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Mechatronics Learning Studio


Crime Fighting Coil Gun

And Other Ironman Costume Accessories

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:

Ironman Faceoff Battle


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 testing it.

Making of Video


“Arc Reactor”

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 and off.  

Activated Energy Beams

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


Sound Effect

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.

Sound and Lights

The sound circuit and hand light beams were assembled together on the forearm piece of the costume

Text Box:  

 Crime 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 high voltage:

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 this problem:

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 coil guns:

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 disposable cameras

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.