NES Zapper: Improved with Lasers

The Zapper gun from the original Nintendo was ahead of its time. That time, though, was around 30 years ago and the iconic controller won’t even work with most modern televisions. With a little tinkering they can be made to work, but if you want to go in a different direction they can be made to do all kinds of other things, too. For example, this one can shoot green lasers and be used as a mouse.

The laser pointer was installed in the gun using a set of 3D printed rings to make sure the alignment was correct. It’s powered with a Sparkfun battery pack and control board which all fit into the gun’s case. The laser isn’t where the gun really shines, though. There’s a Wiimote shoved in there too that allows the gun to be used as a mouse pointer when using it with a projector. Be sure to check out the video below to see it in action. Nothing like mixing a little bit of modern Nintendo with a classic!

The Wiimote is a great platform for interacting with a computer. Since the Wii was released it’s been relatively easy to interface with them via Bluetooth. One of the classic Wiimote hacks is using an IR pen and projector to create a Smart Board of sorts for a fraction of the price. They’ve also been used with some pretty interesting VR displays.

12 thoughts on “NES Zapper: Improved with Lasers

  1. Is there a reason the Zapper won’t work on modern TVs? It doesn’t detect CRT scan lines like the Super Scope Six does. Instead, it flashes the screen black, then flashes white boxes around targets. It seems like it should be able to detect this on any display.

      1. Nope, AIUI it flashes multiple frames, one per target — twice for a single duck (duck and dog), thrice for two ducks; all targets are lit in the first frame, and one blinks out with each succeeding frame. I don’t think there can be more than two ducks in Duck Hunt, though I don’t know how many targets other games might have had.

    1. Its all timing based. A LCD typically waits for the entire NTSC/PAL frame to be complete before displaying it. A CRT streams the image onto the screen.

      The anti-cheat is the cause of lightguns not working as anti-cheat works by turning the screen black for a frame before the white boxes are drawn. Since a LCD is about a frame behind all the lightgun sees is black, when on a CRT it would be white at that exact moment.

    2. In addition to everything else said here, the Zapper specifically uses an infrared demodulator IC to look for the 16kHz timing between scanlines.

      Other lightguns (e.g. SNES) instead require a latency on the order of microseconds, directly mapping “when in the frame” to “electron beam location” to “X/Y screen coordinates”

      1. Collectables will increase in value and desirability if there are less of them.
        So if nobody throws away anything any more then we have lot’s of everything and nothing will be special enough to collect. So in essence by destroying this wonderful NES zapper, the maker of this project increases the value of the NES zappers that are left.
        Remember that “We can only be sentimental about the things that are gone”

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