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2024-05-04: My wife and I bought our children a Kiwi crate - specifically the Disk Launcher crate. Unfortunately after assembly was complete, both our children immediately became frustrated with it. It kept jamming up. At first, I assumed it was from carelessness, but then I quickly realized that if the launcher wasn't flat on a table and being held down it would jam quickly and often. My children were lucky to get off two shots in a row before it jammed...

Unfortunately for you, I did not take any images of the original launchers, so you're going to have to endure their stock image. Some simple measuring enlightened me on the first major problem. You see the exit slot on the front of the launcher? It measures 0.96" wide by 0.187" high. Keep those dimensions in mind. Do you also see the yellow foam bottom piece? Did I mention the fact that this foam is flexible and stretchable? (problem #2) The rest of the launcher seems to be made of more durable wood and plastic.

Now, lets measure the little pogs. 0.100" Thickness by 0.890" Diameter. hmm. Two stacked on top of each other measures 0.200" - that's 0.013" smaller than the launcher slot height. Guess what flexes and compresses when two disks get 'launched' at the same time? Yup, you understand perfectly - the flexible, stretchable (& compressible) yellow foam base. If this isn't supported firmly on a table it jams every time. If it is on a table, well you're success rate climbs a couple percentage points... For a box coming in at $28, this seems like a rather odd, poorly tested design. But enough ranting about wasted money and poor design - what am I going to do about it?

The exact same thing everyone else would do: Spend 10 minutes measuring the pieces in the crate, fire up solidworks, draw a prototype, generate some g-code and wait for a couple hours for it to print it on a 3d printer!

And here we go! Generation 1 made out of PLA. Of course, being a first generation prototype, it has a couple problems. For one, the rubber band that goes around the 't' launcher stick got chewed up really quickly - there should really be box cutout for clearance and for little fingers to get through the 't' hole to be able to pull the 't' back. (It is somewhat possible that original design may have already incorporated that design point and it was not noticed by myself.). And there is also the problem of my making it exactly a 1/2" too short by completely forgetting to add the back bumper dimension to the overall length of the part! And it is blocky and ugly. Let me go fix those in Generation 2... [play awesome presentation music here]

Ahh, much better. Length is now right. I've made it somewhat angled to reduce material usage, added a cutout for the 't' rubberband and made it look a little nicer! Here is a download link to the STL file (ZIP, 654KB) Surprisingly, it works quite well for a second generation. I've reduced the slot height by 0.05" to roughly 0.137" (the 't' thickness on our launchers comes in at 0.110"). Now there are other issues, such as a mis-fire launching a couple pogs out of the top of the tube, but that is a project for a different day (spring loaded tube?)... and the occasional jam caused by the pog tilting slightly upward and catching on the wood frame. Both of these would entail a complete redesign and kinda defeat the purpose of building the kit in the first place.

Btw, did you notice the age on the box? It says "Ages 5+"... I'm starting to realize that [maybe] by making it with a design flaw, they have actively engaged a parent with their children by having the parent troubleshoot and fix a project...while redesigning it & making the crate actually worthy of the '5+' [a couple years] rating... Maybe that was the goal? Nah... definitely couldn't be that!

Speaking of designing: We seem to have lost some most of the disks... Probably no connection to showing the children how to put additional rubber bands on the launcher... Good thing I have a 3d Printer...

Here are a couple different designs in STL format (ZIP, 895KB) Air Hockey style for shooting across smooth surfaces; Propeller style for lift (no spin available!); Wheel style for launching vertically and seeing which rolls the furthest; and just a plain old disk. [thinking to myself: Just a pity there is no spin imparted to the disks as they leave the launcher... seems like all it would take is a grippy surface on the right edge and a design that would push the disk against that edge as it is leaving the launcher... hmm...]

...and that is where we must leave this project... the next crate is coming soon. Who knows what design flaw will need fixing on that one? ;) Hope you have fun instilling creativity in your children... and if not, enjoy yourself as you launch a disk at them across the room when they aren't expecting it!

Psalm 69:14
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