Monday, December 26, 2005

Xmas Spoils

I had a very darty Christmas this year. In addition to a couple more pairs of my favorite jeans I ended up with some very nice dart related items. Take a look:

First, I scored a brand new Unicorn Eclipse dartboaard. It didn't have the white blades I was expecting, but it is a very nice dartboard. I threw on a DMI Bandit for several years and I still think it has a few years left in it before it is completely kaput, but I asked for a new dartboard anyway. The Unicorn Eclipse is the premium offering from Unicorn and a direct competitor with the Bandit. I wanted it mostly because the Bandit was getting really beat up on the blades and the reason I didn't go with another bandit is because I wanted to have a chance to compare the premium boards over a long period of time. This time next year I'll be able to provide a definitive "which is better" declaration.

Four new sets of darts. In order from top to bottom: 20 gram black GT2's wearing Spinpactor points and black aluminum GT screw-in shafts with black poly pears. This is a nice dart. It throws pretty consistently despite the fact that it is a very light dart. The nice taper on it is the redeeming factor, of ocurse. A good forward weighting will make grammage nearly irrelevant. The second dart is a 21 gram fixed point Steve Coote Signature Datadart. Also a terrific dart with a nice feel. The third dart is a 21 gram brass dart that came free with the Eclipse dart board. They are massive compared to what I am used to, but I like them a great deal. They are quite long and so I have to use an extra-short nylon to get the dart to the length I like. All of these darts, by the way, are wearing my CPF's. The Brass Biggies (as I call them) hang from the board at a slight down angle like the Vectors used to before I removed the ADM mechanism. I can still hit ton-40's with them though. The last dart is the Orion Vector Smart Dart properly configured. The ADM was too heavy for the dart and once replaced with a medium nylon stem, the dart flies like a dream!!

My buddy in Seattle came to the same conclusion on his own. He took the ADM off as well but still likes the dart for its grip.

Dart ornament and keychain-mini-frame: These are both quite nice. Every year my girlfriend and I exchange one ornament for the tree and this year she got me the little pueter dartboard. The little dart picture frame/keychain it pretty neat. I have been toying about using it for toting around a picture of my dog but since I don't really use a ketchain at all anyway I will probably just come up with picture of my dart team.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Steve 'Magic' Coote Signature Datadarts

I was please and surprised to find on my doorstep yesterday a set of darts which were sent to me from England. I am a participant on Steve Coote's dart forum over at Steve Coote is a well ranked PDC dart player who has earned his own signature dart from Datadarts:

Steve was kind enough to send me a set of his signature darts and they are terrific. They are a 21 gram skinny pencil style fixed point dart whose texture is achieved with evenly spaced grooves. They throw quite well, and when they hit the board they do not produce the same kind thunk the heavier darts do. instead they slide into the sisal silently, and just stop; as if rigged with Dr. Who's Inertia Absorber.

The case they came in is very nice. At first glance it appears to be the standard small plastic case that the Halex darts come in but upon closer examination you can see that it opens from both sides. On one side is the compartment for the darts as well as a slot for some flights and on the other side, extra tips, stems and flights can fit in there as well.

If Steve's photo flights had been pear shaped I would have been tempted to use them but since 1., I only have one set of Steve's flights, and 2., the black poly pear is my CPF, I figured I'd preserve the Coote flights and configure the darts right from the getgo. The stems that come with the darts are unique as well. They are an in-between length I have never seen before, measuring 1.75". Also notice there is writing in the space between the grooves. It says: MAGIC. Which is Steve Coote's darts nickname.

Very classy gift Steve. Thanks, and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Case for Micros

From top to bottom you aare seeing three different configurations of the Vector Darts. The very top is how they came in the box, with the extra short aluminum shafts and gold tips. This is a decent configuration but it is just a tad long. The next dart below that also has an extra short aluminum shaft but sports my CPF. This is a minor change as the pear shaped flights are only slightly smaller in surface area than the standard shaped flights.

The last dart in the top photo has extra short nylon stem. Tht was the only further change I made for the first few hours of throwing. I found this was almost as good as it gets for this dart. The extra short nylon stems are, surprisingly, quite a bit shorter than the extra short aluminums. This is good to know. After an hour or so throwing these darts and watching them land half hanging down out of the board I remembered that I own an even shorter shaft. The Micros! Now I have experimented with the micro aluminums before but I never really found any darts that they "belong" on. Now I have.

This is the configuration that I have found that works best for the OV Smarts. The micro aluminums provide an overall dart length that I feel meets my criteria for a well configured dart. The black micros with the black poly pears make for a subtle sleek appearance. The only other problem to correct was the gold colored points. Not only did they not match the rest of the dart, they are not very good points. So I replaced them with some Pickup Points. The Pickup Points match the dart's color scheme and are a superior design.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New Darts: Orion Vectors

So my new tradition is to buy a new set of darts for a good buddy of mine who is also into darts and who was on my old dart teams when I played in Seattle. He's a damn good shot as is evidenced by the 141-Out he hit in practice last night. Anyway I try to get him stuff he wouldn't get for himself and since he is a good friend I do not mind dropping a pretty penny on the good stuff. The other route I go is to get something unique.

And of course, I usually get a set for myself in the process ;)

This year I got him some "Vector Smart Darts with ADM" from Orion Vector. I'd seen these darts a long time ago and have always been intrigued. Everytime I go dart surfing I hit the Orion Vector site just for the sake of it. The guy there has some good stuff. He's got some nice looking reversable darts (which is just another way of saying it is 2ba threaded on both sides) which I breifly considered getting. But the Vector Smarts are the unique set.

They have an undeniably great grip but they throw really weird. The steel section screwed into the back of the barrel that has the swivel makes the whole dart very long. So even if you use very short shafts you end up with an odd balance. Steel may be lighter than tungsten but it is not lighter than nylon or aluminum so you end up with the equivalent of a very heavy shaft. I use micro length aluminum stems on mine but the darts still end up leaning down in the board after a hit. As you can see from the photo below, extra short aluminum shafts are included, but extra short is still too long in my opinion.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

9th Lifetime Ton-80 (and 8th!)

Well I did it again, this time though it was quite special in more than one way. I have only had the darts for less than a day and had not thrown them at all until just a bit ago. I tossed a few at the bull, and a few doubles, etc. Then, believe it or not I decided to try for the triple 20 and hit the ton-80 in my first ever attempt with these darts! That's gotta be a good omen. I have not decided how I feel about the darts yet, but this sudden bout of performance is certainly warming me up to them.

About an hour after the first Ton-80 occurred I got up to practice again. This time I hit another Ton-80 followed immediately by a ton-20 and a seven count in the 15s. This is the first time I have ever hit two max's in one day. These darts are really something special. I have modified them somewhat though. I put shorter shafts on them, my CPFs and also swapped out the points that came with them for Pickup points. Below is a pic of the First Ton-80 (8th lifetime) (the second Ton-80 is the pic in the post (above)).

8th Maximum

The Split Atom

This is a new creation from Jeff Pickup. It is a dart that comes apart in the middle of the barrel to allow the insertion of a moving point. Thus the name the "Split Atom". The idea is quite revolutionary and from just looking at the first picture here it appears to be a fixed point dart and there is no indication that the point moves. It is a very clever idea.

This picture sort of shows the dart barrel and point disassembled. You can see that the point is quite long with a knob, or stopper, on the butt end and that the pieces of the dart are split more or less in the middle so that when the point strikes back upon contact with the dartboard, it is slamming into solid tungsten, and not the top of some stem.

And as you can tell from this picture, once the dart is assembled, it is quite hard to locate the seam in the barrel. I am fairly certain that Jeff is using Lock-Tite to hold the pieces together.

If you think you might like to order any of these darts or anything else Jeff Pickup has pics of on this blog, but sure to leave a comment with your contact information and I'd be happy to pass it along. If you contact him directly, please be sure to let him know you saw his stuff on my blog. Cheers! Assembled with Pickup Stems:

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Home Made Dart Pouch

Here is my latest project:

I am making my own dart pouch out of some scrape leather I bought. The idea was to come up with a pouch just big enough to hold everything I need for a nights play in the bar without having to carry around a dart case, or anything else so big that you have to leave it on the table or bar. So the dart pouch I am making will have two sides. One side, as you can see from the first pic is three cylinders to hold the darts fully assembled and ready for action (as opposed to fully assembled and stowed like the Dartmaster). So for this to be useful I will have to find a way to keep it on my body during the night. I have two ideas in mind, one is for my team to have shirted pockets, and the other is to have a leather cord attached to both upper corners so I can wear it around my neck. I think I will go with the cord. and wear it. My team doesn't have shirts yet and it is unlikely they will be anything other than a tee shirt.

The flip side, or probably for purposes of hanging the back side, is a deerskin pouch (as you can see form the second pic). Right now the pouch exists and the flap is big enough to close but I do not have the tiny snaps I need for use with deerskin (which is thin and elastic compared to the leather I used on the other side). The pouch I wanted to be big enough to hold a few extra flights and a few extra stems but so big that it gets bulky. I mean, how much do you really need on league night. I might find some way to attach the dart sharpener but beyond that you really don't need much. If you use nylon stems and fixed points you do not need a "tool" although most dart tools will be small and flat enough to go in the pouch no prob.

As you can see from the profile view in the third pic it is really a pretty streamlined pouch. Most of the thickness comes from a combination of the leather on the cylinder side and whatever is in the pouch. This should make it pretty easy and undistracting to wear around the neck. I might also try something different. SInce the darts fit in the cylinders pretty snuggly. I might attach a metal loop through one corner and then attach a clip to it and I have have it hanging from a belt loop or something like that. At any rate it seems like a really good alternative to leaving your stuff on a table in a crowded bar.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Second Try

I'm not addicted. I can quit whenever I want. I'm gonna quit right after this pack.. I mean throw.. I mean.. whatever. I'm not addicted I swear. SO I had a little relapse. No big deal, right? Tonight I will dedicate myself to other pursuits and hope for a new board for Christmas.

A Pretty Slick Stick

Kudos to Unicorn for making a pretty slick product and kudos to SeaHag for suggesting I try them. I am talking of course about Slik-Stiks, which, if you have never heard of them is a stem designed to hold a flight securely by slipping the flight into it and then providing a built in flight ptotector to boot. I picked these up a long time ago and then stuck them in my dart box and promptly forgot about them for a long time. I rediscovered them tonight and decided it was time to give them a toss. As you can see in the photo below I have the short MX version which is still a little bit longer than a short nylon stem.

I threw a few practice games with them tonight and I have to say I am pleasantly surprised by them. I had some ill concieved preconcieved notions which prejudiced me against them for a long time. Now tyhat I have tried them I can say they are a pretty good product. I bought the nylon version since I prefer nylon these days but I am aware that they are done in aluminum as well for you aluminum afficionados.

One thing that worried me about them is that they are a one sslot device which made me think there would be nothing keeping the flight square (flight wings at a 90 degree angle to each other) and that the flights would have a tendency to be flat. Well as it turns out this is not the case and since flights are sold completely flat, the trick is to use the single slot to your advantage. It is done like this: in most flights you get thye phenomenon where two sides of the flight are about 95 degrees open and the other two about 85. Just squeeze the wider side together and slip it into the Slik-Stik and this will help keep the flight more square.

Another notion I had was that the slik-stik would be too long for my favorite flights (pear shaped) but this turns out to not be true either. I guess flights all come in a very standardized length (which is a good thing I guess). At any rate there was only one flight I could find that did not fit in the Slik-Stik. But since it is aa flight I am not tht fond of I really don't care.

One thing I can say about the slik-stiks is that with the exception of nylon flights, flights load into them very easily. In fact, I can see where this would be a hge advantage later in the evening when most of us are slightly less sober. Another apparent advantage would be that it seems like it would be really difficult to robin hood these stems. There is nothing for the incoming dart to really catch on.

I also thought that the single slot aspect of these stems could be a potential solution to the nylon flight problem. And that problem, as anyone who uses nylon flights is aware, is that they are almost impossible to keep square!! They are already almost too thick to be used in aluminum stems and once you squeeze them in the aluminum shafts will only keep one end square. And have you ever tried to get a flight protector on the nylon flights? Slik-stiks do solve this problem. It is aa little bit hard to jimmy the nylon flights into the Slik-Stiks but one you have them in there straight (as you can see form the photo below) they stay very very square. I could not fit the standard shape nylon flight into the slik-stik though. It was too tall by a micron.

Friday, December 09, 2005

36 Meter Hurdles

Oops, I mean 36-Out Hurdles. Tonight while practicing I was left with a 36 out. I missed wide with the first dart, and then the second dart ended up in a really odd angle cutting across the double 18 also at an odd angle. So the third dart had little access to the double. I decided to try to sneak it over the top of the angled dart and voila! Nailed it. Not a spectacular out numbers-wise but it was certainly the feel good out of the evening. The darts, in case you are wondering, are 24 gram fixed point Penetrators (when I bought them they were called Dart Freaks), wearing short Rev-Grip nylon stems and my CPF's.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Creative Containing: Little Stuff

What have we all found to keep our miscellaneous dart stuff in? I like to keep and gather miscellaneous small containers of all shaps and sizes to keep stuff in. The little stuff in darts is especially receptive this sort of container. Next time you are in the grocery store, waiting for the person in front of you to finish scanning and paying

etc, take a look at the impulse-buy shelves. You will see a myriad of mints, candies, gums, and whatnot all in their own littl plastic homes. The little stuff I am taling about is the flight protectors, o-rings, stem springs, crowns, etc. I used to use a very small Altoids tin for these items but I have found a better, see through container.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Spinning Out of Control

Before I start comparing my spinners, let me say this: the Dynastar spinning flight system is far and away the best system I have seen. Nothing else compares. Having made such a broad sweeping statement, let me also say this: dynastar is a such a free spinning system that sometimes I think they spin too much. You can hold the dart in front of your face and give it a slight blow and the flight becomes a spinning blur. So if you like a free spinning flight this is the system you are looking for. You can get them in nylon or aluminum.

The next best spinner in terms of how freely it spins is the Spinster shaft. I do not personally own the entire shaft but I own a very unique set of darts that use the Spinster tops only for stems. One season I threw in Seattle a teammate showed up one night with spinster shafts on his darts. I remember being very impressed with how well they spun under the slightest breath. They are good looking and well made. They only come in aluminum, however.

Other spinners I have that have a good spin to them but are unfortunately less attractive are the spinners that came with my Harrows Piranhas. They are a good short length, though. I believe they are called Top Spin. I would say that the spinners that came with my Great Whites also fall into the catagory of good spin but bad esthetic. Equally mediochre are the medium all aluminum all black spinners, and while these are plenty sleek the spin is a little tight. My worst spinners are those that are nylon or plastic with attempts at spinning tops. This is not to say that all nylon spinners are bad but mine surely are. They stay on the dart but do not spin freely in the least. If you want the benefits of nylon in your stems but want the spinning action get the nylon Dynastars and ignore the rest.

Free spinning can be bad. I have talked to guys that want the dart to be more or less stable and non-moving until such time as there is a flight collision and they want the flight of the first dart to spin out of the way. They don't want it spinning in the air, in other words. To me this is not an issue which is why I like the Dynastars. In fact, I like the Dynastars so much I actually modified a set to fit my GTs:

Dynastars have other qualities that should not be overlooked. For example, Dynastars cannot be robin hooded. The flights are a molded plastic so there are no mylar layers to separate. Also the stem part of the system doesn't have anything for an incoming dart to catch on and thus robin hoods are not an issue there either. Also, perhaps thanks to their method of having such a freely spinning flight, the Dynastar flights pop off quite well so between the spinning action, the easy popcorning, and the molded plastic, the flights last a long time.

Of course now is when I remind you that I don't use spinners of any sort anymore unless on a whim. I use ordinary short or in-between static nylon stems these days and do not feel the need for spinnners. But if you are into spinners, have a blast.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My Favorite Stem

My favorite stem is vary hard to find.

I do not treat aluminum vs. nylon as some sort of holy war. I use stems made from both materials and I like them both and recognize the pros and cons of both. For example, on my 16 gram Radarts that I used all last season I will only use short aluminum shafts. The in-between nylon shafts will work on them length wise but they have a dramatically different feel and thus do not work over all. Thus there are some darts in my collection that will only take an aluminum shaft. The reverse is not true. While on many of my darts I actually prefer to use an in-between or short nylon stem I can use an in-between or short aluminum shaft just as happily. I have many many many different types of shafts and stems of all lengths and materials. Perhaps some day I'll compare the pros and cons of the whole range but today I am just getting to a particular point and that is:

My Favorite Stem is Hard To Find!

Take a look at the stems in the photo below. The three stems are all similar in some regard. All plain black, which is an advantage because it detracts from any flashiness in the darts. Flashiness is bad but that is a discussion for another post.

The top shaft is a standard in-between length aluminum shaft. Plain as can be this is actually my prefered aluminum shaft when I use them. It has one main pro and one main con. The pro is that its shape provides a nice feel to the dart when thrown and is more attractive aesthetically. The main con is that you have to use rubber o-rings to keep them from unscrewing on their own. It doesn't bother me all that much to have to use o-rings, but some darts are machined more intelligently than others. On the poorer darts, when you tighten a shaft that is o-ring equiped it will smash the o-ring outward so that either it slips out of the dart altogether, or just creates a little bulge sticking out from the joint between the barrel and the shaft. The better machined darts provide a slight groove or inward angle so that when the shaft is tightened it squeezes the o-ring in towards the threading.

The bottom shaft is your standard medium length nylon shaft. The main pro is that it will stay tight on its own, the main con is that it is a dumpy looking shaft. The mediums are too long for my taste, and for the barrels I typically use. I will soon be trying some 44 mm length barrels at the suggestion of Taechon and the mediums may work better on those but that remains to be seen. I use springs sometimes. But not because they keep the flight on tighter. I actually prefer that the flights pop off easily and thus the springs will interfere with that. Another benefit of using the springs is that when you robin hood the stem (as opposed to robin hooding the flight) the spring will prevent the stem from breaking, thus preserving the stem for you. So, when I am running low on the stems (which has been true for the last eight months) I will use the springs to keep from having to buy more stems too soon.

The middle shaft shares the pros from both of the other two shafts and is MY FAVORITE SHAFT. It is a shapely beautiful stem that looks good on any dart, AND it is nylon so it doesn't require an 0-ring to keep it on tight. This stem has other benefits. It is flexible in the middle and will easily bend out of the way of incoming darts. Also, you can still use springs on these stems to keep the flight from coming off if you like (and the springs are extremely effective). The only downside that I am aware of (other than their apparent scarcity) is that they will snap more easily than other stems making them more disposible than others. But if I could find them in good supply this would not bother me in the slightest. Above is a pic of them with a spring in place.

So, does anyone know where I can find them in a variety of colors and lengths? I have seen similar ones on Unicorn's website but only in white, and to be honest they weren't as nice looking (too angular and not curvy enough). Thanks in advance!