Friday, April 29, 2011

Tactical Summer Attire

Though I'm not a fan of warm weather, it is unfortunately the time when the group that I go laser tagging with, the OLCA, is most active.  The parks that we play at work well with different types of Camouflage, but the problem is that it's usually too hot to wear BDU's when the Humidity and Temperature are high.  Here in Omaha, summer heat can be a pain to deal with.  However, I have found a cool solution that allows me to utilize camouflage while keeping me cooler... or at least cooler than I'd be in normal BDUs!

The United States Marine Corps currently utilize Flame Resistant Organizational Gear (FROG) for many of their troops deployed in the Middle East.  It's designed to reduce the number of injuries resulting from fire and flash (especially burns), due to the increased use of IEDs in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  While we're not dealing with explosives in our laser tag games, this camouflage is much lighter and more breathable.  It is also useful when I'm using a Tactical Vest to carry equipment.  Because the torso isn't camouflage, and made of a more breathable material, it makes wearing things like this a little easier.  The only problem is that it's only produced in Desert MARPAT.  While this is good for Fall/Winter games when things are dead, it isn't so useful when trying to hide during the summer in a woodland setting.
While I do own a full set of this Desert MARPAT FROG camouflage, I needed something more akin to a woodland setting... like Woodland MARPAT!  Only problem is that the USMC doesn't field any FROG-type Woodland MARPAT.  Thankfully, I found a knock-off brand that made a similar product.  However, instead of being Flame resistant, this gear is more accustomed to moisture wicking (like UnderArmour).  I also have my custom nametapes on it.  I use this for most of the games during the summer.

If you have any questions as to where I got these or what else I use for tactical gear, feel free to ask!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Testing the Modified Vulcan

The same blaster I used for the "Amped Vulcan" project is preparing to go mobile.  I'll show you WHY it needs the power supply upgrade and you'll get to see it range tested using it's manual fire mode.

Next up is the power cell upgrade.  I've never used TrustFire batteries before, but after seeing the success they've had over at SG Nerf with them, I'm more than willing to try them out. 

I might also try building an ammo canister for the 60 Round belt that I have.  Here's a video of how a guy used a military ammo canister for his that I might try out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Philosophy of Mods

I've often been asked about why I choose to install laser tag systems into other shells (Nerf, Airsoft, Guncons, etc) so I thought a bit of an explanation as to why I do what I do was in order.

When I started this, it was merely to give a laser tag blaster a different look.  My first project was an old Light Gun for PlayStation that I didn't use anymore.  While I'm sure the Light Gun still worked and the current laser tag blaster that I was using for it worked fine, it was just something I wanted to try out.  I realized afterwards that I could put laser tag blasters that have... odd shapes that are harder to aim (no Iron Sights and curvy designs most of the time) into shells that would be better to be accurate with to improve their performance.

In almost all cases, my recased laser tag blasters have followed this ideology.  I aimed to use broken/non functioning candidates for these projects.  On rare occasion I would purchase a new or working blaster to use for a recasing for laser tag.  Even in the LTX DMR project, the Stampede I use was non-functional (gears were stripped, good parts were donated to a friend's project) and the Phoenix LTX was damaged when I picked it up at a Thrift Store.  I don't want folks to think that I'm tearing up great blasters for the sake of my hobby.  Often times, when I've picked up a used Nerf Blaster that I thought was broken, I've been able to fix it and use later instead of gut it and install laser tag internals into it.

I have started to build blasters that use both laser tag and either Nerf or Airsoft to keep the features of both.  It is not my intention to tear up great blasters for the sake of this hobby, but rather to use the resources I have to turn junk into a great blaster.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Element EX-6 Storage Mod

A lot of my mods that I do for Nerf are far more simplistic than things you'll see by hardcore modders.  Most of my blasters are N-Strike and have basic performance upgrades like the AR removed, upgraded spring, and better seals around the plunger tube.  I have liked using the Element as a sidearm, but it's larger size makes it harder to store.  This is a simple mod I made to allow the Element to be easier to holster or put in your pocket without loosing the storage it has for ammo.  Much like how Maverick Blasters have been modified to swap out the rotating barrel, you could easily swap out the 5 dart ammo storage with this blaster without too much trouble.

Monday, April 25, 2011

OLCA's Fight Nights

We are a mere 2 weeks away from the start of the Omaha Laser Challenge Association's 6th Summer Season.  I will likely be sharing pictures and stories from these games on this blog, so I thought it'd be good to bring folks who aren't familiar with it up to speed with details about it.

Every summer since 2006, the Omaha Laser Challenge Association (OLCA) has hosted weekly laser tag games in a public park here in town.  The games are always held on the same weeknight at the same time at the same park so that it's easier for folks to plan ahead and attend them.  Laser Challenge-brand gear is provided free of charge for players to use and the OLCA's collection of gear has grown large enough to equip 40 players with a blaster and front and back sensor.  When we started in 2006, we averaged between 10 and 15 players per game.  These days, average attendance has grown to 25-35 players per game.  Though we've seen our fair share of changes, we've managed to retain a lot of Veteran players through the years.

We play outdoors at a park called Mission Park West.   It has varying terrain that can accommodate most playing styles pretty well.  From the not-so-adventurous suburbanite's sticking to the paved walkway to thick trees and bushes for those decked out in camouflage to utilize, Mission Park West has proved to provide a good mix of features for players to utilize.  It also features a shelter with benches and grills that we often use for cookouts before games.  

Come June 6th, the OLCA will be 5 years old... that's half a decade of providing fun and free laser tag for the Omaha Metro Area.  I've watched it grow from just a casual group of friends to an army of friends of friends of residents in the area joining together each week for a few glorious games of laser tag.  It's been something I, and a handful of others, look forward to every summer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Linked Vulcan Chain

Figured since my "Amped Vulcan" is going to be able to go through ammo faster than ever that I'd give it a higher capacity ammo belt.  I built a 60 round chain (Two 25-round Chains and an additional 10) and removed the dart pegs in every link but now I've gotta figure out a way to make it mobile.  I'm thinking of modifying the existing ammo box to contain it all, but I might experiment with other alternatives.

Either that or I've gotta find me a sling to hold the Vulcan and go Rambo and feed the belt myself!

Friday, April 22, 2011

LTX DMR Progress Update 5

Combat Test Results
After the game, I confirmed results of it's range that it was hitting targets that were up to 800 feet away. Ran these tests on Google Earth based on my position at the time and where my targets were.
Only 2 problems, both of which I can fix 
  1. Power Resetting
  2. Accuracy (lack of a Sight)

Range Test Results

Results may have changed from what the combat test revealed, as I have since changed the lens in the LTX DMR. I was having problems with mounting the TMB's lens in the DMR's front shell. The plastic was getting too thin.  I switched to a Laser Challenge Virtual Paintball lens, which has been known to achieve ranges of 1100 feet.  The lens is slightly smaller and fits perfectly in the barrel.  I also changed the IR LED to a TSAL 6100 to better match and fit the new lens' housing.  Indoor testing of the focus of this lens revealed that this is totally different from the focus on the LTTO and LTX blasters.  I did some range testing on the LTX DMR with a LTX and a Laser Challenge Target set up at one end of the park and moved away from it with the LTX DMR firing every 30-40 feet or so. I stopped landing hits on the LTX at about 600 feet but I was STILL able to hit the LC version as far as 1260 feet! I've obviously got some more investigation to do in terms of the lens setup on this blaster.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Laser Tag Recasings

I've been recieving a lot of positive feedback regarding the work I've done on recasing laser tag blasters and thought I'd share what has been done by myself and a few others in the group I'm with (OLCA).

Early Laser Challenge Recasings
I did my first recasing utilizing a Namco GUNCON and a Laser Challenge Team Force 2000 pistol.   I got the idea from the Middle Georgia League's Guncon Conversions.  It took me awhile to get it working right since I had never attempted something like this before.  Eventually I got all the bugs worked out of it and christened it the "NPC-103A".
A few more would follow this (CQB PistolP99G2, Super Cobra) and follow a similar development.  All of these early recasings utilized Laser Challenge systems, since it's what the group I tag with uses.  Guncons had proved to serve as good candidates for these as they were already designed to house electronics.  However, as I used these in games, I found myself wanting something with a little more heft.

Using Nerf Shells: I managed to find a broken Nerf Longshot at a garage sale and decided to see if I could make it work for laser tag.  Although not designed for electronics, I made use of the moving parts inside the blaster like the trigger and bolt mechanism.  After a few weeks of development and paintjob changes, I got it running and used it as a battle rifle in our games.  I intentionally gave it a paintjob and name similar to that of the M41A Pulse Rifle (made famous in the film Aliens), the M42B Scope Rifle II.
This blaster paved the way for a long line of recasings utilizing Nerf Shells.  The M43A-2 Super Sentry, Longstrike Carbine, Scout Auto Pistol, V2 Firefly, and RE-CON Mk III are all examples of blasters developed using this technique.  Because there is an abundance of pistol designs for stock Laser Challenge blasters, many of these weapons are larger rifle-style blasters to make up for this.

Integration Projects
After being introduced to Airsoft, I thought of a way to integrate a laser tag system into an AEG.  I caved and picked up a conversion kit for a Pulse Rifle for a M1A1 Thompson Submachine gun.  Utilizing the main barrel for Airsoft, like the kit was designed to, and the empty space in the Grenade Launcher housing to store the Laser Tag components, I set out to build the first Dual-Purpose blaster.  Using a toggle switch on the main battery, I could switch the weapon from Airsoft mode to Laser Tag mode easily.  The weapon has been under development since fall of 2009 and has seen a few changes and upgrades, but this idea paved the way for integrating Nerf and Laser Tag.  Since being exposed to so many Nerf Blasters, we started to mess around with ones that were working.  After visiting sites like SG Nerf, NerfHaven, and other popular websites with modifications, we started to have Nerf games as well as Laser Tag games.  However, our modification skills wanted to combine these two elements.  The first attempt at this was the M42I "Durango".  The Longshot components in it remained the same (with upgrades of course) but in the space that is traditionally reserved for the folding bipod, we used a Longshot Front Gun Integration to our advantage.  We installed Laser Challenge Radar Extreme internals into this space and wired necessary components throughout the blaster.  Much like the Pulse Rifle, the top barrel is the blaster's original firing method and the bottom barrel is the lens for laser tag.  There are other projects lined up that include this dual-purpose feature for a Longstrike and a Stampede.  The "Amped" Stampede will serve as the platform for this kind of project.

For more information on my Recasings, check out THIS blog post.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More "Amped" Blasters

Man, it's been fun messing around with this DC Regulated Power Supply!   We hooked it up to 2 more popular Nerf Blasters: the Vulcan and the Barricade.  Previous tests have shown that increasing the power just heightens the Rate of Fire, but now that we have a Flywheel blaster to test it on, the increased power actually increases the range.

Obviously both of these are simply tests and couldn't be used in a Nerf Game in their current state.  Custom battery packs would need to be installed on these (I have plans to do this to the Vulcan).  The Vulcan also has a new spring and it's ARs have been removed (main weapon and each segment on the ammo chain).  It range tested at 45 ft flat and 80ft angled.

Monday, April 18, 2011

LTX's Re-released

Although it only appears to be at Toys R Us stores, Hasbro seems to be rolling out more Nerf-Brand LTX 2 Player sets.  Prices on these aren't what they used to be.  This set originally retailed for 49.99USD.  Now they're on TRU shelves for 69.99USD and on for 59.99USD.  It is unclear how long these will remain on shelves and I don't have any information if these are slated to return to other retail outlets anytime soon.  Accessories and expansions planned for the LTX line are likely at a standstill until Hasbro can justify releasing them if this wave of LTXs does well.

Water Damage = 1, Deluxe = 0

Not all visits to the Thrift Store turn up a find like an LTTO Deluxe.  I've been lucky enough to find a few good steals at this particular store in town (LTXs, Nerf blasters, LTTO Deluxes) but my luck soon turned once we opened it up to see why this Deluxe LTTO blaster wasn't working.

Ahhh water damage.  Rest in peace, LTTO Deluxe.  You will be missed (and scrapped for your useful parts)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Amped" Stampede

We shot video of a Stampede awhile ago hooked up to a DC Power Regulator, but it didn't do so hot.  So instead, this "Amped" video displays the mobile version of Sundawg's powerful custom Stampede ECS.

More "Amped" series projects to come later!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Long-Range Lens Testing

Ran some tests with Sundawg on lenses that we use in our long-range weapons for laser tag.  We shot it in Night Vision so you can see the IR pattern displayed by each blaster on the wall.  The stronger the light is at the center, the longer range it has.  The larger halo or surface area it covers, the wider spread it has.

Blasters used (in order of appearance)
Laser Challenge Virtual Paintball
LTX DMR (custom)
Laser Challenge V2 Firestorm
RE-CON Mk III (custom)
Ultimate LTX (custom)

LTX DMR Project

I've been working on this project recently that blends the latest Lazer Tag-brand blaster with one of the newest Nerf Blaster shells.  It all started when I nabbed a Nerf Stampede that was at a Thrift Store.  The motor gears were all messed up, so I found it to be a suitable candidate for one of my recasing projects.  Most of my recasings (taking laser tag internals and putting them inside a different shell ie: Nerf Blaster) involve a more simplistic system, Laser Challenge, so doing this with the LTX has proved to be quite a challenge in itself!

Here's the 4th Video Update I've made of the progress I've made.  The other 3 are listed in links below.

Update 3
Update 2
Update 1

Friday, April 15, 2011


Hello, world!  I'm Bazookafied (go by "Zook" for short most of the time) and one of my big hobbies is modifying Nerf and Laser Tag blasters for recreational use around town with friends and colleagues.  These games have been great social outlets and are safe and convienent enough to play just about anywhere and I am, at heart, a tinkerer.  So messing with these blasters has been a fun hobby of mine for quite some time.

After struggling to try to find a decent outlet to work on my hobbies, I've decided to go solo on this.  Relying on others to hold up an active community as I originally planned apparently isn't my thing, so here we go!

What can you expect from this blog?
  • Buildups of Projects
  • Photos and Stories of Games
  • Interesting News I happen to find
This is Tactical Tag!  Enjoy!