LARP-uino (zelda meets laser tag)

Hello, I’m wanting to get some experienced opinions before I start this crazy project which I have 1 year to complete. I’m looking for thoughts on how to best approach getting an Arduino with all 7 of the components listed below. (is it even possible to have all 7?).

Essentially I’m trying to setup a live action role playing game in the backyard that incorporates a game scoring system and an interactive environment. The game I’ve come up with is sort of like Zelda - meets tower defense - meets laser tag

In order to make this whole thing happen I first need an Arduino with all of the following capabilities:

  1. RFID Sensor (for sensing nearby objects)
  2. IR transmitter (with range of roughly 60’ for laser tag functionality)
  3. video display (approx 2 inches, for user to view game stats such as health, magic level, etc)
  4. Wifi connectivity (for communication to game server)
  5. multi-color LED output.
  6. Sound Output (to play various .wav files).
  7. Rumble pack (Not a crucial option - for tactile feedback when hit by IR beam)

*Note-At this point I’ve soldered together an Arduino with the Adafruit wave shield so basically I have Item 6.

I’ve attached an image that may somewhat clarify my needs. I appreciate any opinions on how best to approach this design, suggestions on tutorials, etc.

Range on RFID is only 12 inches or so, did you know that? Also it will only detect one object in the field,if there are two or more it doesn’t work.
You will not get 60’ from an IR sensor, more like 10’ tops.

Grumpy_Mike: Range on RFID is only 12 inches or so, did you know that?

There are lots of different kinds of RFID with a huge variety of ranges.

RFID is used for toll roads with the tag on the car's windscreen and the reader on a structure spanning the road.

RFID is used for 10K runs with the tag on the runner's bib and the reader on either side of the finish line.

Of course these aren't the sort of RFID tags and readers commonly used with the Arduino and I think your estimate of 12 inches is much too generous for most RFID readers and tags.

I've used the inexpensive MIFARE tags and readers (you can get a reader with a few tags for less than $3) with a couple different microcontrollers including the Arduino and the tag almost needs to be in contact with the reader. Maybe the reader can be 3" from the tag but I'd be surprised if the inexpensive readers worked at more than an inch of range.

There's a video showing the range of some of SparkFun's readers on this page.

https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10126

The reading on that page costs more than 10 times as much as the ebay module I linked to earlier.

I think it's safe to say the inexpensive passive RFID readers/tags are very short range.

Not all RFID are passive. If you willing to put a battery in your tag you can have much better range.

OpenBeacon uses the inexpensive nRF24L01+ transceivers as part of their RFID tags. I've played with nRF24L01+ transceivers but I haven't tried using them as part of an RFID tag. Using nRF24L01+ transceivers in RFID tags is something I'd really like to try sometime. I think the transceivers are really cool little devices. They're really fast and really inexpensive.

Grumpy_Mike: Also it will only detect one object in the field,if there are two or more it doesn't work.

This isn't my experience. If I placed two RFID cards on top of each other and held them next to the reader, I'm pretty sure the cheap reader I used could read one of two cards. It wasn't necessarily the card closest to the reader. I'm not absolutely sure i'm remembering these details correctly but I remember being surprised the reader could read cards which were right next to other cards. I would have thought the coils would have interfered with one another.

The cheap readers don't have much range but IMO, they're really cool.

Grumpy_Mike: You will not get 60' from an IR sensor, more like 10' tops.

Here again I think there's a wide range of performance.

I think 10' is a bit of a low estimate of how far normal IR LEDs will be detected by an appropriate sensor but even if a normal IR LED is limited to 10' one doesn't have to use a normal IR LED.

As with visible light LEDs, there are lots of different IR LEDs. Adafruit sells these 100mA high power IR LEDs.

I wouldn't be surprised if the high power IR LEDs could be detected at ranges of 60'.

I noticed there's a requirement for video display. Video can be a problem for a lot of microcontrollers. It would probably be a lot easier to use some sort of LCD or OLED display. I like the OLED displays like the one I used in this video. The little 0.96" 128 x 64 OLED costs $5. This sort of monochrome display uses a lot less memory than than a VGA or NTSC display. The display buffer still needs to be 1024 bytes and if you want to do the graphic tricks seen in the video, you'll need twice that.

I don't have a whole lot of experience with the Arduino but I think most of the requirements shouldn't be a problem for most Arduino boards but the video and audio requirements my be too much of some boards. I'd think one of the Arm based Arduinos would have a better chance or meeting all your requirements. Something like the Teesy might be a better option.

I'm personally a big fan of the Propeller microcontroller which has eight 80MHz processors. The Propeller can output VGA and NTSC video but video is a memory hug and a single Propeller might not be able to meet all your requirements if you need memory intense video. When I need video in a project, I often "cheat" and use a second Propeller as a graphics slave.

A single board computer like the Raspberry Pi shouldn't have trouble meeting your requirements.

This isn't my experience. If I placed two RFID cards on top of each other and held them next to the reader, I'm pretty sure the cheap reader I used could read one of two cards. It wasn't necessarily the card closest to the reader. I'm not absolutely sure i'm remembering these details correctly but I remember being surprised the reader could read cards which were right next to other cards.

I used to design RFID readers for a living and where there are UHF readers that do multi tags in a field the normal Mifair readers will not.

A lot of the rest of your comments are just nit picking and are not actually directed at the OP's question.

I think it's safe to say the inexpensive passive RFID readers/tags are very short range.

I can / did, build a reader for £10 that has an 18" range, so you are on shake ground here.

I wouldn't be surprised if the high power IR LEDs could be detected at ranges of 60'.

;) Have you got any real life electronics experience or is it all book learning?

There are lots of different kinds of RFID with a huge variety of ranges. RFID is used for toll roads with the tag on the car's windscreen and the reader on a structure spanning the road.

Don't confuse RFID technology with transponders.

Grumpy_Mike: I used to design RFID readers for a living and where there are UHF readers that do multi tags in a field the normal Mifair readers will not.

A lot of the rest of your comments are just nit picking and are not actually directed at the OP's question.

Then I'd think you'd be qualified to give advice on what sort of RFID reader would be useful to the OP.

The OP said they wanted to use "RFID Sensor (for sensing nearby objects)." I think "sensing nearby objects" is very ambiguous. Your initial reply of "Range on RFID is only 12 inches or so" is likely accurate for the RFID readers with which you have experience but I'm not aware of hobby level RFID readers capable of 12" range.

I think the link to SparkFun's video about RFID range as well as the description of my experience using inexpensive Mifair readers more than nit picking. I think the information was full fledge louse squashing. :P

I don't think it an unreasonable guess the OP would likely be using an inexpensive reader.

Grumpy_Mike: I can / did, build a reader for £10 that has an 18" range,

Then you were wrong about the 12" range limit? Nevermind, let's say "or so" means +/- 50%.

Grumpy_Mike: so you are on shake ground here. ;)

Do you sell these RFID readers for £10? Can you provide a link to an inexpensive passive RFID reader which will read tags from greater greater than "very short ranges"?

(I don't expect you to sell RFID readers for £10 but I am hoping you can provide a link to an inexpensive (not very short range) RFID reader.)

Grumpy_Mike: Have you got any real life electronics experience or is it all book learning?

Yes, I do have real life electronics experience and it was my intention to share some of what I've learned.

The original post is a couple of days old. I didn't initially reply since I don't have a lot of experience with Arduinos. I saw your post stating, "Range on RFID is only 12 inches or so" and "You will not get 60' from an IR sensor, more like 10' tops."

You must be thinking of a different kind of IR system. I'm guessing you're thinking of an IR sensor for range finding?

While even IR range finder sensors are good for sensing obstacles as far as 15', I think it's generally true they're intended for measuring distances less than ten feet.

However, I'm confident the OP was not talking about IR sensors used for range finding. As the OP stated, the IR was "for laser tag functionality."

Here's a link to the sort of system they use for laser tag. I don't think a range of 60' is an unreasonable expectation.

Have you got any real life electronics experience or is it all just grumpiness? :smiling_imp:

Grumpy_Mike: Don't confuse RFID technology with transponders.

I take it you object to OpenBeacon's reference to their device as "active RFID"?

Have you got any real life electronics experience or is it all just grumpiness?

Only 50 years of it so I am a bit of a beginner when compared to you.

I would be interested in some links to some real life projects that you have done.

Did you check the link about the IR use in laser tag?

You don’t see I was giving you a hard for being both condescending and WRONG?

Your claim about IR range may be true for some IR sensors but it’s certainly not true with regard to IR use in laser tag.

Your claim about RFID range may be true for many RFID readers but passive RFID can work out to 15 feet as demonstrated in this YouTube video. I doubt the equipment used to read tags 15 feet away could be purchased with the OP’s planned budget. I shared my experience with inexpensive readers. If you know of an inexpensive reader with better range, I hope you share a link to it.

Grumpy_Mike:
Only 50 years of it so I am a bit of a beginner when compared to you.

I would be interested in some links to some real life projects that you have done.

I’m not sure how this will help the OP with the project, but since you’re interested here are some (more) links (I linked to one of my YouTube videos in my first reply to this thread).

Here’s a link to my YouTube channel. This playlist probably includes some of my “less boring” videos(but they’re still boring).
I keep a list of links to projects I’ve worked on in the Parallax forum. A lot of the projects listed are programming projects.
I have a few projects on Hackaday.io.
Here is a list of two robots I have documented on RobotRebels.org.
I used to have a lot of projects documented on Let’s Make Robots but these have all been deleted since the change in ownership of the site.

I don’t think my level of experience will change the range of IR used in laser tag nor will it change the range of RFID.

Hopefully your level of experience will provide useful information about how the OP can accomplish this project.

If I’m incorrect in thinking inexpensive RFID readers only work over a short range, I hope you’ll provide links to inexpensive RFID readers with longer range. Apparently it’s possible to extend the range of these inexpensive readers but maybe you know of a better solution?