Mini camera flash coil launcher


This coil launcher is based on a disposable camera flash system. It uses the charging system from one camera plus the the flash capacitors from four cameras. The coil is 200 turns in 10 layers wrapped around a glass tube with a 3mm inside diameter. The projectile is a 2.5mm diameter nail. It certainly isn’t as high powered as some of the systems we’ve featured, but firing at 20-25m/s it can still be dangerous.

[thanks phuzzy3d]


  1. Orwell84 says:

    Sweet jebus,
    bring on the disposable camera hacks!

  2. tiuk says:

    Now THIS is the kind of thing I come here for! Lately things have been slow, and the few hacks that have been posted I couldn’t care less about. Perhaps things are looking up, keep it up HAD.

  3. kolwon says:

    its times like this i like working at the drug store. time to make a mini nail launcher.

  4. william says:

    great hack! i love low-cost hacks like these! keep them coming! i cant wait to try this out.

  5. chris says:

    I made one of those! I murdered a little squirrel with it!

  6. bob says:

    Ive been using disposable cameras for ages with my coilgun – I use a larger, custom made slug, and a bank of 4-8 caps, depending on what slug im using and what im doing.
    There are obvious limitations, but the self-charging circuit is a BIG plus for someone like me – Im thinking of building a new coil – Ive got around 400 feet of 17ga wire left..

  7. cokebottle tuque says:

    i would like to point out that used disposable cameras can be had for free if you ask nicely at a mall camera shop or cvs

  8. -Pat says:

    I put one of these together one afternoon last summer. Nothing nearly as fancy, as I did no math for it, and I got lazy so just pulled coils off an old HDD instead of winding my own, but it works as well. The CoralCDN cache is here:
    or, if you feel like hammering my poor DSL line, you check it out here:
    The way I did (with minimal work) was real easy and quick, and while it can’t pierce skin at the moment, I’m sure that if I actually wound coils, as opposed to have a couple that are a good half-inch away from the barrel, there would be considerably more ooomph to it.

  9. Alan says:

    Very nice project. The stores are going to start to wonder why they are selling so many cameras that never come back…

  10. ez says:


  11. Superfluous says:

    that girl on the “find true love” ad has me lingering at this sight longer than i should….

  12. memodude says:

    what happened to daily links?

  13. Theblunderbuss says:

    Now THAT’s a hack!
    I think the daily links taken down because hack-a-day is running out of hacks! GASP!

  14. Lord kaio says:

    I too want daily links to come back, even if it’s just little blurbs about interesting tech/hardware stuff.

    In other news, are there any hardware hackers/pc modders in the Western PA area? I’ve been aching to do some kind of project and I’m off work until almost Thanksgiving so I’ve been trying to find someone for some creative input and collective hijinks. Hit me up with an e-mail to seanporter at if you’re interested, or even if you’re not from around here and just have some ideas.

  15. strider_mt2k says:

    That is really cool man.

    It’s a gauss gun for the common man!

    (cue “theme for the common man”)

  16. dyd2hack says:

    ive made a few of these. to get the cameras just ask at a photo development place for emptied disposable cameras needed for a[little brothers] school project on recycling or some piece of bs like that. you can desolder the capacitors from other cameras and wire them in in parellel. i took a highvoltage switch from a microwave oven and wired it in with a coil, also in parellel. it works best if you have about 1-2mm of your projectile sticking into your coil about 1-1.5 cm in lenghth. i was able to drive a nail into a block of styrfoam/my skin using 3 capacitors parellely charged. good luck and send me some feedback @
    happy building

  17. Chris says:

    Anyone got a video or pics of what one of these things can do? I’m off to find used disposable cameras tomorrow I think. :)

  18. Jacob says:

    ha make sure you discharge the capacitor before opening it up and fucking with it.

    i nearly killed myself with a flash capacitor, i was being stupid, disassembling a disposable camera.. battery out but capacitor full, i was holding the camera with my left hand and fiddling with it with my right, touched a no no piece accidentally and it sent a surge of electricity through my right arm, through my heart and back down my left arm.

    not fun.

  19. Sir Hodges says:

    Photography stores just rip the film out of disposable cameras and toss the rest into a bin, where they later send it off. They will give them away free if you ask politely, just as with empty film canisters.

  20. Sir Hodges says:

    Photography stores just rip the film out of disposable cameras and toss the rest into a bin, where they later send it off. They will give them away free if you ask politely, just as with empty film canisters.

  21. finskie says:

    Has the link been disabled?

  22. Sir Hodges says:

    As to what 18 said, I’m not sure it’s lethal. I know you don’t want to be doing it with a pacemaker, but this is relatively low current. I’ve given myself Numerous shocks in the past week or so after reading this, but aside from that moment of pain, there are no noticable side effects.
    I don’t spose anyone can test to find out the amperes this would actually put through a person? I believe it’s 40mA that is lethal, but I am not positive.

  23. roachmill says:

    I picked up a board sitting on a friends desk without knowing what it was and not only got shocked but it burned 2 holes pretty deep. I give all capacitors a wide berth now.

    Link does seem to be down. Heres Googles cached version

  24. psp005 says:

    link is back up. btw does anyone have better info for how to make this.i have 4 capacitors and a camera flash board but i need more info. please send details to me at


  25. steve says:

    just made this bored college student’s day

  26. tyler says:

    hey in response to the guy asking about how much these things put out for voltage and current; i made a stun gun out of a disposable as im sure many of you have and will be in the electronics lab tomorrow morning. ill run some tests on the discharge for you guys( and myself because i too have been shocked waaay to many times with it. haha) ill post the numbers tomorrow if i remember.

  27. chronolegion says:

    im really interested in this thing but im just 14 yrs. old i dont really understand which MOSFET and all bunch of other stuff and where i can get it.can anyone send me a guide and definitions to make a coil launcher
    PLS PLS PLS PLS PLS PLS PLS help me i really appreciate it if you can :)
    e-mail me in

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 96,369 other followers