Now you can convert your very own AK-47 and feel like a Soviet soldier while killing crazy bunnies and Zelda goblins. It may not be as cool as firing a bazooka in a 360-degree environment, but it definitely beats the Nintendo Wii Zapper. We talked with its creator about all the details:
Jesus Diaz: Is this a real AK-47 or a replica? Where did you get it?
Donald: Oh heavens, no. It is not a real AK-47. It used to be an airsoft gun, made by CYMA I believe. It is a cheap toy that shoots little plastic projectiles at very low velocity, but it is the same size as a real rifle. And after removing the small electric gearbox and inner barrel, it's mostly hollow.
I don't recall exactly where I got it (it was on my shelf for some time from a past project) but it was from one of numerous mail-order vendors of
airsoft guns. It is available from any number of sources: a Google search for "CYMA AK-47" will turn up quite a few results, probably a bunch from
eBay, even. The going price seems to be about $30. The real AK-47, among many other guns, is not possible to be owned by civilians due to the firearms laws here in Canada - just in case you were interested.
JD: How much did the whole project cost?
D: Including the Wiimote and cost of the AK it's probably around $80. That sounds expensive, but the Wiimote (+ the nunchuck) is the brunt of that
The AK was already on my shelf and unused from a previous project, so it was "free" in a way for me.
Not counting the Wiimote and the AK, the only cost was some time, wire, and a couple switches.
JD: How much time did it take?
D: About 10-15 hours total, including all the hemming and hawing about how what is going to fit where. This was in small batches of time over the
course of many evenings. It was a "because it's there" project.
JD: What's your tech background? I'm guessing that you must be have plenty of experience doing electronic mods, so how difficult do you
think this would be for a beginner?
D: I'm as comfortable as I'll get when it comes to working on expensive/fragile/small things. I do a lot of electronic modding and fiddling - some of it is professional development/prototype work (but unlike the Wii AK-47, that stuff isn't usually very interesting).
Electronically speaking this mod is straightforward - the only things being done are extending out the A and B buttons and the IR Camera on wires so that they can be relocated within the AK-47's plastic body. There isn't any swapping of components, or anything.
But it *does* involve desoldering a sensitive component (the camera) with lots of small pins, and then re-soldering it on the end of small wires. It's certainly possible to bugger up the Wiimote in that process.
If someone owns their own soldering station and feels comfortable tinning and soldering very small wires, and feels confident they can avoid solder bridges, they should be fine. If they even know what any of that means, they're probably be good to go!
JD: Any new Wiimote projects in sight? I have to say that the toilet plunger mode sounds amazing :-)
D: Well, once I complete a project and have it working I quickly bore of it -so it's only a matter of time before I pull the Wiimote's parts out of that AK to try something else.
I may put the Wiimote's IR camera on the brim of a hat to see what it's like to point by moving my head. My gut tells me that might not work so hot, but I'd like to try it out anyway.