The Paintball Turret
click, click, click, click..
We’re Team Pew Pew Pew. This is Project Pop Pop Pop.
For the last two months, as part of a class called Principles of Engineering, we’ve been working to design and construct an automatic paintball turret that can locate and annihilate brightly colored balloons. Using SimpleCV, PySerial, an Arduino Uno with an Adafruit motor shield, a loaner Tippmann 98 Custom paintball marker, a smorgasbord of power electronics, and all of the fabrication resources Olin College has to offer, we managed to achieve just that. On this webpage you can learn all about our team and our project, from the fundamentals of process and planning to the dirty details of mechanical design.
For a project this big, we couldn’t have just one goal. Instead, we developed a multi-level project objective, with each level successively increasing the complexity of the system. The goal of our foundational level was to aim and launch paintballs at an object. Next, we wanted to identify an object of a specific color, line it up in the sights, and paint it orange. Finally, our stretch goal was to identify a moving object of a specific color, track it, and shoot it out of the sky - preferably with a satisfying pop!
We mounted a modified Tippmann paintball marker on a pan/tilt gimbal powered by two stepper motors and two custom gear assemblies. After that, a custom 3D-printed trigger mechanism was all it took to make Pop Pop Pop go pew pew pew.
Automatic turrets can be pretty risky business - unless, that is, you build in safeties. We used a variety of digital circuit components, switches, and indicators to power our system with redundant failsafes ensuring the safety of all persons and projects.
Before you can destroy, you first have to search. We used SimpleCV (an open source computer vision library) and PySerial (a Python-to-Serial communications library) to make Pop Pop Pop the sharpest shooter around.