Introduction: 800watt, 12' Long 16" Diameter Bass Cannon.

Picture of 800watt, 12' Long 16" Diameter Bass Cannon.

I built this Bass cannon, based on the Bose WaveCanon. Its a resonating tube driven by an internal sub woofer.
Basically a Giant Sub Woofer.

I built this as part of an audio visual project for Burning Man 2007. Using a tube with the driver mounted inside it resonates much like a church pipe organ within a specific frequency range. Hopefully the bass frequency range.

Called "Rare Angles" it comprises 12' of cardboard Sonotube as used by concreters to form columns. Its cheap, easy to work with and rigid enough to use for this application. You can get it at a concrete supplier.

As soon as I laid eyes on what Holly and team over at did, I knew it was just a matter of time, and any flimsy excuse to build my own.

This Bass Cannon is designed very basically. I was able to buy a 12' length of 16" sonotube. The driver has to be placed exactly 1/4 the distance down the full length of the tube or 3 feet.

From what I can gather from research, the longer the tube length will raise your resonant frequency. I figured my resonant frequency was about 30Hz. I am probably wrong. I did the calc a while ago so can't be sure how I arrived there.. It wasn't too loud on the "test fire" audio sweep, but a neighbour from 2 doors down, certainly heard it and came running down the street.. "Are you making that noise?!"
Maybe me sitting on my deck with a giant carboard tube and earmuffs on gave me away.

Step 1: Ingredients

1 x sub woofer 12 or 15" depending on the sise of tube you want 15" in this case
1 x length of sonotube slightly larger than your sub woofer diameter 16" in this case
1 x sheet of 3/4" ply
wood screws
glue / sealant (sikaflex works well)

Circle cutting jig for router
3/4" spade bit
circular saw or jig saw.

Step 2: Cut the Sonotube Into Two Pieces

Picture of Cut the Sonotube Into Two Pieces

Work begins by cutting the sonotube. The sub woofer mounting flanges need to meet 1/4 of the way down the length of the tube. For me and my 12' long piece thats 3' along.
Do do this accurately I measured with a large sqaure 3' from one of the ends at about 6 points around the circumference of the tube. I then wrapped a piece of masking tape around, making sure one edge of the tape passed through the points I'd just marked. I used this as a guide for the jigsaw. I drilled a starter hole to get the jig saw blade in then went at it! Afterwards I removed the tape. The cut will be kinda fury but that ok, this will be concealed inside the flanges.
I didnt take a photo of this step so I drew it. See the diagram with the light grey lines being my 3'
long marks then the dark band being the tape which i used as a guide to cut the tube squarely.

Step 3: Cut the Sub Woofer Mounting Flanges

Picture of Cut the Sub Woofer Mounting Flanges

The flanges are used to mount the driver and also to couple the two tube sections. The following description is kinda general as if you make one of these, your dimensions will be different to match your tube and your driver.

I used a circle cutting jig, consisting of a strip of ply with the router mounted on one end. This was nailed to the centre of a board of 1/2" ply which would become the first flange. I began to cut out a the diskusing a 1/4" bit at 10" radius to give a 20" flange disk.
Starting from the outside of the flange in, I cut out the perimeter.
Then cut a 1/4" wide groove 1/4" deep at 8" radius for the top half of the sonotube to sit in. This is where the cut is concealed, and also provides a little extra surface for the adhesive to bond and create an airtight seal.
Then I flipped the disk over and cut a 10mm deep groove at 7.5" (I love changing between metric and imperial) then another 2 at the same depth inside that, which makes a shoulder for the driver to sit in.
The next cut is just inside the last to go all the way through to remove the centre section.

The second flange was identical.

Again I have drawn a cross section of the flange piece.

I then clamped the two flanges together and drilled 4 x 3/4" holes with a spade bit for the bolts to hold the two flanges together. When drilling through ply (or any timer) with a spade bit, keep an eye on the underside and when the point of the bit starts to emerge flip the piece over and finish the hole from the other side. This will prevent tear outs and give a nice clean hole..

Step 4: Install the Sub Woofer.

Picture of Install the Sub Woofer.

As seen in the photo, the sub woofer faces downward. It can go either way around without too much issue..
I screwed the sub woofer securley onto the lower flange, added the second flange ontop then added the second length of sonotube.

I worried that the wind would possibly snap the tube out of the 1/4" grooves so re enforced the tubes with ply triangles made from scraps.

I used marine Sikaflex to glue the tube into the grooves, then screwed the ply rib triangles from inside the sonotube. I used more sikaflex to bead between all the support ribs. It ended extremely strong.

I did have to drill a hole through the lower flange to let the sub woofer cable pass through. This was an oversight. In future I'd run the cable to the sonotube wall and pass through to lugs on the outside.

Step 5: Wire Up and Test.

Picture of Wire Up and Test.

Thats the majority of the work done!

I made a stand for the whole thing to stand on, but this was an error. The resistance of the bass cannon standing close to the ground created back pressures that introduced some unwanted characteristics.. nasty resonances that caused humming and nasty distortions.

This should always be mounted with plenty of room beyond either end of the tube.

Finally is a pic of the bass cannon in situ on the playa with the remainder of the paraphenalia attached..

See a full description here;


thelandlord (author)2009-07-27

There's an easy way to make people very ill without needing tubes big enough to resonate right down there... make two tubes, one tuned for about 20HZ, another for about 27HZ. Feed your stereo amplifier with the matching tones on each channel.

Aim them toe-in to make the 'beams' cross a safe distance away, and turn up the steam... where the two soundfronts meet, they'll beat against each other and that'll make two tones other than the ones you've put in... 20+27=47Hz, and 27-20=7Hz.

47Hz you will hear as a very loud hum, slightly flat of a mains hum.
7Hz, you will not hear at all (unless you're an elephant) however anybody unfortunate enough to encounter the 'sweet spot' will soon feel very poorly indeed as their internals begin to resonate - think extremely seasick, only so much worse - they'll pray for death to come quickly. :-)

If you have a bad neighbour, this could completely ruin their night. ;-)

sinbad13 (author)thelandlord2017-03-15

How do you determine the sweet spot? Lets say my feed room at the end of a two hundred foot barn.

grungehead (author)thelandlord2009-07-27
Where do you learn to do this? "Sounds" interesting.
thelandlord (author)grungehead2009-07-28

Originally, by spending too much time with 'musical theatre' types - there was a musical called 'Time' written by Dave Clark that was quite popular in the UK a while ago, and it used something similar as a special effect. They needed the audience to feel 'space-sick' during a rocket-launch, and clearly couldn't physically pick the auditorium up and shake it... so somebody had the idea of beating a 20Hz tone against a 17Hz one through the PA system... not loud enough to risk an 'accidental brown' if somebody was a little weak in that department (google 'Ben Folds' and 'Improv Everywhere' for one of the best pranks ever...) but enough to shake the room a bit and make everybody feel 'nervous' without quite understanding why. Of course, then you have to 'experiment', don't you? ;-)

ilpug (author)thelandlord2012-03-31

I suppose you are talking about infrasonics... Look that up on this site, someone made a woofer that does it.

ItsTheHobbs (author)thelandlord2009-07-28

Improv Everywhere is awesome. I especially liked the mirror subway.

fwater (author)thelandlord2009-09-17

WAY more complicated than that. One minus the other and one plus the other is not what you end up with. You constructive and destructive interference, and a great deal of cancellation and diminished output. You'll get one modulated tone, not two seperate ones.

pikaj00 (author)thelandlord2009-07-30

myth busters tested that its a myth.

strangebike (author)thelandlord2009-07-30

didn't mythbusters do that one or was that for the other end ? can't remember now

Oh reeeeeeeeally? Any chance of an 'ible appearing? :3

frollard (author)thelandlord2009-07-27

I was always curious about the brown note...they said it was busted on mythbusters, but I dont 100% trust those guys. It's crazy neat either way.

thelandlord (author)frollard2009-07-28

Trust them or not, they've still got the best job in the world...

frollard (author)thelandlord2009-07-28

Yeah, pretty much!

clark (author)frollard2009-07-27

except thelandlord isn't talking about a brown note.

frollard (author)clark2009-07-28

hehe...seemed like it fit the bill...

thelandlord (author)clark2009-07-28

Correct. :-)

dante8026 made it! (author)2014-03-14

I started a DJ club about 4 years ago and we just finally got around to financing and building a Bass Cannon based on your design. We used a Peavey LowMax 4800 watt sub paired with a Behringer 6000 watt iNUKE am. We used a sonotube that is 20" diameter by 12 feet long. We suspended the whole thing on a rolling car with rope to prevent the cart from rattling. It is not at full power in this video and our other 2 18's are not hooked up. This is the Bass Cannon at about 30$. We were not allowed to turn it on during freshman orientation because of all the bass h8terz. Thank for your design post. The Cannon sounds amazing.

Here is the video of the Bass Cannon we built...

dante8026 (author)dante80262014-03-14

30% not 30$ BTW: all in all we spent about $1400 on this project.

Michael Myrick (author)2014-01-31

Your Cannon (R.I.P.) was an example of true transmission line bass. I have a pair of DCM Time Frame 2000's connected to a mint condition Pioneer SX-1980. The bass is superbly tight. I cannot imagine what that Monster sounded like.

jhuddleston (author)2011-07-17

i started reading about this last night, i was so amazed about it. So this morning i took a small surround speaker to see what i could make on a small scale. I used four foot of 2 1/2 in. pvc pipe, and i was blown away cause it hits and sounds just as good as my surround system sub woofer. I will defiantly have to go bigger and see what i can accomplish, i would like to thank you guys for all the info you have said here.

it's called a transmission line speaker, it's made to reduce the low end roll off that a lot of speaker cabinets will give to a loudspeaker, try quarter-wave dot com to learn more about them if you'd like.

Hogbroom (author)2013-08-19

So...can I play dubstep at the Talent Show this year with this thing, or is the frequency off?

shootermatic (author)2013-08-13

How heavy is it? I want to build one of these in the style of Arni's mini gun in predator so I can sneak around to my neighbours in the middle of the night and open up hell's gates.

epicnoobpwn (author)2013-07-28

Let the bass cannon kick it...

JonnyDude2008 (author)2013-03-31

Hey how to you route something that isn't just a straight line? Sorry I'm 16 and only ever routed the odd housing joint so don't know how to do it on something circular

NastySpill (author)JonnyDude20082013-03-31

You use a quick circular routing jig, like this..

JonnyDude2008 (author)NastySpill2013-04-01

ah i see thanks :)

ilpug (author)2012-03-31

That last picture is one of the cooler pictures I have ever seen. Awesome build!

seanhiebel (author)2011-11-10

Would it be possible to make this work at 4' long?

NastySpill (author)seanhiebel2011-11-11

Sure would! Just cut your tube so that the driver is 1' down the length. So you'll have a 1' section connected to a 3' section.

Have fun!

daliad100 (author)2010-10-23

I have built a little one of these out of several sheets of paper, a small speaker and a dead pair of head phones and I must say it certainly works.

However, in testing it appears to resonate well over a very wide range of frequencies which I suppose is sort of a good thing for music and films but It makes it really difficult to understand :(

PyroMaster007 (author)daliad1002010-10-25

you should post an instructable on how to make one such as you describe. i attempted putting headphones into a paper tube and it didn't do anything whatsoever. explain a little more?

daliad100 (author)PyroMaster0072010-10-26

I took a small speaker from an old toy and soldered it to the lead from the dead headphone so it had a 3.5mm jack for easy connectivity to sources of sound.

Then I wrapped a small piece of card around the speaker to hold it in position and added a large pile of nail polish to protect the connections from shorts and to glue the speaker in place (not completely necessary but it makes it secure.)

Finally, I took a thickish sheet of paper and found where 1/4 of the way along its edge was. Taped the speaker tube so it was roughly centred on the line and rolled the paper into a tube. You can hear the change in volume from bare speaker to speaker in tube if you're playing music/ a tone through it when you roll it up.

You can run the wire through the tube by poking holes in it and putting the wire through them as you roll up the paper or just run the connection out of the bottom.

There are three quickly and pooly taken pictures included to roughly show what I did with the first being of the speaker in the cardboard tube, the second is sort of it being taped 1/4 of the way along the papers edge and the last of the completed thing, the speaker is roughly where my hand is.

NastySpill (author)daliad1002011-11-11

So how did it work? Was the sound quality good?

NastySpill (author)daliad1002011-02-09

Thats Awesome!

PyroMaster007 (author)daliad1002010-11-05

Nicely done. i shall have to try that. thank you!

hottamaleindustries (author)2011-06-08

Let the Bass Cannon kick it!

papasmurfetta (author)2011-02-09

hi there.
my friend and i are building our own bass cannon. are there any suggestions your can make to help us? we would like our frequency to be about 20hz.. more bassy.
anyway, do you remember what equation you used to tune it? that would be very helpful.
oh, im using a 2000 watt lanzar 15" driver, dual 4 ohm coils, and a crown cdi 1000 watt amp, probably being bridge mono at 4 ohms, (1400 watt)

kbaker1 (author)papasmurfetta2011-03-28

total length of pipe = 1/4 of a complete wave length of the lowest Frequency you wish to produce cleanly/easily - so 20 cycles/second would divide the speed of sound in feet per second... to give you a single wave length, then divide by 4 to get pipe length... divide by 4 again to get the length of the short end and multiply that by 3 to get the long end... whee... loud and low.

akura2 (author)2010-11-14

Whenever I've seen the Bose Wave Cannon mounted, it's always been hanging from the ceiling horizontally... I think that having it stand vertically like this would affect the sound output negatively by creating pressure waves against the ground

Great job though... I've always wanted to make one if these... since at least 1989 (they had two of these at my college student center auditorium)... they even have one at the Local Fry's Electronics mounted hanging from the ceiling under a suspended projector screen....

rapidprototyping (author)2010-07-18


lobo0x7 (author)2010-03-07

inches... foots
shame you guys are not metric
... or i am not standard

nice instructable in any case

wrksnfx (author)lobo0x72010-05-26

12.7 mm = 1/2 inch X 24 half inches in 1 foot = 304.8mm

FastEd88 (author)2010-03-01

Now build 4 or 5 or 6  of them each tuned to the string resonace of a bass guitar and you could rock the neighborhood!

17Hz , 31Hz , 41Hz , 55Hz , 73Hz , 98Hz

Fast Ed

jibatsu (author)2010-02-18

do i simply wire this up to the subwoofer on my amp?

jibatsu (author)jibatsu2010-02-18

2 more things
1) how much did this cost?
2) how did oyu make the circular light at the top?

GarbageMan500 (author)2009-08-03

Is that Google Sketchup?

NastySpill (author)GarbageMan5002009-08-03

Yes it is. I never start anything these days without first modelling it in Sketchup. It has saved me countless hours and wasted time and materials. I recommend it. And its free.

GarbageMan500 (author)NastySpill2009-08-04

Yeah. I tried Google Sketchup once, but i'm not very good with it.

NastySpill (author)GarbageMan5002009-08-05

I wasn't very good when I started, but now I can draw anything I dream up.. even this convoluted tension skin.. I impressed myself! It even ended up looking the same as the digital model.. youtube have tutorials on every aspect of sketchup.

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