TECHNICAL FAQ
Q01: Why is there irregular movement of the target laser dot?

DryFire uses servo motors to control the movement of the target laser dot. The servos used in DryFire are parts that were originally designed for the radio-controlled aircraft industry where high reliability and long life are very important.

Even though we believe DryFire selected the right part for this application, there will always be minor irregularities in the movement of the target laser when there is a change in direction. For example, a target rising and then falling may show an irregular movement as the vertical servo motor changes from moving upwards to moving downwards.

For the technically minded this is because of the backlash in the gears.

The effect is more pronounced in Trap layouts because the target trajectory is relatively slow in both dimensions.

Another reason for selecting the Hitec HS300/HS322 servos for the DryFire simulators was because they are readily available world-wide.

Testing

DryFire simulators are 100% tested before shipment. Both the horizontal and vertical servos are tested to ensure that the camera housing moves smoothly in both directions. They can also be tested from the File menu of the DryFire software.

Causes of Irregular Movement

There are four possible causes for irregular movement of the target laser dot:

1. Backlash inherent in servo motors. These motors move in very small increments as the controlling microprocessor sends a stream of data.
Any geared motor system has a certain amount of backlash which has to be taken up when the motor changes direction of movement. This will be most obvious when a rising target reaches the top of its flight and starts to move downwards - the vertical axis servo motor has to take up the backlash in the gears as it changes direction.
2. PC Software Problems - another program is interrupting the PC while DryFire is sending data to the simulator. This could be a background task such a PDA cradle which is continuously sending data to a serial port to check if the PDA is present. Make sure there is no other software running when you are using DryFire. Please click here to see how to determine what is running in the background and how to turn it OFF.
3. Mechanical Binding (see below).
4. Faulty Servo. Servos are consumable items and they will eventually fail. However, they are low cost items that are readily available world-wide.
Please click here to see how to change a servo.

Mechanical Binding

The photograph below shows three possible causes of binding.

1. Here it is obvious that the top of the metal bracket has been rubbing on the body of the camera housing. There should be 0.1" of clearance between the bracket and the housing.

2. This shows the location of the "flash" produced when the top camera molding is manufactured. This is normally removed during production but if it does interfere with the movement of the camera it may be removed with a sharp bladed knife.

3. The lug on the side of the camera housing fits into a hole in the camera bracket. The fitting should be free but not slack. The fitting is checked during manufacture but if binding does occur here the hole may be opened up very slightly using a round file. Note: Do not attempt to open up this hole unless absolutely necessary - too much slack will make for sloppy movement of the camera. (Replacement brackets are available from DryFire.)

Removing the Camera Housing

If it is necessary to remove the camera housing to make adjustments please follow this procedure:

1. Undo the black screw on one side of the camera bracket - the screw is very small so keep it safe for later replacement.

2. Gently ease the camera housing up off the bracket.

Warning: do not force the camera off the bracket or you will break the plastic lug on the far side of the molding. It may help to ease the camera up on the screw side and then pull off the white plastic fitting. Make a note of its orientation to the camera housing so that you can refit it accurately later.

3. Gently pull the lug on the camera housing out of the hole in the bracket.

It is not necessary to remove the cable from the camera housing - leave it in place while making any adjustments.

DryFire Binding 2

Q02: What is DryFire's policy regarding Software Development, Debugging and Support?

This document describes our approach to software development, debugging, and support.

Why does software have bugs?

Because it is horrendously complicated. There are millions of possible ways that software can be used and millions of keyboard and mouse movement combinations that could possibly happen. It is a fact of life that all non-trivial software has bugs.

DryFire software is certainly non-trivial. It is operating in "real time" to move the target spot and to detect when and where you shoot and it is communicating with a total of five separate microprocessors, so, it is fairly busy!

Why do people sell things that have faults?

No software company can guarantee bug-free software.

DryFire has done its best to test its software under as wide a range of conditions as possible - tens of thousands of shots have been taken using DryFire simulators before the product was released. There remains the possibility that you will encounter some combination of events that we have not been able to try and that combination of events may cause unexpected things (even bugs!) to happen.

Can the DryFire Software become obsolete?

Software is designed to work under certain specific conditions - a certain type of PC, a certain hardware configuration, certain peripherals (the DryFire simulator for example) and a certain operating system (Windows 95 / 98 / 2000 / ME / XP / NT4 etc.)

Software designers cannot anticipate what changes will take place in PC hardware or operating systems. Microsoft tries to make sure that any new version of Windows will run software designed for earlier versions - but this is not always the case.

So, if Microsoft introduces Windows 2012, and you upgrade to it, there is the possibility that some of your existing software, including DryFire software, will not work. It has "worn out".

The answer is simple: stick to the configuration that DryFire is designed to work with.

What is DryFire's approach to bugs?

Simple:
• We guarantee to fix any software bugs fast and for free
• We will issue new versions of our software free - we will not charge for updates or upgrades to the standard software we ship with our simulators - there will be no "DryFire 2004" for which we will charge. We may charge for new software that is not shipped as standard with our simulators.

We need your help!

We will fix all bugs but we have to be told about them.

Our first line of support we offer is through email. As a small, hard-working company, we feel that many issues can be easily addressed via email. Our vast resources available on this site are also a great tool to troubleshoot any problems you may encounter. If this still doesn't help, then there is telephone technical support available to you. Please visit our Customer Service page for more details.

Think of us as a garage repairing a car. When you take the car in, you don't say:
"It's not working."

You say:
"When I start the engine there is a funny noise coming from that large black thing just behind the radiator."

or

"When I apply the brakes the car turns to the left."

This tells the mechanic where the problem is and how to reproduce it.

Reproducing a software problem is the key to fixing it. If you can tell us what the problem is and how to make it happen we can fix it fast and have a new version to you as quickly as possible.

Don't sit and suffer

We want you to enjoy using DryFire so don't sit and suffer, don't just moan when something goes wrong - tell us about it, tell us how to make it happen and we will fix it - fast and - of course - free!

Q03: DryFire won't shoot (is it the Gun Assembly or the Camera Exposure?)

Check the following:

1) Check the Trigger Switch - with the Trigger Switch plugged into the Red Trigger Box, press and release the Trigger Switch while watching the Red LED on the bottom of the Red Trigger Box. If the Red LED flashes, the Trigger Switch is GOOD. If the Red LED doesn't flash, unplug the Trigger Switch from the Red Trigger Box. Next, use a little screwdriver and short the two (2) recessed pins in the Red Trigger Box together while watching the red LED. Don't worry when you do this, you can't hurt yourself or the Trigger Box. If the Red LED flashes, the Trigger Switch is BAD. If it doesn't flash, the Red Trigger Box is BAD.

2) Check the Red Trigger Box - if step 1 above proved your Red Trigger Box was bad, then the only thing you can do is replace the batteries. Slide the top cover off to expose the batteries. Take note that the large flat side of the batteries is touching the spring. The batteries can be ordered from the DryFire web site or you can purchase them locally. If you try to purchase them locally, you are looking for an Energizer 357 or equivalent. You will likely ned to go to a battery specialty shop to find these batteries.

After replacing the batteries, plug the Trigger Switch into the Red Trigger Box and again press and release the switch. If the Red LED flashes, the batteries were BAD. If the Red LED doesn't flash, the Red Trigger Box is BAD and you can order a replacement from the DryFire US web site.

3) Check the Muzzle Laser Insert - if you press and release the Trigger Switch and the Red LED does flash, then the next step is to see if the Muzzle Laser Insert produces a laser light. This is a little strange, because this laser produces an infrared light which is invisible to the human eye. However, in the right environment, you can see a slight flash of reddish light.

In a dark room, with the laser insert about 1/2 inch from a piece of white paper, you will be able to see a slight flash of reddish light each time you press and release the trigger. So, plug the Trigger Switch and Muzzle Laser Insert into the Red Trigger Box. Take a piece of paper and this Gun Assembly into a dark room and try it.

If you don't see any flashes, you have one of two possible problems. First, the the Red Trigger Box could be BAD, or the Muzzle Laser Insert could be BAD. So, I would suggest you call the DryFire toll free number (1-877-357-1485) and order both replacement parts. Explain to the DryFire person the trouble you are having and let them know that you will be returning, for credit, one of the two pieces. Once you have the two replacement parts in your hand it will be easy to figure out which piece is GOOD and which piece is BAD.

4) Check the DryFire Camera Exposure Setting - the easiest way to learn about the camera exposure setting is to watch the Video Tutorial (pictures and explanations) which explains this subject.

Proceed to the "DryFire Tutorials" page. When you arrive, find your Room and Camera Exposure Settings tutorial and select it to view the video.

5) Are you using a USB to Serial Port Adapter ? - if you are, this is what might be happening. Some "USB to Serial Port Adapters" do not properly emulate the "Serial Port." With some manufacturers, we have experienced the following. DryFire will release a target on the wall when you call "pull," but when you pull the trigger nothing happens. If this is your situation, click here to get a list of "USB to Serial Port Adapters" that DryFire knows work.

Q04: Why is the target quickly stopping & starting?

There will always be slight jerkiness when the target changes direction. For example, a target rising and then falling may show a slight jerkiness as the vertical servo motor changes from moving upwards to moving downwards. For the technically minded this is because the backlash in the gears needs to be taken up as it changes direction.

This effect is most pronounced with trap targets because the dot on the wall does not move much from start to finish. Trap targets rise very little and have a very small amount of movement perpendicular to the shooter. Hence a going away target shown in two dimensions does not move much relative to the shooter. Close one eye and watch a trap target on the range and you will see how little it moves RELATIVE to the shooter's eye - of course, it covers a lot of ground going away from you in that time!

DryFire is continuously sending data to the simulator when displaying the target. Anything that interrupts this stream of data will cause the target spot to stop and start erratically.

See "Q01: Why is there irregular movement of the target laser dot?" on this page for a possible hardware solution.

The problem is usually caused by some other software in the PC taking over the processor while DryFire is busy.

Examples include:

• Windows back up (writing data to hard disk): Windows will periodically back up things such as the system registry.
• Other programs may periodically back up the files you are working on - most Microsoft applications do this unless specifically told not to.
• The "Hot Synch" software for PDAs (Palm PCs etc.) will regularly check the cradle for the presence of the PDA.
• Any software using infrared communications (to mobile phones etc.) may be using a serial port internally and regularly checking for the presence of the device.

Close down all other applications before running DryFire and use "Ctrl Alt Del" to check that no other software is running that may be using the serial port or generating unpredictable backups.

Getting rid of background stuff

• Click on the Windows Start button then on Run.
• Type in "msconfig" (without the quotation marks.)
• Click on OK.
• The Microsoft Configuration utility program will show you several headings - click on the Startup heading.
• This shows all the programs loaded into your machine as soon as you turn it ON.
• Make a written note of which entries are active.
• Leave the "ScanRegistry" and "SystemsTray" entries active (if they are present).
• Make sure that all the others are NOT active - i.e. deactivate them all.
• Restart your PC and try DryFire again.
• You can use msconfig later to reactivate any entries required.

Trying another PC

Try DryFire on another PC so that you can see that it works OK. Now try another serial port on the original PC or disable any other software that may be running in the background (PDA software for example)

Q05: Pull/Release Trigger Support:

Trigger boxes supplied from March 1st, 2002 onwards are capable of acting as a "pull" trigger (shot fired when switch pressed) or "release" trigger (shot fired when switch is released.)

Checking Which Mode the Trigger Is In

There is a small RED light (referred to as an LED) which protrudes through the plastic on the bottom side of the trigger box. Watch this LED as you press the trigger switch. If the LED flashes when the switch is pressed the trigger box is in the "pull" trigger mode. If the LED flashes when the switch is released the trigger box is in the "release" trigger mode.

Selecting Release Trigger Mode

The trigger box is supplied to the customer in the "pull" trigger mode, but can be converted into the "release" trigger mode by holding the trigger switch down for approximately ten (10) seconds. You know you have held the switch down long enough when the LED turns RED and remains on. To prove you have made the conversion, press the trigger switch while watching the RED LED (it should NOT blink). Then release the trigger switch and watch to make sure it does blink.

Returning to Pull Trigger Mode

To convert back to the "pull" trigger mode it will be necessary to remove the batteries from the trigger box. But, before you remove the batteries, take note of the direction they are currently installed in the trigger box (the big flat side touching the spring). With the batteries removed and the trigger switch connected to the trigger box, depress and hold the trigger switch down while you slowly count to 30. Now, re-insert the batteries.

Existing DryFire users can purchase replacement parts at the DryFire Store.

Q06: Why is the target origin on the shooting wall too low or too high?

1) Check the bubble level on your DryFire unit to make sure it is sitting level.

2) Check the "Configuration Settings Screen" to verify that the height of the simulator and the distance from the wall are set correctly. They have a big effect on the height of the targets origin.

3) Also check that you have set "your own height" correctly in the ''User's Table." Visit the DryFire Tutorials page to learn more about the features of the User's Table. Pay close attention to the portion which deals with the setting of your height.

Q07: Why is the laser target fuzzy?

This is a lens focusing problem.

The target laser spot should be less than 7/16" in diameter. It may be slightly elongated in the vertical direction. If it is larger than this the laser lens may have slipped during shipment or use.

If you find this to be the case, contact DryFire on the toll free number 1-877-357-1485.

Q08: Known Software Issues:

About Known Software Issues

DryFire's policy is to provide free bug fixes and updates to our software. The latest versions of all our programs are available from the download page.

We test all our software before release but no software is ever perfect (ask Microsoft!) and we rely on our users telling us about any problems they may find. We then fix those problems as quickly as possible. Periodically we implement new features (or ideas suggested by DryFire users) along with fixes to any outstanding problems, and we issue a new release of the software and make it freely available on the download page.

Known Issues

There are no known software issues. Please contact us immediately if you find any problems.