This 3D Printed Railgun Fires Plasma Rounds At 560 mph

Fanghawk

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This 3D Printed Railgun Fires Plasma Rounds At 560 mph

In a surprising DIY project, an Imgur user designed a plasma-firing railgun using a 3D printer and widely available components.

In general, I consider myself a peaceful human being, but I can't help but get a little excited about futuristic weapons. We're already <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133586-U-S-Navy-to-Test-Star-Wars-Rail-Gun-in-2016>equiping the Navy with lasers that stun or kill while we test <a href=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/133586-U-S-Navy-to-Test-Star-Wars-Rail-Gun-in-2016>railguns which are even more explosive. But one civilian with engineering smarts might have done something more impressive - design a portable handheld railgun using 3D printed parts. The finished device can even fire plasma rounds. I'll repeat, this is a handheld railgun which fires plasma rounds.

Going by the usernames "NSA_Listbot" and "xtamared", the railgun's creator has posted images and videos to Imgur and YouTube describing his work. This portable version uses six 300J, 350V, and 5500uF electromagnetic capacitors to fire each shot. That propels the round forward at 560 miles per hour, leaving a solid dent on targets in its path.

All things considered, that speed is pretty good for a DIY weapon. (You average bullet travels at roughly 1500 mph, while a military-grade railgun can reach 13,000 mph.) But one special touch is that this weapon can fire different ammunition types. So far, NSA_Listbot has tested his portable railgun on rods of graphite, aluminum, copper-coated tungsten, carbon, and teflon - otherwise known as plasma. Which of course, makes this railgun sound even more futuristic and badass.


That's not to say the portable railgun is a practical weapon, by any means. First of all, it has an extensive charging time, with some tests requiring three minutes before a shot could be fired. For all the energy going into each round it does surprisingly little damage, and couldn't even clear a cantalope it was emptied into. And that's not getting into its general unwieldiness for anyone without a Gears of War-type physique.

[gallery=4891]

That said, it's still an impressive achievement and looks fantastic to boot. With a few tweaks to ensure it's non-functioning this could be an amazing cosplay piece. At least until someone else figures out how to build a better plasma railgun with their 3D printer.

Source: <a href=http://imgur.com/gallery/w4OgF>imgur, via <a href=https://www.yahoo.com/tech/s/3d-printing-used-first-real-handheld-railgun-fires-134325053.html>Yahoo

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Imperioratorex Caprae

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May 15, 2010
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For a civilian grade rail gun, this is impressive. I wonder how much force overall he can get out of it with tweaking. I somewhat understand the physics behind it and there's definitely room for improvement. I'm curious if one can get more voltage out of it or if he maxed out with the best available tech.
Either way this is awesome, and I wonder if he's going to get a knock at the door from DOD, "Sir, we need you to come with us".
 

CrystalShadow

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Apr 11, 2009
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Impressive.

Though it's not surprising it's so weak, and shots take so long to charge.

The kind of power supply you could build into a handheld device at the moment simply aren't up to the task. If each shot is 3000 kilojoules (assuming that's an accurate figure, and not off by several orders of magnitude), to fire that with a reasonable recharge time (say, 5 seconds, to be generous) you'd need a 600 kilowatt power supply.
Sure, it only needs to provide power for 5 seconds at a time, but... 600 kilowatts is the power supply to about 5-10 homes.
It's a miracle it works at all honestly, if it takes that much power to fire.
3 minutes is 180 seconds. that means it draws roughly 16.66 kw while charging.

(cross-checks)
...Yeah... Always fact-check your sources. Or at least, double-check the original source.,

Fanghawk said:


Going by the usernames "NSA_Listbot" and "xtamared", the railgun's creator has posted images and videos to Imgur and YouTube describing his work. This portable version uses six electromagnetic capacitors to fire projectiles with 3,000 kilojoules per shot. That propels the round forward at 560 miles per hour, leaving a solid dent on targets in its path.



You've got some major factual errors going on there.
According to the original source, the gun uses 6, 300j capacitors. Each shot fired is roughly 1.8 kj not 3000.
(honestly, the escapist's standards for fact-checking their articles have been atrocious for a seriously long time. For something pretending to be actual news of some kind, that's really embarrassing to keep witnessing.)

Anyway, with basic fact checking out of the way...
So... With that in mind, 1.8 kj is still a lot if you had to provide it all at once. Charged in 3 minutes (if that's reliable. Can't easily check that one), it would take 10 watts. Which makes far more sense if you expect it to run off battery power. (the laptop on the desk next to me has a battery that can supply 70 watts or so.)

~shrug~ An interesting toy. Just look at the size of the capacitors in that thing though. Wow. XD
 

Pyrian

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I was all excited until I found out that "plasma rounds" actually meant "plasma-treated Teflon coated rounds".
 

DoctorM

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Pyrian said:
I was all excited until I found out that "plasma rounds" actually meant "plasma-treated Teflon coated rounds".
Ditto, title is pretty misleading.
A slingshot would have done more damage to that half-rotten melon.
 

Daemascus

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DoctorM said:
Pyrian said:
I was all excited until I found out that "plasma rounds" actually meant "plasma-treated Teflon coated rounds".
Ditto, title is pretty misleading.
A slingshot would have done more damage to that half-rotten melon.
Or any gun powder based weapon made in the last 300 years. In half the time.
 

Leg End

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Place your bets on how long it takes for the ATF to get involved for him manufacturing assault railguns.
 

Aetrion

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I think this is a hoax.

Why does the gun have a compressed air tank at the back and he say he has to "charge the pneumatic system"?

The amount of force it seems to produce is much more adequately explained by the fact that it's a compressed air gun than by any claim that it's a railgun.

And then there is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J1JTe2skvo

"It didn't even fire? I think it's out of juice."

"You mean the pressure?"

"Yea"

"Oh yea"


They are trolling you right in your face.
 

Lightknight

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Aetrion said:
I think this is a hoax.

Why does the gun have a compressed air tank at the back and he say he has to "charge the pneumatic system"?
The benefit of a railgun is that it doesn't need compressed gases to fire. So it having an air compressor does raise all kinds of red flags.

Why isn't it April? I feel like it should be April...

FYI, portable railguns aren't that uncommon.

<youtube=NkthsIs71OA>

There are entire hobbies built around these things because they're so accurate.
 

Spaceman Spiff

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Aetrion said:
I think this is a hoax.

Why does the gun have a compressed air tank at the back and he say he has to "charge the pneumatic system"?

The amount of force it seems to produce is much more adequately explained by the fact that it's a compressed air gun than by any claim that it's a railgun.

And then there is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J1JTe2skvo

"It didn't even fire? I think it's out of juice."

"You mean the pressure?"

"Yea"

"Oh yea"


They are trolling you right in your face.
Yea. You hear the hiss of gas when he tries to fire it. In the comments they say it's "to get the projectile moving", but I've got the feeling this is just a big air gun.
 

Lightknight

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Spaceman Spiff said:
Aetrion said:
I think this is a hoax.

Why does the gun have a compressed air tank at the back and he say he has to "charge the pneumatic system"?

The amount of force it seems to produce is much more adequately explained by the fact that it's a compressed air gun than by any claim that it's a railgun.

And then there is this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J1JTe2skvo

"It didn't even fire? I think it's out of juice."

"You mean the pressure?"

"Yea"

"Oh yea"


They are trolling you right in your face.
Yea. You hear the hiss of gas when he tries to fire it. In the comments they say it's "to get the projectile moving", but I've got the feeling this is just a big air gun.
"To get the projectile moving", can't we say the same thing about gunpowder and actual rail guns? Hahaha. Good find from the comments!
 

Aetrion

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Lightknight said:
FYI, portable railguns aren't that uncommon.

<youtube=NkthsIs71OA>

There are entire hobbies built around these things because they're so accurate.
Those railguns are named because the entire gun is mounted on a rail though, not because they fire projectiles between two magnetized rails.
 

direkiller

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Panzervaughn said:
Built a rail gun, cant build a tripod.
Fires round at 560mph, cant penetrate a cantaloupe.
well yea

1861 Springfield, that rifle you see in every US civil war film, fires a much larger projectile at ~650mph.

THe reason why no one makes tiny railguns is not that they are hard to make, it's that they suck.
 

Smooth Operator

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Lightknight said:
FYI, portable railguns aren't that uncommon.
<youtube=NkthsIs71OA>
There are entire hobbies built around these things because they're so accurate.
Well "rail gun" doesn't really mean anything apart from having some rail, that particular type of gun in the video got that name on account of rails that let the barrel travel, but otherwise they are plain old gunpowder guns.

What people usually mean is Gauss gun, which propels projectiles with magnetic force, also a completely separate thing from a plasma gun as the only thing defining that would be some plasma coming out.
It's impossible to tell if the gun in question here is actually doing any of that or not as there is no solid information on what is happening inside. But usually when the available wording is so vague it means the creator has only a vague understanding of what he is doing, and more then likely he is just adding things(like air tanks) in an effort to have anything at all happen.
His claim of 560mph clearly isn't happening with the tests, nor can someone accurately determine that without some serious equipment so he must be making shit up.

Half arsing things is how most DIY projects go after all.
 

Dach

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Lightknight said:
There are entire hobbies built around these things because they're so accurate.
Aetrion said:
Those railguns are named because the entire gun is mounted on a rail though, not because they fire projectiles between two magnetized rails.
The are typically called benchrest rifles to distinguish them from electric propulsion railguns. Railguns can also refer to railway guns, a WWI/WWII rail wagon mounted artillery weapon.