I have been selling ammo counters since 2009. After I made my energy sword, ammo counters were the most requested kit. Over the years, I have probably sold 200-300 kits. Easily beating out the lame competition. However, sales dried up last year. I was busy with my EMF and NES projects so I didn’t look into it.
Today, I searched around for competition. Oh man. Things have changed. I think I still got them beat on size and price, but I need to work on my offerings to stay competitive.
- Hyperdyne: PR Counter Unit
- Bare bones / High Price.
- Can be made to fit some props but is over sized for much else
- Bakatronics: FK936 4 digit counter kit
- Bare bones, Low Price.
- Is oversized for most builds (prop / nerf / paintball)
- Nathaniel Deal: Nerf Ammo Counters
- Good price for what you get.
- Offers both bare bones and complete kits. Some kits include 3d printed shells.
- Mostly focused on nerf builds. Requires additional circuit boards that must be hidden inside your build.
What is most interesting about Nathaniel Deal’s offerings are the complete kits for a reasonable price, the 3D printed shells, and YouTube tutorials.
Comparing Nathan’s Ammo Counter design to my own Ammo Counter design. We both use a custom display board, but mine is much much smaller in size because I mount the microcontroller on the same board as the display. While he uses an off the shelf microcontroller development board (arduino) to run the display over a cable harness and additional shift register / display resistors shield board. That is a lot of extra bulk that he is asking the builder to hide in their project! The additional switches he places under the display are on/off, reset, and clip select. In my Ammo Counter kit, I do away with the need of extra switches by using button combinations to select clip size (hold a dart in front of the light break sensor or hold the fire trigger while also cycling the ammo clip to activate the clip size selection menu).
My own ammo counter design is minimalistic. The size can be fit into any project and does not need any additional circuit boards.
I love my design so much! However, there are a few things I can learn from Nathan Deal.
- Create kit listings on Etsy
- Add a count up mode to my Ammo Counter software
- 3D printed shells to fit a variety of rail systems
- Make the light break sensor as a standard option
- I already do have a light break sensor kit, but I only make them on request.
- YouTube tutorial videos
I am not sure about that last one, but I would like to start working on the rest as my goals for this year.