Shaun Shue

Nerf Challenge

I was asked if I could “help fix some systems in an LA Live event.” It had opened to the public, so I’d be going in at 10PM and be out at 8AM the next morning. It was multiple interactive and mechatronic exhibits, which sounded interesting, so I agreed. It turned out to be massive both size-wise (it took the entire parking structure’s top floor) and in undertaking. It pushed the limits of my analytic and system engineering skills, and I loved it.

The company did an amazing job for the time they had, but encountered a hiccup in transition. There were odd gremlins that popped up sometimes, but not consistently enough to pinpoint straight away. After a lot of reverse engineering, things started making more sense, though with a deadline of the previous week, we didn’t have time for a lot of reverse engineering. I and my colleague that brought me in made recommendations for an additional middle layer to help communication between the controllers and physical hardware. Some installations received it, some didn’t, but we forged ahead night after night. They filmed a Power Rangers commercial one midnight, which broke up the sound of wind whipping the structural tent.

Trick Shot

The second to last day, when we had most of the installations working, I was just finishing fixes to a bank shot game as patrons were coming in. I watched a boy run from the wristband table to the T-ball-Skee-Ball game and go wide-eyed. It was a unicorns-really-exist level of special to see. I’m a long time fan of how Nerf toys encourage physical activity, and it turns out a bunch of Neo-Pixels, servos and NUCs can make it a whole other experience. I was sad to see the event got poor reviews, though most of the complaints were due to wait times and not the games themselves.