Letters Re: A Tactical Hack for R.C. Model Cars

The letters reacting to my friend’s mobile, radio-controlled Glock platform make some very good points. The triggering systems of these particular machines were built on very simple eccentric cams (powered by cannibalized motor-driven wheel components) that were intentionally de-powered after a single revolution. In this configuration, shots were limited to about a one second interval, requiring another push of the button for another shot. It could’ve been made into a “rapid fire” mechanism but the builder didn’t see any advantage to such a modification.
The trigger used a redundant system of three simultaneous frequencies in order to compensate for the potential of radio signal mishaps, and if I recall correctly, a couple of them were unusual ones (this was above my pay grade but child’s play for my acquaintance.) He figured that the chances of all three required frequencies hitting the antennae of his creation at the same time, accidentally, was nigh on to nil. However, I should also add that his proposed usage of these machines was limited to the most dire of circumstances.

I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that this kind of construction should be left to the most technically capable among us (building this kind of thing from scratch as my friend did is well beyond my present abilities). I will also note that finding a safe place to work on something like this is quite difficult as any responsible gun range would ban these contraptions as fast as they would a drunk hand-gunner. The point I was making is that variations of these things are starting to be purpose-built for the military and that it is inevitable that the same technology is going to eventually filter down to the civilian market, from OEMs to home-brew copycats.

In the eight or so years since these “toys” were tested, technology has jumped by leaps and bounds. New examples could incorporate GPS and software limiters that specify where shots can’t be fired (to protect yourself and your neighbors) along with a number of non-lethal alternatives including green laser “dazzlers” which can be used to temporarily blind or disorient an attacker. They could also be built without any ballistic hardware, making them simple mobile platforms for wireless cameras to operate as surveillance in dangerous conditions. In case it hasn’t been said enough already, don’t build anything lethal along these lines unless you’re a professional with an ingrained obsession about safety! – Hawaiian K.

JWR Replies: Use extreme caution and do plenty of research before contemplating using any laser with the intent to “dazzle” an opponent. Some laser wavelengths are not considered “eye safe”–they can cause irreversible retinal burns. OBTW, I discussed both eye safe and non-eye safe lasers in my novel “Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse” and in a series of articles that I wrote when I was a full time associate editor for Defense Electronics magazine, back in the late 1980s. These articles primarily described the U.S. Army’s now defunct Dazer (hand held) and Stingray (tactical vehicle/aircraft-mounted) laser weapon programs. Both had been intended to counter enemy EO sensors, but were unfortunately indiscriminate in damaging the Mark I human eyeball. (They used high power Alexandrite lasers, which were not eye safe.) As I recall, the Dazer program was cancelled around 1992, and the larger Stingray system development was de-funded in 1996, right around the time of ratification of the UN Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. (Main reference: Rawles, James W. “Directed Energy Weapons: Battlefield Beams.” Defense Electronics, August 1989. v. 21, no. 8, p. 47-54.)