The Little Lightgun That Could: Sinden Makes Good

Back in 2018, we covered the work being done by [Andrew Sinden] to create a lightgun that could work on modern televisions. The project was looking for funding via Kickstarter, but due at least in part to skepticism about the technology involved, the campaign fell well short of its goal. It seemed, at the time, like the story would end there.

But we were recently pointed to a fascinating interview with [Andrew] that ran in The Guardian a couple months back that not only tells the rest of the story, but concludes with a happy ending — after years of hard work, the Sinden Lightgun is now available for purchase. It’s not exactly the turn-key product that some would like, as there’s a fair number of hoops one must jump through just to bag some eponymous waterfowl in Duck Hunt, but nothing that would scare off the average Hackaday reader.

Limited technical details about the 2018 prototype may have kept backers away.

The final version of the hardware ditches the realistic firearm aesthetic inherited from the Wii gun accessory it was designed to fit into, and now features a brightly-colored pistol enclosure that wouldn’t look out of place tethered to a Virtua Cop machine. It’s also gained an optional recoil solenoid for force feedback, though it tacks on another $60 to the already hefty $100 price tag for the base model.

We’re glad to see that [Andrew] recognized the importance of getting Linux support for the software side of things, as it enabled the development of a pre-configured Retropie image for the Raspberry Pi 4. Though you aren’t forced to emulate on the Pi, for those who would like to blast the occasional zombie on their desktop, Windows and x86 Linux are also supported.

Often times, when we cover a project here on Hackaday it’s a one-shot deal: somebody had a particular need or desire, built a gadget to fulfill it, and moved on. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a certain feeling of pride when we see a project from this community develop into something more. While not every hacked together piece of hardware we feature has the potential to be the next Arduboy or Sinden Lightgun, we like to think that we’ve already covered the next big project-turned-product success story and just don’t know it yet.

Thanks to [Itay] for the tip.

13 thoughts on “The Little Lightgun That Could: Sinden Makes Good

  1. I bought a pair of these and have had them for a little over a year. The software needs a TON of work. I tried on 3 PC’s and could never get the borders to load reliably. Getting each app to work took between hours and days. Once working i found that accuracy came and went depending on ambient light levels in the room.

    The recoil is underpowered and works off a slow charging capacitor. Due to the fact its using a 500ma USB it needs to slowly charge the capacitor. This means that the recoil only works for a few trigger pulls and trails off in strength then you need to wait before the recoil works again.

    Mine are back in their boxes now and stored on a shelf waiting for a new software release. I have considered cracking them open and reworking the recoil circuits.

  2. “The Sinden Lightgun® software adds a thin border around your television display. The hardware is an optical based system which uses this border to visually calculate the aiming position.

    The Sinden Lightgun® can also calculate the angle you are pointing at the television and also your relative distance which hopefully in the future can open up new gaming concepts and interactions.”

    Everything I wanted to know about how it works.

      1. Well, the concept is good, those dissing it were wrong.

        Achieving the goal in the real world however is always a challenge, as indicated by the previous poster who described ambient light being a problem.

        Unrelated projects have used QR Code like tags to allow for frame orientation and alignment, perhaps that could be made more reliable than the high contrast frame. (I like the idea of the frame, although I wonder if a color, other than bright white, could have worked instead.).

  3. If you are a gun afficinado (real guns), this is an excellent way of getting fast snap-shot reflexes.

    After some initial training with a real pistol, go to the arcade and play “House of the Dead” or “Time Crisis” once or twice a week for a few weeks. Set a goal that you can use to measure your practice, such as “how far can I get on 4 coins” or similar (“How many coins to get to the end of Time Crisis”). Keep trying week after week to improve your skill.

    Grab the $20 conversion of dollars to tokens and save them for future trips, and the total practice shooting results in a massive increase in shooting accuracy for not much money. Then go back to the shooting range and you should see quite a bit of improvement in speed and accuracy.

    It’s sort of like juggling – after some hours of practice, you get an instinctive reflex for accurately aiming at a target, and the arcade practice transfers over to real guns.

    1. Any of the current VR headset hand controllers would work much better for the ‘instinctual aiming’ thing.

      Not that I think game gun training is anything like a good idea. Go to the damn range and get competent with the real thing. It’s all kinds of fun. If you nation doesn’t allow, fix your laws or move.

      1. A brick of .22 shells starts at around $60 depending on type, and bigger ammo costs a lot more. Going to the range and getting comfortable with a pump action shotgun will set you back a ton of money, because shotgun shells are really expensive.

        If money is no object, then sure – go to the range and fire off 500 rounds of 9mm and spend $150.

        If getting really *good* is your object, then learn to shoot initially, spend some time at the arcade, then go back and tune your reflexes on the actual gun.

        Also: I strongly suspect that you haven’t actually tried VR shooters versus holding the actual (plastic) guns from “House of the Dead” and “Time Crisis”.

        I’ve done both range and arcade, used to compete at range meets, and can report that arcade training helps.

        I strongly suspect that you haven’t tried arcade training, and are simply voicing an opinion on something you haven’t tried.

        1. If you didn’t get your 10,000+ shots of BB or 22LR done as a kid it’s too late now anyhow.

          Game ‘trained’ shooters are flinchers…think they are bulletproof…often never before heard the phrase ‘cease fire’…dangerous.

          The handsets of my RiftS feel like pistol grips, their directional accuracy is pretty good. Too lightweight though.

          Game training might do something for snap shots, but not into ‘cowboy action shooting’ so don’t really care.
          I’m not saying experienced shooters can’t get anything from games, but games will never make someone an experienced shooter, just overconfident.

          1. I feel like you’re conflating several different skills. Operating firearms (specific ones, classes of firearms, or firearms in general), shooting, and safe firearm handling practices are all different skills. The last one’s more a habit than a skill anyways. PWalsh’s suggestion is specifically about training shooting skill – the ability to accurately and quickly point an object you’re holding at a distant object and pull a trigger when you’re on target. Actual firearm handling skills can’t be obtained that way, but that’s not the point.

            The other skills can also be learned without going to a range and shooting.

            You can get the knowledge of how specific guns work and build up an idea of general patterns via VR programs like H3VR, though the fine muscle memory won’t transfer. The actual muscle memory can be built up training dry with real guns.

            Gun safety can also be practiced without an actual gun. You just need to spend several hours at a time using a firearm analogue like airsoft, nerf, or paintball, following safety rules the whole time. Do this regularly until you build up a solid habit and then be a stickler about following the rules any time you handle a firearm or firearm analogue. Ideally you do this by playing a team shooting game alongside people you can trust to correct you when you misstep.

            Things like drop and travel time are harder to get a feel for, but many people – including me – don’t have easy access to the kind of bigass outdoor range you need for that. H3VR does provide accurate simulations of that stuff though so there are simulator options for that if someone wants them.

            Personally, I learned the four rules with an actual gun – but it’s airsoft that taught me the importance of ‘cease fire’ and of putting your gun in a safe condition when you’re done shooting.

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