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My Thoughts on Spud Guns

A place to ask general spud cannon related questions.
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My Thoughts on Spud Guns

Unread postAuthor: BC Pneumatics » Thu May 29, 2008 12:56 am

I am not sure what possessed me to do it, but I decided to write down the way I feel about this hobby, and voice some of my opinions on certain areas of it. It is far from a complete record of what I think about the hobby, (Jesus, that would fill a decent sized book.) but it is also more than just some random brain droppings.
I will warn you, it is close to 3 pages, and I do not expect that many people to read it, but anyone that wants to can. Hopefully it will give people a better idea of where I am coming from, and help them to understand me in future posts.
There is also a good bit in there about how I think we can all improve this hobby in general. Of course that is not to say we are all failures as of now. Nothing is ever prefect, which means there is always something that can be done to make it better. Included in the document are just some thoughts on what we can do to make things better.
I tried to keep things a bit general, and a bit vague, because I wanted this to be about ideas, and not become a regiment for everybody to implement. Besides, I feel that if we can teach people ideas, and show them goals, they will be able to make things better in whatever way they can best do it. If we tell them what to do down to the T, they will be stuck using a system designed by and for someone else, not one that fits their tendencies and style.
Well, as I said, the file is about 3 pages, so I should probably stop blabbing here for risk of writing so much that nobody will read it. I put it in a PDF, since I know some people prefer to print longer documents, so starring at the computer screen doesn't make their eyeballs feel as if they are about to fall out.
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Unread postAuthor: Carlman » Thu May 29, 2008 1:00 am

and where is it?...

Sounds like a good read to me. :D
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Unread postAuthor: BC Pneumatics » Thu May 29, 2008 1:03 am

It is attached now. Sorry about that, I was having some trouble, since we cannot attach PDF's. (So it's in a ZIP)
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Unread postAuthor: kablooie » Thu May 29, 2008 1:13 am

Wow, it looks like you put a lot of thought into that. It's good stuff, I agree with the part about non-mods jumping on mistakes and being harsh, there are a ridiculous amount of insults throw around when someone kicks up an old thread. I am a student, and I know I would have been much more interested in physics class if a spud gun was used (I considered offering to make one, but then I thought I would get a lot of awkward questions). Anyway, it's good stuff, I agree with pretty much everything.
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Unread postAuthor: Hydra » Thu May 29, 2008 2:10 am

Nice work with the first bit, about not being mean to noobs and all.
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Unread postAuthor: Rob Thornton » Thu May 29, 2008 2:21 am

Hey BC

You're right about it being a long reading exercise, but it was well worth it!

I think you raised important issues, particularly safety - and abuse in posts.. and your writing style is particularly eloquent. (you involved in politics by any chance?) Your passion for the sport is inspiring, and you hit the nail on the head regarding spudding meaning different things to different people...
For me it's about workmanship. (Although new to spud files I'm definitely not new to the sport.) I could care less about how far a cannon launches, or how big/small it is.. If it is made well, with the highest level of workmanship that one possesses, with attention to detail and precision in both design and construction - then that for me is the world's perfect cannon.

This is what I strive towards.

Thanks
Rob
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Unread postAuthor: MrCrowley » Thu May 29, 2008 2:27 am

Hey that was a good read. :)

I see where you are coming from completely, but we can't just be bias to the new members. There have been a few 'professional' members turned away by what they think is an immature forum.

That's why I think we need a forum section dedicated to getting these new members integrated into our society. Kind of like a boot camp. After a certain time, whether decided by the member themselves or a Rep. system, the member would be integrated into the rest of the forum.

I don't literally mean integrated, more or less just accepted as a member who can contribute to the forum no matter how new they are as long as they have the basic principles down.

In this 'boot camp' section, any member can ask any Spud Gun related question they want without the fear of being flamed or posting a stupid topic. It would be up to Spudfiles members to help these people, or for these people to also help themselves.

This would also filter out anybody who doesn't think the hobby is right for them, but it wouldn't be intimidating enough to turn any curious member away. They would be able to look and post in any other forum section, but it is up to them to decide if they are ready to move a notch up.

This wont solve all the problems, you'll still have members kicking up showcase topics and what not. This could either be solved by not allowing new members to post in the main sections until members or a Rep. system have allowed them too, or limit them to the training section and the showcase sections.

This way they can still ask genuine questions about cannons, but kicking up a topic to say 'how'd you build this?' or 'how much did this cost?' or 'awesum canon dude!' will be deleted.

I think it's better if you look at the 'boot camp' section as more of a training section, help get new members to understand the principles, so they can contribute with any ideas they may have. It's pretty hard to contribute when you don't know very basic physics or principles limited to Spudguns.
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Unread postAuthor: BC Pneumatics » Thu May 29, 2008 3:07 am

MrCrowley- You raise an excellent point, and what's more, provide a damn good solution. I have to say I particularly like the idea of letting people decide when to take the step up. It doesn't force people (like Rob Thornton above) who are new to the forums but not to the hobby to hang around and post in a more basic and limited section, but it still makes one available to those who need it.

If people start posting around when they are not necessarily ready, moving the topic to this sandbox section and sending a friendly PM will undoubtedly take care of the situation a majority of times.

I have also found the following method of handling the "Use the search" situation a particularly good one. Remembering that tone and emotion do not come across particularly clearly over the internet, "Use the search, that's what it's there for." could go over in an undesirable way, even if you meant it in a friendly helpful manor. Let's say the user asked something along the lines of "How do I make a combustion cannon??" My suggestion is to give them some information, albeit general and vague. Perhaps something along the lines of, "A combustion will have a chamber and a barrel, as well as some method of fueling and ignition. Since you are starting out, a basic combustion that uses an aerosol fuel (that is, in a spray can) and a cheap igniter such as a lantern flint or BBQ igniter would probably be a good way to get familiar with things. You will have to solvent weld (the pipe word for 'gluing') everything together, and install some screws through the chamber to connect the igniter to. (Think of this as the spark plugs in a car engine.)" Then add the part about using the search. Since you have already given them a bit of information, they know you are trying to help them, and will likely take the following as more good information and advice. Close the post with something similar to, "There is a lot of information on the forums, and in the SpudWiki that will fill in the rest of the details you need to get started on building one. Take a little time to look around, and use the forum's search when you do not see what you need to know. Of course if you can't find the information in the Wiki or with a search, you can make a post, and we will all help you out."
If you do not feel like posting something that long, and would much prefer something short and simple like "Use the search, this has been answered before." (Again, this could be said with the best intentions, but come across as harsh and short tempered.), just do not post. Another member will come along that isn't about to head out the door, or worried about getting caught using the school computers for browsing forums, or just plain likes to type longer posts. This member can then provide our hypothetical new member with an encouraging and informative welcome.
Sometimes people get so caught up in getting a quick word in that they forget saying too little, or not saying the right thing, can be worse than saying nothing at all.

And for the record, I am not involved in politics in any way, but people often tell me I should be a politician or a lawyer. Though I am not always sure if it is a compliment or not...
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Unread postAuthor: CS » Thu May 29, 2008 3:14 am

Awesome. We are more the same then I thought. (Sorry for taking so long I got side-tracked somewhere between downloading and unzipping the PDF)

I think the people frequenting SF are interested in the technical end of potato guns, rather then exclusively shooting them. Usually they are people that love potato guns, and want to build a better one - and that is why I love spudding and the community on SF. It's a productive environment for something you enjoy.

But I'll tell you what bugs me the most about SF - the people that become so fantasied by potato cannons that they "what if?" the hell out of it all. Like that dumbass that asked if he could use the static electricity off his TV to spark his mini cannon. I come to SF to be productive, not exploit it as a social network for nerds.

However crazy it may sound I also hate people that bash newbs. I bash people that post a thread asking if they can buy something from Wal-Mart, but don't first go to Wal-Mart's website and strike up a quick search themselves. And people that don't understand that this is a topic specific forum, and that some of us don't have time for other general BS.

I have learned a ton from spudding. As it is now I can get a job welding for $18/hr. The crazy thing about it is that I first learned how welders worked from a fantasy for making a metal hybrid. From there I took a high school course which exploited one of my few talents - welding. So that alone was a great return.

Again great job, and thank your for posting it.
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Unread postAuthor: Rob Thornton » Thu May 29, 2008 3:35 am

BC Pneumatics wrote:
And for the record, I am not involved in politics in any way, but people often tell me I should be a politician or a lawyer. Though I am not always sure if it is a compliment or not...


Hey BC

Eloquent writing and intelligent thought processes speak for themselves.
If you were a politician or lawyer you probably would have better things to do than building cannons and posting on Spud Forums.

So it definitely is a compliment...

Rob
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Unread postAuthor: psycix » Thu May 29, 2008 6:02 am

Your a good writer BC, I rode it all :D

So the problem is you wish to stop the noob bashing, and yes, ofcourse its better in every possible way to be nice to newcomers instead of hammering the search. But do remind yourself, that answering the same set of questions every week is not what we are here for. If we were to answer each "noobquestion" with a bit of general information and then tell them to use the search, we would be better off to save all those pieces of general information in a database, and copy/paste it to each relevant noob-question.
But wait! That database already exists! And everyone can access it!
Indeed, the wiki. And instead of having to repeat all that information every day, clogging up the forum, people could also just spend some more time and effort in finding and reading it in the wiki themselves.

I am willing to help everyone with their cannons as much as I can, I spend more then a hour (usually hours) every day on spudfiles and I put alot of effort in helping people. If I am willing to spend so much time and effort to help them, then is it ridiculous for me to ask them if they could spend a little bit of time and effort to find and read it themselves?


Noob-bashing is not what we are here for, and it doesnt happen in the perfect community, but having to parrot the wiki every time, is even worse. The bashing is not the right reaction on the problem, and indeed it should stop, but for now, is is one of the most reasonable options.


If you are here to get spoonfed, then you are not innovative and intelligent enough for this hobby.
You might want to react: everyone should be able to join the community and share this great hobby, and yes, it should. But this hobby is directly related to science, chemistry and math. And without proper knowledge of that, you cannot advance in spudding without being spoonfed.

This is spudfiles, not spudfeeding.
Sorry to be this rude, but IMHO it is rude to ask things you can find in the wiki.
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Unread postAuthor: THUNDERLORD » Thu May 29, 2008 9:53 am

The suspense is killing me, I'm gonna run to the library to download the three pages. Tried to check it out last night and when I had spyware I must've deleted the program to go get adobe reader. :roll:

I'll go up there and read this in a few definately. 8)

BTW I got spyware 'cause I use a touch pad and the right click was stuck on so when I passed over a stupid e-mail to delete it it clicked open automatically!!! Hope they know what i'd do if I caught them:x :evil:
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Unread postAuthor: jimmy101 » Thu May 29, 2008 10:22 am

Nice write-up BC.

Perhaps what we need to do to help noobs (besides a noob forum) would be to create a decent set of beginner pages in the Wiki. If spudfiles really is the preeminent spuding forum then we should be able to get a noob started in spuding in a safe and efficient way.

There's a ton of info in the Wiki but for a noob is may not be clear on how to go about using it as a learning tool. If the noob knows what something is called (and that it exits) then it can be found in the Wiki. If they don't know what it is called, or that it exists, then there isn't a reasonable way to go about finding it.

So, perhaps something like a starter pages for a basic combustion and a basic pneumatic. Each would have plans for a starter gun. A brief description of how they work, and links to more info in the Wiki on the various details, rationals, mods, part substitutions and so forth. The plans would help with noobs asking for plans and hit the highlights (CB ratio, ammo, fuel, pressure, valve, barrel ...) so when they have read the starter page they have a good feel for where to go next.

I think I would skip a beginners page for hybrids since they are really not a good place for a beginner to start.

I know there are a ton of pages out there with plans but a well thought out beginners page would be very useful. The beginner's gun should use readily available parts, be of reasonable size, require minimal tools, give decent performance, be inexpensive to build, safe to fire, etc.

The beginners pages would be prominently linked from the top page of the Wiki.
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Unread postAuthor: JDP12 » Thu May 29, 2008 10:28 am

wow extremely good read, thanks for sharing your insight i feel the same way about many of those things
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Unread postAuthor: BC Pneumatics » Thu May 29, 2008 10:48 am

psycix, I believe you are a being a bit too general when you say "answering the same set of questions every week is not what we are here for." While it is undoubtedly not why you come here, it is very rapidly becoming the reason that I do.
The simple fact is, the SpudWiki is not there to do what the information given in my post is meant to do. While the Spudwiki is there to to provide good solid information, the little bit of information that I propose we give is there to entice people further into the hobby, by letting them know they are welcome on the forums. Though it teaches them a bit, (though too little to do anything with, and things that some will already know.) it is mostly there as a welcome mat. It certainly isn't unreasonable to ask people to do some research on their own, and we both agree that it's the ultimate goal, our method for getting people to do it is just different.

You mention spoon feeding, and it is actually a very good term to be used to describe my feelings on the situation. You see, you say we should not spoon feed these people information, but would you ever say a parent should not spoon feed a small child his baby food? We cannot forget that these people are just 'children' as far as the world of spudding is concerned. The approach I gave an example of above uses this mentality. They are just little children, who still cannot feed themselves. It's likely that if you left a baby who could not feed himself in a room with some food, he would figure it out before he starved. (Though, not always.) This doesn't mean it is the best (and certainly not the most humane) way of doing things. I say spoon feed the kids a little, because you are doing more than giving them 'an easy way out', you are teaching them how to feed themselves later on down the road, whether they realize it or not. Not to mention they then 'grow up' into the spudding equivalent of an adult, and are around to do the same thing for a new member that an old vet once did for them.

When you say "If you are here to get spoonfed, then you are not innovative and intelligent enough for this hobby. ", you are using the same exclusionary logic mentioned in my write up that I do not like to see. And while it is true, I think that statement when coupled with "this hobby is directly related to science, chemistry and math. And without proper knowledge of that, you cannot advance in spudding without being spoonfed.", one's mind would instantly jump to the point I made about using spud guns to teach people. In the case you describe, we have someone that has come to us showing an interest in spudding, but who lacks knowledge and possibly interest in certain academic areas. Why would we turn them away from spudding (and likely force them to go elsewhere and get inferior (IE, dangerous) information, that could lead to hobby jeopardizing incidents) instead of using the opportunity to teach them more about science, chemistry, and math in a way that they find interesting. You may be able to do something in a page long post that teachers have not been able to do in years of schooling, to get this person interested in learning about drag coefficients, stoichiometric mixes, and the like.

I also must point out that what I wrote in my example was far from parroting the Wiki. I gave a brief taste to get the user to actually go to the Wiki, and get the full story. Should we also remove the synopsis from the cover every book, since the same information is available in full inside that very cover? Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of what the paragraph of information I posted was intended to do in our hypothetical scenario.

Your post was not rude at all. As I said, these things are my opinions, and everybody will have a different set of their own. For every person that thinks what I wrote is absolutely true and I didn't miss a beat, there will be one that thinks not a single word I wrote was on the mark. I don't even care to sway these people if they do not wish to be swayed. I just wanted to share my way of looking at things, hoping it may help others see things in a new way.

Also, I did mention that going about the situation in the manor I showed as an example was not going to work for everybody. If you do not agree with the practice then you are certainly not expected to partake in it.

Rob, I know you were complimenting me, but there are some people that will tell me in one breath that all lawyers are dirty snakes that the world would be better off without, then in another tell me I would be damn good at the job position. That is when I start to question what they really mean. :roll: :lol:
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