We’ve seen quite a few automated paintball marker systems over the years. Generally it’s the same story – a motion detection system used to target and fire upon the opposing team, prowlers, spouses, etc. [Waterloo Labs] decided to take a slightly different approach, and create a system that intentionally misses its target. Paintball Picasso uses a pair of Tippmann A-5 paintball markers to draw an outline around the person in its sights. This is a rather safe project for [Waterloo Labs], considering their previous adventures in car surfing.
The Paintball Picasso system uses a webcam to capture an image of a willing test subject. Picasso then processes the image. The human outline is plotted on a 50×50 grid of paintball pixels. Then the real fun begins. Paintball Picasso uses a National Instruments myRIO to command two paintball markers to simultaneously fire. The markers are fitted with high torque R/C style servos for pan and tilt. At 10 rounds per second the markers quickly draw the human outline. The test subject walks away slightly splattered, but otherwise unscathed. With a matrix of 2500 points, [Waterloo Labs] has enough resolution to draw some basic logos.
We liked the mounting system [Waterloo Labs] created for the markers. Using a mix of 3D printed parts, Lego Tetrix, 80/20 aluminum extrusion, and ball bearings, they fashioned a mount that moved smoothly enough for R/C servos to actuate, yet was strong enough to withstand the kick of firing. We’d love to see the servos swapped for stepper motors and belt drives. While open loop, stepper motors would afford more accuracy and a longer life than PWM driven R/C servos.