System Suggestions

I am a disabled outdoorsman, and I am putting together a shooting platform and I would like to use robotics to control elevation (up/down) and windage (left/right). I am a C# developer by trade so programming is not new to me. I have a test fixture that I have created where a linear actuator adjusts a 2 x 4 on a hinge, up and down.

I started off using Phidgets’s I/O board with USB hub, linear actuator, mini joystick, and Servo motor controller. My goal is to keep the system relatively simple and rugged enough to withstand some pretty sharp shock. I’m using a pretty small linear actuator (100 mm stroke).

After looking through the website I’m starting to rethink my components. I’m beginning to think that it might be easier to use DC motors with an analog joystick. This is kind of what I’m using already, but the motor controllers I’m using are around $300 a piece and I would like to cut this price down.

I guess my questions are should I just stick with DC motors, an analog joystick and your motor controllers or should I go with servos and stepper motors. The joystick I will be using has integrated potentiometers, but I need some pretty fine control as small movements in any direction at the end of a gun barrel become quite large how past 200 yards.

I am finding that working with Phidgets mini joystick, Servo motor controller, and linear actuator to be pretty challenging as the joystick’s center value (0-1000 with 500 being center is really ~20-~960 with 480 being center) seems to always change. Therefore I have to account for this in code which makes the system not nearly as accurate as I want it to be.

Any light you all can shed on this would be greatly appreciated.

I’m a retired Marine and I know a bit about shooting.
I don’t think you’ll get a very fine adjustment with a regular DC motor and controller.
A stepper motor is the way to go when you need precision. Better yet a stepper motor with a reduction gear or belt which would reduce even microsteps down to a usable rate.
I’m using a pan/tilt base to aim a yagi antenna at a drone 10 miles away and I tried the DC motor route. Even with using pots for feed back it took several cycles back and forth to get the perfect alignment.
On another pan/tilt, with a stepper and reduction belt, I can hit the mark on the first try.
If you get a good solid mount you could put a camera on it and sit in the cab of the truck shooting remotely – or even automated.
Speaking of servos. If you look at some of those videos, that paint ball gun is using servos. See how jumpy it is?
For precision I’d recommend stepper motors, with a reduction gear/belt to really get some fine tuned aiming.