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"Open source" paintball marker?


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#1 Latsabb

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:45 AM

I recently got a Raspberry Pi, and have been messing around with it, and reading about what other people have done with it. Being that you can, with electronics know-how, use it to control a myriad of things, as well as screens and just about any input device, I immediately thought about paintball applications. At only 35 dollars, the Raspberry Pi is very cheap, and it has hardware on it that paintball wouldnt even need, such as an HDMI port, USB ports, etc. Many people have hooked up cheap LCD screens to the Raspberry Pi with good results, and this made me think that the possibility of a cheap paintball board could be made with a similar platform. Strip off all the computer based accessories, and give it plugs for a noid, eyes, battery harness, etc, and it might actually be able to control a marker. After looking at the main components on the Raspberry Pi, and assuming the usage of a microSD card for memory, the board could be made fairly small, and possibly with a form factor that would fit a wide range of markers. With the microSD card as the memory and system, you could use the one board to control any type of marker, assuming that you had different software packages for each marker.

Anyway, that was the minor part. As I thought about that, I thought back on the old cockers that were just blocks, and that people used to custom mill their own. And that is when I really put two and two together with the Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi, for those that dont know, is meant to be a stripped down, inexpensive Linux machine. It doesnt come with any cords, or memory, and anything like that, and you basically have to add the functionalities that you want on your own. They dont include much, as the point is to keep the thing super cheap. Now, what would be interesting is if a paintball company sold a DIY marker. To keep costs down, the body is not milled. Possibly not drilled on at all, and just an aluminum block. No barrel, no feedneck, no ASA, nothing. You get an electronics board, a block of aluminum, and a CD. The CD contains various CAD files that could be used by a CNC machine to mill the block of aluminum, as well as a developers kit for the board. You then program your own board, and either make your own CAD design (yes, double D redundant) or use one they provide, and you simply make your own marker. You could buy any frame you want for it, or as an extra, buy a "frame block" and CAD designs for various frames. Which trigger do you want to use? Mod the CAD design to fit whatever you want. Which noid? Pick anything, and mod the CAD design for it to fit. Which bolt system do you want? Mod the CAD design to whatever you like. Hell, make your own bolt.

Now, I am sure someone is thinking " good lord, who would go through all this trouble? And do you expect all these people to know how to use CAD?" And the answer is no. Although learning would be a good skill. It is open source. People that CAN design in CAD would make designs, and others could download them, and use them. Dont want to program your own board? That is fine, tons of other people already have programmed it for you. Dont like how complicated a board is to program, or think there are a lot of useless settings to go through? Remove them. Think that it needs more modes? Add them. Hate programming via the marker? Take out the SD card, put it in a computer, and change settings on your computer.

So you could make your own marker, use someone elses design, or just shoot it as a giant block. Make your own milling, set it up for ego bolts and Bob Long rams, with a UL frame, Clone feedneck, 4c eyes, and drilled for Shocker threads. This obviously wouldnt be for everyone, but I think that it would be an awesome idea. Assuming that the kit was cheap, I think many people would get into it. And we might actually see some original designs.
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#2 Nobben #44

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 06:22 AM

I like it. I like it a lot. :tup:

#3 tallsmallboy44

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 08:52 AM

This would be pretty awesome.

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#4 darthp

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 09:09 AM

This is fantastic. That's a great way to keep the production cost down as well, since the companies producing them don't really have to do anything past making these templates. All the real work is left to the consumer, aside from maybe making some designs.
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#5 Soldier of Fortune

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 10:36 AM

This is fantastic. That's a great way to keep the production cost down as well, since the companies producing them don't really have to do anything past making these templates. All the real work is left to the consumer, aside from maybe making some designs.


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#6 madsnipes

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 10:43 AM

That sounds like a really cool idea

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#7 Steephill

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 10:48 AM

I thought about this a few months ago when I saw a thread on PBN about a guy who found a unmilled shocker body. It had everything else like the insides were milled and everything, but you could do whatever you wanted to the outside. Pretty darn cool. Imagine a Dragon Shocker Posted Image

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#8 GeezusPB

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 11:24 AM

Wow. That would be amazing!

#9 Irish725

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 11:27 AM

That'd be pretty awesome....I got a friend of mine who is a CAD Specialist.......might have him draft me up some ideas for shits and grins now lol.

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#10 PREDATOR 47

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 11:33 AM

A DIY paintball gun? You mean a Smart Parts? :dodgy:

I really do like this idea. It's kinda like a kit car, but for paintball. All the customization and personalizing that could be done is awesome. The only problem is making it user-friendly enough like you said, and companies would have to be able to do this with a profit margin to make it possible.

#11 R-M-I

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:19 PM

If you were to make a open source board, I'm guessing the Arduino Nano/etc would work way better than the Raspberry Pi.. I have a raspberry pi, a MK802 IIIS a Arduino UNO and a plethora of programmers here :)
I'd love to participate if more people would be interested :)

I also have access to mills, turns/CNC machines aswell as pretty much anythig else that's usually in a machine-shop :)
I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to operating the machines though.. But some of my collagues are :)

#12 Filmer_jake

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:23 PM

This is a really cool idea. I think it would be hard to do, since it wouldn't be all that user friendly, but super cool.

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#13 Latsabb

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:28 PM

If a company wanted to do this, I would bet that they could make the board for less than 50 bucks with NO problems. Likely much less, but I assume small runs, and therefore higher costs per unit. Someone would have to make the base code for the board, but once you got passed that initial bump, it would just be various modifications to that. Aluminum is less than a dollar a pound in bulk, but assume a high quality aluminum, at less than bulk prices. Even if you paid 20-30 dollars pet billet, you could sell the "kit" for 150 bucks and make decent money on it. Include 4-5 CAD files for a basis. (I know two people that can CAD, and they said this could easily be accomplished within a few weeks by someone that knows what they are doing, although they would be untested designs) Then the rest is on the community.

For the end user, you would end up with something like this:

Kit: 150 dollars
CNC time: 200ish (hard to say exactly, and level of detail would play a major roll, but I read several places that said the average CNC shop charges about 40 an hour for single run stuff if you provide your own programming)
Anno: 150 dollars (again, shooting high)
Trigger: 35-50
Barrel: 50 (just taking an average)
ASA: 50
Feedneck: 30
Bolt: 30
Ram: 30
Eyes: 15
Noid: 150
Misc wires/connectors: 30
Grips: 30
Fittings/hosing/seals: 30

Most of these are just rough estimates to give you an idea. All those would be dependent on what you chose (and not all guns have rams, etc) Anyway, the total price would likely be somewhere in the area of 900-1000 bucks I would assume. (assuming that you dont supply any of the stuff yourself from crap you have lying around) Being that you could put high end stuff in if you chose, and it would be milled and annoed to your liking, I dont actually think the final price would be all that bad. Lower than the bulk of the high end guns, but with a lot more personality.
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#14 Latsabb

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:32 PM

If you were to make a open source board, I'm guessing the Arduino Nano/etc would work way better than the Raspberry Pi.. I have a raspberry pi, a MK802 IIIS a Arduino UNO and a plethora of programmers here :)
I'd love to participate if more people would be interested :)

I also have access to mills, turns/CNC machines aswell as pretty much anythig else that's usually in a machine-shop :)
I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to operating the machines though.. But some of my collagues are :)


I wasnt thinking of using an actual Raspberry Pi for it, it was just my inspiration. Get an ARM processor on a board with all the connections you need, and a microSD slot on it, and that would be the board. A couple LED's, maybe with a screen option. (A la how the MacDev boards are, where you put press on a screen) As long as the board itself was small, you could have "extensions" for different frame layouts. Maybe like metal "arms" that attach to the corners, and can be adjusted out to match the mounting spots in the various grip frames.
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#15 Old Dude PB

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:09 PM

This is a really exciting idea. I've had similar thoughts along open source lines, inspired mostly by cockers. What if someone published an open source spec for a marker, that anyone could develop products around? Think of it like the cocker thread standard, but for virtually everything non-cosmetic on the marker. Bolt dimensions, size of the grip cavity, screw placement, etc, etc, etc. We could end up with a bunch of companies (and individuals) making interchangeable parts, and I think that would be really cool.

#16 R-M-I

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:06 PM

Any type of microcontroller would work :)
The key would be making the board a SMD-type to keep the cost down and the formfactor as small as possible.

I already have working sourcecode for both single and dual-solenoid-applications that could be usable atleast for a startingpoint. Both highlevel language and ASM files. These can be used for various microcontrollers.. Written for the PIC16 series most of them :)

Writing code from the ground up for the arduino should be easy enough for someone willing to invest some time into it :)

#17 woodsballer414

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:46 AM

Honestly if your that skilled in milling and CAD and comp programming you can just buy a block of aluminum a noid and the hardware for the board and do it. I've seen people build their own computer and I've made my own tools before
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#18 Panda Man

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:57 AM

the legality of this would be horrible.

#19 R-M-I

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 03:45 AM

What? Legality? What exactly are do you think is a problem?

#20 NBTIppy

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 03:51 AM

Seems like a pretty cool idea, also seems like it would be over my head haha

#21 Ben-SFAPB

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 04:14 AM

I would love this to actually happen. I've always wanted to build an Evil M, but this would be taking it to the next level.
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#22 Latsabb

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 06:06 AM

Honestly if your that skilled in milling and CAD and comp programming you can just buy a block of aluminum a noid and the hardware for the board and do it. I've seen people build their own computer and I've made my own tools before


No skill in milling would really need to be done, unless you wanted to. That is what the CNC is for. Lots of CAD programmers, or hobbyists that dont know what to do for a project. Look at all the open source stuff out there. Lots of programmers that want to work on something in there spare time, and without getting paid. Why? Because it is a project they like. Same goes for the Raspberry Pi. Anyone could just buy various components and do it themselves with a computer WAY better than a Raspberry Pi. But the Raspberry Pi gives a cheap, easy platform to get started. It gives you a base. Who knows, paintball companies might even release plans for some old markers. Would be kind of cool to see BL release the design for the old Dragon, as an example. Or the internal dimensions of a DM 4. Even if they didnt release it, someone with time, skill, and the right equipment could just duplicate it.

the legality of this would be horrible.


I am with RMI on this one. What would be the problem? If you put the stuff into production for sale, and you had directly taken the plans from a marker, then yes. That would be a problem. Someone milling their own gun wouldnt be a problem just like making your Ford Pinto look like a Lambo isnt a problem.
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#23 R-M-I

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:00 PM

I'm in if enough people that actually CAN collaborate and actually DO something is in :)

#24 Latsabb

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:30 PM

Unfortunately, I dont have the expertise in it. I was just stating an idea that I had. If I dont get into chemical engineering, though, I have computer engineering as my second choice. Maybe that will end up working out, lol.
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#25 Orange Chicken

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:34 PM

This would be very interesting, though I think it should be first released to manufacturers and owners, so each brand has their own for of that marker, similar to the shocker.
Then you would release a base model for anyone ballsy enough to make their own.

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#26 get.lit.up!

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 02:56 PM

Lats the time spent on even building the electronic it self would be very time consuming. Personally I could assist in development, but it will be bitch to program a screen. A led would be easier.

Seriously ISHIT you not eyes are $1 to make, and a micro controller can be had for $5 or less to make this shoot.

The difficult part is the solenoid. What to use, and think about before saying use an ego or whatever solenoid. I need data sheets and SHIT like that, so do the electronic designers.

At least if I helped I can put this on my resume, electronic engineer this SHIT.up
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#27 R-M-I

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:21 AM

Datasheets on all microcontrollers are available on the Internet :)
Solenoids are really rather simple valves that only needs to be told when to open and for hos long.

Regarding eyes, you're almost right except the photointerrupters..
I'd guess a total of 4$ a piece all incl, as you'd need the molex-crimped wires aswell ..

Regarding screen vs. LED, not all that much difference code-wise.. Costs more than leds though.

I understand that a lot of people instantly think of the obstacles one could crash into while trying to make something like this happen. This is what I was refering to above here when I talked about people willing to work on, collanorate and actually try to pull this off :) going into this while only seeing what can go wrong won't work.. We'll need deficated, knowledgeable people willing to spend time, money and effort on this.. People willing to work out the problems and obstacles along the way..

#28 Latsabb

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 02:18 AM

Including eyes would be unwise, if you ask me. Not every gun uses the same size, or the same mounting type. If the board had 4 pins, and then came with three different connectors, I think that would be the best way to go. If you are going to use two pin eyes, you slide on the two pin connector, three pin eyes, three pin connector, etc. Hell, you might even be able to leave the pins bare, like on a motherboard where you plug in the power and reset buttons and such.
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#29 R-M-I

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 05:14 AM

Including eyes would be unwise, if you ask me. Not every gun uses the same size, or the same mounting type. If the board had 4 pins, and then came with three different connectors, I think that would be the best way to go. If you are going to use two pin eyes, you slide on the two pin connector, three pin eyes, three pin connector, etc. Hell, you might even be able to leave the pins bare, like on a motherboard where you plug in the power and reset buttons and such.


eyes wouldn't be hard to make. the board could also just be made to use Ego-eyes for breakbeam.. or a good old cocker-refelctive eye.

Just keep the molex-plug a standarized one and it'll be fine.

Eye-logic would be the main issue here (actual code), it can be hard to program. But should be doable if we got someone with decent codingskills onboard.

#30 get.lit.up!

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:57 AM

Well the msp430 should be a micro controller to consider. I personally have that and an arduino, I don't even use that blue board.

And eye logic you be easiest to program it's the solenoid and the other components to get the noid working is the main concern. Heck I've dealt with IR break beam systems and its easy

Edited by get.lit.up!, 04 March 2013 - 08:59 AM.

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#31 R-M-I

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:50 AM

The solenoid will actuate if it gets a voltage-pulse. The only thing you'd need to do is program the PIC to send out a say 4ms pulse when the trigger is in a "closed" state.
The programming itself there isn't hard at all.. It's when you want to implement several modes, user-programmability, parameter-changes and ofcourse add eye-logic it starts getting complicated..
Which is why this would be awesome to do as a collaboration between several programmers. So they can review eachothers code.

The design of the MSP430 is HUGE and unusable in this type of application. Same with regular arduino.
What I'd suggest if one were to just use something "off the shelf" would be this:
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It is fully programmable, has a USB-port so programming via computer would be easy aswell as modifying the "firmware". and it looks to have enough IO\pins for the stuff we'd need :)

#32 get.lit.up!

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:05 AM

Have you heard of the launch pad or their g2 series? Literally program on board pop it off put it on the board. Or use a soic adapter and program it via that way
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#33 R-M-I

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:34 PM

Show me the dimensions and applications they can be used for.

The key is SMALL form factor, enough memory, low power-consumption, enough io-pins. Programmability also needs to be fairly easy.

If all we need is to cycle a single-solenoid and have basic eyelogic I have that "completed" allready :)

This is with a PIC16F84A.

Microswitch-trigger, multicolor LED's for programming, etc.

#34 Soldier of Fortune

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:33 PM

I understand that a lot of people instantly think of the obstacles one could crash into while trying to make something like this happen. This is what I was refering to above here when I talked about people willing to work on, collanorate and actually try to pull this off :) going into this while only seeing what can go wrong won't work.. We'll need deficated, knowledgeable people willing to spend time, money and effort on this.. People willing to work out the problems and obstacles along the way..


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#35 R-M-I

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:00 AM



I understand that a lot of people instantly think of the obstacles one could crash into while trying to make something like this happen. This is what I was refering to above here when I talked about people willing to work on, collanorate and actually try to pull this off :) going into this while only seeing what can go wrong won't work.. We'll need deficated, knowledgeable people willing to spend time, money and effort on this.. People willing to work out the problems and obstacles along the way..


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#36 Latsabb

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:31 AM

Damn it... The one skill that I actually do have...
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