We had the great fortune to work with Rotor Riot from the beginning to create a purpose-built ZTAG drone laser tag rig. This became obvious after watching the drone tag episode they made using our gear that was designed for human gameplay. Obviously, the hardware left a lot of room for improvement because we never thought of drone applications... but now, after a few months of R&D and LOTS of testing, we've come up with the V1 of the ZTAG Drone Laser Tag spec rig based on the Cinewhoop.
Why HD Cinewhoop and not any other platform such as a 5" or Tinywhoop? Here are the reasons for choosing this rig:
- 5" is actually WAY too fast and overpowered for drone laser tag. You want something that can easily hover and get into corners and hide! We found that while playing with 5" is really exciting, we we could only really play in open space to avoid crashing.
- Tinywhoops just can't handle the overall payload of the ZTAG gear by the time you add the 3d printed mounts.
- We settled on the HD Cinewhoop because it has ducts to protect against the eventual crash (and you WILL crash!), goes well indoors and outdoors, and hovers well.
- We also get asked a lot if HD is necessary --- short answer, YES. The HD cameras pick up LEDs a lot clearer than analog cameras. You need as much resolution as you can get as well for this type of immersive gameplay. We aren't sponsored by DJI or Fatshark to push HD FPV... we simply require it for the experience.
With the HD Cinewhoop platform, we want to achieve the following goals:
- Durability for crashes.
- High tail light visibility for opponents to see you.
- Integrated electronics so the LiPo powers everything.
- Indoor and outdoor ready.
Let's get started!
You'll notice that a standard Cinewhoop has the camera mounted between the ducts and sticking out to avoid the ducts in the field of view. This is a problem because it forces us to install the ZTAG sensor board even further forward, which will make it prone to damage in a crash. We want to tuck the ZTAG board as far back as possible but then it'll be too close to the camera to have a good view.
The ZTAG sensor needs to sit at least 30mm in front of the camera in order to give you a full view of the dashboard LEDs.
So, we have to make some significant changes to the setup in order make this rig durable. We decided to move the FPV camera ABOVE the top plate and sit right in front of the battery. We assume you won't be installing a GoPro for ZTAG and footage just comes straight from the FPV camera feed.
Prepare the following items
You'll need to 3d print the TPU files. Download all of them HERE.
- Top mount camera TPU (note the 2 sets of screws attached come from the drone)
- Sensor shell TPU
- 6 LED RGB stripe - Flashbang SW601
- M3 screws, two 6mm thread and four 8mm thread (2 sets of these screws come from the drone)
- Sensor cowling TPU
- ZTAG sensor board
- Rear LED TPU
- Sensor mount TPU
- 8 inches of 3 conductor stranded 24awg wire for rear LEDs (servo wire)
- 5 inches of 2 conductor stranded 24awg wire for power (comes with ZTAG sensor board)
Remove FPV camera and replace mount
Keep the camera screws and remount it to the top mounted camera TPU. You'll need to slip the prop ducts out of the front posts in order to release the camera.
Mount the camera to the new top mounted camera mount
The black TPU mount is what came with the Cinewhoop from Rotor Riot, we won't be needing it any more. Install the blue one below.
Here's what the top camera mount looks like assembled. Don't attach it yet because we need to access beneath the top plate for the electronics integration steps below.
Assemble ZTAG sensor
Solder power and rear LED wires first before inserting the board into the protective shell. You'll have an easier time getting access to the solder pads with a bare board.
Here's what it looks like with the 5 wires solder. VIN (red), GND (black), LED (white), 5V (red), GND (black)
Next, you'll need M3 screws to attach the ZTAG sensor board to the protective TPU shell. Here's a photo of the sensor assembly, ZTAG sensor board, TPU shell, sensor cowling, and wires. The shorter M3 screws are used to attach the ZTAG board to the TPU shell. The longer M3 screws attach the sensor arm THROUGH the sensor cowling and onto the shell.
Here's what the final assembly of the sensor portion looks like.
Solder power leads to battery terminals
With the top plate removed, solder the power leads of the ZTAG board your drone.
The flight controller of this Cinewhoop had 2 pads that gave me direct access to the battery input, perfect! If your flight controller doesn't have these pads, you have a few options as the ZTAG sensor board will take anywhere from 5V all the way to 27V. You can hook up the wires directly to the battery leads or you can pick a dedicated 5V output.
Caution: if you're wiring this up to a 5V regulated output, make sure that port has enough current rating to handle at least 1A of current (this is needed for all the LEDs)! We don't want you to fry your board.
Install the ZTAG sensor assembly onto the front posts of the Cinewhoop
Install rear LED pixels
THIS is what makes this mod stand out --- REAR LEDs! It makes your drone visible to other pilots and what keeps the game exciting! Having front lights are great, but being able to see the drone lit up front and back makes the game 10x more fun!
Route the LED wire to the back of the drone
Make sure you have enough wire so there's some extra slack, this keeps the wires from rubbing against components and also prevents it from snapping during a crash. You can always twist the wires to tuck in some of the unneeded slack.
The LED header goes underneath the antenna mount TPU. Also note that we've removed the two screws from the rear stand-off posts, we will use these screws to attach the LED board mount.
Install the LED to the header
Install the rear LED TPU mount
Using VHB tape, we attach the LED board to the mount. The screws shown below are the bottom standoff screws on the rear of the Cinewhoop.
Attach the rear LED assembly onto the back bottom of the Cinewhoop
Here's the installed look.
Now the rear is done, it's time for the final step of mounting the top plate with the camera. Before we do that, check that all wires and tucked in, strain relieved, and zip tied together so it won't shake around.
Install Camera to the Top Plate
You'll need to carefully route the HD camera through the top plate. Be careful not to catch the wires on anything and keep it from rubbing against anything hard.
Finished full assembly
This modification is straight forward but takes time because of the amount of rearrangement needed from a standard Cinewhoop. If you decide to build the rig from scratch, then you aren't adding much to your build time.