Anything but a Straight Line (What School May Not Teach You About the Design Process)
June 19, 2015
What we’ve been up to: Internet of Fish
July 30, 2015

The Power of an Electromagnet: Designing and Building an Electromagnetic SlingShot

The Idea

Like many great ideas, the idea for our Electro-Chucker slingshot was a result of many serendipitous discussions and tech experiments coming together. After creating a simple IOT demonstration and a brainstorming session on UAV launching we came up with the concept for our slingshot.

The idea was to use an electromagnet to hold down a steel plate attached to a frame by elastic surgical bands. By shutting the magnet off, it would release the tension in the bands and fire our sport ball 50 ft. up in the air.

How does an electromagnet work?

Electromagnets are simply magnets that can be turned on and off with an electric current. A piece of conductive wire is wrapped around a piece of metal. When an electric current is introduced and flows through the wire, a magnetic field is formed and magnetizes the metal. The magnet turns off as soon as the circuit is interrupted.

The Build

If there's one thing we've learned as Makers:
"Every part you need to design for your project is costly, risky, and could put you behind schedule. Source existing parts when you can.

We found you can make a great electromagnet from a used microwave oven transformer. So we did just that.

What We Learned

  1. Safety, as our teammate Justin could tell you, getting hit in the face with a slingshot is not fun! Always ensure you take every precaution to keep yourself safe when working on a project and don’t put your face or limbs where they can be hit, cut, or otherwise hurt.
  2. Source, source, source, if you can find your parts from another place instead of attempting to build it yourself, do it! We utilized a microwave transformer and turned it into our electromagnet saving us time and headaches in the process.
  3. Always weigh the costs of trial and error to the calculations of planning before building. Although all our other projects benefited from careful planning and testing this one proved to be most efficient to dive right in with trial and error, but no matter what your project is it’s always smart to weigh the pros and cons and plan according to your project goals.

  4. We still have a ways to go with building and finalizing our launch pad frame and target, but if you’re in the area come check us out in action at the 2015 Ottawa Makerfaire!