Saturday, March 30, 2019

On Failure and Different Kinds of Launchers

So, two topics I want to get into today that are both based around my DERPer launcher from my last post.

So long story short, I've failed to make the DERPer something that meets my initial expectations. However, whenever this happened in the past, at best I'd make a post about it and then move on, sometimes posting pictures of the internals if people were interested, but never offering full instructions. Or in some cases, like the Barackuda, I'd spend a long, long time gradually turning it into something post worthy. But I want to break those habits and just keep moving forward. I'm unable to make the DERPer as good as I want it, but I want to give others the chance to try their hand because I think it's otherwise the basis for a really fun launcher. As such, I'll get instructions later on.

However, since that doesn't make for a very fulfilling post, I also wanted to get into another related topic that's worth having. Let's break launchers into roughly 3 categories:

  • Fun
  • Novelty
  • Performance
There aren't strict lines between the three, and obviously it's possible for a launcher to be all three, but generally when building, we have one of these purposes in mind. To get more detailed:

Fun launchers are generally made not to necessarily do anything different or better, but to simply be enjoyable to play with. The vast majority of launchers fall in this category since many people need to start off with something before they can figure out innovative mechanisms or maximize performance. While we all generally aim to make something fun, sometimes a concept is unreliable or tedious to work with, or it's rather simple.

Novelty launchers try to be the cutting edge of K'nex launching building concepts. This is a category I perhaps am most focused on, and the Barackuda is an example of one. These launchers try to do new and/or interesting things, even if they're not that great in performance or if they're less than fun to use. Generally, you need to come up with a concept and expose it before it can be refined into something that falls into either of the other two categories. 

Performance launchers are generally designed to get the best range and work very reliably. They're "serious" in the sense that they generally sacrifice some fun and aesthetic elements in order to work as reliably as they can. Often they'll forgo newer concepts in favor of tried-and-true concepts, such as turrets generally being more popular than advanced magazine concepts. 

You may find that some builders stick in one category more than others. Perhaps some builders more focused on performance might scoff at a launcher that's more designed for fun, or in reverse a builder more interested in fun launchers might criticize a simple design focused on performance as being too boring. Overall, it's important that we understand and accept everyone's different preferences. I think it's good to dabble in all three. 

Generally I try to make novel concepts and then refine them to perform better, preferably be good enough to use in battles against more common TRs. The Oodassault ended up turning into a performance launcher, and that limited some of the things I could do with it. Likewise, I was obsessed with making the Barackuda perform better, trying to justify its potential use as a battle-ready launcher before I would post it, when in the end it remained more of a novelty and I had to post it accepting that. 

The DERPer I too have to admit is made just for fun. It isn't the Oodassault and I don't want to try really hard to make it work as well it can because the point is that it's just an Oodammo launcher with a removable magazine. In the past, I didn't post previous iterations of it, nor of any other type of launcher I made just for fun, thinking they weren't worth posting, but that shouldn't be for me to decide. I'd love if others took these concepts and changed them up to be more of whichever category they value more. 

Thanks for letting me blabber on a seemingly petty topic, but I think it's important to remember there's a place for all kinds of launchers and we should share our ideas and instructions so people are free to build and adjust them to their own liking. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

We have to go DERPer

I appreciate your patience, truly. While I've bouts of inactivity, something eventually stirs me. In this case, I've been talking with veterans of the old K'nex launcher community and we pondered different ideas together. I still had the core body of my BAWler lying around and I kept experimenting, trying to make an improved version of the DERP, if any of you remember seeing that from my Part 2 post on my Oodammo launchers. While I couldn't think up anything for a while and put the project on hold, I revisited earlier this week and figured I could share progress.

For those unfamiliar, the DERP was just a casual attempt at an Oodammo launcher with removable magazines, and I was surprised by how well it worked, but I didn't like it as much compared to my Oodassault 3. Its magazine was too goofy and the way it connected wasn't smooth enough for me. That said, remaking it now, I do like it as an alternative, I think it's fun to have a removable magazine option.

This time I designed the magazine and the trigger guard to allow you to easily slide it straight up into the launcher. It is roofed and has a band such that you can keep them loaded and ready to go without any other manipulations required. The roof doesn't interfere with the striker, so you can insert a magazine into the launcher without having the striker set.

I'm nearly done but I'm having a problem with a round getting dragged out behind the launched round, but I think I've a solution. Once it's working reliably, I'll get a video and instructions.