Introduction: The $0 Coil Gun

Picture of The $0 Coil Gun

We've all been there, you see something cool online, you want to figure out how is done but no one seems to want to help you. So you look up videos on Youtube and all that you find are even better and even military grade coil guns. But nothing that's really going to help you with your project or your simple coil gun. So finally if you're like me, you come to where you pretty much find everything you want in a simple search. This is my attempt at teaching you a basic simple to do, Coil Gun Hope ya'll like it. Bellow is a video of the whole process, if you don't feel like watching the video and want to get started on the Instructable instead, go to the next slide Either Way Have Fun :)

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

You really don't need much for this project, and it really cost about $5.00

You will need to find a disposable camera, any type of camera works. Usually if you go Walgreens and ask for a recycled camera that you will be using for a project they give you some for free. In the video you see us go through 50 cameras that we get for free from Walgreens. The more capacitors that you have, the stronger your coil gun will work so keep that in mind.

Next you need to find a plastic tubing, anything that is not conductive. A pen tube works best for this type of project. But youre looking for anything that is non-conductive.

Also you need to buy magnetic enamel coated copper wire. This will conduct the electricity to the tube.

And lastly you will need a Button Switch

and a Battery :) And that's about it :)

Step 2: So How Does It Work?

Picture of So How Does It Work?

To get you a mental image of how this works, imagine a magnet. Now place a small metal ball next to the magnet. The magnetic force from the magnet will pull the ball towards it. Now imagine that you can turn that magnet on and off. So the ball is sitting next to it but does not move. You turn on the magnet. The ball is attracted to the magnet and starts moving toward it. Now you turn the magnet off and the ball just keeps rolling alot.

This is the basis of a coil gun. But where do you get a magnet that turns on and off? This is where the coil of wire comes in. When current is run through the coil of wire it becomes an electromagnet. So it can be turned on and off at will. Usually it is just turned on for a few miliseconds, so that the projectile is pulled toward it and the magnet turns off right as the projectile passes through so that is will keep going. - "WonkoLabs"

The whole magnetic properties of the gun can be observed by using a battery, a copper coil and a nail.

If you wrap the coil around the nail, and you add a battery to both ends, you magnetize the nail for as long as the battery is attached to the coil ends.

Step 3: Getting the Camera Ready

Picture of Getting the Camera Ready

Alright the first thing you need to do is get the camera ready for the whole thing. So you start by taking out the battery, this will prevent you from getting shocked accidentally.... Talking about Getting shocked, you can make a Camera Taser out of a disposable camera is the link for that video on how too.

Anyways, once you get the battery out, you need to open up the camera, and be VERY careful when you are doing this, the capacitor is more than likely still charged and can deliver a nasty shock if you're not safe.

So once you have the camera open you need to locate the capacitor prongs... the capacitor is the battery looking thing on the side of the camera, locate the ends of the capacitor and using a screw driver touch both ends of the capacitor in order to discharge the energy.

Step 4: Taking Out the Circuit

Picture of Taking Out the Circuit

So you have the battery and capacitor discharged and ready to go, next thing is to remove the circuit from the camera, this is what you will use to charge the capacitor and all the essential works of the coil gun.

Step 5: Attaching the Button to the Cap'

Picture of Attaching the Button to the Cap'

Okay next thing is attaching the button switch onto the capacitor. You will only attach one end of the button to one end of the capacitor the other end will go to the coil and we'll teach you how to do that in a minute. Just make sure that you have a good solid connection on the capacitor.

Step 6: Getting the Tube Ready

Picture of Getting the Tube Ready

So the barrel of your gun has to be made out of a non conductive material, plastic works best, or a plastic pen tube would be perfect and ideal.

You need to start about 1" from any end of your tube and using duck tape start increasing the diameter of your tube to about .5" then leave a 1" gap in the middle and start another .5" increase in the diameter. Your coil will be placed in the center of the two gaps.

Step 7: Making the Connections

Picture of Making the Connections

Alright so now that you have the whole barrel finished you need to start making the right connections.

Attach one end of the coil to the button switch, the other end of the coil will be attached to one end of the capacitor, the other end of the capacitor will be attached to the remaining cable in the button switch. This will complete the circuit when the coil is ready to fire. SO now just add the battery and press the charge button, when the HUMMING sound stops you know that the capacitor is ready to be discharged and ready to fire. 

Step 8: Getting a Bunch of Caps'

Picture of Getting a Bunch of Caps'

So lastly we added several capacitors together in parallel and we charged them up to a total of 280 volts. We placed the entire assembly inside of a project box and let her fire. We placed a metallic plate and placed a piece of paper in the front and you can see the projectile bounce off the plate in slow motion if you watch the video. Hope yall like this instructable :)


AustinG45 (author)2016-10-25

How do you connect multiple caps together? Is it absolutely necessary to have a soldering iron?

dan_vanhove (author)AustinG452017-08-09

no you can use alligator clips but is not vary safe soldering them is the best connection and safest from getting shocked

LiftAndLove (author)2011-12-19

what are the full risks of making this. if im accidentaly electrocuted, wut are the outcomes( will i end up in a hospital). and finally wut voltage should i use.

2020177sr (author)LiftAndLove2017-04-17

it hurts and can make the local area numb for a few minutes ith max power for the kodak camera pcb is 9 volts and 10 amps i suggest using a pp3 battery

Nilpmet (author)LiftAndLove2013-12-08

Voltage does not kill you amperage does. If you put multiple capacitors in parallel, you can get more amperage, but you will be ok unless you you are touching both leads at once.

mlaiermaan (author)Nilpmet2014-04-26

The amps are controlled by the voltage

n.lambrechts25 (author)2016-02-04 That is the video relating to this instructable. I found it on youtube.

TASM THE ONE AND ONLY (author)2015-09-27

just to say you can just take the cameras button to place in the button you bought

Sum1O (author)2015-09-25

how much electricity is needed to run this?

alcurb (author)2014-12-04

"Sorry, this show has been removed by Blip"

Needless to say, the video is gone. Do you have it posted somewhere else?

jbyrns1993 (author)2014-01-03

Well i have but one question. Can I use a giant electrolytic can capacitor? I have one 100,000 uF at 600VDC

theexpert (author)2011-07-04

i made this and is worked but later i tryed to make it into a box and use a 9 volt battery and for some reason it wont work is it the 9 volt battery? the circut has worked before

Nilpmet (author)theexpert2013-12-08

because the transformer is only rated for 3 volts!

HM-Innovations (author)theexpert2011-07-05

the 9v current is probably to high for the circuits and you probably blew the capacitor on the small camera charger.

theexpert (author)HM-Innovations2011-07-05

ok thank you that really helps ill post a picture of it once i get it working

kingpudge (author)2012-10-26

Do u have to use duck tape

Nilpmet (author)kingpudge2013-12-08


willyofspace (author)2011-04-03

ok so i followed this ible to the wire (well expect the wire its 24gauge does that change anything? lol) i have my circuit board all rigged up to a coil around a pen tube with duct tape which goes to a switch and the switch goes back to the capacitator (sorry if its confusing). I know the circuit board is fine because i have shocked myself multiple times, but the electricity wont flow through the wires :(


Nilpmet (author)willyofspace2013-12-08

Make sure each wire is soldered onto the respective side of the capacitor bank, and they are not touching. Also make sure capacitors are in parallel (+ to + and - to -).

theexpert (author)willyofspace2011-09-01

i know it has been a long time but make sure the actual button on the circuit has been pressed

suhaana (author)2013-05-22

i actually wanted to make a coil gun as my physics project.. can i use capacitors from an old computer??

Nilpmet (author)suhaana2013-12-08

It depends on the voltage of the capacitors, but it is best to just get disposable cameras. You can go to Walgreens at the photo department, and asked for used ones, and they will say "sure how many!"

LiftAndLove (author)2011-12-19

also, do you charge the gun?

tallen14 (author)2011-08-21

Is it possible to use a light switch instead of a button?

HM-Innovations (author)tallen142011-08-29

yes sir :)

tynow (author)2011-06-03

do u need all the circutry from the camera, or just the capacitor? i have a computer i took apart and there is all sorts of capacitors on that, what voltage do you need for this? what batteries? im full of questions

theexpert (author)tynow2011-07-05

none matter all you need is transformers and then captitors on the other end so if you wired it battery switch transformer capatitor switch coil it would work

tynow (author)theexpert2011-07-06

what would the transformer look like?

theexpert (author)tynow2011-07-08

the transformer is the little brick looking thing next to the led that lights up once the flash is charged that is manly what makes a double a battery charge a 330v captitor

bhuty (author)2011-06-14

does the led on the circuit come on when its ready to fire?

theexpert (author)bhuty2011-07-05


bhuty (author)theexpert2011-07-06

is it possible to take the LED off and reattach with wires so the circuit board and the LED were in two locations, for example on the rifle the circuit board was in the stock and the LED was at the front?

theexpert (author)bhuty2011-07-08

yes it is

imillspaugh (author)2011-04-03

Okay, so I got mine all built, and I was wondering, when you only use one camera, How far is it supposed to shoot? Because mine Just has an occasional spark, and moves a centimeter at a time.....

theexpert (author)imillspaugh2011-07-04

that will happen if you use one camera you should probly use about five i did and it shot it about 5 feet at a height of 2 1/2 feet high

kschmidt2 (author)2011-06-30

nice tut, very informative, a wiring diagram would also be useful.

simpo067 (author)2010-10-07

Safety tip chaps!!
After initially discharging the capacitor short the connections together to prevent the charge building up again, keep it this way until you are ready to connect it into your new circuit. Whilst this charge won't be as big as normal it can still come as a shock (pun intended) dependant on the Faradic value of the capacitor.

tynow (author)simpo0672011-06-03

(pun intended) lol

shadow4742 (author)2010-10-10

why do you remove the battery before you shoot?

ItsTheFark (author)shadow47422010-10-15

The charger circuit works in a way that if you dont remove the battery, the capacitors will begin charging immediately after you discharge them.

theexpert (author)ItsTheFark2011-01-12

not if you make a circuit like i did very good and has a fail safe if you want to make one

blueeyesseto (author)theexpert2011-01-22

have u got a schematic i keep blowing my camera curcits so if i look at yours i might be able to work out what im doing wrong if u have a schematic send to

theexpert (author)blueeyesseto2011-05-22

i don't have a schematic and sorry it took so long but i just put in a switch to shoot witch is after the caps and one in between the battery's and board to control charge and i also have a fail safe if stuff starts sparking to witch is two more sitches one going to caps witch allows you to charge and another to random wires to discharge extra energ in the caps

theexpert (author)shadow47422011-01-07

if your switch welds it will continuously charge and fire making a very bad scenario since you may get shocked removeing it after

Emsaid (author)2011-05-18

would it matter if the capacitors were different voltage?

glouphrie (author)2011-05-06

do you use the camera charging circuit to charge the capacitors? if so how long does it take? and if not, how are you charging them?

HM-Innovations (author)glouphrie2011-05-08

Yes, about 10 minutes

IBreakHeavyStuff (author)2010-10-03

Is this dangerous? Most similar guns on here are quite dangerous though if they accidentally went off and zapped someone / yourself. Yours looks a lot like a box I was checking out online (which I secretly wanted to make into a steampunk style coil gun). People could touch the spark because it was low amperage (current?) and all it did was give a little shock. That'd be cool!

Amps Kill you, Volts will never kill you.... Police Tasers have 100k volts, however, if I'm correct i think .5 of an amp will kill you.... we got shocked by this thing once, and it hurt really bad but i'm still typing :P

Power will kill you. The amount of energy that the electricity gives off is the dangerous part. Power is the product of Voltage and Current so either one high enough will kill you. For example if you have only 1V but 1 MA it will be dangerous. Similarly if you have 1MV and only 1A it is still dangerous.

About This Instructable




Bio: We are a group of Engineers, Tinkerers, Designers, Programers, and Nerds ! ---- and Since April 2011 We also have a Cupcake Maker
More by HM-Innovations:Cupcake PushPopsSuper Mario Mushroom CupcakesHow to make Decorative Cupcakes
Add instructable to: