Introduction: DIY Laser Tag

For this project, I decided to step away from what I do usually which is make use of several components to create an interactive project to do with basketball. However, for this project, I decided to focus on an aspect of design and technology that I have always wanted to further research and develop into my project. This aspect of design and technology that I plan to focus on for this project is the aspect of wearable technology. More specifically, I decided to make use of several components common in wearable technology. For this project, I have decided to make a DIY laser tag for all of the children who want to play laser tag with their friends at home. To do this, I have made two items. One of these items is a gauntlet with a laser pointer that can be worn on the user's arm and the other is a target which would be worn on a vest that another person would wear. Once both have these have been made, one can wear the gauntlet while the other wears the vest. One will aim the laser pointer at the vest which will cause a buzzer on the vest to sound and show that it has been shot. The main purpose of this project is to get children more active at home with friends and family while still having as much fun as possible!

Step 1: Gather Materials

Before starting the project, it is essential that one must make sure that they have all of the materials needed to make both items. The following components are needed for the project:

- Glove (any type)

- Needle and Thread

- Conductive Thread

- Wires

- Button

- Flex Sensors

- LEDs

- Laser Pointer

- Arduino

- Breadboard

- Foil

- LDRs

- Piezo Buzzer

Step 2: Design and Create the Circuit

Before creating the final items, I decided that it would be important to decide what the circuit would look like. To do this, I created the circuit using the Arduino and a breadboard while making use of wires to connect the small components such as the flex sensors, button, and the laser pointer to see if they all functioned well. I decided that I would connect two flex sensors to LEDs such that as the user bends the flex sensors using their fingers, the LEDs will light up. I also decided that I would connect the laser pointer to the button such that whenever the button is pressed, light from the laser pointer will emit. The purpose of doing this is not only to see what my circuit would look like on the gauntlet but also to get a sense of how to code and make use of each of these components. I highly recommend you do the same so that in case you want to adjust one aspect of what I did to benefit you more, you will know exactly how to do it with the knowledge and understanding after playing around with the components.

Step 3: Test the Circuit

Now that you've created the circuit, you should now test whether all components work and that they do what you want them to do. In this case, once you bend the flex sensors, the LEDs should turn on and once the button is pressed, the laser pointer should turn on. I have posted a video here for reference of the circuit should look like and what should happen.

Step 4: Soldering

Now that I knew what the circuit would look like, I decided to start soldering all the wires together so that the sensors, buttons, and lights could all function while in the gauntlet. I took exactly what I had designed on the breadboard and recreated it such that there will be no need for a breadboard as the components I used will be directly connected to the Arduino.

Step 5: Sewing Components to the Glove

At this stage, I started to sew the components to the glove. I decided to sew the most important component first, which in this case, was the laser pointer. I decided to sew the laser pointer to the index finger of the glove due to how many associating the hand motion of shooting a gun with the thumb and the index finger. I figured that I could replicate the motion into my project so that the user is familiar and comfortable with the motion required to shoot the laser. The diagram below shows the locations on which I will place the laser pointer and the button.

Step 6: Making the Target (part 1):

Before I can make a physical target, I needed to first understand what I would want it to do and when it should this. I decided that I should incorporate a piezo buzzer so that it sounds whenever the light has hit the target. I coded this such that whenever the light is being reflected onto the sensor is higher than a certain value, the piezo buzzer would then sound. This is very useful in letting the user know that they have been hit or know that they have hit the target. I will attach the code needed to do this as well as a diagram of how I connected the piezo buzzer and the LDR into the circuit to make it work.

Step 7: Making the Target: Part 2

Now that the code and the setup worked, I needed to physically make the target to be placed on a vest. Since I had a limited number of LDR's, I had to find a way to create a large range for the LDR to work as the user cannot only hit one small area to sound the buzzer. To do this, I decided to place a cone (I made out of cardboard) around the LDR and wrap this in foil. This will cause any rays of light being shined near to the LDR to be reflected onto the LDR. This allows a larger range for the user to aim the laser towards and sound the buzzer.

Step 8: Attaching the Laser Pointer

Now, all I had left was to attach the laser pointer to the gauntlet. To do this, I used super glue and stuck it to the index finger of the glove as that is the finger children usually point when pretending to shoot a gun. Instead of incorporating a button, I cut one of the wires of the laser pointer and placed foil at the thumb of the glove. This is so that the user can complete the circuit by pressing their thumb against the incomplete wire and cause the laser pointer to turn on.

Step 9: Testing the Final Prototype

After doing the following steps, one should be able to comfortably turn on the laser pointer taking into account the ergonomics of the whole project. The light should be able to shine at the foil of the cone and still activate the piezo buzzer to sound as the light will get reflfected along the walls of the cone.

Step 10: Improvements

There are obviously several improvements I would like to add to this project. At the start, I had made use of flex sensors to turn on a set of LEDs. However, due to time constraints, I was not able to incorporate this into the glove I made. If I did have the time, I would make sure to place LEDs (specifically used for being placed on wearable technology) onto the glove that would turn on whenever some of the fingers are being bent. This would have made my project much more challenging while also consisting of a variety of different components which I believe is important for the user to have so that they do not get bored of just one function.