Sunday, December 25, 2016

Can Augmented Reality Improve Your Airsoft Gaming Experience?



Given the recent success of Pokémon GO, can augmented reality improve or at least make a more interesting airsoft gaming experience? 

By: Ringo Bones  

With the recent success of Pokémon GO, augmented reality gaming seems to be the in thing at the moment if you own an advanced enough smart-phone. And given the relative ubiquity of advanced smart-phones, can augmented reality elements be introduced to airsoft gaming to make it more interesting? But first, an introduction to what is this augmented reality business….

Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than being augmented), by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and can be digitally manipulated. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.  

With the proper creative application of augmented reality, airsoft gamers would soon be closer to playing in a gaming environment closely resembling to that of James Cameron’s Avatar or those exotic extraterrestrial locales of the Halo computer gaming series and even a passable World War II, Vietnam War, and the recent Gulf conflict of the Call of Duty gaming series. It seems that augmented reality applications for airsoft will only be limited by the gamers’ imagination.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery: The Future of Airsoft Rechargeable Batteries?

With several competing “futuristic” ultrafast-charging rechargeable batteries, is Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery poised to be the future of rechargeable batteries?

By: Ringo Bones

Technology experts recently quipped that if the advances made in rechargeable battery technology during the past 60 years mirrored that of semiconductors, we would have today rechargeable batteries that could power a mobile phone for a million years on a single charge. Sadly, such technology is still beyond the reach of the current major consumer electronic manufacturers, but recently, prototypes of ultrafast-charging rechargeable batteries that with a minutes worth of charging could either power a mobile phone for a day or drive an electric car for 300 miles are now a prototypical reality.

Lithium ion batteries have been a boon for the modern world in that they’ve replaced the heavier single-use alkaline type batteries in everything from wristwatches to the power supplies of flight control systems in late-model jumbo jets. Unfortunately, these rechargeable cells are already struggling to keep up with our ever increasing energy needs. But a new type of aluminum-ion battery recently developed by graduate students and their professor at Stanford University is not only less prone to bursting into flames than current lithium-ion types - something often demonstrated via You Tube videos posted in online Airsoft gaming sites and forums - but can also be built at a fraction of the price and recharges completely in just over a minute. Best of all, “our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it” says Stanford University chemistry professor Hongjie Dai.

According to its developers, the Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery uses a graphite cathode, an aluminum anode and an ionic liquid electrolyte inside a polymer-coated pouch. “The electrolyte is basically a salt that is liquid at room temperature, so it’s very safe” said Stanford University graduate student Ming Gong, co-author of the study recently published in the science journal Nature.

Unlike earlier rechargeable aluminum-ion battery prototypes which generally fails after only about 100 recharge cycles, Stanford’s prototype Advanced Aluminum Battery are composed of aluminum-ion cells that can cycle more than 7,500 times without any capacity loss – that’s 7.5 times longer than your average lithium-ion rechargeable battery in current production. Sadly, Stanford University’s aluminum-ion cell isn’t perfect, yet, as it can produce only about 2 volts per cell – far less than the 3.6 volts per cell that current lithium-ion cells can muster. Plus aluminum-ion cells, at the moment, can only carry 40-watts of electricity per kilogram compared to lithium-ion’s 100 to 206 watts per kilogram power density.

“Improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage output and energy density” says Dai. “Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days, It’s quite interesting.”

Unlike other competing prototypes, Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery that has the ability to be charged for 1 minute and yet could store enough charge to power a mobile phone for 24 hours was entirely made possible by a group of graduate students and their professor without a single cent of corporate backing whatsoever. Despite of this feat, Tesla electric car company founder Elon Musk is currently skeptical of the Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery on whether it will ever be as good – or become even better than – as those ultrafast-charging lithium ion types in current development. Hmm, if only Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk would put his money where his mouth is…Or maybe Airsoft electric gun manufacturers should check out Stanford University’s Advanced Aluminum Battery for potential Airsoft gaming applications.    

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

StoreDot’s Fast Charging FlashBatteries: The Future Of Rechargeable Airsoft Batteries?

With the ability to recharge in 60 seconds to power a mobile phone or allow an electric vehicle to travel 300 miles with a 5 minute charge is StorDot’s FlashBattery represent the future of rechargeable battery technology?

By: Ringo Bones


During the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show – CES – in Las Vegas, Nevada, an Israeli firm called StoreDot demonstrated a newfangled battery technology that can power a mobile phone with just a 60-second charge and a bigger version that could drive an electric vehicle for 300 miles (480 kilometers) on a 5 minute charge. With such capability, StoreDot’s FlashBattery technology could represent the future of rechargeable battery technology where battery recharging of electric cars and other electric vehicles could be as fast as the time it takes to fill up with gasoline in your local gasoline filling station. Just imagine what it could do to the weekend Airsoft gamer who forgot during the whole working week to recharge his or her own batteries for AEG Airsoft gun use. 

According to StoreDot, their newfangled FlashBattery represents an evolutionary step forward of the current ubiquitous lithium ion batteries. Lithium ion batteries have been traditionally used for powering most portable devices and electric vehicles. While exhibiting relatively slow charging and discharging capabilities, over time, these chemical processes reduce the lithium battery’s ability to retain energy. Yet StoreDot has succeeded in isolating and maximizing the charge transfer rate and has enhanced it to heighten the superior characteristics of the FlashBattery.  

Lithium ion batteries contain inorganic compounds in the battery’s cathode, typically comprising metal oxides or polyanions which are continuously recharged by the insertion of lithium ions. This process limits ionic conductivity, thereby reducing the power density and shortening the battery’s life expectancy. Moreover, the electrolyte used in lithium ion batteries is highly volatile and flammable, posing a severe risk to consumers, critical especially in electric cars. 

StoreDot’s groundbreaking solution for their FlashBattery design is a hybrid architecture using a unique hybrid multifunction electrode (MFE), StoreDot’s FlashBattery combine two types of energy storage solutions, incorporating the high-power rapid-charging capability of current super capacitor technology with the high energy storage ability and low self-discharge rate of current lithium ion batteries.

This optimized charging ability is achieved through an innovative electrode structure containing proprietary organic polymers with legacy lithium metal oxide components on the cathode end that trigger reduction-oxidation chemical reactions. This solution causes ions to flow from a modified anode to a modified cathode at a speed that could not be attained through existing lithium ion battery technologies. Together with a proprietary separator and electrolyte, this new architecture delivers a high current and low internal resistance with enhanced energy density and a prolonged battery life. 

While some battery manufacturers were able to improve only one of the following properties – either an increase in capacity, fast charging or extended battery life – StoreDot’s novel technology has optimized all three simultaneously, in addition to enhancing its safety. StoreDot’s organic compounds and newfangled proprietary battery architecture provide 4 times more charge / discharge cycles compared to any existing rechargeable battery, increasing the number of cycles from 500 to 2,000. Using compounds that are less likely to metalize during these cycles, StoreDot’s FlashBattery eliminates the risk of an internal electrical short almost entirely, which significantly prolongs battery life expectancy.

Specially designed for high current charging, StoreDot’s FlashBattery contains, in addition to lithium, non-flammable organic compounds encased in multi-layer safety-protection structure that prevents over voltage and heating and is therefore considerably safer than traditional lithium ion batteries. Containing their proprietary electrolyte which is an ecologically-friendly material, the FlashBattery meshes polymers and metal oxide together, resulting in an increased electrode stability and SEI performance at high temperatures.

Comprising carefully engineered organic molecules with high chemical stability, FlashBattery compounds can be tuned to match a variety of applications. The FlashBattery demonstrates rapid reduction-oxidation activity optimized compounds that increase the absorption of lithium ions and their counter-ions. In contrast to other batteries that contain toxic polluting heavy metals like cadmium, lead or mercury, StoreDot’s materials leave a minimal environmental footprint. And from a manufacturing engineer’s standpoint, StoreDot’s organic and polymer electrode’s raw materials are readily available thus reducing the overall cost of the battery.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Anode-Less Rechargeable Batteries: The Future of Airsoft Batteries?


Even though it is an integral part of a rechargeable batteries construction for proper operation, could eliminating the anode improve current rechargeable batteries performance for Airsoft use by leaps and bounds? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Though not quite anode-less yet but a rechargeable battery manufacturing company called Solid Energy Systems is currently developing a nearly anode-less lithium ion rechargeable battery and has recently exhibited a working prototype during the 2015 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Given the already widespread acceptance of the lithium ion rechargeable battery in mobile phone and hybrid / electric vehicle applications, Solid Energy System’s concept takes the strengths of the current technology much further by reducing the space taken up by the anode since it takes up most of the space in current lithium ion rechargeable battery configuration. This means more compact - as in smaller - Airsoft batteries with similar or more powerful than - the ones currently available.

Solid Energy System’s nearly anode-less rechargeable battery concept could last twice as long as current lithium ion rechargeable batteries, while offering a 1,200 watt-hour per liter energy density. Designed with an ultra-thin metal anode, this configuration improves the cell-level energy density by 50-percent over current designs using graphite anodes and 30-percent improvement over silicon-composite anodes. Once marketed and used on current mobile devices, it could make them operate twice as long between recharging times. 

According to Solid Energy Systems, the “secret” in boosting energy storage lies in swapping the conventional electrode material – graphite – for a thin sheet of lithium metal foil, which can store more lithium ions. Other battery manufacturers have been trying to use lithium-metal electrodes in rechargeable lithium ion batteries for decades with only a limited success. Solid Energy seems to have solved a couple of key problems which have caused such batteries to either stop working after a few charges or burst into flames. Current carbon anode cell energy density is at 600 watt-hour per liter while silicon anode cells offer energy densities of around 800 watt-hour per liter, while Solid Energy Systems’ near anode-less cell offer energy densities of around 1,200 watt-hour per liter. 

Solid Energy Systems’ solution to make nearly anode-less rechargeable batteries to be as reliable as current lithium ion rechargeable cells without dying only a few recharge cycles or suddenly bursting to flames is via the use of both solid electrolyte and a liquid one. The solid electrolyte is applied to the lithium-metal foil, the ions don’t have to travel through this thin material, so it doesn’t matter that they are moving relatively slowly. 

Solid Energy Systems’ prototype nearly anode-less battery can be recharged 300 times while retaining 80 percent of its original storage capacity – closer to what you would need in portable electronics. It also works at room temperatures whereas competing lithium-metal battery prototypes operate at temperatures too hot to be practical. As of late, most other companies investing in Solid Energy Systems’ newfangled batteries to become an economically viable commercial product are electric car / hybrid car companies with plans to use the newfangled rechargeable battery design in their electric cars.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Tamir Rice Airsoft Gun Case: A Blow To Airsoft Gaming?


Will the apparent accidental shooting death of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police place stricter laws against Airsoft replica gun ownership? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The shooting of Tamir Rice, a 12 year old African American boy occurred on November 22, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. Two police officers, 26 year old Timothy Loehmann and 46 year old Frank Garmback responded after receiving a police dispatch call “of a male sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people” in a city park. A caller reported that a male was pointing “a pistol” at random people in Cudell Recreational Center. The caller stated twice that the gun was: “probably fake.” Toward the end of the 2 minute 17 second 911 call, the caller stated “he is probably juvenile.” The officers reported that upon arrival, Rice reached towards a gun in his waistband. Loehmann fired two shots within two seconds on arriving in the scene, hitting Rice once on the torso. 

Rice’s gun was later found to be an Airsoft replica, though lacking the orange safety feature signifying that the gun is not real. Rice died on the day after the shooting. His death has been ruled a homicide by the Cuyahoga County medical examiner. The tragic incident has yet to raise the question of the safety of Airsoft gun ownership in the United States.    

In the United States under federal law, Airsoft guns are not classified as firearms and are legal for all ages. Although persons under 18 years of age are not permitted to purchase Airsoft guns over the counter in stores, however a person of any age may use one. But there are selected local requirements. Some cities in the state of Illinois consider shipping or distributing Airsoft guns illegal. Enforcement of local laws with regards to Airsoft replica gun bans is often intermittent. There are many fields and stores in operation and sporting goods stores regularly carry Airsoft replica guns. However a man was arrested back in 2013 for firing a replica gun / Airsoft gun in his own backyard. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Does the M1915 Villar-Perosa Submachine Gun Make A Good Airsoft Gun?


Given that the “vintage Airsoft model / replica guns” has its own sizable cult following, would an Airsoft version of the M1915 Villar-Perosa submachine gun make a good Airsoft gun? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Photos of this seminal submachine gun may give the impression that it may be too awkward and too unwieldy to use one in battlefield conditions, but a recent documentary about old guns has shown that a gun enthusiast was quite delighted after firing a still working 1915 Villar-Perosa submachine gun – like the one displayed in the Austrian Army Museum in Vienna and the Russian Museum of Artillery in St. Petersburg – even assessing that the gun will be manageable in battlefield use despite being slightly heavier in comparison of contemporary 9-mm submachine guns. Does this make the 1915 Villar-Perosa a good Airsoft gun for the “vintage gun” enthusiast? 

Even though I have yet to see one displayed in our local Airsoft shop, the Villar-Perosa submachine gun originally has two variants that was more-or-less fielded near the end of World War I. The twin-barreled M1915 model (actually two submachine guns in a “Siamese-Twin” configuration) was originally designed in 1914 and was originally intended by the famous Italian small arms designer Bethel Abiel Revelli for use in World War I era biplanes. Though it’s 3,000 rounds per minute rate of fire can make a short shrift of any biplane that comes in front of it, the 9-mm Glisenti ammunition – similar in size to the modern 9-mm X 19-mm Parabellum cartridge – proved to be low powered and too limited in range for practical use as an aircraft machine gun. The 9-mm Glisenti ammunition is even “weaker” than its contemporary – the 9mm X 19-mm Luger pistol round. 

The manufacturing company Officine Villar Perosa (OVP for short) eventually made a “stripped-down variant of the M1915 Villar-Perosa submachine gun, the OVP M1918 “automatic carbine” with half the rate of fire of its predecessor. Its rather rapid rate of fire was primarily caused by lightweight bolt being paired with a powerful spring. Both guns operate in the open-bolt configuration with a delayed blowback action. Fed from a 25-round box magazine, the submachine guns very high rate of fire and rather short range only makes it suitable for close quarter battle / CQB situations. Though it could look very kick ass to the unfamiliar, even in its Airsoft version firing 6-mm plastic 0.2-gram mineral-filled polypropylene pellets travelling at 400 feet per second. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Can Airsoft Improve The General Public’s Gun Safety Consciousness?


With the tragic shooting accident that resulted in a shooting instructor being shot in the head by a 9-year-old girl, could Airsoft guns serve as a “much safer” way to promote gun safety consciousness to the general public? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The accidental shooting death of gun instructor Charles Vacca involving a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi back in August 27, 2014 raised yet again the subject of gun safety concerns in America. Gun instructor Vacca got accidentally shot in the head in a routine instructional demo at a gun range in Arizona that caters to Las Vegas tourists. The 9-year-old girl who was allowed to shoot with an Uzi lost control of the gun when it was set to fire in full-auto mode in an uncontrolled muzzle rise that resulted in gun instructor Vacca getting shot at least once in the head. Even though the “gun experts” from the NRA says the 9-year-old girl should have been started on a single-shot .22 caliber weapons system, will it be much safer if younger shooters should have been introduced to an Airsoft replica gun first for basic gun safety instruction? 

Even though gun instructor Charles Vacca had his right hand on the 9-yer-old girl’s back and his left hand under her right arm when he was shot, it proves to be still quite an “awkward” position to control the Uzi’s muzzle climb of an inexperienced first time shooter due to the fact that the Uzi’s telescoping bolt design and an “awkward” center-of-gravity proved it to be an unwieldy weapon to handle and relegates it only to close-quarters combat or CQB engagement. Given the “unwieldy nature” of the Uzi, I sometimes wonder how much training time the Israel Defense Force devotes to their conscripts before being allowed to handle the Uzi submachine gun in either of its 9-mm and .45 caliber variants.

Even though quite a number of “gun accidents” that result to a shooting death incident have happened before the recent 9-year-old girl Uzi shooting tragedy on U.S. soil, a number of gross gun safety violations have been “caught on video” around the world for a number of years now. Back in 2011, a young Syrian “conscript” fighting for the free Syria Army who looks like he’s still a college freshman had been caught on tape inserting a fully loaded magazine on his Kalashnikov / AK-47 with the assault rifle set in full auto mode while  he muzzle rested on his chin. Thankfully, an older fellow comrade caught him just in time before the incident resulted in a tragic accident. If the young recruit had previous familiarity with an Airsoft replica of the Kalashnikov given that both almost works about the same while only the real steel gun is potentially lethal, would such gun handling snafu be avoided?