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I'm Hoping to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

Homemade neophyte

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#1 Toast

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 04:11 PM

I'm starting to feel that modding stock Nerf Blasters isn't enough and I'm considering venturing into the realm of homemade blasters. As I look through the forum and absorb the wealth and variety of knowledge, I can't help but feel I may require a degree in physics or career in engineering before I have a hope in Hades of constructing something that rivals what $12.99 and a trip to Target would get me. I've read through several threads, including Carbon's "intro heads up", but I'm still left scratching my head. And with 87 pages is the homemade category, an ignorance of what to constructively search for for getting started, and the aversion for posting a "what's the best way to start homemaking a blaster?".

Yes a "where do I start?" would be great, but it would also be great to know if there's some engineering prerequisite I need to have. Which I have none.
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#2 Langley

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 04:29 PM

Beaver's Reference Thread is pretty great for an overview. Rork's SNAPbow is a pretty simple pull-back blaster and you can get everything but the spring from Home Depot or Lowes. Once you've built one of those and played around with it, you'll probably want to get a wye from mcmaster-carr and build a hopper. If you've made some slug darts and managed to get your snapbow firing them out of a hopper, you'll probably want to upgrade to something pump action. This is where it unfortunately gets murky. There are a lot of options but many of them are not documented well enough for someone new, or they are long and complex, or they require lots of special equipment. Although he's too modest to put it in his own reference thread, Beaver has probably the best homememade nerf gun design for anyone new to building homemades. It uses many of the same parts as rork's snapbow, and it should be pretty easy to put together.
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#3 Carbon

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 05:05 PM

it would also be great to know if there's some engineering prerequisite I need to have. Which I have none.

If it makes you feel any better, neither do I.

My intro to homemades is pretty long in the tooth at this point, and was written when homemade design was still a lot of unknowns. Today, it's largely shaken down into a few general styles: Rainbow catches, +bow style plate catches, and clothespin triggers. Beaver's thread (which Langley pointed you towards) lists several designs that are worth studying, to try and get your head around how a nerf blaster works (including the one I cut my teeth on, the FAR). After that, go through the homemades directory and look at the different designs, and start to get a feel for how they're put together. As different as most of these blasters look, they all have a similar premise.
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#4 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 05:48 PM

before I have a hope in Hades of constructing something that rivals what $12.99 and a trip to Target would get me.


Your first homemade is probably going to cost $60 and might not function. If you are looking for a one-time blaster that is going to be more powerful than off-the-shelf mods, then just purchase one from one of many sellers on the NIC. However, if you're enthusiastic and ready for hands on learning, then I definitely recommend starting with a SNAP (a great writeup is linked).

Depending on what tools you have lying around, you'll probably still end up sinking a decent chunk of change into parts (one reason being that PVC is sold in 10' lengths). But if you've ever put together IKEA furniture or played with Legos, you have the basic procedural capacity to follow directions an put together a SNAP. You'll probably goof up a lot on the way, but by the end you should have a working blaster. If you were paying attention and had any critical reasoning ability, you'll also be able to just pick up the scraps and leftover materials and build 4-5 more to give to your friends.

To give some perspective, I've been making homemades for 4 years and I still can't get a design to function on the first try. Given that my spare time is limited, I would probably be better off paying someone else to make them for me, but a lot of the satisfaction is in the process and not the result.
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#5 Toast

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 07:05 PM

Your first homemade is probably going to cost $60 and might not function. If you are looking for a one-time blaster that is going to be more powerful than off-the-shelf mods, then just purchase one from one of many sellers on the NIC. However, if you're enthusiastic and ready for hands on learning, then I definitely recommend starting with a SNAP (a great writeup is linked).

Depending on what tools you have lying around, you'll probably still end up sinking a decent chunk of change into parts (one reason being that PVC is sold in 10' lengths). But if you've ever put together IKEA furniture or played with Legos, you have the basic procedural capacity to follow directions an put together a SNAP. You'll probably goof up a lot on the way, but by the end you should have a working blaster. If you were paying attention and had any critical reasoning ability, you'll also be able to just pick up the scraps and leftover materials and build 4-5 more to give to your friends.

To give some perspective, I've been making homemades for 4 years and I still can't get a design to function on the first try. Given that my spare time is limited, I would probably be better off paying someone else to make them for me, but a lot of the satisfaction is in the process and not the result.

I'm definitely after the satisfaction of creating my own. Over the past 2 months I've probably spent about $250 on Blasters, Springs from OMW, Kane's AMIORS kit, miscellaneous and some misc supporting stuff from Lowes. I'm almost out of stuff to mod on my stocks and I want to keep busy. Not that I have another $250 to spend at the moment, but I don't mind putting some cash down for some fun. Was the SNAP article your referenced the one Langley originally linked to? http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=20296
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#6 Tangerle

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 08:19 PM

I know how you feel. I have a snap I built and am currently working on a pumpsnap. My advice, build something that works. Generally (mods specifically) trying my own thing normally doesn't work but what other people have made (and work) do work (when correctly replicated). Homemade ideas work but the working concept is needed to be built to work as the idea. You need to have a lot more common sense than knowledge though what knowledge you do know you have to be able to apply to building things. Just know that you want to keep things simple and later optimize. I'm on the same boat you are but further off if that makes sense.


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#7 Zorns Lemma

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 08:28 PM

I'm definitely after the satisfaction of creating my own. Over the past 2 months I've probably spent about $250 on Blasters, Springs from OMW, Kane's AMIORS kit, miscellaneous and some misc supporting stuff from Lowes. I'm almost out of stuff to mod on my stocks and I want to keep busy. Not that I have another $250 to spend at the moment, but I don't mind putting some cash down for some fun. Was the SNAP article your referenced the one Langley originally linked to? http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=20296


Yes. That guide is great because it tells you exactly how long to cut things and where to put them, compared to a lot of the homemade writeups that are more of a design overview (i.e. "this is what I did and how it works and why I did it that way, but you're on your own for reified replication").

The only things that could go wrong are manufacturing errors, which are pretty easy to fix. After you get the blaster up and running, it's also very easy to take apart, and then you can mess around before trying more challenging (less concrete) builds.

The SNAP design also requires no specialized machinery since you can do it with a hacksaw and drill (dremel, belt sander, reciprocating saw make things easier/fancier/prettier).
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#8 azrael

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 09:24 PM

Don't forget that many old school air guns from Nerf like the Supermaxx or Airtech series, or even the air powered Buzzbee blasters can be modified into a NIC war worthy blaster, and I would argue that it might be less work for a less experienced DIYer than building a homemade blaster.
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#9 Mully

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Posted 13 August 2013 - 10:17 PM

Basically what's been said by almost everyone so far, SNAPbows are probably the best introduction to home mades, that fire ala trigger. The components are really easy to source, (I was just at the DoIt center for washers) and the only thing you need to get off the web are springs. NoM's PumpSnap writeup has a very good description on how to make a superlative plunger head, and also more picks on the construction and function of a clothespin trigger. You really don't need to have a degree in anything to make a homemade (I certainly don't!), all you need to have is a basic understanding of how things work, and the confidence to start building.
You could also just get a UMB :lol:
Good luck.

Edited by Mully, 13 August 2013 - 10:21 PM.

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#10 HasreadCoC

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 08:13 AM

Well, I can tell you that for my first "real" homemade (I had made several rubber band powered screw-around things before) I made a rainbow catch blaster. Actually, three "and a half" of them. That is, with the minimum length of clear plunger tube ordered from McMaster Carr (an online parts store, very popular) I had enough for three blasters (plus a pistol, depending on how I cut it), and so it made sense to order the other parts so they all got used, without much waste.

My advice is read the heck out of this thread: http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=20330

When you understand how the basic components work, commonly known as the:

"plunger tube" (main tube, bushing plugging the end),
"plunger head" (usually a skirt seal or U-cup seal sandwiched between two disks),
"plunger rod" (usually 1/2" nylon rod with notches cut into it, and attached to the plunger head, sometimes made instead with CPVC or steel rod)
"catch" (in this case the "rainbow" catch, one of the 2 most popular designs these days, with the other being a variation of the clothespin catch)
"spring" (self explanatory, but you'll want to make sure to use a "[k26]", a spring ordered from McMaster, or bought from someone who got it there)
"handle" (the grip and the trigger, one of the most personalized parts, and the trigger can be a bitch to get right, tread lightly here, and have patience)

Once you've got that down, it's around $100 to make three 7"-draw spring-powered homemades. Personally, I had my builds funded by my two brothers, who paid for most of the parts in exchange for one of the finished results each. In the end, a friend bought one originally to be sold to my brother. Here are some picture links, if you would like some inspiration:

Rainbow in a Longstrike shell (unfinished in this picture, but most easily understood). Has since been made pump-action.

Rainbow attached to a pistol-crossbow handle, my personal blaster. I had since added an upside down stock attacked to the bottom of the handle.

My last Rainbow, I used the same paintball handle Beaver used originally. I also used a sliding-trigger (the bitchiest trigger of all) in order to reduce overall length, and be cleanest-looking. Sold to my friend "Darkmatter".

A final piece of advice, go to the homemades pictures thread, start at the beginning, and just scroll through the whole thing. You'll be glad you did. Not only is it way cool to look at, but the inspiration you'll absorb with be extremely useful for problem solving when building homemades.

Hope something there helps.

--------

Oh and P.S. if you need a cheap and easy scroll saw, get this one from Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfre...-saw-93012.html

You should get one the of the 20% off coupons, and then use that to buy it. It's cheap, simple, and gets the job done. A few years into use and mine still works great, I use it for most any homemade building I do.

Edited by HasreadCoC, 14 August 2013 - 08:17 AM.

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#11 DartSlinger

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 09:43 AM

I can't help but feel I may require a degree in physics or career in engineering before I have a hope in Hades of constructing something that rivals what $12.99 and a trip to Target would get me. But it would also be great to know if there's some engineering prerequisite I need to have. Which I have none.

You definitely don't need to have any sort of degree to build a homemade blaster. When you start out you will think that you do, though. When I started on my first homemade (pumpSNAP) I seriously doubted that I could even build one. But humans have an interesting quality about themselves: we always underestimate our own ability. Once it was built, it didn't quite work, so I had to rebuild the catch ramp once and the trigger twice. But now it works very well. Here is a picture of it.

Posted Image

The main reason that I picked a pumpSNAP as my first homemade was that it is very cheap to build. You can build one for thirty to forty dollars and then have almost enough leftover parts to build several more. One's first homemade is always a learning experience: I learned a tremendous amount of information while building it. I can now build SNAPs with ease. My brother and I are each building one now, and I'm customizing quite a few parts of the build.

Building a homemade appears quite daunting at first, but you'll find out that it's really surprisingly easy. Building your first homemade will give you valuable experience and confidence. I'm sure that people who are a lot less smart than you are have build homemades. In case you decide to build some kind of SNAP, here is a tutorial on how to build a SNAPbow. The videos in the playlist are made by Nerfomania, who has made about forty homemade blasters! The videos are quite detailed and will help you with whatever kind of SNAP (or any kind of homemade, for that matter.) that you're building, because they contain a lot of useful tips and tricks. I found the parts about building the SNAP trigger especially helpful.

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Edited by Langley, 14 August 2013 - 10:55 AM.

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#12 Meaker VI

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:20 AM

Everyone else has said it pretty well - Start with a SNAP. The only thing I'd add is that slot-cutting can be done with a drill and a length of mason's twine.

The stuff is available everywhere for $3-5, and the slots turn out really well. Mark up your PVC tube where you want to cut, drill a hole/holes at each end of what will be a slot, then thread the line through and pull it back and fourth like you're sawing. It'll take some time, but if you don't have the tools/skills/space to make loud noises in, you get excellent control of your cut (=better results for inexperienced people) for next to nothing. You can apparently also do this with wire, and there exist wire saws, but I had the twine on hand.
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#13 rego

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:27 PM

I started in the exact opposite way as you. I saw boltsnipers FAR, and decided I wanted one. It did not end well, but I learned quite a bit from that and just lurking around the forums. The homemades picture thread is always a good source of inspiration, and has some pretty good designs in it. I find the rainbow catch to be the easiest and most reliable catch, but clothespin triggers work fine for others. It's usually a matter of preference and how well your first time making one goes. Just start browsing the forums, find a design you like, play with some graph paper, and start throwing shit together. I had my far in progress for four years until I finally said fuck it.(Which was just under a month ago.) The absolute easiest blaster I have ever made was captainslug's 2-11, mainly because there is no precision cutting and everything is worked out for you. It can also be made pretty cheaply if you can get the right materials near you. Good luck with building!
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#14 Toast

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 08:34 AM

Thanks everyone. I'm convinced my next project is a homemade, over a custom paint job. Sure I could do both with enough time, but I think there's a lot of satisfaction for putting one of these fella together and -- eventually -- seeing it work.

I did have a question about the SNAP bow and also the pumpSNAP (re: Dartslinger), namely.... uh, where does the ammo go? Are they just single feeds through the muzzle? Obviously having some attachment that provides a loading mechanism adds more engineering, but that would be helpful to know. I'd still like the possibility of practicality, so I'm just not sure where the loading is achieved. :)
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#15 Daniel Beaver

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 09:26 AM

Thanks everyone. I'm convinced my next project is a homemade, over a custom paint job. Sure I could do both with enough time, but I think there's a lot of satisfaction for putting one of these fella together and -- eventually -- seeing it work.

I did have a question about the SNAP bow and also the pumpSNAP (re: Dartslinger), namely.... uh, where does the ammo go? Are they just single feeds through the muzzle? Obviously having some attachment that provides a loading mechanism adds more engineering, but that would be helpful to know. I'd still like the possibility of practicality, so I'm just not sure where the loading is achieved. :)


Either a speedloader (two barrels attached to each other in such a way that you can load both and quickly flip them for a second shot):

Posted Image

...or a hopper (an autoloader):

Posted Image


Both connect to a standard PVC coupler, so you swap them if you want. If you build a pump-action blaster, you need to use a hopper. You'll also need to order the hopper off the internet, or buy it from someone around here (they're not generally available at hardware stores).

I think you should build a Snapbow first. They're much easier to build than a pump-action blasters, and your first build will probably be very successful.

Edited by Daniel Beaver, 20 August 2013 - 09:33 AM.

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#16 dskippy

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Posted 19 September 2013 - 01:59 PM

Hey,

Welcome to the community, and don't feel overwhelmed. You definitely don't need an engineering or physics degree. In fact, I think if you're not an engineer, getting involved in the DIY Nerf Blaster community is a really great way to learn some basic engineering/maker techniques and it's a really helpful community. Here's some basic advice and info that I found helpful:

There are three majorly popular spring-based designs on this form that people seem to be copying:

Snap by Caron:
http://nerfhaven.com...?showtopic=5767
There's a highly regarded tutorial on a derivative by Rork:
http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=20296
These are probably the easiest to make (though others may disagree) and a great place to start.

+bow by Mad Scientist:
http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=10521
Derivatives include the L+L (Lock and load) as many call it which is a pistol sized version. He has a great instructional thread. These are beautiful but also very complicated to make and require a lot more material than the Rainbow.

Rainbow by Stark, Beaver, and Paul:
http://nerfhaven.com...showtopic=20330
Designed as a simpler, more compacted version of the +bow catch. This thread is amazing and my personal favorite of the three designs.

Go ahead and just get started. You'd be surprised how easy it is to just get something working. After all it's just air rushing through a tube with a dart in it. From there, you'll learn a lot and be able to refine your design and improve your building skills.

-mike
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