Have you ever wanted your very own gun that shoots electricity instead of bullets? Well, Rob Flickenger — a wireless designer from Seattle, Washington — made a his mad scientist dreams come true by building a “ray-gun” using a Tesla coil and a Nerf toy gun. Hopefully he will use his invention for good and not for evil.
As detailed in an article from Popular Science, Flickenger, 37, was browsing through a Seattle bookstore when he came across Matt Fraction’s steampunk-inspired graphic novel, The Five Fists of Science. In the book, inventor Nicolas Tesla is a crime fighter who uses his iconic Tesla coils to defeat evildoers. This inspired Flickenger to build a ray-gun using a Tesla coil, an electrical resonant transformer circuit.
Flickenger spent over $800 in the span of nine months to build his Tesla coil gun. He taught himself the physics of high-voltage electricity by using MIT’s free online courses. Flickenger used an aluminum replica of a Nerf gun as a base and powered his mechanism with a standard 18-volt lithium-ion drill battery, which he bought cheaply from China.
Flickenger claimed the toughest part of the construction was the “trial and error” period. Building the machine was easy, but trying to make it work was another story. “I’d switch it on, and nothing would happen, so I’d switch it off. Then I’d switch it on again and set something on fire,” jokes Flickenger. He took many safety precautions so as not to damage the ray-gun or kill himself. At first, he’d only trigger the gun with a remote control, then later he added a plastic covering so he couldn’t accidentally switch the device on, and eventually he wants to add a cartoonish “on/off” switch.
Flickenger’s Tesla coil ray-gun is something out of science fiction. Even though the ray-gun serves no practical purpose, it’s still amazing to behold! Check out Flickenger’s profile from Popular Science: