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How to Build Custom Gun Sights

3,889 ThomasRoderick  5 months ago

Good (* insert local time zone here *), ladies, gentlemen, boats, planes, cars, and trains! This is Thomas Roderick, and welcome to GAGT 172: Introduction to Custom Gunsight Construction!
I never imagined that today, me, someone could never dream to reach the greatness of those before me, is going to lead another generation of builders down the path to greatness (or damnation, I don’t know, I don’t care); yet here I am, standing on the (metaphorical) podium, teaching you guys. Also, I noticed there are a few people of much higher grade than I do – don’t be ashamed, I knew that you guys are only here because you are trying out something new, which I encourage, and also because I probably (read: am pretty sure) will learn more from you guys than you can ever learn from me. Now let’s roll.

Chapter 1: The Iron Without

  • First, let’s think about what works and what doesn’t as the housing for the gun sight.

    1. Remember the axioms you guys have learnt from ASCT 163: Introduction to Cockpit Construction: you can always see through a normal block as if it does not exist as long as the viewpoint is within the block.

    2. Also remember the exceptions: the intakes and the hollow fuselage. They are hollow cylinders that can be looked through as long as the viewpoint are within the cylinder. For this semester, we’re going to assume that the viewpoint is centered in the fuselage.

    3. Many other parts behave like blocks in the way just described. Engines are a notable exception: they have a lot of moving parts and each is a separate entity, so you cannot really put your viewpoint in one and expect to look out of it.

    4. Always remember that other parts should not be obstructing your field of view: what good is a camera for if it is pointing straight at wall two inches away from it? And now we are back to the first point: if you really need to put something on the sight for details, make sure the viewpoint is INSIDE the object as well.

Chapter 2: The All-Seeing Eye

  • Now let’s talk about the most important part of the custom gun sight: the ever-present camera.

    1. Remember the settings: most importantly, the auto-center and auto-orient functions. The auto-center function is THE most important function, as without it, you can no longer aim at anything if you accidentally moved the camera angel when aiming. We’ll talk about why we would need the auto-orient function later.

    2. Now, we’ll make the simplest gun sight: a camera, a fuselage block with dimensions 0.25 x 0.25 x 0.25, and a fuselage block tapered towards one end. And voila! A brand new gun sight ready for action!



    3. Now look at the first picture again: why is rise of the block -1? Or in other words, why is the distance between the apparent center of the reticle and the base of the camera 1? The answer is simple: that’s what the camera does. The viewpoint of the camera is ALWAYS 1 “block unit” away from the base of the camera, pointing from the base to the body of the camera.



    4. Many might get confused when they started to nudge the parts around: didn’t we just talk about the distance between the base of the camera and the viewpoint being 1 “block unit”? Why is the distance between the two now 0.5 “nudge units” away? The answer lies in how the units are defined: a “block length” is 0.5 meters. Or in other words, the “nudge unit” is one meter long. This can be seen if you upload a plane composed of nothing but a single cockpit block: a cockpit block is sized 1 x 1 x 1 blocks, and when expressed in meters, it is 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5.





    5. So now, with these in mind, we conclude: the viewpoint of the camera is 1 block away from the surface it is mounted on, which is equivalent to 0.5 “nudge units”, or meters.

Chapter 3: The Beauty Within

  • With the most basic concepts in mind, we shall go on to the next topic: aiming reticles.

    1. What purpose does an aiming reticle serve? Well, for the most basic, it points out where your weapons are pointed at. And aside from it, it is also some nice detailing to have when making your builds more awesome. Of course, we aren’t talking about making historically accurate gun sights as of yet– that will be subjects of later semesters (and way beyond me or even my computer), but having something to help aiming your turret mounted Twin-linked-Mega-Snazz-Dakka-Shoota is going to help a lot when you also need your cockpit to be pointing at another direction.

    2. For the “pointing at” part, we mean “accurately pointing out where the weapons are pointing at”, so we now need a crosshair. For the previous examples, the orange fuselage block IS the crosshair, but for most of the time, having a honking two-foot-long needle in the middle and nothing else would look rather bland. For this, we’ll need other parts – pretty much everything would help, as long as it helps you aim. Here comes our next point.

    3. Now we need to pick what works best as the reticle. Remember what we’ve just talked about: something to aim with. For this, we have a few choices. The first will be the ever-present fuselage blocks. Like we just talked about, a needle-shaped block is all you need to point out whoever’s dat git that needs a good krumpin’ (sorry for the Orkish). However, things might get a bit bland with just needles and crosses (as it was on WWII or earlier). Then you get the hollow fuselages, which might be good if you are trying to give the ring-shaped “AA gun” vibe, and might also be a major part of the housing for the gun sight if you remembered what I’ve talked about in earlier chapters. Then we get the more “outlandish” ones, using parts never meant to be anywhere around a camera as an aiming reticle - pretty much everything can be part of your reticle if you're creative enough. One of the better ones to work with are the RCN nozzles. For reasons beyond me, the RCN nozzles can be looked through when viewed from behind, leaving a nice broken octagonal ring behind. All these can be used to “spice up” your gun sight so that it would give a proper “aiming reticle” feel. That said, all of those things would only stand out in the day hours. In the night, all of them will be practically useless. We’ll need something glowy to help in the dark. I’m not saying the previous ones would be discarded – they are probably going to show up anyways, if just as decorations and detailing for aesthetics, so why not making them part of the reticle as well?



    4. Lights and scopes. In the previous class, we talked about needing something glowy for nighttime operations, and what glows unfailingly? The good ol’ beacon light. We’ll work with them a lot later on. When opening the XML editor on the beacon light, what do you see? There’s function called showHalo. Turn it off by changing the true behind it to false. This way, when we turn on the lights, we’ll get the lights turned on but not having weird lights glowing all around your scope. With beacon lights, we can take aim at our enemies regardless whether it’s day or night. (This particular design is a random example of a gun scope I made within a few minutes; we’ll make something like this in the next chapter.)






Chapter 4: Die Waffen! Legt An!

  • Now, with all these in mind, let’s make our first gun sight. This gun sight is designed to be mounted upright, similar to how an ACOG sight is mounted on a picatinny rail.

    1. For simplicity, our gun sight would only have one fuselage-type block, a hollow fuselage. Make it 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5.


    2. Now we attach the camera. Make sure to turn Auto Center on. We don’t need to care about the Auto Orient function as of now, although I’ll turn it off just to be safe.


    3. Now comes the main part: the beacon light. Be notified that there are only six points of attachment on hollow fuselage. The top one is occupied by the camera, the bottom one is where the sight is connected to the plane. We won’t use the two side attachment points, and the back one can be used for further detailing. We’ll now use the front attachment only.


    4. Make sure the Show Halo function is turned to false, and make sure that the activation group is set to all.



    5. Rotate the beacon light back to 0 degrees on all three axes.


    6. Now we XML the light with scale 0.125 x 1 x 0.125. The primary parts of the gun sight will be a few beacon lights.

    7. Nudge the light back, rotate the light counterclockwise, and nudge the light to the right.

    8. Mirror the part using the Mirror Part function. With this, we get an infinite supply of beacon lights connected to the front attachment point of our fuselage block.


    9. Nudge the new beacon light into the middle of fuselage, and rotate it forward by 90 degrees. We’ll make the “lens” of the scope with this beacon light.


    10. XML the aforementioned beacon light to scale 2.5 x 3.5 x 2.5.


    11. Attach an RCN nozzle to the back of the hollow fuselage. We’ll make it the front of the scope, as well as making that nice broken octagonal ring with it.


    12. Make sure that the RCN is never going to fire again. Do so by making its activation group an integer larger than 8.


    13. Nudge the beacon light “lens” back and rotate the RCN nozzle so that it now faces the front. Nudge the RCN nozzle so that it is now actually in the front of the hollow fuselage.



    14. Rotate the RCN nozzle to angles x = 78.75, y = 90, z = 90. This is done so that the ring is now “upright”. You can skip the step if you aren’t as much of an OCD as I am.


    15. Slightly nudge back the camera. This allows the beacon lights to be slightly further away from the viewpoint so that they won't obstructing the view too much.

    16. Notice the y-coordinate of the center of the hollow fuselage. In this case, both the “lens” and the RCN nozzle have the same y-coordinate as the fuselage, 8.0957.

    17. Nudge the camera down so that its y-coordinate is exactly 7.5957, 0.5 less than 8.0957, for the reason we’ve talked about in earlier chapters.


    18. We now zoom into the gun sight, and assemble the crosshair. For this one, let’s just make one with one needle in the middle and two needles on the side.


    19. Set the thickness of the hollow fuselage to 10%. (only done so that the sight housing fully encloses the viewpoint so that it gives a full “scope” vibe)


    20. Now we have a working guns sight to help aim our guns! And if you don’t want the scope to glow in the dark, change the settings on the “lens” so that either its activation group and/or the input to gabled mess so that it won’t light up.






Chapter 5: …And Knowing Is Half the Battle

  • With our finished scope at hand, we can talk about some interesting trivia not covered by previous chapters.

    1. To make a good scope/sight, the best choice to have as the base is actually the fuselage intake. Why? Because there’s only one fixed attach point on the intake, which is in the back, and there are quite a few things you can stuff on the front side of it without “using up” the connection points. Also, with another block further back, you can mount even more things on it, for better detailing.

    2. The scope-shaped gun sight is but one of the more simplistic examples to make a gun sight. Something like a “standard” fuselage block would also work nicely if you don’t actually need anything around your viewpoint.

    3. It seems that as if you attached anything to a “centerline” attach point and then mirror the (nudged) object with the attachment point in the middle, both objects are connected to the point. Good for making complex scopes and sights.

    4. In earlier chapters, we talked about the Auto Orient setting on the camera. What role does it serve? Well, although the gun sight we just built is designed to be mounted upright, sometimes we don’t have enough space under our gun sight for that 1 “block unit” distance. If we rotate the assembly now, the viewpoint is rotated as well – or in other words, “AHHHH!!! My Neck!!!”. This is where our auto-orient comes into play: when our gun sight is mounted on the side, or even on the bottom side of the turret, we can aim at our target as if the camera is still upright. However, we need to remember that the rotate angle of the sight cannot be 90 degrees straight up or down (respective of the mathematical plane your cockpit is residing on) unless you wish weird things to happen and you get a massive headache from the stuff blinking around, though any angle larger or smaller would be okay.





Meta, and Thanks for Reading!

  • I have no idea why I wrote something as if I’m an instructor of sorts. I’m just a college student with zero experience in teaching – hell, I cannot even speak in front of more than five people without stressing myself out, so I have around zero idea on why or how I managed to write this.
  • This guideline is basic, and when I say it, I mean it. I’m pretty sure most people here know way more than I do on what and how to build working gun sights, and I’m but a learner here. The reason why I made this was due to Treadmill103 said in one of his many majestic builds that he didn’t quite find a way to make a gun sight.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is done so that I can remember how to build more gun sights. It was said that to best remember something, try teaching it to others. I guess that's what I just did.

The set I used for demonstration

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    @TomekHellFire Well, as long as you have 0.5 meters/nudge units to spare it should be fine...

    +1 2 months ago
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    I wish there was an ability to remove the 1-block view offset from the camera blocks. I believe that SR2 actually has this feature, and i ALWAYS turned the view offset off, since i can actually know which way the camera is facing so i don't have to trial and error the nudge options. Another thing i hate is that camera blocks "poke out" too much and look way uglier than the orbit camera (SP part description said that orbit camera is "ugly"), so i wish there way an ability to choose if the camera was hidden in flight mode or not (applies to both cameras).

    +1 2 months ago
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    @11qazxc Thanks!

    3 months ago
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    Lol it’s only a few points no need. Also this was quite helpful. @ThomasRoderick

    +1 3 months ago
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    @Alta2809 Thanks?

    3 months ago
  • Profile image
    2,288 Perfectron


    +1 4 months ago
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    @Perfectron Thanks!

    4 months ago
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    115k MAHADI

    @ThomasRoderick The Cat Baron from Studio Ghibli animation films, the real Cat Baron, XD

    +1 5 months ago
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    @MAHADI Glad to see Plats trying out new styles! Also, who is your gravatar?

    5 months ago
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    115k MAHADI

    @ThomasRoderick XD! maybe
    didn't make one like that in a long time
    currently focused on a bit realistic builds

    +1 5 months ago
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    @MAHADI As in "random colors jutting out of every angle perceivable from anywhere that fits and anywhere that doesn't"

    5 months ago
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    115k MAHADI

    @ThomasRoderick fireworks?

    5 months ago
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    @MAHADI Thanks! Tutorials are meant to be used, and that's why I said "I noticed there are a few people of much higher grade than I do". Also, wait, isn't this the one who built planes that look like fireworks and make people see sounds and taste color?

    5 months ago
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    115k MAHADI

    this is will become helpful in the future...

    5 months ago
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    @nadvgia Thanks!

    5 months ago
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    @tylerdeveneuxmusic Thanks!

    +1 5 months ago
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    @EliteArsenals24 Thanks, and thanks again.

    +1 5 months ago
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    @NakAk Thanks!

    5 months ago
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    Nice tutorial.

    +1 5 months ago
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    @AstleyIndustries Thanks Astley!

    5 months ago
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    @Ryn176 Thanks!

    +1 5 months ago
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    @SkyHunt3r107 Thanks!

    5 months ago
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    @CookieCrumz Thanks!

    5 months ago
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    @Chancey21 Pardon me, but what do you mean? I'm not in the Department of Memetics, so I have around zero idea on what that meme is supposed to be.

    5 months ago
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    63.0k Chancey21

    L O N G F O R U M

    +3 5 months ago
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