Hacking laser tag and building custom guns

As [Brad] over at the LVL1 hackerspace watched his friend build a Laser tag/tazer mashup for Makerfaire Detroit 2012, he noticed these new laser tag guns were really cool. These Light Strike guns have an impressive array of electronics for a $30 toy, but there was still much to be desired. [Brad] decided to reverse engineer these guns and work on a drop-in replacement for the game’s electronics so people like his friend can hurt themselves more easily.

The Wowwee Light Strike guns operate with IR LEDs, so the obvious solution for decoding the laser tag protocol would be the Arduino IR remote library. [Brad] had a bit of trouble getting his Teensy to read the IR data correctly, but after connecting everything up to a logic analyzer he had the data format figured out.

Now [Brad] has the Light Strike data format figured out and is theoretically able to make his own guns that are compatible with the off-the-shelf laser tag system. It’s also possible for [Brad] to extend the capabilities of this laser tag system by using the ‘health’ function to create a medi gun, or build a gun with a larger magazine for a laser tag mini gun.

If you’d like to build your own version of laser tag compatible with the Wowwee Light Strike, you can grab all the code on [Brad]‘s git.

Robot laser tag

[Shay] and his friend built some battling robots for a school project. Instead of destroying each other’s robots with saws or torches, they are playing laser tag. Each robot sports an eeePC, a laser pointer on a movable arm, and some photoresistors. The goal is to get your laser to hit the other robot’s photoresistor to lower its health towards a kill. A server keeps track of the bout, monitoring shot fired because you won’t find unlimited ammo in this game. As for piloting the rig, the netbook webcam is streamed to a control station with an Xbox 360 controller for motion, aiming, and firing. Check it out after the break.

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Warthog laser tag

The Warthog from Halo is one of the most beloved video game vehicles. [Tim Higgins] brings the fun to life with his laser tag Warthog game. It uses Barbie Power Wheels toys as a base and adds laser tag weaponry. Xbox 360 controllers are used but just like in Halo, you can’t control the gun and the vehicle at the same time. We’ve encountered [Tim's] love for water-based amusement before and this did originally start out with a water cannon powered by a wind-shield washer reservoir.

Take a look at the videos after the break as well as his recent post for information about the hardware. His choices for controller circuitry are way overpowered, sourcing an Eee PC to do the heavy lifting. This is because the choices he made were for easy development and not economy of components. A PC has no problem connecting to Xbox 360 controllers, and the modular control boards mean no complicated circuit design or arduous soldering were necessary. In the end, this looks like a ton of fun and we give him bonus points for repainting the pretty pink plastic that comes standard with these models of children’s toys.

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