As a kid I made a ton of clothespin elastic shooters. But I'd never have dreamed that someday I'd have the capabilities to make something like this little beast. But as Technology advances, it becomes easier and easier to dream these things up and test them. And now I have a young son who gets to enjoy elastic blasters as his toy.
What you see here is a lasercut wooden copy of Han Solo's famous DL-44 blaster. It can load up to 5 elastics, and discharge them as fast you can pull the trigger. It's a simple ramping system.(Watch the video and see how they load through or skip to the next step for a cutaway diagram.) And before any obsessive fans get out of hand on the many finer details I skipped in this, I'd like to point out that this is only meant to give the overall shape and broad details of the blaster, while still also functioning as a semiautomatic elastic band shooter. So if that bothers you, instead of emailing me, feel free to quietly stress internally about any missed details.
I'll include all files as creative commons, and if you don't have access to laser to cut them, you can always print them off, glue them to wood, and cut really careful with a fine bandsaw.
Step 1: How It Works
The concept of toggling ramp systems is ancient. All sorts of things from hi-lift jacks for your jeep to industrial machine systems will use them. A couple of years ago I saw a video of a guy who had designed toy pistols like this and was routing the body out of solid wood and dropping in a trigger section and then routing in a keeper plate. Cool idea but too much work for my skill level. So to make thing easier, I built my own with 3 layers of lasercut plywood. I hadn't touched that design in a while, and then I thought about building a blaster. So I took out my original design, refined it, and and designed this blaster around the same system.
The 1st picture shows the system as the ready state. The elastics are loaded on and stretch from the back body notches to the front ramp sight. A spring keeps the trigger piece(Blue) pushed full back into the blaster body (Pink).
The 2nd picture shows the trigger action activated. The ramps lift the elastics out of the body notches and the tension of the elastics causes them to ride up to the next stop. The top elastic has no stop and slides off towards the front ramp sight. When the triggers is relaxed, the force of the spring+elastic will push the triggerpiece forward, and each of the elastics still on it will be deposited into the next notch up on the body. In this way, all the elastics advance up from the bottom through to the top.
Step 2: Designing the Blaster
I started out by looking on google for good quality images of the iconic blaster Han Solo uses. I eventually found a clear profile view, and then I went through the process of drawing mine from that. There was a lot of looking back and forth to try to get the silhouette and larger details right. I used Microsoft Visio as my design software. You'll note in the pictures that I'm drawing in 2 colors only; red and black, as those are translated into cutlines (Red, 0.2px) and engravings (anything in black) by my laser software (Trotec JobControl). Once I had all parts drawn, I nested them and exported to JobControl, and took that file to the laser.
Step 3: Free Files
Download a .PDF, .DXF, or .DWG file of the plates and build your own. These are my design, and I'm releasing them as Creative Commons but not for commercial use though. Please link to this Instructable and attribute if you are featuring them.
Step 4: Laser Cutting and Engraving
Not much to say here. I loaded the laser, a Trotec Speedy 400 with a 80W CO2 laser, with a sheet of 6mm baltic birch and loaded my file. It took about 12 minutes for the laser to fully engrave and cut the pieces.
Step 5: THE MOST IMPORTANT STEPS (Sanding)
With all the pieces cut, I moved into sanding mode. This is the most important step to get right, as if you screw this up and glue it all together, your blaster will just bind and be a dud.
- Sand both sides of the trigger piece smooth on a flat block. You need to take a bunch of material off, as THIS PIECE MUST BE THINNER THAN ALL THE OTHER PIECES AS IT NEEDS TO SLIDE INSIDE THE BLASTER. Every once in a while, hold all the pieces together in their final positions and rock them back and forth. Once the trigger piece slides back and forth between the outer skins when doing that, it should be fine.
- BEVEL THE BACK ENDS TO WITHIN ABOUT 1MM OF THE INSIDE POINTS AS SEEN IN THE 2ND PICTURE. If you don't do this, the elastics will not roll up smoothly when you are firing.
Step 6: Glue It Up.
Very carefully glue the pieces up with superglue. I use the "Gorilla" brand of gell glue, as it bonds quickly, but allow me enough time to position accurately. I start by gluing in the middle layer. Work quickly, and make sure all the edges are perfectly aligned. alignment is key in this project. Once that is in and set, I use a pencil and shade in all the parts where the trigger action will slide against. The graphite will make firing it much smoother, as wood-on-wood does tend to bind otherwise.
Step 7: Put in a Spring
You'll see a slot to the rear of the trigger piece. It's designed to keep the return spring in it, which is needed to return the action forward after each trigger pull and thereby release the elastics into their respective body notches. This slot is purposely designed to fit any standard ball-point pen spring. So grab one of those dead pens out of your take-out menu drawer and rob the spring out of it. Choose a fairly stiff one, and test that it compresses and returns it smoothly before gluing on the top with more superglue.
Last of all, glue on the scope (25.6mm dowel) in it's holder on the right side of the blaster. (This is totally optional and not needed if you don't want it. But purists will lose their minds if you don't put something there. Note how low I mount mine so that the mounts don't interfere with the elastics.)
Step 8: Test It!
Where are all the galactic bounty hunters when you need a target?
Grab some elastics, and LOAD IT STARTING AT THE BOTTOM NOTCHES AND WORKING UP. (If you load top down, they will all get stuck under each other instead of shooting off.) I usually buy the multi-size, multi colour pack from Staples ($4.00ish), and use all the smalls from it.
Well, that's all. I hope you have fun with this, and post up if you do build one. Paint it, round it, build up more details in 3d, and create from this platform. Enjoy!
(PS. Sorry Instructables offices, as I suspect you will have a lot of elastics flying around now with these files. )