Thursday, September 22, 2011

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Review!

With the Nerf Longshot being such a popular blaster for aftermarket spring mods, its common to encounter their stock bolt sleds cracking or breaking under the heavier load after prolonged usage. Thats when a stronger bolt sled would be needed.

Check out the Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled!

It is made from a customized resin material and the L-joint arms section of the bolt sled have been re-worked with a thicker profile to withstand the stress effects of heavier spring loads.

Along with its non-metal construction, it is very light-weight and all the parts edges are smoothly molded to exacting detail. This allows the bolt sled to fit perfectly into Longshot casings without requiring any further trimming or adjustments.

The boltsled was tested with 14kg load aftermarket springs and it showed very little noticeable signs of flexing or stress marks over 100+ repeated priming. So it looks to be suitable for such spring loads.

Tests with 20+ kg springs do show some flexing and slight bending in the bolt sled during priming movements. Although it is more durable compared to the stock bolt sled, its not indestructible... so users should also consider using customized shotgun grips to balance out the load stress on the bolt sled.

Thanks to wrxloonie at the NerfSG forum for sending over a set for review!

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Top

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Bottom

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Middle

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Comparison with Stock Bolt Sled

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Close-Up Comparison

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - L-joint Arm Comparison

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Fitment with Bolt & Plunger Tube

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Fitment in Blaster Casing

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Assembled

Xplorer Custom Fabricated Longshot Bolt Sled - Parts & Fitment Video

For those keen on these custom fabricated bolt sleds, check with wrxloonie at the NerfSG forum. :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nerf Vortex Blaster Spring Relocation - Mod Guide!

This Mod Guide will cover the popular Spring Relocation Mod for the Nerf Vortex Proton, Vigilon and Praxis.

All 3 blasters use the same torsion spring powered disc launching system, so their modding methods are the similiar.

This mod is quite straightforward, simply disassemble the blaster casing and access the launcher mechanism, then relocate the torsion spring's securing leg one mounting point to the left. This increases the initial load in the torsion spring, thereby increasing the power of the shot.

Here are the reference photos for the spring relocation mods:

Nerf Vortex Proton [Internals]:

Note: You can also relocate the spring to the furthest left mounting point for additional load too.

Nerf Vortex Vigilon [Internals]:

Nerf Vortex Praxis [Internals]:

The spring relocation mod improves ranges on average by around 15ft. Quite effective for such an easy mod. :)

In addition, torsion springs with higher loads could also be used too. Here are examples of custom made aftermarket torsion springs for comparison:

Left to Right: Stock spring, 30% stronger spring, 120% stronger spring.

The stock torsion springs are already very strong in the first place, so i was only able to get the 30% stronger springs to fit and work properly... the other springs i tested with even higher loads were way too difficult to install and the internal components could not take the stress, which resulted in numerous cracked and broken parts in my test units.

With the 30% stronger spring installed, ranges improved by another approx. 10ft (over and above the spring relocation mod).

Note that wear and tear on the internal parts will naturally be much higher (especially with stronger springs), so modders will have to consider between performance improvements vs the lifespan of the blaster parts. :)

:: Sample Test Fire Data ::

Ranges are PTG: Parallel-To-Ground (Shoulder height, no elevation).
Distance is measured at where the disc lands (Average of 10 discs).

Vortex Proton/Vigilon/Praxis (Stock)
Average range = 55-65ft

Vortex Proton/Vigilon/Praxis (Spring Relocated)
Average range = 70-80ft

Vortex Proton/Vigilon/Praxis (Spring Relocated + Stronger Spring)
Average range = 80-90ft

Note that the test was done indoors with standard Vortex foam discs. The results are sample estimates for reference (your results may differ depending on materials and mod techniques used).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Epoxy Resin Cast Blaster Parts - Build Guide!

Wouldn't it be useful to be able to easily replicate and make your own replacement blaster parts? or perhaps even custom make parts too?

The common method to make replacement parts amongst modders usually involves cutting shapes out of polycarbonate sheets, but that requires a fair amount of work with special tools, along with lots of polycarbonate dust flying everywhere.

The other method is to contract a custom parts fabrication company to do it, but that requires dealing with minimum order quantities and higher monetary expenditures, not really cost efficient for simple blaster parts.

Therefore i was looking at an easier (and cost effective) method to make detailed parts as and when required.

With this objective in mind, i looked into a technique that is commonly used in many scale model hobbies to make replicated parts = Epoxy Resin Casting.

I've seen modders use epoxy resin to reinforce joints or to fill up empty spaces in blaster casings, but i've not yet seen anyone actually make working detailed blaster parts using epoxy resin.

So i tested out the epoxy resin cast method and it works!

Here is the build process...

- Make the Casting Mold -

In my example, i use EasyMold Silicone Putty to make the casting mold, so my process will be based on this particular product.

Once a silicone mold is made, the same mold can be used repeatedly for casting many parts.

There are other similar silicone mold brands that can also be used too, just follow the instructions specific to those products.

Step 1:

Mix 2 equal parts of the silicone putty components. Knead the mixture until the color is uniform.

You will need to work fast as the EasyMold Silicone Putty compound has a very short working time.

Step 2:

For this example, i will be casting a PAS trigger.

Press the original plastic PAS trigger into the prepared silicone compound, make sure it sits completely in the putty and creates a detailed impression.

Note thats this is a one part mold. For functionality and simplicity, i only needed to replicate the right side of the trigger as thats the side that requires part detail for the catch spring to mount on.

For more detailed molds, 2 part molds can also be made by creating the mold in 2 stages with enclosed mold pieces.

Step 3:

After 20+ minutes, the silicone mold will cure enough that you can remove the original part.

Leave the silicone mold to cure further for a minimum 24 hours... then its ready for usage.

- Make the Epoxy Resin Cast Part -

For the casting material, i used high strength 2-part epoxy resin. The epoxy resin does not adhere to the silicone mold so its suitable as a casting material.

I've tested various epoxy resin and they all vary in strength depending on the intended application. Since the part i intend to make undergoes high mechanical stress loads, i found that Devcon "Plastic Steel" Epoxy worked well, as it has good tensile and shear strength.

Step 1:

Mix the 2-part epoxy resin and hardener until it has a uniform color, then apply the mixture into the silicone mold in layers until it is completely filled.

Make sure to fill up the mold completely so that there are no unfilled spaces or air bubbles trapped inside.

Let the epoxy resin cure for 6-8 hours (cure time will depend on environmental conditions).

Step 2:

After the epoxy resin cast part has cured, remove it from the mold. Just flex the silicone mold slightly and the part will pop out.

Trim off any mold lines or excess epoxy resin material with a hobby knife or sanding file.

Here is a comparison of the epoxy resin cast trigger versus the original plastic trigger.

If the cast part comes out with lots of holes (looking like swiss cheese), then it's probably due to too many gaps and air bubbles introduced during the mold filling process.

Just mix a small amount of epoxy resin again to fill in those holes and let it cure further.

Step 3:

Fit the epoxy resin cast part to the blaster, it should have a perfect fitment.

Do any further trimming or adjustments as required, then you can start using it.

Since you can re-use the silicone mold many times, just cast a new part anytime as and when needed! :)

Application Demo Video:


So far, i've tested the epoxy resin cast PAS triggers and they were able to handle up to 20+ kg load main springs. The catches worked perfectly over hundreds of shots, so it looks like they can be suitable and durable replacements for other load bearing parts too.

Yes... its indeed possible to make epoxy resin cast blaster parts! :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

PAS - Speed Modding Challenge!

Experienced modders who have worked on the ERTL Pump Action Shotgun (PAS) will know how easy it is to convert it from firing its original foam ball ammo to firing customized foam dart ammo... and most have experienced the nice 90-100ft ranges that can be easily achieved even with just the stock spring and plunger seal (especially when matched with the right foam dart and barrel setup).

But exactly how fast can it be done?

This "speed modding challenge" came about a while back when one of my colleagues got his brand new PAS in the mail, then he proceeded to open the box and mod his unit on the spot, so we quickly took the opportunity to time the entire conversion process. As the conversion mod is easily reversible, it eventually became a sort of fun competition amongst the guys to see who can mod faster!

Most new modders wonder how a PAS can be modded quickly and easily, so i created a demo video to show how its done.

Here is how to transform a 15ft range foam ball blaster into a 90-100ft range foam dart blaster... in just 3 minutes! :)

Yeah, it kinda makes modding most other blasters look way too time consuming and tedious in comparison (to achieve similar ranges). :)