Open source artillery

Thanks to [Josh, Kyle, and Mike], it is now possible to wage (Nerf) war with an Arduino. The turret designed around it is capable of shooting 6 foam projectiles in close succession, between reloads. The faux weapon interfaces with a computer through the Arduino’s onboard serial link (via USB). Software on the PC sends commands to the Arduino, which then executes functions, such as panning, tilting, firing, and rotating the cylinder. The power for the firing itself comes from a 5 gal, 80 psi air compressor. The Java software on the host PC also does smarter things, like show streaming video from the turret’s webcam and even performs basic object tracking (with mixed success). All the code for building the brute is available on [Josh's] website.


  1. MrJackson says:

    Add a nunchuck to control it with (or use motion detection) and it will be better!

  2. Josh says:

    Maybe someday :) The original design was for remote internet control (which works). But because it’s Arduino based just about any Arduino-ready control mechanism can be hacked into compatibility…

  3. polossatik says:

    whoo hoo… Office wars after new year….

  4. Bensawsome says:

    Oh you can also buy one yourself :D

  5. Jamie says:

    Cool, but not “artillery.” Artillery is indirect fire guided by a forward observer.

    It would be cool to be able to enter in coordinates at a shell prompt and have the cannon lob in projectiles from the other side of the room.

    root@cannon01:~]# “direction 1800, add 100, left 100, out”

  6. Sorry for asking but under which license this project is opensource?

  7. nachowarrior says:

    the web cam is the forward obser\/er. DUH!

  8. Josh says:

    JAVA software is under GNU GPLv3 (see new code link on blog). If you’d like some other license officially just let me know. I want it to be open and useful.

    -Code previously available is under same license, I would recommend getting the new .zip (Eclipse project), it’s a lot cleaner than the hastily posted jar.

  9. Josh says:

    Oh, and some of the web cam code is from Sun examples…it doesn’t specify a license. You’d have to look that up, but it’s probably similarly open source…

  10. SIKDIDIT says:

    Yes Dear…Working late..Yeh tough project..Ok..yeh..well dont wait up…


    Nice phone conversation in the background,,

    Excellent build too btw..Love the external compressed air!

  11. ben says:

    @Jamie, LOL shell prompt.

  12. Cynic says:

    Hmm, Mediafire’s not loading for me, any chance of a re-host of the source?
    I’m brushing up on Java and attempting to make it use serial over USB using RxTx, so I’ll give GiovynetSerialPort a look too if I can get hold of this.

  13. Josh says:

    @Cynic – what host service would you like it on? Unfortunately it has to be externally hosted. Mediafire does show a few DLs already, so…

  14. red says:

    @Josh – You could use rapidshare, megaupload, or even pastebin.

  15. Josh says:

    I’m aware of the options. Others have been able to get to it on mediafire though. So it’s an issue for Cynic (unless more are reported)…so I want Cynic to pick one…If mediafire didn’t work for him who’s to say one of the others will?

  16. Cynic says:

    Sorry for not getting back in any timely fashion, ’tis the season. I managed to download it while away at my parent’s so no worries. Thanks for the kind consideration Josh :)

  17. Jon says:

    Nexus One – Google attacks Apple iPhone That’s okay, humans — We are giving you cats the full account on every last nook and cranny of the NEXUS ONE. In case you’ve been under a rock, here’s the breakdown of the ‘phone. The HTC-built device executes Android 2.1 atop a 1GHz Snapdragon CPU, a 3.7-inch, 480 x 800 display, pulls in 512MB of ROM, 512MB of RAM, and a 4GB microSD card (expandible to 32GB). The phone is a T-Mobile device ( intending no 3G if you want to run through it to AT

  18. Subby says:

    Nice work mate. Very professional compared to mine :P

    Check it:

    (Sorry for video quality)

    PS, it looks a bit jumpy… Make better use of those servos :P

  19. Mikey says:

    You’ve been able to buy these on think geek for a while now (2 years?). Heck I saw a wireless USB one at fry’s right before Christmas.

  20. Josh says:

    @Mikey That one is stupid slow, and no webcam. Oh and did I need mention…not open :) or documented…

  21. Subby says:

    @Mikey/Josh: It is documented, along with more build pics and code @

    You’ll notice in the final photos I added bump sensors to stop it chewing the motor out, which was what I was afraid of doing when I slowed it down to take that video.

    As for the whole “you can buy it already” thing, you might want to take a closer look at what I’ve done. This is not a $60 deal like yours (which shouldn’t even require a microcrontroller, let alone an ‘duino). This one was $10 and ran on AAA batteries. I can run it without a computer, as with the Wii Nunchuck, or via serial.

    Still, a webcam would be cool :)

  22. Josh says:

    @Subby I wasn’t talking about yours being undocumented…of the 3 missle launchers on only 1 has an API (listed)…and I think all of them are inferior in range and number of shots…They don’t cost as much as ours did, but on the awesome scale they are pretty low compared to custom ones…

    Yours looks pretty sweet…

    There is another nifty one posted by a employee:

  23. Josh says:

    Update: While this used to operate with the compressed air tank visible in the video, I have since sold that and found it works quite well using the compressed air cans used for dusting electronics…even better for office warfare :)

    I take the little air tube that comes with the air can, glue it into the can’s nozzle and then wrap the little tube up with tape until it is the right diameter to fit inside the (fish tank) tube on the turret…

  24. Subby says:

    @Josh Jesus. That sparkfun one is insane. Awesome.

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