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Modding Laser Tag Gear? 599

digitalsushi writes "With summer here again our thoughts turn to the outdoors, and for two years, my peers and I have tried to find plans online for augmenting our laser tag gear to make it more realistic. We're not engineers, but also figured it can't be that hard to do something with some kind of infrared laser to decrease the beam width. What other sorts of inexpensive things could be added to our gear to make it more interesting? We're using the popular Laser Challenge V2 kits, but any brand at all would be interesting."
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Modding Laser Tag Gear?

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  • Airsoft (Score:5, Informative)

    by dicepackage ( 526497 ) * <dicepackage@gma i l . com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:34PM (#9678194) Homepage
    Have you ever considered airsoft as an alternative? The guns are expensive but they should still be cheaper then getting realistic laser tag gear and a lot more fun. Airsoft uses air to launch small 6mm plastic BBs and they are designed to look like the real thing. Most guns that are sold in stores like Walmart are very cheaply made and not worth your money. I would recommend getting an AEG (Automatic Electric Gun) from Asia (, but if you prefer to buy from the US I would recommend Airsoft can be dangerous so if you play make sure you are wearing proper eye protection (at least ANSI 87.1). Also be sure to inform any neighbors you have as well as the police that you are having an airsoft game. You do not want the police comming to your house and opening fire on everyone they see.
  • by Mz6 ( 741941 ) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:45PM (#9678374) Journal
    Seriously, It's tough to find TV shows that aren't increasingly showing more violence, nudity, etc... Although, Bush is cracking down.
  • Try this for size... (Score:4, Informative)

    by SecretSquirrel42 ( 789879 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:50PM (#9678449)
    IR and RF based...! (click on products)
  • Wow, how offtopic.

    Since we are showing anecdotal eveidence. I was also raised in a house with similar rules. No Bow either.

    I now play paintball, enjoy guns and play violent video games.


    Feel free to keep congratulating yourself though.
  • gnu-tag (Score:2, Informative)

    by wud ( 709053 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:55PM (#9678534) Homepage Journal
    not sure if this helps, but you could try []
  • by Scorpio1 ( 82882 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:57PM (#9678562) Homepage
    As someone who worked at Laser Quest for 3 years and has been a member there for 6 years, I feel the need to defend LQ. Did you guys play anything other than the standard Solo missions? That's what they play with the general public except at Lock-ins (all night events). Anyway, Solo missions are admittedly boring because it's just all about who can get the most points. There are some more challenging team games such as Chess which have complex team structures with different positions who have different numbers of lives/shots. When there's a team goal and it's not unlimited lives, things get interesting.
  • Re:How about.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by i_c_andrade ( 795205 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:01PM (#9678629)
    Remove that red tip and then you get visits from your friends in the local PD and ATF. People walking around with guns (even fake guns) are treated seriously. Fake guns look sufficently real from a few feet. Why do you think all the realistic waterguns come in neon colors, but "accurate" in design?
  • Buy a Tippman (Score:3, Informative)

    by robnator ( 250608 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:02PM (#9678651)
    Paintball -- the most fun you can have with your pants on.

    Seriously (OK, MORE seriously), you can paintball in many more environments than you can lasertag (plus you avoid the toxic complications of Zombie Smoke), and the (small but undeniable) pain of taking a hit is a far better motivator to stealthy movement and quick reactions than a bit of light.

  • Well, if it makes you feel any better, when I have kids, I'm going to teach them as much about violence as I can. Extensive martial arts training, stuff like that.

    Hey, maybe my kids and your kids can get together and play, and my kids can beat up your kids! Wouldnt that be fun!?

    Ok, just kidding. I do fully plan on teaching any/all kids I have as much about self-defense as I possibly can, and that will include extensive training with guns, knives, and "common items" which can be used as weapons in a pinch. I also will be teaching them, from the beginning, the seriousness of what they are learning. There is nothing wrong with letting your kids know how to handle themselves when push comes to shove, just make sure they understand the responsibility that goes with their knowledge.

    But maybe that's just me. I always resented my parents for being overly protective in that regard, and not giving me the opportunity to learn how to defend myself - a problem I took upon myself to rectify.
  • by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:11PM (#9678762) Homepage
    It's hard to get the adrenaline rush of a fight/flight response when your body is expecting a mild vibration.

    Get nailed by a paintball in the neck in the first round, and the rest of the matches you play in you'll practically be vibrating on your own from the adrenalin you produce while your body lets you know it doesn't want that to happen again.

    The "joke" of it was the whole experience, not just the lack of pain. Can you imagine being dropped into a lager tag arena and being told you can't even walk at a fast pace, or duck to avoid shots? People would also cover the sensor with their hand to avoid hits, similar to the "wipe-off" that some paintballers do to avoid getting booted for being tagged. At least the paint ball leaves a residue the observant can use to catch cheaters.

    And biking isn't a combat sport... at least not yet :)
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:18PM (#9678859)
    There is just a little difference. The real M16 shoots 5.56mm lead slugs at a velocity of about 950m/s. Airsoft guns shoot 6mm plastic pellets at a velcotiy of around 30-100m/sec depending on gun type. Now not only should it be apparant that the gun won't even shoot 300m, it should be equally apparant that it is far less accurate. He isn't talking about the accuracy of the shooter, rather the accuracy of the gun. For a real fiream, this is nothing special. It should be essentially dead on at 20m. For a plastic BB gun, that's a little different.
  • Magnifying Glass (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:22PM (#9678913)
    We used to play some lasertag in highschool. My personal favorite hack used a magnifying glass and a poster tube to make a long-range sniper-style rifle.

    CONSTRUCTION: basically, i took the IR LED and lens off the old gun. securely insert the proper size magnifying glass lens into one end the the poster tube. Insert a plastic cup that fit inside the other end of tube, but can slide forward and backward in the tube.

    ALIGNMENT: using a penlight, stuck through the opening in the plastic cup, determine the focal length of the setup. In a dark room, you can project an image of the lightsource onto a wall by adjusting the distance from the cup to the lens. find the proper locationa and mark it.

    FINAL ASSEMBLY: put the LED from the gun into the cup at the end of the tube. remove all excess cardboard of the tube. Firmly attach to the gun. (we used duct tape).Go out and test!

    RESULTS: basically this allows you to focus the beam more tightly. the downside is that you have less cross sectional area to the beam. this makes things harder to hit. the upside is that you have a more concentrated beam. this means it travels father. In side-by-side tests with fresh batteries, the modified gun shot fully 3 times further, but you had to be DAMN accurate.

    get a good optics book (or even a general physics text) for more on the lens setup.
  • It's called MILES (Score:5, Informative)

    by L-Train8 ( 70991 ) <> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:42PM (#9679205) Homepage Journal
    It's called the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, or MILES. It's been in use in the army since the 80's. They even make sensors for tanks and Humvees, as well as individual soldiers. The laser transmitter attaches to the barrel of an actual M-16, and is activated by the sound from the firing of blanks, so you approximate the noise and weapon kickback you would with firing an actual round.

    Some links (the second with pictures): [] []
  • Re:How about.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by pnot ( 96038 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @05:22PM (#9679759)
    In Chicago if a cop sees you with a handgun (or something that looks like a handgun, like maybe a cell phone) you are running the risk of being shot.

    Think that's bad? In the UK, a man was shot dead by police because he was taking a newly-repaired
    table leg [] home and someone mistook it for a shotgun. More details here [].
  • Rifles *RIFLE* the round - it's the angular momentum of the round that delivers the majority of the long-range accuracy. With Airsoft (or paintball, for that matter), you're dealing with a basically spherical projectile, which is not rifled.
  • by propellerhead_prime ( 777032 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:33PM (#9680638)
    M.I.L.E.S. (Multiple Integrated Laser Engagment System, in case you were wondering) is horrible. It is awful. It is so atrocious that I can't truly capture its badness except to say that it sucks about as much as a black hole. Don't look into it. Don't consider it. Don't mention it...for gawdsake, don't even think about it.

    I have been in the Army for about eight years now and I honestly cannot sum up how much I hate this system. I once told myself, "Self, I think I could be happy doing anything as long as I don't have to wear M.I.L.E.S gear." Since I told myself that I have spent significant time in swamps, deserts and everywhere in-between and I can tell you as a bone fide user that I preferred being in a hostile combat environment where I was getting shot at over wearing that crap in training.

    Fortunately for you I find it very hard to believe that you would find any that works on the market, and if you did, the last thing your neighbors or police would want is you and your friends shooting real machine guns at each other with real (blank) ammo and then trying to explain that its just a game.

    Stick with Laser me on this one.
  • Re:How about.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by JohnsonWax ( 195390 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:16PM (#9681499)
    Actually, as much as I hate to say it, including the word 'black' makes it carry less weight. A lot of Americans simply assume that a large percentage of black kids will be shot dead eventually anyway. The statistics on this are pretty grim, but not as bad as large chunks of society believe.
  • Re:Microcontrollers (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @08:48PM (#9681741)
    It has already been done.

    Check out milestag []; open source (tho not entirely free) DIY lasertag system.
  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @12:57AM (#9683149)
    The Objective?

    Realistic Star Wars Blaster Battles.

    The Conclusion?

    The current game technology isn't there. Even WITH green lasers, (Though, that's getting somewhat closer.)

    What I suggest is the following. . .

    Full clips of tracer rounds! Those things actually look like Star Wars blaster bolts! And looks are the first step.

    Sound? Well. . . Get this: When you fire a gun, you get a lot of fast-moving hot gas, right? It makes sound. Okay. So then you have silencers, which are good at diffusing all that fast-moving hot gas so that it makes very little sound. Right? So then why not a gun modification which doesn't just kill the sound, but rather changes it? I mean, why not? That's what vocal cords do. There's a thousand different musical instruments out there which take moving air and shape it. Sure, you could probably spend millions of dollars screwing around with phonics technology trying to come up with just the right noise, but the fact of the matter is that it could be done, and once you know all the right shapes of metal tube to use, the finished product is low tech and as easy to produce as a kazoo.

    So then you'd have both the looks and the sounds!

    How about the feel?

    Beats me. What does it feel like to get shot with a blaster round? Or a tracer round, for that matter? Probably not good. (Keeping in mind, safety isn't really much of a concern with me, particularly since I don't imagine a properly cool Star Wars blaster system is going to materialize any time soon. Wear a jacket or something and try not to aim for your friend's head.)

    Anyway, I suspect the formulation of the flare could be tinkered with. --If you think about it, you'd only really need enough burn-time to last the half second or so that the projectile is airbourn, so the material could be gone the instant it hits the target. Magicians use stuff called 'Flash paper', which is chemically perfect for the job. --Makes a nice rosy blaze for a second or so while you produce your pidgeons or whatever, and then it's gone. You can light the stuff in your hands and not get burned. Neato! In fact, you could even put enough flare material in the round so that it burns for a second after it hits the target. If you formulate it just so, you could probably even get it to flare up for a moment after striking. I bet you could also make a gram of theatrical flash-powder go off on inmpact as well to make a little flash and 'poof'. (Though, I suspect that would be rather pushing the safety margine a touch!)

    Anyway, for the final effect, I'd want the projectile to have a second, paintball-like component, except rather than dye, it would be filled with a black chalk dust to simulate blaster scorch marks on targets. Now, honestly. Tell me it wouldn't look just desperately cool to be able to riddle walls with realistic-looking blaster impact marks!

    So. . .

    Sounds like a blaster, Looks like blaster fire, and everybody knows when the target has been hit.

    And finally, you could wire your combat area up to play John Williams over a global sound system. . .

    Yes, actually, I HAVE thought about this rather too much, which just goes to show; that which influences you when you were a kid, has a tendency to stick.

    Now, if I could just think of a way to integrate all of this clumsy blaster stuff with some of those cool light sabers. . .


  • by propellerhead_prime ( 777032 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2004 @12:57PM (#9687842)
    Allow me answer all of your specific questions before I elaborate.

    Unreliable? Absolutely. To test out MILES gear soldiers will often resort to setting off the laser by tapping the sensor on the front of the unit (this is referred to as 'dry firing') and attempting to kill each other just to verify that their equipment works. If, after several likely unsuccessful attempts they do actually kill their buddy, he has to slink over to a referee and claim his equipment went off for no good reason and have his gear reset. Interestingly, there is a high enough incidence of the gear spontaneously going off and 'killing' players that this is utterly believable. When batteries begin to get low, then the gear often gives a 'false positive' and kills you...sort of an electronic death rattle I suppose. I have also had my equipment set off by flourescent lights and other RF emitters.

    Breaks down a lot? As a unit, we are often issued at least 10% more units of MILES than we need because they expect to have at least that much of stuff fail during use. I personally think it is horrendous that the government continues to invest in a system with that kind of failure rate.

    Inaccurate? Sort of. It's a laser, so it shoots straight, but mounting it onto your weapon so that straight for the laser corresponds to where you are pointing your rifle is a pain in the ass. The system comes with some mounting brackets intended to mate properly with an M-16, M-4, etc...but in practice using these alone results in a very loose attachment with the laser rattling left, right, up, down and everywhich way...and those few degrees of difference in aim at the barrel result in dozens of meters of difference for your target downrange. By its nature MILES will also never be able to accurately simulate the ballistic arc of a bullet over a long distance...not important to most people, but for training soldiers, a significant point.

    How else does MILES suck, you ask. Well, I'll tell you since you're interested. Perhaps most importantly, the designer of the system is clearly not acquainted with the most basic concepts of ergonomics. The heart of the system is a metal box, roughly 8x6 inches positioned directly between your shoulder blades...interesting location when you consider the targetted user group often wears 60-80 pound rucksacks that have to press down on this godforsaken piece of crap and drive it right into your back. Moreover, when worn as designed, MILES has some critical cabling that runs across the chest harness horizontally, about 3-4 inches below your throat. Given that anyone using MILES is going to be jumping, rolling, and crawling around, can you think of a worse place to run a line that can, and often, does effectively strangle the wearer? If you can you are more creative than I am. Then there is the halo...or as I refer to it, the crown of thorns. MILES uses a conceptually interesting idea where the target can be hit in the head or the torso. It accomplishes this with the 'halo' of sensors that ring a user's head. When shot, this halo broadcasts an RF signal to the harness, which registers the kill...theoretically. To make this work (READ: suck even worse) there is another of those evil metal boxes on the halo. (This is one of the major failings of MILES...the halo doesn't really work very well without a helmet to put it on. Take the weight of a helmet, then add about a pound and a half of halo, which only mounts off-center, thus unbalancing the system, and imagine wearing it for 2 weeks to a month straight during an exercise.) This box is needed to hold batteries and the RF transmitter to communicate a hit to the harness. Now, imagine you are in, oh, say a foxhole with another soldier. One of you gets shot in the head. Your halo sends out the RF signal, and does it register with just your harness? Of course not. You're both dead, thanks to MILES.

    I think that about sums up my major issues with MILES. Bottom line is that I cannot believe that f

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.