This is a lengthy document, we recommend you read it fully but here's a shortcut to the sections below if you want to skip ahead:
How the ZTAG Drone Laser Tag System Works
How to Install ZTAG on your Drone
This tutorial will show you how to install the ZTAG Drone Laser Tag sensor onto most FPV drones using the universal mount. We also install some optional external LEDs as tail lights to allow other pilots to see your drone better.
Let's get started!
Prepare the following materials, you may need to 3d print these files for the universal mount.
Prepare the materials below
- ZTAG sensor board
- Two M3x10mm and two M3x5mm screws (included with purchased 3d printed mount)
- Mamba Flash Bang SW601 LED board (sold separately)
- 3 conductor, stranded, 24awg wires, ~4 inch for rear LED board (sold separately, part of the Mamba LED board)
- 2 conductor, stranded 24awg wires, ~7 inch for ZTAG board
- 3d printed TPU ZTAG shell (printed or sold separately)
- 3d printed TPU sensor cowling (printed or sold separately)
- 3d printed TPU universal mount (printed or sold separately)
- zip ties (not included)
- 6s balance lead connector
- InstaMorph pellets (not included)
First solder the wires while the board is easy to access. It's helpful to have the wires stand straight out from the board so that it doesn't get in the way of the 3d printed shell in the next step.
Now we install the 3d printed protective shell onto the ZTAG sensor board. You'll use the two short M3 screws for this.
Next, we install place the sensor cowling on the protective shell. Make sure that it sits INSIDE the shell and covers over the top side of the IR sensors. This cowling is designed to reduce attacks from above your drone and allow mostly hits from behind.
Next, we use the longer M3 screws and install the universal mount. The M3 screws will through THROUGH the sensor cowling and onto the protective shell.
Here's what the assembly should look like now
Now, tuck the wires together and route it through the center of the universal mount. This will keep the wires away from your props.
OPTIONAL LED BOARD INSTALLATION
If you want some extra flash with your rig, adding a rear facing RGB LED strip will allow other players to see you better. This isn't required for the game to work but certainly adds more interactivity.
OPTION 1: REMOVABLE ZTAG SENSOR
Choose this option if you want to easily install and uninstall the ZTAG game as needed. You may want this option if you don't always want to fly with the ZTAG game attached. We will be powering the ZTAG board using your LiPo's balance lead. If you want a permanently mounted ZTAG sensor to your flight controller, skip this section and go see OPTION 2: DEDICATED ZTAG SENSOR below.
We've included a 6s balance connector with the ZTAG board, depending on what type of battery you're flying, you may need to modify this connector. Below, we show you how to cut the connector so that it allows 3s-6s batteries. We took a marker to shade off the part that we will cut off (note that you are looking at the NOTCHED side of the balance connector).
Now use flush cutters and remove the shaded portion of plastic.
Here's the modified balance lead header for 3s-6s batteries.
Now, let's solder the power wires to the balance lead header.
CAUTION: Do not put the soldering iron on the balance lead header's pin for more than 1 second (assuming you have a decently hot iron) as it pin will quickly transfer heat over to plastic and cause the pin to get loose. We recommend pre-tinning both the metal lead and the wires and just tap the solder between the 2 to join it quickly.
Optionally, we want to add some InstaMorph plastic to cover the metal pins. We use a heat gun to soften the material (you could use hot water as well).
Once the plastic pellets are soft, we mold it onto the balance lead header.
The finished balance header should look like this:
The ZTAG Sensor assembly is finished for removable mounting. Let's now install it onto the drone. We will be using the a pretty common iFlight Nazgul HD 5"
Underneath the drone, we want to remove the 2 front standoff screws. The M3 screws pictured below were chosen to be 5mm longer than the stock M3 screws for these standoffs.
By choosing longer screws, we don't have to fully remove them each time we want to install or uninstall the ZTAG universal mount. The mount has a slot and hole design that allows you to remove it from your drone without screw removal --- preventing you from dropping it in the field. We install these one by one.
The last step for this removable ZTAG option is to zip tie the power lead so it doesn't get chopped my your props!
You can now test the balance lead by plug it into your 3s-6s LiPo. The ZTAG board and the rear facing LEDs should all light up.
OPTION 2: DEDICATED ZTAG SENSOR (cleaner solution)
If you want to build a dedicated ZTAG rig, choose this option so the wires are tucked in better and you don't bother plugging in the balance lead. Your ZTAG system turns on with the rest of your drone.
Take the bare wire power leads from the ZTAG assembly and route it through an opening at the bottom of your drone.
Now remove the top plate of your drone to expose the flight stack. We want to solder the power wires directly onto the battery voltage and ground. Some flight controllers give you access to the battery voltage with a solder pad called BAT, this is the best option. If you don't have a BAT pad, you can choose to solder directly to the thick battery wires or a 5V output. If you decide to use a 5V output, MAKE SURE it's rated for at least 1A so you don't fry it!
Here's the board with the 2 wires soldered.
Now you can install the top plate back on and your drone is done! Power up and check it out.
Button Functions & Configurations
Pit Mode Button Functions
Pit mode is active 3 seconds after the ZTAG board receives power, these are the most common button operations you'll need:
|Button A||Button B||Button C|
|Short Press||Start 20 Second Launch Sequence: any other button during this launch sequence will abort the countdown and have all drones go back to pit mode. This launch sequence will be synchronized across all other nearby drones.||Toggles Score View: if within score view, button A moves view to the left and button C moves view to the right.||Changes Starting Health: adjusts starting health from 20% to 100%|
|Long Hold||Start Game Immediately: This skips the launch sequence and starts the drone immediately. This will start the game for all other nearby drones.||Adjust Dashboard LED Brightness: Depending on ambient light levels, you may want to change the intensity of the LED facing your FPV camera by holding down the B button.||Switch Team Colors: Change between the 6 different team colors. Remember, only drones with different team colors can tag each other. There is no friendly fire.|
Launch Countdown in Detail
The 20 second launch countdown serves two major functions that will make your ZTAG experience amazing:
- Starts the game for all drones at once
- Serves as a digital "clapper board" to help sync up flight footage from multiple FPV feeds
When you press the A button from pit mode, you will have 20 seconds before the game starts.
Your dashboard LEDs (lights facing the FPV camera) will start blinking and extinguishing one at a time from right to left. When the middle dashboard LED strobes for a brief moment, that's the queue for all drones to arm and take off (which also starts your video recording).
After another 10 seconds, the left most dashboard LED will strobe briefly and your game has started! This final strobe will be useful to serve as your video sync indicator. Also note, this strobe may have a different color each time you activate the launch sequence to help you sync up which flight is which during your video editing process.
When you're done with the round, you can press any button to deactivate the game and go back into Pit Mode.
Boot-up Button Functions
Boot-up is active during the first 3 seconds when the board receives power. You'll see all lights flash during the boot-up sequence, pressing any of the buttons below will keep the drone in boot-up state until there are no more button inputs for 3 seconds or more, at which point the board will enter pit-mode.
|Button A||Button B||Button C|
Resets to team red, full IR strength, domination mode ON.
Adjust IR Strength:
Cycles between low, medium, and high IR output strength. This may need to be adjusted based on ambient lighting conditions, indoor/outdoor games, and desired tagging range. You'll see the strength indicated by the number of green LEDs illuminated next to the ABC buttons.
Domination Mode Toggle:
If the green LEDs next to the ABC buttons are BLINKING, then domination mode is ON (your drone will convert to the team color of the drone that killed you). If the green LEDs are SOLID, then domination mode is OFF (game is over when you are killed and you must land and wait for the next round to play again).
The ZTAG Drone Laser Tag board keeps track of several metrics that can be reviewed after each game: kills, hits, damage dealt, damage taken, and deaths.
While in Pit Mode, short press the B button. You will see one of the top LEDs blink WHITE. The position of this white light will indicate which metric you are reading. The green LEDs next to the ABC buttons will blink to indicate the value of the metric.
Pressing the A button will move the white light to the left and pressing the C button will move the white light to the right. Pressing the B button will back out of the score reading mode and put you back into Pit Mode.
Counting the number of blinks from the GREEN LEDs next to the ABC buttons will indicate the value of the metric you are reading. For example, if you count 1 blink on the A LED, 2 blinks on the B LED, and 3 blinks on the C LED, that indicates a value of 123. Another example is if you ONLY see 5 blinks of the B LED, that indicates a value of 0-5-0, which is 50.