A self-proclaimed “mad scientist” Rob Flickenger has seemingly achieved the ultimate Nikola Tesla dream as he has managed to create a fully functional steampunk lightning rifle.
He admits that the Tesla gun is originally inspired by The Five Fists of Science graphic novel, where the 19th-century inventor Nikola Tesla is shown to be fighting crime using his Tesla coils, which were supposed to be sending current waves just like this gun. So the Tesla gun is essentially a hand-held spark gap coil which is powered using an 18 Volt drill battery.
The astonishing gun can fire 8 to 24 inches of lightning effect which has the potential of around 100,000 volts of electricity! Pretty scary stuff! But Flickenger was quick to reassure the people that the gun was nothing more than an art piece, “if you hit somebody over the head with it I’m sure it would hurt,” he says. But having said that, this fact should never be overlooked that it can be really dangerous and extensive precautionary measures must be taken before firing one.
The finished nerf gun took Flickenger around nine months to create, and he used everyday cheap everyday objects such as old cans, an old TV and lithium-ion batteries from old appliances to build it up. The total cost of the gun was around $800 (£500), and interestingly enough, Flickenger first fired the lightening bolt gun at his own wedding reception. He recalls the experience, “When it’s running, it makes the whole room smell like a thunderstorm.”
Flickenger has been going by the name of Mad Scientists due to his wide experience in creating amazing DIY projects. But even he had to take the help of many fellow hackers along with several crash courses on metal and porcelain casting and basic physics to create this masterpiece. The nerf gun has an aluminium cast and custom porcelain high-voltage switch entailing series of coils with an aluminium toroid.
Flickenger did concede that his gun isn’t quite as spectacular as the fantasy Tesla coil handgun of the comic book,
“Notably, it is a bit longer and heavier than Tesla’s own,” he says. “It also cannot (yet) create an ion wind strong enough to cushion the user when leaping from a four story building. On the other hand, my design is an improvement in two important respects: 1) It is battery powered, and 2) It actually exists.”