New project: suitcase Airsoft prop

I’ve still a few bits to do on Captain Quack, but in the meantime, I wanted to jot down some notes about the next project. I’m going to make a defusable suitcase prop to use in Airsoft games. I’d like it to be quite flexible: it should suit lots of scenarios, from being the main event in a filmsim to being an objective in a quick skirmish game.

It should look the part. This will be used in skirmish and filmsim, not milsim, so I think there’s some licence to make it look a bit “Hollywood” rather than being realistic (which would be dull). Google image search found some useful inspiration.

Of course, it also needs to play well, so I’ll make a prototype to test the basic idea. This will consist of a small box with connector for pyro, a removable lid which will expose some cabling of various colours, and a countdown display. In the game, the timer will be set to a countdown value appropriate for the scenario. Players will have to defuse the box before the timer reaches zero. When the timer reaches zero, it will detonate the pyro.

Players will defuse the box by cutting the right cable: there will be many to choose from, and their number and purpose can be selected to suit the game. Some may be dummies. Some will defuse the box. Others will immediately detonate the pyro. (Possible future enhancement: wires which add or remove time on the countdown). Wire cutters may be next to the box, or may be issued to (some or all) players.

In the game, players will need to find out which cable they need to cut. Or, if they’re nearly out of time, take a chance! Again, this can vary to suit the scenario. In some games players might just be told which is the right cable. In others, there may be a puzzle they need to figure out. Or they might need to find intelligence, which could be a separate scenario.

As before, this will be an Arduino project and I’ll build something pretty after testing the game on the prototype. Feedback and ideas welcome!

MCOM – version 1 – Captain Quack goes bang

So, the MCOM worked great. Much fun was had by all, and the box (due to its rather odd siren) was christened: Captain Quack.

It’s a 600x400x400 box built from softwood and 6mm ply, with aluminium edging and stainless steel corner covers. I was pleased with the look. Inside, I had a steel-lined chamber at the bottom of the box with vents between it and the outside. This is where the pyro was loaded, and also where the siren was mounted so that the sound could escape better.

The upper chamber contained the rest of the electronics, and enough space to put other game objectives if desired. There was a removable panel at the bottom so that the steel-lined chamber could be accessed to set the pyro. This was secured using cupboard magnets that I enhanced with some neodymium disc magnets for a more secure hold.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it when I finished, and during its second outing, a slightly-more-powerful-than-I-expected pyro did a bit of damage.

Captain Quack took some damage

Anyway, hopefully, you can tell from that picture how it looked before its misadventure!

It performed really well. The first game day there was an annoying bug where the timer would stop itself running. I’m pretty sure that the cause was a short, or some kind of capacitance effect. The box housing the electronics is a metal one, and although I lined it with tape, I think the pins at the bottom of the boards were poking through. Adding better insulation to the boards solved the problem.

The housing for the electronics, with controls mounted

After that, the electronics have worked flawlessly: before and after the pyro that blew it to bits 🙂

For the next version, I’m going to make the steel lined chamber more robust by getting rid of the removable panel and securing the top of the chamber more robustly. The top was completely forced off its mounting: the force of the explosion managed to push out eight 3/4″ screws, as well as blowing the ends and bottom off the box. To secure those, I’m going to screw them to the frame rather than pinning them. I’m also going to replace the vents at each end with a mesh screen.

Panels removed to fix damage. Main siren visible at the left, and the new mesh vent at the right.

Hopefully, a more robust steel lining combined with more ventilation at each end will allow the pyrotechnic’s gasses to escape at each end without doing any damage.

The pyrotechnics are quite serious

Since seeing it in action, I’m also going to add some new safety features: there’ll be a new piezo siren to sound when the explosion is 10 seconds away, the button will be disabled at that point, and we’ll brief players to stand clear when they hear the change in tone. I’m also going to add warning notices at the ends of the box.