Posted On: Wednesday - December 18th 2019 10:24AM MST
In Topics:   Cheap China-made Crap  Curmudgeonry
The term "hacking" really ought to only apply to the dismantling or kludging of software, so this is the one reverse cultural appropriation Peak Stupidity will do. That is as opposed to all the terms the software geeks misappropriate from real life hardware (which I believe ought to be another post). Don't worry, then. This post is not what you might think from the title. It won't be too geeky.
"Disassembly not recommended."
The Nerf Nitro products shoot out foam cars. Why? Ask a boy. I just looked up some of these to find the name of the toy in question here, and I believe Nerf is trying to combine guns with Hot Wheels. Nerf has the market saturated as far as foam toys go. (I think they started with the footballs.) NerfCorporate says it's high time to diversify some more, so, yes, let's have guns that shoot foam cars. Ours, shown above is just the basic stocking-stuffer $10 item that my boy received well before Christmas. From the topic key Cheap China-made Crap above, the reader may be expecting a report of some bad or missing parts. Well, it's sort of like that ...
See, per NerfLegal, I'm assuming, this car was made with a couple of interlocks to force the kid to shoot it only at ground level - the cars will speed on out - and it's made to only shoot out the Nerf cars. The former mechanism is simple. We noticed there's a button (basically) sticking 3/8" out on the bottom, and the pushing of it due to the resting of the gun on a surface will enable the trigger mechanism.
The 2nd interlock is damn tricky to figure out. We were not even trying to hack it - well, OK, my boy wanted to shoot out some other stuff first - but he was resigned to foam cars only. No, I could not for the life of me see how that one worked. While trying to teach the kids not to look down the barrel of ANY kind of gun, I put it in the light, but damn if I couldn't see how Nerf had this working. The cars obviously pushed on something in some way, but I couldn't explain it.
Well, what do you do but take it apart to find out, right? That was my (bad) idea, not the kid's, but I like to encourage the taking apart and study of mechanical things. We took out 6 screws, and things started to fall apart right away. "That's what you want." one might say, but no, plastic parts were rattling around before we could really get a view of what we were interested in (that 2nd interlock mechanism). 3 parts ended up on the floor besides the body of this gun.
Straight to the trash with them after this post.
One of them, top right in the picture, was obviously the of the 1st interlock - simple. One spring was going nowhere, but you know the end has to go to a hole or pin. I figured out where the 2nd part, the hook/latch at the top of the photo, OUGHT TO go, but it didn't ever fit. The 3rd part, the small cut-off-rectangular one, was a complete mystery.
I told the boy that I was sorry, but we were never gonna use that thing again. Man, it didn't even have a chance to break! Still, I didn't give up, and played with this for 1/2 an hour. Finally, really pissed, at myself really, for not getting it, I went to
Yes, there was a guy taking apart one of these Nerf Nitro Throttleshots. This guy WAS "hacking" the thing, as he put in a stiffer main spring for a higher foam-car-exit-speed. This one spring shoots the car, and I'd had no problem with it. I always admire those guys who put up a demonstration videos. It's very selfless of them. I doubt he was gonna monetize his efforts, as NerfLegal probably does not like that video one bit. (Come to think of it, I doubt they'd like this post, either. Read on a bit more.)
Unfortunately, though we watched it a couple of times, the lighting and angle in the video did not allow me to figure anything out. As I was about to start throwing things away, I had an idea about just putting together what I had and seeing what exactly wouldn't work. After all, the trigger mechanism itself was OK. I put the screws back in and, Wallah!, as the kids say, this gun would still shoot foam cars.
What did those parts do? All 3 of them were just part of the 2 interlocks (the 1st I already knew about), but surprisingly did not have any other functions (support of anything else) to stop the thing from working! Not only that, but who wants those constraints anyway? Serendipity, I tells ya'!
After all, why should you have to shoot foam cars on the floor and not in the air?* Why can't you shoot whatever will fly out of this thing? We paid our 10 bucks, well, a gift-giver did! We don't neeed no steeenking feeetures, man!
What were once vices are now habits, and what were once features are now bugs.
* We could have disabled that one by simply taping the button.