Darts is a traditional sport, however, both technology in general and dart-specific technology have come a long way since the humble beginnings of a dart and dartboard. Some of these more advanced features include better materials for darts, laser throw lines, electronic scoreboards, and most notably, electronic dartboards.
While not quite as popular as darts played on a regular bristle dartboard, electronic dartboards have significantly grown in popularity over recent years and, in particular, dart players in USA and Asia have a preference for darts played on an electronic dartboard – cricket darts being a prime example!
To see what all the hype is, we’ll be checking out this type of dartboard in this article and giving the full overview for anyone wondering “what is an electronic dartboard”?
What Is an Electronic Dartboard
An electronic dartboard is a specialist dartboard measuring 15.5 inches in diameter that is made from a plastic casing and has a segmented section with plastic molded holes. The holes are connected to a wired receiver which transmits the score for each dart to an LCD scoreboard display.
Sounds complex right?
So just when you think bristle dartboards rule the roost, along comes a newcomer, with built-in technology and lights that are all singing and all dancing to introduce a new way to play the game of darts.
An electronic dartboard brings a new fresh introduction to darts, especially for those from an early age, and is now proving extremely popular in bars, clubs, and for homes, due mainly in part because of its ease of use, safety aspect, and the fact that it has built-in games.
An electronic dartboard, which is smaller than a normal darts board, is 15.5 inches as opposed to a standard 18-inch bristle board. The board is usually made of a plastic or resin base and covered in tiny holes that receive the soft tip darts, which are different from normal (steel-tip) darts (We will explain in detail later).
How Does an Electronic Dartboard Work
So how does this board differ from a normal board?
Firstly the obvious difference is the size, as we have already said this board is slightly smaller than a standard board, an electronic dartboard will usually have a diameter of 15.5 inches and secondly, it has a power source attached to it, which reads the darts as they hit the board. This immediately records your score on an LCD display, thus saving you to do the maths (we know not everyone can do dart maths like the pros).
So how does it do this? Well, the board is covered in tiny receptors or holes which the darts will slot into when thrown, they read the dart and transmit the score to the display, however, like anything you buy, some boards perform much more accurately than others!
when it comes to bounce out, which is when the dart bounces off the board rather than stay in. This is because the quality will not be as good in entry-level boards, though not always the case, than more expensive boards which are much more receptive to the type of darts thrown.
To summarise, electronic dartboards work with tiny receptors that are holes in the playing surface of the dartboard. These receptors are wired up and connected to an LCD display so as darts hit certain areas of the board, this sends an electronic impulse to register a score. The score is then displayed on the LCD display.
For a more interesting perspective on how an electronic dartboard works, check out the video below which opens one up and shows you the inner workings…
What Kind of Darts Should You Use for an Electronic Dartboard
The darts used on an Electronic dartboard are different from standard steel tip darts, this is to allow for the difference in the board.
Where a normal steel-tipped dart will sink into the tight bristles of a standard board, they cannot be used on an electronic board, as they would not only damage the board but due to the fact that the board is powered, would also damage the circuits and be a safety issue – especially if the dartboard is mains powered.
So to allow for the different board, special soft-tipped darts are used. These darts use all the same parts as regular darts but the tips are made from molded plastic to allow for a flexible tip.
The reason these darts are used is that the pointed flexible tips of the dart will sit into the holes on an electronic board and whilst they are sharp enough to use on the board – unlike steel-tipped darts – they are unlikely to cause any damage if they are wayward when thrown.
Read more here about why soft tip darts are safe to use.
Like the boards, these darts differ in quality, so it may well be worth becoming accustomed to them first, before planning a major outlay on them.
The other key difference in the darts is their weight. Being made from plastic makes them a lot lighter than the steel or tungsten darts and this may take some getting used to if you have only ever used standard darts and also to make amends for the weight, it may be necessary to get used to practicing the flight of the darts as they differ slightly in trajectory.
Benefits of an Electronic Dartboard.
While the traditionalists of the darts world will no doubt pour some scorn on the electronic board, there’s no doubt not only is it here to stay, but it will introduce lots more players to the game.
Pubs, clubs, and homes are now eager to get one and you can see the reasons why.
They are fun, with typically lots of games already pre-set, scoring for up to lots of players is done automatically and safer to use than throwing normal darts.
The boards can vary dramatically in price, but the range of features does too. Some of the more expensive ones have amazing visual displays and sounds and if you are playing in large groups the board keeps things moving quickly due to its inbuilt scoring and easy-to-read display feature, stopping players from waiting too long before throws.
Some have cabinets attached, which protect the area around the board but due to the fact that the darts you use are not sharp, this increases safety and because the boards are receptive to the darts, you tend not to be picking darts off the floor so much as in traditional darts.
There are so many variations of dart games built into these boards, you will never be bored and indeed it will introduce you to a whole new world of games to enjoy and serve as a great introduction to the dart world.
The main benefits of an electronic dartboard are:
- Fun for individuals and large groups
- Popular in North America and East Asia
- Safe for children
- Easy to play, no need to keep scores
- More interactive
Drawbacks of an Electronic Dartboard
Whilst Electronic dartboards are here to stay, they serve the purpose well in the darts world, but they aren’t for everyone.
The boards are more expensive than traditional boards and are smaller in size, so stepping up to a traditional board may prove more difficult if you have only thrown at an electronic one and because the darts used are lighter and not as sharp as steel-tipped ones, it will take you time to adjust to a professional board as the two do differ immensely.
Some of the boards at the cheaper end of the market might not be as receptive to the plastic darts and this could cause some frustration and not forgetting that the darts cannot be used on traditional boards and likewise you can’t use steel darts on an electronic one for obvious safety reasons.
If you want to compete at a higher level and are serious then electronic dartboards might not be for you.
The main drawbacks of an electronic dartboard are:
- Limited choice in terms of leagues and competitions
- Are not used by professional dart players
- Frequent bounce-outs
Electronic dartboards are not necessarily a new concept in the world of darts but they are certainly something that’s increased in popularity at the time of writing. A good example to use is that Google trends show more people search for an electronic dartboard than they do a bristle dartboard:
Note – the term dartboard is searched significantly more and it’s fair to assume someone searching for a regular bristle dartboard won’t specify the word ‘bristle’, still, it’s interesting to see some of the data!