Some folks asked about the history behind the origin of this little LabRadar Recoil sensor... So here it goes... The Story Behind the LabRadar Recoil Sensor
Some folks have asked how I came up with the idea of the LabRadar recoil sensor so I thought I would try to share the story. It’s nothing amazing but I find a little humor in how it happened and how the typical internet nonsense actually came up with something positive.
If we set the way back Machine to around October or November of 2017 (before Shot Show in early 2018) a very well known and popular long range shooting sensation was talking about performance of the LabRadar and quite critical of the product. Honest evaluations never bothered me but in the past this critic was quite enthusiastic about it and continually had the unit in photo shoots. It is a radar unit, and as such I thought the idea of tossing it around in the field was not the fairest treatment as radar units need alignment and such to perform properly and for the price point it was not a MilSpec tough piece of gear.
The bashing continued and the complaint of it not working while shooting suppressed well as well as at an indoor range came up. The microphone option was discussed as a solution a bit however while reading the online drivel I did agree the unit is not best suited for indoors due to reflections and the typical volume of rounds going downrange nearby. I honestly don’t know the spread of the unit or how tight it is so I could see it picking up others bullets if it got triggered. Knowing the indoor ranges got loud I also could agree it might be problematic getting triggered by others at neighboring bays, especially if your running a can and the guy next to you has a SBR with a brake of doom. Even at an outdoor firing line if I was using my radar with my suppressor and the guy next to me had a fat bastard brake he was going to likely set off the unit.
I kept reading comments and our Internet sensation comes up as the self-proclaimed authority and stated that it was IMPOSSIBLE for a LabRadar to work at an indoor range… PERIOD! The reason for such a blanket statement was his countless hours of experience with the unit and his knowledge of all things firearms related. The simple fact was there was no way to make this piece of junk work. Well good sir… Challenge Accepted!!!
I am not a fan of indoor ranges but I do love a suppressed long range rifle and I struggled a bit getting the unit to trigger and Doppler setting was not my favorite choice. I began looking at the microphone solution LabRadar put out and started thinking about how I would have designed the unit to accept a microphone input. I started thinking about the different sound impulses generated by different rifle reports, and that the mic was originally designed for air rifles. In addition I saw some complaints about wind triggering the units. Back then you still had to get up and press buttons on the unit to arm and disarm so having the unit at the muzzle was kind of lame if you were laying prone so I wanted to also have the unit easier to access.
After a few days of letting things stew in my wee brain I started ordering bits and pieces to bench test triggering the unit. As usual my first guess on how they designed the external trigger mechanism I overcomplicated the process, so I was pleasantly surprised it should be a fairly straightforward “fix.”
The initial ideas were to keep everything off the rifle and especially off the barrel. There was already a very good barrel mounted unit out there and I saw no need to reinvent the wheel. I tried to create a muzzle blast sensor initially which “kinda” worked but was a giant pain to set up and when you got it to function different calibers would move the sensor unless you had it anchored to the table. Sure it satisfied the indoor range requirement but it didn’t work anywhere near right for both a 223 and a 338 Lapua. After a few failed attempts of a near muzzle sensor I tossed all that stuff in the failed project box and thought about an alternate solution.
I went looking at all the miscellaneous bits I had laying around the shop for some inspiration and the recoil sensor was staring at me the whole time. Prior to this I cobbled together a fairly low cost target flasher for our local club as most of the units out there were pretty pricey and didn’t trigger as reliably as our club liked. The simple thought was “What triggers the flasher sensor?” and “what do you feel when you shoot a rifle?” and with those two questions I used the same basic idea of triggering the steel getting shot with telling the LabRadar to start pinging the bullet in flight.
I used my hobby 3D printer to put this sensor where my two round holder went and messed with a few sensors and housings to try to find a good balance for picking up recoil. It was a fairly quick process and V2.0 was the best balance I found and I have been using that prototype sensor ever since. I have had to replace the plug a few times because I picked up the rifle with it still attached and bent up the plug.
I never went back to that thread and shared the creation to demonstrate that it was in fact possible. I was satisfied for a long time knowing that the expert was mistaken and I built a widget where I could shoot my can next to a dude with loud brake and my radar unit was reliable. I used it for a few months without issue, then a couple local guys got their own LabRadar units and tried them out for their suppressors. To my surprise one of the locals started using it for their 22LR rifle and there was even more local interest. After enough local encouragement I made them available to the public on a few online groups, and not surprisingly it only took a couple months before near identical units were out there. Curious how I sold units to people in the town where the other units are sold… But that’s the nature of the beast. I still am waiting on someone to build a better mousetrap but regardless I am glad I have been able to help the community, and at the same time get a few bucks in my pocket to help me fund this shooting hobby I seem to be addicted to.
As I type this out I have to admit I am surprised there has been so much interest in these little things, and I have been pleasantly surprised on how many people have been supportive of the “idea guy” compared to the knock offs. The community in general has been great and I know making these more in mass I had a few little hiccups with cables and such but I hope I have supported everyone so they have functional units and they are for the most part happy with the end product and it is making that darn amber light go dark when you send a round.
The beginnings of the LabRadar trigger. Note the 25foot cable attached to it which was the first recoil trigger and still in my Labradar bag!