Welcome to Boomtown!

aLAcrity Boomerangs is a group of boomerang enthusiasts from Los Angeles. At the moment, it is comprised of three people: Manny (a.k.a. v12aero), phnxhawk and Charles (a.k.a. hey_kuya).

Manny and I (phnxhawk) started this blog to share our interest in boomerangs--throwing and tuning, making our own rangs, as well as unraveling the science behind them. As we continue our journey into the world of boomerangs, we hope to make new friends and to expand our horizons. In this blog, we will post such things as videos from our regular throwing sessions, musings and lessons learned from throwing, and thoughts on making our own rangs.

Manny and I started throwing boomerangs since Spring 2009. It has been a long road as we developed a semblance of technique for throwing 'rangs. Nevertheless, after many a bruised hand or windy day, our fascination with these returning throwing sticks remains undimmed. We most certainly have more to learn about boomerangs, but we'll keep at it as long as we continue to have many happy returns.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Thank You & Boomerang Collection Update

I'd like to start off with a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who has read through our blog and who has sent follow-up e-mails relating to that material, even though we have lately been unable to keep up with writing posts.  I was sometimes unsure as to the utility of some of the information we provide, but your e-mails and feedback have been quite reassuring in that regard.

We received a compliment recently from a reader who found our boomerang collection pictures helpful for making his own replicas.  He said he appreciated the inclusion of a ruler for visual reference of length, which he noted was especially handy for putting together his own replicas of Volker Behrens' booms.

I've picked up a few more boomerangs since my last update to my side of the Boomerang Collection and have added pictures of those to the photo catalog.  For those who are curious, my favorites from that lot are the Champ and Paragon (Adam Carroll) and Spin Racer (LMI Fox).  They're among my top recommendations for newer throwers, and it seemed overdue for me to have them in my personal collection.  In fact, I subsequently gifted the Champ to a new thrower I met recently and was unable to snap a picture of it for this update.  I'd also like to point out that I received as gifts two beautiful boomerangs from William Watts, whom I mentioned previously.

As an additional aid for readers, I've also started a photo album for Boomerang Silhouettes.  I started creating these for use in building my replica boomerangs that were highlighted in our earlier Carver's Corner series of posts.

Anyway, I hope you continue to find these resources useful for your journey through the world of boomerangs.  We'll continue to post new videos and other content as we are able, and as always, you are more than welcome to e-mail us to ask questions, compare notes or just to say hello.  Many happy returns to you!

Edit: I've also added a more obvious link to a GoogleDocs spreadsheet that tabulates weight data and selected comments as a supplement to the pictures in the photo albums.

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hello, world!

--by phnxhawk--

We're well into 2014 already, but we'd like to celebrate it, anyway, with this new video:


The last year was quite busy for all of us.  Nevertheless, we managed to sneak away from the mine last month to meet our new friend Pierre.  He hasn't thrown any boomerangs in years, and he was quite surprised to find out from us that there are, in fact, left-handed and right-handed booms.  To paraphrase his reaction: "You mean to say that it might not have been that the boomerang was broken or that I [a left-hander] just couldn't figure out how to throw it correctly?"

Manny and I have bags bursting with boomerangs, but unfortunately, between the two of us, we have only one boomerang that was carved for southpaws, my left-handed Rainier.  Manny also has a Tri-Fly, which, if I recall correctly, can be twisted as needed to be left- or right-handed.  In any case, Pierre gave them a try and was quite intrigued, but was drawn instead to the challenge of throwing like our friend Gabe.

As you might recall from one of our recent videos, our other friend Gabe has developed his own techniques for throwing left-handed boomerangs with his right.  It was absolutely fascinating to watch Pierre work through the same process on his own.  He was doing so well, in fact, that by the end of the day, he had worked his way up to his first throw-and-catch.  Way to go, Pierre!  (And thanks for taking video for us! Here are a few more pictures from our outing with Pierre to go with the video.)

Speaking of photos...it's not too often that we have someone behind the camera while we're throwing.  Late last year, I had a chance to meet up with Will Watts to throw some boomerangs.  He brought his family along to enjoy such sandy beaches as we have here by LAX, and his wife snapped some great photos.

It was great fun to meet a fellow enthusiast.  I'm definitely looking forward to future opportunities to get together.  By the way, he makes some great-looking boomerangs!  When I get the chance, I'll post some photos of one he gifted to me.

For those of you who are still following our little blog here, thank you again for your patience!  And the same goes for those of you who are just discovering us and wondering, "Just who are these blokes who purport to know a thing or two about these boomerangs"!
"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Still Alive

--by phnxhawk--

Just taking a few minutes to let everyone know we're still alive and throwing out here in Los Angeles.  Changing work situations have made it difficult for all of us to invest time in blogging during recent months.  (In fact, I am still hassling Manny about this one post he started writing last year....)  Anyway, I'm hopeful that things will return to something resembling normalcy in the back half of 2013.  (Not that I consider hope to be a strategy on its own!)

And now for something boomerang related....What have I been throwing lately?

Nothing too out of the ordinary, actually.  Rainier is still my go-to warm-up boomerang, and it doubles as my Ol' Reliable in closed-in parks.  Other than that, I have been rotating through all my boomerangs--regardless of whether I purchased or carved them--as wind conditions permit.

I also picked up from The Boomerang Man a couple of Spinracers in ABS and carbon.  I took them out for some maiden throws the other day, and they worked great out of the box.  I can get good flights using the ABS version with a light throw and decent spin, which I anticipate will make it a good demo 'rang for inquiring passers-by.  The carbon version needs a slightly harder throw, but not too much more.

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Carver's Corner #3 - Five by Five

Long looked-for, I'm sure: behold, my post about the boomerangs I carved during my brief escape from the work place in December.  By the by...I expect that my situation on the work front will persist well into 2013, but I'll post commentary, pictures and video when I can.

The Boomerangs

Anyway, as it turns out, carving boomerangs is becoming one of those activities in which I indulge whenever I take a few days off from work.  So, how could I resist carving a few more during the winter shutdown?

After the last run, I had it in mind to make a second Diabolino (in particular, one that is a little closer to the 2010 model that Manny has) replica using the smaller, 5/16 in diameter brass weights in lieu of the 1/2 in diameter ones.

Manny also put in a request for a replica of his Tiger by Roger Perry.  As he has expressed in the past, he is not especially fond of the feel of the Tiger in hand.  I liken it to my distaste for certain kinds of golf grips.  Certainly, they're functional, but the feel in hand just bugs me.  I bumped it to the top of the queue to make this a holiday gift for him, as well.

In addition to those two, I opted to make replicas of three other models: Bellen, Kilimanjaro and Cryderman Small Hook.  Since the Bellen model was apparently used as a juggling pair, I've always wanted to have a matched pair of my own.  With that type so difficult to track down these days, I decided to simply make a pair for myself.

The choice to make a couple hook type boomerangs was motivated, in part, to see what challenges the hook planform might provide.  I wanted to have two hooks on hand to see if any problems encountered with one were unique to the way I made it or were more characteristic of the type.  I was also curious to see whether the way I create the airfoils would help the Kilimanjaro retain enough spin to make it easier to coax a return during low wind conditions.  My previous creations seemed to have good spin retention, almost to the point at which I have been considering applying some form of standard, modular drag device to my future boomerangs.

In addition, Manny acquired a double weighted Cryderman Small Hook a couple years back, and he finds it to be challenging to throw and obtain the circular flight pattern he loves so much.  (This was during his "I want everything extra weighted for more distance and power" phase.)  This was yet another good opportunity to make a replica of a boomerang that had, in the past, challenged us.

So, there you have it.  Five boomerangs made in three days.

New Tools

After my previous experience cutting holes for weights by eyeballing circular shapes while using the Dremel rotary tool, I decided to acquire a cheap power drill.  Aside from these RC aircraft and boomerang projects, I don't currently have much other use around the house for a power drill.  Accordingly, I was keen on balancing performance and cost to obtain what would be a good "value" for me at this time.  I opted to pick up this Ryobi 12V cordless drill from my local hardware store for $50.  (Without getting into a discussion about the merits of shopping around for better prices,) I found this to be a good compromise choice.  It does the job pretty well, and I found that the holes I cut during this go 'round were much cleaner and a better fit for the weights.

I also added a couple sanding sponges like this one to my array of tools.  I picked up a couple different grits, 60 and 100, to try out.  Charles suggested this type of sanding tool to help me smooth out some of the contour lines on the boomerangs.  Overall, I'd say I like it, especially when I am working over a broad, curved surface or when I start moving into the finishing sanding.  In particular, I like that they are easier and lighter to grip for long periods, but I still prefer to use my sanding block for removing material by hand.

The Result

I'm reasonably pleased with how the boomerangs turned out.  Everything worked like a charm.  Since I was not rushing the work (compared to the last set, anyway), the airfoiling work turned out better (I think) or at least more consistent.

This run of boomerangs was also the first for which I did not create contour maps from crude CAD models.  I simply did not have enough time to do this for all the boomerangs in the time allotted.  However, I had an idea of how they would look based on how I usually model the surfaces.

The pictures of the finished boomerangs are here, but the following are the main ones to give you the overview:

From Carver's Corner #3

From Carver's Corner #3

From Carver's Corner #3

From Carver's Corner #3

From Carver's Corner #3

Verification and Acceptance Testing

I had a chance to take the boomerangs out for a spin a few days before Christmas.  Overall, I encountered no show-stoppers with the flight tests.  I had a chance to capture some video before my batteries cut out that first day of testing.

The Diabolino, Tiger and Bellens flew pretty decently "out of the box," so to speak.  Although I did add some tuning tweaks to them, they were nothing major.

The "lighter" Diabolino matches the weight of the 2010 model pretty closely and is some 20 grams lighter than the first replica I carved.  So, a hard throw and a stiff breeze are not required to achieve a nice flight and return with the new version.  I also noticed, while out testing, that I dropped the brass weight into the wrong hole on the trailing arm.  Although it's cosmetically annoying, I have not noticed any significant negative impact on the way it flies.

The two Bellens will need some additional attention to improve them as a matched pair, but they fly pretty similarly as is. The Tiger, meanwhile, attained Manny's seal of approval in a subsequent throwing session.  Comparing the two, the Finnish birch version feels more "solid," but thanks to my airfoiling, it does not drop quite as quickly on the return, as compared to the original.

The hooks were a little more problematic.  I found with both of them that they tended to roll "shut" very quickly, transitioning to a more vertical attitude after release and knifing into the ground on the way toward the apex of the turn.  I countered this with a healthy amount of dihedral, after which the hooks would tend to stay airborne, but not necessarily in a pretty way, dipping toward the ground past the apex, but climbing slightly toward the end of the flight.

The hooks also needed to be thrown a fair amount off-wind compared to my other boomerangs. This is a problem I have yet to solve, although I wonder whether it may only be an issue of some twisting of the wings, which the boomerangs, probably owing to how they were oriented on the plywood sheet when I cut them, tend to resist.  These issues were particularly pronounced in the Cryderman hook replica. 

Well, that's all for which I have time today, folks.  Look forward to some future updates so that you may keep up with what we've been throwing during the winter season!

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

--by phnxhawk--

Happy holidays from aLAcrity!

I carved a few boomerangs while on my holiday vacation; look out for a post on those soon!

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Carver's Corner #2 - Finnishing Time

--by phnxhawk--

So, I know.  Long time, no see.  Suffice it to say that times are tough on the work front.  The weather this year has not been particularly cooperative, either.  "How can the weather ever be poor in sunny SoCal?" one might wonder.  Well, the winds have been consistently calm at our usual boomerang throwing times at the beach for the last several months.  This, of course, is not a terrible thing.  We certainly are able to continue throwing, and it is good practice to adapt to different conditions.  However, our heavier, more wind-loving boomerangs have been sitting in the bag for month after month.

But on to the topic at hand.  Last weekend, I came down with the fever, the sort that drives a man to spend a day carving three boomerangs and then the next, applying the finishing touches.

As I mentioned last time, I acquired a "small" quantity of 5 mm Finnish birch ply from Anderson Trading.  My latest creations are my first using the higher quality material and are also the first to involve the flush installation of weights.

The Boomerangs

For this run, I set out to make a copy of the Rainier, Eagle and Diabolino.  The Rainier has so far been my baseline boomerang against which I measure my results, and it continues to serve in that capacity.  I chose the Eagle for its relatively simple geometry and its circular flight with an easy throw.  The Diabolino was selected at the request of Manny, who regards it as one of his top, go-to boomerangs for its impressive, low and round flights.

New Materials

Again, the main change for this run is the application of the Finnish birch.  My initial set of Rainier replicas were cut from 3/16 in hobby-type plywood from my local hobby shop.  The new material is the sort of which fanciful tales are told and that figures prominently into the advertising lines for
some of my favorite boomerangs.  I oriented the outlines in a similar fashion to Rainier V0002 so that it would be easier to bend the wings to add dihedral than it would be to twist them.

Both the Eagle and Diabolino models call for the installation of weights in the wingtips.  The Eagle appears to feature a single 1/4 in diameter full-depth lead weight in the lead wing.  My Diabolino 2011, on the other hand, appears to have three 1/2 in diameter full-depth lead weights, one in the tip of each wing.

Rather than scrounge for lead shot, I decided to procure brass rod, which I could then cut into slivers of appropriate length.  Brass is, however, a less dense material, so I would need more of it to obtain the same weight.  (Lead is about 30% more dense than brass.)  To this end, I opted to buy a 5/16 in diameter rod as a substitute for the 1/4 in weights.  For the 1/2 in diameter lead, I stayed with 1/2 in diameter brass, as I was concerned that larger weights might take up too much space for them to fit neatly in the wingtip without some shaping work on the contoured side.

(In case you are curious, I picked up my brass material from M&K Metal in Gardena)

New Tools and Manufacturing Methods

Cutting the brass rods to size turned out to be less painful than I expected.  I read in some forums elsewhere on the Internet that a hacksaw would cut through brass rods "like butter."  So, I picked up a miter box and a hacksaw to add to my tool chest.  It was relatively painless and quick to make the cuts; I was probably finished with four pieces of each diameter in about 30 minutes.

My methods of carving and sanding did not change for this run, but the additional plies in the new wood material made it easier to evaluate the progress of the contour shaping.

For this set, I cut the holes for the weights after completing the airfoil sanding work.  I was initially unsure what configuration of weights I would use on the Diabolino, and I opted to make the call after I had a chance to weigh the boomerang post-contouring.  Since I do not have a drill press, I was forced to cut the holes with the Dremel, which resulted in some misshapen holes. Fortunately, I was able to fill in the gaps by slathering more epoxy into the holes when gluing the weights into place.

For future editions of these boomerangs, and for any boomerangs for which I am sure of the weights to use, I intend to cut the holes prior to the contouring work (to make it easier to draw on the boomerang the outlines to follow).

Surface Protection and Finish

For this set of boomerangs, I applied a few initial coats of Bulls Eye Shellac finish and sealer.  I then applied four coats of clear satin Minwax Polycrylic spray as a top coat.

I am quite pleased with how the coatings turned out.  The Shellac adds a nice color to the wood, and the Polycrylic adds what feels like a solid protective coat.  The true tests, of course, will be time and wear, but I like the initial result.

The Result

From Carver's Corner #2

From Carver's Corner #2

From Carver's Corner #2

More pictures are included in this album.

Additional Post-Woodworking Comments

I found that the boomerangs, after applying all the coatings, were consistently heavier than the originals by 6 to 7 grams.  The exception is the Diabolino, which turned out to be the same weight as the original (because I used quantity and diameter of weights, but of less dense material).  Even without the coatings, the boomerangs were slightly heavier than the originals (by about 3 grams).

I rushed the power sanding work on this set, having started cutting wood at about one o'clock in the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day and continuing well into the evening.  The rush is certainly evident in the uneven contouring and the multiple nicks and cuts that remain after completing the hand sanding.  Still, I think the boomerangs turned out reasonably well.

Initial Testing

Manny and I took the boomerangs out for a test drive this past Sunday.  They seem to fly pretty well.  The Rainier and the Eagle have flight behaviors like the originals except that they tend to want to keep flying on the return, just like Rainiers V0001 to V0003.  I chalk that behavior up to the more complete airfoil contours, which might impart better lift-to-drag ratios.

The Diabolino has a somewhat more elliptical path than the Diabolino 2010, but note that the original Diabolino 2011 has heavier wingtip weights and wing undercutting than its predecessor.  The difference in weight between my Diabolino and Manny's 2010 is apparent when they are in hand.  For a better flight comparison, I will have to fashion a Diabolino using the 5/16 in diameter brass weights.  Nevertheless, my Diabolino flies quite nicely, and I think the more efficient airfoil shaping helps the boomerang to sail back to me on the return.

All in all, it looks like these boomerangs were a success!

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Runway Catch Premiere

Hello all!

After a very long hiatus on my part I have finally published this video that has been many months in the making.  These clips were shot late last year but the video was delayed due to some computer issues and just overall procrastination on my part.

Take a look:

In case you are wondering, no, I am not naive enough to think that I am the only person to have made that catch ha ha.  However, I looked online and didn't find another video or evidence of someone else doing it.  As such, I thought it would be fun if I touted this as a mini "premiere" of sorts.  The boomerang I used for this segment was one of a set of two "Turbo" doubler boomerangs made by Kendall Davis.

The "Runway Catch" idea arose one day while practicing my trick catches.  I was trying to come up with a new catch that might one day be used in boomerang competitions.  I wondered why there was not a "no-hand" catch, but I quickly remembered that there was already a foot catch that qualified as a no-hander.  After further thinking I thought to myself, "If there is a two-handed back catch and also a one-handed back catch, why not a no-handed back catch as well?"

I began to practice and after many attempts finally got it.  The name "Runway Catch" was inspired by the planes passing overhead (we throw near LAX airport), and the fact that the boomerang is kind of like a plane coming in for landing on my back (the runway).  Extremely clever I know.    ;-)

Happy throwing!


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Colorado Boomerangs Are Coming Back

--by phnxhawk--

It would seem that the old pun continues to deliver.  The folks who picked up the Colorado Boomerangs brand have started re-releasing models from that classic line; in fact, these are the same people in charge of boomerangs.com.

The owners have been releasing new editions of some of the original Colorado line for "over a year," according to a post in the Boomerang_Talk Yahoo! group by Dana Larrabee of boomerangs.com.  Models currently for sale at boomerangs.com include: Yanaki, Rainier, Eagle, Condor, Seagull, Tri-Blader, Matterhorn, Aspen, Glacier, Delicate Arch Special Edition (SE) and Carlota (a Gel Girvin design).

Larrabee stated that the new editions are largely the same as the originals, with the most significant changes being related to the painting process.  In particular, he reiterated that the quality of their manufacture remains top-notch.

The new Colorados are still carved from "airplane grade plywood imported from Finland," he said.  (Most models are built from the 5 mm thick plywood.  The two exceptions are the 6 mm Condor and 4 mm Aspen.)  They also continue to use the same templates as well as most of the same routers and jigs as were used with the previous generation of models (ostensibly from the Richard Pollock-Nelson era).  They no longer use belt sanders, however, but instead sand each boomerang by hand.  He said the new process yields a product that seems to look more pleasing to the eye and that also seems to fly better.  Indeed, he said he finds their "wood cutting and sanding processes are right there with previous results if not better."  For the painting process, they now use an "airbrush system" instead of paint cans.  With the new process, Larrabee said they can achieve "smaller, more precise dot size with more artistic control in the art process."  He said the new paint looks better except in the case of the Delicate Arch SE, the art style of which has been difficult to replicate.

Fans of the Colorado brand can also look forward to the return of more classic models in the near future.  Phoenix, Alpine, Everest and Delicate Arch are expected to be re-released "later this month," according to Larrabee.

As I have recounted in previous posts, my first boomerangs were the Rainier and Phoenix.  They are such terrific and reliable performers that, despite their worn-down paint, I throw them almost every time I go out to throw sticks.  In the intervening time, I have filled out my collection with the remaining standard models from the Colorado line (except for the elusive "Fast Catch").  So, it would be an understatement to say that I am excited to see new editions of Colorado boomerangs on sale.  I suppose this means that I need to stop slacking with my Colorado retrospectives....

Boomerang_Talk (Post #10400)
boomerangs.com (Colorado brand listings)

"Putting my spin on boomerangs..."