Monday, October 15, 2018

Oodammo Launchers Part 2 - Misc. Launchers

Since Oodammo was the de facto best ammo to use, I used it for a lot of other experimental launchers. None of these were ever posted.

First up we have a "compact" nameless Oodammo launcher. I believe I had developed this after the Oodammo 2 but before the 3. I came up with a trigger system that allowed me to easily separate the trigger and the sear along a yellow block body type launcher. I wanted to demonstrate this trigger so I made this.

The gist of the trigger is that it allowed the magazine to be just in front of the trigger but allowed a full draw on the grey rod length striker. While I used this sort of trigger on other designs, I wasn't too fond of the design as an Oodammo launcher and didn't keep it around long. That said, I did reuse the body with minor modifications to fit it with a turret. Turrets and especially a launcher called the TR had been taking off for a bit. I wasn't too fond of turrets but I decided to try one out.

In hindsight, for a turret launcher, this was actually pretty compact after all. But since it was designed as a pistol, it still more or less wasted the potential of the turret. I still didn't like the design and so I think I scrapped it fairly quickly.

My next bit of randomness was something fairly simple.

This was just a mini Oodammo pistol I made for the heck of it. I just liked the idea of having some really small and piece efficient launcher people could mass produce for small indoor battles or something.

Then we have the Oodassault 4 candidate. At the time I thought the Oodassault 3 had limitations due to the design that could only be solved by having a larger body. I was taking development of this very seriously, asking for feedback from other builders on what they wanted in the "ultimate" Oodammo pistol.

To its credit, it did have some features the 3 didn't, such as a striker lock, a realistically angled handle, and a fuller striker draw. The striker was a weird concept I had that didn't turn out. The ends of strikers need to be reinforced to handle the force of smacking against the back of the launcher, else the striker rod will disconnect and fly out the barrel. My concept was that if I attached extra connectors in such a way that they absorbed the shock instead of the connection between the rod and connector, I wouldn't need to add stuff on the striker rod itself to absorb the shock. Sadly, I was wrong, and the extra weight created quite a snapping sound and reverse recoil. As for the launcher, while it had potential, it wasn't quite reliable enough and I just didn't like the larger body. But it would influence a later design.

This was Duncan's Easy, Random Pistol, or the DERP. I believe I built it my first year of college when I had free time in my dorm room. It's funny because it accomplished more than the would-be Oodassault 4 did, but by the time I built it, I had moved on and actually found this launcher somewhat "pointless" compared to other options out there. This one used removable magazines and was set up more reliably. It's also interesting to note that other than to make a place to put the rubber bands, this could've been created without any blue rods sticking out of the sides, something I liked about the Oodassault 3's design. So if I had to seriously consider a different design over the Oodassault 3, I would fix up the DERP and maybe post this later.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Oodammo Launchers Part 1 - The Oodassault Series

Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one, and it's just part one.

One simple fact about K'nex is that they were never intended to be projectiles. In fact, they make for rather poor projectiles if we're being honest with ourselves. But that doesn't stop us from trying! One member, Oodalumps, was experimenting with different pieces and combinations of rods and connectors to see which flew the farthest and most accurately. What he ultimately found was that a three-slot connector with a white rod in the middle slot was the best pure K'nex ammo, and so he dubbed it Oodammo.

Since the creation of Oodammo, many single-shot launchers were made that fired it. However, because of their awkward shape, it wasn't immediately apparent how to make a repeater that fired them. Both the user Bakenbitz and I saw the opportunity to attempt putting out the first Oodammo repeater. I had just barely beat him out. Sadly, once again, I'm unable to find any pictures for his pistol.

Mine was thrown together under the same pattern as my previous assault pistols.

And so was born the Oodassault series. It was fairly crude for the sake of being one of the first ones made so I didn't intend to post it. I had seen another pattern of barrel and trigger used for other assault pistols and liked them, so I decided I'd try to build another Oodammo pistol following them.

And so was born the Oodassault 2 soon after. It was large and somewhat ugly. Since bakenbitz's pistol was also large, I decided I'd rather sacrifice range for compactness as an alternative option.


For some reason I dubbed this the Oddassault 2.5 though the only changes were made all at once. This I saw good enough to get instructions for, and it saw reasonable success on Instructables. It's still decent to this day as far as piece efficiency goes, but it was never designed to be amazing. It'd quickly fall obsolete compared to other Oodammo pistols flooding in.

One popular design was the MeZak pistol, a collaboration between two other skilled builders, Zak and Mepain. Once again, I cannot find a picture of it. It introduced a tilting magazine and locking mag follower to make reloading much easier, else with most Oodammo pistols you had to take out the follower and slowly thread the Oodammo in one by one. It was also built to be more durable and handle more bands, ultimately making it perform much better. But it was bulky in my opinion, and I didn't like how the magazine looked.

One day another user named DJ Radio showed off his Oodammo pistol with a slide. It was very bulky and, if I'm honest, I just disliked his ego, so I figured I'd try to show him up. It was odd of me to come up with such a unique design so quickly (most of my inspiration came from other people's concepts but modified to my style) but I turned this out I believe the same or next day after seeing his pistol.

And so was born the Oodassault 3. It was much more compact than his offering, so I felt satisfied. However, despite what I originally thought, slides never really benefited launchers. They added extra complication and typically weakened the design while only marginally making it easier to charge the launcher. I was also not fond of the fixed magazine. I saw potential in my design, so I decided to improve it.

For the 3.1 version I got rid of the slide to instead make a more durable body. I believe it was the first launcher to use this pattern for the striker guide, which let the launcher be fairly compact (relative to other launchers that followed the more conventional block body design) but still fairly durable. I basically copied the MeZak magazine and adapted it to my design. You pushed on the blue connector beneath the trigger guard to tilt the magazine out. However, I didn't like copying the magazine, so I came up with my own design for the 3.2, then I lengthened it for the 3.3

I posted this version, but I don't want to link to instructions because it's an inferior design in most ways. Instead of holding the magazine tilted with your finger, this one broke open and remained open. I also came up with a method for loading this with stripper clips to make reloading much quicker. However, it suffered from reliability issues with having such a large magazine, and I didn't really like how it was weakly attached to the launcher. So I set out to do some redesigning.

This is the 3.6, the next version I would post after several revisions. Changes included shrinking the magazine and attaching it differently, giving it a sliding tilter, and adding a safety. This one performed much better and would serve as the new base for improvements going forward, but it still wasn't quite perfect.

If you couldn't tell already, I was really serious about making the Oodassault 3 series the best it could be. The 3.7 had a few usability enhancements to make it more reliable. I also changed the sliding tilter to allow the magazine to tilt out more and to catch on the trigger guard to take some of the stress of holding it open off your fingers. I was content with this version for a while. Killerk then used the body of this launcher with the magazine design from the MeZak and a few of his own touches to make his own pistol, the DunKillMeZak.

Basically, his priorities were in making the magazine lock open again instead of needing to be held open, and then in using the guide poll as a clip of sorts for quick reloading. I didn't like the magazine design so much, so I set out to accomplish his goals with my own style.

This was the 3.8. In addition to changing the magazine to lock open again like with the 3.3, I did the clips a little differently to allow them to be left in the magazine, making reloading extremely quick. This was my last version for a while. I grew older, went to college, got jobs, etc. and was fairly busy and not building as often. So whenever I felt like getting back into building, I'd often rebuild the Oodassault 3 and try to think of any improvements I could make. The first time I did this, I made this.

I wasn't fond of how large the 3.8's magazine was, so I tried to dramatically shrink it and make other small changes. However, it must not have performed well since I never displayed it. I'd eventually try again, actually calling this one the 3.9

Little changes here and there once again. I always meant to post something since I had made so many little improvements since the last time I posted a version, but I never did. And then a lot of time would go by again without me building. Once again a few months I tried getting into building again and I started working on the 3.10.

Still, it was just small little improvements here and there, a slightly more comfortable trigger and an easier to use mag follower. I may post instructions of it soon, but I've been wanting to make even more improvements upon it, so we'll see what happens.

So that concludes specifically the Oodassault series. It has been my pride and joy for a while, and still likely what I'd take to a K'nex battle if I ever participated in one. In another post, I will go over other Oodammo-based launchers I've made.

In Regards to the Guide Series - Learning to Teach

This site is young and its viewers are few so disregard this post if it doesn't apply to you. If you've been following along, we've had two lessons thus far for new builders. Now, the tricky part for me is that there is a lot to learn, so many different directions we could head, and I'm just trying to decide which direction would be best and then what we can make to teach it.

The big thing is that, though I'll borrow instructions from others from time to time, I'll have to design most launchers myself to make instructions for them, and truth be told I don't have a backlog of designs in my head. I intend to design the launchers to be clean and easy to build at first, only getting more advanced in time as we utilize unconventional methods of using K'nex and such.

This is a greater effort than I thought, learning how to teach, to purposely make something simple yet still elegant, and so it will take me some time to develop a backlog of designs. Ideally, what I'd like to develop is a modular launcher, a basic launcher design that we can then modify with different parts as we learn new lessons, just so we can avoid some of the more repetitive aspects and focus on the main concepts of each lesson.

So, my apologies to new builders depending on these lessons to get into building, I promise there will be more in the future. But it will take time for me. In the mean time, I do intend to keep other content coming.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Assault Pistols

My apologies, still need a little more time to prepare the next guide. So today we're going over my brief episode with assault pistols

Assault pistols were the next progression after sidearms. While sidearms were generally designed to be pistols with small projectiles most commonly fed from a magazine in the handle, these lacked range and weren't really that practical. Assault pistols were generally small, stockless launchers that typically fired larger projectiles from larger magazines forward of the handle for better range. The concept had existed for a while, and examples of them existed pretty much from the start of K'nex repeaters, but I tried to turn them into another fad. I was motivated by seeing user bakenbitz making one, though honestly I cannot find a picture of his now. There are many, many examples of assault pistols that many other veteran builders have made but I'm going to just go over a few examples of my own.

I wouldn't technically qualify this one, but I figured it was worth showing.

I don't have a name for it, but it was my hurried entry into a competition, and truth be told I never even tested that it worked. The trigger was a bad design and the magazine wasn't as good as I was hoping. I basically had designed everything around the removable magazine concept which was based on another side arm at the time. The magazine was held in by a pair of tan locks at the bottom of the mag well and fed green rods. I figured it was pretty cool looking at the time, but not very functional.

My first real one I think I called the TDAP (TheDunkis's Assault Pistol) continuing my predictable naming scheme. It was incredibly simple but it set a sort of template for most other launchers I would make in this time period. It didn't have much going for it but the one sort of feature I gave it was the angled magazine for blue rods so that the design could still be overall more compact without compromising too much on the range.

Sadly it too had a pretty bad trigger and it had a tendency to jam, so I never posted instructions. I think I set aside assault rifles for a bit while I worked on other projects such as the TDSS, UMP, and El Mosquito + Nano. But I would eventually return first with a slightly different concept, not technically an assault pistol.

I don't think this was named, but it was basically just a shotgun. It's hard to see, but on the left is my first design for a shotgun shell; I filled all the slots of a pair of snowflakes with white rods, and then put orange connectors all around them to make something vaguely similar to a shotgun shell. You could then stuff a total of four green rods in the orange connectors. The only problem was that the design was large and impractical to really fit in a launcher somehow. So for practically I came up with another design as seen directly below the launcher, which was flatter and could fit up to six green rods. The launcher then loaded these shells through a gate on the side accessed by rotating the red three-slot connector in front about the white rod. I had finally come up with a decent trigger design that I'd use on all my other assault pistols going forward.

So I revisited the TDAP to make something a little more functional. I also tried to improve its looks. Another silly feature I gave it were folding sights. When folded down, they acted as "precision" sights though a little more difficult to use. When folded up, they were easier to use. But with K'nex as inaccurate as they are, sights are always more about the cool factor than anything. However, I still wasn't quite satisfied with this design. I wanted to make an assault pistol with a removable magazine.

So I kept the same basic style but added a removable magazine for single-slot connectors + green rods. The way I did it was weird. It rocked in AK-style but slightly canted to the right, and then slid in against the green rod protruding from the handguard to lock it in. It wasn't the prettiest system, but it worked fairly well from what I recall. Still, I wasn't satisfied enough with it to ever post. I think assault pistols were going out of popularity, they didn't really catch on for long.

Their designs, however, would influence the next fad. The next evolution in launchers would be Oodammo pistols, which we'll cover in another post.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

SYCAMORE Semi-auto launcher

Sorry, already falling behind. I mean to get another guide post up but I've wanted to design the perfect launcher to go with the guide. So for today I'm going over another silly bit of my history.

If I haven't already mentioned it, I was a bit of a pistol guy. Even after the sidearm craze ended, I still liked making smaller builds because my pieces were limited and I enjoyed the challenge of cramming as much functionality as I could into little designs. One such design was the SYCAMORE:

Forgive me, I never did get my own picture, of this. "Travw" kindly got some for me on Instructables. Bonus, I dug up one of my old videos for it. It'd be embarrassing if it wasn't also slightly amusing to look back on. I guess for a little backstory, this is worthy of its own post, so perhaps I'll make one, but the concept of a semi-automatic launcher is inherently challenging because in order to fire shots in succession, you need to store potential energy for each shot, which is hard to do with K'nex. Basically, it was a challenge that I viewed separating good builders from not-so-good builders, and I had yet to build one until then. My method involved using the flex in the pieces and torque to have a mechanical advantage. I noticed that if you try to snap off a blue connector from a rod, it would actually fly a good distance. So I simply set a row up on a rod, added a spring to make a magazine, and then made the trigger unclip them one at a time. Boom, semi-auto. It was beautifully simple, and I was pleased, though it was otherwise such an unimpressive design.

I've thought about rebuilding it, improving the design, make it not require a spring, and then posting instructions. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mini repeaters

Today we have a fun, shorter history lesson. This was a brief competition a few of us builders had because I was "compettitive" (petty + competitive). If you read up on my TDS series, then you're familiar with the Mini-TDS. It was just for fun and remained uncontested (as far as I know) the smallest repeater for a while.

The above picture was actually a slightly improved version. I made it after someone else had designed a more compact repeater called the OKP. Unfortunately, the original instructions and pictures are gone, but someone else mostly copied the design and scaled it up a little.

The OKP was the new smallest repeater, and though I improved my Mini-TDS, it still wasn't smaller, and I just couldn't let that remain the case for long, so I set out to make an even smaller repeater.

El Mosquito was caught in an awkward spot of not remaining the smallest repeater for long, nor was it really functional enough to recommend building, but still I left up its instructions just in case. It was solely designed to edge out the OKP, because I'm competitive like that. That said, the OKP was a more functional design more worth building. I vaguely recall some other competition from something called "The Tick" by "Big Z" on Instructables.

Now we were getting into bragging rights territory. These things started barely working, just spitting out pieces in a pathetic attempt to be deemed a launcher. That said, he did technically succeed in making something even smaller. I think I was already working on my own design at the time that just barely won out dimensionally.

Behold the "Nano". I was actually quite pleased with this launcher and will still rebuild it to this day. It's still pathetic, but it works. Rest assured, even smaller "launchers" were built that were difficult to hold and loaded only one more projectile from the "magazine". Because, again, I was petty, I'd argue about the validity of calling them repeaters or how they didn't really have handles. Simple fact of the matter is that they beat me, but I was content with the Nano for still remaining surprisingly usable. And after that we never really cared about mini repeaters again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sidearms and the TDS series

Moving onto some of my early contributions, really the only noteworthy one was of my TDS series. Note: I'll include links for instructions, and while most of them are fairly simple, they'll use some concepts we haven't gone over yet if you're following the guide series, and they're not exactly great examples of what should be built either, so I'd recommend not building them. I'm mostly going over these just for a bit of history.

When I was a new builder, my main obsession was trying to replicate realistic firearms. At some point I wanted to try doing the Halo SMG. For reference, here's what a Halo SMG looks like:
Now, it had several challenges, but the ones I focused on at first were the shape and angle of the handles. Up until then, we rarely had realistically angled handles on our launchers, usually either straight up and down or at a 45-degree angle. So I came up with a way to angle both handles at a less extreme angle. I also tried coming up with a comfortably and somewhat accurately shaped handle.

Rest assured it was not good and I wasn't pleased with it. However, I did like the handle portion. I liked the idea of pistols with handle magazines, something to have as a sidearm in a hypothetical K'nex battle, but the only decent repeating ones were bulky and/or uncomfortable in my opinion. Probably the best one at the time was by DSman:

However, I found his rather long, and the handle uncomfortable, but it was basically the bar to beat, my competition. I saw an opportunity to finally contribute something to the community. I would simplify things to come up with the first version of the TDS, or TheDunkis's Sidearm.

Aside from its compact design, it had a removable magazine follower to make reloading a little easier. While it didn't get great range due to its design, having a nicely slanted handle magazine caused a lot of people to copy the general design to make their own sidearms. It started a friendly rivalry with DSman. I made many variations of the design, including one where I was prototyping a slide. I didn't really care for the bulkiness of this design. It was mostly just to prove I could do it.

Another variation I made was a mini version, which was the smallest repeater at the time.

My obsession with sidearms continued as I tried to come up with the "perfect" sidearm. I believe my standards, while doable today, were pretty high at the time, such as wanting a removable magazine and slide-action. One of my failed experiments was trying to make a removable magazine. The handle connection was flimsy and I never actually made the magazines functional. 

Needing help, I tried collaborated with DSman from above. We couldn't come up with a shared design and ended up both trying to improve our original designs. This lead to the TDS2, which was basically just a couple improvements and mostly aesthetic changes since I couldn't make any breakthroughs.

I overhyped it for being something not all that much better than the original, but it was still relatively popular for the time. I wasn't really sure how I could improve the design much more at the time. So I moved on from my fascination with sidearms for a while until saw a new design that incorporated a slide and was otherwise not inspired by my TDS series, which made it novel. I took the slide concept and went through a few prototypes until I was content enough to post the TDSS (TheDunkis's Slide-action Sidearm).

It didn't work all that great since I focused more on the slide than anything else, but I did like how it looked. But the time for sidearms had passed, we were into newer, better things and this didn't reach the same level of praise as my previous pistols, so this is where the series ended. I still considered the TDS2 the best sidearm of its kind, of course in bias, and a slide-action couldn't improve performance more than it could hinder it. Still, sometimes I wish I could've improved the design of the TDSS to be something more functional even if it were to remain just a novelty. It is worth noting that there was a resurgence in handle magazine pistols when people started trying to replicate real pistols, but they were never intended to be sidearms.

So that's the gist of my TDS series. Between the TDS2 and TDSS I'd do a few more things before my next obsession became Assault Pistols, which we'll cover in another post. Did you ever make your own or someone else's sidearm? Let me know in the comments.