I am trying to desgin a little penny balista toy (built with a 3d printer).
The short description is that there is a track with a mass ("hammer") that slides along it. There is a stack of pennies in a hopper at the front. The hammer goes from back to the front, slams into the penny at the end and launches it.
I had a debate with a friend about whether it would go farther if the penny started at the back and was accelerated along the full length of the track along with the hammer (a more difficult design).
My question is, all else being the same, which method would impart more energy to the penny? (my suspicion, based on those "newtons cradle" toys, is that it would be the same).