LightRanger
The official web site for the LightRanger laser measuring device.

FAQs

February 1, 2014

Q.  "Using a laser measuring device will promote nitpicking and overcompetitive play."

A.  The LightRanger was originally conceived as an aid for more casual play.  While the measurement resolution is sufficient for the vast majority of wargaming, the device is not intended to produce measurements accurate to miniscule fractions of an inch.  If a measurement is very close to a limit in the game, gamers may use still use the tape measure to verify the distance.


Q.  "The measurements won't be accurate unless the device is held perfectly perpendicular to the gaming table.  If you tilt the device, the distance measured will change."

A.  It is true that tilting the parallel lasers will change the distance measured.  However, for practical distances above the wargaming table (around a foot or two), it turns out that slight deflection of the LightRanger does not grossly affect the distance between the laser points.  Because of this concern, we've created a video specifically addressing the issue.  In the video, you see that as the LightRanger is tilted, it takes a significant amount of deflection even to produce a measurement error of 1/4".  This amount of tilt would not be likely to happen accidentally.  You can see the video at http://youtu.be/LcUHK4mmzRc.  In addition, in the final product, there will be a visual level indicator in the form of a bubble level or electronic feature such as LEDs.


Q.  "The LightRanger is too big and bulky."

A.  The first two prototypes are just that--prototypes.  The Mk. I prototype is primarily a proof of concept and the more recent Mk. II is a significant size reduction in itself.  The Mk. III prototype will be even more highly integrated, and a final product will be a fully integrated, professionally designed and produced device.  The main design goal regarding bulk is to keep the device not significantly larger than a medium-sized tape measure.  The primary aim of the prototypes is to prove the function, usefulness, and fun of the LightRanger concept.


Q.  "It would be really useful to have an additional laser to find line of sight.


A.  The new prototype, and most likely the final product, will integrate a line of sight laser feature.


Q.  "The device may get too expensive."


A.  We have done and are continuing to do market research and collect quantitative feedback regarding a variety of factors, not the least significant of which is price.  We are developing a sense of what gamers believe would be a reasonable cost for a professionally produced LightRanger, and currently it appears possible to produce and market one at a competitive price relative to good quality tape measures and other gaming accessories.  We understand that cost is a major factor, and that it is critical to create a great product at a fair price.  We would rather produce a great device that most people can afford than a luxury device that only the 1% gamer can buy.


Q.  "Lasers may shine in someone's eyes if the device is tilted, rotated, or turned over."

A.  It is a design goal to use eye-safe lasers in the final product.  Even so, it will be straightforward to add a tilt switch to power the lasers off when the LightRanger is in an orientation that could point the lasers away from the table surface.  Even in the prototypes, the lasers automatically switch off when the tape is retracted.  
      

Q.  "The tape measure will flex as it is extended and make the measurement less accurate."

A.  Tape flex can be an issue with the initial LightRanger prototypes, as the laser assembly at the end of the tape is bulkier than it must be.  The upcoming LightRanger Prototype Mk. III will greatly alleviate this problem through the use of a much reduced laser mounting method and the relocation of the batteries at the end of the tape.  For most standard wargaming distances, a quality medium-sized tape measure does not flex a significant amount.


Q.  "The battery life had better be good!"


A.  The initial LightRanger prototypes Mk. I and II, using CR2032 coin cell batteries, offer a measuring time of 5-10 hours of continuous laser power time.  The lasers automatically power off when the tape is retracted, so the continuous time will be consumed only when the tape is extended.  The Mk. III prototype and the final product will be powered by common and easily replaceable cells with much more capacity, such as AAAs.


Q.  "It looks like it's fragile and prone to breakage under rough treatment by gamers."

A.  Much like the question of bulk, this is primarily an issue with the prototypes.  When building test items and proofs of concept, it is important to be able to assemble them quickly and easily, as well as repair and troubleshoot them.  This leads to initial prototypes that have more fragile structures and exposed components.  This is true of prototypes of just about any electronic product.  Each successive prototype is more tightly built and less prone to break, and another central design goal for the final product is robust construction able to stand up to years of being tossed around on the game table and in backpacks and bags.


Q.  "The laser mount at the end of the tape swings back and forth and twists, moving the laser point."

A.  The Mk. I and Mk. II prototypes require batteries, mounts, and weights at the end of the tape, making the endpoint laser twist the tape when it is not being held.  However, this does not deflect the laser in the measurement axis and we've even found it to be visually useful to have the twisting laser draw more of a line than a point at the end of the tape.  With the Mk. III prototype, we will be removing the batteries from the end of the tape and making the laser mount much smaller and lighter.  This should all but remove the tape twist unless we decide to build it in as an optional function in order to provide that perpendicular line at the end of the measurement.


Q.  "Measurements with the LightRanger won't be accurate enough."

A.  In evaluating and playtesting the prototypes, we have observed measurement accuracy of approximately 1/2" - 1/4", tending toward the 1/4" side.  This will only improve with the Mk. III prototype, as we will be using a calibration jig to accurately set the laser impact points.  This is a first for these prototypes.  At the end of the day, acceptable accuracy depends on gamer and game tolerances, and if a sub-1/4" accuracy can be attained, this most likely falls within the existing measurement error margin using standard measuring tapes in practical situations at the gaming table.
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