Below is a review I had posted on Amazon on October 17, 2014 and I thought it might also be useful for some people surfing this Forum, particularly those just starting out looking for electronic dartboards.
Typically it can be said that “you only get what you pay for”, but there were some good reasons for why we started with this board:
– soft-tip darts is virtually unheard of in this area e.g. I asked at our local SportsChek and they never heard of it, so other than some no-name darts at the local Walmart, no local shops carry anything in soft-tip,
– as a trial I started with only one soft-tip board for our seniors building to see how many players we might get,
– since there seemed to be a fair number of duds with all electronic boards, I ordered it online from Walmart.ca because I could return it to the local store within 90 days if it started to malfunction. (The only two 15.5″ electronic boards available from Walmart.ca online at the time were the Viper 777 and 787. They have recently added more boards.)
As a result, even with these boards malfunctioning like clockwork we’ve been going strong for 9 months with 12-16 regular players and since January playing two nights a week. So even though the Viper 777 boards didn’t stand up that well after we took a chance on them, we’ve become loyal soft-tip players.
Before buying I read many of the reviews on electronic dartboards and all seemed to have a fair percentage of duds chiefly in the electronics. The two main makers of home boards appear to be Arachnid and Viper. I wanted a regulation 15.5 inch board and purchased two Viper 777 boards for the dayroom in our seniors building.
On one board the 14 single, double and triple segments began to score 9 so I returned it for a replacement. On the other board a soft-tip dart poked a hole through the LED protective plastic and I returned it today for a replacement. I’m not happy that the hard plastic LED readout cover broke. I may end up installing a thin plexiglas/lexan cover over the readout. In the meantime I installed a piece of screen protector tablet/ipod film on the replacement boards.
As stated by nearly every reviewer, the darts that come with the boards are essentially kid’s darts, they weigh 9 grams – great for kids, but not for adults. If you are interested in a better quality one-piece plastic shaft and flight dart, check out the “Fat Cat Highlander 16 Gram Soft-Tip”. I suspect the maximum soft-tip dart weight for these low end boards is 18 grams. BTW to remove broken dart tips from the board you need to purchase a “Dart Tip Removal Tool”. The tool pushes the broken tips into a cavity inside the board.
These boards consume batteries fairly fast (4 x AA) so think about rechargeables or finding a suitable AC/DC power adapter as it doesn’t come with the 777. Note that there appears to be two different specs for the Viper 777 AC/DC power adapter. The manual for one model states that the center/inside conductor is positive while the other model states that the center/inside is negative. Check the manual that came with your board or on the back of the board check for raised printing on the lower right corner.
It’s to be expected that the number of bounce-outs will be greater than with steel-tip darts so if you’re new to soft-tip, be patient it does improve. Some reviewers noted that it is often very difficult to remove soft-tip darts from electronic boards. I don’t know if it’s because it’s the same brand or not, but there was a significant improvement in ease of removal as well as fewer bounce-outs when we switched to Tufflex II Tips. Our seniors residence club supplies tips to our players so I buy a bag of 500 tips at a time.
Update Dec 23, 2014: Today the complete 11 frame of one of the 777 boards stopped functioning and I will now be seeking a third replacement.
Update Jan 2, 2015: Today the double, large single and triple 20 of the other board stopped working. When replaced it will be the 4th replacement.
This review started with 3 stars, then 2 stars, and now it will be one star. These boards are being used by 10-16 seniors (mostly women) once a week using 16 & 18 gram darts. These failures shouldn’t be happening!
I can only surmise that those reviewers giving good ratings to these boards have not been using them each and every week over a 2-3 month period.
Update May 6, 2015: The last two replacement boards have lasted longer than the previous four. Around the time when we installed these two boards we switched to Viper Tufflex III and Bulls Axx tips, however, I don’t believe that this had anything to do with them lasting longer. There is one change we made that I believe did – we installed floor carpet between the dartboard and the wood paneling we used as a backing board. I believe the carpet acts as an impact cushion lessening the impact of the dart on the board.
Now for a little technical stuff. Inside the board there is a sandwich of 3 layers of plastic sheeting. The outer 2 layers have conductive material bonded to the inner surfaces (making them flexible circuit boards) while the middle 3rd layer acts as an insulator. Each individual segment (double, triple, single, and bull) has 2 or 3 raised areas that line up with holes in the middle insulating layer. When a dart strikes a segment the raised area pushes an area of conductive material on one outer layer through the hole of the insulating layer to make electrical contact with the conductive material on the other outer layer. This contact is sent via a flat flexible cable to the processing and display circuit board which is recognized by the microprocessor chip glued to the circuit board and then the resulting score is displayed.
My guess is that because of the impact made by 18 gram darts and/or through wear, the conductive material and/or the plastic sheet on which it’s bonded becomes compromised causing the segment contact to malfunction resulting in no score for a dart or an incorrect score.
Conclusion: Because the cushioning effect of the added floor carpeting has significantly extended our two dartboards’ life, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Viper 777 wasn’t designed to handle the impact of a dart with a weight of 18 grams or maybe not even 16 grams. I had sent an email to the company when we purchased the first two boards inquiring as to the maximum recommended dart weight, but received no reply. (EDIT: However, since the board is a regulation size 15.5″ I incorrectly assumed that the upper weight limit would be 18 grams.)