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Author Topic: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?  (Read 9832 times)

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Marsupial

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1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« on: April 30, 2021, 08:56:35 pm »
This is my current light gun...

3 things different between 1st Gen ActLab lightgun and subsequent ones are

-doesn't look very good
-doesn't have any disconnect between gun and box (mounting in arcade is a problem)
-is ugly

... Did I say it isn't good looking?


Now, I recently got my hand on the gun part of a modern one - they are phasing this product out and still have a few of the red ones. (liquidating them, really.)

It's much better looking than the old one.

I'm just beginning to look into swapping the shell, was hoping for an easy change.

Looking at electronics inside...
The boards aren't similar at all, but the components are

They have the same number of wires (9)
They both have
-light sensor
-trigger
-selector switch
-button

I am wondering if the guts are interchangeable. Anyone knows?


« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 05:51:45 am by Marsupial »
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2021, 09:14:35 pm »
I'll ping the wires and cross reference the connections

I'm seriously thinking I might be able to switch the whole gun, not just swap the insides...


The boards being drastically different, swapping the guts/shell might be somewhat of a challenge.
But if I can just splice and add a connector while completely changing the gun, that would be great.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 05:54:36 am by Marsupial »
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Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2021, 03:22:05 pm »
The complete gun swap looks like a very high possibility.

I pinged the connections and noted functionality on paper.
They have pcb markings.

The wire colors don't match, but there is a correlation in both name and function.

Here's what I have found on the old gun

It has 4 circuit boards

Sensor:
Vcc, red
OTP, orange (the sensor)
Gnd, black and brown

Switch
Reset, blue
Vcc, red
Set, green
Gnd, black

Vcc trough resistors to other signals

It is 2 positions
Depending on the position, either set or reset goes to gnd

Button
Reload, white
Gnd, black + brown.

When pressed reload goes to gnd

Trigger
Vcc, red
R1, purple
S1, yellow
Gnd, black

Vcc trough resistors to other signals
When open, R1 to ground
When closed, S1 to ground.


On the new gun,
Same difference.
There's 3 position to the switch (c, 1, 2) and added 2nd player labeled wire.

Seems like the old gun was hardcoded to player 1 while the new gun had a selection.

Here's the pins
Vcc, black
Reload, brown
Reset, red
Set, orange
R1, yellow
S1, green
Opt-trig, blue
2nd player, purple
Gnd, gray (and black, which goes to the shield of the cable)

There's matching resistors...





Here's what I believe is the correlation between the guns (edited to reflect new data)
Old - - - new
Red-black
Orange-blue
Black-gray
Blue-red
Green-orange
Brown-gray (2nd ground)
Purple-yellow
Yellow-green
White-brown
N.C. - purple

Seeing how I will not be able to use the old gun as is until there is at least a disconnect connection to pass trough the front wall of the arcade, I'll go ahead and splice them up to see where we end up.

If this works, I'll finalize the setup.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2021, 10:31:04 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2021, 10:15:59 pm »
I openned the (first gen) control box, only to find they did not have the 9 distinct connection, only 8. The brown wire gets combined to the cable shield to make ground.

Therefore, when I try connecting the newer gun, I'll simply omit the "2nd player" wire. It was an added feature on newer models, just absent on the first generation.
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2021, 04:48:38 pm »
As I was hoping, it works!

The gun works as good as the first gen.
As good means not better

calibration is a pain on these. Once well calibrated, they are awesome. But it may take multiple attempts to get there. It seems the calibration process isn't perfect...
And calibration needs to be done after every reboots.

Luckily there's a calibration button on it
« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 05:44:37 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2021, 05:06:23 pm »
Btw, the whole series of actlab lightgun may be discontinued, but they still have some of the red gun (without the box) available, so if someone else has an ugly first gen ActLab lightgun, now may be a last opportunity to upgrade...

It works.

http://www.act-labs.com/scripts/proddetails.asp?Pid=866
« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 05:45:56 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2021, 07:31:40 am »
Not sure if it us a symptom of the conversion, but I never had to recalibrate my old ray guns as long as the gun games were all set to the same resolution and refresh rate.

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2021, 07:54:40 am »
Thanks for the comments badmouth.

I'll do further testings, but it seems to behave the same way as before the conversion.

May have to do with the fact my front-end isn't the same resolution as the games?

Now, I notice disconnecting the gun launches the calibration process so maybe the exchange is the problem.


If I could just keep it calibrated, I'd rerout the calibration button away from the gun. Part of the problem is that we hit this damn calibration button from time to time. But having identified the connection, this switch could be on the cabinet as opposed to being on the gun.
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2021, 07:56:19 am »
When time permits, I'll pass on a whole power off boot up process and see if I can get the gun correctly calibrated without my intervention.
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2021, 01:05:40 pm »
Re tested.

It seems "remembering the calibration" is a feature added on 2nd gen ActLab...

No matter what I calibrate, it's not there on a fresh boot.

@BadMouth What guns did you have?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 01:09:54 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2021, 12:41:32 am »
Interesting post!
I wonder, does that gun have a screen flashing generator for darker games/screen?

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2021, 02:01:45 pm »
Salut JayBee.

This was I believe the first usb lightgun available back then. It was released around 2003.

ActLab I think had gameport lightguns before that, and this was a step up at the time.


The way this device works, it installs between the computer and the monitor, plus USB.
If you disconnect USB, no image is sent to the monitor (which may cause no booting picture if usb power is only applied late in the game)

The device detects as HID mouse. (no drivers needed)

The calibration is done with a full white screen, and you pass the gun in front of it up/down left/right to let it discover the limits.
Sometimes it is wrong (always I'd say) and calibration is off by an amount of pixels.
Their website actually suggest to use the monitor settings to move the frame in order to calibrate differently!!!!

Besides the calibration switch, there are 2 buttons, one for reload which Right-click, and the trigger (which we saw had 2 signal pins)

When you press the trigger, the whole screen flashes, then the mouse is moved to the detected position and a left click is made.

If no position is detected, it right-clicks instead, which is what the 2nd button does; so it automagically handles off screen reload.


There is no "passive detection" (without trigger) and it is impossible to click-n-drag with this device.

There is no other modes, the screen flashes always regardless of what's being displayed.

If resolution changes, calibration is lost.


You could have 2 of them in series for a two gun setup.

I think this covers the whole function. The blinking screen isn't much of a problem in my opinion, you get used to it.

If there's more you'd like to know, don't be shy.
I can even make you a few vids.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2021, 05:38:51 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

ElisabethKentsar

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2021, 06:12:37 am »
Once connected, does everything work fine?
Great experimental post!

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2021, 08:50:50 pm »
Great experimental post!
Thanks!


Once connected, does everything work fine?
Yes, it works great.

Only issue is the constant calibration, which was already the case before alterations. I can swap guns and they both behave the same.

Once calibrated, it is awesome. But, as already mentioned, it loses calibration when we change resolution, and tends to calibrate a bit off, so I spend too much time calibrating, not enough time playing.


When you miss, because of bad calibration, the fun just isn't there.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 09:22:02 pm by Marsupial »
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2021, 10:10:55 pm »
@BadMouth What guns did you have?

I had two USB ray guns.  S-video version.

I also had the smaller silver pistol from the same generation as the red and blue guns.  The calibration on it was always off, but was always off by the same amount in the same direction so could be corrected the in game calibration if available.  The thing was also very uncomfortable to hold.

Never had an issue with the usb ray guns.  Never calibrated after the intial setup where I made sure the resolution and refresh rate were the same on every game in the gun list.  Myself and guests used them for years without ever recalibrating.  They worked flawlessly until I sold them.  I regret selling them.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 10:15:12 pm by BadMouth »

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2021, 10:14:57 pm »


@BadMouth What guns did you have?

I had two USB ray guns.  S-video version.

I also had the smaller silver pistol from the same generation as the red and blue guns.  The calibration on it was always off, but was always off by the same amount in the same direction so could be corrected the in game calibration if available.  The thing was also very uncomfortable to hold.

Never had an issue with the usb ray guns.  They worked flawlessly until I sold them.  I regret selling them.
Can we calibrate in MAME?
Never though of that.
That may solve my issue. I think it also is always off by the same. I could live with a single calibration after a reboot.

It's up/left by a small amount, enough to always miss the damn ducks in duck hunt
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2021, 10:18:58 pm »
Most of the games have a calibration option in the game's original service menu.  (F2 by default IIRC).  I do remember the Exidy games not having it.

EDIT: I calibrated every game in it's service menu as part of the initial setup.  This needs to be done for any gun or analog control game.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 10:22:16 pm by BadMouth »

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2021, 10:22:47 pm »
Most of the games have a calibration option in the game's original service menu.  (F2 by default IIRC).  I do remember the Exidy games not having it.
Thanks a lot.
I'll look into this and report back.
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #18 on: May 17, 2021, 08:49:40 pm »
You're completely right!

In game calibration works very well to correct the shot.

MAME displays crosshairs where mouses are, F1 removes it, is there a way to keep this off? It comes back when I quit and relaunch the game.
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2021, 09:00:59 pm »
I however can't figure out how to do the same in nestopia for arcade versions of nes titles duck hunt and hogans alley.

-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #20 on: May 18, 2021, 06:50:20 am »
IIRC there is an option in mame.ini for the crosshairs.  For the American Laser PC games I swapped in a blank .png for the crosshair .png.

I can't help with console emulators.

I would think there would be some type of internal adjustment on these guns or maybe bending the sensor, but never got around to fiddling with the bum one I had.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 06:56:42 am by BadMouth »

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2021, 06:58:10 am »
Thanks a lot for all the information.

The nintendo vs titles are the only games besides mame that I'd play with a gun.
I haven't been able to play them anywhere else than nestopia so far, and nestopia seems to not have any calibration.

In fact, the way nintendo implemented the lightgun, I don't believe they'd have "calibration" as they didn't rely on pixel perfect positioning...

I am tempted to find a way to run the games in MAME but this might be pointless if they don't have calibration.

What would really be useful is calibration tweak on the device. (we're back to square one...)

I got another VGA CRT that I have meant to install in the cab (it's bigger)
Maybe it'll calibrate better on it?

I think actlab guns expects to find the whole screen - while CRT over shoots a bit, I think this causes the calibration to be off.

Will test soon.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 07:44:58 am by Marsupial »
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2021, 09:49:21 pm »
I experimented with the other CRT. It being out of the cabinet, I could manipulate the screen geometry and recalibrate quite a lot.

With proper adjustment, I could manage the gun to calibrate very well in pretty much every resolutions.


Now, not every games uses the same resolution, so changing game may mean to require a new calibration. But now that calibration would be simple, I think this isn't much of an issue.

I'm still debating moving the calibration button out of the gun and on the cabinet.
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2021, 09:52:59 pm »
I still cannot figure out how to auto hide the mouse crosshairs...
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2021, 06:27:19 am »
I would rather have the game run at a resolution other than the original than have to recalibrate.  IIRC, I ran them all at 1024x768 and scaled to full screen.

Not sure what to tell you about the crosshairs.  The option might also be in an individual game's ini or cfg file which would override mame.ini.  it has been years since I messes with this stuff.

If you are using a front-end that tries to do everything for you, that could also sabotage you.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 06:28:53 am by BadMouth »

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #25 on: May 19, 2021, 06:47:12 am »
Right now I mainly run 800x600 but never bothered checking that since it wasn't an issue. May have to rethink it...



If you are using a front-end that tries to do everything for you, that could also sabotage you.

I use Mala front end and I think that's why I can't figure what option to change. These crosshairs are annoying
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 06:49:06 am by Marsupial »
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2021, 03:44:20 am »
I also thought of such a solution, change the gun shell with a more beautiful one, you had a great idea and you did a great job!

Hi guys
I have these fantastic guns, n.2 with vga box and I will tell you my experience.
They work perfectly on tv crt at 15 khz through vga scart and crtemudriver (tested on the old win xp), but through a normal Chinese converter for a few euros. In practice, the vga signal, entering and exiting the converter allows me to get the signal out on the vga scart cable in a clean way. Without converter, the signal is noisy.

Tested and fully functional on Mame and with dxwnd at these resolutions on tv crt 15 khz:

288x240
296x240
304x240
368x240
384x288
448x240
512x240
512x288
512x448
512x512

They are very precise and allow you to shoot from different angles, unlike the usual lightguns with an ir sensor





I am currently testing them on a Naomi Universal clone with Polo 2 svga 31 khz. Nothing is needed here, they are also fine at 640x480.


Hope this information can be useful to someone!

« Last Edit: May 20, 2021, 04:04:02 am by gibranx »

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2021, 07:27:37 am »
I also thought of such a solution, change the gun shell with a more beautiful one, you had a great idea and you did a great job!

Thanks!

They still have red guns in liquidation as they are phasing out the light guns. Now may be your last chance to get some if you plan to upgrade.


I think the reason for bad calibration on multisync is the screen geometry. Arcade monitors don't toy with the geometry that much. Once I tweaked mine it is much better.

Thanks for sharing your experience.

... Now I kinda want a 31khz monitor..
-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #28 on: May 29, 2021, 05:45:19 pm »
Today I added the "final" connector I want for the gun on the arcade. There's enough pins for a second gun on this connector, or even a third one!
maybe I need to find a second actlab gun now!

It's a massive barrel connector salvaged from a kiosk computer years ago.

I know real arcades don't have disconnects on the front for the gun, but I still want to be able to remove the gun...
And this massive connector looks less foreign than a db9 like I used for testing.

-Mars

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #29 on: June 08, 2021, 01:19:46 pm »
For the records.

I changed MAME to a less ancient version, and now have the crosshair option directly in the TAB menu, being able to change it.

I could also change the crosshair for a custom one, which I may be interested to use that and put a more discreet crosshair.


So, yeah, just in case someone in the future reads this thread wondering how to remove crosshair - it may be a matter of using the correct version of MAME.



Without the crosshair, I am comparing usage of the ActLab fun and Gun4IR on the same monitor and it is super fun to play.
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #30 on: June 13, 2021, 04:29:11 pm »
Today I made alterations to the connection pattern.
I'm posting this here in case it can help others in the future




One thing I disliked about the gun is that the switch for calibration is available straight on the gun.

This means guests (or kids) can trigger calibration. And then recalibration is required.
And it may happen during game.



So, now the calibration switch will be on the cabinet and not on the gun.
It's required only once per boot, I may put a key switch.


To achieve that, I made a bypass patch where the set and reset pins no longer reach the gun.
Had to wire the 1k ohm pull-up resistor to VCC to replace the one inside the gun, and a switch alterns GND between either of the pins for normal use or calibration mode.


This mod may not be for everyone, but I know I'll use it.

Side effect: with the stock connections, removing the gun sometimes would leave the system wanting to calibrate (white screen)

With the calibration button on the cabinet, this won't happen. It means removing the gun from the cabinet when not in use has no negative impacts.

I'll keep the gun stored away unless required.
-Mars

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #31 on: July 18, 2021, 03:42:40 am »
I have 3x actlabs guns. 1x svideo ray gun, 1x vga ray gun and 1x vga blue gun.

My main cab is a naomi 31k with ati card and emudriver (looks like a 15k monitor with super resolutions and mame scanlines). I do have a sony trinitron 15k tv and a few 15k cabs too.


Before I start hooking this act labs kit up with demul shooter and groovymame etc, does anyone know if setting calibration for all games is possible using groovymame since all gun games will have different super resolutions?


By the way I've ordered a replacement red gun for the ray gun transplant and actlabs said they may be looking at redeveloping these in 2021. Well the chap I spoke to said he would speak to the r&d team as there is a demand.


It seem a lot of the crt gun knowledge has been lost since the 2000's.

Marsupial

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Re: 1st Gen ActLab lightgun - swap to more recent ones?
« Reply #32 on: July 18, 2021, 10:32:59 am »
It would be awesome if they have a new version!

The secret w/ actlabs (now that I fiddled quite a lot with it) is to play with the monitor's geometry settings, so calibration results are correct.

Then, everytime you change res, you need to recalibrate.
This isn't a problem if all your games are at the same resolution. Although you still need to calibrate once per boot (or I didn't find how to skip that.)
I have found no way to have calibration saved and reloaded. It is really a manual process.
When the monitor settings are correct, it is a fast and simple process, but still manual.

On mine, I made it so the calibration button is a keyswitch on the cabinet, to reduce accidental recalibration. Works better with kids and guests.

Would you happen to have one actlabs vga gun system too many?
« Last Edit: July 18, 2021, 10:37:34 am by Marsupial »
-Mars