An Overview Of The Three Weapons
Common to the three weapons are all the things that connect to them: Machine, floor-cords, reels, even body-cords (if you disregard the difference in connectors). The body-cords, reels & floor-cords all contain three wires each. These wires are designated as lines A, B & C (see pictures). C invariably represents ground. After that, things go separate ways so each weapon is covered in turn below.

The Epee

The fact that there are no "off-targets" in epeemakes for pretty simple wiring. The A & B lines connect to two wires that run the length of the blade. When you press the tip you are connecting (shorting) these lines together. This closed circuit causes a corresponding valid light to actuate on the machine unless A and/or B short to C first. The C line, as previously stated, represents ground, and connects to the bell guard, blade, etc. and the strip. This is why touching guards and strips produces no effects (except for the requisite grounding lights on high end machines).

The Foil

The foil is a bit more complicated. The A line represents the lame, C is ground (Bell, blade, strip, etc.), and B is the wire that runs up the blade to the tip. B and C are shorted until the tip is depressed. Pressing the tip results in an open circuit causing a white light to actuate unless B (tip) touches A (lame) first, which causes a valid light to come on.

The Saber

The saber circuit has undergone some change in the past few years. The older method involved the use of a device known as a sensor or capteur. This device consisted of a cylinder containing a metalball and spring that attached to a special guard socket. It maintained contact between the B and C lines until the fencer struck something with the saber or even waved it in a way that caused the ball to depress the spring enough to break the connection. The circuit worked much like that of the foil: A was lame, C was ground (bell, blade, strip) and B simplyshorted to C via the capteur. If the sensors were not adjusted just right, however, (and they often weren't) you'd get off target lights which aren't used in saber. With some machines this was merely an annoying distraction, with others it could prevent the scoring of valid touches. Eventually the people who wind up making these decisions for us chose to take technology to the cutting edge of Ockham's Razor. They did away with the capteur altogether. Now if you just touch C to A you get a valid light, end of story. In my opinion this should have been the setup to begin with.

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