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

The pistol contains a simple photography flash circuit powered by a 2.4VDC supply provided by the pack. At the business end of the pistol you can see a bit of the glass flashtube sticking out of the potted assembly. After the circuit charged (which took several seconds), pulling the trigger would result in a bright white flash. If you let the flash capacitor charge longer before firing, the higher-energy shot would have greater range.

Closeup of wide muzzle with flash tube protruding from white potting material
Muzzle of the pistol with the extended barrel removed.

The unit currently on display in the Museum is missing the barrel extension that narrows the flash to a tight beam. The video previously posted shows the barrel:
Still from video showing barrel that is supposed to extend from the muzzle
It doesn't work right without this.

Some clever (cheating) players found that the nozzle could sometimes be removed, transforming the pistol into a close quarters "grenade" with a wide cone of damage.

Hitting any sensor on a pack with this beam caused the pack to register a hit and count up 10 points against the player wearing that pack. Naturally it was important to aim only at the opposing team's players, as you could hit anyone from either team.

Still frame from video showing hand on holstered light gun. Another suit is being prepared in the foreground
Pistol in holster on front of the suit.

Because any sufficiently bright flash scored damage against players, it was against the rules to bring cameras onto the playing field, and unfortunately this has meant that photos of the game actually being played are either rare or non-existent. Had there been an observation window or any other facilities for spectators, disruption of the game would inevitably follow.

One final technical note: A few sites on the web suggest that Star Laser Force was an ancestor to the original 1980s Lazer Tag home systems by Worlds of Wonder. While the game play and concept translated well enough into toy form, there are no comparisons to be made in circuit design. Lazer Tag has always used invisible infrared light signals, and has never used white light.  However, there was a home system some years later that did use a flashtube to trigger hits on the sensor, and that was Buddy L Phaser Force.

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