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People Pleasers - Austin Musselman

Electronic Bristle Dartboard - Sir Winston

1998 - Over the last 15 years, Austin Musselman, and his small group of Houston engineers at People Pleasers, Inc., have worked to develop a automatic-scoring dart board, for steel-pointed darts. The end result of their effort is the patented coin-operated Sir Winston electronic darts machine that uses a standard bristle dartboard.

At January's $13,000 Bluebonnet Classic (Sponsored by Rick's Darts & Games) a dart machine was set up for the darters to try, and Musselman discussed its development with CyberDarts Editor Rick Osgood.

Musselman used to own & operate a route of Soft-Tip machines, and he saw that there was a need for a similar machine that would work with any dart. As a soft-tip operator, he also became familiar with the technology, and drawbacks, of an impact-sensing dartboard.

Unlike the steel-tip machine that TOPS used to market in the USA, a standard bristle dartboard is used... no graphite on your hands!

Instead, an fixed array of tiny laser emitters scan across the face of the dart board, locating any obstructions, a dart for instance!

The light beams are completely safe, and invisible to the eye. Despite the high-tech involved, the price is comparable to other commercial darts (soft-tip) machines. With no moving parts, and an easily available dartboard, maintenance should be very minimal... a distinct change from some of the soft-tip machines in bars.

Also, since the system is optical, the composition of the dart doesn't matter.. you can use either Steel or Soft-Tip darts! Any legal weight dart can be used, subject only to your darts league rules.

The detectors and software have been fined-tuned to give an accuracy level of better than 95%, and an easy method is provided for any needed corrections. For a while at the tournament hotel site, stray light from two nearby wall-hung crystal chandeliers degraded scoring performance a bit, but that would not generally be a problem in typical bar installations.

Many darters at the Bluebonnet Classic Darts Tournament took the opportunity to try the game, and most found that the machine was reasonably accurate and simple to use. A tutorial is built into the software, and instructions are displayed on the video monitor. The crew from People Pleasers took suggestions from the crowd seriously, and some new ideas are going to be incorporated into the software.

We are sorry to report that as of 1998 People Pleasers has discontinued the manufacturing of the Sir Winston.