Let's Make Robots!

Laser Tag and Recoil


It's me and my laser tag project again. This time you'll read about me trying to find a solution to simulate the recoil of real weapons to make laser tag more realistic and cool to play.

First part of the page will be, as usual, the brainstorming part. That means that i really do not know what i'm gonna use for the recoil mecahnism (and if i will be using one, if it gets too complicated or costly i'll just abandon this idea) so i ask you for suggestions.

 What does it have to do to properly simulate recoil?:

- it has to be a fast mechanism considering i might get up to 15 virtual bullets per second (it might also work once every to bullets, bringing the count down to 7 "loops" per second at most)

- it is preferrable if the mechanism works with electricity and not gas or air

- it has to be a bit powerful, not too much but at least it has to give you the "blowback" feeling

 What i have considered so far: 

not much actually. I have read that solenoids might do the job, but i don't know whether they are fast enough and where to buy them. I also checked out linear actuators but they seem to be costly and slow. Dual shock-like motors (the ones you find in xbox/ps/wii controllers) are the easiest and cheapest solution, but i'd keep this as a last resort, in case i can't come up with anything else, because they don't give you a "kick", they just make the gun vibrate (not very realistic). 


I am concentrating especially on solenoids. They look interesting, but i really do not know where i can get fast and powerful ones. My idea is to attach a weight to the solenoid arm and switch it on and off everytime the user presses the trigger.

Any suggestion/idea? 


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I bought a couple from electronic goldmine to make a electronic door lock. I believe they will be fast enough, and definetly strong enough for your needs. The only problem I had was they were EXTREMELY noisy (electronically spaeking) --Sent from my mobile device
Oh, thanks for the information. Unfortunately, electronic goldmine doesn't ship to Italy, damn! But now that i've read your comment i guess i'll definetly have to try out solenoids.
Glad to hear it. Quick story. On my way to vacation, we stopped at this rest stop thing and there was an arcade. They had one of those games where you have a plastic gun that emmits an IR beam to kill things on a giant screen. What was different about this game was there was recoil! Me, being a geek, tried to speculate how they achieved the effect, and my guess was they used little solenoids. I hope you can get you hands on some. Another suggestion would be to use a motor with a weight that hits the butt of the gun each time you fire? Good luck with your project! --Sent from my mobile device

I also tried to search a bit for those arcade pistols and all i found is this: http://www.happcontrols.com/amusement/optical/96045200.htm it does like a big solenoid on the right and a big weight on the left.

 About the motor idea: not sure if it would work, it would have to change direction very rapidly, and i'm not sure about how quickly motors can do that.

Looks like solenoids are the way to go. I really hope you can find some because I think they'll work pretty well. The only thin is the power supply. The solenoids I got run on 12 - 24VDC so unless your laser tag players carry car batteries, you'll obviously need something more fitting. About the motor, why will it have to move back and forth. If you have an off balanced weight, it can continually rotate while hittinb a plate or something. But solenoids are obviously the better choice anyway. --Sent from my mobile device

I was too worried about the power supply the use. There ARE large battery packs that offer 12V, but placing those inside the weapon would be quite hard, since you already have to host the sounds board and shooting module inside it. 

I might either:

-go for 9v solenoids (still, some airsoft weapons can't house 9.6V batteries)

-find a way to "bury" the battery inside the weapon, where burying means separating the battery pack's cells and place them one by one in the free spots inside the weapon (this way it would be almost impossible to take it out "on the fly" though).

-mount the battery on the player's body, but then, instead of using telephone wires to connect the weapon to the sensors (which are on the body) i would need a larger guage for the connection wire (uglier, less slim and less comfortable), since i guess the solenoid will be demanding more current. This also eliminates the possibility to make a wireless link between the weapon and the sensors

 BUT maybe i can find some not-too-big comfortable wire that i may like 

-mount the battery on the outside of the weapon, the only loser in this case is aestethics 



i don't get it, once it hits the plate, how can it go on and hit it again? Maybe you're thinking of some kind of plate that gets out of the way once hit and jumps back to its initial position with springs? 


Sounds like a plan. Let's hope you can find some low current/voltage solenoids. The motor idea: The idea works in the head...I'll try to render a sketch in MSPaint when I get home. --Sent from my mobile device

I am also building a laser tag system. I found this blog today while searching for other laser tag recoil implementations. For the recoil am experimenting with the cheap solenoid from electronic goldmine. I am building the gun out of PVC, so I rigged up the solenoid on a PVC pipe extender and connected it to three 9V batteries. I tried it twice, once with a 1-1/2 inch pipe and again with a 3/4 inch pipe. It worked much better with the smaller pipe. 




Want to team up? We could share knowledge about our projects! I'll definetly give a look to your videos to learn more.

EDIT: just watched the videos...MAN the second one is amazing! Can you get it up to a faster rate of fire? But still...could you tell me how you made it? It looks really cool. 

It was dead simple to make. I used a PVC extender coupling (http://tinyurl.com/krxfgd) with the o-rings removed. I taped a solenoid (http://tinyurl.com/kj3mp2) on the side. I drilled a hole through the center pvc pipe and used piece of a hanger as a pin to connect the solenoid to the pipe. The circuit was three 9V batteries in series and a switch, a big capacitor in parallel with the batteries, and a diode in parallel with the solenoid.


-The pipe didn't slide very well, so it would get stuck if I didn't have enough power. I tried lubercating the pipe, but it didn't help much. Something with ball bearings would work much better. You don't need a PVC extender coupling, it should the same with just two sizes of pipe.

-It may work better with a better solenoid driver circuit (switch debouncing, PWM signal, etc.).

I wonder what the rpm of the solenoid is under ideal conditions?

I am happy to share ideas, I've got some pretty ambitious ones. I am using the Arduino board (also from Italy) and plan to couple it with a PDA, Phone or netbook.