Make Coil Gun: Best tutorial for making a powerful coil gun

DIY Electric Coil Gun

DIY Electric Coil Gun

In this DIY : Make coil gun without camera, I will instruct you on how to make a coil gun. A coil gun is an electromagnetic projectile launcher. It’s more powerful sibling called the Rail Gun is already being tested in military applications, it is also one of the most powerful weapons in the Quake game series. Coil guns are also so powerful that they are going to be utilized in the future for launching satellites into orbit. Here , these instructions will show you how to make coil gun without camera circuit. Have fun with this DIY hacking tutorial!

So how does a coil gun work?

Coil Gun Working

Coil Gun Working

Coil gun consists of a series of conducting coils arranged along a straight line apart from each other. When current is passed through each of the coils, it induces a magnetic flux through their centres. As a ferro magnetic projectile approaches the magnetic flux lines created by the coil, it gets magnetised and hence is attracted or strongly pulled towards the centre of the coil. Thus if a series of coils are arranged in such a way that the magnetic flux of the first coil pulls the projectile towards its centre , after which that coil is switched OFF and the second coil is switched ON , which again pulls the projectile towards it; when this process is repeated through a succession of coils , the projectile reaches tremendous velocities as it gets accelerated after passing through each of the coils.

DIY Electric Coil Gun Before instructing about how to make coil gun without camera , keep in mind that it involves working with high voltages and fast  moving  projectiles, only people who know to handle them safely should make them. Also, I am not responsible for  any injuries/harm that may be caused while working on this project. Proper insulation of all contacts and terminals should be done and safety gear such as rubber gloves, shoes and safety glasses should be worn at all times.

To make coil gun without camera circuit, following materials are required :

  1. Coated magnet wire (copper wire) of 20/21 gauge.
  2. PVC pipe or other suitable pipes of 1 inch diameter.
  3. 400 V full bridge rectifiers.
  4. 100W incandescent lamp.
  5. Multimeter.
  6. Capacitors 400V , 3300uF.
  7. SCR of 50 A or more rating, I used 50RIA120.
  8. Switches.
  9. 9V battery.
  10. High gauge wires and insulation tape.

Step 1 – Preparing the coils (DIY make coil gun without camera)

DIY Electric Coil Gun

Coils for the Coil Gun

Take the PVC pipe and cut it , to get a length of 30-40cm. After that, take the insulation tape and wrap around the pipe from a distance of 1-2 inches from its end. Wrap the insulation tape above the pipe in succession until it reaches a thickness of 4-5 mm. Next do the same thing from a distance of 3-4 cm from the first wrapping.

Now take the copper wire and after leaving some slack on the beginning, start wrapping around the pipe, the wrappings are to be tight and close to each other with no gaps between them. After wrapping the first layer, cover it with insulation tape, then start wrapping on top of it for the second layer. The copper wires should be wrapped side to side in the same direction , either clockwise/anti clockwise. Repeat the process for 6-7 layers. For multiple coils, a spacing of 3 cm is required from the first coil . After preparing the coil, using sand paper sand the ends of the coil to remove the coating , to make them conducting.

Make Coil Gun

Coil Gun circuitry

Step 2- Making the capacitor charger

Camera flash circuitry and capacitors can also be used for this project, but since a large number of them are required, I found it easier to buy some high voltage capacitors and make a dedicated charger for them ;  thus making a coil gun without a camera. To make the capacitor bank charger for the 400V, 3300uF capacitors, prepare a circuit as shown in the schematic :

Make Coil gun without camera

Coil gun charger circuit

Set up the bridge rectifier as shown in the schematic , I have used a 600V D3SBA60 bridge rectifier. After looking at the marking in the rectifier wire the ac pins of the chip to live and neutral lines of your AC supply. The + and – marked pins on the chip provide the DC voltage, the positive voltage passes through a 100W incandescent bulb , acting as a high load resistor, a switch is used to toggle on/off the charging of the capacitors. When using multiple capacitors, always choose them with the same rating and connect in parallel to increase the current supplied.

Step 3- Making the coil gun circuitry

Make Coil gun without camera

Coil gun circuit

The coils on the coil gun have to be wired up based on the given schematic. Here an SCR (Silicon Controlled Rectifier) or thyristor is used to control the high voltage supplied to the coil, it acts like a switch. I am using a 50A rated stud type SCR , 50RIA120, smaller SCR’s like the TYN616 can also be used if 5 or 6 of them are connected in parallel as each provides a surge current rating of 200A. Conventional switches or relays cannot be used as it usually burns the contacts in them due to the high voltage and current.

Make Coil Gun

Coil Gun SCR

The working of an SCR is simple, when a voltage is applied to its gate via a small  battery the diode is activated and the cathode and anode can be connected to  the coil just like a normal diode. A switch that controls the gate voltage being  applied to the SCR essentially controls the current going to the coil and acts as  our trigger to the coil gun. Even if you are having a lot of capacitors hooked up    in parallel , without an SCR capable of handling high current, you will not be  able to supply the full power. High gauge copper wires should be used while  connecting the capacitors and the coils. All connections and terminals should  be properly insulated to prevent yourself from getting electrocuted  accidentally. While choosing an SCR , choose one with a high value for “Surge  Current/Itsm”. The datasheet for this SCR can be found at : SCR Datasheet .

Step 4-Projectiles and testing of coil gun

Make Coil Gun

Projectiles for the Coil Gun

Here, any ferro-magnetic material based object can be used as a projectile, usually nails and bolts. I have found using bolts to be the most effective, due to the greater surface area at their heads.
The acceleration and distance travelled by the projectile depends on the projectile you choose, usually bolts of lengths at least equal to that of the coil are used. The spacing between the bolt and the coil is also critical, effective spacing between them can only be found out by placing it inside the pipe and testing the coilgun. The airgap between the projectile and the coil should also be minimal.The video showing the testing of a projectile :

Step 5- Putting it all together

Make Coil Gun

Silicone Gun

In order to assemble all the components of the coilgun together which includes the coil    and pipe, capacitors, SCR, switch, etc and to make the whole setup look like a gun I      found a very easy way to do it. I was able to use a silicone gun ( a holding apparatus used  for silicone adhesive tubes). I took apart all the parts which were not required such as  the shaft, etc. But be careful while removing the spring as it is in high tension, remove it  carefully as it could jump off from its holding and hit you.

Assemble the pipe along the length of the gun, fix it using some hot glue or other  adhesives, arrange the SCR on the side and glue it. Tape the capacitor to the bottom of the gun and finally stick the trigger switch on the handle, wire the connections. Finally use some black spray paint to detail it. A low power magnet like those found in tiny speakers could be used at one end of the pipe , to hold the bolt or projectile in place, so that it doesn’t fall off while moving the coil gun.  The finished coil gun :

DIY Electric Coil Gun

DIY Electric Coil Gun

This coil gun was extremely powerful, it smashed my window pane accidentally while testing it. It can pierce through foam, cardboard, etc. The video showing the coil gun in action:

DIY Make coil gun without camera circuit.

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Showing 29 comments
  • cool
    Reply
  • Leon We
    Reply

    Hey ,
    I recently had a problem with the same SCR while building a coil gun. After I used the 50RIA120 just 2 times it broke. Now the resistance between gate, anode and kathode are all below 100 Ohmn. I used a 9V battery for the gate and a 200V 2200μF capacitor. Do you have any explanation for this?

  • Helen
    Reply

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  • sathya
    Reply

    hello
    i am a science group student who wants to make a coil gun for a science project
    so can u tell me the exact amount of things i need to make one pls answer fast as i have to submit this by coming wednesday (ie.13.7.16)
    thanks

  • sathya
    Reply

    hello
    i am a science student n i have planned to make a coil gun as my project for a science expo
    so pls can u specify the required amount of each material to make one
    (because this the first time i am trying to do something)
    {spl reply fast because i am running out of time}
    thanks

  • Preetam
    Reply

    Hello Friends,
    Similar but a higher configuration coil gun is up for sale for a reasonable rate.
    Shipping any where on the buyers cost.
    Genuine buyers feel free to contact @ my number 9980003972.

  • Victor
    Reply

    I tried the circuit with a single capacitor, but it’s not generating emf at all, could tell what’s the problem

  • brandon painter
    Reply

    would you make a video on how to use pi=3.14159 when making a bullet

  • Joe
    Reply

    Thanks for the entertainment.

    Considering not a transformer or fuse, you have made a lethal weapon for the unsuspecting project builder.

    The 100w bulb is merely a current limiter keeping from blowing up the capacitor.

    Speaking of capacitor, a very stern warning is needed about inserting it in backwards because it can cause an explosion.

    Let’s call a DC Power Supply a DC Power Supply. A battery is also known as a DC power source.

    Although the fascination seems to be voltage, its all about the current and energy.

    I didn’t see the wiring for the three sets of coils and the circuitry to sequence the power.

    Is the intent to stay near an AC outlet?

    Do you really need a 9V battery for a trigger when you already have a DC power source? (hint capacitor) Although it may be safer from an electrocution point of view.

    You are also assuming the trigger voltage goes to zero when the switch is open. Assumptions like this make for unreliable circuits.

  • Clayton
    Reply

    Hi just wondering what you use for a power source for your charger
    Thanks

  • Michael
    Reply

    What are the full specs on the bridge rectifier that you use ( I mostly need the actual amount of amps that runs through the circuit).

  • Isaac Guettler
    Reply

    What did you use for your trigger switch?

  • Tyshon
    Reply

    Hey I was wondering how do I necessarily hook up a AC plug to my 600 volt 60 and bridge rectifier Without blowing up my house that the most part I am concerned about And does it matter what compacitors I used I have For 330. Volt capasitors in a series is that enough and about the light bulbs do it necessarily have to be a hundred wats Can it be a lower wattage Please get back with me and thanks in advance

  • Charles
    Reply

    How do you manage the timing of the current through the coils? My understanding was that if current was still flowing when the projectile reached the center of the solenoid, then the projectile would decelerate. Most designs I’ve seen either use a single coil and rely on the decay time of the LRC circuit, or they use multiple coils and have a timing circuit or photo gate to manage the timing of the currents through each coil.

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      Hi Charles, I had the same doubt initially. But you dont have to sweat on it, the current will be supplied only for a short instance, so just adjust the gap between the projectile and the coil to account for the max acceleration.

      • Charles
        Reply

        Is that due to the trigger switch not being a true on/off switch and therefore only supplies a momentary field?

        • Arvind Sanjeev
          Reply

          Yes it is.

  • Daniel
    Reply

    I used the diagrams that you used for your coil gun, but I only used one coil, and my bridge rectifier was only 400 volts. When I tested it, the capacitor which is rated for 400 v 3300 uf was only charged up to 176 volts. Is this a problem with my capacitor, which was used and I bought it off eBay, or is it a problem with your design?

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      How much output in voltage is your charging circuit providing?

      • Daniel
        Reply

        I am using a wall outlet to charge the circuit. The charging Curtis is only charging the capacitor to around 170 volts.

    • Andres
      Reply

      Hey men, same problem here. I believe it’s because you’re charging with the effective current from your 120v ac to dc current. I believe that, in order to fix this problem, we need to make a tranformer, from 120 ac to at least 350 ac. I’m working on that, maybe I’ll upload it. However, wait for Arvind sugestion, he’s the genious here :)

  • Andres
    Reply

    Thanks for your answers, you help me a lot :D. I’m doing this for my college project, so I need it working perfectly haha.
    I have a few more questions, if you don’t mind:
    1. Is the Cathode that goues direcly to the trigger mechanism right? if yes, What cable did you used between that connection and the switch? (because I was thinking, once you activate the switch, how do you control the current to go only from capacitors, coil, and capacitors. And don’t divide teh current from the exit of the cathode between the cable that goes to the capacitor and the switch).
    2. Just o be sure, the anode goes conectet directly to the Coil right?
    4. Why the 100w bulb? Can I replace it with some kind of resistance and LED ?
    3. Is there anyway I can show you later my proyect? I would like to share it. I’m thinking about adding a few features.

    Once again thank you
    maybe I’ll have more questions, but I will do my best to not bother you that much :)

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      Hey, again:
      1.You should learn more about the SCR, its like a high current diode. Google it.
      2.Yes.
      3.Please share your project, I would love to post it :)
      4.100W bulb serves as a high wattage resistor, you wont easily find any other equivalent devices that offer such high wattage.

  • Andres
    Reply

    Hey, amazing project.

    I’m working on my own too, and I’m using yours as a guide. I’m using an SCR of 600V and 40 amps, do you think it’ll work?
    Also, How did you wire the SCR? I see you used a high gauge cable at the Anode of the SCR, but you used a regular cable for the cathode?(like, from a regular 120 V cable?)
    Do you know the Amperage that pass through the Coil?
    What cables did you used for the trigger mechanism? (what tolerance)
    And finnaly, I couldn’t find big ass capacitors like yours, so I bought 10x 400V and 330 Mf. So, EACH cable that touches a capacitor NEEDS to be 400 V and what amp tolerence?

    I’m apologize for the amount of questions, hope you answer them all. (I would be reaaally thank full)

    by the way, you have a new subscriber.

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      Hi Andres, happy to help :)
      Yes, that SCR will work.
      High gauge wires should be used on both the ends of the SCR.
      Approx 400V and < 50A flows through the coils. For the trigger a small 9V signal will work, so normal DC wires will work. Get two-core high gauge wires (of max possible rating) for connections.

  • ravi teja
    Reply

    can you tell me the capacitance of each capacitor

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      Hey, its specified in the list of materials: 330V, 3300 uF on the tutorial.

  • Karthik
    Reply

    Suggestion about including a search bar in the site :)

    I would also like to get the tutorial about the quadcopter .cant find it

    • Arvind Sanjeev
      Reply

      Hello Karthik, thanks a lot for the tip. I am currently working on the post for the quadrotor, it requires a bit more work, I’ll keep you posted if you subscribe to DIY Hacking :)

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