So this month I’m happy to say that, rather like Rick Wakeman at the end of a 1977 Yes concert I remember, public demand has engendered my return to the keyboard - although he admittedly used a lot more fingers; and keyboards; oh, and talent.
Moving on from that minor point, the fact is a fair number of folks took the trouble to post questions to my last effort which merit timely answering, so I’ve decided to devote this blog to so doing. A tad unexciting, maybe, but I reckon it’s the least I can do! It would, of course, be unworthy of you to suspect that, as it also saves me from having to originate anything, it really is the least I can do!
Before we proceed, though, let me thank everyone for their posts and FuzziOn, Jeff, and Giraffe for their specific literary encouragement (in fact his double post means I should probably thank the latter twice! Sorry I can’t help with the Sigma 4s, though, Mr G – after testing the prototypes so far I’ve only managed to get one - dart, not set of three - for myself!)
Mentions in despatches also go to PR and Simon for valour in the face of mathematics - my responses to their valued contributions in this regard can be found near the end of this blog.
But now for those NATFAQs (Not All That Frequently Asked Questions):
Q1: Simon wants to know if the barrels on the Sigma and the Phil Taylor Phase 6 are comparable and wonders why the Phase 5 grip is forward but Phil throws from the back.
A1: The Phase 6 is similar to the 26gm Sigma 950 in shape, but the grip is a rearward-extended version of that on the Phase 5 and the maximum diameter is fractionally reduced as a result. However, the fact that Phil switched back to his Phase 5s suggests that he actually prefers holding the smooth upslope at the back of these darts rather than an aggressive grip. A proviso here is that he did ask for grip rings to be added (and the tightening hole removed) from the front of his Phase 5 shafts - the difference between those and Sigma Pros.
Q2: FuzziOn wonders if there any short side-load shafts with replaceable tops and why it is that his Sigma 950s feel better with Plus shape flights rather than either type of Sigma flight.
A2: Replaceable top aluminium SlikStiks in both lengths are on the Unicorn agenda – keep an eye out for them! As for the Sigma 950s, as with any darts the optimal flights will obviously depend on the type of shaft used, but with a Sigma Pro shaft it’s not impossible Plus flights might work better for some players (notably ones with a relatively high-yaw throw) than the Sigma flights themselves – the Pros could be too unforgiving and the One flights are designed for the One shaft. It would be more surprising if the Plus flights worked better than Ones in a One shaft, although if they are in a lighter, less robust, flight material that could be a factor, especially for players with lower-yaw throws.
Q3: John mentions that I have advised players should “try and identify what grip type, barrel shape, and weight you find most comfortable and look for designs with the right combination" but did not mention the importance of length and diameter. He goes on to suggest that it’s a flaw in Unicorn's product sheets that they don’t give dart dimensions – and asks that all who agree with him that these are important say “aye”!
A3: Well, John, what can I say but “aye”? I should have made it clear that I did actually intend the phrase “barrel shape” to encompass the specific dimensions, and my recognition of the importance of these is illustrated by the fact that the length and maximum diameter of current Unicorn tungsten darts can be found in UniLab – just click on “Optimiser”, select the barrel range and name from the dropdowns and Hey Presto! (or, in these days of Harry Potter, should that be “Accio Dimensions!”?). Only trouble here is that Sigmas aren’t in UniLab for reasons I explained to Owen last time, so I’ve listed them at the very end of this blog.
Q4: Pete Chapman asks if there’s any update to my answer in “Push Me, Pull Me” about bendy Slikstik replaceable tops, and also wonders why Gripper 2s have shrunk in length.
A4: Not much to add to what I said before on the over-bendy SlikStiks, Pete, although it does seem I was right in not attributing the Power’s temporary loss of form to them! As for the Gripper 2s, the longer version was produced for a while a few years ago, but it was decided that the length should revert to that of the highly popular original Grippers.
Q5: Jeff Cruz thinks polygon cross-section darts might have an advantage in "stacking" (where’s Sid?), but bemoans the fact that he can’t find any to try in PH (that’ll be the Philippines, folks, not his local Public House).
A5: Must admit, Jeff, that although, as I said last time, hexagonal darts can be bought, I think the chances of finding a set to try locally to you may be slim. Still, if anyone can help Jeff out here, please post a comment. Not convinced about the benefits myself, though, even with regard to stacking as, all else being equal, the average “diameter” of a polygonal dart will be greater than that of a circular one.
Now, as threatened, to finish off with some maths talk! Simon is, of course, right that the weight of a dart can be calculated from the length, diameter, tungsten alloy type, and all the other design specifications and it’ll be no surprise that Unicorn and I have nifty computer programs to do just that. Doing it by hand, though, even for the plainest dart, would be a tedious task – I know, I’ve done it! In this context it may help to realise that even a relatively fine grip might reduce the weight of a tungsten dart by over 2gms.
And, before I reach a crescendo of tedium with that list of Sigma dimensions, there’s PR’s valiant response to my somewhat vague geometry question - at least somebody out there does their homework! There are in fact quite a few special properties of hexagons, but the practically useful one I was looking for is that they are the most efficient solution to regular polygon tessellation. And if you don’t know what that means ask a bee - who, if they could tile a floor, would use honeycomb-shaped hexagonal tiles to do so using minimal grout!
Bye for now!
Sigma lengths/max diameters (mm)
21gm 43.5, 7.06
23gm 42.1, 7.57
25gm 41.5, 8.01
27gm 40.5, 8.48
19gm soft tip 40.0, 6.68
18gm 45.8, 6.40
20gm 45.2, 6.81
22gm 43.2, 7.39
24gm 42.7, 7.80
26gm 42.0, 8.28
18gm soft tip 41.0, 6.76
XL (length including ZeroD nose)
21gm 52.0, 6.91
23gm 51.0, 7.39
25gm 50.0, 8.00
4 (length including ZeroD nose)
20gm 47.6, 7.16
22gm 46.6, 7.70
24gm 45.8, 8.20