Barry's Coilguns

Control Panel Construction

A coilgun at these energy levels will demand a remote control panel for safety. This is one way to do it.


I like to prototype a layout using cardboard. This is a quick and easy way to visualize it in operation, and verifies spacing and clearance between components.

A pencil sketch allows several quick layouts to try ideas. Once I like something, I'll cut cardboard to size and briefly mount the major parts to check clearance.

This coilgun needs a Variac, voltmeter and a couple switches. It seems most useful to position the voltmeter directly above the Variac dial.

Original three-quarter inch copper pipe Barry's Staff of Conductivity Example bus bar connected to two capacitors

The "voltmeter" is drawn by outlining my actual device and sketching in the dial.

I found this switch panel at a surplus store, chosen for its heavy industrial look. It was apparently designed to start and run the inboard motor of a power boat.


Wood panels are easy to work with. This is oak veneer plywood, with 1x2" solid oak strips for supports.

I may yet replace the top panel or add another support. This plywood is a bit flexible under the heavy action of the switches.

At the time of writing (August 2, 2009) the control panel is incomplete. The voltmeter has yet to be mounted and the wiring has not started. An insulated multiconductor cable will give me a good distance from the coilgun itself, probably about ten feet. There is lots of work remaining to do here.

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