Back in August I wrote about completing an NHS podcast series ‘from couch to 5k’,I found it to be a useful structure for getting myself into running, and up toa reasonable standard.
Since then I have carried on running. This morning I completed 16km, the second time I’ve run this distance and i beat my first time by a few minutes.
So I thought I’d write a little about the stupid mental tricks I’ve been using to stick at it.
When I did the original programme it was summer, the weather was pretty amazing, and I did a lot of running on bright, hot, summer evenings. Since then we have plunged into UK autumn and now heading into winter. It is dark before I leave work and it is frequently only 2-3 degrees C when I get home in the evening.
Believe it or not, I am not imbued with a non-stop high energy feeling, bursting to get out and get running. I am frequently tired, and looking for excuses to not run. I suspect this is the case for all runners ever. So the question becomes, how do I overcome this natural instinct to curl up on the sofa for the entire winter.
Mostly the parts of me that know I should keep up the running, lie to the parts of me that really don’t want to. Its definitely a psychological battle within yourself.
There are the traditional elements of trying to remove barriers. Making sure that your kit is clean, dry and ideally warm and ready to go is essential. During week day evenings I start trying to get myself prepared for the idea that I will get in, get changed, and get on the road. absolutely no stopping to relax or sit down. No distractions. I know if I allow myself to think “i’ll just get that done first before I go” that its the top of the slippery slope to the sofa.
If I’m not in the mood, I tell myself to make it a short one, just get a few km out and turn around if you want.
my route has lots of obvious places I could bail out early, turn back and go home. Mostly though I find this just helps me pretend I’ll turn back long enough to get warmed up. Then of course its a matter of “well you’ve come this far…it would be a waste of all that will power if you just give up so soon”
I often tell myself I’ll have a nice treat when I’m done, want pizza? sure we can have that when you get back, Wine? absolutely, whatever you want… when we get back. The thing is that after a good run, I’m always out of that mood, not that hungry any more, don’t feel the desire to follow through on whatever treats I promised myself.
At the weekend I have certainly found that if I drink the night before, I’m in for a hard time. It makes running a hard slog. So I try to flip it around and choose to go easy or not drink of an evening, with the idea that I’ll run in the morning but reward with wine the following evening. Another super important part of prep is that I have a box of alpen bars next to the bed. In the morning I can sit in bed, catching up with the internet and eat an alpen bar before getting up. The bar kicks my metabolism into gear, and gives me the start I need to go for a run. I tried running without this, again it was a horrible hard slog. Also it is relatively easy to sit in bed and eat the bar, but once I’ve done that its like I’ve committed to the run. can’t back out now.
I often leave the house without really deciding how far I’m going to go. I generally try to go further at the weekend and during the weekday evenings, but that is mostly because I have more time to do so. It is easier to decide to do 10k when you’re already 5k in and still feeling pretty good.
Though when I do decide to go for a longer distance than I’ve managed before, I do tend to explicitly take it much easier, not trying to get near my normal pace, just settle into the long haul. This is good because I make it easy for myself to hit my goal, and I also set myself for the second attempt to easily beat the time of the first run.
I’ve not spent too much time explicitly chasing personal bests. I’ve tended to try to run further rather than faster. The faster happens on its own as what was once a challenging 5k becomes just how far it takes to feel you’ve warmed up.
So far I’ve run through a gorgeous summer which was easy, through dark nights which was easier than I thought, and pouring rain which can actually be quite nice as long as it starts after you’ve started (once you’re soaked, rain stops having much impact). But the worst thing is cold. Rain and darkness is fine if its mild. But cold is very hard, it takes at least 2km to start to feel warm. I’m hoping there are enough mild days to the winter to avoid me having to deal with any seriously cold days. But I’ve also bought some longer running trousers, and will get a warmer jacket to try to mitigate against the cold.
So far I’ve racked up about 450km of running since I started. The fact that I know this is one of the main long term motivators. I’ve been tracking my running with a gps tracking app since I started. Every so often I approach a big marker, like 400km, and that run becomes pretty easy to go for, its the run that will take me over the next big step. as I head towards 500km, I have my eye on that, but also the longer term idea of one day making it 1000km. All of which seemed like complete crazy talk back when I was starting out with 1 minute runs. But through studious mind games, and some reasonable prep I’ve somehow become someone that runs 10 miles before breakfast at the weekend.
I’m reliably told by more experienced runners that a half-marathon is really just a 5k with a 10mile warm up…So I guess that is the next obvious milestone.
Do you have tricks to keep yourself running? let me know!
I have a nexus 4, which I think is a great phone. I have it in a fairly reasonable hard aluminium case to protect it. Using a case is normally a good idea, however the thing about most cases is that they are incompatible with and dock.
Since there are so many case options, and they’re all slightly different, no one that makes a dock can do anything but make it for the bare phone. However, that is a real hassle, it means constantly removing the phone from its case every time you want to put it in a dock.
Enter – a job for a CNC router!
This seemed like the perfect job for my CNC router, so I fired up openSCAD and set to designing my own dock, specific to the exact dimensions of my nexus 4 in my chosen case.
Originally I wanted to make it out of some clear acrylic sheet I had, but that turned out to be somewhat over ambitious, my CNC setup just wasn’t able to cut the acrylic without melting it. Sadly in my attempt, the melted plastic wrapped around my cutter and under the stress is snapped. This was not a good day.
The design is parametric, at least kind of, which just means there are a bunch of variables in the file to try to adjust for things like material thickness, so that if you need to switch from 4mm acrylic to 3mm mdf, then there isn’t too much work to do in the model.
This version came out ok, however I decided I’d like to try making one from plastic, so I ordered new router bits, and some HDPE (dense plastic) in the hopes that I might get away with machining it without it melting.
I also made some tweaks to the design, the hole I had left for the usb port was not quite big enough, I wanted the legs to be a little longer at the back to give a bit more stability, and I needed somewhere to mount the electronics that I pulled out of an old htc desire z dock.
I did a few test cuts on the new hdpe, and it went well from a cutting perspective, however it revealed real levelling problems, the base was a couple of mm out from one side to the other causing problems for cutting way deeper than intended. I spent a while faffing around trying to get things more level which improved things a lot, but I think I was still a little out, as some parts ultimately got cut completely out and others had a small layer of plastic left.
This is something I need to work on more in the future, I think I need to design something that lets me adjust the level of the bed, whilst still allowing me to clamp things to it and keep everything firm.
The actual cutting went well, I used a new control program the GRBL Controller, where previously I’ve been using the universal client. The big advantage of the grbl controller is the ability to set different limits on the speed of z movement to that of x/y. I didn’t take advantage of it this time, but will certainly try it out as I know the z axis stalls out on me much slower than either the x or the y do.
The assembled mark II dock
The final assembled thing needs a lot of work, sanding to clean up the sides, and I had to hot glue things to hold them together. I think this method of tabs just doesn’t work so well unless you have crazy precision, and possibly a laser cutter. Maybe at a larger scale, with a thick material and chunky tabs the inaccuracy would be negligible, but I think at this scale I’ll need an alternative technique.
The engraving of the nexus 4 label on the front panel went perfectly in one sense, and not so good in others. It was a great precise cut at shallow depth with a bit that spun exactly central (the finer the point the more obvious any vibration in the point becomes) However the cut path revealed a clear 1mm backlash in the x-axis, particularly on the middle bar of the S which is cut approached from both directions. It actually looks ok, with a double bar in the middle because the cut was so fine, but clearly there is still work to be done on the x-axis. To that end I have ordered some delrin anti-backlash nuts, which hopefully will arrive soon.
Things that went well:
Building the model in openscad, helped visualise and adjust precisely for certain clearances etc,
Repeatabilityy – everything cut in a nice repeatable way, it was a long job and nothing went wrong whilst it was running
Cutting HDPE – this worked, no melting just clean chipping. so it adds a new material to the arsenal of options
Things that went badly:
Cleanness of cut – I got lots of frilling along the top edge, I now understand why I need to make 2 passes, the last with a downcut bit! will need to buy one
Levelness of cut- my bed is out of level, possibly due to temperature variation since I levelled it
Holding tabs – not very happy with how these look in the end result, not a clean finish, and don’t hold tightly without glue
I very recently completed rebuilding the y and z axis of my homebuilt CNC router. However even as I was finishing that build, I knew the z-axis design was no good. After quick testing I could see I was right, it ‘worked’ but really wasn’t much improvement on the mk I design. This weekend, I rebuilt it again using the ideas that I developed when I rebuilt the y-axis. It now works great.
First some history.
The original design of both the y and z axis was based on the same idea. two identical metal plates would form either side of a carriage, the threaded rod would pass through a tapped hole in the centre of each plate and thus they would be driven. At the ends of the metal plates I drilled a hole which mounted two 90 degreee brackets at 45 degrees to each other. In the brackets I bolted skateboard bearings. The linear rails were made from lengths of square section, mounted parallel with corner the of the square section facing the other rail. The carriage plates fit between the two with the 45 degree mounted bearings then running flat against the faces of the rails.
This design allowed both linear travel along the rails, and provided a clamping effect to stop lateral movement. At least that was the idea. The problem with this design is that it really required a lot of precision all over the place. The first issue was that the tapped holes that the threaded rod passed through were not perfectly aligned, and the rod could not easily pass through both and still turn. Over various iterations I first enlarged one hole, then both and replaced driving effect using a nut mounted in a wooden block.
The theory of the clamping effect, also failed to operate perfectly, it was too hard to adjust all the bolts to be tightly secured and clamping with sufficient force. The slight mis-allignments in other things meant that there was always a small amount of wobble in both axis.
To be fair this first design worked enough, and I was able to use the machine to make a few things, including parts for the mk II z-axis. However it was apparent in usage that the machine was too prone to having the router tip pulled off course, there was too much twist and wobble in the design and this caused backlash effects, particularly under lateral cutting loads. Drilling operations were mostly find and accurate, however the z-axis would visibly rock when moving up and down. This has the effect that when deep in a cut, retracting the router would wobble the cutter back and forth into the walls of the cut, not terrible, but far from ideal.
I wrote all about the Mk II in a previous post. I focussed on the lateral wobble issues, and realised the machine worked well enough to help me build a new z-axis. The idea was formed on 4 ‘layers’, a back plate, a front router mounting plate, and 2 carriage pieces that would clamp driving nuts inside, along with bearings at 4 corners. 4 bolts would run through each layer clamping everything together and forming the axels for the bearings.
Basically I hoped that the carriage would be held tightly between the two, now square on, linear rails, and the back plate and front plate would simply slide up front and back flat surfaces, resisting flex in the +/- x direction. The whole thing would be nicely centred on the rails and the z-axis motor would get a nice straight alignment.
I also realised that in order to mount this new z-axis, I really needed to make serious adjustments to the Y axis. So having cut the pieces for the z-axis, I started thinking about the Y axis.
Here I came up with a much more elegant idea. I had been thinking a lot about my (in)ability to get a high level of precision, so my design allowed for that fact. The other post has all the details, but effectively it relied on lots of m8 threaded rod, and lots of nuts to allow positioning.
No sooner had i tested the Mk-II than I knew the z-axis needed to change again. The rocking when moving up and down was still an issue, and if I tightened things enough to resist wobble, the back plate and front plate added too much friction for the motor to overcome. Again it worked enough to produce a piece, but by now I already knew I could do better.
I knew I needed to make space to mount bearings behind, and in front of the z axis rails. the way I had them mounted there was not quite enough room for a bearing to run behind. so out came the dremel, and I cut away the y-axis wood platforms, to make room for a bearing. Fortunately there was enough ‘waste’ wood to cut away without compromising the y-axis.
with space cut, I could make up some threaded rod with bearings mounted at the appropriate spacing for the z-axis rails. I had the rod left over from making the y-axis. The initial theory was to use the same kind of platform I had in the y axis, with a bearing mounted on a right angle bracket to run along the sides. However, in a classic case of design by limitations, the remaining lengths I had were not long enough for that idea. So instead I realised I just needed a way to mount a threaded rod at right angles, which I could put another bearing on. For this I could use a small amount of plastic (not sure what kind, its black and used for machining, I got given a box of off cuts a few years ago) drilled with two holes at right angles to each other, one above the other.
this lead to something that looked like:
This design looked great, it used very little room, required only a very simple machining operation from me to make the plastic blocks, and the rest was just a question of tightening nuts in the right places to space bearings around each side of the rails. I could re-use the central 2 layers from the mk2 z-axis to run between the rails, and mount to the new runners.
This means I have bearings running tightly against every surface of both linear rails. providing a nice tight, wobble free linear motion.
In one of those happy accidents, the long bolts I used for the outside edges of the runners had the same spacing as the slots I had cut in my router mounting plate. So they passed right thorough and allowed for easy mounting by just bolting it on. All of this added about 25mm depth to the axis configuration accommodate the bearings running along the front, but I’ve easily gained in overall rigidness of the structure.
The new mechanism slides up and down very smoothly and in a test I was very happy with how it performed.
So with the mk III z-axis and the mk-II y-axis running great, it’s time to turn my attention to the mk-I x-axis. It is now possible to cut a test circle that shows a nice smooth direction change on the y-axis, and decidedly un-smooth transition on the x-axis. I’m hoping that by applying some of the ideas I’ve developed on the other two axis, I can get the x-axis running better and start to really turn my attention back to making things.
I’ve been quite busy over the summer, and with the lovely weather I’ve been less inclined to spend any time locked away in my workshop with no windows.
However, I have been designing and thinking about my CNC. In my previous experiments with my machine I found a few issues, which I was keen to fix.
The first issue was in the Y-axis, the motion was not smooth. Moving back and forth it would sort of pulse in the direction of travel rather than slide smoothly. It was also not a great alignment of motor/shaft/driving nut, so some parts of the workspace were more reliable than others when it came to moving the y-axis.
The z-axis had a similar pulsing problem, but also the mounting for the router had some issues. I had originally just hard screwed the rotary tool in place on a piece of mdf, and that was only really supported at the top end where it attached to the z-axis sled. When I tried to make the machine cut faster, what I found was the increased forces caused the mdf to bend where it was unsupported, and also flex laterally allowing the cutting bit to cut off course. I had this happen in all the materials I tried and once pulled off course the job is ruined.
So I set out to redesign my whole approach to these two axis. When I first had the idea, I was working on the principal of 2 bearing mounts, at 45 degrees to each other, riding along the corner of a square section linear rail. This pattern repeated at the four corners of a sled. In theory this gave linear slide as well as holding against lateral movement. But the reality was that whilst that could have been possible with perfectly engineered pieces, my actual construction had too much inaccuracy and there was wobble that I could not eliminate. I was also working with a very limited budget and tried to achieve what I wanted with relatively few bearings.
Now that I stopped to rethink my design, I was prepared to spend a little more (though still no where close to the cost of a ‘real’ axis.) I also wanted to minimise the precision requirement, or rather, make it easier to adjust precisely.
I came up with an idea i sketched out in my maker’s notebook
basically there are 4 threaded rods, joined by a series of mdf platforms spaced along their length. each platform mounts some right angle brackets that hold bearings that will run along either the top, or bottom, of the square section rail. The threaded rods are spaced so that I could also put a bearing on the rods, and they would run along the front and back of the square section. Such that there is a bearing running on each side of the rail to hold tightly against any wobble. Every part, the platforms and the side bearings, are held in place by nuts on the threaded rod. These nuts can be adjusted precisely up and down to make sure each piece is aligned and at the right height. Once positioned, they can just be tightened in place.
In addition the top mdf piece and the bottom one, extend out to the front to support the vertical rails of the z-axis. The only accuracy required in this was to get all the holes in all the mdf platforms aligned. This is simple, since you can just clamp them together and drill through in one pass.
The main issue was making sure the spacing was correct toallow the side bearings to be snug against the rails, not too close, and not too far. However, worst case I figured i could widen the holes and use the nuts to clamp things in position at the optimal point. As it was I’m happy with the spacing and everything holds really tight. The y-axis carriage slides back and forth with no wobble. I was also able to mount the driving nut on top of one of the platforms, aligned for about the middle of the carriage.
For the z axis I had a different idea, here I wanted the rails to basically clamp a sled between them. a hole passing through the centre of the sled contains the driving nuts perfectly centered. I actually machined the bits for the z-axis on the CNC machine with its original setup. In order to keep the overall depth of the axis as slim as possible, there are no bearings front and back, there are some strips of acrylic set to press up against the front of the rails, hopefully allowing a fairly tight fit, whilst also permitting the whole lot to slide even under some pressure. I used acrylic so that I have the option to lubricate the rail to reduce the friction if necessary.
The last part of the new z-axis was to provide a well supported mdf base with slots to allow interchangeable router mounts. I have started with a mount for my bosh palm router. This means I have an easier ability to switch between big cutting jobs with the powerful router, and more detail work with the rotary tool. This mount isn’t too easy to switch, since it does need to be clamped hard in place. but the option is much better than the previous screwed in place hack I had.
All told I’m very happy with the y-axis, it runs really smoothly and has no wobble. The z-axis is less great, the vertical rails are not quite perfectly parallel, and that is allowing a small amount of lateral give, which is magnified at the tip of the router. I will need to work to correct that. However it is still a substantial improvement on the previous designs. Whilst still being very low cost.
One significant factor in all this has been the motor couplers. I have been using some 3d printed ones, but they simply aren’t perfectly aligned, and this seemingly small inaccuracy at the coupling point causes all kinds of issues. I have replaced the y-axis coupler with one I machined myself from a machinable plastic. Basically I drilled half way with a 10mm bit, then the rest of the way through with a 5mm bit. Then drilled and tapped two small holes to allow tightening screws to hold the shafts in place. This gives a perfect alignment, but obviously has no give if other things are out of alignment. This seems to work well, however after all the trouble I’ve had with couplers, I’ve bitten the bullet, and ordered 3 real metal couplers. I now see how much of the difficulties I’ve had come down to the misaligned couplers. So perhaps they are worth the money.
The other thing I’m taking the time to do, and the reason I started with the mount for the larger router, is to make sure the bed of the machine is perfectly flat with relation to the router movement. Previously I struggled with height difference from one end of a piece to another. So this was first on the list of things to do. Along with making sure I have a better way to mount work pieces than just screwing them down.
Here you can see the machine with the new axis, flattening the work area, and starting to machine slots through which I will be able to use bolts.
This is not my normal kind of post, where I would describe a project I’m working on. The weather has been too nice, and my summer too filled with social engagements, to spend much time working on projects. It has certainly been way too hot and sunny to lock myself away in a windowless garage.
Instead I thought I’d write about my recent attempt to get a little healthier. I hate diets, and generally consider them a form of slow torture. So I was not at all interested in losing weight by kidding myself I’m going to get into a healthy eating habit. I’m writing this having just consumed a rather good English breakfast. I know I won’t give up the food I like for any protracted period.
So that leaves exercise, I have variously gotten into fairly good routines of one form or another, though they are devilishly easy to fall out of. For a while I played badminton a few times a week. When I switched jobs I was working just a couple of minutes walk from a pretty decent gym which I went to a couple of times a week. However then my role got moved into central London and I did not find an alternative option. I wound up spending about a year doing no exercise, but continuing to eat and drink all the things I wanted. This basically has an inevitable effect, I wound up rather more rotund than I’m comfortable with.
About 3 months ago I decided to give running a go. I have in the past tried running, I did a charity 10k. However for that I pushed far to fast from no running experience, and wound up hurting my knee in ‘training’ and basically being in no real shape for the day. I did it anyway, and struggled around on an injured knee, which caused me to limp for a few weeks afterwards. Obviously this put me off. However I came around to the idea that I should be perfectly capable of running, if taken sensibly.
Running has a couple of important characteristics.
1) It’s basically free. In the last 3 months I did buy myself a rather expensive pair of trainers, but even that amounted to less than 2 months gym membership. there has been an increased requirement to wash kit to keep up, but over the longterm I’d consider running ostensibly a zero cost activity
2) There is very little time overhead. With a gym you have to get there and back, with badminton you have to arrange courts and times etc. With running you just get changed, step outside your front door and start warming up. Timed right you finish your cooldown walk just outside your house. A quick shower and you’re done. a given 45 minutes allows for 5 minutes warm up, 30 minutes activity, 5 minutes cool down and a shower.
Of those, 2 is probably the most important to me in terms of making it a habit. I’m often not home from work until about 7.30, if I plan on the train to run, then a significant part is knowing I can be done before 8.30.
To make sure I didn’t repeat my previous mistake of overdoing it too early, I found the NHS couch to 5K podcast series. This is a set of podcasts which you listen to as you run. There is a different one for each week (and later for each run in a week). They tell you when to walk and when to run. It starts from just 1 minute bursts of running intersperced with walking. 9 weeks later, and you do 30 minutes continuous running.
If you’re thinking of running, I can really recommend the nhs podcast series as a way to get started.
I found this to be a great way to get into running. I was certainly in no shape to even consider 30 minutes running when I started out. Yesterday I did my second 30 minute run of the week.
Within the first week or two I did have trouble with my knees, and I actually stopped for a week to let them rest. I did some research and realised I was probably taking too long of a stride. So when I returned to it I shortened my stride length and made sure my foot landed directly beneath my knee. This seemed to do the trick and I’ve had no real problems since.
I was also ill for a week which knocked me out of running, but I returned to it as soon as I felt better, and part of that was a desire to continue with the progression through the 9 week program. Having started it, I was keen to see it through.
I tracked every session with a MapMyRun app for my phone. Starting the tracking from the start of my warmup walk, to the end of the cool down. Over the course of the 9 weeks I spent about 14 hours running and covered about 130km.
Now I’m covering about 20km per week. I’ve started just tracking the running section, and ignoring the warmup/cool down sections. This was it is easier to track my time for certain distances.
Thus far my time for 5km is about 26 minutes. Not earth shattering in speed, but so far the only thing I’ve focused on is going for the amount of time required. Now I’m considering working on pace, as well as thinking about working myself up to 10km.
One thing I didn’t track, was my weight, or any other vital statistic. I didn’t really want to obsess about some number. The important thing is that I feel like I’m undoing the damage of 12 months doing no exercise. Whilst I’d love to have some awesome chiselled physique, complete with 6 pack, washboard stomach etc. I don’t really want it enough to actually give up the things I enjoy. So I’ll settle for merely staying in reasonably ok shape.
If you’re thinking about running as a way to get fit, I highly recommend the nhs couch to 5k plan.
This is the last one. My addition has to end before I wind up with a full armoury of nerf guns. However I decided to take this last one as far as I could go.
My first nerf gun was the sharpshot, I got given it as a prize. It is a good gun, and I enjoyed painting it. My second nerf gun was the stockade, it happened to be on sale when I went to buy a target to shoot at.
I’m hardly counting the stinger that came with the target, though I did paint that too.
The Alpha Trooper is different, this one I chose after research into what I thought would make the best nerf gun. The stockade has good range, but the electric motor aspect just doesn’t do it for me. too noisy, to much like cheating. Also the 10 shot barrel is all well and good, but you get through 10 shots quickly, and reloading is slow.
So I wanted a multi-shot, air-powered nerf gun, without the slow reload cost. This lead me to clip system (CS) guns, and quickly to the alpha trooper. There are two, the alpha trooper cs-18, comes with a clip that has a round chamber to fit 18 darts, and the elite cs-12.
I ordered myself the elite cs-12, as I felt 12 is a fine capacity and I prefered the straight clip. Also its the elite version that in theory means better perforance, though in practice that wound up not mattering.
In my research, I also came accross orangemodworks who sell modification kits for some of the nerf range. In particular they sell an alpha trooper mod kit, consiting of a new plunger/seal assembly, silcone grease to lubricate, a better spring, and a metal catch to take the extra forces involved.
I watched some videos on fitting the kit, which used a cs-18, and it appeared to be identical to the cs-12. The opparative word being ‘appeared’, more on that later.
I spent a while debating ordering the mod kit, since it cost as much in shipping to the uk as it cost to buy. However, committed to the idea that this was to be the last one, I decided I would go all out rather than leave the lingering question of whether I should have got the kit.
Since the point of the clips is fast switching, I also got myself a couple of additional clips. Part of the reason though was I knew officially the clips don’t support dart tag darts (they have wider heads) but I figured I could try modifying a clip to accept these darts, but if I ruined it, I’d have other clips.
Obviously a key question is the colour scheme, the sharp shot I stuck with plain black with red in the embossed details, and blue lines in the various cut lines. It was simple and unambitious.
So for the stampede I stuck with the bronze, but this time did it as a dry brushed all over, looking a little more old weathered and bronzed.
For the alpha trooper I wanted to step it up, try something a little more bold. I searched for inspiration and hit upon this lovely example by Johnson Arms (brian johnson) a guy who professionally paints and sells nerf guns.
This one is apparently inspired by mass effect, I really like the red/black combo and the white stencilled lettering. So I pretty much set out to shamelessly copy this look.
First job – disassembly. at this point I realised the kit was slightly different to the actual internals, but I assumed the kit simply took a slightly different design as part of offering more power, the important bits looked identical, so I didn’t think much more of it, and set about painting.
Second job was of course sanding off the logos and safety text etc. I started with 120 grit to get rid of logos, then worked through 180, 240, 320 and finally 400 all over the gun, to cut back they coating and give the base something to stick to.
I also used the sandpaper to modify the clip – basically the dart tag darts *almost* fit, but the wider head tended to get a little stuck. When i looked at the internals I could see there are two little raised ridges running the depth of the clip, one near the front and one near the back. These ridges are just before a little trough. Basically the plastic pusher that pressed up the nerf darts, has little extrusions on each side, that run in these troughs to keep it straight as it moves up and down. However the raised ridges aren’t necessary, the trough is enough. so I sanded off the ridges at the front, where the head of the dart goes.
This picture was taken after I’d sprayed it, but you can see that on the left, the back of the clip, there is a ridge running down the length. On the right, the front of the clip, I have smoothed down the ridge.
This was enough to allow the dart tag darts to fit without getting stuck. There is still an issue that you can’t fill it with these darts. The heads are wider than the shafts, and too many in a row starts a curving effect in the stack. However you can set them like ‘tracer’ rounds, that whistle in flight, say ever 6 darts. I have found I like the last dart to be a dart tag dart, and one half way down. to help me track how many shots and when I need to reload.
Back to the prep…I washed all the parts with soapy water, to clear out the dust and clean off any grease from my hands.
Time to spray! The base coat is just a black, I had read that vinyl die is a good option as it actually bonds with the plastic and alters it, rather than just resting on the surface. I found a thread on the brit nerf forum that mentioned this halfords brand:
So that is what I got.
Once all black, I had to decide where to divide the black/red sections. There are lots of details in the plastic, it was a case of picking which to pick out in different colour and which not to bother. I decided I wanted most of the top section to be red, with black on the removable parts. I also kept the handle black, but decided to make the trigger, and the clip release tabs red. Obviously the more detail you want to pick out, the more masking you have to do.
With my previous nerf paint jobs I added various ‘weathering’ type effects. With this one I decided to go with an ‘as issued’ brand new look.
One key component in the design was the idea of spraying a letter/number stencil on the side in white. I could have just stuck with the mass effect gun codes, but I decided to make this a little different. I chose to use TR-1 which stands for ‘Testers Revenge’ since in the office my main use case for the gun is to shoot at developers that break stuff
The stencil proved to be the biggest pain!, I bought some stencil letters, but there were too large (just) for the space, so I printed out what I wanted at the right size and cut it by hand from a free corner of the Mylar sheet of the stencils I bought. The hand cutting was a tad tricky and I didn’t get as cleaner finish as I’d like, but it was ok. Full of excitement I went ahead and taped everything down, masked off the gun and sprayed. only to find I got a fine spatter all around the letters from where the stencil didn’t stay down. At this point I did some research and realised I should have used spray mount to stick the stencil in place to avoid this over spray. So I sanded the sections down again, resprayed red, and tried again.
The second time I wound up with too much sticky residue from sticking the stencil down on the first side. The second side was perfect. So I re-sanded the first side again, resprayed red, and tried a third time.
I the end I got the look i was after, but It involved a great deal of patience, and re-sanding/re-spraying until I got it right.
At this point I turned my attention to re-assembly with the orangemodworks kit. And this is where I noticed the differences…
The cs-18 apparently has a wide hole at the back for the much wider spring and plunger. The cs-12 has a narrow plunger and spring, and hence a narrow hole at the back with re-enforcing struts of plastic around the hole. Well I’d come this far, and a few bits of extra plastic weren’t going to stop me now, so out with a coping saw, and a chisel, and I cut the plastic away to allow the wider spring and plunger to fit.
Thinking this was it, I re-assembled everything, it all fit in place, and I got to the point of screwing it all shut again, and found it did not work…the problem is there is a catch that holds the carriage locked in the forwards position until you’ve fired the gun. When you fire, the back part shoots forwards, and in the cs-12 design it has a little prong on the front that pushes down on the plastic holding the carriage in place, but the cs-18 doesn’t have this, in its design the back piece slides forwards far enough that a tab on its bottom side pushed that release out of the way. However in the cs-12 it simply couldn’t slide far enough forwards.
In the picture you can see there is some extra plastic in the guide trough for the piston, the extra plastic shortens the trough and stops it sliding as far forward as it needs. Lucky for me this design clearly started as a cs-18 and just had extras added to alter the internals, I could get out my chisel and file, and work away these extra struts and allow the full length of the original trough to be opened up.
With these two adjustments, I now had internals that completely matched the cs-18, and everything can slide where it needs to. This mod is definitely not for the feint of heart, and clearly not as simple as it is in the cs-18 where you just straight switch out the components. But it can be done!
With all adjustments made, I finally fit everything back together and had a successful test firing. its hard to say how much more range I’m getting. Certainly ore power, but the darts tend to fly a little erratically. I may have to have a go at modding the darts to add a little weight and get better performance from them… though maybe I should just stop, before I think of too many more ways to upgrade what is supposed to be child’s toy.
Last week at work, Nerf guns were given as prizes. I won one of them for guessing the contents of a box.
The sharp shot can be seen here: http://nerf.wikia.com/wiki/Sharp_Shot
Now I could hardly call myself a maker geek if I didn’t customise…
So this weekend I spent some time reading about the amazing world of nerf gun modding and general prop painting.
Turns out that purple not only paint them with amazing designs.
There is also a healthy selection of improvements that can be made to the mechanical workings. to improve the range of the gun.
I didn’t take that many in progress shots, mostly through enthusiasm, but also because if you go looking there are great sources from people who’ve been doing it seriously for a while and you’re better off going to read from the pros.
Here are all the pieces layed out and sprayed with an under coat. Before this point I sanded off the warning text and general toy labels. Also the nerf logo.
Getting to this point made me think that Nerf actively design these things to appeal to the modder crowd.
I’ve taken apart my fair share of stuff over the years. Or is not always easy. I guess is simpler/ cheaper to use things that clip together but don’t readily come apart. And general glue things in place etc.
But this thing came apart beautifully. All the screws were the same length (no confusion in re-assembly) the piston mechanism, that triggers air pressure to fire a dart, all just comes apart easily and everything can be easily modified.
I drilled out the airflow restrictor that seems to be the most popular default thing to do. I also covered the over pressure hole. And used PTFE plumbing tape to make the o-ring fit tighter. A better seal means less pressure loss and more directed to the dart.
I also decided to add some weight to the gun to give it a nicer feel. I’d seen some examples glueing coins in the handle. I had a jar full of old bolts which seemed like a good option. So I used a hot glue gun and made sure to put an equal amount in both sides.
All of that came later really, the painting happened first.
I chose a simple paint design since this was my first try. I figured I shouldn’t get too ambitious. So just red in the various patterns for target and the number. And blue in all the little groves.
Then I used a gun metal silver to add a weathering effect. Basically to make it look like parts of the paint have worn through to the metal under use. So applied to edges, were the slide mechanism goes back and fourth. And around were you tend to put your hands. The trick here is to be very sparing with paint. I think it came out OK, but clearly a question of practice.
Here are the parts with weathering
Then I applied a rust-oleum crystal clear spray coating. The theory is this will allow it to be up to the job of actually being handles without causing problems for the passing. Only time will tell if this has worked.
And at last here is the finished gun reassembled.
This was fun to do. And I think I’m going to do this at least a couple more times. I bought a larger nerf gun (it was in a sale! I couldn’t resist) and I have the paints now, so it would be foolish not to pay a little more