Big Frickin' Gun

Handheld Railgun Created with Arduino and a 3D Printer

Handheld Railgun

Is that thing real? It looks real. And dangerous. Maker David Wirth put together a fully functional handheld railgun in his workshop.

Stories about 3D printed guns are usually sensationalist crap, but this example is an exceptional feat of engineering.

Maker David Wirth has built a handheld railgun that fires aluminum or graphite projectiles at over 500 mph.

Perhaps inspired by the Quake video game series, this massive weapon was created using CAD software, a 3D printer, and an Arduino processor.

The amateur arms-maker detailed the construction process in an Imgur post.

handheld railgun

How does the Handheld Railgun Work?

The gun can fire aluminium or graphite projectiles at over 250 meters per second (560mph). It contains six capacitors that weigh 20 pounds and deliver over 1,800 joules of energy per shot.

In order to do this, the railgun is made up of a large electric circuit with three main parts which are a power source, two parallel rails (one positively conducting, one negatively), and a moving armature. This is unlike a regular railgun which uses gunpowder to work.

An electric current flows from the the power supply, up the positive rail, across the armature, and down the negative rail, before returning to the power supply.

A magnetic field is generated, which is directed vertically between the two rails, and the railgun’s projectile is acted upon by the Lorentz force, in the direction of the current flowing across the armature.

This weapon really does work just like a proper sized railgun, using parallel electrodes to fire an “armature” bullet.

Although the test shots are definitely not as lethal as a regular gun, the aluminum bullet still holds enough power to put a half-inch dent in his steel-backed plywood target.

For comparison, a regular military railgun can accelerate a projectile to speeds exceeding 13,000 mph in just 0.2 seconds — unlike the handheld railgun, which works at 560mph.

Below is the video of the gun test firing a graphite rod at an aluminum-backed plywood target, which Wirth speculates the bullet “probably just vaporized” before reaching the plywood.