Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CTDYNE: Scorpion

I was hoping to do a much more in-depth look at this and perhaps another day I'll revisit this idea I had, but I thought I'd show off an impressive creation from a friend of mine in the Laser Tag world. I think it'll be especially appealing to those who are also big Nerf fans, since this one blaster puts a Titan to shame just as easily as it does an LTTO TMB. Built by Mike Yates of Custom Tag Dynamics, this... is the Scorpion.

Built in 2006 and debuted at Tagfest Northwest, a popular annual laser tag event, the Scorpion is a 4-tube Laser Tag missile launcher designed for use with the Lazer Tag Team Ops blasters.  This also means that it is compatible with the LTX Phoenix and the new LTAR's that will come out in August of 2012.  The Scorpion's build time spanned ten months, and for good reason.  Mike says that this is, "without a doubt, the most complex tagger completed to date at CTDYNE."  It can fire four of the same missiles as the LTTO Tag Master Blaster, a popular long-range blaster with a Missile that is fired from underneath the main barrel.  The rocket has sensors in it and, upon impact, it can hit targets within 20 feet of it's landing zone in a 360 degree radius.  Instead of pumping by hand to fill an air reservoir for each launch like the Tag Master Blaster's system, the Scorpion has an on-board 3000 PSI pneumatic system.
The Scorpion with the "magazine" removed
Air is stored in an aluminum storage bottle that is housed on the rear portion of this over-the-shoulder blaster. Primary and secondary regulator systems supply the final launch pressure to four MAC brand solenoid valves housed in the removable four round top load magazine.  Yes... that's right.  The 4 missiles you see mounted on the Scorpion are designed to be removed or installed in less 30 seconds without tools. This means that, although they haven't been built, Mike could build more "magazines" and have a supply of them that he could easily swap out and fire a fresh set of missiles.

This blaster is built off of an LTTO Tag Master Blaster and the red sensor dome can be seen at the front of the weapon.  The trigger grip on the underside can fire normal shots for Lazer Tag, but the grip on the right is the missile launcher control. Controlling the PSI from the air tank are a primary and secondary regulator systems. The primary stage regulates the 3000 PSI canister pressure down to 800 psi. The secondary system is adjustable to fine tune the final launch pressure. It is set to supply approximately 120 psi to each of the four MAC solenoid valves. The launch pressure inside each launch tube drops to below 40 psi as soon as the valve opens and the missile starts to move down the launch tube. Effective range for each missile is 40 to 45 feet, which is still better than the air tank on a standard TMB is able to supply.  Along with the main pneumatic manifold connection, are 30 electrical connections that pass from the main body of the Scorpion to the magazine, making the internals of this blaster an impressive combination of Lazer Tag tech meeting a more Nerf side of things with the air tank system.
As a Laser Tag blaster, there's a large 4 inch lens arrangement on this blaster, which already gives it an impressive range as a rifle, meaning it doesn't have to rely on the 4-tube missile launcher system alone to fend off enemies. The four inch lens along with the TASL-6100 IR LED combine to make an optic package that is capable of outstanding range.  The upper trigger can activate shields while the lower trigger fires the IR beam from the lens. The Grip on the right side controls the missile launch system and can activate any series of missiles to be fired one at a time in succession or all together at once.

Another impressive feature is the adjustable focal length for the IR LED that is installed in this blaster.  This means that the user can adjust the size and focus of the beam of light being refracted through the main 4 inch lens.  The white track you see in the picture to the right shows the amount of which this can be adjusted. Here the LED is in the forward position. With the LED positioned aft, the range is quite impressive. Very useful for long range targets. However the size of the infrared "spot" is very compact making it difficult to tag moving targets at closer ranges. For environments where close shots are the norm the IR LED can be moved to a more forward position along the path of the focal length to give a much wider pattern of infrared light, which is very useful for fast moving targets at closer ranges, much like a shotgun spread.
At the heart of this beast lies it's power source: a 10.25 volt 2300 mAh NiMH battery pack.  It has more than enough life in it to power the LTTO board and TSAL 1600 IR LED.  While it may look like a mess, this is quite neat considering the complexity that is the LTTO system, which has many features that needed to make it's way onto the blaster.  Not to mention rigging up the 4-tube missile launcher for a system that's only designed to fire one at a time.  It really is remarkable when you sit back and take it all in.

Here's where the  screen and menu buttons are located on the left side of the tagger.  These are all parts from the TMB that have been seamlessly integrated into the Scorpion's design.  The four postion switch at the left of the image is used to assign an identification to each missile.  The LCD readout functions normally with other LTTO blasters, providing a readout of health, ammo, and other preset game parameters.  There are also indicator light sto tell the user when a Missile is primed and ready as well as a warning light to tell you when a hostile tagger is locked on to your blaster.

Still not convinced?  The Scorpion is already an impressive blaster in itself, but it was even featured in "Make" magazine in a publication covering this blaster.  This blaster, while being 6 years old now, is still one of the finest custom blasters I have seen and I figured with it's unique combination of Laser Tag and Nerf attributes that it was a perfect fit to be featured here.  One of these days if I ever get lucky enough to meet Mike Yates at a TagFest Northwest event (which I have been attempting to attend for years now), I might be able to drool in the presence of these epic blasters.  Yeah, that's right, he's built more than just this Missile-toting beast!  Head on over to the CTDYNE website if you haven't had enough!


  1. that thing is killer!


    Pretty cool. :)

  3. That is just AWESOME! What more can I say.

  4. Fabulous project - featured on the banner for the Lazer Tactical Action Game forum - representing "homebrew" taggers.
    - Duncan

  5. *gasp* Its a.... QUAAAAAAAAD!

  6. Dear Santa .....