Gate 1:Planning

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Work Proposal

We will be dissecting the Nerf Vortex Blaster Vigilon that shoots discs and the Dart Tag Speed Load 6 which shoots whistling Velcro tipped darts in order to compare the gun designs. We plan to take two hours per gun for dissection and rough analysis. The tools which we seem to require are a small screwdriver for the exposed external screws and needle nose pliers for prying apart any components which maybe stuck together. Its is possible that we will need a cutting tool such as a Dremel, however until we open up the guns we will not know for sure. We plan on taking the first half hour of each dissection to remove the outer casing by removing the external screws with the Phillips head screwdriver. We will Document the dissection with photography and will analyze the ease of removal. We will analyze the deconstruction process keeping in mind that many Nerf enthusiasts like to modify the toys, which may have influenced the way they are designed in order to allow for easy deconstruction. We will be analyzing the screws to see if they are all the same size and looking for reasons for a possible variation in length. We will then spend the next hour removing and cataloging all of the internal components and analyzing how they interact, such as the firing mechanism and the trigger system. The final half hour will be dedicated to comparison between the two guns internal mechanisms and how they function. The Vigilon and the Speed six are made of plastic, which may pose the possibility of us scratching and chipping the casing while disassembling them. We must also be careful not to snap any of the small plastic components. All of the members of our group are at the same level of mechanical inclination. Although we have all had experience using hand tools in technology classes we have not dissected a Nerf gun in the past and this will be a new experience for all of us.Some of our strengths and weaknesses are represented in Table 1 along with certain skills we want to improve on from this project.


Table 1: Our team's strengths and weaknesses

Assumed Procedure to Follow

Before and after each step pictures and a written catalog will be taken. All parts will be numbered, categorized and stored safely.

Step 1: Remove the external screws.
Step 2: Measure lengths of screws.
Step 3: Separate the two halves of the gun.
Step 4: Deconstruct the trigger system.
Step 5: Deconstruct the firing mechanism.
Step 6: Analyze the clip system.
Step 7: Deconstruct and analyze any unforeseen internal components.

Management Proposal

This product dissection is going to require good teamwork and collaboration, however we will be designating specific jobs for each member of the group to focus on. In order to give each other the chance to have their say on the assignment so we have designated a project manager to settle disputes. There will be certain roles in which everyone is going to have to fulfill in order to divide the work load amongst everyone and have the work done in an orderly fashion. The different jobs which will be assigned include Project Manager, Technical Expert, Analysis and Research Correspondent, and Technical Communication Coordinator. These jobs will be assigned to each of the four group members and create a work environment in which we will all be occupied on a different component of the project. The project requires certain deadlines in which we have to follow in order to complete the project. Figure 2 represents a time line in which our group plans on following in order to complete the project on time.

Figure 2: Project Timeline

Meeting Plan

The graph above shows a timeline of our gates and their components to be completed in the allotted time. Since we do not know how long each section of the gates will take, we have allotted a time period over which man hours will be assessed and assigned accordingly. The number of people and who specifically will be required to attend will vary but each group member is allowed to make decisions for the group as long as they attempt to consult with the other members first. Our group meeting times vary on a per work basis, however, we have a short ten minute meeting following every class in order to talk about when we should meet and the work we should be doing on our own to prep for the meeting. We have longer meetings planned as necessary in order to finish the project in a timely manner. The meetings will also be planned around the class times and work loads for other classes. If someone is not able to attend a meeting they will send their prepared work to one of the other group members in order make progress despite their absence.


Project Manager
Richard Sambuco

The project manager is going to also be our task manager. They will be keep the tasks organized and make sure that everyone is keeping up on their job. Although everyone is going to be working together there still needs to be someone to keep the tasks designated to a specific person or pair of people. If there is proper organization kept the assignments will be completed on time and hopefully without conflict, however all conflicts will be settled by a final decision on the part of the project manager. The project manager will also be the communication contact between the group and the professor. He will be managing the group meeting times, communication with the professor and the organization of the project as a whole. In addition to these assigned tasks the project manager will be helping with all those other jobs in the group if one person has a lot more work than another due to the varying work load associated with the different stages of the product dissection.

Technical Expert
Ian Dipace

The technical expert will be the person in charge of the disassembling of the two products. They will be taking apart each gun and documenting the steps taken in the procedure. This person will be keeping each part separate from the different guns and different steps in the dis-assembly. The technical expert will follow the procedure referenced above until there has to be something which was missed. They will then have to approach the dis-assembly at their own judgement and learn the inner components of the guns. This is an important asset to the gun because someone has to fully understand the components in order for a full analysis of the Nerf gun’s technical aspects. The technical expert will be working closely with the Analysis and Research Correspondent in order to have more than one person understand the inner components of the two different Nerf guns. The technical expert is going to be the main consultant if there is a question of where a part was located or how to reassemble the gun back together.

Analysis and Research Correspondent
Matthew Szmak

The analysis and research correspondent is going to be the group member in charge of applying the principles of mechanics and dynamics to the analysis of the gun. This member will be working alongside the technical expert to make sure he fully understands where each part was located in the gun to see how the energy was transferred throughout the whole mechanism. The research correspondent will be applying the equations of the kinetic energy and potential energy stored through the gun. Then there will be the the analysis of if there can be improvements made to the mechanics of the gun. Research will be done to see what can be improved and what would make the product more innovative and appealing to the consumers.

Technical Communication Coordinator
Sean Amundsen

The technical communication coordinator is going to be in charge of the editing and revising of the project. They will overlook the written reports before updating the wiki with the information. This group member will assign certain tasks back to the rest of the group to edit certain parts of the documents to distribute the work load evenly. Then he will advise for the information to be returned to him in order for him to read over the information again to double check for spelling, grammar errors and format. The technical communication coordinator is then going to look over all of the edited data and supervise and coordinate the posting of the information on the wiki. This group member will have the final say in editing the wiki and the formatting of the presentation of each gate in the wiki.

Conflict Resolution

The project manager will settle all disputes and consult the teachers in the event a conflict is over his head or he is involved in the conflict.Even though everyone is going to have a specific authoritative role in the group there will be complete collaboration on each part of the assignment in order to get complete understanding and experience from this project. We will all work together in order to complete the project for each deadline and be able to understand all aspects of the technical components for the oral presentation at then end of the course project.

Product Archaeology

Nerf Vortex Vigilon

Development Profile
The Vortex Vigilon was released by Nerf on September 10th, 2011. This is a very new product so a lot about its product development and when it was being developed is not readily available. Rumors for the Vortex series started in February of 2011. Nerf didn’t officially confirm the Vortex series until April of 2011. During the creation of the Vortex series, the economy was in a recession. A lot of companies were and still are struggling to stay afloat. Consumers don’t spend as much on toys anymore due to hard financial times. Nerf created a series that generated a lot of buzz and was very cool. One big global concern that Nerf has take into consideration is violence, in particular gun violence. The dart gun can be closely related to guns in the mind of kids. The disc blaster gets away from that a little bit because the disc doesn’t compare as well to real bullet whereas the dart does. Nerf wanted to release a gun that could shoot a longer range than the traditional dart gun. The consumer wanted the ammo to fly farther and Nerf delivered.[1]

Usage Profile
Nerf guns are strictly a toy. The intended use of this product is for entertainment purposes. It’s a way kids can play with guns that look like the ones in their favorite video games, or so kids can shoot each other without actually hurting one another. It’s a fun toy that is to be enjoyed by kids and possibly college students or people of all ages who like playing Nerf with their friends. The product is designed to be used in the home or backyard of the consumer. A professional environment is no place for a plastic gun. Kids and young adults are the target age so generally you are not going to see these in a professional assembly. The only job this performs is entertaining and making the consumer happy.

Energy Profile
There a few types of energy used in this product. The main transferred to the gun is by the user in the form mechanical energy when the gun is cocked and is then stored by the spring. When the gun is fired that energy propels the disc forward. Another type of energy is of the lever that creates the spin on the disc. The disc will not fly right without spin. Upon inspection there is a lever that also pushes on the disc when the trigger is fired. The lever is curved and goes from a flat stationary position, then goes from flat to the left side of the gun pushing on the disc and creating spin on the disc. All of the energy the gun uses starts with the human. The person uses his arm to cock back the gun and create compression in the spring which stores the mechanical energy. Next the person in possession of the gun pulls the trigger. The trigger releases the Potential energy of the spring and transfers it to Kinetic energy by propelling the disc forward out of the gun. When pulling the trigger the person also activates the lever that puts spin on the disc causing the disc to shoot out of the gun while rotating.

Figure 3: Anticipated Functional Model for a Nerf Gun

Complexity Profile
The Vigilon has a lot of small ABS plastic and Stainless steel components in it. The major components are the trigger components the lever that causes spin, the loading component, the clip component, which are all ABS plastic and the spring that propels the disc forward, the unjam/unloading mechanism and the discs themselves which are made of ABS and foam. Each component is surprisingly simple. The components were developed in such a way that they seem quite simple, and work together extremely well. For example the clip component is opened with a lever near the trigger. Based on observation when you hit that lever a plastic piece that is holding the clip in place recedes into the gun and the clip opens up. The component interactions on the other hand are very complex. The spring has to be perfectly timed with the trigger and the lever that causes spin. If one of those fails at any point during the firing process the disc won’t fire. If the loading component doesn’t work then you have nothing to fire so the component interactions are very complex.

Material Profile
The gun consists of very few materials. The main material that can be seen is plastic. The casting of the gun is made of plastic and so are the majority of the components. The plastic is different for some parts that do different jobs but it mostly seems like the gun is created by the same type of plastic. The screws are made up of metal along with the spring. The discs are made up of hard plastic with a foam coating on the outside of it. Upon observation there doesn’t seem like there is any other materials used on this gun. This gun is very simple when it comes to materials and we do not believe that there are any other materials in this gun besides metal and plastic.

Interaction Profile
The product is very user friendly. The gun’s handle is very ergonomic and works for both left handed and right handed shooters. The user holds the gun by the handle and places his/her pointer finger on the trigger and the hand that isn’t holding the gun loads and cocks back the gun and prepares it to fire. The user interface is very intuitive. The second you open the box you know the correct way to hold it and how to shoot it. The ergonomics of the gun are very obvious. It’s extremely comfortable in your hand and the weight is distributed very well. The gun is very easy to use. There are instructions on how to use it but the gun is set up in way that is self-explanatory. The design of how the gun shoots makes it very easy to use. Regular maintenance is not required for this gun. The ammo makes it so that there is no maintenance required unlike a real gun. There are replacement parts available but that is if your gun breaks and you have the technical inclination to repair it yourself.

Ammo Profile
The thing that makes the Vigilon so unique is the ammo. The disc used in this gun is very different than anything else Nerf has used in the past. One of the design problems of the Vortex series addressed was how far can we make this fly? The disc allows for this to happen. The discs design allows for a lot of lift. The disc is flat on top and curls downward toward the edges. The bottom is hollowed out in the center and that is what creates the lift. The air gets caught underneath the disc causing lots of lift and extended flight time. The disc is made of hard plastic so that it is stable in flight, but it has a foam covering so that it doesn’t hurt when a person is hit with it.

Figure 4: Ammo from the Nerf Vortex Vigilon

Product Alternatives
The Nerf Vigilon has no competitors in the market for disc shooters except a small foam disc shooter from X-Stream. The X-Stream shooter is motorized and is only analogous in the type of projectile it uses. The X-Stream shooter is much cheaper but is not of the same caliber as the Vigilon. The Vigilon uses mechanical energy supplied be the consumer whereas the X-Stream shooter uses batteries and makes a high pitch whining noise. The patent on the technology the Vigilon and other Nerf disc guns contain has been unlawfully used in the past by Buzz Bee toys. Nerf won their law suit against Buzz Bee and no other competitor has come up with a competitive product for the disc shooters.

Nerf Speed Load 6

Development Profile
The Speed 6 was released in March of 2011 with an unknown initial development date. The key economic concern at the time of development was the bad economy. They designed this gun to be priced low but still have some build quality. One of the Global concerns this product addresses is to not replicate a real gun that poses a threat but rather a toy that would still be appealing to its target demographic. The Nerf Company is a United States based company and sells in the states as well as internationally. The intended impact on the consumer was to be an entertainment and for it to be fun. This would impact society by creating a fun game of Dart Tag and later Dart Tag League.[2]

Usage Profile
The Nerf Dart Tag Speed Load 6 is intended to be used as a toy and in a Dart Tag game. This product is for both home and professional use and is used in the NDTL or the National Dart Tag League. We consider the NDTL as professional use because it is a championship league with teams competing for a grand prize. The Speed 6 performs the job of shooting a dart at another dart tag player or for leisure. This gun is entertaining and very fun to use and play with.[3]

Figure 5: Speed Load 6 Dart.

Energy Profile
In the Speed 6 there is mechanical energy used. This mechanical energy is imported from the user cocking the gun. After the gun is cocked the energy is stored in a spring as potential energy. The user then adds mechanical energy by pulling the trigger to release the stored energy in the spring and makes it kinetic energy. This energy is transferred to the dart by use of a pneumatic system and that is turned into the motion of the dart. The energy transfer can be represented in the functional model represented in Figure 3.

Complexity Profile
In the Speed 6 there are six components. The components are the dart, trigger, loading mechanism, firing mechanism, and the slide to unjam the gun. The individual components do not appear to be too complex from the outside but may be more complex internally. An example of which is the loading of the darts into the internal magazine. They are simply pushed in and a spring pushes back against the dart to keep it at the top. From what can be seen, some of the interactions between the parts are complex. The cocking mechanism may be complex in its interaction with the loading mechanism. This interaction is internal and cannot be determined as of yet.

Material Profile
The Speed Load 6 appears to be made almost completely of plastic. The heads of the screws holding the gun together are metal and the darts that come with the gun are made of foam, and a plastic tip that has micro Velcro on it. There is also some paint used on the gun to give it more definition. Other materials you cannot see would be metal for the spring in the trigger and firing mechanism. We believe that the rest of the internal components are either metal or plastic.

User Interaction
The user interacts with the product in a hands on way. Users have to load the darts into the internal magazine as well as cock the gun and pull the trigger. The interfaces are very intuitive because as soon as you grab the gun you know how to hold it, and how you are going to load and cock it. The Speed 6 is very easy to use. Once you load the darts into the magazine, you cock the gun and pull the trigger. All of these motions are simple to do. The Speed 6 does not need to be maintained in any regular way but if anything breaks it can be replaced with replacement parts.

Product Alternatives
Buzz Bee toys company produces plastic toy dart guns that serve the same purpose as Nerf dart shooters. For an analogous dart type shooter from Buzz Bee the general price point is approximately five dollars less than the Nerf model for the fifteen dollar range and ten dollars less for the models thirty dollars or more. The advantage to the Buzz Bee models are the lower price and cheaper ammo. The Buzz Bee models have a cheaper feel to them and are aesthetically simplistic with solid colors and few variations in color scheme which can be seen as a negative from a consumer standpoint. As far as performance is concerned, the two companies guns fire with generally the same velocity according to independent testers online that are dart gun enthusiasts. However there has been no official comparison done by a credible organization.


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