March 19th, 2019

Gun Science: Engineers Plot Shots with Accelerometers

Texas Waterloo labs Youtube accelerometer gun .22 LR pistol test triangulation
A team of Texas engineers uses the principle of convolution to plot shot impacts. By triangulating data from multiple accelerometers, each shot’s exact point of impact can be plotted with great precision.

Waterloo Labs is a group of engineers from National Instruments and other self-declared “nerds” from Austin, Texas. These folks conducted an interesting demonstration using electronic accelerometers to plot bullet impacts from a suppressed Ruger MKIII .22LR pistol. The accelerometers respond to vibrations caused when the bullets hit a drywall target backer. By triangulating data from multiple accelerometers, each shot’s exact point of impact can be plotted with great precision. These point-of-impact coordinates are then fed into a computer and super-imposed into a Flash version of the Half-Life video game (which is projected on the drywall board). The end result is being able to “play” a video game with a real firearm.

triaxial accelerometerDo-It-Yourself Electronic Target System?
Now, we are NOT particularly interested in shooting Zombies in a video game. However, the technology has interesting potential applications for real shooters. Waterloo Labs has published the computer code, used to triangulate bullet impacts from multiple accelerometers. Potentially, a system like this could be built to provide display and scoring of long-range targets. Sophisticated electronic target systems already exist, but they use proprietary hardware and software, and they are very expensive. The Waterloo Labs experiment shows that shooters with some computer and electronic skills could build their own electronic scoring system, one that can be adapted to a variety of target sizes and materials.

In addition, we imagine this system could be utilized for military and law enforcement training. The walls of structures used for “live-fire” room-clearing exercises could be fitted with accelerometers so the bullet impacts could be plotted and studied. Then, later, the impact plots could be combined with a computer simulation so that trainees could “replay” their live-fire sessions, viewing the actual location of their hits (and misses).

Credit The Firearm Blog for finding this Waterloo Labs project.
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December 20th, 2012

High-Tech Target Systems Plot Shots Automatically

We live in a digital, electronic era. The very story you’re reading right now consists of digital data packets transmitted electronically around the globe. Because of cost factors, 99+% of shooting matches in the USA still rely on old-fashioned manual scoring methods. However, target scoring can be done faster and more precisely with electronic scoring systems. Olympic and international CISM shooting competitions now employ electronic target systems. And electronic scoring is widely used in Europe. Virtually all the rifle and pistol events at the recent ISSF World Championships in Munich featured electronic scoring — complete with large, overhead digital displays so the audience could track the action, shot for shot.

Below is a video showing an electronic scoring system developed by Norway’s Kongsberg Mikroelektronikk AS. Watch as a prone shooter puts five rounds on a 300m target. You can see the group form on the video screen at his shooting station. He’s a good shooter (with an accurate rifle). The first three shots are touching.

As you can see from the video, viewing shots on the monitor is easier than using a spotting scope and waiting for targets to be marked. And, electronic targets eliminate the need for target pullers in the pits.

YouTube Preview Image

The Kongsberg target systems, like the electronic systems produced by Sius Ascor of Switzerland, do more than just display shot locations to the shooter. The target units automatically calculate scores, which are transmitted to a central computer. This can provide updated competitor rankings, and can even display the results to event spectators on large view screens.

CLICK HERE for a longer streaming Flash VIDEO showing how electronic target systems work. This video, produced by Sius Ascor, shows Olympic target systems in action.

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