To my wife’s great chagrin, I like playing video games on occasion. She equates it to the worst form of self-indulgence there is, and a complete waste of time, but it’s relaxing and I rarely (read: less often than not) let it interfere with things I’ve got to get done. All said and done, I go through spurts where I’ll play for a few hours for a couple days in a row maybe once a month.
My favorite game is Battlefront. Yes, the original – Upper management won’t approve expenditures on new video games so the ones I get are usually pretty old. Woot to the stormtrooper. Enough digression – One day I was playing and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have the enemy radar in real life?” To which I responded casually to myself, “Heck yes, it would.”
So I made one. Loosely based off of Halo and Battlefront radar, I designed one for the only acceptable (upper management required non-lethal) recreational war I could think of: Paintball!
I toyed around with the thought of actually making a product out of it for a while. I didn’t because paintballers I talked with just weren’t willing to part with $200 for what they considered a gimmick. But it did give me a reason to blow several hundred dollars on something my wife would marginally approve of. It’s all about working the system (erm, I mean, I love you honey!).
So I came up with a fancy project name, ZephyrEye, drew up a quick concept screen, and wrote up some project specs.
- Color LCD screen
- Should be able to monitor ammo levels by detecting shots fired using a microphone
- Must be hardened to survive a direct blow
- Uses GPS for localization
- Uses ZigBee mesh networking modules for up to 1 mile transmissions
- Must be reprogrammable via wireless bootloader.
- Must use an AVR processor.
- Battery must last at least an hour.
- Both friendly and opposing players can be identified by color and/or symbol.
- Visibility of friendly/opposing players can be user selected per game.
- “The Walking Dead” can be identified by color/symbol (so they don’t get shot again ;)
- Players can be “respawned” by waiting in a neutral “base” zone for a timeout period after being shot.
- Can keep score of different styles of games: Capture the Flag, Elimination, King of the Hill, etc.
- Players can report being hit, which removes them from play and shows others their location as they withdraw.
- Field objects (such as bunkers, bases, field boundaries, etc.) can be programmed in, saved, and restored.
I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but that’s more or less what I set out to create. Here’s what I came up with using a cross-platform compatible and open source 3D rendering software called Blender, with a few post-processing effects using GiMP. I’m really not an artist, but I think it gets the point across. I’ve never actually integrated a ZephyrEye into a hopper, but I thought it would be cool.
I should also note that while I’ve really enjoyed my paintballing experiences (heck, I went paintballing for prom one year ;), I don’t own any equipment and I don’t go very often. So, like almost all of my inventions, it’s a solution looking for a problem (bad Brad!). But even Sir Mix-A-Lot can’t deny the coolness factor. It’s there, baby.
Next: Schematics and design files. Hopefully by the third or fourth post on this topic, I’ll have some videos of the functioning prototypes (cause I still don’t have any that look decent…).