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NYC-based MAKE community member Genji Siraisi and his son Desmond had a lot of fun building and modifying the Raygun Vector Weapon project from MAKE Volume 35. He writes:

I bought the Vector Weapon Kit from the Maker Shed for my 6-year-old son Desmond as a Christmas present. We’ve worked on small projects before, but this was the first real electronics build we’ve done together. I’ve been teaching Desmond some basic electronics, but he’s still a bit young to handle a soldering iron so I did that part. It was a good opportunity to show him a little bit about soldering and how some of the elements in the circuit work.
We spent the morning picking through our collection of bits and parts for stuff that could make a good housing for our project and discussed what was needed and how it would all fit together.

The hardest part was figuring out how to make a handle stable enough to withstand playful use. We decided on using a Vitamin Water bottle because it looked kind of raygun-shaped, and being clear allowed the circuit and wires to be on display. I cut a panel to create a little door to get things in, and we found a plastic tube that fit on the end of the bottle to create the barrel of the gun.

My favorite part was how we mounted the extra LED. I tested using an additional LED in parallel to the LED in the vactrol. This allows you see how the light in the vactrol part of the circuit controls the sound. So when you hear the gun go ‘pew-pew-pew’ the light at the tip of the barrel also goes ‘light-light-light’ — very cool. We found a plastic test tube and fit an old felt tip marker in it. We put the LED where the felt once was, pushed it up into the end of the test tube, and fit the whole thing into the barrel.

The speaker was almost a perfect fit just behind the barrel, and after attaching it to a ring of plastic from a water jug, it was snug. The solution for the handle was two thin slats of wood in parallel, slotted through the bottle. An Altoids gum tin held the 9V battery and the trigger switch, which all fit in between the slats of wood in the handle, held in place by some large rubber bands. We both agreed the handle needs some further decoration or painting, which we’ll have to get to sometime.

It’s really rewarding to do this kind of project with Desmond as it gives us a fun way to spend time together, a creative way for me to teach him things, and of course results in a unique toy that will hold memories we will both have for a lifetime.

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Genji and Desmond then got creative making little accompanying scenario videos!

The Custom Build:

Vector Weapon Disintegration Ray:

The Freeze Ray (for when there’s only one cookie left!):

Goli Mohammadi

I’m a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

I was an editor for the first 40 volumes of MAKE. The maker movement provides me with endless inspiration, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. Covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made.

Contact me at snowgoli (at) gmail (dot) com.


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