Remote Control Coil Gun Tank

A tank controlled by bluetooth capable of shooting ferromagnetic projectiles

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This is a project for the technology class of the last year of high school. We are making a robot that can be controlled from an Android phone through bluetooth. The robot will be able to shoot ferromagnetic projectiles using a three-stage coilgun.

To do this project we divided the work in hardware and software. Antonio will do all the harware related stuff (designing the circuit, testing the coilgun, ...) and I'll write all the software and design the 3D model of the cannon.

Currently, the tank can be controlled and move in all directions through a virtuall joytick in the Android phone. We have tested the coilgun and it works, but first we have to design the final circuit to implement it.

This is the list of things that we have to do:

  • Design the 3D model of the cannon
  • Final touches to the microcontroller and android app's code
  • Add a LED lighting system
  • Add a controllable Laser Pointer to the tip of the cannon
  • Design a reloading system for the cannon's shells.

  • 1 × Tank Chassis
  • 1 × 12v Sealed Acid Battery 2.2Ah
  • 3 × 0.8mm 100g enammeled copper wire
  • 1 × ATMEGA328P in TQFP Microprocessors, Microcontrollers, DSPs / ARM, RISC-Based Microcontrollers
  • 3 × CNY70 Sensors / Angle, Position

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  • PCBs have just arrived!

    Antonio Aslan04/14/2017 at 15:02 0 comments

    Luckily, everything went perfect during the prototyping stage: No MOSFETS died, the microcontroller didn't turn off when the gun was firing, and the motor driver worked fine. So after drawing the circuit and designing the PCB in KiCad we decided to send the board's Gerber files to a professional fabrication house. And after doing some research and comparing suppliers, we agreed that Elecrow was our best option. After a couple of weeks here they are.

    I ordered 5 of them because it was the minimun number and those cost about 16$ ( manufacturing + shipping). Also I thought that the package was going to arrive in a month ( that's the average time for shipping from China), but it only took 15 days for the PCBs to arrive. And I also have to say that the quality and overall look of the PCBs is awesome.

    So now we only have to wait for the rest of SMD components to arrive from China (they're probably arriving next week), solder the components and test the coilgun and the tank. And if everyting goes according to plan, the project will be finished in a month, but it may take a little bit longer because we're very busy with our final High School exams.

    PS: we're not releasing the PCB and other project related files yet because first we want to make sure that the project is working without any problems, and when it does, we'll upload all the files and building instruccions.

  • Cardboard prototype

    Ramón Calvo03/12/2017 at 13:27 0 comments

    Before building the wooden structure, I decided to build a carboard prototype first. This way we ensure the design has the dimensions that we want and the inner space required for the circuit.

    Thanks to this I realised it was a good idea to make the basis a few milimeters wider. Everything else fits perfect.

    The software used to make the 3D model is Fusion 360 (student version). It is the first time I've touched a parametric modeling tool and it os fantastic. At first, I considered learning FreeCAD instead, but after reading some forums, I found out that FreeCAD is not as competent as its paid counterparts, has some bugs and it's not easy to use. I had previous experience with Blender (great software) but it's not a great idea to use it for design (or so I've read).

    This is also the first prototype I've made with cardboard and I have to say it is a great material for quick testing. It is virtually free, has a decent strength and it is easy to cut with a cutter, which makes it perfect to work with.

  • Hardware: Done and To do List.

    Antonio Aslan02/26/2017 at 21:15 0 comments

    On the hardware side, there is plenty of work to do. Currently, I have done the circuits for most of the parts of the project, for example the circuit for every coil stage, lights and laser pointer is done, and now I have to put it all in a circuit with the microcontroller and Bluetooth circuitry. But before that, some final testing and prototyping have to be done on the coilgun circuit to ensure that no more MOSFETs are going to get fried.

    If everything goes well in prototyping, making the complete circuit will be an easy task. Then I need to make the PCB, we are thinking between making it ourselves at home with HCl or to send it to a fabrication house like Elecrow. Once I have the PCB, some more testing will need to be done with the circuit and the 3D printed turrent before we put it on top of the tank. And that is going to be the last step, mount the turrent on top of the tank chassis and test it.

    In the future and if everything goes OK to that point, I plan to add a reloading system to make the tank completely autonomous. But first we need to see how the project evolves.

  • Hardware: Gun's Firing Mechanism.

    Antonio Aslan02/26/2017 at 20:29 0 comments

    The cannon has three coil stages that accelerate the projectile one after the other. First, the coil is off and the projectile isn't moving. But then we turn on the coil, current starts to flow through the coil and the bullet starts to move because the magnetic field of the coil is accelerating it.

    Then, when the projectile is in the middle of the coil and the kinetic energy is at its maximum, we have to turn off the coil. Because if we keep it on, it will slow down the projectile and will oscillate back and forth. We can detect when it has reached the center using a CNY70(infrared sensor).

    And now, the projectile will exit the coil stage with a good amount of velocity and it's ready to go out of the cannon or to be accelerated again by the next coil stage.

    Here is a shot of the firing process in an oscilloscope. As you can see, current is first applied to the coil, then the CNY70 detects the projectile and the coil turns off.

    • GATE = Gate of the MOSFET.
    • IL = Voltage through the coil.
    • A_IR = Analog output of the CNY70 sensor.
    • D_IR = Digital output of the CNY70.

    And this is the final result of the coil gun:

  • Hardware: Problems during prototyping.

    Antonio Aslan02/25/2017 at 19:26 0 comments

    Prototyping the cannon was very difficult, almost like a nightmare. Because here we're dealing with 50A going through a coil, and we need to turn the current on and off in microseconds. And as you should know from inductor theory 101, if you change the rate of current in an inductor, a voltage will be induced in the circuit. That was the problem that I was having, a huge spike of voltage was appearing in the Drain of the MOSFET, killing it instantly(I killed about 20 MOSFETs during prototyping). I didn't know that, because at that time, I had an old analog scope, incapable of doing single shot capture, and I thought that it wasn't the problem, because I was using a regular 1N4007 flyback diode to prevent voltage spikes, and it wasn't working . But when I tried the circuit with a digital scope I saw that voltage spike appearing, and I thought that I needed to change that slow diode with a faster shottky diode. So I replaced the 1N4007 with a 1N5822, and it worked! Since then, no poor MOSFETs have been killed by the voltage spikes and the gun is firing perfectly.

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