Pneumatic Pen Gun is Fit for James Bond

The James Bond franchise is well-known for many things, but perhaps most important to us hackers are the gadgets. Bond always had an awesome gadget that somehow was exactly the thing he needed to get out of a jam. [hw97karbine’s] latest project would fit right into an old Bond flick. He’s managed to build a single-shot pellet gun that looks like a pen.

[hw97karbine] started out by cutting the body from a tube of carbon fiber. He used a hacksaw to do the cutting, and then cleaned up the edges on a lathe. A barrel was cut from a piece of brass tubing with a smaller diameter. These two tubes will eventually sit one inside of the other. A custom front end cap was machined from brass. One end is ribbed and glued into the carbon fiber tube. The barrel is also glued to this end of the front cap, though it’s glued to the inside of the cap. The other end of the cap has 1/8″ BSP threads cut into it in order to allow for attachments.

A rear end cap is machined from Delrin. This piece also has a Delrin piston placed inside. The piston has a small piece of rubber used as a gasket. This piston valve is what allows the gun to operate. The rear cap gets glued into place and attached to a Schrader valve, removed from an automotive tire valve stem.

To pressurize the system, a bicycle pump is attached to the Schrader valve. This pushes the piston up against the barrel, preventing any of the air from escaping. The piston doesn’t make a perfect seal, so air leaks around it and pressurizes the carbon fiber tube. The Schrader valve prevents the air from leaking out of the pen body. A special machined button was threaded onto the Schrader valve. When the button is pressed, the air escapes; the sudden pressure imbalance causes the piston to shoot backwards, opening up a path for the air to escape through the barrel. This escaping air launches the projectile. The whole process is explained better with an animation.

Now, the question left in our mind: is this the same pressure imbalance concept that was used in that vacuum pressure bazooka we saw a couple years back?

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Propeller and machine gun timing

[Matt] was looking for a challenge. Inspired by the machine gun setups on World War I planes he wanted to make a gun that can shoot between the blades of a spinning propeller. The original guns used an interrupter gear that synchronized machine gun firing with the engine mechanically. [Matt] set out to do this using a microcontroller.

To make this work there are two important pieces of information; how fast is the propeller spinning right now, and how long does it take for the pellet to pass the blade? [Matt] used an oscilloscope and some infrared sensors to establish the firing delay at about 20-22ms. Another sensor shows the propeller is spinning at 500 RPMs, with some simple calculations showing that there is indeed a big enough window of time to fire between the blades. After testing with a visible LED and then building out the rest of the circuitry he accomplished his goal. He even added a test function that purposely hits the blades just to see how accurate the system was. We hope this shows up in a Red Baron RC replica, or other flying arsenal.

[via Hacked Gadgets]