Alisdair's Fencing Projects

Some Fencing projects for Arduino, ESP32, ESP8266 and 3D printing.

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MK I (lo-tech prototype and proof of concept)

Very basic functionality for accuracy training.


  • 1 x scrap piece of wood
  • some empty beer or soft drinks cans
  • nuts & bolts (one of each per can)
  • 1 x LED 
  • 1 x resistor (depends on LED)
  • 1 x capacitor (for LED persistence)
  • battery (low voltage to drive LED)
  • wire to connect the targets   
  • wire to connect to epee or other weapon (only one pin is used)


  • a few pennies (unless you include the cost of the beer)

The target is a few drinks can bases that are bolted to a board, in this case a bit of leftover melamine shelf: 

On the back face a wire connects all the bolts electrically.

A single wire connects the centre (or near) pin on an epee to the circuit.

The electric circuit comprises a battery and LED in series, and a capacitor across the LED.

The wire from the weapon connects to one leg of the LED, the other leg is connected to the battery +ve, and the battery -ve is connected to the target wire.

Pressing an epee's tip or touching with a sabre completes the circuit and lights the LED.

The capacitor means that the light dims slowly rather than just being a blink.

MK II (Arduino controlled responsive target)

Uses an Arduino to indicate a target for a short period. The faster and more accurate you are, the faster the indications and the shorter the period; make mistakes and the target slows down.

The video shows the following:

  • Startup; striking and missing the targets.
  • Serial console, showing results of strikes.
  • Target frequency shown speeded up following a string of accurate hits.
  • Reset and start.
  • Added rubber behind targets so they have a little bit of give (old pond liner).
  • Covered the bolt heads in copper (old water pipe) to protect sword tips.
  • Targets are individually addressable and have an LED indicator. LEDs are mounted below the surface of the target so they don't get damaged, and the holes are covered by old CDs so the holes are protected (the scoring areas are the beer cans, not the CDs).
  • Controlled by an Arduino and runs off a small battery.
  • There's a reset switch on the side of the control box that clears current values and restarts the system.
  • A laptop can be connected to monitor response times, period, and hit/miss on a serial console (for example using the Arduino IDE, PUTTY or similar).
  • How it works / what it does
    • At startup, all the LEDs flash to prove that they work.
    • A random LED is lit for a short period (three seconds).
      • If the correct target is hit then the next random target is selected, and the period is reduced by a small amount (50ms). Repeated accuracy results in the exercise speeding up
      • If the target is missed the white LED is lit, there's a short pause and the period is increased by 50ms. Repeated misses results in the exercise slowing down.
      • If the period times out the next random target is selected and lit for the same period. If left, the targets continually cycle at the same rate, so if coaching input is required, or a break for any reason, there's no change to the current settings.
  • Although the sketch refers to using an epee, sabres and foils can also be used. (sabre won't indicate off-target hits, and a tweak to the wiring will be needed for foils)



Download the Arduino sketch (fencing_target_MK3.ino)


All Weapons Target

Extends the previous example to provide more options on a lifelike target.
  • pattern for target if you don't want to draw your own
  • pattern is printed and glued to a board - in this case scrap flooring chipboard
  • target areas are neoprene (bits of old wet suit) covered with lame material and glued and stapled to the board. Wrapping around edges of the board means that sabre cuts can be used and monitored
  • Arduino code is similar to MKII, but with a fifth target,
  • circuit - for the LEDs it's simpler and cheaper to have one resistor on the ground lead, rather one per LED

All Weapons Fencing Scoring Box (wired)


Download STL file for 3D printing (right click and Save As)

Two pin connector for foils and sabres/sabers. No nuts and bolts, the screw down cap holds everything in place. Print in transparent PETG for a translucent connector.
Download STL file for 3D printing (right click and Save As)

Three pin connector with shroud. Although there is provision for machine screws and nuts, they aren't needed if the shroud is used. When the shroud is in position, a rod is pushed through to lock the pieces together (a bit of bent coat hanger is ideal). this gives a very strong connection and is perfect for ground wire connectons between reels and scoring boxes.
Download STL file for 3D printing (right click and Save As)

Cable Clips

Download STL file for 3D printing (right click and Save As)


Epee Tip



Download STL file for 3D printing (right click and Save As)

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