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The Nerf Arms Race is Heating Up with this 3D Printed, Robotic Foam Dart Launcher

ST Medical Devices

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brookdrumm-kickstarterI’m sure all of us remember playing with the foam dart gun shooters from when we were kids. They often had to be reloaded after every shot, and our targets would need to be within a few feet in order for the dart to connect. But foam dart guns have changed quite a bit from when we were kids and transformed into a serious arms race. We’ve all probably seen the ridiculous foam dark rifles and shot guns made by Nerf, but as cool as they are, they don’t even come close to the insane ideas coming out of the maker community.

This awesome Kickstarter launched a few weeks ago is a perfect example of how high-tech foam warfare is becoming. The FDL-1 is a 3D printed, wi-fi connected, robotic foam dart launcher that can be used as a handheld gun or mounted on a remote controlled turret. The Kickstarter campaign was created by maker and software programmer Jesse Kovarovics, and this is clearly a huge passion project. And while the FDL-1 is the ultimate foam dart weapon, it is actually so much more. It is actually a project for makers and tinkerers that will put their skills in 3D printing, robotics, Arduino and programming to the test. The awesome foam dart gun that you get at the end of the project is just a really cool bonus.

The FDL-1 in both configurations.

The FDL-1 in both configurations.

“The whole purpose of the FDL-1 is to encourage people to make stuff themselves. You don’t have to go to the store to buy the same blaster your friend bought last week. Make one! You don’t have to be a multimillion dollar company to create a product. You can do it yourself. The cost difference between the tiers is there to pay for my time and the wear and tear on my printers. It is also there because I want you to print your own. I want you to build your own,” Kovarovics says about his creation.

The 3D printed components.

The 3D printed components.

Other than the various electronic components and its hardware, all of the FDL-1 components are completely 3D printable, and customizable. Kovarovics designed each part so it could easily be 3D printed on virtually any model of 3D printer with no supports or rafting required. All of the parts can be 3D printed on a printing bed as small as 6″x6″x6″, and users can print their own FDL-1 in any color or material variation that they want.

First person shooter view.

First person shooter view.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, the FDL-1 is actually a web-enabled robotic device, so it can be controlled manually, or independently via a smartphone app. It can be fully programmed to fire in specific configurations or just attached to a motion sensor and triggered automatically. It can even be set up to be controlled over the internet from anywhere on the planet with an internet connection. And of course the range of the darts can be adjusted and controlled so they can be shot faster and farther than anything that you’ve ever seen before, ranging between 10 to 150 feet. They can even be fired as fast as a typical paintball.

The dart chamber is a revolver-style advancing mechanism that can hold twelve darts. It can be programmed to fire darts individually, or it can easily be converted to fully automatic mode and shower your opponent in a storm of foamy death. It can be carried and operated independently as a side arm, or rigged up as a security turret that can be mounted anywhere, at any angle, even on the side of a wall. And the best part is that you don’t ever have to choose how you want to use it. The FDL-1 was designed specifically so it can easily be converted between both modes.

Take a look at Kovarovics Kickstarter video here:

There is about a week to go before this Kickstarter closes, so if you want to get your own FDL-1, now is the time to do it. Kovarovics is using Kickstarter to launch an entire line of foam dart firearms and various upgrade kits, accessories, and add-ons. He’s already working on a kit to convert the FDL-1 into a tank with a camera and motion sensors, turning it into a roving sentry. It would almost be like having a Roomba armed with deadly foam weaponry. He also plans to set up a web community where users can share their own modifications, custom programs and apps.

The turret configuration can be controlled via smartphone app.

The turret configuration can be controlled via smartphone app.

If you would like to back the FDL-1 Kickstarter campaign you can get access to his 3D printable files and electronics schematics for only $25, you can get all of the electronic parts and the 3D files for $250, or you can get everything that you need, including electronics and 3D printed parts for $350. The project is set to end on March 13th, and Kovarovics says that if everything goes according to schedule he could start shipping out kits as early as September.

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