You can make your own rail, no matter how powerful you want.
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Do you have some time in your hands? Do you like shooting metal balls?
Then why not build your own minimagnetic rail? Although it will not be as powerful as several real pistols, this will surely entertain you for a few hours (more likely days).
Follow this simple guide to find out how.
But first, as you can imagine, you will need some things first.
Necessary materials and equipment
- Neodymium magnet disks – 1 and 3/16 inches (30 mm) by 9/32 inches (7 mm), or 19/32 inches (15 mm), or 25/32 inches (20 mm)
- Neodymium magnet spheres – 1 and 1.32 inches (26 mm) and 1 and 37/64 inches (40 mm)
- Non-magnetic “bullets” (eg lead balls or spheres)
- Non-magnetic grooved tape (wood or plastic)
- Metal strips
- Metal sheets
Optional (for this purpose)
With all your tools and materials in hand, now is the time to continue with this epic but great design.
Step 1: Adjust the base of the gun
The first step is to pick up your metal strips and magnets. Place the magnets along the metal strips so that they match the corners of each metal square.
Then attach the metal sheets to the magnets.
You will need three square sheets of metal for this construction, so you will attach twelve of your smallest magnets (six to each metal strip or rail). Finish with this, take your strip of wood and place it in the middle of the row of metal sheets.
Take some more magnets and place them at equal distances on both sides of the wooden strip to hold it in place on the base of a sheet of metal.
Step 2: Add the main rail
With the foundation made in essence, we can now move on to creating the actual element of the rail pistol. Let’s install the most important rail first.
Take your grooved piece of wood (either do it yourself, or use a commercially available alternative) and stick it in place on the main wooden strip of the base.
After doing this, take your smallest magnetic sphere and place it in the center of the bar. When you release the ball, it should be pulled along the rail by the magnets that are already in place and released (possibly) somewhere towards the middle or towards one end of the rail.
While it’s fun to watch, it’s not helpful to make the most of our railroad.
To overcome this problem, you can experiment with the use of larger and more massive spheres. In the end, you should be able to find one that stops more often only at the far end of the rail.
Then take your next largest neodymium magnets (or make smaller double-height magnets) to the “business” end of the rail gun. Place two of them on either side of the end of the rail.
With these more powerful magnets, the ball magnet must now stop at the top and between these larger magnets.
At this point, the rail rifle will operate to a basic level – but will not be too powerful. To test it, take a non-magnetic projectile (like a large marble) and rest over the larger end magnets.
Now, when you release the larger warm magnet, it will descend on the rail, hit the non-magnetic ball and shoot it from the other end of the rail.
However, before you try this, make sure you add some form of target or something to catch the projectile against the open end of the rail.
Step 3: Increase the power of your gun
All good. But this rail is not powerful enough to please us. To increase its power, take some even larger magnets and place them on either side of the end of the rail (as we did earlier). You can either use taller magnets or triple your existing smaller magnets.
When you’re done, place the projectile over the newer, more powerful magnets again. Now that we release the magnetic ball, it must strike and fire the projectile with even more power.
Once again, make sure that the end of the rail pistol projectile is free of potentially fragile objects and that you have some shape of the target to hit / grab the non-magnetic projectile.
The goal can be made of anything, but something that can absorb energy and deform is the best. You may consider making a target, for example, from small balls of magnets.
Alternatively, use something like polystyrene (and weigh it).
Step 3: Have some fun
This completes our DIY rail. Now you can start experimenting with heavier and heavier balls of shells of different materials and different purposes.
The current setting, for example, must be powerful enough to fire 0.22 lb (100 g) lead balls with enough power to deal serious damage to a relatively soft target.
You can either stop there or continue to increase the power of your pistol by adding more and more powerful magnets to the end of the pistol.
We will leave that entirely to you.
If you enjoyed this magnet-based project, we are sure you will enjoy some others. How about making some models of magnets?
How about a scale model of Empire State Building?
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