Mod Project: Vortex FDL

While the FDL3 is a wonderful (if pricey) platform for Nerfing, I hadn’t bothered to buy or build one for quite a while. My hardware kit sat in the corner, unused. After all, I already had blasters that filled various roles in different game types just fine.

However, one thing has never really been produced: a small electronic Vortex blaster. The Nitron was large and unwieldy, and not something I’d use in PvP or HvZ games. Eventually, after seeing a brushless Vortex build on Reddit, I broke down and combined it with the FDL3 to make this dream blaster of mine, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had with a homemade blaster!

Merging Ideas

Sizing things up and getting it all placed right in Tinkercad.

The FDL3 already has files available for anyone to print. Naturally, they’re built to hold the FDL3 hardware kit parts, though people can modify the files for whatever parts they want to use. Designs already exist for firing standard darts, short darts, and Rival balls. In addition, one front end is wide enough to fit 40-rd Worker Dominator magazines. I used that as my base.

In addition, I borrowed parts from the front end of Project 12, a brushless reimagining of the Nitron made by snakerbot. At this point, it just became a matter of combining parts.

I, for one, have yet to make sense of “real” CAD programs like Fusion360. However, I’m strangely good with Tinkercad. In addition, Tinkercad has surprising flexibility in terms of importing and merging various .stl models. As long as you can keep track of your order of operations (and move the workplane as necessary for lining up parts), you can get a lot done.

Building the Beast

The initial assembly actually went smoothly, aside from a few things I overlooked. In my initial mixings, I deleted the mounting holes for the ESC holder. In addition, I forgot to modify the motor housing so that Crux motors would fit. Finally, I had to extend the FDL pusher to go along with my setup; it was part of a compromise made to keep the upper cowl mounts.

I’ve been using the blaster without the side plates or front grip, but they were modeled and made.

War Testing!

I don’t have FPS numbers for these discs, but they do fly significantly farther than from my other Vortex blasters. In addition, I can empty stick magazines at max rate of fire.

The game, however, did reveal a few tweaks were needed. The front of the pusher was shaped to fit discs. In doing so, the slope occasionally moved the discs down into the mag instead of pushing them. Meanwhile, drum magazine use was inconsistent, with the pusher getting stuck forward at times. Lowering the Brake Aggression setting helped somewhat, but not enough to make the drum useful. As such, I ended up flattening the front of the pusher; I’ll test a few different designs later. If they result in making drums usable, I can release them in a future version.

How to Make One

I have the modified files uploaded to Thingiverse, with credit going to FDL and snakerbot, respectively. If you aren’t using the FDL3 Hardware kit, there are other options for making the blaster. In particular, some variation of Arduino (or the Narfduino variant) for controlling it. I plan on combining the Narfduino semiauto brushless board with the motor and ESC I desoldered for a semiauto version.