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How to build a simple Plasma Rifle aka Electrothermal Rifle


by geckowil on February 4, 2008 Table of Contents License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Intro: How to build a simple Plasma Rifle aka Electrothermal Rifle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 1: Constructing the plasma rifle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 2: Construction tips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . step 3: solid state plasma generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Advertisements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 2 2 3 4 5 5 5

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

License: Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike (by-nc-sa) Intro: How to build a simple Plasma Rifle aka Electrothermal Rifle
In this Instructable we will show you how to build a simple electrothermal rifle that can shoot bbs using the plasma burst from a capacitive discharge. This design is easily scalable. If you use a higher voltage or larger capacity power supply you will be able to fire the projectile faster. Using only 1 camera as a power supply will launch the bb out at very low velocities. This project uses high voltages and can shoots bbs at dangerously high speeds. We take no responsibility for damages caused by this project. Check out our other inventions and projects at our site WillCorp . Here is a video of our high power plasma rifle in action

step 1: Constructing the plasma rifle


We'll show you how to build a small low powered plasma rifle using only common everyday items like a disposable camera for the power supply.. The rifle uses pressure produced by the several thousand degree plasma produced by a capacitive discharge to launch a projectile across the room. It transforms electrical energy into kinetic without any motors, gases, explosives or anything else. A great way to amaze your friends. Or have a mini war. Warning high voltages required for the capacitor bank may cause shock. Simply watch the embedded video for instructions

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

step 2: Construction tips


If the bb seems to just be rolling out or not even leaving the barrel, shorten the length of the pen till it shoots farthest. Basically the whole point is to short circuit the capacitors across the steel wool inside of the barrel. For a low power cannon, the electrodes can simply be 2 wires stuck into the back of the barrel. Higher power cannons will require stronger construction techniques. Beyond a couple joules, wires cant really be used as the electrodes because they will begin to vaporize along with the steel wool. In a larger version i used 2 stainless steel rods approximately 3/16" thick. i ground the bottom of the rods to a nearly flat surface, then i drilled a 3/16" hole through a block of teflon that transects a .3" hole for the aluminum barrel. I sealed the breach with a lexan plate and a neoprene gasket. the 2 steel rods were inserted into their respective holes and were connected to 8 gauge copper wires running directly to the capacitor bank.

Image Notes 1. This is the more robust teflon and steel discharge generator

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

step 3: solid state plasma generation


Another configuration that we tested was using a trigatron to initiate the plasma discharge. Basically we built a small chamber with 3 electrodes. 2 were connected directly to the capacitor bank. the 3rd was connected to the 20 kv output of a flyback transformer. The ground of the transformer was connected to the negative electrode of the capacitor. The terminals are positioned sufficiently close together so that the hv arc lowers the resistance enough for the capacitors to discharge. The key issue with this setup is that the electrodes ablate fairly quickly and they must be adjusted every few shots. Also this setup works best with a 500v capacitor bank at around 500 joules. The Plasma generated actually sears the back of the bb turning it a dark black.

Image Notes 1. Early attempt at a trigatron

Image Notes 1. Half blackened bb from heat

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

Image Notes 1. My next project, a supersonic airsoft bb fired from a .223 remington case. lol just kidding , way too dangerous

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Comments
50 comments Add Comment view all 67 comments

GSXRPARTNEEDER says:
clean your work area!!!

Jun 27, 2010. 12:11 AM REPLY

TheDoci says:

Sep 6, 2009. 10:34 AM REPLY I trid to bould a bit mor powerful version of that and it dosent work it discharges the 200 F 330V caps but it dosent vaporiz the steal wool. can you pleas help me? Its a cool project!!! But it dosent work for me :( it just dosent work so pleas help me!!!!!!!!!!!!

mattinator16 says:
try using aluminum.

Oct 2, 2009. 8:10 AM REPLY

imshanedulong says:
Does the steel wool stay so it can be reused?

Sep 23, 2009. 1:04 PM REPLY

firefighter1333 says:
500/ 600 FPS???!!! IM SOOOOOOOO GOING TO MAKE THIS IN RIFLE SHAPE!!!

Sep 3, 2009. 7:00 AM REPLY

firefighter1333 says:
or pistol...!

Sep 3, 2009. 7:01 AM REPLY

Crail says:
so... What do I do if I can't understand anything in the video?

Aug 15, 2009. 7:54 PM REPLY

pyrotech25 says:
awsome.

Aug 6, 2009. 10:46 AM REPLY

Gamer917 says:

Jul 23, 2009. 8:00 AM REPLY i really want to make one of these and put it inside a halo plasma pistol toy and the switch to fire the bb would be in the trigger of the gun

kjjohn says:

Jun 23, 2009. 7:20 AM REPLY how far would this shoot with a 940uf 400volt capacitor bank (75J of energy)? I am using a shaped projectile (iron rod modified into a bullet)

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

raedonchar says:

May 7, 2009. 8:59 PM REPLY I'm planning on using this as a step in my Rube Goldberg machine for a class project. Would it be possible to charge a 160v, 220uf capacitor by plugging it into an outlet (or would I need to build a charger circuit) and then using that to short the steel wool? All I really need it to do is knock over a contained domino.

mad magoo says:

Jun 22, 2009. 11:08 PM REPLY raedonchar: DON'T use an outlet to charge a capacitor! Seriously. Wall voltage is really dangerous, and capacitors don't really charge on AC (Alternating current--it's what your house power is, look it up on wikipedia), they just do sme freaky tesla ( again, look up tesla on wikipedia, he was an engineer) stuff. It is much safer to build a battery-operated charging circuit and use that. I hope this helps!

mzw says:

May 19, 2009. 9:07 PM REPLY Hi. i'm doing this for a science project at school lol ok so i used a standard bic pen, ripped off the tip, drilled 2 1/16th inch holes at the back etc. i also have capacitors that i got from used disposable cameras. how much steel wool should i use? i got the finest steel wool and everything, but whenever i connect the electrodes there is just a spark. please help? Feb 13, 2009. 2:02 AM REPLY nice ible me and one of my freinds are doin this on the weekend with slight variation and a masive cap bank power suply were planing on making somthing with a 70cm barel also a designed a cartridge for it look

milamber says:

bylerfamily says:
Not a bad idea...

Apr 30, 2009. 1:23 PM REPLY

ItsTheHobbs says:
So, basically the steel wool is the "gunpowder", that's lit by an electric charge? That's pretty neat, very original

Jan 3, 2009. 1:46 PM REPLY

Xellers says:
This is actually not an original design, it has already been done many times.

Jan 9, 2009. 7:34 PM REPLY

geckowil says:

Mar 12, 2009. 7:22 AM REPLY At the time when i had built it in high school i had never seen any one else designs for anything similar. the only thing i have seen similar sense is power labs electrothermal gun

Killa-X says:

Mar 11, 2009. 10:31 PM REPLY I still never got an answer from the maker of this instructables... Whats the schematic here to connect the flyback up right... I'm having problems getting the caps to discharge >_> what pins are what on your 4-way screw chamber! Nov 30, 2008. 9:41 AM REPLY could this be used to create a full auto paintball gun or would there be issues with corrosion/paintballs bursting in the barrel from the heat/paint shorting out parts that shouldn't?

teapotking says:

The Red Button says:


LMAO ROFL COPTAH HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHHAHA YEAH RIGHT

Dec 26, 2008. 6:14 PM REPLY

teapotking says:
jeez i was just joking, i could kill myself doing that, and i'm only 15, so i don't particularly want that to happen.

Jan 23, 2009. 12:26 PM REPLY

Killa-X says:
If you go on youtube there's a guy who made a ETG that can rapid fire... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwcAtd-H2MA

Mar 7, 2009. 6:37 PM REPLY

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

DrWeird117 says:
0% plasma, yet 100% pwnage

Jul 7, 2008. 3:47 AM REPLY

The 4th Doctor says:


There actually is some plasma in there

Feb 11, 2009. 11:18 PM REPLY

DrWeird117 says:
Where?

Feb 12, 2009. 12:09 AM REPLY

The 4th Doctor says:

Feb 12, 2009. 1:55 PM REPLY it arcs it least a bit in there making a bit of plasma for a very short time its not shooting any plasma but it does make an amount

DrWeird117 says:
Huh...

Feb 12, 2009. 4:28 PM REPLY

The 4th Doctor says:


eh forgets it

Feb 12, 2009. 5:40 PM REPLY

pyrohaz says:
Hey, what did you use for a trigger?

Jan 30, 2009. 3:41 PM REPLY

DrWeird117 says:
\/\/here I)035 the plasma come from?

Jan 23, 2009. 10:44 PM REPLY

AnarchistAsian says:
nice, favorite, +4.5

Jul 29, 2008. 1:18 PM REPLY

shoestring92 says:
i dont have a voltage meter, and dont know how to charge the capacitor whats the easiest way, and how long does it take?

Jul 12, 2008. 6:12 PM REPLY

geckowil says:

Jul 19, 2008. 1:44 PM REPLY well if you are using the cameras they'll charge it in 30 seconds you should really get a voltmeter for $20 bucks from radioshack, u put 300 volts across capacitor to charge it.

szechuan53 says:
hmm... modify it... voila! hot pellet projectiles!

Jun 28, 2008. 2:18 PM REPLY

Mattrox says:

Jun 23, 2008. 3:13 PM REPLY could you pleaz remove ur instructable from my group Pneumatic Airguns. Its a cool instructable but the group is for pneumatic airguns only. No hard feelings

geckowil says:
sure no prob, sorry but i can only find the button to add it to groups, how do i remove it? thanks

Jun 24, 2008. 8:45 AM REPLY

Mattrox says:
never mind i thoght i saw a button that said that but i was wrong. so never mind

Jun 25, 2008. 12:52 PM REPLY

Mattrox says:
also can you put some instructions. i think my computer is blocking the vids

Jun 23, 2008. 3:17 PM REPLY

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/

duct tape says:


Awesome! Now I can make a muzzle loading airsoft gun. Although I think the bark is worse than the bit.

May 9, 2008. 8:29 PM REPLY

geckowil says:
yeah it seams that way, but it does have one hell of a bark, the efficiencies are just too low though

Jun 5, 2008. 4:13 PM REPLY

macmaniac says:
You really need to tidy your workbench. Apart from that, good idea + 'ible

May 28, 2008. 3:48 AM REPLY

philipster says:
hi does it Just have to be aluminum or can i use steel or iron for my rails

May 5, 2008. 5:39 AM REPLY

QwertyuioLP says:
my computer is real slow with video could you post instructions?

May 5, 2008. 4:40 AM REPLY

jonrb says:
would using metal bb's and just using contacts straight from the capacitor work?

Feb 27, 2008. 7:03 AM REPLY

geckowil says:

Mar 5, 2008. 8:12 PM REPLY it would work to some extent but only when using a large capacitor bank. Without vaporizing a large portion of the bb, not enough gas will be produced to shoot it. Steel wool works the best out of anything ive tried because it is so porous. The air between the steel fibers is superheated as the fibers vaporize. the hot air gives the majority of the push to the projectile. If you can get it working well with just a metal bb please share.

bluenightweasel says:

Feb 23, 2008. 11:29 PM REPLY That's awesome! I can't right now, because its 12:30 here, but tomorrow i'm going to walmart to get a camera and some steel wool! (and if i can get my camera from my dad i will post pics). I am definately going to make this, +1 very nice instructable and i will try not to hurt myself with it ;]

bluenightweasel says:
ok nvm i cant find the rating button but if i manage to, +1 lol

Feb 23, 2008. 11:31 PM REPLY

geckowil says:
its in the info box. its right next to the current rating u just press the plus sign. thanks

Feb 25, 2008. 12:04 PM REPLY

bluenightweasel says:
..oh. lol yeah found it! =D thanks

Feb 26, 2008. 5:01 PM REPLY

view all 67 comments

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-simple-Plasma-Rifle-aka-Electrother/