My First Tagger:
Get the Materials
Once I had a design in mind, it was time to get together the materials to build it.
I ordered some things online, and visited local stores for others. I had the usual
"whoops, forgot that" realizations, and had to order additional things
I first got the PVC pipe, the birch plywood, and the aluminum channel and bar that I was planning on making the casing out of. I also picked up a sheet of 1/8 inch black ABS plastic, planning to use it for the sensor bases and maybe for grip panels. The ABS turned out to be so easy to work with that I kept adding more and more of it to the casing as I went along.
As the parts began to arrive, I started trying to fit things into the design. There was a lot of fiddling, assembling, disassembling, test-fitting, and head-scratching most evenings. The other pages list some of the wrong turns and blind alleys I checked out, but there were too many to keep track of.
- I ordered some parts from Miles Tag, including circuit boards, preprogrammed PIC and sound chips, and a few other things. I didn't want to do any circuit design, which meant I would have to either buy from Miles Tag or from FragTag.
- Mouser Electronics supply a good selection of all sorts of electronic parts, with fast delivery and very low prices on most things.
- Digi-Key supply an excellent selection of all sorts of electronic parts, with low prices on most things.
- McMaster-Carr supply an excellent selection of metal, plastic, other materials, tools, and the like. They also can (and do) manage same-day delivery if I order early in the morning, since I live near one of their warehouses.
- Harbor Freight has a good selection of cheap tools. Some of their stuff is very good, other items are not (e.g., the anvil I ordered from them is soft steel, and deforms under work.)
- Koontz Hardware is a nice, old-fashioned hardware store that carries a lot of stuff. They're not far from where I live, so I got a few tools and supplies from them. Very convenient location, large selection, and the floor staff know what they're talking about. But no U-channel aluminum.
- I also bought some things (birch plywood, 4-conductor phone handset cords, and so on) from Home Depot. I was disappointed that they didn't carry U-channel aluminum at my local store.
- I picked up some wire, solder, and a replacement soldering iron tip from Fry's Electronics. Their parts selection was inadequate, though, and I couldn't even get some of the wire I wanted at the local store.
- The local Hobby People had a good deal on 3000 mAH NiMH batteries; I also picked up a charger. They were very good about replacing a battery that wouldn't hold a charge, even though it could have been my fault: they gave me advice instead of hassle.
- Brownells have everything for gunsmithing: specialty tools for checkering grips, recoil pads, high-end scopes, precision screwdrivers, Picatinny rail stock, sling mounts, cold blueing solutions, and so on. Everything I've bought from them has been of excellent quality.
- Cheaper Than Dirt have some really cheap scopes (under $10 for a red dot) and other gear; the quality may be commensurate with the price.
- The Sportsman's Guide often have cheap scopes, and all sorts of other gear; the vendor specializes in closeouts, remainders, and military surplus.
- Midway have optics, gunsmithing tools, and related supplies.
- Kit Kraft sell clear acrylic domes, suitable for sensor housings. Conveniently, they're a local store for me.
- Surplus Shed have a large supply of lenses at very good prices.
Copyright © 2007, Leif Bennett. All rights reserved.