New Steam Engine

Last weekend, we went to the hobby store in Indy and ended up finding a really nice steam engine.  So I just had to pick it up.  I had actually been having difficulty deciding to do Steam or Diesel on the layout that I’m working on.  After seeing this little guy run around the track, it was a pretty easy choice.  The only negative this Bachman 2-4-0 has is there’s no smoker.  Other than that, the DCC board is top of the line and the sound is incredible.  I attempted to take video with our brand new digital camera, but since it was the first time I’ve ever done video with it you can’t judge me too hard. 😉

Also, the first couple pictures are blurry for some reason, but I had already put things away so re-taking would have been overly time consuming.  I think it was confused by the light on top of the engine.  And yes, I’m doing my testing on top of our ping-pong table.  The table is actually sitting where the layout is going to end up, ironically enough.


Steam Engine Test 04 Steam Engine Test 03 Steam Engine Test 01 Steam Engine Test 05 Steam Engine Test 02



L.A.S.R.: Laser Activated Shot Reporter

While at the NRA National Convention in Indy today, one of the first booths we stopped at had a Laser trainer that looked pretty cool.  After walking around a bit, we found three or four other booths with similar solutions.  Most of the laser trainers used a projector that displayed the “shooting game” and had a webcam pointing at the screen to capture the results.  This seemed to work pretty well, but these solutions ranged from $400 to $800.  Granted most of them had pre-programmed sequences so getting up and running would be pretty quick.  The biggest downside I could see is having to use a projector and a screen to display the “game”.  As a result of recently pricing video equipment for the church, I know exactly how expensive that stuff can get… I also know how using cheap hardware will make life difficult.  But the biggest thing that stood out on the first booth we visited was the fact that they just had their capture webcam facing a wall.  You use the software to look at the wall (and all the objects on there) and you create “targets” from that image.  The webcam detects the laser showing up on those surfaces and does the scoring from there.  The best part is the software license is only $120.

When we started farming the booths, we actually started at the end.  For one, it was nice to see some of the smaller booths and talk to folks before they got too busy.  In all fairness, I got more out of talking to the smaller companies than I did from the big boys.  Anyway, as the day progressed, we had to find our way back to the Daniel’s Defense booth for a drawing.  Turns out we were an hour early, but we had already decided to go ahead and purchase the license.

The software is called L.A.S.R.: Laser Activated Shot Reporter.  You can use just about any webcam, but obviously better quality will help a little.  I currently own several caliber LaserLyte “rounds” so I used those in my firearms.  The software seems to work very well in my basement, even against a dark colored door in a dark-ish area.  I intend to hang the camera from the floor joist and point it at a wall next to my gun safe.  I’ll put real paper targets on the wall and use those as the “soft targets”.  I did have a little difficulty with the USB extensions I got.  I found that if I use more than one 10′ extension, the camera lags so badly the software doesn’t pick up things correctly.  My distance will be close but I hope I can make it work.

Once I get it mounted, I’ll be sure to post some pictures.