammo pack would be less time-consuming.


Silicone is pretty flexible, I think i would compress to fit the disc spinner. How much does it push into the disc?

And I intend to use them as alternatives to darts. If stock guns can fire twice or three times as far with the same fps, then shouldn't we be able to get two to three times stefan distances with stefan discs?
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#24 Darksircam

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 09:19 AM

Unless you find a way to reduce the friction, pure silicone does not work. It's far too grippy on the barrel.
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#25 Meaker VI

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:50 AM

Silicone is pretty flexible, I think i would compress to fit the disc spinner. How much does it push into the disc?

And I intend to use them as alternatives to darts. If stock guns can fire twice or three times as far with the same fps, then shouldn't we be able to get two to three times stefan distances with stefan discs?


I'm not 100% sure what you're getting at here, but I think we're probably not going to see great performance increases out of homemade discs like there have been with stefans/slugs/homemade darts. Heavier discs might launch more reliably (accurately), but would likely not go as far without also improving the spring in the launcher. Lighter discs might have greater velocity; but most of that would probably be lost due to air resistance.

This system works differently than our previous Nerf setups - rather than use air pressure to push a dart, these discs are being mechanically flung; as if you were throwing a baseball or using a catapult. Trying to throw a bowling ball is not going to improve range, and will only marginally improve accuracy (because the deviation won't be noticeable when the ball lands 3' in front of you). Trying to throw a ping-pong ball isn't going to either, because the ping-pong ball is more affected by air resistance. Now a golf ball might work better, but then there's our problem - has Nerf already found the golf ball for us? Is the current disc the exact weight that works best for the mechanical arm? Also, is that "ideal" weight/mass/density disc going to be dangerous? I could probably get the launcher to fire a washer; but that'd be pointless for our purposes (and dangerous - don't do it).

All that said, I think our best bet is to replicate the current discs in a cheap, simple, easy-to-reproduce, way. We can add tension/compression/torsion springs to the inside of the blaster to get improved performance if the included mod (spring-tension adjustment already in the blaster) isn't enough for you.
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