A common complaint in the comments of many a Hackaday project is: Why did they use a microcontroller? It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback someone else’s design, but it’s rare to see the OP come back and actually prove that a microcontroller was the best choice. So when [GreatScott] rebuilt his recent DIY coil gun with discrete logic, we just had to get the word out.
You’ll recall from the original build that [GreatScott] was not attempting to build a brick-wall blasting electromagnetic rifle. His build was more about exploring the concepts and working up a viable control mechanism for a small coil gun, and as such he chose an Arduino to rapidly prototype his control circuit. But when taken to task for that design choice, he rose to the challenge and designed a controller using discrete NAND and NOR gates, some RS latches, and a couple of comparators. The basic control circuit was simple, but too simple for safety — a projectile stuck in the barrel could leave a coil energized indefinitely, leading to damage. What took a line of code in the Arduino sketch to fix required an additional comparator stage and an RC network to build a timer to deenergize the coil automatically. In the end the breadboarded circuit did the job, but implementing it would have required twice the space of the Arduino while offering none of the flexibility.
Not every project deserves an Arduino, and sometimes it’s pretty clear the builder either took the easy way out or was using the only trick in his or her book. Hats off to [GreatScott] for not only having the guts to justify his design, but also proving that he has the discrete logic chops to pull it off.
Continue reading “DIY Coil Gun Redux: Life Really is Easier with Arduino”
There’s something attractive about coil guns, especially big ones. It’s probably the danger; between the charge stored in banks of capacitors and the flying projectiles, big coil guns can be lethal to experiment with. But there is a lot to be learned from how coil guns work, especially if you build this 3D-printed entry-level coil gun.
For the coil gun newbie, [Great Scott] does a fantastic job of explaining the basics. Pulsing the coil at just the right time will suck a ferromagnetic projectile into the coil core and let momentum fling it out, and multiple coils used correclty improve performance.
His gun is a simple pistol design with two coils, optical sensors to tell when the projectile is centered in each coil, and an Arduino to coordinate everything. The results are not spectacular — he uses only a modest amount of current — but the gun still works. [Great Scott] points out how a capacitor bank could be used to increase the current, but for the sake of keeping it simple he leaves that as an exercise for the builder.
Many coil gun and rail gun builds have made it to our pages over the years, including his ridiculously powerful gun that uses a capacitor bank so large it needs its own car. We like this build for its simplicity, its approachability, and the excellent explanation of its function.
Continue reading “Coil Gun for Newbies: Learning Electromagnetic Propulsion”
At frustratingly regular intervals, the debate around gun control crops up, and every time there is a discussion about smart guns. The general idea is to have a gun that will not fire unless authenticated and authorized. There’s usually a story about a young person who invents a smart controller and another company that is struggling because they just can’t get “Big Guns” to buy into the idea. We aren’t going to focus on the politics; we’re going to look at whether the technology is realistic, and why a lot of the news stories about new tech never pan out.
Let’s start with an example of modern technology creeping into established machines: the car. These are giant hunks of metal with nearly constant explosions, controlled by sophisticated electronics that are getting smarter and more connected every day. Industry is adopting it with alacrity, and the vehicles are getting more efficient and powerful because of it. So why can’t firearms?
Continue reading “Firearm Tech – Are Smart Guns Even Realistic?”
The heroes of action films always make it look so easy. Need to climb a tall building? Simply fire a grapnel hook from a handy harpoon gun, it’ll always land exactly where you want it and gain a perfect purchase so you can shin up the rope and arrive at the top barely having raised a sweat. If Hackaday ran Q Branch, we can tell you, we’d make ’em work a bit harder. If only because nobody likes a smartass.
If you’ve ever had to get a real line over something tall, you’ll know it’s a lot more difficult than that. You can only make it work with the lightest of lines that you can then use to pull up something more substantial, and you would be amazed how poor a thrower you are when you’re trying to throw upwards. Try attaching fishing line to a weight, try a bow and arrow, and nine times out of ten you won’t make it. There’s a serious amount of skill and luck involved in this line-throwing game.
[WB5CXC] has an interesting solution to this problem, at least as far as the application of throwing antenna wires over tall obstacles. He’s made a spud gun from PVC pipe, powered by compressed air. It takes the form of a U-shaped tube with one side of the U being a pressure vessel separated from the other by a ball valve.. Place a close-fitting puck with your wire attached in the open side with the valve closed, pump the pressure vessel full of air with a bicycle pump, and open the valve to send both puck and wire skywards. He says it will clear 100′ trees, counsels the user not to go higher than 100psi, and warns that the speeding puck can be dangerous. We like it already.
We’ve covered many spud guns here at Hackaday in the past, but it seems this is the first wire launching one. We’ve had a steam one for example, or this bolt-action spud gun, but pride of place has to go to the spud gun to end all spud guns.
There’s a war on, and while this over-the-top water blaster is certainly an escalation in the Water Wars arms race, that’s not the war we’re referring to. We’re talking about the Documentation War. Hackers, you’re on notice.
If you want to see how a project should be documented, look no further than [Tim]’s forum posts over at WaterWar.net. From the insanely detailed BOM with catalog numbers and links to supplier websites, to scads of build photos with part number callouts, to the finely detailed build instructions, [Tim] has raised the stakes for anyone that documents any kind of build.
And that’s not even touching on the merits of the blaster itself, which has air and water tanks plumbed with every conceivable valve and fitting. There’s even an inline stream straightener made of bundled soda straws to keep the flow as laminar as possible. It looks like [Tim] and his colleagues are obsessed with launching streams of water as far as possible, and although bad weather has prevented an official measurement so far, from the video below it sure looks like he’s covering a huge distance with a stream that stays mostly intact to deliver the full blast to its intended target without losing a drop.
For as much fun as amped-up water guns appear to be, we haven’t seen too many grace these pages before. Going way back we covered a DIY super-soaker. For something much less involved than [Tim’s] masterpiece, you can pull together this pressurized water pistol in an afternoon.
Continue reading “Brutal Water Cannon Defeats Summer Heat; Kills it on Documentation”
A few months ago, we caught wind of someone doing something remarkable. [Clinton Westwood] built a pistol from plans he found on the Internet. You can find plans to build anything on the web, from houses to four-stroke engines to perpetual motion machines. Most of the time these plans are incomplete and many of these devices have never been built at all. [Clinton]’s pistol was one of these never-built designs. After months of work, he’s ready to call this project done, and managed to build an awesome rig to rifle the barrel.
Before [Clinton] set out to build this gun from scratch, the only other example these plans could build a gun-shaped object were a few terrible pictures of what appears to be a gun that was thrown into a garbage disposal, then into a creek, then forgotten for several years. There is a distinct lack of workmanship in this one exemplar, but [Clinton]’s attempt at replication is far more professional.
Although this gun is designed to be built using simple tools, there is one aspect of amateur gunsmithing that requires some specialized equipment. The barrel must be rifled if you want any accuracy at all, and for this [Clinton] has come up with a very simple jig made out of a broken bicycle and some threaded rod.
If homebrew gunsmithery is your thing, but you’re looking for something with a little more punch than a .25 ACP, you can beat plowshares into an AK-47. All hail the shovel AK, defender of the motherland and digger of holes.
At Hackaday we think that hackers have the power to make the world a better place with their builds. This air-powered cheesy-poof rifle is not one of those builds, unless making the world a little more fun and slightly messier makes it a better place.
The principle of [NightHawkInLight]’s design is simple – an electric leaf blower provides the power, and a big vat o’ poofs provides the ammo. Getting the two together and providing a barrel is a matter of some simple plumbing with 1″ PVC pipe and fittings. But wait – lest you think this hack, like the ammo, is just a delicious bit of fluff, there’s something to be learned about fluid dynamics here. With a plain tee fitting, the leaf blower would only pressurize the magazine, making it difficult to chamber a round. But by adding a small restriction to the incoming air flow, the Venturi effect actually sucks ammo into the chamber and down the barrel, to the delight of hungry wildlife for yards around. Science!
There’s plenty of room for improvement to the design – something along the lines of this gas-powered, tube-fed snowball gun would be keen. As it stands, the cheesy-poof gun seems like good, unclean fun.
Continue reading “Feed the Fun with a Semi-automatic Cheesy Poof Rifle”