Open Source/Design Laser Tag System

What's NEW:

Added this site proper after a year's delay.  Work's begun on actually drawing up the design documents for the hardware that's being used to design the system.  These files should be showing up soon on the download section shortly.  No guarantees as to a timeline though, I'm not all the way back up to speed here.

Link to SourceForge project page

What IS Tux-Tag?

It is intended to be an open-source, open-design, scalable solution for building laser tag systems, such as Q-Zar or DarkLight, etc. (Currently it's getting started so there's not a lot to it; it is, however, a working project so it will evolve over time.  In fact, it was kind-of dead until just recently because of personal concerns such that the project never got past the basic stages for the contest that spurred the idea in the first place.  I'm getting back into it because I've a little more time and I'd hate to think ELJ and Tri-M gave me this neato stuff for nothing...)

In about 1984, the game called Photon was invented by an entrepreneur by the name of George Carter.  This started an entire industry around making "laser tag" games.  Unfortunately, these systems are very expensive and generally tend to be non-modular, meaning that the game is fixed to what the original designers had intended and if the company that made the system goes under, so does your investment in what is a rather expensive system for entertainment.  (A prime example is the demise of the Photon arenas around the country- maintaining the system was next to impossible when the Photon Marketing Corporation shuttered it's doors...  There's only one arena left totally intact- here's their website:  http://www.xplasersport.com/index_40.html )  Tux-tag's goal is to provide the piece parts for a company  interested in making a laser tag arena the ability to assemble their packs and game controlling computer from mostly commodity embedded system parts and using open source software to empower them to be able to make whatever game they want to without being at the mercy of the vendor that made the system.

Current Design Specifications:

Vest Packs and Arena "Robots" :

MZ-104(Pack/Simple Arena) :    Mach-Z embedded x86 compatible CPU, 32Mb of RAM, 8Mb of flash.
CardPC (Arena ):    Embedded 233MMX PC, 64Mb of RAM, 32Mb of flash.

Game control computer:

Pentium III 600, 64-256Mb of RAM, 10+ Gb HD, running a distribution using kernel version 2.2.X  or later.

"Laser" gun design:

The system is currently a 40 kHz AM modulated IR carrier hooked to an RS-232 interface.  Current thinking is that the IR link is fully embodied as a ganged array of emitters placed at strategic points on the vest and gun and a single receiver placed in the body of the gun behind a columating lens.  The reason behind this rationale is that it would be cheaper to wire up IR LED's to a single modulation source and have a single receiever LED than it would be to do it the other way around as it would really require a detector circuit for each and every sensor on the pack to do it right.  The body of the gun is currently Schedule 40 PVC piping with some sheet-metal to make it look and handle like a gun.  The columator design was taken from Dave Bodger's "DIY Construction Guide & FAQ ".

Central Computer Link:

Currently, I'm using an 802.11 based system for communication to and from the central game controller.  In practicality, any network architechture with a TCP/IP stack and decent bandwidth as needed for the game will work.  If you have something like a 128kbps RF modem and want to run something like AX-25 over them as a networking scheme, it should work.  

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