A shot into the future: a do-it-yourself Gaussian gun

Possessing a weapon that can only be found in computer games only in the laboratory of a mad scientist or near a temporary portal to the future is cool. To watch how people indifferent to technology involuntarily fix their gaze on the device, and avid gamers hastily pick up their jaw - it’s worth spending a day to assemble a Gauss gun.

As usual, we decided to start with the simplest design - a single-coil induction gun. The experiments with multi-stage acceleration of the projectile were left to experienced electronics engineers who were able to build a complex switching system using powerful thyristors and precisely configure the moments of sequential switching on of coils. Instead, we focused on the possibility of preparing dishes from universally available ingredients. So, in order to build a Gaussian cannon, you will first have to go shopping. In the radio store you need to buy several capacitors with a voltage of 350-400 V and a total capacity of 1000-2000 microfarads, an enameled copper wire with a diameter of 0.8 mm, battery compartments for the Krona and two 1.5-volt batteries of type C, a toggle switch and a button. In photo products we’ll take five Kodak disposable cameras, in auto parts - the simplest four-pin relay from the Lada, in “products” - a pack of straws for cocktails, and in “toys” - a plastic gun, an automatic machine, a shotgun, a gun or any other gun that you want to turn into a weapon of the future.

X-ray gun Gauss

Shake on the mustache

The main power element of our gun is an inductor. With its manufacture, it is worth starting the assembly of the gun. Take a 30 mm length of straw and two large washers (plastic or cardboard), assemble the bobbin from them with the screw and nut. Start winding the enameled wire gently on it, turn to turn (with a large diameter of the wire, this is quite simple). Be careful, do not allow sharp bends of the wire, do not damage the insulation. After finishing the first layer, fill it with superglue and start winding the next one. Do this with each layer. In total, 12 layers need to be wound. Then you can disassemble the reel, remove the washers and put the reel on a long straw, which will serve as the barrel. One end of the straw should be drowned out. It is easy to check the finished coil by connecting it to a 9-volt battery: if it holds the paper clip on it, then you have succeeded. You can insert a straw into the coil and test it in the role of a solenoid: it must actively draw a piece of paper clip into itself, and when pulsed, even throw it out of the barrel by 20-30 cm.

Multi-stage power Once mastered with a simple single-coil scheme, you can test your strengths in building a multi-stage gun - after all, this is what a real Gauss gun should be like. Thyristors (high-power controlled diodes) are ideally suited as a switching element for low-voltage circuits (hundreds of volts), and for controlled high-voltage (thousands of volts) - controlled spark gaps. The signal to the control electrodes of the thyristors or arresters will be sent by the projectile itself, flying past the photocells installed in the barrel between the coils. The moment of shutdown of each coil will entirely depend on the capacitor supplying it. Be careful: an excess increase in the capacitance of the capacitor at a given impedance of the coil can lead to an increase in the pulse duration. In turn, this can lead to the fact that after the projectile passes through the center of the solenoid, the coil will remain on and slow down the movement of the projectile. An oscilloscope will help to track and optimize the moments of turning on and off each coil in detail, and also to measure the speed of the projectile.

Dissecting Values

A capacitor bank is ideally suited for the formation of a powerful electric pulse (in this opinion, we agree with the creators of the most powerful laboratory railguns). Capacitors are good not only for their high energy intensity, but also for the ability to transfer all energy in a very short time before the projectile reaches the center of the coil. However, the capacitors must somehow be charged. Fortunately, the charger we need is in any camera: a capacitor is used there to form a high-voltage pulse for the ignition electrode of the flash. Disposable cameras are best suited to us, because the capacitor and “charging” are the only electrical components that they have, which means getting a charging circuit out of them is as easy as shelling pears.

Quake railgun The famous railgun from Quake games by a large margin ranks first in our ranking. For many years, masterly possession of the "rail" distinguished advanced players: weapons require accurate accuracy, but if hit, a high-speed projectile literally tears the enemy to pieces.

Disassembling a disposable camera is the stage at which you should begin to exercise caution. When opening the case, try not to touch the elements of the electric circuit: the capacitor can retain charge for a long time. Having gained access to the capacitor, first close its terminals with a screwdriver with a handle made of dielectric. Only then can you touch the board without fear of getting an electric shock. Remove the brackets for the battery from the charging circuit, unsolder the capacitor, solder the jumper to the contacts of the charge button - we will no longer need it. Prepare at least five charge cards this way. Pay attention to the location of the conductive tracks on the board: you can connect to the same circuit elements in different places.

STALKER Gauss gun A sniper gun from the exclusion zone receives a second prize for realism: an electromagnetic accelerator made on the basis of the LR-300 rifle sparkles with numerous coils, characteristically buzzes when charging capacitors and strikes the enemy to death at enormous distances. The source of power is the "Flash" artifact.

Setting priorities

The selection of capacitors is a compromise between the energy of the shot and the charging time of the gun. We settled on four capacitors of 470 microfarads (400 V) connected in parallel. Before each shot, we wait for about a minute for the LEDs on the charging circuits to report that the voltage in the capacitors has reached the position of 330 V. The charge process can be accelerated by connecting several 3-volt battery compartments to the charging circuits in parallel. However, it should be borne in mind that powerful "C" batteries have excess current for weak camera circuits. In order for the transistors on the boards to not burn out, for each 3-volt assembly, there should be 3-5 charging circuits connected in parallel. On our gun, only one battery compartment is connected to the “charges”. All others serve as reserve stores.

Location of contacts on the charging circuit of a Kodak disposable camera. Pay attention to the location of the conductive tracks: each wire of the circuit can be soldered to the board in several convenient places.

Defining security zones

We will not advise anyone to hold a button under the finger that discharges the battery of 400-volt capacitors. To control the descent, it is better to install a relay. Its control circuit is connected to the 9-volt battery via the shutter button, and the controlled circuit is connected to the circuit between the coil and capacitors. Correctly assemble the gun will help the circuit diagram. When assembling a high-voltage circuit, use a wire with a cross section of at least a millimeter, any thin wires are suitable for the charging and control circuits. When experimenting with a circuit, remember: capacitors can have a residual charge. Discharge them by shorting them before touching them.

Command & conquer 3: tiberium wars railgun In one of the most popular strategy games, the foot soldiers of the Global Security Council (GDI) are equipped with powerful anti-tank railguns. In addition, railgans are installed on GDI tanks as an upgrade. In terms of danger, such a tank is about the same as a Star Destroyer in Star Wars.

To summarize

The shooting process looks like this: turn on the power toggle switch; we wait for the bright glow of the LEDs; lower the projectile into the barrel so that it is slightly behind the coil; turn off the power so that when fired, the batteries do not take energy away; take aim and press the shutter button. The result largely depends on the mass of the projectile. With the help of a short nail with a bitten off hat, we managed to shoot a can of energy drink that exploded and flooded the fountain with the editorial board. Then the cannon, cleaned of sticky soda, launched a nail into the wall from a distance of fifty meters. And the hearts of fans of science fiction and computer games amaze our gun without any shells.

Ogame Gauss cannon Ogame is a multi-player space strategy in which the player will feel like an emperor of planetary systems and wage intergalactic wars with the same living opponents. Ogame is translated into 16 languages, including Russian. The Gauss Cannon is one of the most powerful defensive weapons in the game.

The article “Shot into the Future” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 8, August 2008).

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