Friday, October 21, 2011

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Mod Guide!

This Mod Guide will cover some performance mods for the Nerf Speedswarm.

Mods covered:
- Air Restrictor (AR) Removal
- Plunger Air Release Seal
- Plunger Padding & O-Ring Replacement
- Voltage Increase
- Aftermarket Spring Replacement (Optional)
- Rotating Barrel Dart Post Removal (Optional)

Note: Most of the modding steps are similar to the Nerf Swarmfire Mod.

Disclaimer: Modify at your own risk. Modifications may wear out or damage your blaster. Please be careful when using hobby tools!

:: AR Removal ::

Step 1: Disassemble your Speedswarm. Make sure to remove all the screws before detaching the casing layers.

Step 2: Open the motorized spring plunger casing. Move aside the cover, rotating barrel and battery sled.

Step 3: Separate all the spring plunger parts and gear components.

Step 4: Take the plunger tube and use a rotating pipe cutter to cut the front section. Make sure the cut line is positioned over the blue area under the white plunger tube casing.

Rotate the pipe cutter 2-3 times, and try to pull apart the plunger tube. If it doesn't move, rotate the pipe cutter again, do not over-tighten the pipe cutter! Keep testing. It will eventually separate into two parts and the AR will just drop out.

Discard the AR components and glue the plunger cap back on with 2-part epoxy glue.

Alternatively, the AR can also be drilled out with a motorized drill or dremel. Just make sure the plunger and seals are not damaged in the process.

Note that the white colored "target" shaped plastic grill inside the plunger tube has to be intact, that part is required as an impact barrier for the plunger rod.

The AR removal mod is done!

:: Plunger Air Release Seal ::

Close up the air relief hole on the side of the plunger tube. This is essential to create an air-tight plunger seal.

In my example, i use 2-part epoxy glue to fill in the air relief hole.

:: Plunger Padding & O-Ring Replacement ::

Without the AR, there is no air buffering system to cushion the plunger on tube impact.

This results in very high wear and tear on the plunger and tube casing, by both normal firing and dry firing. Due to repeated direct impacts on the tube (hence the loud cracking sound during firing) over time, the plunger and tube may become damaged.

Therefore, padding should be applied to the plunger to help cushion the impact.

In the following photo, i attached a cut-out piece of soft foam bumper padding to the tip of the plunger.

To test the plunger air seal, block the tube exit and try to push the plunger rod into the plunger casing, if the air seal is optimized, there should be some resistance in the plunger. It should also still be able to move smoothly when the tube exit is not blocked.

If the plunger seal is loose, simply replace the stock o-ring with a more air-tight aftermarket o-ring.

:: Voltage Increase ::

The voltage feed to the Speedswarm's motor determines its speed.

To increase the Speedswarm's Rate of Fire (RoF), simply increase the amount of voltage to its motor.

There are many different types of batteries available to create higher voltage power sources, its up to the users to determine which setups suit their usage best.

In my examples, i choose to use 14500 size Li-Ion Rechargeable Batteries (Brand: TrustFire / Unprotected versions).

Such batteries can be installed in the original Speedswarm battery sled without additional modification. I just use dummy AA battery spacers to fill the empty slots.

14500 size 3.7V TrustFire unprotected Li-Ion rechargeable batteries can be charged up to 4.2V each, so i use 4 of them (with an additional 2 dummy spacers) to get around 16.8V of power.

:: Aftermarket Spring Replacement (Optional) ::

One way to increase the speed of air delivery through the plunger tube is to replace the stock spring with a stronger aftermarket spring.

Photo Top: Stock Spring / Photo Bottom: 10kg load Spring

Note that due to the thicker spring wire of stronger aftermarket springs, the plunger rod's 4 plastic strut "fins" at the front will need to be trimmed abit narrower so that the spring can fit over the rod properly (or else the spring will end up sitting too far back).

Note that i use TrustFire 14500 unprotected Li-Ion rechargeable batteries. These unprotected Li-Ion batteries have high discharge rates which are necessary to provide the required torque to the motor to handle heavier spring loads.

Be advised that regular Alkaline batteries may not have high enough discharge rates (separate factor from voltage) to enable the motor to pull such heavier spring loads.

Due to the smaller size of the Speedswarm's motor, it generates less torque and speed compared to the larger motors found in the Swarmfire or Stampede, hence even with the voltage increase, a heavier spring tends to slow down its rate-of-fire (RoF) alot... therefore after much testing, i reverted my units back to stock spring setups as i preferred to maintain a higher RoF configuration.

:: Rotating Barrel Dart Post Removal (Optional) ::

This mod is also optional, it is mainly for users who want to be able to use solid core DIY foam darts (ie. stefans) or as a modding step before re-barrel mods.

Detach the rotating barrel from the casing.

Use a wire cutter to remove the dart posts.

Note that the dart post removal mod does not affect power or range significantly, it just allows more flexibility in the usage of various DIY foam dart designs.

:: Modified Nerf Speedswarm - Range Test Video ::

:: Sample Test Fire Data ::

PTG: Parallel-To-Ground (Shoulder height, no elevation)
ATG: Angled-To-Ground (Aimed higher, 30 degrees elevation)

Distance is measured at where the shot lands (Average of 10 shots).

Stock Speedswarm
PTG = 20 ft
ATG = 30 ft

Modded Speedswarm (AR Removal & Voltage Increase)
PTG = 50 ft
ATG = 60 ft

Note that the tests were done under controlled conditions with customized foam darts. The results are sample estimates for reference (your results may differ depending on materials and mod techniques used).

:: Summary & Game Usage ::

After using the Speedswarm in Nerf games, i've found that it is most effective when equipped as a close quarter sidearm. Thanks to its compact form factor, it can be easily holstered in a belt pouch or even in a large side pocket (can't holster a Swarmfire as easily).

For players who use long range blasters which require additional time to prime or pump up between shots, a holstered Speedswarm can be quickly drawn to counter opponents who advance too near... thats a potential lifesaver (and game changer) for many players! :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Internals Guide!

This guide will serve as a reference for the internals of the Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm.

For a detailed review of the Nerf Speedswarm, click Here.

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Casing Removed

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Internal Layout

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Internal Components

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Motor System

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Direct Spring Plunger

Nerf Dart Tag Speedswarm - Direct Plunger Internals