Need a computer based program to activate 12VDC system - IDPA stage

This is a discussion on Need a computer based program to activate 12VDC system - IDPA stage within the Off Topic & Humor Discussion forums, part of the The Back Porch category; OK. I have this IDPA stage in mind using moving targets (pop ups, swingers, etc.). Using 12VDC solenoids and magnets on the holding/activation points, I ...

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Thread: Need a computer based program to activate 12VDC system - IDPA stage

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Need a computer based program to activate 12VDC system - IDPA stage

    OK. I have this IDPA stage in mind using moving targets (pop ups, swingers, etc.).

    Using 12VDC solenoids and magnets on the holding/activation points, I need a program that can be run from a laptop that controls a RF sender that will turn on or off relays. Confused?? So am I. I have it in my head, but implementing it is a whole 'nother game.

    Example;
    Computer program when activated (click start) -
    1. sound start signal
    2. 4 second delay, activate T1 (swinger - release then catch keeping it hidden)
    3. 3 second delay, activate T2 (drop turn)
    4. 2 second delay, activate T3 (clam shell)
    5. 3 second delay, repeat step 2 and activate T4 (swinger no catch).
    6. 2 second delay, activate T5 (rolling mover), repeat step 2, activate No Shoot swinger
    7. 2 second delay, activate T6 (pop up)
    8. 4 second delay, sound finish signal.

    Mixed in with the movers would be a few fixed targets to engage at will.

    If the program would randomize all but step 1 and 8 that would be even better. A blind stage that is not necessarily blind so you could have every one helping with the taping and resetting of targets, but no one gets a leg up by learning the pattern. That or create 5-10 different programs that the SO chooses per shooter (or roll a dice) Fixed time of 20 seconds, score based on hits.

    This is the secondary and hopefully cheaper plan than buying a bunch of motion detectors for a walk through stage, a bit sketchy on consistent reliability.

    Anybody have any ideas?
    Last edited by Sticks; November 14th, 2010 at 12:52 PM.
    Sticks

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  3. #2
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    Agilent (the old HP) and National Instruments have enormous libraries of SW that communicates with instruments. Chances are there are open-source (freeware) programs that will do what you want, as well. I think you're looking at some drivers to fire solid-state relays, but even the SSR power will be more than what a laptop can provide. I'm not a programmer, but what you're looking to do (run a sequence with some built-in delays and some randomization) doesn't sound difficult.

    Do some research on HP Vee (HP's Visual Basic instrument software) and NI's LabView to get started.
    Smitty
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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    I'm thinking you'll want an actual stand alone PLC with 120v/12vdc power supply that you can program with your laptop using ladder logic or the PLC manufacturer's software. A basic SLC500 controller or something of that nature.
    http://plcguide.mrplc.com/

  5. #4
    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    OK, both you guys, waaaay over my head. My computer skills end at being a Super Office dweller/low end IT support. Writing programs, have not done that since the 80's (Apple IIe basic).

    I am hoping there is something on the market that is windows based or WYSIWYG, RF sender that plugs into the PC and each target would have it's own receiver (no wires/cables for people to be tripping over), granted there would be one main cable to supply power to the different targets in series or daisy chained rather than each target having it's own personal cable running back to the PC.

    I was looking at some of the home automation products out there but started getting brain fried, and they are all 120VAC, and AC magnets/solenoids are pricey.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Member Array merlin82plus's Avatar
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    How wide an area do you need to cover ? (how long is the walking part of the course ?)
    How much do you want to spend ?
    It IS likely to be pricey, both from the actuation side (making things move) and the control side (the PC or PLC and wireless communication)... and then if you're not a software geek like me, you will need someone to program the PC or PLC to perform the sequence of events you want.
    There's a company that does a lot of special effects work, called Guilderfluke. They sell programmable "brains" that might do what you want, and software that lets you program the sequence of events without being a programmer.
    Not so sure where you'd look for the actuators to make your targets move, Guilderfluke makes the control stuff but not motors or actuators.
    Here's a link to their wireless items, most look short range, and they're not cheap. They have a servomotor controller but that's overkill for what you want to do... a servomotor gets you very precise motion, like if you wanted to build an industrial robot.
    https://www.gilderfluke.com/index.ph...earch=+Search+
    Sounds like a fun project, too bad I live so far from CO.

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    Senior Member Array tbrenke's Avatar
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    Sticks,
    there are many options available for this.
    Bluetooth enabled.
    http://www.relaypros.com/mm5/merchan...h_Relay_Boards ~$250
    8 channel 5A output
    Zigbee enabled:
    http://www.relaypros.com/mm5/merchan..._Code=Wireless ~$362
    8 channel 5A, with 12V supply, with PC modem, with card modem (long range on both)

    of the two I would recommend the zigbee as the range is better then Bluetooth.
    Bluetooth is about 30 feet at best

    you buy the hardware, Ill do the programming.
    drop me an email if your interested.
    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." -1792, James Madison
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    Member Array merlin82plus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbrenke View Post
    Sticks,
    USB-ERB08 USB-based 8-channel electromechanical relay interface device $249.00
    OR
    USB-ERB24 USB-based 24-channel electromechanical relay interface device $349.00
    would be needed.
    drop me an email if your interested.
    This stuff allows you to control something... but you still need motors/actuators/something to move the targets up and down (or rotate them). And these relay boards have to be connected to a PC using a USB cable...

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    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    I don't think there's any way to get around running either wires, or airlines to the targets, even with a wireless controller whatever it may be. If you're using solenoids, you'll still need to power them, independently or from a common supply. I'm almost sure there would be a way to do each target independently and use an RF or other signal to control them.....however, what I picture in my mind is a small box with a battery operated power supply, the RF relay and antenna, and a switching relay for the solenoid. Your control voltage and your device voltage will need to be the same in this case (10-12vdc?). 12vdc to open/close the relay coil and 12vdc switched through the relay to energize or de-energize your solenoid.
    IMO.....I think you've got some great ideas, but they'll be costly although fun to engineer.
    On the cables ordeal. I think you'll still need a central processor or PLC linked directly to the PC or laptop, then the communications cable (multi-conductor depending on the number of targets controlled), and the separate power supply. The only control voltage I can think of that might be derived from the computer alone might be a 4-20ma signal and I don't even know this for a fact. Although most are able to generate the 10vdc necessary to operate small peripheral equipment, the last thing you'll want to see is smoke boiling out the side of your PC. Most of the available PLC programs are ready made (on disc) with the logic and diagrams.........you just pop them in and edit your timing sequences for each relay or contact on the central processor. Some of this can actually be done online over the internet such as the Modicon PLCs which are about half the size of the SLC500 in the link I gave you previously. You'll still need to be hard-wired from the PC to the controller to install the program. No matter what your previous programming experience is, I think things would fall together quickly for you.
    Technology makes leaps and bounds each and every day. We're coming closer to the point of a wireless society, but I don't think we'll ever be totally wireless when it comes to the distribution of electricity. Things just don't work that way. I do figure that we'll become totally wireless in the near future in all ways we are able to control it.
    Take a look at some of the already available "wireless" target systems available on the market. That may give you some more ideas. You may very well come up with a brainstorm that will make you independently wealthy in no time. If you do have that brainstorm......don't forget me, and I'll be glad to help with my limited knowledge or find you some good prices for the supplies you need. Good ideas are hard to come by these days. Once you've figured it out........you'll often find somebody else has already done it. Thing is....if you cut costs on the whole ordeal, and can offer a product at a cheaper price, you'll get the business. Brainstorming is always fun. You have my best wishes on your project. Winter time is one of the best times to brainstorm IMO. Perfect things, research, build prototypes, test theories, and implement the first day of spring.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Array tbrenke's Avatar
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    go all battery powered.
    it is only 12V. a few rechargeable packs in a metal case would work fine for this.
    the issue is distances between moving targets. can the moving part be operated of a single receiver or is it required to be separate?
    there needs to be a bit more information on the distances and environment of operation.
    Inside or outside?
    distance from TX to RX?
    separate receivers or a single with 6-8 outputs?
    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." -1792, James Madison
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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    The example I gave in the OP would be a pretty basic IDPA target selection.

    Outdoor range, so reasonably weather resistant insofar as rain/snow. This makes a DC system preferable.

    Distances from PC (or TX unit) to farthest target as RX, say 40 yards max.

    Moving targets are already provided as standard pistol match movers (our club has 8-10 various movers, and 1 rolling target in progress). Attaching the actuators would be a relatively simple matter. Protecting the down range power supplies, and control (receivers) from errant shots, that will be the challenge.

    The existing moving targets are generally done via cable/rope and a kick stand that gets pulled out of the way, or releases the catch, so electromagnets (40# sheer/grip/holding) and short stroke (1") solenoids would be fine as the actual actuators. Could probably get by using just electromagnets to release a weight on a cable system for the targets that have the stiffer latches since solenoids are a bit pricey to get strong ones. Duty cycle of the magnets may pose a problem with heat buildup since they will need to be powered on as stand by, off to release target using NC relays.

    Separate receivers (1 per target).

    Power would ideally be small lawn & garden/motorcycle 12v if done individual per target. Those should provide enough amperage for the actuators and stamina for an entire day (75 shooters).

    Otherwise either a portable 1kw generator or possible range power access and a converter running a power cable down either/both sides of the bay to eliminate trip hazard.

    Money....Hmm. Cheaper the better as this is coming out of my own pocket. I was hoping to stay inside the $200 range for everything but the computer. I have an old Dell 1150 that would work just fine as a donor.

    This is what I was initially pondering as the PC interface;http://www.x10.com/activehomepro/activehome-pro.html

    and these as the receivers, using a 120VAC power source;
    http://www.x10wirelesshome.com/modul...ule_lm465.html

    So that puts the 120VAC system control system at $150+/- for 10 targets...except it is AC, so now I have actuator issues, unless there are some inexpensive AC relays available.
    Sticks

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    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Senior Member Array tbrenke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    http://www.x10.com/activehomepro/activehome-pro.html

    So that puts the 120VAC system control system at $150+/- for 10 targets...except it is AC, so now I have actuator issues, unless there are some inexpensive AC relays available.
    Nice idea, but this is a 10X system. it is not wireless. it sends a digital signal on your ac wiring system in your home.
    it will not work for what you have in mind. UNLESS, your running 115Vac on everything. all wired systems.

    all the receivers are like that.
    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution, which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." -1792, James Madison
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    VIP Member Array Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbrenke View Post
    Nice idea, but this is a 10X system. it is not wireless. it sends a digital signal on your ac wiring system in your home.
    it will not work for what you have in mind. UNLESS, your running 115Vac on everything. all wired systems.

    all the receivers are like that.
    Bummer, I thought it was a RF system. But it would still be OK, since they would all be plugged into the same power source (generator or range power). That is the concept that I have though.

    SIG250 - I need to pull my wallet back out of my arse. It ran and hid when I saw the pricing on those things. OUCH! If you want the best, be ready to pay for it.

    Like RamRod said, get a good idea, keep it simple and cheap and it may very well fly. That is what I am hoping for. Not really looking to start a business, just have an idea to make the shooting matches for my IDPA club a bit more challenging. This would never work for the USPSA shooters though. They'd have a fit shooting something that they can not plan out in their head.

    I need to swing by a hobby shop and see what all is available for remote control items there. There might be something that can be retrofitted/modified on that end.
    Sticks

    Grasseater // Grass~eat~er noun, often attributive \ˈgras-ē-tər\
    A person who is incapable of independent thought; a person who is herd animal-like in behavior; one who cannot distinguish between right and wrong; a foolish person.
    See also Sheep

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sticks View Post
    Bummer, I thought it was a RF system. But it would still be OK, since they would all be plugged into the same power source (generator or range power). That is the concept that I have though.

    SIG250 - I need to pull my wallet back out of my arse. It ran and hid when I saw the pricing on those things. OUCH! If you want the best, be ready to pay for it.

    Like RamRod said, get a good idea, keep it simple and cheap and it may very well fly. That is what I am hoping for. Not really looking to start a business, just have an idea to make the shooting matches for my IDPA club a bit more challenging. This would never work for the USPSA shooters though. They'd have a fit shooting something that they can not plan out in their head.

    I need to swing by a hobby shop and see what all is available for remote control items there. There might be something that can be retrofitted/modified on that end.
    Sure automated targets are very expensive. It was not my idea so much that you buy targets from them. My thought was for you to pick their brains about control systems. Normally they will be helpful just for a chat. Another expensive source that I have dealings with is Action Target. You could call them just for ideas. They also partner with other companies that might be able to help you just with the electronics. Tell them you are on a budget.
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    Arduino is your friend... It's not as hard as it looks on the surface. Jump in...feet first.
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