This paper describes the diagnostic tools used in the development of a new electromagnetic powder deposition system. The instrumentation, interpretation of data, and subsequent decisions regarding the direction of system development are discussed. Important system parameters, their impact on system performance, and techniques to measure them are presented. The electromagnetic powder deposition system is based on railgun technology developed by the Department of Defense. The system drives an ionized plasma sheet down the length of a railgun, reaching a final plasma velocity of 4 km/sec. The high velocity plasma, in turn, snowplows  a shock compressed gas column in front of it. This gas column sweeps through a powder cloud and accelerates it by viscous drag to a final velocity of 2 km/sec. Important system parameters include particle velocity, gas velocity, gas column pressure, and plasma propagation and velocity. Diagnostic tools include pressure transducers, a high speed digital framing camera, fiber optics and magnetic probes.