Coilgunner: simulate a coil gun

Brent Halonen
August 6th, 2020
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Coil Gun schematic

We recently hired a physics major, Jason Lehto, and as a warm up project, he built a coil gun (or gauss cannon) simulator. Coil guns use magnetic fields to propel a projectile to velocity. Coil guns are currently under evaluation by various militaries as a silent launching system for weaponry and as a cheaper launch system for satellites. A coil gun functions by imposing a magnetic field on a projectile selectively as it passes through the gun to keep pushing the projectile further down the barrel, and overcomes some of the frictional challenges posed by a rail gun.

The simulator allows for calculation of exactly how large a coil gun would be needed to accelerate a projectile over the speed of sound. A whole list of parameters can be changed to see how the gun would respond. Our intern (and brother) Eric Halonen built a web front end for the project, and you can interact with the project at https://www.coilgunner.com/. Due to computational costs, we only allow 4 coils in the web simulator. If you are curious what a many coil scenario looks like, here is one with 10 coils. 10 coil simulation

We used differential equations to model the basic physics then numerically solved resulting system of equations. The resultant problem has significant complexity, as coils are activated very rapidly as a function of the position of the projectile in the barrel. This results in what is called a "stiff" problem. The DifferentialEquations.jl toolset we used can solve even these complex problems fairly easily. You can read how it all works here (and even look at the source code), though this is strictly an advanced read. https://github.com/laurium-labs/CoilGun.jl

This showcases another Laurium Labs solution where advanced algorithms are brought to an easy to use interface. If you have a hard problem that needs a full working solution, don't hesitate to contact us.

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