Sunday, July 26, 2015

[MOD GUIDE v1.1] Nerf Zombiestrike Doominator - Why it sucks and how to fix it! :D

"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!"
- Obi Wan Kenobi

[Alex] I've been waiting for the Doominator, we met today at last! Final assembly is now complete; when I read the reviews, I was disappointed. Now I am the modder!

When I first got this, single shots wouldn't even make it two meters away from me, if the darts even left the cylinder at all! Oddly, as Rob from SBNC reported, Slam-Fire fared a little better... but not much.

Couldn't find any other pics of internals or any mod guides, so I thought I'd do my own! Before I begin I will say the screw mounts' plastic feels a bit soft, and the screws themselves are prone to stripping, particularly on the priming handle cover... so go slow and steady!

This took me by surprise at first - a blaster that performed so badly, was THIS well caged?

The bottom left grey section houses the cylinder rotation mechanism, as well as the lever action mech. A small cover held down by three screws sits over these parts. *YOU DO NOT NEED TO UN-DO THIS TO ACCESS THE PLUNGER ASSEMBLY* - unless you've got a problem with the rotation system, don't undo it... it's fiddly to put back together with only one set of hands... I need to grow more hands >_>

The top right grey section has a cover with about 4 screws in it that houses the plunger draw area, catch and two locks (a trigger lock for when the lever-action cylinder rotation is occuring, and a lock for priming).

Just in case it helps, the whole internals assembly is removable from the shell - great news for doing paint jobs!

The front of the barrel area. The black piece is what attaches to the priming slide / handle. On the opposite side of this is a lock that prevents you from re-priming it. I removed this lock so I can cycle the darts in the top cylinder (unlike other cylinder loading blasters, you cannot easily rotate the cylinder in the firing position unless you want to break the lever system that rotates it...)

All you do is remove the two screws, split the black piece in half, take out the two black plastic lock pieces and their springs, re-assemble with the metal rod inserted, and done!

Just a quick shot of where the frame that holds the four cylinders mounts into the front - the orange piece goes *this* way in... not any other way, or the shell won't fit properly again...

This is the catch, (EDIT) at first I was worried that this wouldn't handle a stronger spring, but it does quite well (OMW 7kg Strongarm spring with a 1cm spacer to compress the spring a little). It has a torsion spring that makes it act like a see-saw. When the priming rod comes back it rests on it by a little ridge. When you pull the trigger, the see-saw moves out of the plunger rods' way.

The Slam-Fire mechanism *slightly* aids in supporting the priming operation with stronger springs - you'll see this better when I get more photos or do a video guide.

I forgot to mark it, but the top right orange piece is another lock - again preventing re-priming. This has a weird torsion spring on it. I chose to remove this lock to be able to pull the priming handle back again after it's properly primed to rotate the top cylinder.

The back of the plunger rod has a cap which acts as the part that locks into the catch. Interestingly it has a black rubber pad behind it to help soften the blow when returning back towards the plunger tube/spring cap (the orange piece behind it). It has a screw holding it in place, so by removing the screw you can take everything on the priming rod off - including the spring :D hooray for easy spring replacement!

The piece directly touching the spring does two things; first it holds the spring in place when primed. Secondly the little arm thing on top is the Slam-Fire mechanism that keeps the priming rod primed when the trigger is held. Remember that see-saw catch? Without this arm piece, you wouldn't be able to prime the blaster while holding down the trigger for Slam-Firing... Ironically without this arm, you could de-prime it but no Slam-Fire =_=

I didn't take a pic, but along the centre of the priming rod shaft is little angled notches that the arm clicks into as the blaster is primed - kiiiiinda like a Sledgefire's guts. Make sure the priming rod is facing the correct way up as well (since the under-side of the rod has the ridges facing the wrong way and Slam-Fire won't work on that side!).

I'll show it in a video tutorial, but suffice to say that the top priming rod, plunger rod and all the parts attached to it are easy to remove by lifting them *away* from the internals cage on an angle.

Once you remove the plunger tube, the mystery to the poor ranges will stare you in the face (as indicated by this convenient Cyan arrow and exclamation mark below):

***THIS*** tiny little hole is the bane of the Doominator's existence!!! This is why you get garbage ranges!!

Before I go on a weird tangent, think back to the Strongarm plunger tube; similar design and Air Restrictor, which had a hole underneath it. This kind of AR is designed to prevent air from escaping until the plunger head has created a good seal (since these plunger tubes are tapered a little bit; wider at the back, narrower towards the front where the firepower is at).

The little hole is "supposed" to be a safety air release in case of firing problems. In the Strongarm's case, when the AR is open (a dart is loaded) the air will come out of the main exit hole to fire the dart just fine. When no dart is loaded *or* if the AR is partially open and no dart is loaded, the air leaks out of the safety exit, namely to reduce the impact dry firing.

But in the Doominator...

This little hole seems to let more air out than the front of the plunger tube *even if the AR is pushed open or is closed*... thus causing a huge loss of air for no reason. Even if you remove the AR, this little hole is going to be a problem. Short story; put some (EDIT) 5 minute epoxy or other gap filling substance over it, (but don't use hot glue since it can pop out when upgrading the spring), end of story.

*SECOND EDIT* I would normally choose to leave the AR in - which might sound like blasphemy, but I find some blasters perform better with the AR left in or its safer in case of accidental dry firing (Slam-fire or lending to someone else).

However, the little dart sensor tooth on my AR broke off somehow, probably when rotating the cylinders and it got stuck. Regardless, I had to take it out since the AR would not longer open. My advice is to leave the AR in if you can, take it out if you must.

[Edit v1.2] This is an optional mod -  ONLY DO THIS IF YOU HAVE TAKEN OUT THE AIR RESTRICTOR --- otherwise this will break through the AR holding pegs for you. I filled the empty space at the head of the plunger face with Hot Glue - just to kill a bit of dead space. I also added a single layer of Teflon Tape underneath the O-Ring just to improve the seal a bit. Your Doominator might not need it, but if you find the seal is rubbish then give it a try :D

(EDIT) I also added some epoxy putty to the underside of the plunger rod to help give it a bit more strength and rigidity (giggity) with stronger springs to reduce the chance of it bending.

The spring on the left is the ZS Doominator spring, on the right is an grey-trigger Strongarm spring. Notice the length; this is important for adding / changing springs! It needs to be *almost* the same length otherwise the following happens:

1. If the spring is too short, you won't get enough compression, thus a loss in fire power (and a horrid rattling sound).
2. If the spring is too long, the plunger face will push forwards too far, thus not being able to lever-action rotate the cylinders, or even prime to rotate to the next dart.

At first I added a Longshot Front gun spring which aided by making sure the plunger face was a little closer to the cylinders to fire darts, but not too close. But after upgrading to an OMW 7kg Strongarm spring, with a 1cm plastic spacer to help compress the spring (without pushing the plunger face too far forward) this gives ample fire power.

So, after this massive wall of text and pictures, does this all actually help improve the Doominator's lack-luster performance to something of worth...?

*EDIT* Yes, it does. Before the best I could get was 2 meters, but now is acceptable out-of-the-box grey trigger ranges. Considering I got a dud, this has saved an otherwise useless blaster.

I did a rudimentary range test this morning, and while adding the Longshot Front gun spring helped make sure the plunger face got a good seal, it didn't add any extra range compared to stock spring. Adding an 7kg spring definitely boosted the range and power, but interestingly wasn't *quite* the range of an OMW Solid Kit Strongarm (but pretty close though).

The only problem with adding the stronger spring is when priming, the rail that connects the handle to the plunger assembly tends to flex a bit due to nature of the metal primng rod being located *above and away* from where your holding the priming slide / handle. It makes it harder to prime, but it is bearable, particularly if you have the priming handle mounted sideways rather than vertically.

Obviously taking my word for it might not be enough for you, but when I do a video review and mod guide of it from start to finish when I do up Tom's Doominator, I'm sure that'll clear up any doubts!

So before you go slamming the Doominator as a waste of money and throwing it into the bin... give it a crack open and give this mod a try; it might make you feel like it's money well spent, maybe you will even crack a smile :)

The Doominator is such a fun blaster to mess around with! Outdoor Nerf War practicality is questionable (since I'm not sure how strong of a spring it will be able to manage), but for indoors or stock powered Nerf Battles, this thing will be a beast! :D

~ Alex.