Posts Tagged ‘kits’

Ammo Counters – Researching Competition to Push a New Generation

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

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. Back then, I easily beat out the lame old 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 new 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.

Old competition

New competition

  • 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.
    • ammocounter.com

    Nathaniel Deal: Nerf Ammo Counters

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.
Ammo Counter v3

I love my design so much! However, there are a few things I can learn from Nathan Deal.

  • Create kit listings on Etsy - etsy.com/shop/thatdecade
  • 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


Taking Commissions

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

I am closing the store portion of the website. This last year I trialled a commission system and did some small runs. I like doing these runs and one-off commissions a lot more than having a set inventory of kits. If you are interested in me making you a kit below or something custom, shoot me a message or email and I will let you know my thoughts and availability.

I will still be selling the following kits.
- Halo Cortana Dogtags
- Ammo Counters (for Nerf/Airsoft/Paintball and Prop weapons)
- Illuminated Power Pushbutton

I will give out information on how to make the following:
- Izzy’s ZZLT LTAR Display
- Helmet Light and Fan kits

Store 2013 Update

Monday, January 28th, 2013

As many noticed, the kits in the store are all sold out. Rest assured that my kits will be returning for the Spring 2013 season. You can send me an email if you need something before then and we can work it out.

The Spring reopening will be an exciting time. Popular kits are being upgraded, and even adding more.

Here’s a brief rundown:

Ammo Counter
- Better optional sound module integration
- Clip reload support (magnet switch)
- Optional low battery indicator

Cortana Switch
- New purple design

New* Lighted On / Off pushbutton
- Lights green when on
- Lights red when off
- Use to turn on the rest of your electronics

This last one is exciting just because how long I have been working on a lighted on / off switch. My previous attempt at having an illuminated push on push off switch was functional, but wasn’t accurate. Yes, was a push on, push off switch, and yes, it had a lighted LED with a cap and the right symbol. However, it never looked quite right. In addition, the cap was too narrow and switch push actuation distance was too long.

Why is this so hard to get right? You see this type of lighted mini push button switch used for all sorts of electronics. They make it look easy because there is a logic chip controlling the ON signal and LED color. It isn’t truely an on / off switch. Your computer or whatever sits in standby, providing minimal power to that logic chip waiting for the ON signal to be received, then the logic chip turns on the rest of the system.

What I wanted was a passive solution, no logic chip needing programming. I struck gold when a friend sent me a sample from a fabricator. Bidirectional red green light, DPDT meaning that you push it once to connect the left side terminals, press it a second time to connect the right side terminals. Some clevor wiring allows each switch press to reverse the voltage output, driving the LED color change with each switch press. Then the output’s voltage is limited to one direction through a diode output. There you have it, a small lighted push on push off switch capable of switching everything on and off without the use of a logic chip.

Preview:
illuminated switch, green, on *cropped