Friday Night Lights: Rifle Dynamics ROKC 2022 After Dark AAR

Are you an enthusiast of the dark as well as a Kalashnikov fan? Well, this week’s topic for Friday Night Lights might very well tantalize and entertain you. Last week we took a look at a budget entry-level thermal camera that uses smartphones to see and control it. Today we take a look at Rifle Dynamic’s Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship (ROKC 2022) After Dark event which was last weekend.
Rifle Dynamics @ TFB:

ROKC 2022
The Rifle Dynamics Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship is a rifle match that focuses on using Com-Bloc weapons. Ideally AK variants. The match started on Thursday for the staff to shoot and went on until Sunday. I went there on Saturday during the day to check out the match and stages. I was invited by Rifle Dynamics to shoot the night match, ROKC 2022 After Dark. This year they officially held a night match but first let’s take a look at the day match.
The stages were rather straightforward. Some were like miniature Finnish Brutality where competitors were required to exhibit some physicality beyond moving themselves and their guns through the stage. One stage had you move a large steel target in a stage. Another stage required picking up a kettlebell and throwing it to your next shooting position as you zig-zag down the stage.
The stage below required the shooter to move this dummy replica Maxim machine gun and place it in a pintle mount down range. Fortunately, you do not have to touch the dummy prop while shooting. So gamers opted to pick up the dummy prop, carry it downrange to the mount then race back to the start position. Their gun is staged empty on the ground so you have to pick it up and load it to shoot the stage all while on the clock.

I was observing this stage and the wind had picked up. There were warnings of high winds leading up to the ROKC 2022 match. Sure enough, we experienced 25 mph winds. I thought the berms of the shooting bays might offer some protection against the wind but it did not help. See the photo below.

I took the photo above just moments after the wind decimated this stage. It was so strong it not only knocked over some of the targets but the partitions as well. It even snapped the wooden uprights of some of the targets and walls.
Another stage was a hallway of palettes.

You have shooting ports and need to engage targets on either side.

Below was a bonus stage where you use a pistol only.

This year Rifle Dynamics had Infinity Target sponsor their ROKC 2022 match. This is the first time I have seen these targets. It is certainly an idea that is so simple you think “Why didn’t I think of it?” They are made of a rubber-like material, sort of like a horse mat or rubber dummy. The zones are engraved into the material and it is painted white.

Just like the Rubber Dummy targets, the target is self-healing and impacts show up. To “reset” or “paste target” you just spray the impacts with white spray paint.

Want An AK12? Give It A Forever Home!
My friend Houston had his AK12 that he built from parts he acquired from Russia.

He even has the original manual. According to Houston, he even talked to our very own Vlad for advice on building this AK12.

Shooting AKs In The Dark

This is the first time Rifle Dynamics officially held a night match for ROKC. Last year it was something unofficially started. I had asked the guys at Rifle Dynamics if it would be possible to use the range at night to shoot some stages in the dark. The match staff, range staff and Rifle Dynamics were ok with it. It was fun but there were very few participants last year. This year is a different story. At ROKC 2022 After Dark, there were easily 20 shooters per squad and there were four squads. The ROKC 2022 After Dark match consisted of only four stages from the day match. They altered the stage description a bit. For example, the stage with the Maxim prop gun did not have the dummy prop in play. There was another stage where you used a revolver stage gun to shoot a rubber dummy in the head before using your own gun to shoot the stage. They did not do this during the night match. Probably the biggest change was the round count. They made everyone shoot four rounds per target. If the target had body armor (khaki-colored piece of rubber in front of the target) then you had to shoot the target 5 times. On one stage they made you shoot the target 10 times and shots outside the armor did not count. Some competitors were not happy with this. It seemed wasteful to them. The match staff thought having a higher round count for four stages would satisfy people who paid $80 extra to shoot the ROKC 2022 After Dark side match. I would have preferred they had us shoot 6 stages. You would end up shooting a similar round count but I do not think people would be as upset.
The stages we used were stages 2, 5, 6, & 7. We were the third squad so we started on Stage 6. It was a rather straightforward stage. You have two shooting positions to start from. You had to shoot a piece of steel at the back of the stage from each position. There were two pieces of steel, one in each corner. Then you could proceed into the shooting box and shoot the Infinity Targets. At the end, there were three targets with armor and you had to shoot these five times each.
There were some shooters on our squad who did not have night vision so they utilized white light and in some cases a laser. The Rose placed road flares in front of the steel targets and on some of the Infinity Targets to help those without night vision.

Under night vision, this creates a photonic barrier. So using an IR illuminator helps a lot to see the targets behind all that light.

Hogarth Hughes (that is not his real name) taped a Maglite to his VZ58.

One of the coolest shooters to watch was Caleb and his semi-auto PKM. It was just cool to watch him walk around like a heavy in some video game hip firing his belt fed in the dark. He had a number of malfunctions but no one on our squad begrudged him. We were just enjoying the show. I filmed some of his runs with my PSQ-20 to get some sweet thermal fusion images.

Not sure why but his shots would occasionally spark aggressively from the muzzle. Most AKs, especially 7.62×39, cause sparking down range when the bullet hits rocks. But this wasn’t that.

Remember those Infinity Targets? I noticed something really neat about them when I filmed with my iRay RH25 Rico Micro. The rubber retains the heat from the bullets passing through them. See the photo below. You can clearly see the heat from the four rounds that were shot at this target. They show up as white-hot since that is the color palette for the thermal device. But do you see the black splotches on the target? Those are the previous hits that were covered up with spray paint. They show up as black since black is cold under this palette. I could spot shooters’ hits easily by just looking at the targets without needing to walk up to them.

Here is a video of some shooters during ROKC 2022 After Dark and three of my stages. The first stage was an abysmal failure with my HK93 and MKE polymer magazines. I reverted to my PSA AKV pistol and that ran without issue.
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ROKC 2022 After Dark Final Thoughts
As I said earlier, last year only a handful of shooters partook in shooting AKs in the dark. This year there were plenty of shooters. However, there were some issues. The first was the wind. I did not mind it but some shooters, from the day match, were not happy with shooting with such strong winds. The other issue was the excessively high round count. Rather than enjoying the shooting experience, I felt like I was just wasting ammo for the sake of a high round count. I rather have shot more stages than waste extra rounds on the same targets. Another issue I noticed with our squad was that it took a while to rotate through shooters. The ROs could be more efficient and organized. Since all the targets required to paint, there should have been fresh cans of paint. But we were desperately using whatever leftover cans were on the stages.  In some cases, we went to nearby stages to harvest their spray cans since we often ran out of what was already on stage. With regards to the shooters, they should have their gear, ammo and gun ready to go while the rest of the squad is resetting down range. They should be standing at the start position, gun empty and pointed up or down safely. This way we minimize downtime and can clear the stages more quickly.
I enjoyed shooting the night match but there is room for improvement. Thanks to Rifle Dynamics for inviting me out there. […]


TFB Review: FB Radom’s VIS 100 M1 Pistol – The Polish Military Sidearm

The Polish VIS 100 M1 pistol from Fabrika Broni is an upgraded variant of the pistol that is currently issued to the Polish Armed Forces, the VIS 100 (no “M1”) while the primary advantage of the civilian M1 version provides an optics-ready capability. The history of the VIS 100 M1 can be traced back to the early 1990s when Poland began looking inward for the production of a pistol for the armed forces. This search saw a couple different designs, the MAG 95 and the WIST-94, the latter of which was adopted in 1999. The MAG pistol was updated in 1998, and again in 2008. In 2018, the evolution of the MAG design, the VIS 100, started being issued to the Polish Armed Forces, replacing the WIST-94. The VIS 100 M1 is imported and sold by Arms of America, and is also available through Atlantic Firearms, who graciously provided the review sample you see here.
Atlantic Firearms @ TFB:

The FB Radom VIS 100 M1 pistol has an odd overall appearance that harkens back to the “Wonder 9[mm]” era and seems to draw aesthetic influence from the Smith & Wesson Third Generation semi-autos, albeit with a modernized set of features. The angled trigger guard is what resembles the S&W’s the most to my eyes, even though it’s much larger to accommodate a gloved trigger finger, but the wrap-around grip panels also add to that S&W motif.

VIS 100 M1 shows off its lines while the VIS 35 looks off to the sunset.
It seems that the development team took a look at the features that most shooters want in a DA/SA pistol, as the magazine release, slide stop, and decocker are all ambidextrous, the slide comes pre-cut for optics-ready capability as well as features front serrations, and the frame has a railed dust cover. The overall thickness was kept to a minimum, and the controls hardly protrude at all, while remaining simple to manipulate without having to adjust my grip. The slide is only .98 inches wide, and the ambi slide stop lever only adds .27 inches to the total width in that spot.

One negative aspect is that the magazines are proprietary, as they require a hump on the front of the magazine to interact with the ambi mag release. At the time of this review, there aren’t many VIS 100 M1 pistols in the United States, so users will be stuck with the two mags supplied with the pistol. At least until more can be imported, with no word yet on what spare magazines will cost, however, Atlantic Firearms has 10-round magazines listed on their website as “coming soon.” Despite this early importation issue, FB Radom supplies two types of magazine base plates for each supplied magazine; a thin, low profile base plate that makes the capacity 15 rounds of 9mm, and a thicker, +2 base plate that brings the capacity to 17 rounds.
The +2 magazine floor plate is easily removed by pulling up on the slotted tab, then the floor plate can be slid off the mag body.
The VIS 100 M1 field strips easily by simply flipping the takedown lever down.
The sights come standard with a red fiber optic front sight, and green fiber optics aft. I find that the contrasting sights are easy to pick up and are very bright under most daytime lighting conditions. The rear sight can be drifted out from its dovetail slot, and the front sight is fixed in place with a screw from the inside of the slide.

The trigger gets some special attention here as it has some interesting mechanics. The double action pull was pretty consistent on my makeshift trigger pull scale, a luggage scale, which showed it was breaking around 10 pounds, while the single action seemed to weigh in at around 5 pounds. The double action pull seems long but it’s incredibly smooth throughout its entire travel. The single action trigger pull has about 3/8 of an inch reset, and once it’s reset, there’s still some slack to work through before landing on the sear, and from there to the break, it’s also very smooth. Having said all that, I’d expect that trigger snobs would hate this trigger, but I was quite pleased with the VIS 100 M1’s accuracy and the ease of maintaining my sight picture through each function of the trigger. More on that soon.
I’ve never had a problem with slide-mounted decocking levers, but the designers at FB Radom certainly listened to the majority of DA/SA pistol shooters when it came to mounting their ambidextrous decocker lever on the frame of the VIS 100. The decocking lever is also designed to be unobtrusive and low profile, without being a pain to reach and manipulate. My medium-sized hands didn’t have any problem working the decocking lever, and I didn’t have to change my shooting grip to do it either. Regardless of which hand I held the VIS 100 M1 in, I used my middle thumb knuckle to operate the decocking lever, however, I found the starboard side easier and more comfortable to manipulate since it was more squared off than the left side lever. If there was one thing I would change about the VIS 100, it would be the shape of the left side decocker. I also found that the rounded triangle lever on the left side of the VIS 100 bit into the web of my hand under recoil, which is a bit irritating over time, but it’s not enough to start flinching.

The two sets of supplied grips for the VIS 100 M1 were both comfortable, although they didn’t seem to have a major difference, and I’ve labeled the grips in the photo below as “large” and “medium” rather than large and small. I’ve also highlighted the different contours between them, as the large has a slightly higher back strap, while the medium is less steep. The arrow is pointing to the extra dimple on the back strap of the large grip panel that indicates the difference at a glance (if they’re next to each other).
Changing grip panels is a bit nuanced. Make sure the pistol is unloaded since the trigger needs to be pulled all the way to the rear to remove the right panel.

The VIS 100 M1 magazines fed each round extremely reliably as I didn’t have any failures to feed, however, I did have some problems with the slide not wanting to lock open after the last round was fired. This happened in the first few magazines, then it seemed to work just fine afterward, but then I had the same problem again on my next range trip. Given the inconsistency, it either just needed time to break in, or perhaps the slide stop mechanism needed a bit of oil. The ambidextrous magazine releases worked wonderfully from either side and were also reachable without having to re-grip the pistol.
Loaded Chamber Indicator

Getting back to accuracy, I was pleased with the FB Radom VIS 100 M1’s performance, as well as my own. During one of my earlier range sessions, I shot two targets at 15 yards with ten rounds each, the left of which shows my double action trigger results with quick shooting. My ten-round group of single action trigger pulls is on the right, and not surprisingly a little tighter than the double action group. A short time later, I stepped back to the 25-yard line and shot ten rounds off hand, taking my time.
15 yards, (L) DA only, quickly. (R) SA only.
25 yards, 10 rounds with the first round as DA.
On one of my range trips, I had a few minutes left and ten more rounds loaded up, so I tried my hand at the farthest target on the range, which, from where I stood was 175 yards to a steel frame that used to hold 12-inch steel targets. I aimed at the top left corner (where it was thickest) and hit it twice. On my next range trip, I was able to repeat it with my MK Machining steel Covid plate. I’ll admit It took me 11 rounds before I hit it once, but I was happy enough with that for now, and I was glad that the VIS 100 M1 could still prove capable at distance despite the interesting trigger mechanics.

I apologize to those that prefer to see an optics-ready pistol with a red dot mounted, but I don’t currently have one, so I wasn’t able to review that feature. Otherwise, I had a great time with the FB Radom VIS 100 M1, and I can highly recommend it if it’s within your budget and desire. Which brings us to the MSRP, which is currently $939 for the Black version as reviewed, $1,049 for the Cobalt, and $1,149 for the Inox. The price is higher than originally hoped for, but some pistol enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy shooting an upgraded copy of Poland’s military sidearm, either with friends, family, or perhaps we’ll even see some at competitions. I’ve always loved DA/SA pistols, and although it’s curious to see a modern military issue one during the striker-fired era, it’s also classy at the same time.

What do you think about the FB Radom VIS 100 M1 pistol?

Smooth as butter trigger
Controls work without adjusting the grip
Trigger and sights are capable of long range
Optics ready, and optics plate accepts many footprints


Higher MSRP than expected
Last round slide lock was finicky
Proprietary magazines are in short supply until more shipments arrive […]


2022 Hackaday Supercon: Joe [Kingpin] Grand Keynote and Workshops Galore

It’s our great pleasure to announce that Joe [Kingpin] Grand is going to be our keynote speaker at the 2022 Supercon!
If you don’t know Joe, he’s a hacker’s hacker. He’s behind the earliest DEFCON electronic badges, to which we can trace our modern #badgelife creative culture. He was at the l0pht when it became the most publicly visible hackerspace in the USA, at the dawn of what we now think of as cybersecurity. And moreover, he’s a tireless teacher of the art of hardware hacking.
Joe’s talk at DEFCON 22 about reverse engineering PCBs on a hacker budget is on our top-10 must watch playlist, and his JTAGulator debug-port enumeration device has been present at the start of countless hacking sessions. But again, it’s his enthusiasm for creating, his inspiring “what if I poke at this thing this way?” attitude, and overwhelming hacker spirit that make Joe a long-overdue speaker at Supercon!
His keynote talk is, of course, about a project he’s working on. Aiming to bring back the best part of the 1980s, aside from the BBS, Joe made “The World’s Thinnest Boom Box,” an open source, Raspberry Pi-based music player complete with custom artwork, capacitive touch sensing buttons, and ultra-thin piezo speaker elements. Is this the largest single panel “badge” ever created? Joe will discuss his engineering process, the complex circuit board fabrication techniques used in the project — like laser-drilled via-in-pad and controlled depth routing — and the challenges he faced along the way. We can’t wait!
We have seven (7) amazing workshops planned for Saturday and Sunday, each with a ticket price of $15 and attendance limited to 20, and you should go sign up now at the main Supercon tickets page. We’ll also have a bonus badge workshop for as many people as we can fit in the room, led by badge creator and hardware hero Voja Antonic, and our own Adam Zeloof.

Christina CyrBuild Your Own Phone with the Rephone Kit Create
Let’s get together and have a little fun while assembling your very own 2G phone. If you want to take your creation a step further after the assembly, bring your laptop with a micro-USB cable and I’ll show you how to upload your own ringtones and change the code.

Mike Szczys and Chris GammellOpen Source RTOS on a Connected ePaper Badge
This workshop is to quickly get people building custom firmware using Zephyr, an open-source Real Time Operating System (RTOS). We will be programming a MagTag badge from Adafruit, a low-cost sensor platform that also has an ePaper display on it.

Nathan JonesBeyond Arduino: Getting to “Blinky” (and beyond!) on a New Microcontroller
If you’ve ever wanted to use a development board that wasn’t “Arduino-compatible” but didn’t know how, this workshop is for you! Participants will learn how microcontrollers are programmed, which tools are needed, and where to find that information — all while starting to build their own project with an STM32 microcontroller.

Debra AnsellMotion Reactive LED Wearables
Workshop participants will build an LED headband (can be adapted to a hat) based on the Seeeduino XIAO nrf52840 Sense microcontroller which contains an accelerometer and microphone. Using the CircuitPython LED Animation library framework, they will learn to create and adapt motion responsive animations.

Rikke Rasmussen, Beau AmburBuild a portable directional antenna
Amateur Operators KN6KZF & K6EAU (a.k.a. Rikke & Beau) enjoy cruising the air waves as a conveniently socially distanced hobby. They have enjoyed reaching out from lighthouses, mountain tops, national parks and even via the International Space Station. Combining the fun of geocaching, balloons and radios has led to a great way to spend time together and get outdoors both launching and recovering various devices. Most recently that involved running Ground Control for Parachute Mobile Mission 42 while 3 skydivers made successive jumps to make both VHF and HF radio contacts while descending from over 10,000 feet under chute.

Alex LyndCat-Themed Soldering & USB Hacking Workshop! (Build a USB Nugget)
Want to build your own cat-shaped hacking tool and learn how hackers exploit unlocked computers in seconds? You’ll learn to solder our “USB Nugget” circuit board kit, and walk away from this workshop with the resources & knowledge to create your own USB attacks on our cute, cat-themed platform!

Matt VennTiny Tapeout – design your own chip and get it made!
In this workshop, you will get the opportunity to design and have manufactured your own design on an ASIC!
You will learn: The basics of digital logic, the basics of how semiconductors are designed and made, how to use an online digital design tool to build and simulate a simple design, and how to create the GDS files for manufacture on the open source Sky130 PDK.
Participants will have the option to submit their designs to be manufactured on the next shuttle as part of the Tiny Tapeout project.
Participants will need a laptop, and that’s it. […]


Elgato Wave DX XLR Microphone Review: Affordable, Full-Bodied Sound

Today’s best Elgato Wave DX XLR deals (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab) (opens in new tab)View (opens in new tab)Elgato is one of the biggest names in the streaming world, and after its debut Wave:3 became one of the best gaming microphones you could buy, it was only a matter of time before it tapped into the higher-end XLR market. The time has finally come and the Wave DX is upon us.Compatible with any XLR interface, but enhanced by Elgato’s own Wave XLR, the Wave DX brings with it an upgrade path that just wasn’t possible with the USB-based Wave line-up. It’s a microphone that can grow with your setup over time and connect to professional audio gear instead of just your USB port. It can be used with more than just your PC, and has good enough sound quality that streamers, podcasters, and YouTubers can all find it useful. At $99, it’s also surprisingly cheap, but don’t let that fool you. You’ll still need to spend extra on an audio interface to connect it to your PC, but if you already have one or are in the market for a wholesale upgrade from USB, this microphone is worth a look.Elgato Wave DX Specs

ConnectivityXLRFrequency Response50 – 15000 HzMicrophone TypeCondenserPolar PatternsCardoidImpedance600 OhmsSensitivity2.5 mV/Pa, -52 dbV/PaDimensions2.1 x 2.1 x 5.7 inWeight (in shock mount)0.97 pounds

Design of the Elgato Wave DXThe Elgato DX is the definition of minimalism, so don’t expect it to attract a lot of attention on stream. It’s an end-address microphone, so its rectangular body shotguns directly at your mouth. It’s solid black, finished with a matte coating so it won’t reflect light. Since it uses an XLR connection without phantom power, there’s no lighting. The only bit of trim to be found is a removable Elgato logo that can be swapped between sides when you switch the mounting bracket.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The same kind of minimalist design applied to the Wave:3 which we reviewed back in 2020. Even that mic had a bit of flair with its RGB lighting ring. The philosophy here seems to be strip back, fade into the background. It’s all about the content, man. (At least, that’s what I imagine this mic would say if it could talk.) That’s not to say it doesn’t have some tricks up its sleeve. Hidden inside its hardened steel shell is a dynamic microphone capsule selected in partnership with Lewitt Audio. Lewitt is a respected brand, and microphones are at the heart of all it does. Its products can be found in recording studios all around the world, are subject to numerous glowing reviews, and the team did a great job when they partnered with Elgato on the original Wave mics. It’s reasonable to expect good things when all history points to Lewitt knowing its stuff when it comes to microphones. For only $99, that expectation is handily met. I’ll dive deeper into specific sound characteristics in the next section, but Lewitt and Elgato have crafted a mic that manages to sound rich and full of presence while also sounding natural and detailed. Affordable microphones are often one-trick ponies — stage, broadcast, or instrument — but the Wave DX manages to cross those latter two boundaries with impressive ease.Still, this is a dynamic microphone with most of the usual benefits and drawbacks. It has a compressed frequency response range of 50Hz to 15kHz. The condenser capsule in the Blue Yeti X extends that on both sides, coming in at 20Hz to 20kHz. The original Wave:3 is a bit less at 70Hz to 20kHz, but obviously the range the DX is able to capture is less. Elgato compensates for that with a tuning that emphasizes the treble more than competing dynamic mics, giving it a more natural, detailed sound.And in truth, those frequency response ranges don’t mean a whole lot when you’re recording vocals. What you need to know is that the Wave DX makes your voice sound slightly crisp. There’s a pleasant edge, similar to what you hear on the Shure SM7B or the more affordable Rode PodMic. It’s not over-done. My voice didn’t sound crunchy in the same way it did with the PodMic. But there’s a slight  “radio voice” quality that’s very appealing.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Alongside the capsule, Elgato has implemented a built-in shock mount and pop filter. These are usually add-on purchases that drive up the bill, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find that the pop filter in particular is quite good. The shock mount lets through a bit too much noise, however, so you may still want to look for another solution there.Returning to the outside of the mic, the chassis is peppered with a 360-degree grille except for a strip on the right side. You’ll still need to talk into the end of the microphone for the best quality, but you don’t have to be quite so spot-on to be heard well. Elgato knows streamers tend to move around a lot in their seats, so as long as it’s generally centered in front of you, your quality will be just fine.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The only other features are the rear XLR port and the mounting arm to attach to a stand, which isn’t included. The port is completely standard, but the mono arm is a pretty neat addition. Instead of connecting directly to the microphone, the mono arm screws into the stand. It attaches to the mic with its own adjustment knob, allowing you to angle the mic to meet your mount. Since there’s no external shock mount or u-bracket to contend with, you can make adjustments without bunching up the XLR cable in the middle of your content.Broadly speaking, the Wave DX is a well-made microphone that does its job well, but it’s not perfect. Even though it’s made of hardened steel, I was surprised by how light the mic felt. It comes in just under a pound, less than half the weight of the Rode PodMic. The grille also has a bit of give when pressed on, and I have no doubt that it will dent easily if hit or dropped. It doesn’t feel cheaply made, but it lacks the tank-like quality of the PodMic.Sound Quality on the Elgato Wave DXThe Elgato Wave DX offers a full-bodied, broadcast-style sound signature. As a dynamic microphone, its capsule applies a bit of crunch to the voice, giving it radio-like character while still maintaining high resolution, natural-sounding vocal capture. The sound is warm, so your voice has presence, but doesn’t sound dull or over-compressed. This makes it a good fit for vocal work, such as podcasts, voiceover, and of course, streaming.Even though it has the unmistakable character and enhanced bass of a dynamic broadcast microphone, Elgato has tuned it to bring out a bit more treble detail. This lends a bit more airiness and natural timbre to the sound. Its tuning allows it to be a more versatile recording tool and better for recording instruments on music streams.It’s worth comparing to the Rode PodMic here, because both mics retail for $99 and both are competing for your upgrade dollars. For tuning and character, the PodMic sounds great when recording vocals but struggles to make guitars and pianos sound completely natural (though you can address this a bit in post-processing). The Wave DX was able to record my acoustic guitar very well without any tweaks whatsoever. I might add a little reverb in my DAW of choice, Reaper, but I would have no hesitation using it to stream live music.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)While Elgato’s claim that it can “pick up detail like a condenser,” might be slightly overstating things, it does act as an effective middle ground between the two microphone types. Condensers are still, in my opinion, king of the hill when it comes to clarity and natural tone, but the simple fact is that dynamic microphones are still going to be the best fit for most people due to their excellent noise rejection and insensitivity (PC fans, keyboards, and noisey roommates won’t be nearly as audible as a competing condenser). The Wave DX gives you a blend of both worlds: excellent noise rejection and enhanced clarity at an affordable price.The integrated pop filter also works very well. I’m usually disappointed by in-built filters, but the Wave DX does a great job of blocking plosives. Even speaking very close to the mic, I wasn’t able to get it to distort with any kind of plosive test using normal speech. Peter’s peck of pickled peppers is safe with this one.The built-in shock mount isn’t nearly as good. Small taps of the desk and minor bumps of the boom arm all make their way directly into the microphone. The Wave DX is compatible with aftermarket shock mounts that will do a better job, but you’ll need to remove the swivel mount to do so, which impacts how easy it is to position.There is a bit of self noise to be aware of, but it’s not bad. Underneath your speech is a tiny amount of white noise. It’s typical to microphones at this price, and is easy to remedy with even a very minor noise gate or noise suppressor, but is still something to know about going in. It’s small enough that you might not even mind, but if you want total silence for voice-over work, a suppressor or gate will be necessary.Have a listen to how it sounds below.Software for the Elgato Wave DXAs an XLR microphone, the Wave DX does not connect directly to a PC and has no software of its own. It finds itself in a unique position, however, because the Wave line-up is known for its rich software effects and custom audio routing, so the name itself carries some expectation of customizability. Elgato also makes no secret of the potential of its Wave Link software.The problem is that the actual microphone does not support any of these things because it cannot without a data connection. To access them, you’ll need to purchase the Wave XLR audio interface (another $160) or download third-party software to access VSTs with a competing audio interface.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Should you purchase the Wave XLR, Wave Link allows you to create custom audio channels with both real and virtual inputs. For example, for game streaming, you may want game audio and your Spotify playlist to mix with your microphone feed. Likewise, you can remove sources from specific channels without completely muting them in your own ears.You may, for example, want to drop your Discord call from the Audience mix so you’re not broadcasting your strategy to the competing team (or have the world hear your friends get too blue). It’s very similar to what we saw with the GoXLR and the Beacn Mic and is a powerful production tool for a one-host streaming set up. If you don’t have a Wave XLR interface, Wave Link is inaccessible.Available to all interfaces (and you’ll need at least one to use the Wave DX), are plug-ins known as VSTs. These can be loaded into your streaming or recording software to provide additional audio effects. Elgato has created its own easy-to-use Elgato EQ plug-in, but there are numerous others to add compression effects, noise suppression, and de-essing to remove sibilance for your recording.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)These can be effective solutions to enhancing the sound of the microphone and tailoring it to your own voice, but they’re not as seamless or as user-friendly as I would like. When accessed from inside Wave Link, VST plug-ins open in additional windows, which feels a bit messy when you’re streaming. They also usually require at least some background knowledge to use them effectively. They tend to use audio lingo that may not be familiar and don’t always explain their settings well, if at all. Prior research will be necessary if you’re not already familiar with vocal effects.Bottom Line(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The Wave DX is a great microphone in a lot of ways. It sounds rich and full, perfect for vocal capture. It also gathers a generous amount of treble detail, so you can record instruments and still have them sound natural while not losing the noise rejection that makes dynamic mics such a good fit for untreated rooms and noisey environments.But without the Wave XLR, it feels incomplete. Purchasing both together more than doubles the price, and triples it if you also want Elgato’s mic arm and XLR cable. Picking everything up as a bundle is much cheaper than buying them separately ($299 versus $379) but it still feels expensive.The Wave DX has the benefit of growing with your setup over time, but if you don’t see yourself adding external mixers or accessories, some of the best gaming and streaming microphones still come with normal USB connections. If you like the potential of the Wave Link software, and don’t mind the sound difference of a condenser, the Elgato Wave:3 is an excellent alternative that will save you big at checkout. For a USB choice with even better sound crafting, the Beacn Mic is also worth considering.Even without its software, the Wave DX still offers impressive sound quality and versatile performance for the price. If you don’t mind picking up some extras, it’s worth a closer look. […]


TFB Armorer’s Bench: Commentary on The Colt 1877 Revolvers

Welcome everyone to the TFB Armorer’s Bench! As mentioned in the little blurb below, this series will focus on a lot of home armorer and gunsmith activities. In this article, I decided to take a bit of a risk and pick up a bucket list gun that does not have the best reputation. I of course am obviously referring to the Colt 1877 DA revolver. These revolvers are often referred to as “the gunsmith’s favorite” or “the gun all gunsmiths refuse to work on” which I think is a little unfair. They have a reputation for being fragile and prone to breakage. With a bit of time and obsessive research, I have compiled a small list of issues, reasons, and humble opinions to talk about a gun that I rather refer to as the Colt 1877 “Rainmaker”, “Lightning”, and “Thunderer”. Let’s dive right into this Commentary on The Colt 1877 Revolver!
TFB Armorer’s Bench: The Colt 1877 Revolvers
Here, we at TFB hope to inform, entertain, and even inspire any would-be gunsmith or armorer out there. Ideally, with the information I provide and with the help of our sponsors, you can have some useful knowledge pertaining to the conservation and improvement of firearms technology while at the same time sharing experiences and teaching each other new tips and tricks along the way in the comments. Digging deep into what it is to be an armorer or gunsmith has significance but what is important is what those people do to show they’ve earned that title. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge and hope it is informative!
Make your personal safety a priority:

Practice proper gun safety. Always make sure before the firearm hits your bench that it is unloaded and safe to be handled.
Wear the proper safety equipment. The main one would be safety glasses (decent ones) since parts are often under spring tension and you may work with high RPM tools. Other honorable mentions would be latex gloves or a respirator when working with potentially harmful solvents and oils. Also hearing protection when working with loud machinery or test-firing firearms.
Modifications, alterations, and customizations will void your firearm’s warranty 9.5 times out of 10. Please take that into consideration before attempting any at-home gunsmithing.
If you are unsure about proper safety practices, disassembly procedures, or warranty standards, stop, put down the tools, and consult a competent gunsmith.

Quick History: The Colt 1877 Revolvers
The Colt 1877 or Colt DA, as it was referred to when it was introduced, was a rushed product. Do not get me wrong, it was refined and engineered over time under heavy critiques but it was rushed nonetheless. It showed up at a time when American side arms were mainly single action. Our European counterparts in the same era had an already long history and preference for the double-action revolver. The Colt company actually had a base of operations (for lack of a better name) in England. When the British military held trials for revolvers, Colt sent along the well-regarded 1873 Single Action Army and it basically got immediately rejected. Definitely not because it was a bad gun but mostly because it was not double action. So development began before too long.
Lot 1293: Colt Single Action Army Revolver 45 Colt – Exceptional 1875 Production A.P. Casey Sub-Inspected Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Revolver. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/56/1293/colt-single-action-army-revolver-45-colt.
Now, this is supposed to be a quick history so I am going to have to gloss over some things. Skipping ahead to when the Colt 1877 was finalized it still was not ideal for the British government nor did they have any interest in it since all of its competitors were just a little better in every way. Colt did not mind because they chose to take their new Colt 1877 DA to market.

Over its production run from 1877 to 1909, it was chambered in three different cartridges and sported a bunch of barrel lengths (1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3, 3 1/2, 4, 4 1/2, 5, 6, 7, or 7 1/2 inch). Working from smallest to largest cartridge options we have the .32 Colt, .38 Colt, and .41 Colt. These would eventually all pick up a nickname by the same merchant and advertiser that dubbed the 1873 SAA the “Peacemaker”. The 32 was called the “Rainmaker” (it is the rarest of the bunch, only a few hundred ever made), the 38 was the “Lightning” (my personal Colt 1877), and the 41 was the “Thunderer”.

Lot 331: Colt 1877 Revolver 32 Colt – Scarce Cased Colt Model 1877 .32 Colt Caliber “Rainmaker” Double Action Sheriff’s Model Revolver. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved July 31, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/65/331/colt-1877-revolver-32-colt.
Over 166,000 of these revolvers were produced and many notable historical figures used them. Some of them are reputable enough to make you question the modern-day claims of the Colt 1877’s fragility. For example, Doc Holiday, John Wesley Hardin, and Billy the Kid (never full-on confirmed but it is highly likely from the literature) used the Colt 1877 revolver in some form or another whether it was a primary tool or a backup gun.
Lot 3277: Colt Model 1877 Thunderer Double Action Revolver – Colt Model 1877 Thunderer Double Action Revolver with 6 Inch Barrel. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/84/3277/colt-model-1877-thunderer-double-action-revolver.
Despite the Colt DA never really having any severe issues in the three decades that it was produced, it still somehow has a harsh reputation in these modern well documented times. It is looked at as fragile and complicated. They are commonly used for display and collecting purposes for this reason. On top of that last note, they definitely are not very cheap despite their supposed flaws and reputation. So are the rumors and claims truly warranted? Is the Colt 1877 DA actually a fragile firearm? I will do my best to present my humble opinions and observations below.
Common Issues & Potential Reasons: The Colt 1877 Revolvers
An important part of being a gunsmith or armorer (covered in the article here) is not only identifying the problems with a gun but also what caused them. This way future issues can be prevented. Sometimes parts just plain and simply wear out and break but sometimes there is some other sneaky reason. So swapping an old part out for a new one is not always the long-term remedy. Sure, the Colt 1877 and its parts are small, “fragile” and complicated. Why is there not a bunch of documented reports of issues back when they were being made? It cannot just be age, right?
Trigger Will Not Return: This is usually one thing or a combination of things. There is a flat spring that biases the trigger back forward after being pulled rearward. These springs get thinner and thinner and you get closer to the edge that touches the trigger. They often break off at the tip or crack and lose some if not all of their tension.

There is also a roller that acts as a go-between for the trigger and spring relationship. These rollers (although they rarely “break”) have been known to wear flat on one edge. This is likely because of the roller simply (and quite a happenstance) being used on one side and not making a full rotation as often. It is a snowball effect that eventually leaves the roller constantly being used and ground flat on one side of its surface.

Cause? Age and excessive use mostly. This is almost always the fault of the trigger spring and not the roller but I wanted to mention that possibility as well.
Out of Time: This is probably the most common issue with these guns and unfortunately, it has a ton of different potential causes. So much so that I may forget to mention one off the top of my head. The Colt 1877 has an interesting way of locking up while being fired compared to modern-day revolvers. Modern revolvers have a cylinder stop that pokes up and out from the bottom of the frame and corresponds with small notches in the side of the cylinder. This makes sure that the chamber is in line with the bore and also locked in that spot during firing. The Colt 1877 has the same system in place but in a separate spot. The cylinder stop pokes out from the rear of the frame (under the blast shield) and stabs into notches on the chamber side of the cylinder.

The cylinder stop itself rarely breaks but can be damaged by heavy fouling (foreshadowing!!!) affecting its positioning during the cylinder’s rotation. The cylinder stop’s notches can also wear out because of this since the stop may be poking out at the wrong time and wearing on the face of the cylinder. It is unlikely but still a documented happening. The cylinder stop itself has a tail (on the inside of the frame) that communicates with a stud on the trigger. This stud will often be a heavy wear point since the cylinder stop is made to slide off of it when the trigger is being released and relinquished forward.

The springs in this gun actually rarely wear out (besides the trigger spring). At one point I watched a video in which someone replaced their sear and cylinder stop (it is a combination spring) tension spring and dry-fired their Colt 1877 until a breakage happened. It took what can be considered a normal amount of use to actually wear out those springs. Pretty cool actually!
Besides those few points, it should be mentioned that these guns are SOFT. That is right, their heat treatment is not of a high standard. Why? Because these guns were only ever made to fire black powder cartridges. They were never proofed to fire smokeless loads. This is an odd fact since Colt SAA revolvers being manufactured in the late 1890s (during the 1877’s production) began being proofed for smokeless loads. Back to the soft trait of these guns. The holes in which the trigger pin and bolt pin reside can become followed and disturb the timing.

Important Note: As I finally just touched on, these guns were not made to shoot smokeless loads (no matter how light the load may be). The pressure curve is just too different and it will (whether it be immediate or in time) eventually show in your gun. Treat it as intended. This is almost definitely why these guns developed such a reputation long after their 32-year production ceased. Later production of Colt 1877 revolvers even had it on their box!  “NOT ADAPTED FOR SMOKELESS POWDER”. Modern reproduction ammunition (for other guns that use the same cartridges) will hurt these revolvers. Their parts are not as delicate as many say. They just get beat up by folks using the wrong ammunition.
Lot 1312: Colt 1877 Revolver 38 Lc. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/57/1312/colt-1877-revolver-38-lc.
Conclusion: The Colt 1877 Revolvers
Now that I have dismounted the “don’t use smokeless loads” horse, I want to add one more note before we close this one out. Parts availability was probably a huge problem for a long time for these guns. Especially when the whole “gunsmith’s favorite” adage took effect. Back in the day, if I personally had to make a spring for myself or for someone else, it would take a good long while. That is valuable time and if you are a practicing gunsmith, time is money and you need to charge for your time and expertise. Not to mention any other part in this gun which would have to be hand fitted and probably heat treated. I have a soft spot for these revolvers and it probably shows. I will never claim they are perfect, in fact, I would not recommend investing in one unless it was for collecting purposes or you have the whole reloading thing down. I think it is a super cool piece of history and I enjoy the fact that I can hold a similar specimen that some gunfighter may have relied on once upon a time.

As always, thank you for reading TFB! Be safe out there, have fun while shooting, and we will see you next time for the TFB Armorer’s Bench! Also, let us know what you think in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback. […]


Friday Night Lights: InfiRay T2 Pro – Smartphone Thermal Sensor

It is Friday and that means another Friday Night Lights. Last week we talked about the Z-Bolt Blazer IR LED head. This week we take a look at an inexpensive thermal sensor that plugs directly into your phone. This one is made by InfiRay and they call it the T2 Pro.
InfiRay Thermal @ TFB:

InfiRay T2 Pro Smartphone Thermal Camera

The InfiRay T2 Pro is similar in function to the Flir One or Seek Thermal Compact. It is a small thermal sensor that plugs straight into your phone. InfiRay sent this T2 Pro in for review. They make a version for Android or iPhone. I opted for the iPhone version. You can see this T2 Pro has a Lightning plug sticking out of it so you can plug it straight into an iPhone. There is a slight standoff so it does work with low-profile iPhone cases.

The T2 Pro also comes with some accessories for mounting it in front of your phone. This consists of a metal universal phone holder with a sort of GoPro-style attachment point on the front. Then there is a bracket attached to that mount that holds the T2 Pro thermal sensor. This bracket has a dovetail machined into it to mount a visible laser. Since the T2 Pro is now mounted on this articulating bracket, InfiRay includes a short Lightning extension cable to connect the T2 Pro to your phone. Another accessory they included is a pistol grip that has a 1/4-20 screw to mount under the universal phone holder.

The bracket has an articulation point where it connects to the universal phone holder. See the photo below for the range of articulation. If you do not mount the laser, the bracket can tilt even further.

The bracket for the T2 Pro sensor has a dovetail machined into it, however, it is not compatible with standard Weaver or Picatinny. The dovetail on the bracket is smooth so there are no recoil lugs. The only thing holding the laser is the clamping force of the laser mount and the friction it creates.

I question the purpose of a laser for the T2 Pro. It is not slaved at all. While you can zero this laser, the T2 Pro cannot see it. So only VIS/NIR imaging devices as well as your eyes can see the laser. You could possibly point out where a thermal signature is but I do not see this working all that well.
Using The T2 Pro
In order to use the T2 Pro, you need to download an app called Xinfared. Your phone becomes the screen and controls for the T2 Pro. Here is a screenshot from my iPhone.

On the rleft side are four icons:

Photo capture
Video capture
Album (mountain icon)
Settings (hamburger icon)

The first two are straightforward. I am not sure why InfiRay thought an icon of a mountain is suitable for the photo album but that is what it does. When you tap the settings icon, you can change the isotherm temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit and back. There are settings for temperature compensation and temperature measurement distance. Next are 12 toggle options:

Show Logo (enables Xinfrared logo on the screen)
Take Mirror (mirrors the image)
Camera System (shows what your phone camera sees in a small window)
Temperature Switch (displays temperature reading where you point the cross hair)
Auto Refresh (NUC)
Speedometer (I am not sure what this does)
location (displays GPS coordinates of your phone)
rotate 180º (rotates image 180º)
picture in picture (displays a zoomed in PIP window at the top if the screen)
camera sound (enables camera shutter sound)
time (displaces time and date)
image mode (I am not sure what this does)

The camera system feature is a little bit neat. It shows what your phone camera sees. However it only shows 1x. You can move this PIP-style window anywhere you want on the screen of your phone. But it is very zoomed out compared to the image the T2 Pro produces. See the screenshot below. There are two girls talking on the street corner. You can barely make them out in the dark “camera system” PIP window just below the street lamp.

I wish you could zoom in on this PIP or switch to the long-range higher magnification lens of my iPhone 12 Max Pro. But alas you cannot. I would also like to have a fusion option where you can superimpose the phone camera image on top of the thermal image with an opacity drop or outline edge detect but that is not a feature programmed into this app. The FLIR ONE has an MSX mode that fuses the day camera image with the thermal image because the thermal sensor resolution is so bad it cannot show you detail. The T2 Pro has a 256×192 resolution sensor. So the resolution is not great but not terrible. It would just be nicer to see more with day fusion.
The 180º rotation is important when you mount the T2 Pro in the bracket. Normally the T2 Pro is oriented with the lighting plug going into your phone. But you can mount the T2 Pro the opposite way and you end up inverting the image so the Rotate 180º corrects this. Look at the photo below. You can see I used the lighting extension cable with the plug oriented to the left. Normally the T2 Pro would be plugged directly into the iPhone and the plug would be oriented to the right. By mounting the T2 Pro like this, the thermal image shows up upside down in the app. Select the Rotate 180 option to correct this.

You can also just orient the T2 Pro with the lightning plug pointed the other way and you won’t have to use the Rotate 180 option.

The Picture In Picture (PIP) option shows you a slightly magnified image of the center of your thermal image.

You cannot control the level of magnification in the PIP window. You can see it is just slightly bigger than what your screen shows. I did not find this feature to be that useful. It blocks a significant portion of your thermal image and you cannot relocate it like the Camera System PIP image.
If you look at the right side the the thermal image above, there are four circles:

Color Palette
Hot Spot indicator
NUC refresh

Under color palettes you have the following options:

White Hot
Black Hot
Red Hot (white hot with the hottest areas highlighted in red)
Iron Rainbow
Search (black hot with more contrast to eliminate false positives)

The reticle option is interesting but questionable. When you select it, a scope-like reticle shows up on your screen. You can poke the reticle and move it anywhere you want on the screen. There is a large white circle next to it. You can move this around too. The white circle is a directional pad and adjusts the reticle in small increments. The center button is for locking the reticle into position.

Why did I say this is questionable? At first glance, you could zero the reticle to a gun. While that seems like a great idea, how would you mount the phone to maintain zero? You can also spread two fingers across your screen and digitally zoom the thermal image but the reticle stays the same size making it in effect a second focal plane reticle. The BDC-looking subtensions are nice but they don’t mean anything until you get dope and figure out what distance your bullet drop matches that point on the reticle.
Thermal Fusion T2 Pro, Sort Of . . .
I plugged the T2 Pro into my iPhone 5 which I use to film through my PVS-14. Since the phone is so old it does not always work with the app and T2 Pro. I was able to get it to work though and can show you a screencap below.

I have a night vision image and enabled the Camera System setting. So now the night vision image is displayed over my thermal image. But I have the same problem as before. The image is zoomed out too much compared to the T2 Pro thermal image. I circled the van in both the night vision and thermal image. The size difference is staggering and that is the same van. If only I could zoom in on the night vision image so it showed me the same image as the T2 Pro thermal image it might be useful.

Stabilizing the T2 Pro
The T2 Pro is rather zoomed in. When you try to zoom out the lowest magnification level is displayed. It says 2.0x. But I compared that to the 8x magnification of my Vortex Razor laser range finder and found the images to be of a similar size. That makes holding the iPhone and T2 Pro a bit of a challenge. Often my videos are shaking. Small movements of the phone show up as large movements of the thermal image. So I tried using a DJI OSMO to stabilize my phone.

While this works, I did not like the slowness of the stabilizer. It was too slow to adjust as I am panning and I would try to manually move the gamble with the thumb stick on the DJI OSMO but it moves the gimble too fast for my taste. While the DJI OSMO technically works, I ended up returning it.
Weapon Mounting The T2 Pro

I used a simple Picatinny mount tripod screw to mount the T2 Pro bracket and phone holder to the top of my 10/22. The articulating bracket does not exude confidence it will hold zero. If the T2 Pro thermal sensor bracket moves, your zero will shift. Also, the phone holder is only held in place with a single screw and friction. It is too easy for the entire phone holder to spin resulting in a loss of zero. This is why I think the adjustable reticle is basically useless. If you could mount the phone and T2 Pro in a more solid mount that holds zero, this could be viable for shooting small game up close.
Final Thoughts On The infiRay T2 Pro
The T2 Pro is reasonably priced at just under $400. I think the pistol grip, phone holder and bracket are useless. I rather have the simplicity of plugging the T2 Pro directly into my phone and manipulating my phone to use the thermal camera.

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The resolution is better than the low-res FLIR ONE and older Seek Thermal smartphone thermal sensors. But the T2 Pro is not as good as their other thermal devices with 640 resolution. InfiRay claim you can detect a bear 1,340 yards away. I have my doubts about that. Below is a photo of the Space Needle taken through the T2 Pro. It is very pixelated and this is the best I could focus the T2 Pro.

Here is a town with a river. The buildings are just over 1,000 yards away. I don’t know if I could detect an animal like a bear unless you are closer.

I brought the T2 Pro with me on an Alaskan Cruise and while I was playing with the T2 Pro, it detected something in the trees. See the Red Crosshair point out the hottest object in the thermal image? There is another heat signature off to the left.

They were bald eagles perched on the trees about 180 yards away. The T2 Pro clearly detected them but it was impossible to recognize what they were. Sure something hot in a tree is most likely a bird but that is from deduction and not the resolution of the image. So while the T2 Pro does work, I had to identify them using my eyes and day camera.

For more information go to InfiRay’s website.

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TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle

The Kraken from Cadex Defense is their answer to the multi-caliber rifle market.  Designed using their patented barrel change system, this rifle claims to have the lowest point of impact shift between takedown and assembly.  Available in 9 long and short action calibers, I was keen to try out this multi-caliber beast.  I asked Cadex if they had a Kraken I could review, and here’s what they sent over.
Cadex Defense @ TFB:

TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle
TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle
What I received for this review was far from what I expected.  A massive pelican case arrived with what I started referring to as the “Kraken Deployment Kit”.  The only things not included were an optic and bipod that I added somehow fit perfectly. Even the ammo Hornady kindly provided for this review fit snugly inside this custom-cut case. It’s almost like it was meant to be.
TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle
This included magazines, bolts, magazine adapters, and barrels for .308 Winchester, .300 Norma Magnum, and .338 Lapua Magnum.
Kit Layout
Barrels are manufactured by Bartlein and have a heavy 1.238″ straight taper that’s then fluted by Cadex.  These come with a barrel band and threaded muzzle for use with a suppressor or muzzle brake.  An advantage of having both .300 Norma Magnum and .338 Lapua Magnum is that they both share the same parent case.  Luckily, this means they can share the same magazine as well.  This removes a few steps when changing calibers, but we’ll get to that a little later.
Bolt Bodies
Each of the bolts is clearly marked for its compatible caliber(s) and features a lever-style safety which is part of the firing pin assembly that’s user removable without the use of tools. It’s universal and will fit any size Kraken bolt.  Additional assemblies can be purchased separately to make caliber conversions faster and slightly easier.
Magazine Sleeve
The rifle is designed to accommodate short action calibers like 6.5 Creedmoor all the way up to long/magnum action calibers like .338 Lapua Magnum.  Four different magazine sleeves are available to accommodate the various chamberings the rifle is available in.  Cadex makes a variety of AICS pattern magazines for the Kraken, but I had no issue with either aftermarket or the factory magazines provided.
Stock Hinge
My favorite part of not only the Kraken, but the overall Cadex family of rifles is the chassis.  It features an absolutely superb folding stock with a small bushing that acts like a soft open and close.  It feels and acts like a soft-close Mercedes door, and has a perfect audible click when folding it open or closed.
Stock Tool Free Adjustment
All of the stock’s features are tool-free and adjustable with large easy-to-use levers.  This includes an adjustable length of pull, cheek rest, and butt pad.  The bottom of the stock has a mounting point for attachments like an included Picatinny rail or the bean bag rider pictured above.
Rail Section
Each of the barrels sits underneath a monolithic upper receiver. The rail doubles as a mirage control tube. Forward sections that look like they should be cut out are blocked off.  This reduces image distortion by pushing heat further away from the optics field of view (FOV) as the barrel starts to heat up. In addition, there are three rail sections, a bipod stud, and a QD sling mount included.
Caliber Conversion
Caliber Conversion Tools
Caliber conversion requires just three tools and is slightly different from other multi-caliber rifles.  I’ll walk you through it.
Aluminum Base Removal
At the rear of the barrel interface tool is an Allen key that’s used to unscrew and remove the aluminum base.
Aluminum Base Removed
With just that single screw removed the base comes right off and you’re ready to swap sleeves.
Magazine Sleeve Exchange
Magazine sleeves are clearly marked on the side and pop right into the aluminum base.
Magazine Sleeve Installed
With the magazine sleeve inserted, make sure the sleeve is flush and then mate it back to the receiver.
Aluminum Base Re-Install
Re-install the aluminum base until the Allen screw is hand-tight and you’re ready to swap the barrel.
Inserting the Barrel Interface Tool
Fold the stock and insert the lug section of the barrel interface tool all the way forward into the receiver.
Barrell Interface Tool Lockup
With the tool installed, turn the small knob at the rear until it clicks and locks into place.
Securement Arm Lockup
Next, Install the angled securement arm to the back of the barrel interface tool.
Torque Wrench Markings
Using the supplied torque wrench, use the provided markings to make sure you’re loosening the barrel.
Breaking Barrel Loose
Place your knee on the angled securement arm, and push up towards the optic to break the barrel free.
Barrel Ready for Removal
Once torque is removed you’ll notice the muzzle device canted and your barrel is ready for removal.
Barrel Swap
Unscrew the barrel from the receiver and swap the thread protector from your desired barrel to your now-stored barrel.
Barrel Indexing
Pull the barrel interface tool slightly to the rear, and thread the new barrel into the receiver until it’s snug.
Torque to Spec
Re-attach the angled securement arm and the beam-style torque wrench.  Push down on the torque wrench until the two lines on the torque indicator line up and your barrel is now torqued to 100 ft-lbs.
Firing Pin Removal
The last step is swapping the firing pin assembly. Push down and away from the bolt to unlock the assembly, and then pull rearward to remove it from the bolt body.
Firing Pin Removed
Next, locate the bolt body that matches your new caliber.
Firing Pin Re-Installed
Push down and towards the bolt handle until the notch indexes with the small notch on the bottom of the bolt body.
Caliber Changed – Ready for the Range
Caliber conversion complete, it was time to take the Kraken to the range and put it through the paces.
At The Range
Home on the Range
After getting the optic dialed in, it was time to get some initial groups on paper.  Hornady provided the 308 and 338 ammunition for this review, and with the help of my MagnetoSpeed, I was able to gather some data on this ammo quickly.
Hornady Black 168 Grain A-Max MagnetoSpeed Results
Hornady Black 168gr 308 matched the box data almost exactly.  Coming out of the barrel at an average of 2703FPS.  The 270gr ELD-X 338 Lapua provided was leaving the muzzle at an average speed of 2910FPS (a whopping 5,078 ft-lbs. of energy).  With the data on both calibers gathered, it was time to change some barrels and shoot some groups.
Grouping and Zero Shift
Return to zero would be the true test, and after shooting a five-round group I changed barrels.  After shooting another group, I documented the shift and changed back to the 308 barrel.  The result was right on the money.  With the margin of error established, the documented point of impact (POI) shift was consistent when swapping calibers.  With a 308 zero, I only needed to adjust 1.6mil up and come to .7mil right to be zeroed for .338 Lapua Magnum.
Here are the results of my accuracy testing.
.308 Winchester:

1st group – .862 MOA
2nd group – .562 MOA
3rd group – .839 MOA
4th group – .799 MOA
5th group – .704 MOA
Average – .753 MOA

.338 Lapua Magnum:

1st group – .699 MOA
2nd group – .799 MOA
3rd group – .800 MOA
4th group – .881 MOA
5th group – .798 MOA
Average – .795 MOA

Note: This rifle had been thoroughly used before it arrived for review.  I’m unsure of the round count through each barrel prior to this accuracy testing.  
308 Brass Drop
When shooting a multi-caliber rifle, it’s important to note there’s plenty of extra space when shooting shorter cartridges like 308 Winchester.  While trying to save myself from picking up brass later, I slowly moved the bolt to the rear and inadvertently dropped a case behind the magazine in the receiver.  It’s something you’re not likely to come across unless you’re working the bolt very slowly, but it is something to be mindful of.
Pros and Cons
Overall, the controls on the Kraken are fantastic and the rifle shoots just as good as it looks.  I like that the torque wrench needed for caliber conversions is manufactured by Cadex, and you’re not forced to buy something aftermarket.  Overall, I was very impressed by this rifle’s performance as the barrels and receiver showed signs of previous hard use.  I wasn’t expecting to shoot as well as it did, and was very surprised with the results.
TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle
The Kraken isn’t perfect, and its biggest shortcoming is the caliber that the rifle is available in.  More specifically, the calibers it’s not available in.  It comes in new calibers like 6mm Creedmoor and .300 PRC but legacy calibers, specifically .300 Winchester Magnum, are sadly absent from the lineup.  I enjoy the performance of these new calibers but think support for legacy calibers is key in a multi-caliber rifle.
The Verdict
TFB Review: Cadex Kraken Multi-Caliber Rifle
MSRP on the Kraken sits at $7,466.  Certainly a high price tag for a rifle, but not too high for the multi-caliber rifles it’s competing against in today’s market.  Having shot most of the offerings available in that market, I can say this is the most ergonomic rifle in the mix.  If the calibers it’s available in match what you like to shoot, and you prefer to buy once and cry once, I’d seriously consider looking at the Kraken for your next multi-caliber rifle.

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Thank you to Cadex for sending over this rifle for review, and thank you to Hornady for providing the ammunition.  More information on the Cadex Kraken can be found on the product page here, and more information on Cadex rifles or other products can be found here on their homepage.  Thanks for reading!
Product Specs:
*specs are based on a 26″ barrel

Dimensions: 46.1″ x 4.2″ x 8″ (117.1 x 10.67 x 20.32 cm)
Dimensions (Stock Folded): 37.2″ x 4.9″ x 8″ (94.49 x 12.45 x 20.32 cm)
Weight: 15.2 lbs. (6877 grams)
Weight (with muzzle brake): 15.8 lbs. (7167)
Available Calibers: 6mm Creed, 6.5 Creed, 308 Win, 300 PRC, 300 Norma Mag, 300 RUM, 338 Lapua Mag

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Roccat Vulcan II Max Review: So, so pretty

Is there a “most beautiful” category on our best gaming keyboards page? Well, there will be, and it’ll go to Roccat’s new Vulcan II Max. Which. Is. Gorgeous. The Vulcan II Max is the full-size version of the recently-launched Vulcan II Mini, and it sports many of the same features: Roccat’s Titan II optical switches (in linear Red or tactile Brown), 24 “smart” dual-LED switches, an anodized aluminum top plate, and Roccat’s signature “organic” Aimo lighting experience. It also comes with a detachable translucent wrist rest that serves as a conduit for the keyboard’s lighting, and the effect is…hypnotizing. Okay, it’s not perfect. It suffers from some of the same issues the Vulcan II Mini suffered from; though its roomier layout means some of these problems (such as the convoluted button duplicator feature) aren’t as significant. But if Roccat is trying to distract me with a dazzling light show — well, success. The Vulcan II Max is available now in both black and white colorways (though the wrist rest looks better paired with the white version), for $230. Roccat Vulcan II Max Specs

SwitchesRoccat Titan II Optical (Red or Brown)LightingPer-key RGBOnboard StorageYes, 5 user profilesMedia Keys3 + volume knobGame ModeYesConnectivityWired (1.8m, 2x USB-A)KeycapsABSConstructionPlastic, anodized aluminum top plateDimensions (LxWxH)18.23 x 6.0625 x 1.32 inches / 463 x 154 x 33.5 mmWeight2.29lbs / 1040g (without accessories)

 Design and Construction of the Vulcan II Max(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) The Vulcan II Max is a full-size wired keyboard with a slim, lightweight plastic chassis and an anodized aluminum top plate. It measures 18.23 x 6.0625 inches (463 x 154mm) and comes with a 3.25-inch (82.6mm) detachable wrist rest — it’s not the best keyboard if space is a concern. Our review model came in white, which has a white chassis and white keycaps and a matte silver top plate with a shiny, mirrored border.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) The Vulcan II Max sports three dedicated media keys in the upper left corner (rewind, play/pause, and fast forward), as well as a volume knob. The volume knob is notched, with tactile feedback, and is also clickable (mute/unmute). The media keys and volume knob cannot be remapped.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Although the Vulcan II Max is fairly lightweight at just 2.29 pounds (1040g), it has large anti-slip strips on its back that prevent it from moving around as you type. It also has two sets of flip-out feet (each with anti-slip strips) for three levels of tilt adjustment.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) The Vulcan II Max comes with a detachable translucent wrist rest, which measures 18.23 x 3.25 inches (463 x 82.6mm) and has a smooth, matte finish. It’s perhaps slightly lower than I would prefer, but it offers decent palm and wrist support otherwise.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) The wrist rest is made of ribbed, translucent silicone and attaches to the keyboard via silicone tabs that slide into the slots along the bottom. There are 16 tabs (six of which feature notches to “lock” the wrist rest in place), which act as a conduit for the keyboard’s lighting — and the effect is very pretty, especially with Roccat’s Aimo lighting enabled.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) The wrist rest isn’t particularly plush, but it’s beautiful and I love it.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The keyboard is wired and has a fixed six-foot (1.8m) braided cable with dual USB-A connectors. There are no pass-through ports; the dual connectors are to ensure the keyboard receives enough power for its lighting effects. According to Roccat, the keyboard should be fine if connected to one USB 3.0 port, but may not receive enough power for some power-hungry lighting effects from just one USB 2.0 port.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)While this is understandable — especially considering 24 of the Vulcan II Max’s keys have dual LEDs — I’m not thrilled with a keyboard that takes up two USB ports.  I didn’t have any issues plugging the keyboard into just one USB 2.0 port, however.  Typing and Gaming Experience on the Vulcan II Max The Vulcan II Max features Roccat’s Titan II optical switches in Red (linear) or Brown (tactile). Our review unit came with linear switches, which have a smooth, uniform keypress with no tactile “bump” or audible click. Optical switches are actuated via light rather than physical force — so while optical switches usually lack the tactile feel and feedback typists crave, they’re easier to press, faster, and more durable than traditional mechanical switches. Roccat’s Titan II switches have a lifecycle rating of 100 million keypresses — twice that of traditional mechanical switches and the same as competitors’ optical switches. (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The Vulcan II Max has thin, lightweight ABS keycaps that expose the keyboard’s switches. The keycaps are lightly dished but still pretty flat and slippery, which makes them less-than-ideal for people who are prone to sweating and/or used to typing on keyboards with more tactile feedback. The Titan II optical switches are compatible with third-party cross mounted keycaps, though, so you can always swap them out.  (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Typing on the Vulcan II Max was — unsurprisingly — very similar to typing on the Vulcan II Mini. The combination of linear optical switches and thin, light, slippery ABS keycaps made for an overall mediocre typing experience, even if I didn’t suffer a significant hit to speed or accuracy. But this isn’t a major drawback, because the Vulcan II Max is, first and foremost, a gaming keyboard. The Vulcan II Max is much more suited to gaming than it is to typing, thanks to its smooth, speedy linear optical switches. The slick keycaps did help my fingers slide quickly around the board, but I don’t sweat very much — the keycaps would definitely be too slick if I’d been sweating at all. Speed is important, but so is accuracy.   Features & Software of the Roccat Vulcan II MaxThe Vulcan II Max features 24 “smart” multi-function keys with dual-LEDs, most of which ship with default secondary keybinds. The dual LEDs light up to indicate which secondary functions are active, and can also change colors to display real-time information, such as headset or mouse battery life. The keyboard also features Roccat’s “Easy-Shift” button duplicator technology, which gives you a second layer of functionality; this is sort of like Razer’s HyperShift and SteelSeries’ SS key, but for some reason Roccat has decided to implement their version in the most confusing way possible. Most of the Vulcan II Max’s keys can have custom secondary keybinds, but some are implemented with the Fn key and some are implemented with Easy-Shift — the latter of which requires Game Mode to be toggled on. Since Game Mode also allows for some remapping, you sort of end up with three layers of functionality, but at that point you’ll probably be too confused to remember what’s remapped to what, and it won’t be very useful anyway. Luckily, this is a full-size keyboard, so the second- and third-layers of functionality aren’t nearly as critical as they are in a smaller layout. (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Key remapping and lighting settings can be performed in Roccat Swarm, Roccat’s universal companion software. I’ll be frank — I hate Roccat Swarm. Not only does it have settings nobody should ever even consider using, such as options to add artificial typing sounds to your keyboard, it’s quite possibly one of the least intuitive and most confusing pieces of peripheral software I’ve ever used (and, as we know, I am not a fan of peripheral software). Luckily, the Vulcan II Max has onboard memory and can store up to five profiles, so you can fight your way through the jungle that is Roccat Swarm, save your settings to the hardware, and (hopefully) never have to deal with it again.  Bottom Line (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)The Roccat Vulcan II Max is gorgeous. If you’re looking for a keyboard that will give you a bright, beautiful light show, this is it — everything about this keyboard is pretty much designed to dazzle you with lights, from the switch-exposing keycaps to the dual-LED switches to the included silicone wrist rest. In addition to being mesmerizing to look at, the Vulcan II Max also offers up decent performance — it may not be the best keyboard for typing (but no linear optical switch is); and it’s an excellent gaming keyboard thanks to its speedy optical actuation and built-in secondary functions. That said, if you’re not wowed by pretty lights, this probably isn’t the keyboard for you. For one thing, the lights may cost you two USB 2.0 ports, depending on what lighting effects you choose. Also, while the Vulcan II Max’s built-in secondary functions are useful, programming any customizable secondary functions is a chore, thanks to Roccat’s confusing implementation and unintuitive software. MORE: Best Gaming KeyboardsMORE: How to Pick Keycaps for Your Mechanical KeyboardMORE: All Motherboard Content […]


How To Clone Your SSD or Hard Drive

Even the best SSDs are dirt cheap these days, so it’s very tempting to upgrade your gear. Migrating from one drive to another can be tiresome, however. You have the OS, your apps, all your settings and your data. Starting over from a clean install of Windows (or Linux) would take forever and you’d probably spend weeks finding things you forgot to add back. The answer: clone your SSD.Cloning a drive is a quick and simple way to move your install from an older slower drive, to a faster and larger one. There are many ways to accomplish this, and Clonezilla ranks amongst the best. This live Linux distro boots from a USB or CD/DVD and uses a wizard based system to easily migrate between drives, create images of installations, and even deploy OSes to multiple machines over a network connection.  Clonezilla just works whether you’re cloning a Windows OS or a Linux distro.Connecting Your New Drive to the PC for CloningIf you want to move the contents of your PC’s boot drive to a new, faster or larger alternative, you need a way to have both drives connected to the computer at the same time. If you have a desktop with room for it, you can connect the new drive to its M.2 or SATA port and mount it in your case.However, if you are using a laptop or you don’t have room to have both drives in your computer at the same time, you’re going to need some kind of enclosure that allows you to connect the new drive to a USB port. If the new drive is a 2.5-inch SATA drive, grab a SATA to USB 3.0 enclosure (opens in new tab). If it’s an M.2 NVMe or SATA drive, grab an M.2 to USB enclosure (opens in new tab).If you are using an enclosure, you’ll need to open your PC when the cloning is complete and swap out the old drive for the new one. If you’re planning to sell or give away the old drive, see our tutorial on how to securely erase an SSD or hard drive.Cloning Windows (or Another OS)For the purposes of our screenshots and steps below, we migrate a Windows 10 installation from a 64GB eMMC drive to a 256GB NVMe drive. However, the process that we follow can be applied to other scenarios, such as migrating installations from older drives to SSD or for cloning a drive as a backup.Creating a Clonezilla Boot USBCreating a Clonezilla boot USB is a great first step for your tech toolbox. With Clonezilla you have the tools to backup and migrate entire systems. For this part of the project you will need a 4GB USB flash drive.1. Go to the Clonezilla download page and select the current Stable release. At the time of writing this was a Debian based release.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. Select the CPU architecture and set the file type to ISO, then click Download. USB drives require the ZIP file type, CD / DVD users will need to select ISO before downloading.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Download and install Rufus for your operating system.4. Insert a USB drive into your machine and open Rufus.5. Check that your USB drive is selected, and then click on SELECT and use the Clonezilla ISO image.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)6. Click on Start to begin writing Clonezilla to the USB drive.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Write the image in ISO mode and clock Ok to start the process.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Booting ClonezillaWith our test machine running Windows 10 from an embedded 64GB eMMC drive, and a blank NVMe drive inserted into the machine we are ready to migrate the installation.1. Boot from the Clonezilla USB drive. The key to enter the BIOS is a little different for every machine, but here we have a list that will steer you right.2. From the menu select Clonezilla live and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Select your desired language and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Confirm the selection by pressing Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Press Enter to start Clonezilla’s wizard process.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)6. Select device-device to clone one drive to the other and press Enter. The other options are device-image, which clones a drive to a backup image. Remote-source and destination for remote cloning tasks. Servers can be used to clone devices to a remote server, or to distribute one clone image to multiple devices at once.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)7. Select Expert and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)8. Select disk_to_local_disk cloning option and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)9. Select the source (the drive that you wish to clone) and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)10. Select the target on which to clone the source and press Enter. In our example it is a 256GB NVMe drive.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)11. Scroll down to T1 and press Space to select and then Enter to move onwards. This option will ensure that our Windows bootloader is successfully copied to the target drive.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)12. Accept the default option to skip checking the filesystem, and press Enter. You can opt to scan the filesystem for issues if you wish, but this will add some time to the process.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)13. Accept the default option to use the existing partition table and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)14. Select Choose and press Enter. When Clonezilla is finished, it will prompt us to reboot or shutdown the machine.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)15. Press Enter to start the process. Clonezilla provides us with a terminal command which encapsulates all of the options we have just chosen. Should we wish to run the process via a terminal, this command can be used.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)16. Press Y and Enter to begin the process. Make sure that everything is correct before moving onwards, there is no going back.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)17. Wait for the cloning process to finish. Depending on the size and speed of your drives, this can take some time.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)18. Press Enter to finish the process.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)19. Select Power off and press Enter.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Extending Your Partition After CloningThe migration is complete and now we need to check that our OS boots and extend the partition to use all of the space on the drive. We used Windows 10, but the steps should be the same in Windows 11.1. Swap in the new drive if you are not keeping both drives in the same computer.2. Power on the computer and via the BIOS set the new drive as the boot drive. This is different for every machine, please refer to the motherboard manual3. Boot up, in our case to Windows.4. Open the File Manager and click on This PC. We need to extend the partition to make full use of the NVMe drive’s capacity.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Download and install MiniTool Partition Wizard Free6. Open MiniTool and click on the recovery partition. We don’t need this partition and it prevents us from using the full capacity of the drive. You may not have this partition in the same location, if there is no partition between the Windows install and the unallocated space, you can skip to step(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)7. Right click on the partition and select Delete.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)8. Click Apply to delete the recovery partition.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)9. Click on the Windows partition.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)10. Right click on the partition and select Extend.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)11. Select the unallocated space, and then use the slider to select how much space you need. Click OK. We chose to use the maximum capacity of the drive.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)12. Click Apply to extend the partition.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)13. Go back to the File Manager, This PC to check that the drive capacity is now increased.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) […]


How To Set Up Virtual Machines with VirtualBox

Virtual Machines, aka VMs, provide a wonderful means to explore the world of Linux or other operating systems, without making them your primary environment. Our Windows PC can play host to a plethora of guest operating systems. We can try out the latest Ubuntu, Fedora, Manjaro or Linux Mint safe in the knowledge that we don’t need to spend a penny on extra equipment. Virtual machines aren’t just limited to Linux, we can also install Windows 11 and even macOS on top of our host. One of the easiest means to create a VM is Oracle’s VirtualBox, a free app, which provides an easy to use interface and lots of extra features that blend the host and guest OS into one smooth running machine.In this how to we will download a Linux distro, and create a virtual machine on which to run the Linux OS.Downloading a Linux Operating SystemFor a virtual machine it is best to keep the OS choice light. Our preference is Ubuntu so we downloaded the current Long Term Support release, 22.04 and the latest beta of 22.10. The installation for 22.10 worked, but it failed to boot, so we reinstalled using 22.04 and everything went well.The Linux OS choice is entirely yours, but do consider how much processing power you have to spare. The more powerful the host machine, the more resources we can spare for the VM and its guest OS.How To Install Linux in a Virtualbox Virtual Machine1. Download and install Virtualbox to your Windows machine. Accept the default install options which include network interfaces and USB.2. Click Finish to close the installer and open Virtualbox.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Setting up a Virtual Machine1. Click on New to create a new virtual machine.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. Name the Virtual Machine and click Next. Virtualbox will automatically suggest the Type and Version of the OS used in the virtual machine by using the name. In our example we are using Ubuntu 22.10 so Virtualbox set the Type to Linux, and Version to Ubuntu.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Set the VM’s available memory and click Next. This will vary depending on your system. We have 32GB of RAM, so we can assign 8GB (8192MB) to the VM.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Select a new virtual hard disk for the VM and click Create. This will start the process of creating a file that will hold the VM’s operating system.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Select a VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image) and click Next.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)6. Select a dynamically allocated disk size and click Next. If you require a specific size, select Fixed size and allocate the space accordingly. Dynamically allocated files will grow with the OS as files are created and applications are installed.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)7. Set the location of the VDI hard disk and set the size of the file. Then click Create. We set the size to 20GB, large enough for an Ubuntu 22.10 install. The size is the maximum that the VM can use so make sure to set a reasonable amount of space.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Configuring a Virtual Machine1. Select the VM and then click on Settings.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. Select System and click on the Processor tab. Allocate as many cores as you can comfortably allow. If you have a multi-core system, you can allocate multiple cores to the VM. Extended features such as VT-x and AMD-V can also be enabled, should your CPU support them.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Select Display, allocate sufficient video memory and enable 3D acceleration. 16MB Should be enough for a basic install, but if you want a smoother experience, allocate as much as you can. Adding 3D acceleration isn’t essential, but it can help speed-up applications that rely on 3D acceleration.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Select Storage, and under Storage Devices, click on Controller IDE > > Empty and then click on the CD icon and select Choose a disk file.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Select the Linux ISO and click Open(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)6. Click on Network and create a bridged adapter to your physical network connection.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)7. Click Ok to save all of the changes.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Running the VM in VirtualBoxWith the installation complete we can now power up the virtual machine and run the guest OS in VirtualBox.1. Ensure the correct VM is selected and click on Start. This will boot the VM as if it were a real computer.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. Choose Try or Install Ubuntu from the Live CD boot menu and press Enter to start. This will load the OS into the VM’s RAM and enable us to test that the VM works before installation.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3.Try out the Live Linux OS to make sure that everything works as expected. The screen resolution may be incorrect, at this time we will have to work with it. Later in the process we will install additional drivers to enable more resolutions.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Install the OS to the VM.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Restart once installation is complete.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Tweaking the VirtualBox VM InstallationOur guest machine can be further tweaked, and helpfully there is a useful Guest Additions ISO image, available inside VirtualBox which adds extra features such asMouse pointer integration: We can easily move between the host and our guest VM.Shared clipboard: Clipboard items can be shared between host and guest.File Drag and Drop: Copy files to and from the machines.Shared Folders: Share volumes and directories with ease.Better Graphics Support: Accelerated video performance.To install the Guest Additions we need to take the following steps.1. Open a terminal and update the list of repositories for your operating system and then run the next command to install packages necessary for the Guest Additions installer.sudo apt install build-essential dkms linux-headers-generic (Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. Click on Devices and select Insert Guest Additions CD image. This is an ISO image that contains extra drivers and features for our VM.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Open the File Manager and click on the CD Drive.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Right click on autorun.sh and select “Run as program”.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Enter your password to run the script with sudo privileges. Sudo will give our user the privileges necessary to install software and make changes to the operating system.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)6. When prompted, press Enter to end the installation.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)7. Reboot the VM for the changes to take effect.Changing the VM Display Resolution in VirtualBoxThe guest OS is not limited to a poor resolution; we can freely change the resolution using the View menu.1. Click on View > > Auto-resize Guest Display to alter the VM’s resolution on the fly. Drag the cursor on the VM window and set the display size.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. To set a specific resolution, go to View > > Virtual Screen 1 and select your desired resolution.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Connecting a USB Device to Your VirtualBox VMAdding a USB device, a USB drive, security key or even a Raspberry Pi Pico is possible via the Devices menu. Here we can add audio devices, virtual CD / DVD drives, USB and additional network interfaces. Adding a USB device is simple.1. Insert the USB device into the host machine.2. Click on Devices > > USB and select the device from the list. The device will now be ready for use.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. To prove that the device is connected, open a Terminal and use “lsusb” to list the USB devices connected to the guest OS.lsusb(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Powering / Rebooting the Guest OS in VirtualBoxVirtualBox has the ability to control the state of the VM. It can pause a running machine, send a reset signal or even send an ACPI shutdown request to the guest OS.1. Click on Machine and select Pause.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)2. The screen will grey out, indicating the VM running the guest OS has been paused. Click on Pause to resume the VM. Here we are running the ping command to show that the OS was paused.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)3. Click on Machine > > Reset to forcibly reset the machine. Note that any unsaved work will be lost. This is as if we have pressed the reset button on a PC.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)4. Click Reset to confirm that you wish to forcibly reset.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)5. Click Machine > > ACPI Shutdown to send a shutdown signal to the OS.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)Powering down, reboot , and logout are also accessible via the guest OS menu. This works as if the machine were real hardware.(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware) […]