Cloudburst CPS Prototype

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Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Mon May 20, 2013 8:54 pm

I'm finishing up my next homemade water gun. I call it DR-5 Cloudburst.

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Cloudburst is a standard cylindrical CPS gun, similar to the CPS 3000 or CPS 3200 but smaller. It's substantially similar to Riptide, though there are many differences in the design (see design section below). The most obvious difference is that Cloudburst has a plastic enclosure that hides all the internals. That means you can open it up like a stock CPS gun (by removing the screws).

Cloudburst isn't entirely finished. I have test fired it, and it works, but there are a few issues I still need to resolve. I still need to add a return spring to the firing valve, finish the pump track, replace the grip with a better one, sand around the edges, and paint it.

The gun pictured above is basically the prototype I built to get the bugs out the design. I plan on building a second one and posting instructions on how to build it on SSC sometime in the future.

Design plan and philosophy

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The image above shows a paper mockup I made around late January or early February with the design I thought I wanted to build. I was testing out the feel and sizing up components at the time. For the most part, I stuck to the design as I had it back then: a rectangular structure, pump from SS 300 or XP 150, internal structure from CPS 3000 by way of Riptide, and another original trigger system (though there are some similarities to the CPS 2100's trigger).

My design plan was simple: I wanted to build a better Riptide. Riptide was alright for a test, but it was hard to maintain. It was a bloated and complex design, with too many parts and too few good features. It worked, but it never really worked well.

I choose minimalism as the overall design philosophy. I constantly asked two questions: How could this be simpler? How could I reduce this without sacrificing function? I tried to reduce the number of parts, use the same parts throughout (same screws), keep interfaces simpler, and make it as easy to maintain as possible. In the end, Cloudburst is much easier to build, use, and maintain than Riptide.

There's a saying in engineering: "Good, fast, cheap: pick two." What that means is that you can't make something that's good and fast and cheap, but you most likely can make it two of those. For Riptide, I was very concentrated on finishing it quickly without worrying too much about quality. It is a fast and cheap design.

Cloudburst was entirely different. It is a good and cheap design. I spent a lot of time making sure that everything fit together perfectly, making sure that all the parts were correct, and building slowly and deliberately. As a consequence, I took a really long time to build it, and it's still not done. I've put about 80 to 100 hours of work into the design and construction so far, with most of the time being in manually drawing out what shapes to cut. Future builders wouldn't need to worry about that step, since I'll make some templates you can print out and cut.

As a side note, I designed Cloudburst without using CAD software. Did I use a computer to help me design it? Yes and no. I didn't use any CAD software to come up with a 3D model of what I wanted to do. I did all design work and visualization with paper and pencil (both to make the paper mockup and diagrams on paper). I did, however, use a computer to help solve some of the design constraints and make engineering decisions. I derived by hand all of the equations needed to solve the geometry (something a good CAD software package does for you) and solved them using a Octave script I wrote (Excel would have worked too).

Internals

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The internals are neatly organized and grouped in the same configuration as Riptide. I took a lot of time to ensure that moving parts would not conflict with one another. Riptide's trigger system occupied nearly the entire top portion of the internals, which forced the vinyl tubing to snake around crazily to avoid the trigger's path. Cloudburst avoids this problem entirely by keeping the trigger assembly as close to the left plate as possible.


More pictures:

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I'm sure I missed a lot of stuff in this brief summary, so please ask questions if you have any.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by the oncoming storm » Mon May 20, 2013 9:20 pm

What kind of ranges is it getting and how much would it cost for me to build one.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by marauder » Mon May 20, 2013 11:27 pm

Wow, that is beautiful. Any chance it'll be done by next weekend? There's a war in Maryland. See the Soakermore thread.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by HBWW » Mon May 20, 2013 11:29 pm

I take it this is what you showed me at MOAB?

Did you find threaded check valves that small from McMaster Carr? Are there plastic versions of them too? I could only find plastic valves with barbs on them, but 1/4" male NPT would be a lot better. Low diameter/flow check valves seem to reduce a lot of pump dead space in general, an issue I still have with my new APH design. (I will post more details on the APH I was working on after Soakemore/this weekend. You should definitely try to make it if you can!)
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by soakinader » Tue May 21, 2013 1:25 am

That is beautiful indeed. I'd certainly like to know what parts you used! Particularily for the check and trigger valves. Overall, it's a simply a great design!
Does the LRT really expand that wide? Is that just how you designed it/how that LRT behaves, or is it impossible or unwise to have a narrower PC?
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Tue May 21, 2013 6:37 am

Thanks for the feedback! I guess Cloudburst looks pretty good. It doesn't look as nice as a CPS 2000, but it certainly is the best looking homemade water gun so far.
What kind of ranges is it getting and how much would it cost for me to build one.
I haven't tested the ranges yet, but given that the firing valve and PC setup is identical to Riptide, Cloudburst should get at least the same range as Riptide, which is about 40 feet for a single layer of LRT. Cloudburst has a wider chamber, so it supports a double layer of LRT, which should get around 50 to 55 feet in range.

Costs are a bit hard to quantify exactly. I've bought a lot of parts that I ended up not using. So far I've spend around 250 USD, but my estimate of that parts I've actually used is around 150 to 200 USD. The two things that take up most of the cost (probably at least 100 USD) are the brass parts and the structural plastics I used.

Any chance it'll be done by next weekend? There's a war in Maryland. See the Soakermore thread.
I'm aware of the war, and right now I will try to attend at least one day. I'll look into finishing Cloudburst before then. The big problem for me is time, since I work during the day and don't have easy access to a shop during weekdays.

I take it this is what you showed me at MOAB?

Did you find threaded check valves that small from McMaster Carr? Are there plastic versions of them too?
Yes, this is what I showed you then. I had all the structural components working by then, but it wouldn't shoot because of a problem with the pump. I think I over-tightened the PVC adapter onto the brass parts, which destroyed the threads and ruined the seal. The pump was only pumping air.

To fix that, I remade the pump completely. Originally I used plastic threadeed check valves, but I wasn't sure if they were working correctly, so I switched to the same brass ones I used in Riptide (McMaster-Carr part numbers 7768K22 and 7768K26). They are actually much larger than the original plastic ones I used, but they have very obvious feedback (you can hear them opening and closing).

I'd certainly like to know what parts you used! Particularily for the check and trigger valves.
Right now I have a spreadsheet that lists all the parts I bought, what supplier I bought them from, and how much I used. I still need to go through and remove anything I didn't use, though.

The trigger valve is just a standard 3/8 inch gas ball valve I got from Lowes. The big feature I looked for was the ability to replace the handle, which most gas ball valves have. I mentioned what check valves I used in the previous answer.

Does the LRT really expand that wide? Is that just how you designed it/how that LRT behaves, or is it impossible or unwise to have a narrower PC?
A single layer of LRT will not expand to 4 inches (the pipe diameter), but with two layers it will. I would not recommend using 3 inch pipe for the PC even for a single layer of LRT, since a single layer of LRT expands to slightly more than 3 inches (the expanded tubing would take up all the space available).
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by isoaker » Tue May 21, 2013 8:27 am

Nice build! Would definitely love to see some shot pics and/or vids when you finish resolving the lingering issues you alluded to. I like the geometric, minimalist design of it and the metal parts should offer much, much more durability over standard stock plastic pieces. Nicely done!

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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by the oncoming storm » Tue May 21, 2013 8:50 am

Looking at it I think that it like the riptide has a clear plastic casing to show off the internals.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by SEAL » Tue May 21, 2013 9:33 am

I remember seeing this. It looks as impressive here as it did in real life. (I still think JLspacemarine's CPH is the best looking homemade, but that's my opinion.) I really like the homemades that you've built. Too few people (myself included, but that's a matter of money) actually focus on practicality when building homemades. They just want to make something insanely powerful, nevermind the fact that the gun weighs a ton and would be destroyed in a serious water war.

Well done! Looking forward to seeing it in action.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by HBWW » Tue May 21, 2013 10:16 am

The only real purpose of building homemades, IMO, is for them to be used in combat. I have neither the time, funds, nor know-how to take on complicated homemades with triggers, considering I can't even get a pump to seal most of the time. Instead, I just go for what simply works with as least hassle as possible. From there, I do loose out on ergonomic designs, triggers, and low pump dead-space.

In fact, simple homemades ought to be less hassle than most stock blasters, but once again I find myself needing to redesign the pump, which I've gotten to work previously. One of the big problems is that Sch. 40 PVC pipe constantly changes in ID even amongst the same manufacturer; need to find a better solution for this if possible.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by marauder » Tue May 21, 2013 10:58 am

I love the fact that you're using brass. Brass is rust resistant, much better than iron or even most steel you can find.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by HBWW » Tue May 21, 2013 2:26 pm

On a side note, I cannot get the end screw in the LRT to seal! They're simply not spec'd to the same diameter that barbs are, so while a barb and endcap are wasteful (you need twice as many parts as necessary and some teflon tape), perhaps a better alternative would be a plug insert. Unfortunately, I can't find one in local stores smaller than 1/2", and haven't looked at McMaster Carr yet.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by SSCBen » Tue May 21, 2013 9:00 pm

Great job.

I suggest studying triggers and handles in recent homemade Nerf guns (especially those by Ryan201821) to improve the ergonomics. Here's one example. I don't think the handle and trigger you have right now would be very comfortable. Foam grip tape would help the grip. Smoothing out all of the edges, especially on the trigger, would make the gun more comfortable to hold and also help prevent initiation of cracks.
CA99 wrote:One of the big problems is that Sch. 40 PVC pipe constantly changes in ID even amongst the same manufacturer; need to find a better solution for this if possible.
The internal diameter of PVC pipe has a lot of variability even among manufacturers. The outer diameter is specified more precisely because if it weren't, the pipe might not fit into the fittings well. But they don't care too much about the inner diameter. I suggest trying a more precisely specified tube if this has been an issue for you.

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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Wed May 22, 2013 8:04 am

CA99 wrote:On a side note, I cannot get the end screw in the LRT to seal! They're simply not spec'd to the same diameter that barbs are, so while a barb and endcap are wasteful (you need twice as many parts as necessary and some teflon tape), perhaps a better alternative would be a plug insert. Unfortunately, I can't find one in local stores smaller than 1/2", and haven't looked at McMaster Carr yet.
I used a large 1/2 inch bolt, which seems to seal pretty well. I think the key is to use a bolt size larger than your LRT ID.

Ben wrote:I don't think the handle and trigger you have right now would be very comfortable. Foam grip tape would help the grip. Smoothing out all of the edges, especially on the trigger, would make the gun more comfortable to hold and also help prevent initiation of cracks.
I agree. The grip was kinda an after thought and feels flimsy. I've been looking into something better, so I guess I'll check out some Nerf designs now.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Fri May 24, 2013 5:44 pm

Image

I've been testing out springs to make the gun function enough for battle. Unfortunately, I tried out a spring from Lowes and two springs from McMaster, and none of them close the firing valve all the way.

There are few solutions I could try next:
  • Reduce the friction and lubricate. I should sand all the surfaces that touch each other and lubricate them with graphite (pencil lead, really) to ensure there is as little friction as possible.
  • Replace the firing valve arm with one that allows more leverage. This would most likely solve the problem, since I can keep increasing the arm length until it opens easily.
  • Reposition the spring to the firing valve arm itself. This solution is more direct than my current method of closing the valve, but I'd like to avoid this since space is pretty tight near the valve.
I'll still bring Cloudburst along to the Maryland war tomorrow if anyone is interested in it. It just would difficult to use without a valve that automatically closes.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by the oncoming storm » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:53 am

Bump, is it working yet ?

On a side note I will be making an AP gun based off of this eventually (a few years) as a more practical primary than my 300 since it can use larger streams, and repair work won't be such A nightmare.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:34 pm

It isn't working yet. The thing that's holding everything up with the trigger system, which it still doesn't close entirely. I've been thinking that re-orienting the valve arm may help, but I haven't had much time to plan this part out yet, though. I've got more free time coming up, so hopefully I'll figure this out by mid-August.
Last edited by Drenchenator on Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by soakinader » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:11 pm

I have yet to find a spring that is as strong or stronger than say, a MAX-D spring (EG a Flash Flood), or even a spring from a random Buzz-Bee ball valve.
If possible use two springs on either side to balance out the application of force. It's not simple.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by Drenchenator » Mon May 26, 2014 6:52 pm

Believe it or not, I have been working to finish this! I've concluded that my original trigger system for Cloudburst will not work, so I suggest that you avoid it. I based this trigger system off the system used in the CPS 2100 and similar blasters. The problem keeps coming down to the valve failing to close all the way. Because of this, I'm going to try to implement an improved version of the Riptide trigger system. I thought up Riptide's trigger system in a single afternoon and never thought of it as a robust design, but after all the trouble with Cloudburst's original trigger system I think it's actually a rock-solid design that just works.

I'll provide more of an actual update when building starts.
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Re: Cloudburst CPS Prototype

Post by HBWW » Mon May 26, 2014 7:05 pm

I take it that it won't be ready by this upcoming weekend? It'd be quite a piece for the naval wars, with the dip tube and all.
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