New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Electrical and Computer
This work reports on how a team of four undergraduate students at Anonymous University designed, built, and tested a desk-top railgun for a year-long senior design project. The objective of the design was to safely launch a small projectile at a muzzle velocity of 100-300 meters/second from an approximately 1-meter long barrel using capacitor-based energy storage limited to a maximum of 400 VDC. The projectile needed to be fired into a catch to facilitate demonstrations inside a laboratory environment. The project was also constrained by a $3,000 operating budget and access to parts available in the laboratory. The three electrical engineering students and one systems engineering student self-selected the project and decided how to divide tasks, structure and managed a schedule, planned budget use, and leveraged in-house machine shop capabilities. The paper describes how the cadets decomposed the project into a set of subsystems including: (1) the rail system and supporting barrel, (2) the armature or projectile, (3) an injection system to provide the projectile with an initial velocity along the rails, (4) a mechanical catch system to facilitate safe and convenient firing, (5) an electrical energy storage system, (6) a high-voltage circuit for charging the storage system, (7) a pulse-forming network (PFN) that interfaces the storage system to the rails, (8) timing electronics needed to actuate the PFN, (9) a measurement system to monitor muzzle velocity, rail current, capacitor voltage, and rail temperatures, and (10) safety elements and protocol to minimize the probability of shock, misfire, or accident. The paper then describes how the project evolved from a System Requirements Review to the Preliminary, Critical, and Final Design Reviews. This senior design project was especially notable for three factors: (a) the emphasis on an early implementation which facilitated multiple passes along the design spiral, (b) the close synergy between the evolution of the hardware and the simulation models, and (c) the inter-disciplinary nature of the design which provided opportunities for electrical engineers to consider items such as material properties, forces on the barrel, temperature effects, aerodynamic drag, rail ablation, and velocity measurements. In the process of the design, students were able to leverage their circuit analysis skills and build on their simulation experience in both Multisim and Simulink. The paper concludes with a section on lessons learned and recommendations on strategies for mentoring such a project.
McGuirk, J. S., & Ciezki, J. G. (2016, June), An Electromagnetic Railgun Design and Realization for an Electrical Engineering Capstone Project Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26578
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