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FDL-1: 3D Printed, Robotic, Foam Dart Launcher project video thumbnail
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$6,527 pledged of $15,000 goal
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By Jesse Kovarovics
$6,527 pledged of $15,000 goal
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About this project

Campaign ending soon!

Please visit http://www.fdl1.com and signup for the FDL-1 mailing list to stay updated on the progress of the final FDL-1 design and release date. The FDL-1 will be still be released even if I don't meet my funding goal.

Follow me and the FDL-1 here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JesseKovarovics

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FDL-1-1399278507045533

The FDL-1 is the culmination of years of taking things apart and putting them back together. A perfect storm of hobby technology and geek creativity, the FDL-1 is a project for makers and tinkerers. It's for those who choose to build their own things. Those who want a foam dart launcher they can call their own, unlike any other.

3D Printed

Aside from it's hardware and electronics, the FDL-1 is completely 3D printed. It is designed piece by piece to be printed on even the most modest of consumer printers with a minimum build size of 6"x6"x6". Each part is designed to be easily printed with very little support and bridging required. The FDL-1 you see in the video and pictures was printed on a Printrbot Simple Metal. 3D printer filament is available in a variety of colors allowing the FDL-1 to be printed in a wide range of colors and color combinations.

Robotic

Unlike your usual foam dart blaster, the FDL-1 is robotic. It is controlled by a programmable Particle Photon microchip rather than pure mechanics. This allows it to be tuned and tweaked to perform to it's users ideals. It can carry out preprogrammed commands and repetitive maneuvers as well as given the precise locations of targets.

Web Enabled

The FDL-1 has wifi built directly into it's microchip. This allows it to be controlled from virtually anywhere. Connect it to your home or office wifi network then operate it from anywhere with an internet connection using your phone, tablet, or computer.

High Powered & Fully Automatic

The FDL-1 is capable of launching darts faster and farther than any foam dart blaster on the market. The speed of the flywheel motors can be adjusted on the fly, meaning you can launch darts at a gentle, office safe speed, at near paintball level velocities or anywhere in between. It is fully automatic and capable of launching an entire clip of 12 Nerf Mega size darts in a matter of seconds with a single pull of the trigger. It is created for the hobbyist market where bigger is better and it promises to deliver.

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 Convertible

The FDL-1 comes in two forms. Turret and blaster. It can be converted between the two forms with ease. In turret form, you can place the the FDL-1 on a desk or even mount it on the corner of a cubicle. You operate it from your device with a web app on the FDL-1 website. In blaster form the FDL-1 acts as any other blaster. Wifi is disabled and a battery is installed in the handle so it can operate free of wires and remote control.

Open Source

The purpose of the FDL-1 campaign is to empower people to create their own things. Once the FDL-1 website is launched, all the files, schematics, and instructions you'll need to create your own FDL-1 will be available to everyone free of charge. Using the print files, you can print all the parts that make up the FDL-1 on your own. Using the schematics, you'll be able to identify all the electronic and hardware components needed to assemble your launcher. All of this will be provided under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license. That means anyone may copy, distribute, modify, create, and even sell derivatives of the FDL-1 as long as the original author, this guy, is given credit for the original design and that those derivatives also carry the same license. No matter what form the FDL-1 takes in my hands or yours, it will always be open source.

Reward Tiers

Help a Guy Out Tier

Choose this tier if you love the FDL-1 and just want to help a guy out. Contribute a buck or contribute more, it's up to you. I thank you for your support no matter what. I will give a shout out to all backers on the FDL-1 site when launched.

Prototype Tier

Choose this tier if you are like me and can't wait to take on new projects. Up to 75 backers in this tier will be able to access the files and schematics to print and build the exact FDL-1 that you see in the pictures and video on this site. Once I make my final round of design changes, these schematics will cease to exist in favor of the version that I release as open source.

Gift Tier

In the Gift tier you will receive a 3D printed desk statue of the FDL-1. This statue signifies my thanks to you as a backer and shows your support to your friends and coworkers.

The Print Your Own Tier 

The Print Your Own tier is intended for backers with their own 3D printer. You will receive the electronics, hardware, and filament required to print and assemble your own FDL-1 in blaster only form or blaster/turret combo. Choose up to two filament colors for blaster only or up to four colors for the blaster/turret combo.

Kit Tier

The Kit tier is intended for backers who do not have their own 3D printer but would like to build their FDL-1 themselves. As with any kit, you will learn about the mechanics of the FDL-1. You will receive the electronics, hardware, and printed parts required to assemble your FDL-1 in blaster only form or blaster/turret combo. Choose up to two colors.

Assembled Tier

If you want to open the box and go, choose the Kit tier. You will receive a fully assembled FDL-1 in either blaster form or blaster/turret combo form. Choose up to two colors.

What are you going to do with my money?

What I would like to do is print an initial run of FDL-1's to help launch a line of various FDL kits and accessories. The line will start with the FDL-1 and will gradually add FDL's of varying sizes and designs as well as a multitude of accessories. Think tank treads, wheels, cameras, motion sensors, etc. The possibilities are endless. I will build a website to sell this lineup as well as host the files and schematics needed to print and create your own parts. This website will also host any web apps created to control and tune your FDL. While I would love for every backer to print and build their own FDL-1 from scratch, my part in all of this is to make the FDL-1 available to people without their own printer. To mass produce FDL's, I would like to setup a printer farm and develop an automated queuing system to minimize interaction with the printers themselves. The more support the FDL-1 campaign gets, the more printers I can add to the farm, the faster I can produce new FDL's.

3D printing is a huge passion of mine and I'd like to explore it's use as a mass production tool. While it may be too slow to produce millions of a product, it does not require retooling when a design changes. Upgrades can be designed and available in a fraction of the time required to create new molds or retool machines. New parts can be customized on the fly and printed on demand. Inventory can be kept low and a product can evolve over time instead of sitting in a warehouse, unchanged for years at a time. I truly believe it to be a huge part of our future and I want to learn everything about it.

When will I get my stuff?

I am shooting for a ship date of September for all reward tiers including the gift tier. This should be ample time to make a few final design modifications, launch the FDL-1 website, release all the files and schematics, get the printer farm setup and print out all rewards.

This seems really expensive for a toy.  

On the surface the FDL-1 looks and acts like a typical foam dart launcher. Why not just go to the store and buy an off the shelf blaster for under $100? The answer is it is more than just a toy. It is a robotics kit. Its purpose is not only to shoot and play with but also to learn from. In the process of building your FDL-1 you will learn about robotics, simple machines, electronics, programming, the internet of things, and 3D printing. You will create something unique. Even if your friend builds their own FDL-1, chances are they will choose different colors. They may even alter the design to add their own accessories or create a skin to make it look completely different.

I designed and created the FDL-1 myself. I received a ton of input from friends and coworkers but ultimately I was the one up late at night modeling every part of the FDL-1 from scratch. I fabricated many different versions of the FDL-1 in a small office in my house. It didn't take a factory or a crew of engineers to make this happen. The whole purpose of the FDL-1 is to encourage people to make stuff themselves. You don't have to go to the store to by the same blaster your friend bought last week. Make one! You don't have to be a multimillion dollar company to create a product. You can do it yourself. The cost difference between the tiers is there to pay for my time and the wear and tear on my printers. It is also there because I want you to print your own. I want you to build your own.

In turret form the FDL-1 contains virtually the same set of electronics that a 3D printer does, plus half a drone. 3D printers range in price from about $300 at the very low end all the way up to several thousand dollars. Hobby level drones fall into a very similar range. I chose each component very carefully based on what each one was trying to accomplish. Stepper motors are what robots are made of and what the FDL-1 is made of. They are extremely precise and are immediately high torque without any spinup time. I can tell them to rotate to exactly where I want within a fraction of a degree. The brushless motors that fire the darts are a huge step up from the common blaster. They are fast, very fast. They are well balanced, and I can mount the flywheels directly to them. To top it off, the electronics that control the speed of the motors also convert power from the battery into the exact voltage to power the Photon. Each of these components are very indicative of what you might find in a robot. I've wanted to teach people about basic robotics for some time. The common roadblock I run into is having a fun project to learn from. The FDL-1 is exactly that.

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge the FDL-1 campaign will face is print time. 3D printing is a slow process and can be finicky at times. The good thing is I have spent over a year fine tuning the printer I have to print each part of the FDL-1 as well as possible. The printer farm will ultimately be made up of mostly this same printer so a lot of that tuning will transfer to the entire farm. The goal of the campaign though, is to learn from these challenges and perfect the process.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Help a Guy Out Tier

    My thanks to you for your support and a shout out on the FDL-1 website.

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    Prototype Tier

    Early access to the files and schematics for the FDL-1 as it stands, before my final round of design changes.

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    Gift Tier

    3D printed desk statue of the FDL-1 to show off to your friends.

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    Print Your Own - Blaster Tier

    All the hardware, electronics, and filament you need to print and build your own FDL-1 in blaster form. Choose up to two colors of filament.

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    Kit - Blaster Tier

    All the hardware, electronics, and printed parts you need to build your own FDL-1 in blaster form. Choose up to two colors.

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    Final Week Special!!!

    Assembled - Blaster Tier

    A fully assembled FDL-1 in blaster form. Choose up to two colors.

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    Print Your Own - Turret Tier

    All the hardware, electronics, and filament you need to print and build your own FDL-1 in blaster and turret forms. Choose up to four colors of filament.

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    Kit - Turret Tier

    All the hardware, electronics, and printed parts you need to build your own FDL-1 in blaster and turret forms. Choose up to two colors.

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    Kit - Turret Tier

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    Assembled - Turret Tier

    A fully assembled FDL-1 that can be transformed between turret and blaster forms. Choose up to two colors.

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Funding period

- (30 days)