Watch a 400V home-made railgun fire its first slug

Popular Mechanics dubbed him a “mad scientist”, and Ziggy Zee has delivered on expectations by building a 110kg, 400 Volt railgun which shoots aluminium slugs.

The gun itself weighs just under 23kg, while the remaining weight is made up by a bank of 56 400V, 6000 microfarad capacitors.

Zee said it took him about two years to acquire all the capacitors he needed. Each capacitor costs around $850, meaning the whole bank (with two spares) cost approximately $50,000 (R700,000).

The power bank of Ziggy Zee's railgun – notice the strip of 9V batteries on the left
The power bank of Ziggy Zee’s railgun – notice the strip of 9V batteries on the left.
ZIggy Zee's railgun
ZIggy Zee’s railgun.

An aluminium slug is accelerated onto the gun’s copper rails with compressed carbon dioxide, after which it is propelled down the barrel electromagnetically.

The slug emerges semi-molten from the barrel, giving it a short range, but Zee said he is working on finned, Tungsten projectiles.

In an Imgur post documenting how he built the electromagnetic gun, Zee posted the following disclaimer:

I am providing information on how I created this project, but I cannot recommend anyone try this, EVER. High-voltage capacitors are extremely dangerous. High speed projectiles are dangerous. 9-volts are dangerous. Nothing in this project can be made absolutely safe. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

A video of the gun’s first trial run is embedded below.

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Watch a 400V home-made railgun fire its first slug