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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Sorry Captain...

Not sure what happened there. Here is the link that I intended to send you.


it still links back to this discussion....

Do as he says, not as he does.

The link is wrong but the text is right.


There's something funky going on with the link on this post. But if you just copy and paste the text above to your browser, it'll work.

I got it, I got it, I was just picking nits... :p
Strange things going on with the link in this post. In the Preview Comment the link was correct. I even tried it to make sure. All was good. Post Comment button deletes my link and inserts one going to this Blog. I see that the link text after the # character is correct. Maybe the # character is reserved for LMR posts in the software.

The point is that those solenoids do not appear to have return springs, so how would i produce the recoil effect? Maybe by sending them back and forth, but with a spring maybe i would save current...i think... although i am not really sure about what i just said.

Second option: get the one from all electronics. It says 24 volts but if you read the description it says "but it works fairly well on 12 Vdc" and if you look closely it really looks like the one electronics goldmine has, so i am starting to think they are the same. (allelectronics doesn't seem to have limitations as to international shipping).

Conclusion: the first solenoid looks really cool and all... but i don't know if i could use it to make recoil (never used solenoids, don't know much about them). Do you think it could still work? 

  I drew this diagram to further explain what you may have to do to get the solenoid to work for your project. I doubt if you could find a suitable spring return style that would work. In my version, starting with the basic solenoid from my link, You would solder a wire to the body. this will limit plunger travel to 6mm. A compression spring will return the plunger to home position when power is dropped. The 6mm travel will give you the best speed/recoil "feel". Plus it is adjustable to your liking. The pin is soldered into the existing hole in the solenoid plunger to keep the spring under tension.


I still think this will work for your project.


Good diagram. What did you use to make it?

If you had a pull type solenoid with spring return or just added your own spring as in the diagram above you could do away with the extra stop. The solenoids internal stop would be enough to produce the kickback force.

I made a quick drawing in AutoCad then Exported it to the .jpg file that you see here. The Wire Stop is just to keep the soleniod plunger from falling out to far. It seems to work the fastest in the last 6mm/.25inch of its travel.




Got it! Thank you for the diagram. I think i'm gonna go your way, it's much easier to find pull-type solenoids without the spring, not to consider i can get them any voltage i want!