TBS Basics of Operation - by Eric Scott

The Tamiya battle system (referred to as the TBS) or gun fire simulator (GFS) is an electronic ‘laser tag’ for the Tamiya 1/16th scale tanks using technology very similar to a remote control for a television or wireless computer mouse and keyboard. This system allows a simulated battle between two or more tanks in which ‘shots’ can be fired and ‘hits’ and ‘damage’ can be seen and heard on the battlefield.

Do I need a TBS to run my tank?

No. All tank operations are fully functional without the TBS. However, a new dimension of simulated ‘laser tag’ style battles can be enjoyed with this Tamiya Hop-Up accessory item.

What does firing do?

Unlike the BB firing tanks, the shot from your tank has no projectile at all, but rather an infrared beam that sends a signal to another tank with a receiver, just like changing the TV channel with the remote and just as safe. This shot is heard as a firing sound effect from the tank’s speaker with accompanying muzzle flash and in some cases, main gun recoil effect to show the tank has fired and a signal sent.

What does a hit do?

Tanks equipped with the TBS receiver can detect shots from other tanks, record it, and simulate a hit. A hit is indicated by the whistling of the incoming shot and subsequent explosion sound effect of the virtual shell hitting the tank generated from the loudspeaker in the tank. The tank further indicates it has been hit by shaking slightly and flashing red lights on the detector.

Besides the visual and auditory effects of a hit, the tank speed and engine sound of the tank can be affected as well. After a number of hits the tank simulates damage from hits by electronically altering the engine sound and motor speed. For sound, the engine damage effect sounds like rough running and sputtering. For speed, simulated damage to engine and drive train is translated as electronic speed reduction. Eventually, enough hits are scored that the tank becomes immobile and is knocked out or KO’d.

How do you KO a tank?

After a set number of hits received by the detector, the electronics shut down the tank with the visual effect of flashing red lights and the dramatic sound of an extended explosion before going dormant. The electronic shutdown, or soft turn off, does not harm the tank, but temporarily suspends any control by the radio transmitter. The tank will not be able to move or fire until roughly 15 seconds of delay has lapsed in which it will restart and reset its hit counter.

How many hits does it take to KO a tank?

The electronic system can be set for 3, 6 or 9 hits before being KO’d, all adjustable from a switch on the electronics. Any selection can be made if desired, although generally, three hits simulates a light tank class, six hits a medium tank class and nine hits a heavy tank class. The TBS system attempts to resemble general characteristics of military tank classification but has no direct correlation to military classification criteria. Military tank classifications generally reflect a combination of tank weight, armor and general survivability criteria.

How far away can it shoot?

The published range is 30 meters (or 100 feet) maximum. Independent tests by myself www.sead.us/technology.html have verified that this is a typical range and actual range, depending on the actual unit installed may be +15 feet from the published range. Range is slightly affected by direct daylight, reducing range by up to 15 feet or so. Dusty, smoky or foggy conditions will reduce range as well as this tends to obscure the infrared signal.

My tank got hit by another tank not pointing directly at me, Why?

The signal takes on a slightly cone shape expanding up to 20 feet wide at about 50-60 feet, see shot patterns; www.sead.us/technology.html. The spread is enough at medium ranges that a hit can occur even when an enemy tank is not pointed directly at the receiver on your tank. Be ware of friendly fire and stay out of the line of fire. Keep a 10-15 foot spacing amongst friends to avoid being hit by the same enemy tank. Remember the receiver is the target to aim towards rather than the tank.

How do I get a TBS Battle System?

Tamiya direct 1-800-Tamiyaa in USA by phone, or website www.tamiya.com is the best source. The TBS can be found at many internet stores and auction sites like EBay, at bargain prices as well as some local hobby stores. The TBS system comes with instructions for install, an emitter LED pre-wired with a connector, an LED mounting box, a receiver ‘head’ that plugs into the supplied socket connector with a mounting plate and pre-wired connector.

TBS Advanced Operations:

The Emitter:

The emitter is a light emitting diode (LED) just like a TV remote control transmitting at a 940nm wavelength at 38 kHz modulation. An equal replacement for the emitter LED is Radio-Shack [part no. 276-143 (high intensity)] LED which has the same wavelength emission and similar range as the Tamiya LED
(up to 30m). So as a local (and cheap) replacement LED, or for custom projects, this is a good alternative to the Tamiya LED. The emitter may be installed in the mantlet, in the gun barrel or clipped onto the gun barrel. For optimal performance, recommended tube mounting of the emitter is an aperture diameter no greater than 6mm (1/4 inch) and a depth from crown of LED to aperture opening of no less than 9mm. The tube the LED mounts in shall be opaque (can not see through). Avoid silvery or mirror like finishes inside the tube (paint flat black) as this may cause minor signal degradation. The emitter sends the signal as a modulated pulse lasting between 1 and 2 seconds of signal transmit time. The current draw while transmitting averages about 200ma through the LED.

The Receiver:

The receiver is tuned to the emitter wavelength and is equipped with an onboard demodulator, daylight filter and red indicator LED’s. The receiver plugs in a 5 pin socket mounted in the tank and protrudes out an opening (typically the highest point) on the top side of the vehicle. The receiver is a self contained infrared detector and demodulator. The receiver uses one LED infrared detector device mounted on the circuit board facing upward inside the unit near the socket connector entrance. Directly above is a four-faceted mirror to deflect incoming signals primarily from the main four compass directions into the detector eye.

The receiver has varying sensitivity around its 360 degree horizontal plane of detection. The cardinal directions, essentially front (0 degrees), rear (180 degrees) and each side (90 and 270 degrees) have the most relative sensitivity out to 30 meters. At 45 degrees to these cardinal directions, the sensitivity is reduced to about 10-15 feet. This effect is intentional as designed in the four faceted mirror. Sensitivity of signals approaching the apex of the mirrored facet as opposed to the flat face of the facet are greatly reduced for reflecting signals into the detector optical eye. This effect is an attempt to account for military projectile performance when impacting armor at an angled approach where a flat face of impact is much less likely and glancing blows more likely. Within 10 feet range a hit can be scored at any orientation inline with the receiver, simulating point blank range.

The incoming signal passes through the fins first. The fins are the circular layered rings about the outside of the detector and function as a rejecter of signals arriving at generally other than horizontal planes to the detector. The next line of defense is a light spectrum band filter, sometimes called a daylight filter, which helps reject spurious infrared signals and noise from other sources like daylight or other infrared remote control devices.

Detection of a hit will suspend return fire control for about one and a half to two and a half seconds while completing the hit effect cycle.

Although modification of the TBS is not recommended, some interesting data was gathered by myself with differing receiver configurations:

  1. Fins removed (Most sensitive) - The relative sensitivity range increases to 115-125% of normal range, allowing ranges of detection up to to125 feet. This configuration also allows signals to be detected at other than a horizontal plane.

  2. Mirror removed (Least sensitive) – The relative sensitivity range decreases to 3-5% of normal range, allowing ranges of detection no greater then 5 feet away in a horizontal plane only.

  3. Fins and Mirror removed – The relative sensitivity decreases to 10-15% of normal range, allowing ranges of detection between 10-15 feet away. This configuration also allows signals to be detected at other than a horizontal plane.

The Electronics:

The receiver and emitter plug into the main controller unit (DMD) which controls the motors and accesses the other multi-functions of the MF unit. The emitter will not send a signal without the receiver attached.


Southeast Armored Division

Tech Notes - Page 6


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