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Hardware Technology

Building a Full-Auto Gauss Gun 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the science-is-fun dept.
Okian Warrior writes "Adding to the 3-D printed gun/rifle controversy, Delta-V Engineering built a Full-auto Gauss gun (aka 'machine gun'), capable of firing 15 steel bolts from its magazine in less than two seconds. At 3% the muzzle energy of a .22, it's still in the prototype stage. Bullets are made from turned-down nails, and the gun uses no chemical propellants. The builder has posted the design notes online. Video of the gun in action is pretty interesting."
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Building a Full-Auto Gauss Gun

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  • by tocsy (2489832) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:40PM (#44500653)

    "Adding to the 3-D printed gun/rifle controversy"

    How? Neither the Hack A Day article nor the design notes mention "3d" or "printing," and the fact that it's a gauss gun implies that metal is pretty central to the design... which can't be 3d printed at this point in time.

    • by ganjadude (952775) <pmalloy4391.gmail@com> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:46PM (#44500763) Homepage
      actually there are metal 3d printers. they are just not as common and generally not what many are speaking of when talking 3d printers at this point in time. I just did a quick google search and found this one fvor example http://www.3dsystems.com/3d-printers/production/spro-125-direct-metal [3dsystems.com]
      • by tocsy (2489832)

        I... was completely unaware of that - I suppose a simple search would've told me as much. I don't see anything about price though, so who knows if it's actually available to individuals or if you'd have to be super rich to get one.

        • The printers are dear but there's a few fablabs around where you can have your design printed in metal, at a reasonable cost.
        • by ganjadude (952775)
          from my understanding they are at the early adoptor phase, so not generally availible to the masses yet. normal plastic 3d printers are still pricey so the metal ones are a few grand more expensive. cheepest one ive seen was about 11K
        • 3d metal printing on demand was invented at roughly the same time as plastic printing, in the mid-1980s. I think the first ones were sintering, but now there's several other methods. Go look at wikipedia.

          But anyway 3d metal printing has been available to the unwashed masses for quite a while now. It's not cheap, but it's easily done if you've got the simoleons.

          Shapeways was offering stainless steel printing with 21 days lead time at $10 per cubic centimeter to pretty much anybody by 2009, and nowadays yo

    • by bmk67 (971394) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:48PM (#44500793)

      Not only that, but this isn't even legally a "gun" under U.S. law.

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        What criteria does it not meet for being a firearm?

        (3) The term “firearm” means
        (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
        (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;
        (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
        (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

        That's from USC 921. There are many similar definitions in US law; some are even so as restrictive to be inclusive of propelled air or mechanically propelled weapons (eg. BB guns and slingshots).

        • by bmk67 (971394) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @04:26PM (#44502067)

          "expel a projectile by the action of an explosive"

          That part.

    • you can 3d print metal FYI..

      http://www.3dsystems.com/3d-printers/production/spro-125-direct-metal#.UgKVbkBDtIM

      http://gpiprototype.com/services/metal-3d-printing.html

      Just some quick google search results on on the topic of "3d printer metal"

    • While I agree, I think the underlying tie here is that "fully automatic" has, until this point, been something that requires industrial design and manufacture to incorporate into a design. It's not a trivial thing to do, and requires a fair amount of precise moving parts for weapons with chemical charges.

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:59PM (#44500961)

        Why would you think that?
        You can make a fully automatic submachine gun of the open bolt design out of stuff you can find at home depot.

        • Yeah, as long as you don't mind the heat from firing to bleed down into your cartridge.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            You don't know what firing from an open bolt means do you?

            It means that the firing pin is part of the bolt face or fixed onto it and the bolt slamming down on the round is what fires it. In most simple designs the bolt is then thrown back by the round discharging. This design as you can likely now guess vents a lot of heat and as such tends to avoid overheating.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            sterns work just fine for warfare. it's a crude design but works. of course you can't go on shooting 1000+ rounds in one go but with few guns can you do that anyways, barrel will go bust before the rounds popping in the magazine.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:18PM (#44501255)
        Yes because in WWII they didn't have the technology to make something as simple as a Sten http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sten [wikipedia.org]
    • "Adding to the 3-D printed gun/rifle controversy"

      How? Neither the Hack A Day article nor the design notes mention "3d" or "printing," and the fact that it's a gauss gun implies that metal is pretty central to the design... which can't be 3d printed at this point in time.

      It's doubly sensationalist because Gauss guns (and railguns, though this isn't one) are both technologies beset by the 'If I had a source of nearly-unlimited current with a rise time of ~0, and a supply of superconducting magnets (or, for railguns, unobtanium rails with heroic resistance to welding/resistive heating damage), I could totally fuck you up!' problem.

      If you handwave the electrical issues, magnetic accelerators are all kinds of scary. If you don't, you'd be lucky to cram the power supply for anyt

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        If you handwave the electrical issues, magnetic accelerators are all kinds of scary. If you don't, you'd be lucky to cram the power supply for anything actually dangerous into a single support vehicle...

        Unless your support vehicle is an Aegis cruiser or some such thing.

        The military is always looking for new and improved ways to lob shit on people from long distance.

    • by bugnuts (94678) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:10PM (#44501109) Journal

      In the US, it is legal to make a gun. A real gun that fires real bullets (one at a time).
      But it is illegal to sell it, unless you're a firearms manufacturer.

      Most people don't realize this, and is the heart of the 3D printed gun "controversy". The only reason it's a controversy is that most people don't know this. The ATF isn't very concerned, because the 3D printed guns will not really change the amount of guns in circulation... they're a one-off and will not last for generations, unlike a real gun.

      I don't believe a gauss gun qualifies as a firearm. Thus, the laws against fully-automatic firearms (or firearms at all) don't apply, and is more akin to a BB gun, paint pellet, or airsoft gun. But this gauss gun has the potential of actually firing lethal rounds because it's not limited to the speed of expanding gases, which I find interesting.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Actually it is totally legal to sell the gun, so long as that was not the reason you built it. So if you build a gun, and get sick of it a few months later you can legally sell it. This may not be legal in your state though, I am speaking only about federal law.

        This gas gun does not have the potential of firing lethal rounds. The speed of expanding gasses is a heck of alot faster than this thing will ever propel a projectile.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        I think the 3d-printed statement was more to draw attention to the fact that there's more ways than just printing guns to make them and that alternate methods exist.
    • by jxander (2605655)

      While it won't feed directly into the "3D printed" part of the controversy, this is still arguably a fully automatic rifle (aka "assault weapon") that someone built in his spare time, at home. (depending on your definition of what exactly constitutes a gun ... launching a handful of nails at 90 mph is painful, but not terribly deadly)

      And of course, this is hardly the only gun someone has ever made at home. From zip guns to STEN, and a lot more can be made in the comfort of your own home... and that's not

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      "3D printed guns" is just a bunch of media gathering hype and bullshit.

      With the most rudimentary tools, people have been able to produce firearms much more serviceable than these dangerous plastic devices. People have been making AKs using not much more than a hot fire and a couple smooth stones for almost 50 years. Simple blowback operated machine guns similar to the WWII Sten can be made in a garage with scrap metal, a dremel, and a piece of rusty pipe, or 'bangsticks'.

      It's not difficult and requires very

  • 3% velocity (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:42PM (#44500701)

    okay, a .22 averages around 1,120 f/s [wikipedia.org]. 3% of that is 33.6 feet per second. That translates to around 23 MPH. Yes, I can see how this highly dangerous weapon might add to the controversy of 3D printed guns. It is only slightly slower than an olympic sprinter running at full tilt [hypertextbook.com].

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Terrifying, this flings nails not quite as fast as a young child could through them.

    • I want to know what's been keeping someone from building a beefier, actually deadly version of these.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Physics?

        You need a ridiculous amount of current, you need coils with a near instant rise time and you need switches that flip instantly. Good luck.

      • by jxander (2605655)

        I'm actually thinking we need less beef to make it more deadly. Specifically in the ammunition

        Kinetic energy is Mass x Velocity-Squared. Velocity (being squared) is the biggest driver. A smaller projectile might pick up more speed and thus improve the overall kinetic energy.

        Maybe not... can't really be sure. A smaller object might not pick up as much magnetic pull (is there a saturation point? IANAScientist ... I just play one on TV) Either way, probably worth investigating. And a smaller object wo

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      It is only slightly slower than an olympic sprinter running at full tilt

      I don't have to outrun you, I just have to outrun your bullets...

    • by WiseWeasel (92224)

      The article [hackaday.com] mentions an actual speed of 40m/s, which converts to 144km/h or around 90 MPH. Still not setting any records, but the video does indicate these things can do some damage.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      Yup. Actually I was recently interested in coil guns and using my 3d printer to turn out some ideas I was having. It was fun but, I never actually even got to a working prototype. I did however do some reading up on what others have done and.... its a mixture of impressive and not so much.

      This site http://www.coilgun.ru/ [coilgun.ru] attempts to track and showcase where hobbiests have gotten on coil guns. Only a handful of them are at the point that I would consider them even passable weapons. Most are, at best, minor a

      • Eh, small point of reference. A coil gun and a gauss gun are two different things. A coil gun works by pulling the slug magnetically down the barrel. A gauss gun works by putting the slug on rails and running a charge across it. But neither are going to be particularly dangerous with the amount of electricity available to your average home owner. -_-

        • by TheCarp (96830)

          Interesting, I always thought a gauss gun was a coil gun, and what you are describing is a rail gun.

          Since gauss is a measure of magnetic field strength, and both of them use magnetic fields to propel the projectile (albeit through different mechanisms, since one is a passive projectile and the other is actually an odd form of single loop coil that has an unusually low resistance to deformation in one direction) it would make sense to me to call both gauss guns, and use coil/rail to differentiate the types.

        • No, a coilgun and a gauss gun are the same thing. "Putting the slug on rails and running a charge across it" is a railgun.
    • Re:3% velocity (Score:5, Informative)

      by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:04PM (#44501029) Homepage

      If you RTFA, you'll find that the muzzle energy is 3% of that of a .22, not the velocity. The velocity is about 40m/s, or about 90MPH.

      • Even so, a sharp projectile hitting your at 23MPH still isn't something to laugh at as the grandparent attempts to do.

    • It is only slightly slower than an olympic sprinter running at full tilt.

      I still wouldn't want to get shot with it.

      • It is only slightly slower than an olympic sprinter running at full tilt.

        I still wouldn't want to get shot with it.

        Yeah, if somebody fires Ben Johnson into you at full sprint, you're going to have a bad time.

    • Re:3% velocity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by pruss (246395) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:29PM (#44501431) Homepage

      The muzzle velocity is 40 m/s according to the article, i.e., 131 ft/sec or 89 mi/h. I wouldn't want to be hit with that.

      The 3% figure refers to the kinetic energy, and perhaps reflects a less massive projectile than the .22 shoots.

  • by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @02:44PM (#44500729)
    Saying that this contributes to the "3-D printed gun/rifle controversy" is a falacy. This weapon has limited components associated with 3D printing. The majority of the device appears to be machined aluminum. Not to mention the large about of electronics and power technology incorporated in the design. This has about as much to do with the "3-D printed gun/rifle controversy" as it does the "electrical engineering controversy".
    • by csumpi (2258986)

      Saying that this contributes to the "3-D printed gun/rifle controversy" is a falacy.

      Sure, but it ups the page views. Welcome to the new /.

    • The hand grip is black plastic, thus it scares me (and could have been 3d printed, except it's cheaper to buy a nicer one).

  • Oh, sure, they can make this, but I still can't find a stapler which will go through more than about 10 pages without resorting to the big monster next to the printer. ;-)

  • Lets hope he's got all his tax documents in line with the BATFE ....

    • by bmk67 (971394)

      Why? It's not a firearm, and therefore does not fall under NFA.

      • by OverlordQ (264228)

        Yes it is.

        For the purposes of the National Firearms Act the term Machinegun means:

        Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger
        The frame or receiver of any such weapon
        Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a w

        • by bmk67 (971394)

          No. It is not. The NFA covers firearms, not weapons which are not firearms.

          Please, contact the ATF and inquire about a NFA stamp for a full-auto air gun and see what they say. Or a gauss gun, for that matter.

        • Re:NFA? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EmperorArthur (1113223) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:35PM (#44501499)

          Yes it is.

          For the purposes of the National Firearms Act the term Machinegun means:

                  Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger

                  The frame or receiver of any such weapon

                  Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, or

                  Any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person."

          This clearly falls under the the first point.

          Ehh, who needs mod points.

          By that definition, then nerf and airsoft machine guns are illegal. Clearly you're missing something. Either that, or the US laws really are that bad, and the only reason why everyone is not in jail is because of selective enforcement.

          For those who don't realize it, selective enforcement means the government and police can throw anyone they dislike in jail. It's a major enabler of tyranny.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            Or the big thing you missed is that this is not a Firearm and as such the NFA does not apply.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Holly Shit!. I bought a rubber-band gun 20 years ago that was a Machinegun!. 6 rubber bands in a single pull of the trigger. And no tax stamp.
  • My neighbor's kid brother used to spit them at us while watching tv when he was a kid. I just wish I had had some chemical propellant to blast him off.

  • That's bad ass!
  • by Groo Wanderer (180806) <charlie@NoSPaM.semiaccurate.com> on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @03:39PM (#44501549) Homepage

    The big problem with this post is that it misses the entire point of the problem. You can make Gauss guns with ease, they work, and they fire things at high enough velocities to destroy hardened armored targets. That is not a challenge, the problem is making them last more than a few shots before they self-destruct.

    This story was all about a low velocity gun that can fire more than 10 bolts at low speed. Again not a big deal. The problem is that they are using low power (relatively) to do this and it lasts a "long" time. When you up the power to useful level, it rips the rails us, oxidizes/burns them, warps them from heat, and all the other problems that are real engineers are struggling with.

    In essence the OP says that they can avoid all the consequences by avoiding the useful effects of the device. Great, how can this not be considered a step forward! I can make a 500MPG car that doesn't actually move very fast and isn't large enough to carry a can of beer much less a person, is that too a massive advance in tech? Idiots.

    • No where does it say this is a massive advance in tech. It is described as "interesting."

      What it is is a massively cool bit of home engineering.

      Oh, and it's a gauss (coil) gun, not a rail gun. Gauss guns don't have the same issue of disintegrating rails.

      Chill,
      Sam

    • You're ignorant (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ShooterNeo (555040) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @04:38PM (#44502169)

      The drawbacks you mention apply to rail guns, not Gaus guns. Gaus guns have serious problems of their own (most of the prototype designs aren't powerful enough, the only design I've read about that would probably have truly useful velocities requires superconducting magnets. If you read the wiki article, apparently there's serious problems with iron projectiles.)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coilgun [wikipedia.org]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun [wikipedia.org]

      http://www.askmar.com/Massdrivers/Superconducting%20Quenchgun.pdf [askmar.com]

      On Page 6 it has an interesting table of the actual mass and physical dimensions of the accelerator. Note that muzzle energies far greater than proposed for the Navy's railgun project are possible (the smallest one is 1820 megajoule's, the navy wants a 64 megajoule railgun) but also notice the huge size and bulk of the launcher : 147 meters long.

      But there's no arcing problem, and the proposed design is supposed to be reusable.

  • Wives (Score:5, Funny)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Wednesday August 07, 2013 @06:44PM (#44503543)
    Walking behind me as I watched the video and all she said was "No.".

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