When you think of auto-turrets you probably imagine something along the lines of: high tech or state-of-the-art weapon systems. You'd be right as such technology is heavily computerized and relies on computer chips processing visual information to determine wether or not to pull a trigger. In contrast: the motors and hydraulics that move the gun are fairly simple.
The goal of auto-turrets is almost always defensive. Guard an area and shoot anything that moves. They are advantageous because they don't doubt, miss or tire. Instead having soldiers patrol an area in shifts day in and day out, you can just have a turret stand there instead. There's obviously still the risk of an ally getting shot but if you place a turret somewhere you probably don't want anyone approaching it regardless. Advanced programming solves that issue though.
I'm looking for a more primitive model of auto turret.
Why Victorian specifically? Well it's because the device relies on sight, something impossible to mechanize unless you have access to electronics. You could of course make a rope activated ballistic turret, but that would be more of a boobytrap. The main purpose of an automatic turret is to take aim without human aid. Placing tiles on the ground that allow a crossbow to aim is not only excessive but impractical. A camera equipped turret you place in a hallway would be much more effective. So next case in point: photoelectric devices.
Does the Victorian-era offer the necessary materials for photoelectric sensors?
This is in essence my question right there. I want to make a primitive gun on a tripod that moves when the light source is perturbed. It might misfire if too sensitive so the mechanism will have to be tuned accordingly. It also still requires a steady supply of power.
The intentional weaknesses of the device are:
- It doesn't fire at stationary objects. The mechanisms only trigger when a light source if perturbed. Not if there is contrast. So if you stand perfectly still it won't shoot you anymore.
- If power runs out it doesn't do anything. Obviously, but you can't tell at first glance. You'll have to throw a decently large object to trigger it. You can waste its ammo this way but the gunshots will alert everyone to your presence (now all of China knows you are here).
- Standing too close to it blinds it. If you fill the frame there's no perturbation, unless you wear patterned clothing. You can also cover up the sensor or place something in front of it.
- You're safe if you go behind, under or above it. If you're guarding a hallway then maybe getting behind the turret isn't such a big deal. However, it can rotate 360 degrees then the owner might want to stay underneath the thing to not accidentally get shot.