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How To Fire 3 Solenoids, One At A Time, Sequentially?

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New Member
Hi All,

I'm quite electronically challenged. You could say my knowledge of electonics is equal to Liz Hurleys knowledge of acting ... practically zero. :)

Imagine a circuit with 1 switch and 3 solenoids. I would like the switch to fire 1 solenoid at a time, but also retract the up-coming solenoid. e.g...

Press button, solenoid 1 protrudes, solenoid 2 retracts.
Press button, solenoid 2 protrudes, solenoid 3 retracts.
Press button, solenoid 3 protrudes, solenoid 1 retracts.
Press button, solenoid 1 protrudes, solenoid 2 retracts.

How could we do this?
What components can we use?
Is there a solenoid that is capable of retracting and protruding (without being held by current?) E.g. Magnet for one side, spring for the other.
What kind of circuit?
Where can we start?

Thanks in advance.


New Member
some sort of scheme with counters that increment when you press the button, each increment is connected to something that drives the solenoid and bypasses the last one...?


Well-Known Member
If you can get a solenoid that has a magnet as the core, you will be able to extend the core when the voltage (current) is applied in one direction and retract the core when the voltage is reversed.
This is your starting point.

You can also consider using a motor and drive-chain (to be determined).
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For some history (I've talked to the poster in live chat)

derf is trying to make a scale replica ammo cartridge for a paintball gun, the solenoids will be small and used to control which of three chambers from the cartridge are feeding paintballs into the gun. It will be battery powered (9 volt probably) and must be very compact.


New Member
Hi guys,

Haven't been on chat for a while with 3v0, bizz, ericgibbs, Sce, etc. Hope you're all doing ok. I've been having trouble with my internet connection so have been online very little :(

Anyway, project is coming along good. The 1st prototype design has been finished in Solid Edge and has been sent to the prototype expert in Italy. I'm awaiting his feedback.

Though, I still want to keep my options open regarding an electrical solution, so I may be logging into chat for the usual banter.

It could be the case, that although the mechanical solution works, reliability could be questionable even through many iterations of the prototype development. In other words, I have a feeling that the level of reliability with a mechanical solution may not be high enough in the end, given the rugged nature of the application.

My favoured electrical backup idea is one that involves a motor.

I'll attempt to lurk into chat these days.

Peace out.



New Member
Hi derfmeister,

I don't quite understand the sequence of operation.

E.g. solenoid1 produdes, 3 retracts.

Using a decimal counter the operation would look like that:

press button once: solenoid1 produdes (and stays at that position until the button is depressed again).

press button again: solenoid2 produdes and solenoid1 retracts, and so forth.

This sequence would only involve one IC and three driver transistors and won't require much space.



HI maybe this will help
i don't know if you are trying to use three differnt colors or just trying to make a auto reloader
i'm more of a structural duilder than a electrical builder
say you have three bottles all in a row with the openings facing down. then you build a slide that has one hole in it. attach it below the opening of the bottles so the hole will slide back and forth between each opening of each bottle .
now on the other side of the hole on the slide, opisite the bottles attach ahose or whatever you need to attach it to your gun.
now to make the slide move you will need eather a double solinoid that always centers it self or two solinoids and a double through mometary switch.
starting at first bottle you push switch to right, slide moves to second bottle,right again third bottle,push left back to second ,left again back to first.
now for power supply 9v may not be enough but you can get a 1 amp hr battery fairly cheep and it will fit in your shirt poket or 4 amp hr battery make a pouch and hang it on your belt.
well I hope this gives you more ideas

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