Disposable Camera Coilgun

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Introduction: Disposable Camera Coilgun

A tutorial explaining how to build your own coilgun from some disposable camera's flash circuits.

It doesn't require much money (if any), but you need some basic soldering skills and electronics knowledge to finish it successfully...

If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask me!

Step 1: Getting the Parts

What do you need

- About 5 disposable cameras (used) with flash circuit (you can probably get them for free at your local photo-store if you ask nice)

- A soldering iron

- Some wire

- A plastic ballpoint-pen, ink tube removed so you only keep the hard outer plastic tube

- A light-switch

- Electrical insulation tape

- Plenty of enameled magnet wire (ca. 0,5mm diameter)

- Some soldering skills and some electronic knowledge

Step 2: Disassembling the Cameras and Getting the Right Parts

- First of all, disassemble your cameras and carefully remove the flash circuits.

- Look for the big capacitor on every circuit board (a cilindrical thing) and touch both connections with a screwdriver. BE CAREFUL! This will probably give a great spark, since the capacitors may still be charged.

- Choose the flash-charger-circuit board you want to use. Mark the location and the polarity of the capacitor on the board, so you know how to connect the string which will be explained in step 5 later. The (-) side is the one with the vertical stripe printed on the cap above it.

- Identify the charging-button and triggering-switch on the circuit board which were originally used to load and trigger the flash, and solder the wires connected to them together, so the switches are both closed.

- Desolder the big capacitors from every circuit board, and throw away the boards you don't need - so not the one you chose earlier.

Step 3: Preparing for the Real Stuff

- Connect the capacitors in parallel, that is, connect the (+) and (-) sides to the (+) and (-) sides of the other caps. This is performed easily by using a universal circuitboard.

- Connect the string of caps to the connections on your flash-charger circuit board you marked earlier.

Step 4: Assembling the Coilgun

- Desolder the wires connected to the flash tube (and to the reflector attached to it) and mark the places where the two main wires were.

- Wind a coil using the enameled wire and the plastic ballpoint-pen. Do this by turning the wire around the tube. The coil should be about 2,5cm long. Wind several (about 10) layers on top of eachother, but don't forget to insulate each layer with electrical tape.

- Scrape off the coating of the enameled wire at the ends of your coil; enameled wire-coating isn't conductive

- Solder one end of the coil to one connection where the flash-tube was before. Solder the light-switch to the other end of the coil, and the other end of the light-switch to the other flash-tube-connection.

Step 5: Finishing It

- Make sure the light-switch is switched off. Now attach a battery (1,5 to 9V )to the wires (use the same connections as these which were there before you modified the circuit; so that are the connections to which the original camera battery was attached.)

- Wait untill the circuit board's status LED lights up, then disconnect the battery.

- Put a load (small nail, metal rod,...) in your coil (inside the pen-tube, that is) and put the light-switch on. The load should be shot into the room!

- FINISHED. Have fun with your coilgun!!

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    471 Comments

    would it be okay if i used 24g speaker wire or does it have to be magnet wire?

    pls help.

    Is it okay if I have a 5v 700f cap bank?

    you can't kill anyone with it if that's what you're asking.

    Nope. I meant things like boards, or glass bottles. Only curious

    camera flash circuit uses 2*1.5 volts DC batteries.But I'm trying to make a coil gun of 30 volts dc supply.....can we use the same circuit?? or can we make any changes...my intention is to power up the coil gun

    1 reply

    It will work fine. You wont be able to use all 30V at once. To use more V, use more capacitors. I would recomend a breadboard instead of a unversial board

    Disposable cameras are not really so much available where I live so is there any alternative to a disposable camera circuit? or maybe u can give me some other circuit schematic i can use as a charging mechanism? Thanks

    1 reply

    yes if you can find a nerf firefly gun the one that comes with glow in the dark darts and when you shoot it it flashes a light to make the darts glow the circuit is pretty similar.

    for some reason when ever i connect my copper coil to the ends of the flash tubes it shorts out my circuit, any idea's why?
    using enamelled copper with a 1mm diameter.

    1 reply

    it is most likely that your circuit has a problem somewhere on it. Be careful when you are removing the old bulb and make sure to remove it and/or getting the circuit out of the camera. Also make sure that all three of the flash bulb wires are still connected connect the third wire which should be on the bulb itself not the ends to the negative wire. If you don't know which is the negative and which is positive then remove the capacitors and press the charge button on the circuit while you have a volt meter attached to where the coil would go and you will get a reading.

    Tell me, is there any way I could use a 2.5V 55F (they are 55F) capacitor in this? I have 2 of these capacitors. I'm just wondering if they could be used for anything related to this project.

    4 replies

    you could use them if you add in a converter circuit that would change the current from those capacitors into higher volts or you could make a different electromagnet that uses less voltage to get the same strength and the camera flash circuit would still work because they are just basic capacitor charging circuits

    Where in the world did you get a 55 farad capacitor!!!!!?????

    Jaycar Electronics in New Zealand. It is only 2.5V. Its certainly real though, tested it.

    I dont think that useing them would be possible for this project as the ones in disposable cameras are 250v~400v.

    why don't you build a boost converter? it is more efficient than a camera charging circuit. It just requires some basic knowledge of electronics. really effective too. it charged my12000 MFD capacitor to 63 volts in just 20 seconds. yeah it is 12000 micro farads. works better than a 120 to 480 micro farad cap (single 120 or 4*120 in parallel) charged to 400 volts. you can also build a simple power cutoff system so that you need not disconnect the battery from the circuit. you can control this entire system using just two 555 timers. One for the charger and one for the trigger. it will be better if you replace the relay with a solid state switch like an SCR, triac or a thyristor. mine is capable of switching 800 volts , 260 amps of current. There is also no danger of any welding of contacts. It also reduces the power loss by 30 to 40 percent

    3 replies

    why didn't you just say 1.2 millifarad capacitor

    I will try it,just give me the circuit schematic.

    Hi padmanabhapsimha,

    What SCR part number did you use?