Sunday, September 23, 2018

My Beginning

Like many other children, I had a creative side. But while I wasn't as artistic (didn't really enjoy coloring), I did have a fascination for engineering. I recall as a toddler, I would put all of my toys together into complicated "machines" connecting all the electronics and anything that could remotely look like an Input/Output device with strings, tapes, straps, and wires. I also enjoyed building pretend pinball machines with the little knickknacks at my grandma's house. I simply enjoyed knowing how things worked, and I wanted to make things that worked too. That said, I was also a lazy kid, I didn't like working with my hands all that much (wait, I still don't...), I just liked coming up with ideas. Naturally, K'nex made it much easier to build things without all the effort of crafting stuff out of raw materials. I also really enjoyed Lego.

Fast forward to 2007, I had just started my freshman year of high school. A little later on into the year, we had a transfer student who made projectile launchers out of pens and rubber bands. He managed to sell them for a couple bucks a piece, and I wanted in on that sort of money. So I began my search on the internet for office launchers. Eventually it lead me to Lego launchers on YouTube, which I found really interesting but sadly too complex for my skill level. But then I happened upon K'nex launchers on YouTube, and I recalled I had some pieces still. All of my toys from childhood were scattered in large tubs in a closet. I looked through some more videos to find something simple enough and then began searching for pieces in my tubs.

The feeling of building my first launcher isn't something I'll ever forget. The beautiful thing for me was that I quickly learned that I could tweak my builds. I had figured out the basic concepts (that we covered in yesterday's post) and started creating my own variations of simple tube launchers, coming up with more complexities along the way such as a rudimentary bipod and a really basic handle.

The table I sat at for lunch in school was always a little rowdy. To start, they had used plastic utensils, and we discovered that you could bend the prongs on them until they snapped, in which they'd launch off a piece. We'd snap them under the table at each other. Some kids would also use those pen launchers I mentioned earlier. But then they'd often get caught since it was difficult to load, hold, and aim. I was amused that using a K'nex projectile launcher with a trigger, I never got caught because I could easily prime, load, and aim it discretely and fire only when I was sure no one was looking. The other kids complained and I even admitted to having the launcher on my person, but the lunch supervisor proclaimed that if she didn't see it happen, she couldn't get me in trouble.

I happened upon Instructables sometime later that year. I had lurked on it for the most part, but by December I joined and started contributing with very amateur builds and discussion. I was a teenager after all, so most of my comments were probably very cringey. I sought praise and would continue trying to contribute to the budding community.

Here are a few of my early builds:

"Stg-44" I had a lot of interest in real firearms at the time, and had just started learning about WWII firearms. I had just learned how to build a rubber band from someone else's instructions, so I put together their mechanism, a stock from another builder, and then a little of my own improvisation to come up with this crude launcher. For each band you loaded onto the cog wheel and each single-slot connector you loaded in the magazine, you could launch a projectile semi-automatically

"AK-47" I didn't like how unrealistic many other launchers claiming to be AK-47s were. Mine was hardly any better than the ones at the time, but I tried to introduce a removable, curved magazine for something novel

"Mini-Uzi" I apologize for the blurriness, I had yet to acquire a good camera or the skills to use one. As you can tell by now, I had a thing for trying to replicate real firearms. I had just built someone else's Uzi-like launcher with a magazine in the handle and wanted to try out my own.I had designed two other pistols, one being my first YouTube video on a K'nex launcher, the "Mikoflare", and another mini-pistol I called the "Dingo" in a similar style.
I had a few other designs too, but most of them were variations of the above three. I'll get into my better contributions in future posts.

How did you guys get started in building with K'nex? Let me know in the comments.

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