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Bob O`Bob
Works at Other Peoples' Code
Lives in San Jose, CA


Bob O`Bob

Discussion  - 
On Barrel Length

The only place in this piece where you'll find the word "optimal" is right here in this lead sentence.  The word deserves only ridicule in any practical discussion of nerf barrel lengths for generically described blasters. There is no such thing, no matter how many people ask or answer the question as if there could be.

Every blaster, air or spring powered, is a "unique snowflake" and what works best for one will not necessarily be best for another, despite all of anyone's efforts to create exactly the same build with the same parts.

Several years ago, I built two "identical" Disk Shot blasters.  This was so long ago that they had not yet been re-issued with the name "Element" but it's the same blaster.  I bought springs from Home Depot, which came two per pack, and that's what inspired me to gather parts and make two identical blasters in the same modding session.  I had already built two or three Disk Shot pistols and maybe ten Nite Finders, all with those springs and most with PVC couplers. 

My plan at the time was that with two identical blasters, I could judge relative accuracy of two dart types side-by-side instead of constantly switching.  My hopes were eventually dashed by reality.

I completed the dual build, using identical springs, identical o-rings, identical catch springs, identical attachment of couplers ... mechanically the two blasters were as "identical" as they could practically be made.

So then I set about doing some range testing to determine the "best" barrel length.  With two identical blasters of course testing of varying barrel lengths should go much more quickly ... right?  So I made up carefully crafted CPVC barrels of inch lengths from six to twelve, and took a single batch of my best stefans (made for me by dart craftsman BlackSunshine).  Range testing took longer than it should have, because there were a lot of confusing results.  I was probably an hour or more into shooting, measuring, and writing down stuff when I figured it out -- I had never done anything to verify that my identical blasters were performing identically.  They did not.  I tore them down, and inspected everything with calipers of 0.005" precision. I measured the springs with a luggage scale - that was inconclusive, but they were definitely closer than I could measure.  I found nothing that was different.

So I reassembled them and started range testing them against each other.  Obviously one was "better" than the other, right?  Not really.  Eventually I even made a few additional barrels at half-inch lengths.  I ran tests, then swapped the springs, and re-ran those tests.  The springs probably really were identical within my ability to evaluate them, because the blasters' performances remained different in exactly the same way regardless of which spring was in which one.  And the maximum range of both blasters was the same.  It was just that one did best with one length barrel and the other did best with an inch and a half different.  If I simply swapped those two barrels, both blasters did worse.  Using any of the in-between barrels, both blasters did worse.  And both "best" barrels were under nine inches, so one-and-a-half was a serious difference in percentage.  I no longer remember exactly, but I think the lengths were 6.5" and 8" - yet now that years have gone by, even if I had changed nothing about the blasters, the (old) darts I have now probably would perform differently.  I could have torn the blasters down again and swapped other parts around, probably eventually finding out where some differences were, but by then I realized there could be a lot of really tiny differences adding and subtracting.  It wasn't worth the effort.

With air pressure blasters, it never would have occurred to me to try to make two "exactly" the same, because I already knew about tiny variations in overpressure valves, or a blob of glue inside the chamber, or a difference between hoses inside the shell, or many other tiny things which could make a difference.  But with spring powered blasters, there was a time when I thought "identical" could mean something.  Well ... it can't.

Every blaster is different, not just due to the fit of your darts in your barrel material, but also due to tiny production differences and even due to tiny things you probably just couldn't find every one of, even if you tore them down and measured everything.

The only way to learn is to empirically test specific blasters. Your darts, your barrel material, your blaster, your coupler or turret.  It has to be almost completely built before you can really learn. You can "not like that answer" all you want. You absolutely can choose a barrel length based on other practical matters and just go with it.  This would be why a very large portion of powerful air pressure blasters use 12" barrels -- because that's what most PETG re-distributors in our community have cut to.  Not because it performs best.

When I was selling PETG from a huge box of 48" lengths, a few buyers asked for longer, and I shipped out a few tube mailers, but for myself, I'd rather not let any barrels get that long.  You actually can use modified barrel tightness with air pressure blasters to the same ends as spring blaster builders have used "telescoped" barrel diameters and "tightening rings." It's a little different with air pressure because you'd want to slow, but definitely not stop the dart, and you still want a relatively loose final barrel section (at least a bit longer than one whole dart) for accurate aim.  Plus you often want loose right at the chamber, for easy loading. Several people in the community have shared ways to "tighten" PETG and other barrel materials.  I recommend looking into it for air blasters, too.

I think it most commonly comes up when someone is about to start renovating an Air Tech 3000.  Most of the effective AT3Ks seem to have one foot PETG barrels, but I believe that to be a practical compromise.  With typical PETG, longer would probably do better for pretty much all of those blasters, but longer blasters become much harder to use.  Which is why I'd recommend either reducing the diameter of some of the PETG in the middle, or switching to Lee's aquarium tubes, which are just a tiny bit tighter.

If I ever return to using Stefan darts, perhaps some day I'll build a NIC-type AT3K myself, probably with barrels only about 8-9 inches long. First 1.5" loose for loading, last 2" loose for accuracy, and the whole middle tightened, to take advantage of the air mass available.  Just to show that length is not the only thing.  In cases where 14" PETG would do better than 12, it's still likely that carefully squeezed barrels could do better, and even be shorter.

Oh but even when you do build such a "revolver" blaster, it's still probably going to turn out that every barrel is a little different.

So, please, when you talk about barrel lengths for a new build, talk about them in terms of an approximate length with which to start your empirical testing.  Or with the specific example of a turreted air pressure blaster like the AT3K, just go with practical, because PETG longer than one foot typically costs a little more to ship, and certainly makes the resulting blaster harder to handle. That's practical, which is usually different from "best."
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Bob O`Bob

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Sad reality is that MOST tools sell, strictly on looks, to people who use them only once or twice.  Serious users are a tiny fraction of the market.

For us, there's top-end brands, with names that don't claim false strength OR false geography.  But because Festool and such don't sell hundreds of thousands, we pay.
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Bob O`Bob

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Saw it today, and liked it.

That's all I'm saying, because I agreed with this when it appeared in my streams ...
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Bob O`Bob

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You'll want to work at being a thorough host.  It brings players back for more.  You'll get used to it. You should create a "briefing" for each rule set, to inform new players.  Only skip it if everyone present has played that round type with you before.

I recommend something much bigger for the "flag" of CTF rounds.  At BAFF we used plastic lawn flamingos -- still "CTF" that way ;-)  It should be something large enough to be obvious at a distance when carried, because confusion about where they are is not good.

Also, no shooting while you're counting to respawn, because you're "dead" then!
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"Capture The flamingo's", CTF, God I'm slow :)
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Bob O`Bob

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I barely care about the game Two Dots any more. I play once in a while to kill time. But this is extra frustrating - the shuffle detection code is apparently broken. Although if you can see a move, please let me know in a comment. This level is somewhere in the low 200s.
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I should say that the recent update to Two Dots, which changed the loading screen, and improved loading time (a little), also has been a little more reliable for me.
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Bob O`Bob

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I made a Facebook duplicate account with my real name, initially as an April Fools' joke, but today I decided to use it to post my #nymwars plea.  Because I have to access that insular universe somehow to reach the people who only know knew me there.
Maybe a touch of publicity from my old friend Robert Scoble can help? This is a "new" profile I've had to make just to *connect with* anyone on...
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I paged +Robert Scoble there, might as well try here, too :-)  You're a busy guy, old friend.
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27 communities

Bob O`Bob

Thrift store finds  - 
Gun Firepower Sheer Assault Ultramodern
Made in China
I have no idea what to name it, but all those words came from the labels, so it'll do for now.

Never seen anything quite like this before.  Most of it seems a direct knock-off of the Buzz Bee Rapid Fire Tek (aka Rapid Fire Western Rifle). but portions of it I would describe as weak interpretations of ideas from the Nerf Recon and Retaliator.  I can't find a date, or any manufacturer identification.  I would say the parts quality is fine, as if maybe they even had Buzz Bee molds to start from.  The plunger (not reverse) moves with the action and is directly, immediately, behind the shell when fired.  The orange part sticking out the back when cocked is (or is directly attached to) the plunger rod.  The plunger is just about the typical Buzz Bee plunger diameter, but the firing stroke is a little more than three inches and from what I can see through the clip-well the spring looks more beefy than any Buzz Bee I can recall.  This example is pretty beat up, but it's the only one I've ever seen.  A few pictures show a green clip from a Buzz Bee Hawk, which is just a few millimeters too long and about half of one too wide.  Buzz Bee dart shells are about 10mm too long to go into the chamber.  The gray plastic of the slide has a small amount of glitter apparently molded right in.

I'll know more when I take it apart.  And perhaps add to this album.  I doubt there was any kind of stock
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Bob O`Bob

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At least twice you used the word page when I'm sure you meant group. A script is probably necessary for a video like this
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Yeah, technically - and I'm not making any friends by insisting that the yellow n-strike stock I just listed on eBay is not a "Raider" stock, either.   But since I'm including the original box, darts, instruction sheet, and a used Barricade that fits, I think my point is made.
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Bob O`Bob

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All the times white people rioted for reasons other than legitimate grievances with our legal system.
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Bob O`Bob

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"I never played with Nerf blasters as a kid"
Me neither, what with them not existing yet, and all.

However, I did buy "The world's first INDOOR BALL" from Gemco in 1969 or 1970.  I also played a lot with a piece of the same kind of foam that had been a shipping insert with a turntable (a Dual 1229).  It was about 3/4 inch thick and a little over a foot in diameter, and made a decent indoor flying disc -- long before Parker Brothers tried a too-thick one. I definitely still have the ball (and its box) stored away, and might have the disc too.

Mike and Jake should be advised to read the "Death by Foam" classic NH comics, before beginning any instrumental integrations.

Little kids love gathering darts.  At the BAFF wars years ago it happened all the time.  Might be worthwhile for organizers to invest in a few Easter baskets.

For your golf cart ideas, hit me up about a BuzzBee Overlord.  Barely okay performance, but a pretty good "Ma Deuce" appearance.  I have a belt-less one that I'd part with really cheap.

All hail XBZ!
By the way, they fit into many plastic versions of Lightsabre shells.

FVJs.  After you guys (Mike and Jake) mod a Buzz Bee Big Blast or Berserker, let's revisit that topic. Or a Lanard Blast Bazooka, if you can find a good one - they're nice because the stock barrel fits darts once you knock out the grating. But as long as anyone using something that powerful can be trusted to NOT TAKE THE SHOT if they're under about ten feet, then FVJs should be fine.  Really it's all about being aware that powerful blasters should not take short range shots.

You guys have a video channel?  Post a channel link!

Love the Tarantino themes. Natural Born Taggers.  Little NICy ...

Maybe I'll make the drive up there soon.  happy tagging!
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Bob O`Bob

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Shared by author David Gerrold, on another network.  I mostly agree.
“Our country has lost it's morale compass along with it's leadership and if you think Jeb or Hitllary are the solution then you are mistaken.” [sic] - Anonymous, 4/22 12:36PM, The Romney Strategy, Stonekettle Station   Our co...
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Bob O`Bob

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I'm pretty sure I've mentioned my GoSun solar oven a time or two. I've had fun making cookies and even a few meals. They have a new Kickstarter going now (it's   #EarthDay   today after all) for a much more practical enlarged and improved version.  

Disclosure - this is an affiliate link which apparently will earn me free shipping if >25 people simply visit the project using it.
Easier, faster and more delicious, this fuel-free cooker can bake, boil or fry a meal for eight, using only the Sun... day or night
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27 communities
☑ I work in designs, algorithms, and sometimes code too. Frequently, I think up stuff that other people build successful businesses upon. Sadly (for me) they usually do so independently, because it's never enough just to have the great idea.
  • Other Peoples' Code
    Code Examiner, 2012 - present
    White-room code examination. IP law case; patent infringement.
  • "Outside the box" is the new box
    1957 - 2012
  • ✓RezzUp: Mobile social software startup seeking seed funding
    (mobile social software; stealth mode), 2011 - 2011
  • ✓
    TLA, 1998 - 2011
Basic Information
Other names
Bob O'Brien, bob_obob, obob, +106587101791064367906, Bob O`Bob, WA6RGA
"Outside the box" is the new box
Proud to be a Google+Ghost
Welcome to the Ghost Nation!
Some have called G+ a "ghost town" but we are so much more...

Some types of circles where I might fit:
  • pro-pseudonym
  • inventor
  • entrepreneur
  • software engineer
  • mobile software
  • Android development
  • Classic Visual Basic
  • spam fighter
  • avionics & other embedded systems
  • nerf toys enthusiast
  • walking / hiking
  • bicyclist
  • skepticism
  • science fiction
  • ADFP (press button, receive bacon)
  • privacy advocate (friends just call me a privacy nut)
  • "1st generation" G+ users (warning!  I may tease heavily, because I am one:
I'm a big fan of Google Plus, and of Google in general.  If I seem to be a critic, well, I criticize because I care.

Another interesting way to view G+ profiles:

The red N in one profile photo is for #nymwars
see also  

People have asked "why not a senior position" and my answer is in two parts:  I don't think I'm going to be able to find work right now "following my passion," and I need to work, so at a lower pressure level, I should be able to accomplish good work, and then afford to pursue my goals as a hobby.  And second, I'm self-taught in Android, with zero paid experience yet, so a position commensurate with all my experience would seem dishonest at first.

I never expected to get in any way involved in political protests like the ongoing peaceful 'occupation' on Wall Street.  But the near-blackout and massive whitewash going on in the mainstream media makes me feel forced to help distribute some of the reports.

Looking for work; or an angel investor for RezzUp so I could go full-time.  'Teaser' post about RezzUp:

✓Software Craftsman.  San Jose, California.  Expert in Classic Visual Basic; trainee in Android.  Firm believer that it's the computer's job to learn to communicate with all humans; a little disappointed that my fellow programmers haven't made it happen yet.

Some fun characters you too can copy & use in your G+ profile:

If you've circled me and would like me to circle you back, this post has a hint:
Bragging rights
☑ First to publish some of the unlimited movement cheats in the original Civilization game. Others discovered them independently but I got it into the USENET FAQ. ☑ I can cure you of that song you have stuck in your head; I can name one that'll drive it out.
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
San Jose, CA
San Mateo, CA - Mountain View, CA - Santa Clara, CA - Saint Louis, MO - Fort Worth, TX - Carmichael, CA - Sacramento, CA - Rio Linda, California
It's gone. Contractors were in the process of remodeling for something different.
Public - a year ago
reviewed a year ago
I've been a client, on and off, for most of ten years. The staff are always pleasant, the facilities are always clean, the hours are convenient enough. I've even been very lucky each time I needed to change unit sizes, they've been able to find one almost right next to the one I was leaving.
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
It's Starbucks. I don't go to Starbucks a lot, but when I do, I expect a pretty consistent experience, and they usually deliver. The people are always nice and always helpful. I generally ask a few questions because, not being a regular, I usually don't know exactly what I want. This was a great location for a meeting; their internet access was convenient. It was a moderately hot day, and the frozen coffee drink hit the spot. I was pleased.
Appeal: ExcellentFacilities: Very GoodService: Excellent
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago
4 reviews
It's right at my freeway exit to home. So close that sometimes I walk. They frequently have an unadvertised special 2-for-1 Taquitos - a real bargain when it's on. I'd give them higher ratings if corporate would stop changing the menu so often. I'll see something advertised with big window banners when I drive by, then a few days later I'll ask for it, and it's already gone. I wouldn't even mind if the "sale" price was over, but what happens is the item just isn't available. What they do have is always good and well priced, and it's not a "bait and switch" at all, but sometimes I still feel a little like I've been tricked. The corporate web site claims this location has the Foster's Freeze partial menu available too, but that hasn't been the case for many months, probably a year.
• • •
Food: Very GoodDecor: Very GoodService: Very Good
Public - 2 years ago
reviewed 2 years ago