Tippmann paintball guns reload with Atmel MCUs

Written by Brian Marts

The game of paintball continues to be a popular activity enjoyed by players of all levels and walks of life. Tippmann Sports has been active in the paintball world since its inception and is one of the premier paintball companies in the industry today.

The sport continues to evolve as players seek to enhance their game with new looks for paintball markers and additional fire power to shoot more balls per second. Indeed, paintball takes on an entirely new level of excitement when a player can shoot 15 balls per second vs. the standard semi-auto mode.

Powered by Atmel’s versatile ATtiny44A microcontroller (MCU), Tippmann’s new HEAT Red E-boards offer significant improvements in functionality and durability. Traditionally, E-board paintball performance has been perceived as somewhat lacking. Although this perception continues to linger in the marketplace, it is clear that older electronic components will ultimately be replaced by boards capable of living up to the Tippmann’s expectations.

What has enabled the dramatic improvement in quality and robustness? Well, prior Tippmann models featured unique E-boards designed for specific products. This approach tapped various suppliers for each design, leading to a cacophony of multiple programming languages, design tools and hardware – all essentially performing the same function.

Atmel was proactive in helping plot a new course that allows Tippmann to utilize a single set of design tools, compile software into core building block functions and enable development of future boards in one common language. This method effectively standardizes the hardware design process, while facilitating reuse of common hardware building blocks.

What does this mean for Tippmann? Previously, it took an average of 18 months to create a new E-board product before the components and software were standardized. Now, Tippmann is able to turn a new design around in approximately 6 months.

Software tweaks were also made to ensure integrity, with hardware optimization increasing the robustness of the solenoid drive circuit. In practical terms, this means we now have the same set of firing modes scaling across our product lines with the ability to dynamically change marker firing characteristics on the fly, all while retaining recently altered parameters. Clearly, the ability to create new firing modes with Atmel’s help has been a major game changer for Tippman.

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Tippmann’s new HEAT red E-boards have been subjected to the most stringent validation test sequence in the industry. All product designs are subjected to and pass a rigorous validation plan covering life testing, temperature cycling, vibration testing, EMI susceptibility, ESD, water submersion, shock and drop testing.

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All future board designs will incorporate plug-in battery harnesses and capacitor harnesses. We will also continue to use a single set of Atmel software development tools paired with a common programming language.

Interested in learning more about Tippmann? You can check out the company’s official website here.

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