Picture of Make a poweful (green) railgun!
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for anything that happens.

The goal of this guide is to show you how to make a railgun. Railgun's offer a green method of projectile acceleration, with minimal byproducts and waste. Railguns use electricity to propel a projectile. because of this, they create no waste.

In addition, the materials used do not pose a ecohazard, while the materials makes it very long life.

Depending on your resources, this project can be free, or up to 1000$.

Do not attempt this unless you have expiereance with high voltage and projectile's, this can be FATAL. You should know how to make one already. Vital information that is easy has been left out, I do not want everone to make oe and kill themselves.This is a guide on the order to do it, or if your skills lie soewhere else, and you do not know about one area. Emai me if you have any questions

Check out my rogowski coil, it was used in this:
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Step 1: Obtain parts

Picture of obtain parts
Here is a parts list:
1)capacitor bank. I used 18 400v 3900uf capacitor's in parallel. This comes out to 5600 joules. Make sure you stay above 300v, and below 600v.
These are harmless to the enviornment. They are aluminum based.
2)busbars. I used aluminum.
3)3 120uf 300v capacitors.
4) 60A 600v diodes
5)cable's. I used 00 AWG
6)rails. Copper bars here
7) 2"x.5"x12" aluminum.
8)projectiles. Make it close tolerance.
9) A railgun enclosure. I suggest designing your own. It should have a .5" bore, with strong materials.
Mines GREEN! both ways!
Email me if you want a design (
10) misc. support equipment.
11)PVC for injector. Use your own design. Look up "spudgun" for ideas.

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tbriscoe121 month ago

Hope this isn't too dumb of a question. Although copper rails would be nice because of its conductive properties the heat generation could be an issue? I know it is more conductive with electricity but also more conductive with heat than steel or aluminium is.

紀衡賴1 month ago

I'm having problems with charging my 400V capacitor. How do I setup something to charge the thing with an AC power source?

Anargopunk3 months ago


I am student at a school for electrical engeneering and i talked to a teacher about the topic and he says that, if you use complemantary coils around the rail part, you don't need a higher voltage, just a super high Current, because Amps are actualy a size for magnetic field, and volts for electric fields, so in my project i'm using a 1.5V 2A adaptor for charging my 200Farad 2.2V ultra-caps because the volt's don't matter.

One thing I am curious of is why not use batteries to power a railgun? Yes, they do not have as high voltages as capacitors, but that makes them easy to charge. A good lithium polymer battery can have an internal resistance of 5 millifarads, so the short circuit current of a 10 cell battery (7400 amps) does not seem to be a problem. Their energy density is high enough that I can get out 30 shots before having to recharge. It seems like a perfect match? Now all I need is somebody to shoot out my dreams and tell me why it won't work :)

Additionally, I have a question about railguns: Does the voltage you input to them relate to the power of them in any way? The only things I can find tell me to maximize the amperage. While a high voltage does ensure a high amperage, does it matter at all otherwise?

the simple answer is discharge rate. most caps of this type will discharge all there energy in one go you need that in a railgun

do you need to use resistors for any part of this? I'm making a small scale one for a science project.
use a coilgun!
much cheaper
idk, coilguns are significantly harder to work with and make (at least with all my experiences)

well, it does depend. power matching is significantly harder, but he is doing it for a science project, meaning there is a high likelihood it will got to a science fair. if it kills someone, that would be bad.

very bad.

Skwurlito10 months ago
This is a coilgun, not a railgun. a coilgun accelerates a pherosmetal projectile with electromagnetism. it is also the least efficient way of accelerating a projectile as only roughly 11% of the energy exerted is used in propulsion as compared to a bullet where nearly all the energy exerted is used.
a railgun is a similar concept where electricity is the projectile. A close match is a taser.

A coilgun uses freaking coils. Do you see coils here? Do you?

xarlock6671 year ago
I will point out two things, and understand they are NOT criticism, just to help you make a badass project badasser.
1) F=BILD/M^2
What the hell is that? The force equation for a rail gun. Everyone seems to miss 2 crucial points. First, that after the F and before the M every variable is a multiple. That helps you amp up your power. Second is that /m^2 at the end. That means that your total power is divided by the weight of your projectile. SQUARED. Ouch! Go with a smaller/lighter projectile, and you multiply your power.

2) Friction is KILLING your projectiles! (Ok, some may be flashing to plasma, but I bet most are being ground to powder) Get some dielectric grease from one of the many parts stores and grease up a BB. Then put something big and heavy in front of your gun. Then make sure you film it and send me a link!
tazerboy3 years ago
Also, GreenD having a 350volt 330uf capacitor is very weak,( around 20joules). Especially, when you are trying to make a railgun, because railguns are not that
efficient in the first place.I would recommended at least 100 joules( three 450v 470uf), to get some effective muzzle energy.
Railguns are much more efficient than traditional firearms. A well made medium size railgun can have around 30kj of force, that is almost as much as the worlds largest rifle.
yes, but you are forgetting that i am talking about a railgun powered by 20 joules,
and when you said 30kj I believe that is how much the energy the capacitor bank produces, and not the railgun. Due the fact that the largest rifle produces around the thousand joule range or a tiny bit higher. not nearly as powerful as 30,000 joules. However i could be wrong, can anybody attest or object?
Actually, yes. I can object to that. The rifle is not what makes the energy, it is the amount of gunpowder in a round of ammunition. The .50 BMG, or Browning Machine Gun round is used in the Barrett M82 sniper rifle, and has a muzzle energy of (depending on the weight) anywhere from 18,000-20,100 Joules. No, that isn't 30kJ, but it is well over 1,000J. Most handguns/small-caliber rifles will put you around the 1000-Joule range, though.

To drozzle: to have a capacitor bank charged at 30kJ would be extremely expensive, and would take up a LOT of space. look at the pictures of this one. The capacitor bank is about 18 inches long, and you would need five of those to get near 30kJ. However, if it is "well made," as you said, the induced back-emf would be very small, and the energy of your capacitor bank could be very nearly the energy you actually get on the projectile.
BTW induced back emf only appears on coilguns not railguns, because in coilguns if the pulse timing is too long for the coil to shoot through the coil, then the magnetic field instead of letting the projectile gain speed, it will pull it back. Thats back-emf. The current railguns don't have coils so this problem doesn't exist, the best way to achieve an efficient shot of a railgun is to full discharge the cap right when the projectile exit's the barrel or rail in this case. ALSO for people who want to make good coilgun/railgun, i recommend you use high voltage low capacitance capacitors like High Voltage Oil Capacitors, I have one its 5.5KVDC and 32uF. they have very low ESR, which means they discharge very fast, and with very high peak power. NOTE, the less capacitance you have the faster you discharge.
I would like to input that while a higher voltage will ensure a faster discharge, that does not mean that you should cut back on the capacitance of your capacitors. Ideally you want the charge to last until the projectile leaves the rails, as they get more powerful the longer the rails are, and I doubt a 32 microfarad capacitor can supply power for that long. If a capacitor has an internal resistance of one ohm, the voltage of the capacitor will be identical to the output of it, and regardless of the voltage, the number of farads is the number of seconds that the capacitor can supply a current for. So assuming the one ohm internal resistance, tazerboy's capacitor can supply fifty thousand five hundred amps, but only for thirty two MILLIONTHS of a second. A quick calculation suggests that is in the range of 500 joules, so I believe one can do better with a 400 volt capacitor that has 6500 microfarads of capacitance (also about 500 joules). This, in turn, will provide a mere 400 amps, but for a full 6.5 milliseconds. That, I believe, will do better.
Oh, hey yeah. You're right. Sorry, I must have gotten the two ideas mixed up in my head somehow. Thanks for straightening me out! Also, why is higher voltage the better way to go? I get that in the equation for capacitance, voltage is squared and so is more important, but doesn't your power supply have to be very high voltage as well to charge the caps?
Well in order to have cap that packs a punch you would either need very high capacitance or very high voltage. The good thing about high voltages caps are low capacitance, while still capable of delivering the same amount of high energy. Low capacitance mean very fast discharge rate, much faster than those 450v caps, and the result is very high peak current, more brute force in a smaller package. It's is especially good in coil guns because since 5.5kv 32uf cap has such a small capacitance the coil won't have problems with back emf. Yes your power supply also needs to be at the same(or a bit less) as the voltage in the caps, i hope to use a ZVS driver with a self wound transformer and a recifier. however its rather difficult to find the recifier that will go that high, I might need to put them isn series. Good luck!
Although i am wrong about the muzzle energy of guns, the point here is to prove that 20j railgun won't do much at all.
Haha, yeah. Your projectile would be... moving at a very slow speed. I mean, it would be the safest railgun ever! But it wouldn't be very impressive.
I don't think it would even move lol
those sized cacitors will work your power supply and transformer are what depended upon for the output to launch the projectile.
but the capasitors alone are yes pretty weak.
true that.
Tobor 2.01 year ago
i'm clapping, well done!
REA5 years ago
just currious, what would happen if you were to use a 9000uf capacitor? =D
Nicholai REA4 years ago
with enough of them, PWNAGE!
REA Nicholai4 years ago
hmm... only problem is it would take an enormous amount of energy to charge it. but the space/time shattering power would be simply beautiful!
Tobor 2.0 REA1 year ago
got dat right!
The microfarads would not be OVER 9000!
Random railgun scientist: Vageta, what does the farad meter say about it's power level?
Vageta: IT'S OVER 9000!
drozzle REA3 years ago
Really, that's not that big.
Is the capacitors in series or parallel
Thanks would really like to know
Th3Ob3rst4 years ago
I was actually thinking of making a sort of low-power railgun. Possibly also small caliber. The reasons are many: smaller currents, so smaller capacitors, smaller forces involved. Sure thing i would get much smaller speeds, but i'm not looking for an high speed railgun.
My idea would be something the more portable i can make it, and obviously efficient, even if low powered.

Any opinion? Is this a wrong approach?.

P.S. One of the reasons I want to go with low power is that, although i have some experience with circuits, capacitors and even moderately high voltages, this would be my first rail gun and I don't want to aim high and risk screwing up everything.
Q: I was actually thinking of making a sort of low-power railgun. Possibly also small caliber. The reasons are many: smaller currents, so smaller capacitors, smaller forces involved. Sure thing i would get much smaller speeds, but i'm not looking for an high speed railgun.
My idea would be something the more portable i can make it, and obviously efficient, even if low powered.

Any opinion? Is this a wrong approach?.

P.S. One of the reasons I want to go with low power is that, although i have some experience with circuits, capacitors and even moderately high voltages, this would be my first rail gun and I don't want to aim high and risk screwing up everything.

A: if you are planing to go for some military thing to make moneys then turn around and about face to the coil gun
if you are doing this for a science project, then you should do this on an even smaller scale.
this guy is giving you a way to kill that terrorist next door that the CIA knows nothing about.
Hi! I'm trying to use this instructable as the concept for building a railgun inside a good-sized Nerf gun. For the most part, I think I can manage, but I'm having a bit of trouble conceptualizing two things.
1.) The barrel is made entirely of plastic, and my plan was to run the rails along the outside of the barrel. However, I'm worried that it won't stand up to the energy and will just break/melt, and also that, plastic not being a good conductor, it may drop the energy so much that the projectile never achieves a good speed. Would replacing the plastic barrel with an ferromagnetic metal one with .5" bore (at 1/4" thick) be okay, or would I also lose a lot of energy with that barrel?
2.) I've read up a bit, and it sounds like I should worry about the projectile welding to the rails if it enters the emf too slowly. Should I upgrade the spring (the Nerf gun is a spring-powered bolt-action, the Recon CS-6)so it punches the ball into the rails faster, or devise a separate system entirely? I'd rather not do that... :/
looking at what you might want to do, a better idea might be to go down the path of coil guns.
(aka no rail gun yes coil gun.)
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