Introduction: Laser Drone Tag
It seems the divide is growing between Drone Haters and Drone Lovers. So we have a solution. Drone Laser Tag. Drone Haters, pick up your weapons. But caution, these Drones are piloted by Drone Lovers, and they shoot back...with great skill and cunning. Let the games begin!
Step 1: Prepping the Guns
I chose two laser guns from ToysRUs. Two guns come in a box, and they are called Air Zone Lazer Tag. If you are going to use another brand, remember the gun is also the target. We need that feature, so the Drone can shoot back at us with the same module we tag, make sense? We have chosen not to use the on board battery from the drone to power the laser module, we will use a separate battery pack. The on board battery has enough challenges operating the ship.
One gun remains unmodified, just load the (3) AAA batteries into the compartment, and put it aside. That was easy. Now remove the seven screws from the left side of the second gun, and it comes apart. No melting plastic, no wires to cut. 3 more screws inside and the circuit board is free. We did un-solder the wires to the battery box, so we could separate the components as you see in the 3rd picture. It is probably possible to do this without that step, but de-solder if you can. Many of these guns are difficult to get apart, and you have to cut and drill plastic to get them apart. This gun is a good choice, as it makes a neat build, with little effort or barbarism. We will deal with the 4th picture later, if we want to cut power to our drone after it has been hit 6 times, we will have to solder wires to the board.
Step 2: Modifying the Gun Casing for Mounting on Our Drone
We could take a plastic enclosure, about 1x2x3 inches, and use that for our batteries, board mounting, speaker mounting, on off switch, and mute switch. But that is a lot of work. You have to drill 5 holes pretty precisely in the side of the box for the LEDs, and 2 in the end for the IR beam, and IR sensor. Thought has to be given to the lens too. Too easy to hit, boring, too hard to hit, lose interest. The muzzle is the orange plastic part, but the lens is a flat piece of plastic behind the muzzle (see pic# 1). So I will hack this gun until we can get a custom case built to house the components properly. Later, we will see about producing a case to fit our parts, and make a little neater instructable.
Assemble the empty halves of the gun back together (no muzzle or inside parts). Maybe use 4 screws. Carefully cut the gun in half with a fine tooth hobby saw approximately where shown in the second picture, then cut the battery box free. Just kind of wing it, it actually is pretty neat when done.
Solder the leads back on the battery case now. You might want to test the gun, to make sure everything still works. Put the batteries in to test, then remove again.
Take note of the close up in pic #3 of the trigger limit switch, this will be referred to later in the instructable, so when I say limit switch, remember this.
Step 3: Mounting the Components on the Drone or Quadcopter
Disasemble the little gun module again, sorry, but had to make sure everything still worked. I used a udir/c Super UFO U829 for my Drone. It is big enough, and robust enough to carry this module and battery pack. And it has a still photo button on the transmitter (which we aren't using now because we do not have a camera mounted), so we plan to use that button to fire our "laser cannon".
So in the fourth picture, I positioned the case on the front of the quad (orange props), drilled a 3/16" hole through the case only. Next hot glue the case, and then thread in a drywall screw. I used a "Walldog" 1 1/4". It protudes through in the next picture, so put a hefty dab of hot glue on the tip, it is very sharp!
In picture 6, if you look closely,I reassembled the gun module, and upside down the quad now tilts hard left. Load batteries in the battery pack, and slide the pack on the opposite arm, until the quad balances. Mark with a piece of tape. Remove the batteries, drill a couple of 1/8" holes, left and right of the center battery, and about 1/2" from each end. If you choose to use panel nails, make this a 1/16" hole. This will make sure the center battery sits flush to the bottom of the case, and doesn't hit our fasteners. We want to use these nails as the heads have a very flat profile.
Now glue the battery box securely with hot glue. Finish by pushing a couple drywall, panel, or boat nails, through the drilled holes in the case. These fasteners all are ring shank nails, and a drop of epoxy wouldn't hurt, to help secure the battery box in a hard landing.
Now connect the two units red and black leads together with a length of 22ga wire, solder and heat shrink, last pic.
Step 4: Activating the Gun Module
We now have to figure out how to fire the gun remotely. It is ready as it sits to receive laser tags, 6 tags and it shuts down the gun, it cannot fire anymore, until the gun on/off switch is cycled on off again. So my solution, we will try to find a lead we can activate off the transmitter. To do this, I purchased plug harness 859396, and cut the 4 way plug off, leaving the leads about 2 inches long. This will plug into the bottom of the quad, there are two female receptacles, a 2 prong and a 4 prong. The 2 prong does not help us, as once we were able to test it with the voltmeter, we found it was power on all the time. With a home made drone, just grab a channel normally used for gear or flaps on an airplane, and use that as your signal to close the transistor circuit and fire that gun.
After some testing, looks like on the 4 prong plug, we can use the pink wire as the ground, and the black wire gets a temporary voltage each time the video key is pressed (we are talking the UFO 829 quad without a camera). What we will attempt to accomplish here, is a simple transistor bridge circuit, where activation of the transistor by pressing the video key, will momentarily close the "trigger" circuit. Instead of pressing the proximity switch (gun trigger) to accomplish this. That be a lot of fancy talk matie, but let's cut to the chase.With a home made drone, just grab a channel normally used for gear or flaps on an airplane, and use that as your signal to close the transistor circuit and fire that gun.
Carefully check out the schematic, you can use a breadboard to test your circuit. In retrospect, I might not have used the circuit board, but just wired the components and buried it in hot glue :)
The first four pictures are our test circuit with breadboard. Please note, as detailed in the schematic PDF, the two turquoise wires that were removed from the trigger "proximity switch", are not reversible. With a multimeter, 4v can be measured from one wire to our pink ground wire on the UFO 4 prong plug #U829-18. The transmitter has to be on for this step, and the battery on the quad plugged in. The other wire will register no voltage. Label the 4v turquoise wire with a piece of tape, it will go to the Collector (2) on the transistor. Again, study the schematic, it is very simple when you break it down.
The last two steps, show the breadboard being wired up. There are no pics of the backside, thought I was a pretty good solderer, but the circuit board was pretty ugly. And fact initially my finished circuit failed, as I had accidentally connected a couple wire together via the copper implants on the board. See you don't have to be an expert to accomplish this.
Step 5: Final Wiring of Gun Module on Quad, and Test
Now, following the schematic, connect our little transistor bridge circuit on to the other wiring. Leaving it loose as in pic#2, turn the transmitter on, plug in the quad battery, turn the gun switch on, and test gun operation, yes again. A note about this little circuit we just built.There is no resistor, as I used a transistor with a 5v rating, more than we will be feeding it. This is probably horrid design protocol, but we are laser tag nuts, not electrical engineers.
Notice also with this tiny device, we can turn other devices on and off, which have their own separate battery pack. In my instructable creating a video cam robotic dolly, the 9v Homework Board, and the 7v motor battery pack, do not interact with each other, except the Board "closes the ground" to make the robot move forward on it's own 7v battery pack. Here our 4 1/2 v battery pack powers the gun, and a 7.4 lipo battery powers the quad. I believe not only is this good design, it prepares us to control much more powerful devises with our little Microcontrollers, than what the boards are rated at or designed to accomplish. For instance maybe you want to control that 2hp 1100w electric scooter. Bridge circuits allow us to do that. Pin 1 is only rated at 5v, but Pin 2 and 3 are rated at 60v and 70v. Not the whole story, have to consider amperage. But that is for another day.
I choose to glue the board down with hot glue, which works really good on the UFO foam. Run all your wires, remembering that to take the quad apart, you remove 8 screws, and the foam body comes off the actual quad frame.
Now, surprise, surprise, test your gun one more time! Anytime we move circuits around, we want to make sure nothing came loose. Easier to fix as we go, than try to figure out what went wrong at the end.
Step 6: Lets Go Fly!
Safety; We choose this 829 UFO Quad by Udir/c, for the following reasons;
1. Foam cage offers protection, keep a safe distance between your newly armed drone and personnel. At least 10 feet. Ground participants, protect yourself from impact with the drone.
2. The geared motors yield a relatively low propeller speed, for safety.
3. It is reasonably priced, downside, the brushed motors do not last that long. Learn how to care for brushed motors, and become an expert at replacing them :)
4. It will easily carry the weigh and still perform well
5. Parts are cheap
We choose the ToysRUs Lazer tag guns, because they are decent quality, inexpensive, and maybe most importantly, they come apart nicely when the screws are removed.
For more serious laser tag, we might recommend a quad with brushless motors, but cost escalates, and the props need to be protected with a cage, as these motors can cut some meat. I would consider dressing up like you would for paintball if you go to this next level, helmets, visors, heavy jacket.
Count on doing battle in a 20 to 30 foot range indoors, I have not tested outdoors, but the manufacturer claims good daylight performance. In another Instructable, we will work on boosting the range and power of the guns, with our own circuitry. I believe, up to 300 feet should be achievable outdoors.
So drone lovers, grab your drone hater friends, and have at it!
Step 7: Materials List, Contact Information
Just for fun, a challenge. The gun circuit board is shown, how can we disable the drone once it has been hit 5 times. I.E. How can we reduce or shut off power so the drone can't sustain altitude and lands. Our next Instructable?
1. Udir/c U829 Super UFO quad without camera; available Hobbypeople.net
2. 859396 (U829-18) Plug; Hobbypeople.net
3. TIP3055 Transistor; Radio Shack
4. Air Zone Lazer Tag (2) gun set; ToysRUs
5. (6)AAA batteries for two guns
Please ask questions within the Istructable, but our Contact Information;
1. Under construction, website for our robotics for kids future academy; www.DroneLaserTagAcademy.com
2. Our email; firstname.lastname@example.org
3. IndieGoGo; https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/laser-tag-modul...