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    Tokyo Marui Festival 2015

    It may have been a letdown for those who are keenly following developments at Tokyo Marui when at the 56th All Japan Model & Hobby Show, the company did not announce any new product that will excite airsoft players as tradition dictates. It is more of them showing products that have been previously announced during the Shizuoka Hobby Show that took place last May.

    But worry no more, we can be in for a big surprise in November or perhaps be excited about the products that they will release before the next Shizuoka Hobby Show.

    The 3rd Tokyo Marui Festival has been moved from Summer to the Autumn Season. This festival is a sole showcase show for the company where they put open displays of their products and invite the Japanese public try them, especially for those who have not yet tried their hands on airsoft. For this Festival it will be held at the same place, Belle Salle Akihabara, in the area that is considered to be the centre of the Otaku world. It is apt to hold it in the autumn season as Akihabara is a shortened version of the Japanese word “Akibagahara” which means “"autumn leaf field".

    We will be expecting that latest product release such as the KSG Gas Shotgun, the Glock 22, the Samurai Edge Variation Color Edition,  and the M4A1 CQB-R Block 1 MWS GBB will be on full display together with other products that will just be released before the end of the year: the M40A5 Bolt Action Rifle and HK45 Tactical Gas Blowback Pistol.

    One of the main reasons that the Tokyo Marui Festival was moved to the November was to make product announcements properly spaced. The interval between the Shizuoka Hobby Show and the All Japan Model & Hobby Show is just four months and with decision to make the second product announcements in November with the Tokyo Marui Festival, they now have an interval of 6 months.

    What will the company announce come November? We don’t know as the company has always been tight-lipped when it comes to revealing their plans. They do sometimes make some teasers, but it will just be a few days before the big reveal. But what thing for sure, they always surprise the airsoft community with their product announcements, especially in the recent years and actually made the shotgun segment of the airsoft market exciting.

    If you want to be at the 3rd Tokyo Marui Festival, it will be on the 26th to the 27th of November 2016 at on the 1st Floor Belle Salle Akihabara, just a few minutes’ walk from the Akihabara Station. We shall be reporting about the event a week after it has taken place.

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    Megabots "How to Destroy a Giant Robot"

    For those who have been waiting for a battle of mech warriors between Japan and the USA, you may have to wait more as the Megabots Team are scrapping the MK2 and will proceed to building a MK3 Obviously, the reason is that the pilot in the Megabots MK3 will suffer injuries (or may not survive) the beating that be taken by the iron giant such as projectiles or metal punches from the Japanese Kuratas robot (whose original design has it firing an airsoft mini-gun as a weapon).

    In a story in Digital Trends (there is a similar story on Engadget, but we’re getting an Error 404 accessing it), the tests conducted by the team on the MK2 the human pilot will suffer injuries that may just be life threatening. We do not know which tests were done, but I suspect the video in Megabots Season 1 video is the tests that the story is pertaining to:

    As shown in the video, the dummy pilot inside of the MK2 took punishment that a human body cannot.  The plan now is to build a better Megabots MK3 that will be able to handle the punishments of a robot hand-to-hand combat that is required by the Japanese makers of the Kuratas in order for them to accept the challenge that was issued out by the Americans last year.

    The MK3 will be designed to have a"safer cockpit, improved controls, and modular arms" (the last thing may mean easy to discard the arms for faster replacement when damaged or an arm attached weapon is needed).

    Too bad that the fight planned will be an old school hand-to-hand combat with perhaps some melee weapons allowed but not high-tech weaponry included (I still stand on using the Hellfire missiles). But then high-tech weaponry may not make this a spectator sport with fans on the stands watching these robots battle it out live or else there will be some carnage out there. So for now, just metal knuckles and metal clubs will be used in the battle.

    But as to when the fight will be, we do not know now. The Megabots team will need new funding to build the MK3 as it is going to be more expensive as pilot protection is not cheap. I would recommend such fighting done via remote control like those in Robot Wars, and if technology allows, like that in the movie “Real Steel”, that way, the pilots are not inside the robots and they can safely fight from a distance using perhaps FPV to issue commands and execute their tactics.

    For now, all those who are interested in the fight can follow the progress by watching Season 1 of Megabots, if they will be able to design and build a MK3.

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    Hobby Quadcopter

    With commercially available hobby drones having more capabilities in terms  of imaging, range, and controls, it is inevitable that they will be used by armed organizations that do not have access to military grade drones. Rebels and terrorists alike, have been resorting to using drones to do reconnaissance work for them, which can then give them valuable intelligence whilst operating these at a distance.

    But now, these hobby drones have taken a deadly form, as affordable smart bombs from the air.

    In a report in the New York Times, Kurdish guerillas were able to shoot down a small drone that was operated by the Islamic State in Northern Iraq. They brought it to their outpost for examination and when they taking it apart, it blew up, killing two of their comrades. This is probably the first recorded incident of a hobby drone that has successfully exploded and killed enemy troops.

    Furthermore into the New York Times report, the Islamic State has attempted in using such drones for attacks on Coalition forces, prompting U.S. Military commanders in Iraq to issue orders to treat small flying drones as potential bomb threats.

    The use of these drones by the Islamic State has made the war take another dimension. In what was an exclusive domain in militaries due to their resources is no more as terrorists have access to widely available drones and some are cheap enough to be bought in big quantities. All they have to do is reconfigure them to be able to carry enough explosives that can be used in taking out important targets rather than being used as indiscriminately as kamikaze drones. They just need to identify a crucial target and direct the bomb-laden drone there. With GPS and FPV, they can do precision bombing just like those missiles fired by military jets that have cameras.

    The U.S. Military has been slow in anticipating the use of drones by militants to delivery bombs and is now working on counters with Eric Fanning, Secretary of the Army, assigning a special office to study how to stop these. Stopping these drones may sound easy if they are in open spaces when shot down with small arms fire, but in concentrated areas such towns and cities with civilians below, shooting down a drone that may explode upon crashing into a market or a house full of innocent civilians, the response should always take into consideration avoiding civilian injuries, deaths, and even destruction of property.

    This may also alarm countries that are targets of terrorists on the potential of hobby drones being used in their own cities to sow terror. A lone wolf terrorist can buy a drone from a hobby shop and with some instructional videos that other terrorists post online, can turn it into a suicide drone. It may not be as dramatic as a suicide car or truck, but it will still achieve the same effect.

    Governments and security agencies will then develop new policies on ownership of hobby drones so they are used by civilians for harmless purposes. This may mean registration and background checks of drones and their owners. One effect by these acts of terrorists using drones will get people paranoid and may just take things into their own hands when they see a drone even if it is being used for commercial filming and just a hobbyist enjoying his/her flying toy.

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    I have been wishing for a  pair of sunglasses that can change tint quickly to the changing light conditions. I tried photochromic sunglasses before and while they do the trick of changing tint, they are not as quick as I wanted that I still need to slowdown for my eyes to adjust when the light conditions change.

    CTRL Eyewear have been making smart eyewear for the consumer market based on technologies of their mother company, Alpha Micron Inc., which developed a rapid tint change technology when they were working on liquid crystal technologies, “giving the warfighter electronic control over the tint of their eyewear.” This tint-on-demand technology is the only technology available to address varying lighting conditions and is in use by the U.S. Special Forces.

    CTRL Eyewear already have their products marketed to extreme sports such as biking, mountain climbing, and as well as for leisure. But with their new CTRL XC, they now have an eyewear that can change tint in 0.1 seconds, making it blazing fast. And changing the tint can be done automatically or manually, depending on user preference.

    For airsoft players, there is no need to change the lenses manually of their eyewear if they get the CTRL XC and the good thing is that this eyewear is ANSI 787.1 rated for impact protection, which is more than adequate for use in airsoft.

    The company went on Indiegogo for funding of the CTRL XC and they were able to raise of their target funding by 1,274% by the end of their crowdfunding campaign last 29 August 2016.

    If you are interested in getting one they still have early bird perks on Indiegogo by ordering 1 CTRL XC sunglasses which will cost you US$165, shipping not included yet.  They have estimated delivery to be in January 2017, which is not really a long wait.

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    OmniWear Arc

    The video gaming season is upon us as the cold weather starts setting in and more airsoft players would rather play at home with their video games rather than freezing their nuts out in the cold. With big titles releasing starting this month up to the next, the more serious video gamers would be looking for ways to gain advantages especially with online multiplayer FPS games and at the same time get a better gaming experience.

    Haptic feedback technology for video games have been with us since the 1990s but not much developments have happened until recently, when Virtual Reality has made a bigger comeback as the technology to develop content for VR has become more viable with more powerful and affordable processors that can be made more compact that they even mobile devices can give a VR experience. Many game companies are now working on titles that can take advantage of the advances in VR and other device developers are making better haptic devices to make the gaming experience more complete.

    The latest that we find in haptic feedback technology is now raising funds on Kickstarter and reading through the page, it makes me think that this gives you the power of Spider-Man’s “Spider Sense” when playing video games with it. The OmniWear Arc works just like the “Spider Sense” as it buzzes on your neck when it detects enemies nearby whilst the Spider-Man gets a tingling sense at the base of his skull to warn of dangers.

    The OmniWear Arc gives the gamer a 360 degree awareness of enemies through the use of haptic feedback with 8 vibration motors placed around the band to give the buzz. So when it detects enemies behind you, it gives a buzz on the back on your neck, buzz on your left side when it detects enemies at your 9 o’clock… you get the drift.

    Simply said, the gamer gets a second pair of eyes whilst playing, which is a big advantage in itself as it minimizes surprises of being outflanked or jumped from behind. But if you want to call it a “Wingman” or a “Guardian Angel” then, so be it.

    How does it work in detecting enemies in the video game? Surprisingly, it is not connected to your PC or gamer console and instead it connects to your mobile phone via a mobile app that watches the screen when you are playing the game and that means you will need to clip the phone with its camera facing the game screen. Point the camera to the mini-map which many FPS video games have and the app interprets the data it sees and sends haptic feedback to the user.

    This means that gamers do not need to get separate devices to use for the PC or the gaming console so they can shift to whatever gaming platform they want to use. OmniWear Haptics, the group behind the OmniWear Arc will be releasing a Software Development Kit (SDK) for game developers to incorporate the OmniWear arc for their games.

    For now the OmniWear Arc can be used for CounterStrike Global Offensive (CS GO) and League of Legends with more titles to be added next year. But the most important thing is that it needs to raise funds first to have the first generation OmniWear Arc become a reality via Kickstarter. As of this writing, it has already raised almost US$3,000 with a funding goal of US$75,000, with about 28 days to go.

    Apart from video gaming, the team behind the device is looking into other uses such as for bike and motorbike blind spot monitoring and workplace safety.

    But for now, they will need to prove the concept by making it a success in their first target market – video games.

    You can support the OmniWear Arc Haptic Neckband on Kickstarter right now.

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    U.S. Navy Corpsmen

    For this week, the most significant thing that we have read about that can be put to great use in the battlefield is in the area of battlefield medicine. Do you still remember Battelle, the company behind the DroneDefender, a technology that can bring down stray drones safely by using radio waves that we wrote about before? Now, they are back and are working with the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in developing new ways to save injured limbs.

    Treating limb injury quickly after a blast is a highly urgent matter.  In the seconds and minutes after a blast incident, it is crucial to protect the limb as blood is lost, risk of infection high due to dirt and bacteria, and the tissue will start to dry and deteriorate. Failure to quickly administer first aid treatment to the injured limb can lead to loss of such and even death.

    The ONR awarded a US$14.4 million, 4-year contract to Battelle and Halyard Health which “calls for the development of a conformal cover that protects the injured limb while providing a therapeutic cocktail that mitigates damage and promotes tissue survival.” This bandage can be administered by medics and corpsmen at the point of injury in the battlefield. It should be lightweight and will be able to keep the wound fresh and maintain the condition of the tissue for up to three days allowing time for the injured soldier to be brought to a proper medical facility for further treatment that can lead to saving the affected limb.

    The solution is the Acute Care Cover for the Severely Injured Limb (ACCSIL) which is a bandage wrap that is comprised of two layers. The outer layer is the conformal wrap that is able to be wrapped to the shape of the wounded limb, be able to stop bleeding and prevent bacteria and dirt from coming in. The second layer is the “bioactive” inner layer that has a concoction of chemical designed to deliver antibiotics, pain relief, keep the wound moist, and prevent fungal and bacterial growth.

    Image:Two possible designs of the ACCSIL (Source: Battelle)

    “Successful development of this system will provide military medics a solution currently unavailable to them,” said Kelly Jenkins, a Director of Battelle’s Advanced Materials group. “Current bandages aren’t very good at keeping out bacteria, so a lot of medics improvise by using plastic wrap and lots of tape — which is actually really good at keeping the wound moist but not protecting or preserving tissue. ACCSIL will function much better.”

    Image: Early concepts of how ACCSIL bandaging may look like

    The ACCSIL project will be working on the concepts being developed for this medical solution and the progress to the prototype stage is seen in 2017. If the ACCSIL project is deemed fit for use in the battlefield, it is seen to be used further beyond battlefield medicine application, such as for use by first responders in emergency and rescue situations.


    Top photo: U.S. Navy Corpsmen applying first aid to a dummy in a field exercise. (U.S. Marine photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Young)

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    World War Nerf

    Yeah sure, airsoft guns are the best gun props nowadays as they are cheaper, easier to access and they look like real guns with real gun action, especially those with blowback features. With computer FX software any studio can add smoke and gunfire, which also lessens the danger for actors and extras when they use blank firing rifles.

    But a little more imagination can bring an action/war movie come to life even without the use of airsoft guns. Five years ago, we featured here on Popular Airsoft, the hit YouTube short called “Cardboard Warfare” in which the filmmakers used cardboard for almost everything, guns and including transport planes to do a World War II themed war short movie. It was such a big hit with almost 7 million views.

    For the Nukazooka Crew, they did something that many would love to see, a live action Nerf Warfare. With World War Nerf, they got a hit action short, using Nerf Guns as well as Nerf Tiger Tank. We are not sure if the setting is World War II, but it does get some inspiration from the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan”.

    So far, it has gotten over 2 million views ever since it was released last 11 October. It may not be as elaborate as Cardboard Warfare, but it has achieved what it was made to do, to entertain Netizens on YouTube.

    Now, if we get to see some airsoft YouTube channels try to do something like this (which we believe, Spartan117gw and BirnyX/Johny Deadline Picture Productions are leading the way) rather than just gameplay videos that always the maker of the video making hits/kills all the time with their scopecams, then airsoft filmmaking may just go to another level. It is only when there are contests such as the G&G video contests when we get to watch gems in airsoft filmmaking (though the problem with such is that is centered in G&G). So hopefully, we get to see some airsoft players with creative minds make some awesome videos.

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    Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR Modular Tactical Rifle

    Early this month, a relatively new firearms manufacturer from Austria has introduced a rifle in the United States that was designed with modularity as its main consideration. The Ritter & Stark SX-1 MTR Modular Tactical Rifle can be converted from one caliber to another to meet mission requirements.

    The company says that SX-1 MTR can be quickly and easily interchanged between a .308 Win, .300 Win Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum and furthermore, the ability to incorporate aftermarket magazines and drop-in upgrades with AR15/M16/M4 pistol grips and buttstocks. Indeed, it looks like a versatile rifle with such options afforded to the shooter.

    Ritter & Stark claims that it is the most advanced and accurate tactical rifle in the world. Apart from that, it is reliable and comfortable allowing the shooter to focus on each shot with every rifle proof-shot tested for safety and accuracy in their state-of-the-art shooting range in their factory. To achieve this, the SX-1 uses a bolt that locked directly into the monolithic barrel breech for better shots on target with accuracy said to be up to 5,000 rounds for the .308 Win and .338LM, and 2,000 rounds for .300WM which translates into.05 MOA with three round groups using factory match grade ammo.  The rifling is processed using CNC to avoid transmission of thermal effects and mechanical stress to the material used in the producing the barrel.

    The patented barrel conversion system allows the shooter to change the barrel for another caliber witin minutes in field conditions. The receiver was produced from an aluminum billet that was machined designed to give exact positioning for the barrel to fit quickly.

    Pricing in the U.S. for the SX-1 is initially set at US$5,555.00 for the .308 and US$6,555.00 for the .300 and .388 with no information on actual release date. For airsoft companies looking for a new rifle design to make for the airsoft market, the SX-1 MTR should be a good candidate especially the ability to swap aftermarket parts is very much appealing to airsoft players, so they better work on getting a licensing agreement from Ritter & Stark soon.

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    ARDEC AimLock

    What is a regular feature in the stills and video cameras will soon may have its equivalent in weapons. The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) is developing the “AimLock” system that was demonstrated during the AEWE 2017 Live Fire in Fort Benning, Georgia. This weapon stabilization aims to give the shooter a higher probability of a hit.

    In cameras, the stabilization feature is either found in the lens or in camera, depending on the manufacturer. This minimizes jitters or vibrations when shooting photos or videos, leading to better quality shot. Though other ways of giving smoother photo or video taking can be done with third-party products such as 3-axis gimbals found in camera drones and handheld camera rigs and selfie sticks.

    How does this work for a rifle? Here is what the paper on the AimLock or its original project name, “Advanced Small Unit Small Arms Technology Research (ASUSAT) Program” as presented by Terence Right, the Project Manager for the Program:

    "Barrel and receiver are articulated independently from the shooter-interface components of the system:

    • Grips, stocks, and optics, each of which are mounted to a “carriage” that envelops the moving parts of the weapon system.
    • Separation of the projectile-launching components of the weapon system from the user-interface components is controlled via target tracking software and embedded mobile processing hardware that optically monitor target position relative to point of aim.
    • Electromechanical actuators are activated to rapidly redirect the LOS of the barrel and receiver, separately from the standard LOS of the carriage, to actively stabilize the weapon-direction relative to the target."

    The AimLock is being developed with the Rocky Mountain Scientific Labs (RMSL) based in Littleton, Colorado and they have already gone through Phase III of the program in 2015. This phase shows how the system can used in shooting at stationary or moving targets from a moving platform. For shooters in vehicles and aerial platforms such as a helicopter, the AimLock can be a god-send since the higher probability of a hit means they can conserve their ammo better as sometimes they need to fire at a higher rate or give a sustained fire just to increase chances of a hit. According to Rice’s RDECOM presentation, these are the list of benefits that the system provides:

    • Minimizes almost all shooter errors
    • Mitigates gap of moving target engagement
    • Ability to engage while moving in vehicle or advancing on foot
    • Decreased training time to same level of skill
      • Less costs and more time to teach advanced TTPs
    • Improved P(hit) on stationary targets for both skilled and unskilled shooters with decreased engagement times
    • Increased effectiveness of system in standing unsupported position to almost match prone
      supported system results.
      • NOTE: Shooter in loop standing nearly matched system accuracy in bench rest on multiple occasions.
    • Can execute with a “hot” trigger and/or a tag and mark fire mission
    • Can receive/use multiple inputs = wind, facial recognition, prioritized targets
    • Can be optimized within purpose built weapon system for form/function/SWAP

    That is a good list benefits that a shooter can derive from the AimLock, however, the prototypes show bulkier rifles being tested and we do not know if there will be a phase in which they will need the stabilization system more compact for easier and compact rifles for the soldiers to carry.

    As to when the AimLock will be used in issued-rifles, there is no information for now. But if indeed, it gets deployed, then soldiers in the field can have a better way at aiming even when under fire.

    Read more about this program in the PDF file below:

    All photos in this story are by Angie DePuydt, U.S. Army.

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    DJI Phantom With Camera Facing Down

    If you are planning to go to Sweden with a plan to take some aerial footages with a camera drone, better leave it at home as it has just been banned unless a permission has been given for surveillance purposes. The local drone hobbyists and even journalists are up in arms with the ruling that was just issued by the country’s Supreme Administrative Court.

    According to Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, the only permission for the use of camera of drones is for crime prevention or accidents, putting the use of camera drones in the country as the sole area for police or first responders. The paper also quotes the president of the UAS Sweden, Gustave Gerdes, the trade industry organization for unmanned aerial systems, that the ruling “will kill an entire industry in one stroke.”

    Aftonbladet also mentions that it is a very strange ruling as it will also hit media companies in the conduct of their daily business in covering news events, especially events that would pose a dangers to their journalists or photojournalists such as harsh weather conditions or crime incidents. These situations would make a camera drone very useful for media organisations without exposing their people to dangers.

    Furthermore, the paper notes that the ruling does not make sense in light of existing laws, as it is legal for people to take photos or videos in public places and thus, questions why it is wrong to use a quadcopter with a camera attached to it. At the DJI Forums, Swedish drone enthusiasts lament the court’s ruling, with people robbed of their hobby, and drone manufacturers having lost a market. The discussion thread also gives further background on the ruling as the Swedish members have made translations to English.

    Aftonbladet says that this ruling may be hard to enforce, and it is up to County boards to report to the police of any camera drone sightings, though they may just make mistakes in case a drone in flight might not have a camera on board such as those RC planes. Drone enthusiasts may just ignore the ruling, but for media companies doing their jobs, the ruling poses a big challenge.

    It is a wonder then for a progressive country like Sweden that a ruling such as this can happen. An open society allows for a free press and nowadays, free press nowadays will need tools such as camera drones to bring the news as it happens.

    And for airsoft? Expect no aerial footages of airsoft events in Sweden for now.