Monday, February 13, 2012

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB) - Stress test

Well, after making a successful board with new components I was able to do some stress testing to see if the new MOSFETS I chose would hold up to repeated use.. The first test was to hook up the parts NewRaceOwner sent me to a old cocker I had sitting around.

Now I remember why people don't shoot mech cockers anymore.. They are a PAIN to get setup if nothing has been done before.. On this one I had to set it up from scratch and wow what a pain!

Anyways, after hooking it up to my SCUBA tank I shot it for a few minutes without any electronic failures.. I did however run out of air before my auto stop of 2000 shots was met.. SCUBA must have been low since I have been testing with it for a week or so without filling!

Rough Stats
CPS - 7 shots per second
Runtime - 5min 53 seconds
Shot Count - 2471
Electronic failures - 0

Well, at this point I'm trying to decide if I need to order a professional circuit board so I can get the sizign down better, or do more testing before I commit to a board design..... Choices choices!

I will probably hold off and try and get the CPS down lower (Timing) and do another stress test but with the gun doing something like 15CPS..  Then once I have that done, I will go for a professionally fabbed board so that I can start sizing components.

Check out this vid if you want to see some of the before testing video..

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Open Source Paintball Board

Well, I know its been some time since my last update and Im sorry for the long delay in updates..

While I was making my first prototypes I made some mistakes in parts ordering and ended up wasting a lot of time (8-10hrs) and that really bummed me out on the project since I was on a roll. So with life creeping up I had to take a break from it. On the flip side, ive slowly been working away, and made some progress.

Ive made 3 printed circuit boards (with MISTAKES!) as well as ordered the wrong transistors and that set me back alot.. What I have made is one good prototype board, with the button pad interfaced, both solenoids interfaced. Im currently working on getting the eyes interfaced, but I made a mistake on the board (eyes are on ALL THE TIME) and thats a waste of battery. I have to re-work the board to change the connections and make them switchable.

As well, I think I am going to change the board type from the Arduino Pro, to the Teensyduino. Why you ask? SIZE! The Teensy is only .7 wide, and 1.2 long, while the Pro is .7wide and 1.6 long. Inside a frame every inch counts and this will help with some wiggle room!

Not much progress has been made on the programming front, but being completely honest, the programming is the easy part for me!

I included a video as well if you want to see what progress I have made with the board.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB)

Cost of the open source paintball board...

I have been asked a time or two about the cost of the OSPB, so I thought I would do a running total of the cost. The below would be if YOU MADE YOUR OWN. If it was ever sold commercially the costs would be totally different because someone else would be doing all the work/assembly/testing!

I will try to update this post to reflect costs as they arise, but so far thats what they appear to be!

This also assumes you have the tools to assemble (so far a drill, soldering iron, laser printer)

Arduino Nano - 25.00$

2 Sided Copper Clad PCB - 4.19$ (Your gonna have alot left over!)

PCB Etchant - 10.49$ (Your gonna have alot left over!)

NPN Transistors - 0.72ea x2 = 1.44$

Voltage Regulator - 2.80$

2 Pole Connectors - 1.35ea x4 = 5.40$

4 Pole Connectors - 1.81$

6 Pole Connectors - 1.85$

TOTAL = 52.98$

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB)


So im narrowing down board designs and wiring. Here are some of my observations so far.

Linear Voltage Regulator - This basically takes the 9v and reduces it to 5v. The excess power is given off as HEAT. This appears to be how most other PB boards operate and the main reason I suspect is price and space.. LVR's are SMALL and simple to use.Why not use the LVR included on the Arduino Nano? The nano has a LVR that can sustain 500mA, the F1 5way takes 200mA, and the sear tripper takes 1A (peak, not sustained). That means that I believe that we would overload it VERY quickly and either burn it up or just overheat it and it would turn off. If battery life is a serious issue I will look into a Switching Voltage Regulator as the new ones from MAXIM electronics look nice.
As well, this is why I could never get the Universal T Board to work on my Racegun.. I took a look at the schematics and the LVR on it couldn't sustain anywhere near that much.. I would be curious to know if anyone got a univ-t-board to work in a Racegun. As well if anyone has gotten this to work, it would allow me to know if I could go to a smaller size transistor since the power draw isn't needed.

Linear Voltage Regulator
Part Number - LM2936MP-5.0
DataSheet -
Size - SOT223

NPN Transistors - These are what takes the low voltage signal from the microprocessor (arduino) and triggers a switch to turn on the higher current solenoids. I chose transistors with integrated diodes for simplicity, and that can handle 1A sustained.. This is overkill for the F1 5way and I may change it down the road for space savings. For now it will be the same so I don't have to organize so many different parts.

NPN Transistors
DataSheet -
Size - SOT89

Connectors - Argh.. If it were up to me I think I would just hard solder the connectors because I dont know how many people I have helped with microscopic bits of broken plastic.. That being said, not everyone can solder, so I guess connectors are handy.. Just be careful when removing those things! I decided to go with straight headers (current race board is right angled) due to my space needs, but if it doesn't work out right angled connectors might come back into play.

2 Pole Connectors (Noids, Batt)
4 Pole Connectors (Eyes)
6 Pole Connectors (Button Pad)

I placed a order from Digikey (Try mouser, they are GREAT as well) for the parts and I hope to get them, and the soldering station in soon.. Then the fun will start, since Ive never soldered SMT components in my life, or custom made my own PCB! Oh well, should be fun all the same!

Now that I'm using CAD software (NRO I'm sure can relate) its making it a lot easier to make changes if needed.. EAGLE CAM is awesome if you ever need to set something like this up, and there is even a free version so you can try it out.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB)

Been digging around and thought I would run my tagline through the ol google and see what I could come up with.

Apparently this ISNT the first, second, or third time this type of project has attempted to get off the ground! Now I will say I think im the only one to have actually posted vids of working programming, and to have posted some basic schematics, but its interesting to see that this path is well trod.

Seems like most of the others start down the road of open source, but then cant get a big enough group together to make it work.. Not that many electronics/programmer paintballers I guess! :-)

Anyways, the reason for this post is because Scenario Dreams made their schematics public. THATS A AWESOME MOVE and is honestly like 50% of what im doing.. The only downside to what the UTB is, is that its based on a PIC.. And to develop for PIC, you have to pay for the software which is VERY expensive. Honestly thats why im going for Arduino is because the IDE is free..

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB)

Updates updates! Since the wife has been out of town I have had a lot of time to dedicate to the project!!

Ive almost completed the schematic for the arduino/daughterboard interface.. I decided to go the route of tall and skinny for the board in the hopes that I might be able to make a set of grips where the board is actually embedded in the rubber. This would make it truly universal since you wouldn't need any space INSIDE the frame.. Feedback seems to be that this wont work, but I'm gonna give it a shot. If it doesn't its minimal work to re-shuffle components to a different form factor. I think the one thing that will have to change for this project is the USB port soldered directly on the arduino. The solution is to take the connector offboard and for Raceguns this is great because I think I can route it to the hole where the old LEMO connector was. If you were to use the board in another project.. Well.. Creative routing of the cable would be needed!

Now I was working on my schematic and got to the frame NRO sent me (thanks again!). Whipped out my multimeter to read what pins controlled what button. Since they are RED/BLK I thought, well this will be easy.. One pair per button/LED.. NOPE.. For posterity sake, here is the pin out for anyone down the road.

From left to right looking at the TOP of the connector (you can see little silver bits through the white plastic).
Positive for Down Arrow
Positive for Main Power Button
Positive for Up Arrow
Positive for LED color (Unknown)
Positive for LED color (Unknown)

If someone could get me a picture of the back of a button board, I want to make sure there isn't any switching electronics (without tearing my frame up!!) so if you have one out of a gun and could take a GOOD pic I would appreciate it!

In the end how Race did it makes sense (common ground) but I wouldent use red/blk combos because of the mistake I made in IDing each pair.. Oh well!

Aside from that been working in EAGLE alot to get the schematic rockin and rolling and have made alot of progress.. I'm wiring it all up, and once that's done I will be able to homebrew my first PCB. I cant believe it but radio shack actually still sells the copper clad PBC and etchant (ACID!) so I went and grabbed some. Some of the nerds on the Internet devised a method of using a laser printer to transfer the traces to the PCB and for prototyping this will be the quickest method of getting everything down on a circuit and test fitting it into the gun.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Open Source Paintball Board (OSPB)

Sorry for the time between updates, but you ever get caught up in doing things that you cant take the time to document them?!?! :-)

So here are the updates.. I did some additional testing and the electronics work fine so I'm pushing forward. What does that mean you may ask?

Well, I'm going to try to get everything to fit on a circuit board, and get it 95% into the gun frame and perhaps take it out shooting and do some real testing (2k shots) and get a idea on the real world battery life..

Biggest challenges so far?
SPACE! Like everything paintball, I was optimistic about the space required and things are getting tight.. I might in the end have to make a decision on features (9v possibly, or USB programming) to make it all fit, but I'm working hard to see if I can get all the features in there.

Firestarter 9000 - Homeowners insurance not included!

What am I doing right now?

Well, I ordered a new Hot Air Rework Station since my soldering iron (Model - Firestarter 9000 in case you want to buy it from me) just wasn't cutting it. You should have heard my wife when I told her that I needed a soldering station otherwise her sewing machine wouldn't get fixed. Quickest buy Ive ever made!!! :-D

And I'm also working with a program called "Eagle". Its a circuit design program that I hope will allow me to design the board without so much hit and miss trial work.. It will take longer up front but I hope it will pay off in the end with a product I can test in the real world quicker. If I can get the schematic correct (did I mention Ive never done schematic design?) I should be able to print my own prototype PCB's..

Anyways, thanks for all the comments, and keep the suggestions/concerns coming!