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Homework Help: Magnetic linear Accelerator + Newton's Balls

  1. Apr 17, 2005 #1
    It is time for my HS Physics Class final project. I have about a month to design and build a piece of equipment to show my knowledge of any topic we have covered this year.
    My idea was to have a basic small magnetic linear accelerator ( just basic type for shooting steel balls such as this website's idea http://http://www.scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/magnets/gauss.html [Broken] ) with a set of newton's balls on either side so it would fire a steel ball into one set of newton's balls and the balls would swing up and then come back and knock the ball the other direction into the other set of newton's balls. So essentially the linear accelerator would be an extenstion of the newton's balls. It would probably be constructed with electromagnets but permanent magnets might have to do, I am not sure.
    My questions are: Would this even work? Is there anything special I need to take into consideration? Would this be too expensive?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2005 #2
    You can make gauss rifles with the cost of a ruler, glue, some magnets and some steel balls. Probably $20 tops. Its really neat but be careful where you aim it. You'll also want to do alot of explaining as to how and why it works.
  4. Apr 18, 2005 #3
    my question is whether the gauss rifle will beable to fire in the oposite direction once it has firedinto the first set of newton's balls. When the balls swing back and hit the steel ball, will it set off the gauss rifle in the other direction to the other set of newton's balls or is the gauss rifle only one direction. One solution could be to turn the gauss rifle 180 degrees after firing while the first set of newton's balls are still in motion.
  5. Apr 18, 2005 #4
    As far as I know gauss rifles only go one direction. You can look it up though, I remember finding experiment plans to make them go circular or perpetually.
  6. Apr 18, 2005 #5
    Ok, here is another idea, same principle but slightly different design, this time it is more complex. Do you think it would work this way?

    Take a thin strip of cardboard the same size as the ruler in the old design. Start with one steel ball at one end and a set of Newton's balls at each end as well. Then at the same intervals that the last magnets were set up at, place electro magents that can be toggled on or off wiht a simple switch. now the complex part comes. Start the ball rolling by knoickg it with one set of newton's balls. As it rolls towards the first electromagnet, turn on that magenet to attract and accelerate it, then if timed right, turn off the magnet and it's inertia will keep it rolling towards the second magnet, repeat to attract and accelerate the ball to the second magnet. Do that until it reaches the end, where in theory it would be going much faster than it started, causing it to hit the second Newton's Balls. The far newton ball would swing up then fall back and knock the first newton ball into the steel ball sending the ball back towards the nearest elctromagnet, repeating the process in the oposite direction of the first trip. This would take some work to get the timing right, but now it seems as if it should work both ways.
  7. Apr 18, 2005 #6
    What kind of shape is all this in, if its linear, then I'm not understanding, if its not, then your going to have to be able to control trajectories which is probably too copmlicated than you want to handle.
  8. Apr 18, 2005 #7
    thanks for your help so far, sorry i am bad at explaining this. try looking at a quick picture i made on my computer, it snot that easy to understand either but i might have been misleading in my descriptions


    Basically its just one big set of Newton's Balls ( Newton's Cradle some call it) except the middle ball moves back and forth linearly between the two sets of newtons balls, being accelerated by the electro magnets turning on and off at the right times.
  9. Apr 18, 2005 #8
    I was imagining the magnets to be positioned on the table with the newtons balls, perhaps directly alongside them or infront of them (if you can get them to transfer energy well). That way you'll get the most acceleration out of it.
  10. Apr 19, 2005 #9
    my drawing wasnt clear on this, this whole thign will be on top of a table, with a base board then the vertical electromagnets, then a very thin top board maybe thin cardboard or plastic, so the poles of the electromagnets will be very near the ball.

    my plans for the magnets, to make them strong will be to use quite a bit of wire, as well as power the device from a wall outlet to an old computer powersupply to covert it to dc, then use the highest voltage leads from the powersupply, I believe it has 3V 5V and 12V. I would take the 12V outlets from the powersupply and run them through a step up transformer to increase the voltage to further increase the strength of the magnet.

    my plans for the way to get the timing down was, just to turn on all magents ot begin with then have an optical switch directly above maybe slightly infornt of each magnet that short circuits that magnet to turn it off. Then have the newton's ball at each far end trigger a switch that turns on all of the magnets again. If this will not work then i may find a way to turn on each magnet individually and off individually but the former way seems easiest.
    Then all i need to do is buy the optical switches, contact switches, the wire, and the newton's balls, I think I can come up with a steel ball, and I have the computer powersupply and transformers.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2005
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