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What is this?

Documentation, notes, resources, etc. about Phil's project to try and build a coilgun (aka a Gauss gun).

Background Info / Resources

Wikipedia entry on coilguns

Barry's Coilgun Page

Barry's Bibliography

World's Coilgun Arsenal

Coilgun Systems

Coilgun Power

Coilgun Technology @ UTexas (pdf)

Coilgun Forum

Other useful discussion forums / boards

Other 4HV Forums

EDABoard Forums

Make Magazine Forums

All About Circuits forum

Coilgun Videos on Youtube


Reference Material

Barry's Inductor Simulator

Inductor Mathematics

AWG (American Wire Gauge) Chart

For Love of a Gun - The tumultuous history of electromagnetic launch

Lots of EML Papers

IEEE Magnetics Society

University of Texas - Center for Electromechanics

Francis Bitter Magnet Laboratory's_Law

EEVBlog Forum


Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT)

Fairchild Semi SGL160N60UFD IGBT

Fairchild Semi FGPF50N33BT IGBT

Fairchild Semi FGPF50N33BT IGBT @ Future Electronics



Silicon Controlled Rectifier


MIT OCW: Power Electronics

MIT OCW: Physics II - Electricity & Magnetism





GNU Octave



GNU Scientific Library




Jakarta Commons - Math

Sources for parts / materials / tools/ etc

Radio Shack Magnet Wire Kit

  • Red - 30 gauge
  • Green - 26 gauge
  • Amber - 22 gauge

Bulk magnet wire

Magnet wire

MWS Wire

Clear PVC Pipe

Clear PVC (again)

Surplus Sales of Nebraska

Information Unlimited

Skycraft Parts & Surplus

All Electronics

Allied Electronics





Mouser Electronics

Future Electronics

JPM Supply

Big list of suppliers from

Northern Tool & Equipment

The Electro Store

Electronic Surplus

Surplus Traders



Radio Shack

KJ Magnetics

Zoro Tools

Grainger Industrial Supply

Wholesale Electronics, Inc.


Emco High Voltage

Electronic Goldmine

HSC Electronic Supply

All-Spec dot com

Notes / Pictures / Documentation


A batch of photos of a very (very!) primitive prototype of the physical layout. What this is driving towards is a version where the electromagnets are outside of the "barrel" and not directly in line with the projectile. The reason for doing this is so we can use a ferrous core for the magnet, which greatly, greatly increases the field strength (all other things: # of turns, wire gauge, current, etc., being equal). The hope is that the greater field strength will more than compensate for not having the field directly aligned with the barrel.

Photo Gallery on G+

2011-09-08 cg1.jpg


Got one electromagnet wound, playing around to see if it would move a small ball bearing without using a ton of current. Turns out, at 25-30 volts, you only get 1 amp of current through this thing (resistance), but that's enough to grab the ball bearing from about an inch away and get it moving. It'll be interesting to see how it works with the two magnets, one on each side.

What I'm quickly realizing about this, is that the power switching and the timing of the magnet pulses, is going to be crucial, especially if I go with a multi-stage gun. Relays are big, clunky, and possibly too slow, so I ordered a batch of high power SCRs (Silicon Controlled Rectifier) from Newark last night. From what I've seen, SCRs are how most people are doing the switching on these things. We'll see...

Another batch of pictures of the progress:

This shows the gun a little further along. The one magnet is wound and mounted now. After this picture was taken, the barrel was repositioned slightly to put the starting point of the project about an inch from the magnet.

2011-09-11 cg1.jpg

2011-09-11 cg2.jpg

2011-09-11 cg3.jpg