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How to Make a Coilgun Using an Arduino Nano and 3D Printing

Using the power of magnets and thinkness (and 3D printing and Arduino), one crazy kid created a crazy coilgun without massive capacitors. 

If you’ve ever picked up a joypad and played a video game, then chances are high you’ve fired a coilgun (or something like it). Essentially, it’s a weapon that fires projectiles using the power of electromagnetic propulsion.

Yeah, right, it’s the stuff of science-fiction schlock. OR IS IT?

One enterprising maker has created a genuine, functional coilgun of his very own. And he did it through the power of an Arduino nano and 3D printing. According to the project description from Instructables member “miroslavus”:

“Coilgun is like a slingshot from the future. Whilst it’s kind of useless it’s a lot of fun to play with. I’m going to show you how to build one without using huge and expensive capacitors. My design powers coils directly from batteries and yes I mean coils since you can add as many as you want to make it more or less powerful.”

How did he do it exactly? He wrapped two sets of coils around custom 3D printed base structures, and then paired them up with an Arduino Nano for control. The result is a coilgun capable of propelling steel fast enough to dent a piece of wood.

When fired, a photodiode at the end of each electromagnet coil sends a signal to the Arduino. This, in turn, shuts off the coil, allowing it freely escape the barrel. See it in action in the video below:

CRAZY Coilgun Without Massive Capacitors (Whatever Those Are)

As noted in the Instructables write-up and video, the coilgun is made without large capacitors. Which is just as well, because using large capacitors can be expensive and dangerous.

Instead, miroslavus combined a pair of LiPo battery packs to produce around 22 volts. In theory, increasing the number of packs and coils would produce an even more powerful device.

Rather than causing wanton destruction, however, the maker is more concerned with aesthetics. For the next phase of the project, he plans to design and 3D print a fancy case.

“For now ,” he says, “my coilgun is taped to a scrap piece of wood but hey, it works.”

Needless to say, best not try this at home. We’ll stick to playing video games, thanks.


License: The text of "How to Make a Coilgun Using an Arduino Nano and 3D Printing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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