MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: How does a television pick up signals from a video game gun?

Date: Mon Nov 1 10:26:33 1999
Posted By: Matthew B. Weyerich, Technical Coordinator,ES&R Dept., CPI Corp.
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 940982854.Cs

Hi Mike!

I always wanted to know how that gun worked, too! I always just assumed it 
was a little positional sensor of some sort. Turns out that's not the way 
it works at all. 

There's an answer to your question in the Archives:

Note that there are TWO answers there, though. I wanted to know which one 
was right, so I did a little more research and found the actual U.S. Patent 
for this device. You can view the patent at this address: (If you 
read carefully, you'll find out there's a difference between hooking the 
gun up to a television and an actual arcade game. The TV needs a sync 
signal from the game controller.) 

The patent is kind of technical, so if you want a less complicated 
explanation, check here:

I also found a site that has some of the pin-outs for the gun and game 
controller, though the site is really more concerned with making this work 
with a computer. If you are interested, look here:

I hope that helps answer your question. If you need more help, please feel 
free to e-mail me at I had fun learning about this!  ;)

Your MadSci,

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