If we rated 3D printing projects like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rates films, this project would definitely be rated NC-21. Yes, we’ve adjusted the “No Children” rating to reflect the minimum age for buying and possessing handguns in the US. The project, the Robo-Target, was posted on Hackaday and Making Stuff by a DIYer and maker known as “Cowboy Bob.” It probably goes without saying that the Robo-Target is a project for grown-ups, but we’re saying it anyway.

target 1Robo-Target is a remote controlled machine that displays paper targets in a random sequence. The targets, which are concealed behind the main, steel tower that contains the controls, pop out one or two at a time either to the left or right based on how they’re triggered by the remote control. A regular hobby servo signals the paper target to appear. The Robo-Target is programmed to allow for 10 different scenarios using only five targets. The user decides what the targets look like. Maybe they’re green and red, in which case you shoot at the green targets and bypass the red ones (or vice versa).

In order to make your own Robo-Target, you’ll need some pretty serious tools and supplies:target 2

  • ¼” mild steel angle iron
  • Wood for the frame to which the steel is bolted
  • 5 servo plates, which Cowboy Bob cut with a CNC plasma cutter and welded to the inside of the angle iron (note that you’ll need a welding gig and welding know-how or a friend who can help in this regard)
  • A 3D printer to produce the plastic arms of the machine
  • Wooden clothespins that connect to the plastic arms and hold the paper targets in place
  • Atmel ATMega 168 microcontroller
  • Arduino bootloader (this and the Atmel are used to create the circuit board)
  • Arduino Xbee (for running the remote control)
  • A 12-button remote control

Btarget 3ob made an instructional video for those makers serious enough to take this project on. One concern that we had, which he addressed in his Making Stuff blog, was that bullets might ricochet dangerously off of the steel tower. Certainly to his credit, he’d already thought of that:

“Care also had to be taken to make sure that a round that hit the machine did not splatter or ricochet in a dangerous direction,” he wrote. “Most of the rounds that hit the steel followed the angle of the steel, which was 45 degrees to either side of the machine.”

Furthermore, Cowboy Bob issued an additional warning that users of the Robo-Target refrain from using high velocity rounds to avoid damaging the steel. He used handguns of various calibers “all the way up to .45ACP and 45LC” and there was no damage to the steel. Also, if you’re using an Airsoft, a kind of replica firearm that shoots spherical projectiles (made from materials like plastic, aluminum, or biodegradable materials) using compressed gas or a spring-driven piston or if you are target shooting with a paintball gun, then your set-up doesn’t need to be a fortress like Cowboy Bob’s steel tower (although it seems prudent regardless).paper-target-practice

If you decide to take this project on, we recommend getting in touch with Bob for tips and STL files for the 3D printed parts. We also suggest you read the comments on Hackaday, which discuss possible alternatives to the red and green targets, from animals to “good guys” and “bad guys.” We also suggest using paper for the targets that’s less flimsy than your average printer or copy paper, as that seemed to be a slight problem with the overall performance of the Robo-Target. Lastly–and maybe it goes without saying–be safe!

Is this a project you might take on? Let us know how it works out for you over at the 3D Printed Robo-Target forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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