Falling Targets Controller

Controller board and hardware for raising targets, running shooting programs and counting points for Falling Targets Pistol range.

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I train and teach Pistol Shooting, including Falling Target. Raising the targets takes time or requires a system of rope pulling.
Instead of using this, I decided to build a system for raising the targets remotely. This work expanded into designing a system for running shooting programs, calculating scores and analyzing the progress during training using an Android smartphone.
The system will end up being a system consisting of :
+ Controller Board (Raspberry Pi Hat)
+ Raspberry Pi as an Access Point with possibility of downloading application for Smartphone
+ Android App for controlling the system, data collection and processing
+ Mechanics for providing 5 Falling Target targets
+ Raising mechanism for raising the targets
+ Contact for target hit registration and Light for shoot/no shoot

The entire project is mostly made by using parts, I already have lying around. This is the simple version and will be expanded later in a new version supporting e.g. double tapping etc.

The mechanism itself is dived into several parts: 


The actuators are used for raising the targets after having been hit by shots. Basically, these are linear actuators moving an arm, which either raises a single target or an entire row of targets. The actuator is made by having a motor (stepper in this case) move a slider using a threaded rod.


The arm in the project is made in order to perform tests on a single target.


The sensor is basically a switch, which registers the target falling. In the final version, this will be a switch with a long arm. In the test version, I use a tiny switch on a 3D printed fixture, but the principle is the same : a switch indicating a targets falling.

Light fixture

A fixture for holding a 12 v LED light in an angle lighting up a target.

Controller board

The controller board is a Raspberry Pi hat for reading the keys, switching on/off the lights and controlling the stepper motors.

Software Package

The software is divided into 2 parts: an onboard software package for running the controller and the Android App (sorry Apple users) controlling the board.

The Android App is only used for sending messages to and from the board, so this will be described later on, but for now Python / C# test programs are to be used instead.
The controller software is to have the following features:

  1. Registering a fallen target (reading the switches)
  2. Lighting the target (switching on the lamps)
  3. Controlling the stepper motors

Later on, the software will get more features:

  1. Automatic homing of the actuators
  2. Automatic point counting
  3. Delayed lighting for running sequence shooting and shoot/no shooting scenarios

The Android software is to get the following features, but will be extended if time allows me:

  1. Sending commands to and retrieving status from the controller board
  2. Creating shooting scenarios 
  3. Storing the previous results, thus creating statistics of the shooting and own progress
    1. Since data is only saved on the users' phone, then the GDPR shouldn't be a problem

  • Hardware test

    Henrik Sorensen10/18/2020 at 20:58 0 comments

    Populated the received board and wrote a simple Python script initializing the hardware, testing lamps, buttons and stepper motor drivers.

    Also got the mechanical parts mounted on a single target for further software development 

    Redoing the lamp fixture.

  • Initial Mechanical Designs

    Henrik Sorensen10/10/2020 at 19:28 0 comments

    Made initial designs of the linear actuators and target sensors.

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