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Brainstorming for a new physics/engineering project

  1. May 8, 2008 #1

    I find that a very good way to relax is to work on some side project when I get too stressed out or need to debug. For the past few months my project has been a Tesla Coil - but now that it is complete I need a new project! I am most interested in building something that results in instant gratification (obviously), so the first thing that comes to mind is a small coilgun or possibly a railgun. The technical challenges that would arise from both of these projects are quite cumbersome - one in particular is money. I would prefer to not go over a few hundred dollars, and I have a feeling that the capacitor banks required for both the aforementioned guns will surpass this budget (among the other necessary components). I am pretty good at electrical engineering stuff, although I am not as savvy at computer engineering as I wish (programming protoboards is easy though). One thing I've always wanted to mess with are those Nixie Tubes - maybe I could turn a set into a clock or something.

    Clearly, the usefulness of whatever I end up making will be questionable; I am just looking for something to help occupy the time. I have searched old threads and have found some ideas, however my plan is to make this a little more than a "Science Fair Project," and as such I need to think outside these constraints. Nonetheless, I will continue searching both inside PF and out, however I just wanted to drop a line in here to see if anybody had any suggestions.

  2. jcsd
  3. May 8, 2008 #2


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  4. May 11, 2008 #3
    What was your motive behind building a Tesla Coil? Did you want to build a Tesla Coil simply to see a display of its remarkable effects? How long did it take you to complete your Tesla Coil Project.
  5. May 11, 2008 #4
    Well, I wanted to build one because 1) it was cool (obviously), and 2) due to the technical challenges that would arise during its construction. It was a really fun project because it forced me to become extremely creative and crafty - i.e. figuring out how to build the thing with limited resources. This was my original motivation; however I ended up finishing the coil as an extra credit project for my E&M course.

    I originally decided to build the coil in the spring of 07, about a year ago. Between then and september I only managed to locate the capacitors and transformer, and in the following months I managed to mount the primary coil to my ghetto-rigged table thing and also wind the secondary. Between the beginning of the spring semester of 08 and a few weeks ago I finished everything else. Honestly, I could have probably finished the project in just a few months, however my schedule is busy with school, internships, jobs, and various social activities, so it took me a while. Nonetheless, I had fun at every stage of the project, it even relaxed me to work on it. So, now I need something else! (Thanks for the reply, by the way)

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