Propel Paper Planes, Bisect Sausages With Electromagnets

A row of electromagnetic coils fastened to a metal track

Are you still launching paper airplanes using your hands? That’s like a baby’s toy! [Tom Stanton] and his homebrew electromagnetic rail launcher are sure to bring your paper airplane game into the 21st century.

To be fair, these kinds of linear motors can be used for more than just launching paper airplanes, and can already be found in niche industrial applications, mass transportation systems and roller coasters. And, yes, the potential to leverage electromagnetism in the theater of war is also being vigorously explored by many of the world’s superpowers in the form of Gauss rifles and railguns. In the meantime, the video (after the break) proves that it’s entirely possible to build a rudimentary yet effective linear motor in your makerspace, using relatively basic components and fundamental physics.

In short, these launch systems use electromagnetism and well timed electronics to propel a mass of magnetic material down a straight (or sometimes curved) track. Multiple pairs of coils are placed along the track, with each pair subsequently energized by high current as the payload approaches. By using many coils in succession, the mass and its payload can be accelerated to high speed.

While a homemade rail launcher is unlikely to turn the tides of war, [Tom Stanton] explores their lethal potential with an experiment involving high-speed video and supermarket sausages, with gruesome results.

If you’re looking for more, why not check out our our previous coverage on electromagnetic weaponry?

[Thanks to Feinfinger for the tip]

7 thoughts on “Propel Paper Planes, Bisect Sausages With Electromagnets

  1. Brilliant! If this tool can bisect sausages, it might be worth using in multiplying earthworms. If one makes a battery of those guns, fast-speed, parallel earthworms bisection becomes possible. Of course, canputing the result is still a necessary step before coilling it done.

  2. As always: clever construction, professional realisation and a well made presentation!
    On the movie 6:40 – 6:49: Is this a fly flying in parallel to the paper plane (just above the bottom latch of the fence)?

  3. Really great work and presentation. This is just the beginning as there are many possibilities…..

    Extend the rail with a downward bend at the very end for the shuttle/sled. The launched device continues in a straight line. The shuttle/sled gets stopped by fixed permanent magnets.

    Devise a rail system and create a roller coaster.

    Velocity feedback to allow the controller to adjust the acceleration and output speed. For the roller coaster, this considers variable rider weights.


Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.