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FDL-1 Prototype

by JesseKovarovics Mar 19, 2016
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Just came across this, Love the design! Shame the Kickstarter didnt reach the goal.

Very nice. Looks like the kids enjoy it.

Great job on the FDL1 Turret. I have just finished printing it and I am preparing to get the electronics mounted. I have however some troubles getting the Photon controller. Here where I live its kind of difficult to get hands on one of those, but I have many raspberry Pi3s and Arduino boards. I read some comments bellow that you were thinking on doing some separate coding for the base and also maybe with Pi. Do you have code for the firmware for Raspberry Pi? Anything would help as when I cant get hands on a Photon, I am going to need to do some coding on the PI

I don't plan on using a Pi any time soon to be honest. Particle ships internationally from what I understand. I'm not sure why you wouldn't be able to get it.

Thanks for the info, that means I will need to write my own code or find a way how to get the particle board cheap.
To answer your question, yes they are shipping world wide, but with the price of the board + shipping, it will be more expensive than getting a Pi3 or Pi zero (I intend to use the zero) or arduino board that is sold locally here. The biggest problem is the shipping that takes most of the costs, (same price or even more than the board itself).

Do you plan any prototype version of turret/blaster that would fire Nerf ball like projectiles (the balls similar to paintballs)? That would be really interesting, I was thinking of trying to slightly modify your design to make the barrel shorter and use about 2 to 3 balls in each chamber. Shortening the barrel would cause the plunger to go all the way out, nearly to the base of the motors so the balls would get pushed out.

Hi Jesse,
awesome job with this device. I am planning to print just the turret, and attach slightly modified original Nerf gun onto it. My question is what size steel balls did you use for the turret?


Thanks! They are 1/4" but I'm pretty sure 6mm would work if that's easier for you to find. I literally ripped them out of a lazy susan that I bought from my local big box hardware store.

Thanks, I have actualy found the correct size in local bike shop.
Yet another question. Just printed out all parts and they seem not to fit. The bolt's diameter is to big to fit into the wheels and the thread does not match the thread on the nut. Did you have any problems yourself with those parts ?

best regards

I don't recall having fit issues with those parts but it's been at least a year since I printed the turret portion of this. You may need to do some sanding to get things to fit the way you want. They shouldn't be far off. I will say you probably want to print the bolt and nut at as fine a resolution as you can so the threads come out clean. It's crucial that they don't curl up as you print. You may have to work the threads a little too or sand them to fit.

Is the electronics kit you're offering on the website compatible with this design?

I want to say yes but I need to make sure all the wires will still reach before that is official. You would be getting things extra that are not in this design. The IR sensor and the advance paddle. You would not be getting any way of hooking up the turret base. I intend to redesign the base so that it uses its own separate Photon or Raspberry Pi. If you already have a bunch of this version printed, send me a note through the fdl1 site. I can work with you to figure out the best solution to make the bundle work. You may have to mix and match a few parts from both designs.

quick question regarding the photon itself.
Once you have flashed the firmware onto it, how do you make the interface to actually control the thing(web page or smart phone)?
thanks again

The Photon communicates with the outside world through REST calls meaning you make a request via a web request telling it to do what you want. The most straight forward way of doing this is through a web page and some Javascript. I have a page built that isn't the prettiest thing in the world but it works. I'm in the process of building the FDL-1 site. I will host it there and all you will have to do is enter your photon's device id and your Particle access token. My hope is people will create their own but I know not everyone is a web developer.

I like to use an app called Postman to test the my FDL-1's. It is a lightweight API/REST client. I use it at work all the time and it makes testing web requests really easy. An example of a call to advance the revolver would look something like this:

POST request:

Not sure if my last email sent.
Thanks so much for all your help with this. I have learned so much from this build. Looking forward to getting the turret going. The blaster is just about done. Do you have a part list for the blaster? I have printed some of the parts for the blaster. If you don't do a video is it pretty self explanatory? What about code with two photons talking together for the blaster and turret, are you going to post that? I am looking foward to learning from the turret build. I realise all this take a huge part of your time. So appreciative you sharing your knowledge.
Is their a place to make donations?

I am going to release the updated blaster within the next couple weeks as well as create an etsy shop to buy various forms of kits similar to what I was offering during the Kickstarter campaign. There will be a number of videos that happen as a result of that, all of which will still be more or less relevant to the prototype. I will be sure to do the turret teardown that I said I would as well. I really want the FDL-1 to be as educational as it is fun. I apologize for being a slacker about it.

I don't have a place for donations. I can set something up or just buy something from the etsy shop when it goes up;) I'm going to sell a wiring bundle in addition to full FDL-1's. All the wiring and soldering done for you, all you have to do is plug stuff in. That might be a good option for anyone currently building a prototype.

Are you going post info on turret, part list tear, down, code soon.

Do you have another email to use besides posting comments?

Not sure if my last email sent out.
Did you have to alter the plunger stepper motor shaft ? Mine seems to long.
It extends out the wheel and gets in the way of the plunger. It acts like I
need spacers to lift off the stepper motor from the back plate? I bought
the exact same one you have.
Thanks for your help

You do, sorry to not mention that. A hack saw or dremel works great. You can put in spacers as an alternative but you'll need longer M3 bolts.

ok. got my breadboard set up to test things out. All parts on the proto is done.
Brushless motor is just beeping.

How hot do your driver chips get and motors?
Did you have to adjust the the drivers current at all when you set yours up?
If I push the advance button and the trigger button at the same time, the plunger motor spins and then the revolver motor spins.
I can then, hold both down and it cont. to do so for about five turns and then just the revolver motor spins?
Should the brushless motor spin with turning up the potentiometer?
Thanks for all your help, this thing is awesome.

The stepper drivers do get a bit hot. You can try dialing them down but I don't recall that ever being an issue on the prototype.

What you should see without holding any switches down is the revolver spin just a little each time you press the trigger. It will attempt to find the next chamber before the plunger motor spins. If it doesn't trip the advance switch within a few hundred steps, it should bail. I wonder if I have the step pins switched on the schematic such that your plunger is spinning when the revolver should be.

When you boot up the FDL-1, the motors should emit three ascending beeps followed by a single long beep. The single long beep indicates that the ESC's are armed and have received a signal from the Photon. As long as you hear all that you should be good. The motors should spin up briefly when you pull the trigger but unless the revolver spins and trips the advance switch, they will power down almost immediately.

What is the value of the resistor ?

I've always used 1k because I have a bunch laying around but a higher resistance may be better. I'm good at figuring out what plugs in where, not so good at resistor and cap sizes.

What is the resistor between enable and sleep pins on the stepper drivers for?

That's a pull-up resistor between 3.3v and the enable pin. It pulls the enable pin high by default which disables the driver. When pulled low by the photon, there is a more direct flow to ground than through the resistor and the driver is enabled. If this wasn't there, the steppers would be enabled when booting up the blaster until the code is reached that disables them.

How long are the 10 32 set screws supposed to be?

1/4" You could get away with 3/8" if that's easier to find. If you're in the US, you can get all the 6-32 machine screws and set screws at your local big box. You can experiment with using #6 wood screws instead of machine screws to avoid having to tap each hole too. I always tap and use machine screws but it's a prototype design. It's meant to be messed with.

Be really careful not to over tighten anything. It's easy to strip out PLA and even ABS. All the screws just need to be snug and they'll stay put.

printed the revolver on my makerfarm 12 iv3 prusa. turned out great.
I am going to make this. great work!!!!. looking forward to seeing your work.

Nice! Check back in once you get it all printed and parts delivered. I'm in the process of having custom PCB's made that will make hooking everything up easier. They will ultimately be for the revised design but they'll work with the prototype too.

What sort of battery do you use to power it?

It uses a 3S Lipo. I usually run a 1300mAh Turnigy.

Wow! This is a really really cool project! And is the source posted? I'd really like to get one up and running, and start programming/modifying it :)

Thanks, I've added a source code section with a link to the GitHub repo. It's been a minute since I've used this particular version of the code so let me know if you have any issues or questions.

Thanks so much Sir!


Finally got the revolver to print, it was bad filament. Have all the parts ready to go. Did you end up posting the code for the photon?

Awesome, good to hear! I'll get the code up into github tomorrow night. I need to clean it up and comment the heck out of it.

Great Work! Will you be posting a how-to guide for wiring and programing in the future? I am quite keen to make this myself. However i am hesitant to start printing until i have a rough idea of how to program it.
Again your doing a great job!

Thanks! I will indeed be posting more how-to content. To be honest, I'm really close to having the revised blaster design ready so I've been obsessively consumed with getting that done. Sorry for the wait.

Very awesome! Saw this while I was designing my Nerf Gauntlet, great design.

Likewise! That gauntlet looks awesome. I have a few other designs kicking around in my head. A gauntlet/Mega Man style missile blaster is one of them.

Dude this is amazing!
Any plan to control it with a raspberry with webcam and motion detection?
Could be a good wellcome to the cats that are all day "doing their things" in my garden

Thanks! I definitely would like to design some sort of mount for a raspberry pi and camera. I had a phone mount on an earlier version of the turret. I was able to sign into video conferences at work and pick off unsuspecting coworkers with my entire team watching. It was slick. Even better would be a camera on a tank tread mounted FDL-1...


Having a hellova time getting the revolver to print on my new taz 5. Seems something about it makes it freeze after about 5 hours (of a 17+hr print) have tried 11 times and all have failed. T-glase spaghetti'd out and lifted off the platform (3x) after a couple hours, with pla it froze a few times connected to my pc so i started running it directly off the card. I had a few times with a new spool of black pla where the nozzle plugged (bad filament I'm pretty sure). Finally with known good filament the printer freezes in the exact same spot, two different prints. (Slowed it down for the second print, same result) . Either this model is cursed, or there's something about it that cura can't process and I'm doomed..... Has anyone else had a problem printing this?
As a note this is the ONLY thing this printer has ever had annissue with. 24h chess set prints came through perfectly. I'm not to the point where i blame the printerbyet....

Bummer, I'm sorry you've chewed through a bunch of filament trying. I uploaded a file I ran through netfabb. It's the FDL-1p_Blaster_Revolver_netfabbed.stl file. It doesn't indicate if there are errors or not but the file size is different after. I've had the revolver print get flaky at the top of the slots where they arc up so I usually print that part at 0.3mm layer height to force my printer to bridge the top of the arcs a little. It seems to do better and should only take 11-12hrs. I've never had issues with it freezing like that though and I've printed seven or eight of those revolvers. I use Slic3r though so maybe there's a difference.

Have you tried to shoot this through a chronograph? hope it hits 100+ FPS. :)

Finally bought a chronograph. Cranked up, I'm seeing an average of just under 110fps. I saw 120 once and I'm trying to get back to it. I know with a little tweaking, it'll do it. For actual use, it shoots nice and straight in the mid 90's. Remember, this is Mega darts too. It technically takes over twice as much power to shoot those than the little ones.

I have not but I can guarantee it is capable.

I had just heard of this the other day, unfortunately after the end of the kickstarter. But now I feel the need to build one!

Go for it! Let me know if you have any issues. I'm working on getting more info up soon.

I'm most of the way through printing the gun now, and wow does this thing look wonderful! Only a few hitches so far with the test fitting, and then it comes down to waiting for my parts to get here! (I didn't expect the revolver unit to be the longest print yet on my system, but wow) I've been meaning to learn how to run stepper motors for another project anyway.

Awesome! Yeah, that revolver is a beast. It was a 24hr+ print when I first designed it. I simplified the bracing inside and it usually takes around 12-13hrs at a 0.3 layer height on my Printrbot. I will start working on videos and whatnot tonight. I'll do a teardown while explaining all the general workings, then a assembly, then I can get into electronics hookups and the code. I apologize if you progress faster than I get videos up. I've been laser focused on the redesign.

You said you're working on a redesign - which components are expected to change?

Most if not all of the printed pieces will change. A lot will remain compatible between the two designs but not all. The electronics will stay the same but some will get repurposed and added. I moved the advance switch under the revolver and added an IR sensor there as well to sense loaded chambers. There will be a number of mode switches/buttons added. The turret will require an additional photon to open up functionality on both itself and the blaster. I also would like to design custom pcbs to make hooking up the electronics easy. The idea is to get all the wires hidden and make the whole thing easy to assemble. The prototype really takes some electronics know-how to get working. The redesign will be much more plug n play.

Ah. good to hear. I'll hold off printing till the redesign launches.

Great design by the way.