Mod Shop – The Longer Strike – Longstrike Shell/Titan internals

I have internet again! The new place is starting to feel a lot more like home now and even the blaster unpacking is well under way. We’re certainly not 100% normal yet, but it’s getting there.

Anyway, the topic for today is something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. All the modification posts I’ve made so far have been very detailed walk throughs, designed to be followed by even the most novice of modifiers. This one will instead be my first foray into something a little more complicated. I’ll be as upfront as I can about this; this post and the many like it that will follow in the future are not designed for the beginning modifier. This is not a step-by-step walk through; but rather a way of showing you some of the more interesting things that can be done. By all means, please feel free to have a go at this and ask any questions you feel you need to ask, but if you can’t figure out most of what’s going on from this post alone, then perhaps this isn’t for you just yet.

Most blaster modifications are not all that difficult and what I’m hoping to achieve with posts like this is to inspire others to have a go. Once you’re experienced in modifying your blasters, think about how you can improve blasters yourself, don’t just always blindly follow guides you found on the internet. Come up with something new and exciting and add something back to the community yourself!

A few months ago I built myself an RSCB’d BBUMB, but more importantly, actually got to use it. I’d played around with singled titans before but due to the modding restrictions we had at ANU (basically AR’s only), I’d never been able to use them and thus never really put much thought in to high powered blasters. Then about 12months ago the Canberra and Southern NSW Dart Tag group started up and hey look, far more relaxed modding restrictions. Played a few games with the BBUMB and while it was cool, it just didn’t suit my running play style like a Raider did. This then got me motivated again in things that weren’t necessarily practical, but are well cool.

After a game one day a mate had said to me how disappointed he was with the performance of his LongStike and if I could help him. I suggested the standard spring+AR mods but explained that it would only ever be on par with my Raider, and not to suddenly expect BBUMB sorts of ranges. The thought then immediately popped in to my head “Why not get BBUBM sorts of ranges out of a LongStrike? I’ve got a LongStrike that I never use, so why not?” I went home and started sizing up the BBUMB internals and the LongStrike shell before it dawned on me; “Forget buying another BBUMB, I’ve got a Titan sitting there that also never gets used!”

I already knew that I was never going to use it in a game, I just wanted something cool, so I was very strict on myself in that it had to look as much like a LongStrike as possible when I was finished, even if that meant sacrificing practicality. All in all I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, in that it looks like a LongStrike but is a singled Titan. As of right now she works! Only needs paint and it will be finished. More photos to come once that’s done.

The donors. You’ll obviously notice that I had previously painted my LongStrike, this colour scheme will remain on the finished product.Photobucket

Dremel’ed the buggery out of the shell.Photobucket

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Test fitting the pump.

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The makings of the breech. 17/32 brass with a cutout to load the dart, 9/16 piece to slide over the top of it Obvoiusly some of the shell was cut away too.

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How I made the bolt for the breech. Cut out a piece of 19/32 brass and drilled a hole through it, placed an M3 captive nut used in press fittings through it, glued the two together, soldered the 19/32 brass to the 9/16 breech slide.

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All of the components in place.

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The Titan tank in place, complete with a rather large cut out in the shell. I’m aware this now looks like a butchered LongStrike and not at all cool, but bare with me.

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I cut up a 6 clip for looks.

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The breech open.

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Half open.

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Closed.

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The physically finished product from the right. Looks suspiciously like a Longstrike, right?

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The physically finished product from the left. Again, with painting to come.

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And here’s the finished product ladies and gents.

(Damn it! I just noticed in this pic that I’ve apparently lost the stock clip release button. Balls.)

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And there we have it folks; one singled Titan inside a Longstrike shell. Ranges are fairly typical of this sort of blaster, 40m flat with a streamline. Leaves welts through clothing, not something you’d ever want to actually use in a game even if it was practical.

 

Best part however was taking out 2nd place for Best Blaster in the OzNerf modding competition. Very proud of that.

Mod Shop – Nerf Alpha Trooper – Spring replacement problem solving

Sorry all, another quick one this week. Still no internet at home so had to punch out a quick one without many pictures. Hopefully I’ll be back to normal by next week.

Went to a game on Saturday; brilliant fun, lots of people, great games. Throughout the day I had a couple of people ask me about spring replacements on their Alpha Troopers and specifically why they were so much more problematic than spring replacement on other reverse plunger based blasters. I went home that afternoon and had a play around with two different AT’s (both with different aftermarket springs) and sure enough, results were mixed. Both blasters were wildly variable in their ranges and sometime would fail to cock altogether. I then grabbed a brand new AT and took to it. Did the standard AR job and tried a couple of different springs and still no love. Played around for a while trying to figure out what was the problem and all of a sudden it dawned on me; if I pushed the back of the plunger forward after I fired, it worked every time. I pulled it all apart to find out was causing it and wow but was it obvious. The stock AT spring is longer than either the Recon or the Raider. This is because it’s slightly under load when the blaster is un-primed, which forces a locking mechanism forward. Have a look at the first two photos below and you’ll soon see what I mean.

Here is the blaster with a BTV1 spring, under no load. Pay careful attention to the small black spring above the trigger and the mechanism it’s attached to.Photobucket

Now compare that to the position here when I pull the plunger all the way forward. See the difference? The stock spring would keep it under load, even when the blaster wasn’t primed.Photobucket

Again, the BTV1 un-primed.Photobucket

Compared to the BTV1 with the plunger pulled forward. See our problem here? I stuffed around trying to make a spacer that was the right length to force the mechanism forward enough but the compressed length of the spring was then too much with the spacer in place.

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Instead, really simple solution.

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Cut the stock spring down and use a few coils from it in addition to the BT spring and we’re in business.

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Unfortunately the priming bar and bolt sled aren’t connected to the plunger so no amount of pulling the priming handle forward will solve it, we have to push the plunger forward from behind.

I put about 70 darts through it with no problems. No idea on ranges as I was confined to a garage at the time, but seems about on par with any other sprung reverse plunger blaster I’ve done. It should get a game tested soon enough and I’ll report back on it’s workings then, but for the moment I think I’m on to a winner.

Cheers guys, hope to return to normal by next week. Current plan is to do a write up on one of the more advanced blaster modifications I’ve done recently.

Joe

Soapbox – HvZ@ANU or how my love of toy blasters spreads goodwill to the world.

So without trying to make excuses, you’re all getting somewhat of a filler post this week. I’m currently in process of moving house and while all my blasters are all boxed up, I actually took a heap of photos to do walkthroughs with in the interim until the new garage was set up. Unfortunately, I forgot to take into account that I wouldn’t have a real internet connection at the new house initially 😦

So, coming to you from my desk at work during lunch time, I present to you a piece I wrote for the ‘2011 Urban Taggers Christmas Giveaway’. The topic was to send Pocket a letter, a photo, a video or some other way of ‘how your love of Urban Taggers and toy blasters spreads goodwill to the world’. Hope you all enjoy my take on how toy blasters made my world a better place.

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HvZ first came to the Australian National University in 2009, the third year of my Commerce degree. I had a decent group of friends I hung out with while at uni, exclusively made up of people I had gone to school with previously and people they had met through uni themselves. I had very few friends within my own degree and even fewer outside of the group I already knew before coming to uni. I found out about HvZ a few weeks before it kicked off through a lecturer of mine, talked to some of my mates and we decided to give it a go. None of us owned any blasters at this stage but we were told that Target was having a sale the following week. We all did our research regarding what blaster to pick up, met up at 8am the opening morning of the sale and grabbed an assortment of blasters between us. I decided to grab a BuzzBee Tommy 20 and BeltBlaster for myself for the game, and also picked up a Nerf Vulcan for my little brother’s birthday the following week.

PhotobucketMe at the Canberra Centre, about 8:30am with blasters for a bunch of people

A few days later we trucked along to the sign-up day, threw our $5 down to play and put our names down on the sheet. My friends and I decided to form a squad, Paranoia in Pajenkas (PiP), and had a jolly good time doing it. We had few people I hadn’t known before HvZ join us, but the squad was mostly my friends and I.

The game start rolled around and all of our brilliantly formed plans, and our squad, very quickly fell apart. Fortunately however, you immediately made friends with complete strangers simply because they were human. It didn’t matter what degree they were doing, how far through it they were, if they lived on or off campus; all that mattered was if their bandanna was on their arm as opposed to their head. I met more people in those first three days of HvZ than I had in the previous two and a half years of uni.

PhotobucketPrime example here; that’s me on the far left with the BeltBlaster.
Before the game I knew two other people in this photo, over two years after the game and I can still name all but one of them.

I ended up surviving right to the very end of the game, and while I’m quite proud of my efforts, when I look back on the good times we had it’s the people who made it magical. Sure surviving was great and I’d never have it any other way, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. The friends I met during that four day period are still some of my closest friends over two years on. However it wasn’t just the human side where these friendships were forming. My housemate at the time was turned fairly early and he still had an absolute ball, and made a completely different set of friends to me (funnily enough, predominantly zombies).

During the next six months while we all prepared for game two, it was incredible how many people I suddenly knew (or strangely, knew me). You almost couldn’t go to go to class without seeing someone from HvZ on the way there and someone else in your class too! I then started to get more involved in the administration side of the game, I even volunteered to be a moderator, and this is when the real friendships started to form. I spent an incredible amount of time with the other moderators, the executive of the club and the people who just wanted to help out. Most of the moderators practically lived together for the week of the game, often spending 10-12 hours a day with each other. Yes tempers flared on occasion and we had many a disagreement over in-game stuff, but looking back on it now almost two years later, I honestly can’t think of a better way to have spent that time.

PhotobucketMitch, myself and Glenn playing the roles of NPC’s during Game 2.

I could go on for hours here detailing the lead up, execution and aftermath of each game we played, and of course the unfortunate demise of the club, but I’m pretty sure you’ll all understand what I’m trying to say here. HvZ brought people together. It let first year students interact with post grads, it provided a reason for Engineering students talk to Art students, it gave ‘townies’ an excuse to get to know some of the ‘on campus’ folk; all without any form of prejudice. It instantly broke down social barriers and certainly made the university a better place for it.

Personally, HvZ was without a shadow of a doubt, the best experience of my time at university and probably the time of my life so far. I met so many people from such a wide range of backgrounds that I never would have encountered otherwise, all because we had these silly little foam dart blasters in common. I’ve since picked up blasters as a legitimate hobby and continue to play to this day, but I have many close friends who couldn’t care less about the blasters, yet still unconditionally love the game. Plenty of people met their now partners through HVZ, while countless more made good honest friendships. The camaraderie we all share to this day is incredible and I have a bunch of plastic guns to thank for that. So thank you Nerf and BuzzBee; thank you ANU for letting us play as long as you did; thank you to the original club founders for introducing us to this brilliant game; thank you to everyone who played and made it oh so special; and thank you Pocket from Urban Taggers for providing the motivation for me to write this, it’s brought back a lot of great memories.

PhotobucketEnd of Game 3, complete with me walking away from the camera (obviously on purpose to show off my awesome cape and not at all because I didn’t know they were taking the photo yet…)

Joe

Tools and Consumables for Blaster Modding

This week’s post is a response to a readers request and will be a little different from the content we’ve seen so far. Lots of different websites out there show you how to do a whole host of basic blaster mods, but in the spirit of encouraging others to get out there and try stuff for themselves, I’m instead just posting a list of tools and consumables I use when modifying blasters. Obviously, most of these won’t be needed most of the time, but having the right tool available for any given job is always going to make your life significantly easier. Sure you can punch out an AR with a screwdriver and a hammer, but having a hand drill is going to do a far better job and save you time, effort and heartache.

Our journey today will be split up into three parts; Tools, Consumables and Electrics. The first two should be fairly self explanatory, while the third will cover an assortment of both tools and consumables that will only be needed when performing modifications on electronic based blasters. Along the way we’ll also cover off a few generic ideas that I think are useful when it comes to modifying practically any blaster.

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So without further ado, Tools!

Screwdrivers. Without a shadow of a doubt, the most important tools you’re going to need when modifying blasters are a set of screwdrivers. You will need an assortment of different sized pan head or phillips head screwdrivers, and having a few flat heads around never hurt anyone either.

A screwdriver may seem like an incredibly simple tool, and it is, but a remarkable number of people don’t think about what they’re doing with it. When using a screwdriver, turn it slowly and purposefully; if you feel it start to slip, stop immediately. Blasters typically use small/weak screws that can strip quite easily. That and you’re screwing into plastic, so it’s also quite easy to strip/break the shell when screwing back in to it. Also, use the correct sized driver for a given screw. Trying to force a larger screw with a smaller tip, will only end up stripping the head. If you only buy one thing towards modifying your blasters, make sure it’s a selection of different sized screwdrivers.
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Scissors. Mostly used for cutting tape, I’m pretty sure you can probably figure out this one for yourself.

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Modeling Saw. Admittedly I don’t actually use this all that much any more. Most of the time a Dremmel will do a better job and be significantly faster, but there is the odd occasion where the Dremel simply doesn’t fit and you need to cut something by hand.

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Battery hand drill. Another incredibly useful, but often overlooked tool. As I mentioned at the start of this post, you *can* punch out an AR with a hammer and a screwdriver; however having the right tool (a hand drill) will both make the job easier and produce a better result. This is one of the more expensive tools we’ll be looking at today and could be difficult to justify if solely using it for modding blasters. If you don’t already own one, start thinking of other things you could potentially use it for and I’m sure you’ll be able to find the appropriate funds. While modifying blasters I mostly use mine for removing AR’s but there are plenty of other occasions where the ability to drill a hole in something is rather useful.

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Extra long drill bit. Having the drill may be all well and good, but without a bit long enough to reach an AR, it’s probably not going to be of much use. Again, just go buy one. They’re not that expensive and will make your life much easier. Sure it might cost $15, but think how many mods you’re going to do with it! You could probably get away with something ~200mm long, but ~300mm is what I’ve got as it was what I could find.

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Generic drill bit set. If you’ve gone to all the effort of getting a drill you, may as well get a decent selection of bits. I’m sure I’ve used these for a whole bunch of assorted blaster modifications but I can’t for the life of me think of any specific examples.

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Hot glue gun. Incredibly useful in the world of blaster modification. Hot glue is extremely easy to use, relatively cheap, and quite versatile. I’ve used hot glue for everything from gluing things together (shock horror I know), to reinforcing brittle parts of blaster shells, through to creating seals and plugging air leaks. If you’re going to go out and pick up a hot glue gun, splurge that little bit extra and get yourself a full sized one. The difference in price between it and one that uses the smaller sizes of glue sticks will be made up surprisingly quickly through the difference in glue sticks.

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Tape measure. Used to measure things? Yeah, this one should be fairly self explanatory. Remember the age old adage of “measure twice, cut once”.

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Side cutters. Another fairly straight forward tool. You won’t need it all that often, but situations will come up where you’ll think to yourself “if only I had a pair of side cutters…”

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Dremel (or in my case the Rotary Hobby Tool). Typically I dislike referring to generic things by a specific brand name, but I dislike the generic term of ‘rotary tool’ even more. That, and nobody knows what a ‘rotary tool’ is. Another rather expensive tool to add to the collection but well worth it. Once you own a dremel you will find so many uses for it it’s not funny. I use a Dremel branded one at work regularly and I’ve had this one at home for years; I can’t say I prefer one over the other. Based on this, I’d recommend buying the cheaper off brand alternative.

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Dremel bits. Like the drill, the dremel isn’t particularly useful without bits. For blaster modification the two most common bits you’ll need are the cutting disc and the grinding wheel. As crazy as it sounds, the cutting disc cuts things, while the grinding wheel grinds things away. Unlike this tool itself, I do recommend that you stay with the Dremel branded bits. I’ve tried some of the off brand bits and they never seem to last as long as the Dremel ones do.

If you’re planning on working with brass barrels and breechs, I’d also suggest getting some polishing wheels too. Far easier than doing it by hand and can also get inside the brass as well.

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Knife. Retractable, snap off blades, one piece; whatever, just make sure it’s sharp and always cut away from yourself. Don’t do what Donny Don’t does!

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Hand Files. I know I’ve only pictured one here but you’ll want an assortment of relatively fine files. The most important one to have is a round file, at least 200mm long. This will allow you to clean up the dags left over after ramming a drill through an AR and it will make a difference. Beyond that I also have a collection of small files for very detailed work, and the large flat file pictured. Regularly you’ll just grind things away with your dremel, but there will be occasions where the hand tool is needed.

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Small containers. Ok, so not really a tool as such but something I still strongly suggest having and feel it’s worth including. Small containers, such as spray can lids, are brilliant for storing screws and other small parts in whilst your blaster is in pieces. Everything just goes straight in to the container and you can’t loose parts. Always find something to put parts in, don’t lust leave them on the bench.

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Consumables!

Teflon tape. Found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store, teflon tape is an incredibly thin form of tape. You’ll use it for padding out O-rings to improve the seal in your blasters. I’ll also mention here that you can achieve a similar outcome with electrical tape, but because it’s thicker you can’t be as precise and therefore won’t get as good a result.

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Electrical tape. One of those things that’s just hand to have around. I mostly use it for holding blasters together for testing purposes.

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Masking tape. Used for masking off certain areas before painting. Probably not needed if you don’t intend on painting your blasters.

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Cloth tape. Similarly to the electrical tape, cloth tape is just a useful thing to have around. I’m sure you’ll find uses for it if you had some.

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Markers. Going back to the logic above of ‘measure twice, cut once’, it really pays off to have some good quality markers around.

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Foam padding. I haven’t actually touched on this subject before and do plan of doing a full post on it in the future, so for now I’ll be brief. Modifying your blasters will reduce their life. You can do things to mitigate against this, padding your plungers for example, but they will never last as long as if you left them as they were from the factory. I’ve tried a variety of padding’s in the past and have never really been satisfied with them. Currently testing out some OzNerfNerd ones, but don’t have any real data on them so far. Based on what the rest of the internet says you probably should get some form of padding, but I’m unconvinced personally.

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Lube. You should be lubing your blasters fairly regularly if they’re seeing regular use. Also a good idea to re-lube plungers after recreating a seal.

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Aftermarket O-rings. There are a world of aftermarket parts suppliers out there for foam dart blasters, most of which can supply you with replacement or improved O-rings. I like to have an assortment floating around at any given time, but you could just order them as you need or even just rely on teflon tape to improve your seals.

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Generic collection of springs. Some of these were specifically bought but most would be left overs from other blasters (hint: don’t throw out pieces from old or broken blasters, they might come in useful some day). Very handy to have an assortment of springs around. I’ll mostly use these for improving trigger catches, but there are plenty of occasions where the perfect spring just happens to be in my bits bag.

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Glue. I’ve only pictured a tube of Tarzan’s Grip below but you will need an assortment of different adhesives, depending on what you’re doing. Fast drying general glues, like Tazan’s Grip, are great for things where you can get a decent purchase but don’t need it to be ‘end of the world’ style strong. This includes things like nesting brass barrels, gluing PVC over-barrels to plastic blaster shells, etc. This would be my mostly commonly used glue. Your tradition Super Glue is also pretty useful for this sort of stuff.

When you need something to be super strong, you then have to move into the world of two part epoxies. There are a whole assortment of 5 minute, 24 hr, 48hr, 5 days, etc, variants out there. Personally, if I want something to stick really well, I just jump straight to the longest drying time I can find. Things like priming bars to the outside of breeches or nozzles on air tanks cop a fair amount of force, so go the epoxy there as an example.

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PVC solvent. Used to stick PCV pipe together. Fairly self explanatory.

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Metal polish. If you’re making a brass breech of some description you really should invest in some decent metal polish. Polish up the brass where it will be sliding over another piece and your breech will work significantly easier.

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Modeling putty. Can be used for cosmetic purposes but I mostly use mine for reinforcing weaker parts of shells or making guides for parts to move in a certain way. Modeling shops will get you better quality stuff, but hardware stores will get you far cheaper stuff and often larger quantities.

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Aftermarket springs. Probably not something you need to have a stack of just lying around, but something I felt worth including in here all the same. Multiple different sellers are offering replacement springs to the market today; I’m not going to praise nor bag out any of them at this stage, simply because I haven’t had enough experience with most of them.

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Paint. When painting, I typically go for the cheapest paint available and make it work. Others throughout the internets will swear by some of the more expensive brands, good for them. To me the most important part is your prep, not the paint itself. I’ll go over more of this in detail when I actually do a re-paint for a blaster.

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Electrical!

Soldering iron and solder. Kind of a recurring theme here, but save yourself some hassle and get yourself a soldering iron if you intend on doing electrical modifications. You can often get away with a simple ‘twist and tape’ method of joining wires but some good old fashioned solder will make the join significantly stronger. Also useful for cleanly unsoldering existing wires within a blaster.
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Multimeter. Another must have for electrical mods. You basically can’t troubleshoot without one.

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Assorted batteries and holders. Another useful thing to just have lying around for testing, but really not nessecary if you’re just following a guide you got off the internet.

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Assorted wire. Bridging connections, wiring in new battery holders; so many uses it’s not funny. If playing with electronics, you will at some point need some extra wire.

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Wire strippers. Another very useful but not essential tool. If you’re skilled you can strip wires with a pair of side cutters or even a pair of scissors, but it’s far easier with the right tool.

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Mod Shop – Nerf NiteFinder – AR removal and seal improvement

Nerf’s NiteFinder; the first blaster for many enthusiasts and probably the simplest to modify. It comes apart relatively easily with only a handful of screws, there are no complicated parts that you have to line up, and it’s a direct plunger system so spring replacements are far easier. If you’re looking for somewhere to start modifying blasters, look no further than the NIteFinder.

Hell, if you’re just looking for a blaster to start playing with in general, get yourself a NiteFinder. They’re cheap, simple and awesome. I’ll regularly run with just a sprung AR’d NiteFinder in a bunch of games, just because they’re fun. You’ll get better ranges than anything reverse plunger based, so just run around taking pot shots at people.

Today we’re going to tackle two simple mods; an air restrictor removal and a seal improvement. The tools/consumables I used for this were…

  • A small phillips head screwdriver
  • A hand drill, complete with extra long drill bit
  • A long, round hand file
  • Telfon tape

First up we have a NiteFinder.Unscrew the bolt at the bottom holding the battery catch on.

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Then there should be 14 screws holding the shell together. These screws are all the same so you don’t have to worry about mixing them up later, just put them all in a container.

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As always, take a moment here to familarise yourself with the workings of the blaster.

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Unscrew the two screws circled here to allow you to remove the plunger and tube.

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Oooo look, an AR… Grab your drill and go to town.

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Then grab your file and clean up the remaining dags. You want the inside of the small front tube to be as smooth as possible.

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Now we’ll start on improving the seal.

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The O-ring here is what presses up against the side of the plunger tube and forces the air towards the dart. Unfortunately this doesn’t have a perfect seal from the factory so we need to push the O-ring out a little bit.

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Start by removing the O-ring. Easiest and safest way I’ve found is to use a very small flat head screwdriver to pry the O-ring over the front lip. Be careful not to pull it too hard through as they do snap.

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Grab some Teflon tape. Electrical tape does also work, but because it’s thicker you can’t be quite as precise. By all means, if it’s all you’ve got access to, electrical tape is far better than nothing, but splurge the few dollars for a roll of Teflon tape and you’ll be much better off (and one roll should last you about a billion blasters).

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Wrap said tape around the plunger head a few times and then put the O-ring back on. This is very much a trial and error process to figure out how much tape you’ll need. Keep playing with it until you have a good seal between the plunger head and tube. How I’ll normally check is to hold the head inside the tube and then blow down the barrel; if you can blow through it, either you’ve got a leak somewhere or the seal isn’t good enough. However, also make sure that you don’t have too much tape on. The head should be able to slide freely throughout the tube with practically no resistance. Again, trial and error.

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Once that’s all good, start putting it all back together! Place the catch, plunger tube and rod all back in the shell and screw the two locator screws back in place.

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Put the other half of the shell back on and screw it back together.

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Put the battery catch back on and we’re done!

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Huzzah. One modded NiteFinder.

With stock whistlers darts from the stock blaster, I was getting an average of 13m

With the same darts from the modifed blaster, I was getting an average of 17m

Note: unless otherwise stated, all range tests on this blog will be done as an average of 18 darts, fired level from shoulder height.