Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Musings on my own bad memory

Memory is a fickle thing.

For instance, I believed the helmet on this system had over a dozen LEDs. Obviously I had confused it with another project. I imagined there was a speaker in the gun itself for the shooting sound. Maybe this was the case in some suits, but from what I've seen the speaker is in the helmet where it can be more clearly heard over the arena music track.

After seeing some of the old equipment, I seem to recall there being those peanut lights on either side of the face, but why are they there? My working theory is that they were originally meant to add a faint edge-lit glow to the face shield, but the shield wasn't used in the game so they may have fallen by the wayside. A second example of the equipment has LEDs there and so my refurbished helmet also does.

I had once imagined all discrete decade counters and 7-segment display encoders running the score display. Thank goodness the 74C925 was available when this unit was designed; it runs all 3 digits with its multiplexed output, a perfect choice for this application. There are decade counters but that's for counting scored points (and, by extension, for timing the delay before you can be hit again).

Monday, July 31, 2017

Home stretch

Reconstruction of the display pack is almost done. There seems to be a flaky connection somewhere causing the score to go up; this was a VERY common symptom back in the day. If I can find it I'm going to fix it. The helmet needs to be lined, and another polish would be good too. There's some crud to be scrubbed off the boxes and dirt on the plastic shell, and more work to be done on the fabric trim.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reconstructing the helmet

The helmet being reconstructed has been gutted and its insides blown clean.

Helmet cleaned up and being rewired.

The team color LEDs were not so good. One LED was too dim and did not match the others, and another one had a cracked leg. Both of these and their dropping resistors were replaced, and the whole chain rewired neatly.

There was no speaker; a 1980s vintage paper cone speaker was added. It fits perfectly in the recess provided.

Laying out the new wiring.
The terminal strip is new and serves to make repair easier, should it ever be needed.

The original harness was also secured with duct tape, but it was just trash. Sloppy connections, wads of wire, and a big pillar of ground wires soldered together in free space. I went with a terminal strip since this will be for display purposes only.

All of this was removed, including the peculiar stubby cable that was too short (and doesn't actually plug into any known connector). This new cable uses the correct mil-spec connector, plugs directly into the suit, and matches the original in appearance if not durability.

Incorrect helmet connector on left. Correct connector on right (plugs into back box on vest).

All this and some layers of felt for appearance's sake complete the display helmet.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Considering the helmet

Time to catch up on posts. First, some reflection on the helmet I'm refurbishing.

The holes in the helmet being reconstructed do not match the one that was on display at the Laser Tag Museum, nor do they line up with my recollection. On the helmet for refurbishment there are two cheek holes; the next LEDs (one on each side) are only a few inches back; and there are no holes on the sides, front, or back for hit detectors.

Side has two LEDs and a light bulb, but no hit sensors.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Star Laser Force's Light Gun

Why are there no photos of people playing Star Laser Force?  You're about to find out.

The only available weapon for the Star Laser Force suit (pack) was the attached light pistol, which was holstered at the left side of the logic box. Unfortunately I don't have one of these for the pack that I'm restoring. However, I was able to visit the Laser Tag Museum and examine both of the available extant pistols for future reference.

Side view of light gun
Pistol on display at the Laser Tag Museum, November 2015