Build a Better Nerf Gun

MAKE Volume 29's Better Nerf Gun

There was no shortage of Nerf guns and other toy weapons in Simon Jansen’s geek-filled office, but none of them impressed Simon, so like any good maker would do, he decided to build a better Nerf gun himself. His coworker Lester had brought in the Nerf Maverick, and though he could load multiple darts, the accuracy and range left much to be desired. Simon knew one shot was all he needed if he had a superior weapon, and he was right. He shared his build instructions with us in the current issue of MAKE Volume 29, and we’ve shared the full build with you on Make: Projects. Let the games begin!

From the intro:

I made the pistol from PVC pipe, aluminum extrusion, and aluminum tubing, with wood for the grip and various pieces of metal and plastic, mostly from my junk box — and you can easily adapt the design to use what you have in yours. A sliding trigger and telescoping plunger keep the pistol short and compact. You’ll need a small metal lathe to machine some of the parts, but as there’s nothing too critical in the design, this is a nice project to hone your skills.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

MAKE Volume 29 Better Nerf Gun Illustration by Timmy Kucynda

1. To cock the gun, the user pulls back the (A) ring. This slides the telescoping plunger’s (B) inner rod back until its inner stop hits the inner rod (C) catch piece.
2. Further pulling draws the (D) piston back against the (E) compression spring, until the (F) catch wire clicks sideways into a groove in the end stop, holding the piston back in its cocked position.
3. The user may then push the ring back in, telescoping the plunger rod back with the pull ring just behind the (G) end cap.
4. Pulling the (H) trigger causes a (I) sliding plate to release the catch wire. The piston pushes forward and propels the (J) Nerf dart with air pressure squeezed from the chamber into the narrower barrel, rather than through direct spring action.

And here’s Simon showing how much his Nerf gun is better than the Maverick, by shooting a blindfolded Bender:

From the pages of MAKE Volume 29:

MAKE Volume 29

We have the technology (to quote The Six Million Dollar Man), but commercial tools for exploring, assisting, and augmenting our bodies really can approach a price tag of $6 million. Medical and assistive tech manufacturers must pay not just for R&D, but for expensive clinical trials, regulatory compliance, and liability — and doesn’t help with low pricing that these devices are typically paid for through insurance, rather than purchased directly. But many gadgets that restore people’s abilities or enable new “superpowers” are surprisingly easy to make, and for tiny fractions of the costs of off-the-shelf equivalents. MAKE Volume 29, the “DIY Superhuman” issue, explains how.



The Goodie Monster Vending Machine

Mark Jacobs says:

My friend and I took an old, used vending machine and transformed it into the happiest, healthiest thing we could imagine. We named him the Goodie Monster and he’s about to have a family. He’s been accepted by Kickstarter and we’re going to kick off a campaign in about a month. The goal is to raise enough money to give him a mom, dad, sister, and brother.

201202151600Last summer, I realized vending machines were awesome. Yes they are full of junk, and ugly, and hidden away in buildings. But why not full of good food, and fun, and out in the open for everyone to enjoy? So I approached fellow snacker and designer extraordinaire, Mette Hornung Rankin of the Bureau of Betterment, and she was as excited as me. And so the hunt for a used vending machine began — “used” being the key word. Why not make the most of what we already have? After weeks of searching, I finally found him — an old SnackShop4000 to be exact — and our building owner let us keep him in an empty art gallery. It was time to buy a lot of fake fur.

The Goodie Monster serves good snacks. What is good? Snacks as tasty, healthy, local, organic, affordable, and lovingly-made as possible. They include Justin’s Nut Butters, KIND bars, CLIF bars, LUNA bars, Sahale nut mixes, Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips, Popchips, Pirate’s Booty, 479 popcorn, dried fruits, and trail mix. They’re snacks that taste great, and then taste even better once you hear the story of who made them and why. To top it off, they’re all about two bucks or less.

The Goodie Monster Vending Machine


This Saturday, Feb 18: Young Makers/Open MAKE at the Exploratorium

stroboscopic photo shows the 4th dimension

© The Exploratorium

Come to the Exploratorium this weekend as the Tinkering Studio hosts the second of four Open MAKE Saturdays. Explore your own creativity with makers from around the Bay Area, who will share their art, ingenuity, and techniques for making.

The event runs from 10am to 2pm on the third Saturday of each month through April. For this month’s theme, Time, Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE, will end the day with interviews with seven totally “timely” makers:

  • David Forbes will talk about his passion for making clocks and watches with nixie tubes and oscilloscopes.
  • Julie Chen describes working with handmade books and printing techniques as a “time-based medium.”
  • Roger Wood, in addition to setting up a portable workshop in the Tinkering Studio, will talk about making clocks from recycled and found gadgets and mechanical wonders.
  • The Exploratorium’s Nicole Catrett will talk about her homemade stroboscope, which has since become a permanent exhibit on the museum floor.
  • Five Ton Crane (a.k.a. Alan Rorie, David Shulman, and Sean Orlando) will share their retro-futuristic large installation projects, such as their Raygun Gothic Rocket

The “Meet the Makers” interviews will be webcast live — click here to watch.

On the museum floor you can take a trip through time with diverse activities like stroboscope photography, Ken Murphy‘s A History of the Sky, a week-long Sumi Ink Club collective drawing, life-sized stop-motion animation, metaphorical clocks, and more. Stop by and say hello at MAKE magazine’s table dedicated to the beloved 555 timer!

Open MAKE is a collaboration between the Exploratorium, MAKE magazine, and Pixar Animation Studios. If you are a fan of Maker Faire, you won’t want to miss these tasty appetizers organized by our friends at the Exploratorium. The event is included in the price of the museum’s general admission and open to everyone.

This Saturday morning is also the second regional meeting of the Bay Area participants in the Young Makers program, where kids can work together to prepare a project to exhibit at this spring’s Maker Faire. Those who have registered for the Young Makers program should receive instructions for entry by email. Make sure you sign up with us if you are a Young Maker!

SPECIAL NOTE: You cannot take the Bay Bridge to this event. The westbound direction will be closed all weekend. You can drive east from San Francisco after the event, however.


Follow Up – A Culture of Ethics in Open Source Hardware?

Pt 659

Ian from Dangerous prototypes has posted up some thoughts on my article “The {Unspoken} Rules of Open Source Hardware”. His post “A culture of ethics in open source hardware?” has some really good things from the point of view of someone who makes a living designing, supporting and shipping open-source hardware. Check it out!

On a related note, I received about a dozen emails from makers “on the fence” about how to start an open source hardware company, they had a lot of specific questions about things from setting up a business to how a trademark actually works. I’ll do my best to do more articles about the business side of things too. I’m really excited about how many people want to share their works AND make a great company along the way.


Text Tool: Hack This! (Review and Book Giveaway)

Here at MAKE, I get the pleasure of working with some really talented and inspired people. One of them is John Baichtal. John came to us via GeekDad, where he still blogs, and he quickly gravitated to two areas of coverage here on Makezine: Lego and hackerspaces. He shows us the many colors of adult Lego fandom, and their amazing plastic brick masterpieces, in his recent The Cult of Lego book. And hot on the heels of that, he maps his travels, both real and virtual, through hackerdom in his highly-recommended Hack This! 24 Incredible Projects from the DIY Movement.

Hackerspaces are people! John Baichtal understands this and does a fine job of covering the 24 spaces featured in the book. You get a profile, details of the space, photos, and other fun and useful tidbits. But hackerspaces (and successful DIY books) are projects, too! John describes a project (or two) from each hackerspace, who worked on it, and what the outcome was. There are 24 main projects in all, from a sandwich making robot to a book scanner, to a blast furnace. There are also brief Build It details and links to more info online. There are also sidebars of the key tools used in hackerspaces, and supportive info (like glossaries and etymologies) in brief FAQs. There’s a lot of good stuff going on here. There’s even a sort of hackerspace playbook in the back, covering the basics of what you need to know to start your own hacker/makerspace.

If I had any criticism of the book, it would be that the projects aren’t really buildable solely with the information provided, but you’re at least given enough to whet your whistle and there are usually links to online project pages provided. All in all, this is a really fun book; a perfect introduction to community-based making. You will find no better Virgil to guide you through the realm of DIWO (Do It With Others) than John Baichtal.

To celebrate John’s great work, the book’s publisher, QUE, has graciously given us three copies to give away. To be eligible, please share a fun story about your local hackerspace in the comments below. Or if you don’t have a space, what would you like to see in a hackerspace if you had one? (And then you can win the book and use the info in it to create your space!) We’ll keep the comments open to eligible entries until this Sunday night, 11:59pm PST. And then we’ll announce the winners on Monday (Feb 20).


“The Machines That Made The Jet Age”

If you like giant machines—and who really doesn’t?—don’t miss Tim Heffernan’s wonderful new feature over at Boing Boing:

The magnificent machine pictured above is a closed-die forging press, one of the biggest in the world. (For reference, check out the men standing at its foot, down there on the left.) It and nine other huge forges were built in 1950s by the U.S. government, in a long-forgotten endeavor called the Heavy Press Program…It stands nine stories tall (four of them are hidden under the floor), weighs 16 million pounds, exerts 50,000 tons of compressive force, and, like Vulcan’s own waffle iron, squeezes ingots of solid metal between its jaws until they flow like batter.

Slabs of titanium alloy before (left) and after forging by 'The Fifty.'

Tim’s working on a book about the Heavy Press Program, and recently wrote about ALCOA’s 50,000-ton forging press (aka The Fifty) for The Atlantic. His follow-on piece at Boing Boing places The Fifty in the context of the Heavy Press Program, and the Heavy Press Program in the context of the post-war U.S. industrial boom. Fascinating stuff. [Thanks, Jake!]

Now That’s a Lathe


How to Shoot Great Video of Zoo Animals

Mark “352K” Rober, who created the Gaping Hole in Torso Halloween costume, came up with a clever way to shoot video at the zoo. He drilled a hole in a mirror so he could intrigue zoo animals with their own faces, while simultaneously shooting video through the drill hole.


Martin Klimas Captures Paint Pushed by Sound

Martin Klimas places paint upon a translucent material, underneath which is a speaker. When music is played, the carefully selected mixtures of paint explode from the surface, reaching upward and intertwining. Klimas captures these events photographically and mates each photo to the piece of music that created it (the one below is Kraftwerk’s “Transistor”).

[via The Creators Project]


Giant Pink Printable Gear Heart

It’s Thing #16909 from faberdasher, directly enlarged from Thing #12208 by emmett (who is also a central node in the Thingiverse cube gears phenomenon). All of these complex bevel-geared kinetic sculptures can be traced back to the mechanical papercraft of Haruki Nakamura, which was, I believe, first adapted for fused-filament printing in Thing #4683 by Greg Frost.


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