Demo of the turret being pounded with random positions. Movement is considerably smoother now.
WHAT IS WTFturret?
A remotely controlled paintball turret that live streams over the internet.
Many years ago a local paintball field used to setup a booth at the local fair. At this booth you would pay for paintballs to shoot at various targets, mainly paintball bunkers, cans on strings, water balloons hanging from the ceiling, mainly geared toward kids. At night it would change to, what we yell out in front to a more teen and adult orientated audience, "live human targets". We would put on out paintball gear and run around inside the booth and let people blast us. People went berzerk to do this and it was good advertising for the field.
A few years later Jon took an airsoft pistol and attached it to a simple USB controlled turret base. Saunders attached a webcam on top and wrote a simple web interface to control and shoot it. We opened this up to the internet and gave people we personally knew the address. People loved it and the idea they could log on at time and control a turret to shoot us (we kept the trigger on a switch to give us time to put on goggles). As the address was shared it wasn't long before the turret was moving and shooting all the time (leaving piles of little pellets everywhere). We asked the people using it if they would ever consider paying for something like this and the answer was a unanimous 'yes'. So after few months of discussion we took the next step.
Version 1 of the turret was built in Jon's garage from steel and parts
purchased at the local hardware store. Motion for the turret is
provided by stepper motors driven using Automation Technologies stepper
drivers. The system is controlled using a teensy (ATMega32u4) with a custom
firmware, which provides a serial command interface modelled after g-code.
The controller provides commands for diagnostics, motion, firing, while also enforcing motion limits.
At this point we've hit a crossroad. We've done the testing and planning, built the prototype and most of the web interface. If we wish to take this further and open it up to the public its going to take one more thing, money.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Everything is going to be web based, from watching the stream to controlling the turret. How the website will operate is as follows
Queues: Just like paintball tournaments everything will be in queues. While you are watching the stream and waiting to shoot the turret you will be in a queue. If selected you will be put on "triple deck", then up to "double deck", then up to "on deck" then you will be the "shooter" controlling the turret.
Points: Getting on the turret will depend largely in part on how many points you have. For every dollar you pledge you will receive one "point". Pledge $10, get 10 points, etc. The number of points you have will determine your chances of getting "on deck" and subsequently shooting the turret.
With that said, why would you pledge when you can shoot the turret for free? As a rule of thumb it will be considerably less likely for a non-backer to get "on deck" compared to a backer. We will also have "backers only" days in which only people who have pledged will be allowed to queue.
Live Stream: Everyone and anyone who wants to will be able to watch the live stream of the turret, for free, always.
(note: this is all subject to change slightly when put into practice)
WHAT ARE YOUR RELEVANT BACKGROUNDS?
Jon has a degree in Mechanical Engineering with a mechatronics option and a background in programming. Brady also has a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Saunders has a degree in Computer Science and has been doing backend web development professionally for over 10 years. Jenkins has a degree in Geomatics Engineering, which is useless to this project, he is garbage.
As far as playing paintball, Saunders has played competitively for about 15 years (never at the professional level unfortunately), Brady, Jenkins and Jon close to 10 years each. We know our way around a paintball field and we know in our minds what we want the experience from the turret to be.
WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR?
What makes this project both unique and expensive is that it goes beyond the internet into the "real world". Rather then just hosting a website, paying for streaming etc, we need a place to operate the turret and the costs associated with that. Rent, paintballs/reballs, air, repairs and tweaks, backup marker, clothing and gear (goggles are a must!) and down the road start building v2 of the turret with what we learned from v1.
And to clarify, none of the money is going into our pockets. We are not giving ourselves any kind of wage or back pay. All of the money will be going into operating expenses.
We have several ideas how we would expand on the whole turret premise. For example building multiple turrets on a paintball field so it would be similar to playing an actual game. Also building a separate internet-remotely controlled car to drive around in front of the turret. Just basically experimenting and pushing the limits with what we can make. (note these are not stretch goals)
We decided to put this project into open source. Instead of using GPL we will use a considerably less restrictive license and go with WTFPL v2 (Do What the **** You Want to Public License). The source code will be made public on GitHub roughly a few months after the turret goes live. We would like the additional time in order to get most of the bugs out, document everything correctly and, in short, release something we would not be completely embarrassed about.
The repo will contain full source for the website (frontend, backend and graphics), source for the turret including schematics. As it stands the code is written from scratch and does not use any framework. The repo will also be maintained as long as the site is running.
INTERNET ETHICAL GOODNESS
The WTFturret website will contain no web bugs, no trackers, will not link to any external files (only possible exception being for video streaming) and will not use any external analytics. All "junk" email (upcoming events, bulk notices) will be Opt-In only. And especially no "thumbs up", "+1" and the like anywhere. In fact in order to make an account we do not even require an email (however you will forfit the ability to recover a lost password).
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
We have the skillset, the tools and the experience. The turret is
prototyped, working and the website is mostly complete. From a
technical standpoint it's almost impossible to go backwards from where
we are now.
We have planned and worked on this for so long it would be unthinkable to not see it through. Obviously there is always the possibility of some kind of unforeseen circumstances, like one of us falling out of a plane or driving off a cliff, but quite frankly that is about the only way we would not finish this