Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Barackuda's Reelection

Funny how going through all these posts and revisiting my older launchers makes me want to rebuild them so I can get instructions. I've been working on this for about a month now. Go check out my post on the Barackuda if you haven't already. What I have today is an updated version. The main difference is this one includes a striker guide. It's not as pretty as I'd like it to be, it's a little bigger than before, and the sights extend a ways from the top, but I think the addition is well worth it. It allows you to stack more bands on the striker with less flex.

I'm still making a few adjustments here and there. The last time I made the Barackuda, as I mentioned, I got hung up on the little things and never did end up posting full instructions, only getting some pictures of the internals. This time I'm determined to get full instructions, though I want to tweak it a little more first. It performs admirably but is still limited. That said, I think it's still a great novelty to fire for being as compact of a bolt action as it is with an unconventional removable magazine.

And here's a quick demonstration video. I'll get a more detailed video on how to load the magazine and use the launcher alongside the instructions.

As for my plans for future builds, I think after the Barackuda, I'll finally get back on track toward making the next step in the guide series. Then there are other designs of mine I'd like to revisit and get instructions for. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Misc. Concepts Part 1

I've pretty much gone over all of my bigger contributions to the K'nex launcher community, so now I'm going to scrape the bottom of the barrel before I get back on track with other topics.

I've had my fair share of experimental and incomplete builds. Most of these things were too inconsequential at the time to really be worth showing, but altogether I figured I'll go through each one quick. I have another collection I'll grab eventually of ones left on my 3DS (yes, I originally used my DSes to take pictures, hence why some of them are pretty awful). I've got a lot to show, but not much to say, so hopefully this doesn't run on too long for you.

I apologize for how dark this photo is, it's really hard to make out what's going on. This was one of the very first repeating launchers I made before I really knew what I was doing. It had a small handle magazine and a trigger connecting a string to a rotating block sear behind the magazine.

There was a phase where I kept reusing this semi auto slingshot mechanism for different launcher designs. One was in the style of a Bren gun. It was really clunky to reload.

I've mentioned before I started as someone who wanted to make functional models of real firearms out of K'nex, though I never really did get good at it. Here was an attempt at an AR15 style one.

This one probably won't mean much since it's the least complete thing here, but at the time I was thinking of making an XM8 using shelled ammo. I spent a lot of time coming up with the receiver area. The design was such that the actual projectile would be held in place, but once shot out, the force of the magazine would push the shell off a ramp and out the right side, which I thought was pretty slick. That said, I never made it a functional launcher.

You get the drill by now, here was an iffy shot at the M1A1 Thompson. I didn't have enough pieces for the stock nor liked where the design was going.

So this was silly. I remember someone else made an Stg-44 and basically slammed my original one, went on how theirs was the best and whatnot. I got all fussy since mine was really old and I figured I could've made a much better one by then. But, as you'd probably guess, I didn't have enough pieces.

This one is a touch more interesting. It came right before the Oodassault 3.0 and gave me most of the design elements. The idea of this launcher in particular was a sort of mini slingshot. You'd push a black/clear rod through the front catching it directly on the band in back, then pull it the rest of the way to catch on the sear. The neat thing is this was quieter than a traditional striker-fired launcher. Its range and accuracy varied dramatically depending on when the rod began to spin out.

Eh, actually that's enough for now. I have a few more to show in another post, plus whatever I can pull off my 3DS eventually.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Non-functioning launchers

(Update 1/9/2019: I found pictures for a couple other models I intended on showing here)

While I intend to design functional launchers most of the time, sometimes I just like to make things that look cool, typically designed to look like it could be based off a real firearm, but isn't. You'll notice I have a certain style I stick to while making such designs, evolving over time slightly. Here are a few.

This was actually one of the very early launchers I made, and a lot of the design elements went into the AK-47 model I attempted. Technically, I think it was setup to launch projectiles, but it performed so pitifully and I couldn't be bothered to improve it. It was just designed for the sake of looking like a cool sniper rifle though based off of no real one in particular.

Y'now, sad thing is I'm pretty sure I've had more examples in between here, but because they never functioned, I rarely bothered getting picture since they were mostly just for my own amusement and not to display.

One example I do have pictures for was basically my UMP-45 body adapted to take a magazine for assault rifle ammunition to look like a compact subcarbine type firearm. I carried some design elements over into future mock models.

Technically this is based on a concept firearm (the Magpul PDR), and technically it was intended to launch projectiles originally, but I think it's important to show this just to see where I got inspiration for future designs from. I really liked the design of the PDR, and I even bought an airsoft version of it eventually, but before I had the money to do that, I tried replicating it. Ultimately, I didn't succeed, but I came up with a functional removable magazine setup. At some point, as you can see, I also figured out how to attach airsoft accessories to K'nex for making attachment rails and scope mounts.

I'd end up turning the design into something more custom. I added a fake charging handle above the handle and I made what I intended to be a carrying handle scope, but it was mounted too low to give you room to hold it. I also added a small section of foregrip that would allow you to add a vertical grip.

This isn't the first version actually, but ultimately the last evolution of what was based on the PDR design, cleaning up the last custom model I made. As you can see, it uses the same magazine setup. It had a charging handle above the handle but setup differently, a removable front sight, and a section of K'nex rail for sighting accessories. It used an elongated version of that grip from the UMP (which I actually got from someone else, though I don't remember who) that allowed you to attach vertical foregrips. This would be a reoccurring design element.

This was a silly one which was basically just turning the above model into a traditional layout with a skeleton stock. The magazine rocked in AK style in this one. I didn't really like the design of this one.

This one was called the SMRI, which never actually stood for anything it was just meant to be pronounced "Samurai". It was basically reattempting what I wanted with that previous model but doing it much cleaner. It had a straight in magazine but an AK-style charging handle/mock bolt carrier. The magazine didn't lock in, though, so I wasn't entirely pleased with this design. It had top and side rails for airsoft accessories and again a removable front sight for using sighting accessories.

Funnily enough, I wanted to make the SMRI a functional launcher at some point, so tried to get some help in doing so, but ended up accepting it wouldn't work well and left it nonfunctional. This isn't quite the latest version, but there have only been some minor changes since this photo. I did come up with a really slick removable magazine setup in this one with a functional mag release lever. The stock design comes from a user The Red Book of Westmarch and is adjustable. The rear sight also folds down. Since it was originally redesigned to attempt launching projectiles, it has an ambidextrous charging handle striker that works with the trigger. I like this design so much I've still have it around, never having the heart to destroy it, still thinking of trying to make it functional someday.

This was a launcher I was halfheartedly thinking of making function, but I just couldn't be bothered to finish it since it was designed more around the looks anyway. It took some design elements from the SMRI and the magazine connection method from the UMP. It was basically designed to look like an internally silenced SMG. I think I named it the Ninjato to keep in theme with the SMRI, thinking about making it a full series. There was otherwise nothing else special about it.

Last one. I made this not all too long ago actually. It's kinda funny how I kept flipflopping. I originally made bullpups, then I made a traditional layout model of the bullpup, but then I improved the design with the SMRI, but then I wanted to basically make a bullpup version of the SMRI. However, as I designed it I decided instead to design something with the mentality of making it as compact and sleek as realistically possible, following design cues from real compact bullpups like the AUG, MDR, and MTAR. As such, I put the charging handle underneath the top rail and snug to the foregrip. I used the SMRI's better magazine system in the PDR's stock. It was a sleek design that I liked and considered trying to make functional somehow, but it'd be difficult without compromising the looks. I still had the SMRI around too, so I eventually destroyed this so I could work on other projects.

These probably won't be the end of it either. Sometimes I just like to design something without worrying about it firing or not. Which one is your favorite? Have you designed any nonfunctional launchers just for looks? Let me know.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Shot launchers

(Updated 1/9/2019: Found a couple more pictures)

In real firearms, shotguns fire shot, or spherical lead balls, typically multiple ones at a time. The clear benefit of having multiple projectiles fired at once is increased hit probability. Likewise, K'nex launchers can be set up to launch multiple projectiles at once for the purpose of increasing the chance of hitting something (or someone in a war).

If I haven't already explained (and perhaps this deserves its own post), my personal view on effective war weapons is that emphasizing range is vain since K'nex simply aren't designed to fly far distances let alone accurately. I always figured a more effective strategy would be to increase output to maximize hit probability and overwhelm opposition up close when they were running low on ammo. So, I had an interest in making practical shot launchers. If you've seen my previous post on Assault Pistols, then the following is already familiar to you.

At first, it was about making a semi-realistic shotgun shell as seen on the left. But making a design that fired them was difficult. So instead I made an easier to use flat shell that held 6 green rods. I made a relatively simple launcher to fire the shells. You loaded the shells in through a crude gate on the side of the front. It was novel, and the 6 green rods provided a lot of spread, but being limited to one shell at a time didn't make it all that practical for a war weapon.

I wanted to figure out a repeating design, which is challenging because you need to both load multiple projectiles at once and then be able to fire them all cleanly. One method I was considering was basically making a magazine for the shells I mentioned earlier. However, this would be difficult and would not hold that many shells at all for the size of it.

Eventually I came up with a simple concept where the striker had a connector in front of it, sticking out the sides, allowing it to hit 3 rounds at the same time all loaded from a 5 layer magazine. It actually had pretty good spread, definitely would've provided a benefit in a war. But it was more of a concept design, functional but not at all clean enough for me to want to post it. I requested that someone else clean up the design for me and make it into something postable.

User TheFoofinator kindly did me the favor of improving and posting instructions for my concept naming it the Basic Shot Weapon (BSW). 

I was really pleased with his results, but I was skeptical with the concept after more thought, the striker being a weak point of the design. It also resulted in rather large launchers that took up more pieces than I had available. So then I tried out a concept to make a shot pistol. 

I realized I didn't need the full striker length to be open. I could have a part just behind the magazine with limited movement that transferred all force of the traditional striker across 3 projectiles. This design was based on my DERP launcher. It had potential but I couldn't figure out a good magazine wall for the front that would also act as the barrel. The result was that the rounds shot downward. Connector ammo, while reliable, also took up more space which meant less capacity. So I tried one more concept out:

This one was based on my Oodassault 3 design, which resulted in a sleeker launcher. However, I designed it to attempt launching white rods, but the magazine just wasn't reliable at all. Rods don't like to stack perfectly vertically. I've since given up on making an effective shot launcher. 

A big problem with repeating shot launchers is their limited capacity and awful reload times, making them ill suited for primary use. I figured they'd only be practical as secondary launchers to use alongside a primary. They could either be sidearms like the above examples, or another concept I had but never came close to making was a combo launcher, a ranged-based launcher on top with a repeating shot launcher mounted below, preferably with a large magazine and a pump action to allow overwhelming firepower. The versatility would offer a huge advantage, and other K'nexers would explore similar concepts though often only with single shots of multiple projectiles, limiting their firepower. 

Perhaps shot launchers will never be a practical war launcher option. But they're still fun to mess around with. I hope someday I'll figure out a nice concept for a new shot launcher. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The BAW (Basic Assault Weapon)

Here's another little neat thing I did with limited pieces. The gist is that I learned two things at the time from other builders and wanted to apply them.One was how to make a slick yellow-rod sized magazine. The other was an easy way to make white rod magazines removable. So, I combined the two ideas to make a removable magazine for yellow rods, though I ended up using connector-based ammo for reliability. I made a simple launcher just for the sake of demonstrating the magazines. I fixed up the design to make it a little more post-worthy.

I had so few pieces I couldn't even fill in the stock, but I kinda like the look regardless. It was a charmingly simple launcher. One other neat little trick was thanks to how simple the magazine connection method was, I could also do that for the stock as well to store a spare magazine in it.

Because I had so few pieces, I requested that someone else spruce up the design and post it for me, so there are instructions here thanks to user travw. It was a modest build overall. The magazines were neat, but only held 5/8 rounds depending on the length you built, and this was a time when bolt actions and turrets were becoming popular, so its range was very lacking. That said, it still gained some appreciation, and user bakenbitz (now GrandeSwag on Instructables) used it as the base for a functioning Barrett M107 model, which was pretty cool.

I've often thought about revisiting this design because the building methods are dated but the principle is still there: I'd love to have a simple launcher with a large magazine just for fun. I did start on something some time ago using the base of my DERP launcher, but I didn't like where it was going for a handful of reasons, one being that it was no longer really that simple yet it didn't really offer any advantages over a bolt action launcher. 

That said, I like the design, so I've considered remaking it but using "shells". The idea of a shell is to encase a projectile so that it's not in contact with other projectiles, thus avoiding the magazine friction problem that direct-feed repeaters like the BAW have. The magazine lends itself well to having shelled projectiles. Actually, while I'm at it (sorry, this post is another run on one... I appreciate anyone still sticking through to the end!), I'll show an even older launcher that was sort of a precursor to the BAW before I figured out the nice way to make a removable magazine. It used shelled ammo.

Again, I was horribly lacking in pieces so it didn't have a stock, and it was very crude. The shelled concept actually worked out quite nicely except the shells didn't eject automatically, so I had a little plunger on the side for manually ejecting them. I didn't keep it around for long since I didn't like how crude it was. It did give me hope that shelled ammo had potential. 

So who knows, perhaps I'll revisit the BAW + shelled ammo concept soon.