Brigitte Potvin, Michelle Godin, and William Bolon, Mechanical
Engineering, University of Ottawa
Ever Wanted to be a Superhero Like the Ironman?
We did, which is why our project consists of
making electronic and mechatronics devices to add to an Ironman
costume so that we may go out and make the world a safer place,
at least hypothetically. One potential scenario for the
use of the suit is shown in the first video:
The project consists of a few pieces: an
LED “arc reactor”, sound effects and a coil gun. The
following video shows the process of making each piece and
Making of Video
Ironman’s energy source is
his “arc reactor”, a device that also produces light. In
our costume version, it was recreated with a simple parallel
circuit of super bright LED lights and a switch to turn it on
Ironman’s suit would not be complete without
energy beams found in the palm of the hands (also used for
flying in the original story). To recreate this effect, a
circuit of white LED lights were connected to a pressure sensor.
The more pressure is applied to it, the more current runs
through the lights and the brighter the “energy beam” becomes
A laser gun firing sound was created with an
IC555 timer, a speaker and the according circuitry. This
was to give the effect of shooting enemies with a projectile
device (not included) that would be loaded on the arm. By
pointing at the adversaries and pressing the button integrated
into the arm piece a repeating firing sound is heard.
The sound circuit and hand light beams were
assembled together on the forearm piece of the costume
Fighting Coil Gun
A crime fighting suit isn’t complete without some
sort of projectile launching device. A coil gun was built
in the shape of a hand held riffle.
This part of the project required redesigning the
original circuit to make it work properly and safely.
First a capacitor bank was assembled - many capacitors (mostly
recycled from old disposable cameras) in parallel for a total of
approximately 6mF, and secured in a plastic box for safety
purposes. These capacitors were connected to the charging
circuit and the firing circuit. Some obstacles were
encountered along the way, such as pieces failing to sustain a
To prevent this, some measures were taken to
reinforce some parts of the circuit with higher performance
materials. Some difficulties in soldering were found with these
materials (heavy gauge copper), and a torch was used to solve
The initial circuit had some difficulties in that
it simply did not work. Some redesign took place to
improve upon the circuit, and a second version was created.
This one did not function very well, and was therefore modified
to create the final version, named the Mark 3 Coil gun.
The following are the circuit diagrams for the Mark 1 and Mark 2
The charging circuit is made of pieces of
disposable cameras that start to blink when the voltage reaches
300V. The following picture is of four transformers from 4
The difference between the Mark 2 and Mark 3
(final coil gun) is in the coil part itself. In the Mark 1
and Mark 2 coil guns, the barrel is made of carbon composite.
This was found to create eddy currents and interfered with the
firing of the projectile. For the Mark 3 coil gun, the
barrel was switched out for a thin plastic tube, and the coil of
magnetic wire and nearby plastic tubing was sandwiched between
layers of an iron core.
Once all the pieces from the circuit diagram were
assembled sturdily, The pieces were assembled onto a gun shaped
frame. The final coil gun looked like this:
Firing tests were done with this final version of
the coil gun, and these can be seen on the “Making of” video
found on the link found at the top of this document.