Instructables
A pneumatic cannon for launching plastic soda bottles.... or ketchup packets. Almost all parts can be obtained from home depot and probably any local hardware store with a plumbing section.

Bigger is cool looking... But not always better. I have found smaller more robust designs to be far more fun that the gigantic heavy cannons. I can recharge (with a foot pump) and reload in less than 30 seconds and hold this thing much easier than its heavy breathing counterparts. Other than this design, I no longer build using PVC as it does fail catastrophically.

I made this particular cannon to be used for physic's demos for middle and high school physics students. 2l bottle fail at surprisingly high pressures (relatively) and have served as a reservoir very well.

Step 1: Parts List

All parts are 0.5" unless specified

1 2l bottle of soda - minus the soda and washed out
1 .75" sprinkler valve with manual switch
1 45 elbow
2 female/male 90 elbow
1 female/threaded adapter
1 end cap
1 .5" thread-> .25" threaded bushing (mine is galvanized)
3 1.5" long pieces of pipe
2 2-2.5" long pieces of pipe
2 .5" female - .75" threaded adapter
1 4 wayfitting
1 Tire Stem with schrader valve (walmart or autoparts store) - home depot did not have this item
PVC cement
Teflon Tape
1 male threaded cap OR 1 gauge (might be listed as manometer)

Optional Add on (for bypass and a later project)
3 more 1.5" tubes
1 ball valve
1 45 elbow
1 3 way Tee
 
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crashbash3 years ago
Is there an adapter from the PVC screw to the 2L bottle screw? Also if you wanted to make this a paintball gun, put a 3 way connector on the part right after the sprinkler valve, the extra connection facing up, fill a 2L bottle with paintballs and screw in! the paintballs will fall into the chamber to be shot out like a real paintball gun!
DanTDM crashbash8 months ago

2-liter bottles use garden hose threads. Just buy a female garden hose to pipe adapter.

DanTDM8 months ago

Only use galvanized, black iron or copper pipe for air cannons. Also, only use air tank valves, not homemade systems. NEVER use drink bottles for storing compressed air, they will rupture very easily.

DanTDM DanTDM8 months ago

Oh, and by the way, use a used fire extinguisher, small air tank or other strong metal tank designed for high pressure gasses.

KJ4ZVQ3 years ago
mod an EMPTY coleman campstove propane bottle, and i bet you could run 200-300 psi easy :-)
DanTDM KJ4ZVQ8 months ago

Yeah, EMPTY. Full ones will go BOOM

I would like to suggest that all high pressure air cannon instructables should include a warning such as:

"These high pressure air weapons can shoot things fast enough to cause severe injuries or death. Never use them to shoot things at people."
think30003 years ago
I built a cannon sort of like this one for launching tennis balls and t-shirts i used an inner tube bike pump adapter attached to my air compressor and i can shoot them well over 150 yards i wonder if you hooked yours up to an air compressor it might go farther.
crashbash3 years ago
The model I bought looks EXACTLY like this exept for the flush trigger, it doesnt have one, its made by the same manufacturer and its the same model, did they remove it from the design?
AdmiralNiik4 years ago
 You say you no longer use PVC for safety. What do use now?
do you have to use an orbit valve? I have a rainbird that isn't in a cannon yet. will that work too?
if you are still wondering, yes, it will work.
i luve the hair harry potter
There's this "plastic fusion" paint that might stick really well depending on what kind of plastic the valve is made of. There's something that works even better than a band saw or friction saw/guitar strings. They make special PVC "scissors" that have extra leverage and a ratcheting mechanism. They're the best thing to use on smaller diameter pipe. They cut clean and leave no shavings.
     I've seen those "PVC scissors" before, maybe on TV. They're incredibly, but not as much, huge. Should be easy to spot when you need it. Unless you were in a warehouse it would be lost for sure.
I've never seen one that big.  They're usually about the size of tin snips and can cut pipe up to like 1.25".
How much does this cost? I would like to see something below Php 300.00=6 dollars, because I'm in a tight budget here. Not much spare money for me to go on.
raziel472014 years ago
I have to ask just for curiosity sake if i decided to use copper pipe for this air cannon and a empty fire extenguisher bottle for the reservoir how many psi would it approximatly hold and would it be safer? because ive known the integrity of pvc and any other kind of plastic to be compremised in colder temperatures around like 30 degrees farenheit or so.
if the bottle gets scratched...... Hopefully your face wont be ripped up.
trebuchet03 (author)  pirate of doom5 years ago
PET tears, it doesn't make shard fragments ;)
I have a challenge for you! can you make this so that it has a 1 shot capacity, and shoots a huge cloud of flour? Plz ibby it
All you have to do is stick some flour down the barrel. That's the beauty of pneumatic air cannons you can shoot anything at the neighbors as long as it fits in the barrel... and if it doesn't make it bigger ; )
Well, i know that, but i mean, add like a clip or something, that has ejecting shells with compact flour in them or something like that
You could try wrapping a piece of paper around an item the same diameter as your barrel then fold over one end, put the flour in, then fold the other end over. So when you fire it it blows out the paper on each end and shoots the flour.
Didnt think of that, great idea!
it will hurt your ears tough (and trying to put about 10 bars on a PET bottle is a BAD idea, trust me>_<)
ilpug5 years ago
oh ye of little intelligecne... thiz is a great design with lots of potential, just why do you insist on using such a wimpy air resevoir??? soda bottles are really dangerous when they explode, and damage your hearing alot. overpressurize this and you will get holes in u. use five bucks and make a one foot long, 2 inch diameter pvc chamber that you can get up to 120 psi insted of the little 20 psi you have in that bottle. also, why dont u make a differnet desighn to make it easier to hold? just idle critiszizm...
trebuchet03 (author)  ilpug5 years ago
just why do you insist on using such a wimpy air resevoir???

Because the math states the reservoir is too big for a reasonable length barrel.

soda bottles are really dangerous when they explode, and damage your hearing alot. overpressurize this and you will get holes in u.

Damage hearing, sure - if it ruptures... "Holes?" Not likely - this is why I pressure any pressurized device I make while filled with water. Luckily, overpresure for a PET bottle is in excess of 120psi.

use five bucks and make a one foot long, 2 inch diameter pvc chamber that you can get up to 120 psi insted of the little 20 psi you have in that bottle.
That would be about 1/5 the volume and about a quarter of the energy at the pressure's I run... I run at 90 psi max - various resources claim soda bottle failures ranging from 120-180 psi - and I'm okay with running a 1.33 safety factor with this sort device.

Really, I find 40-60psi the optimal zone for water bottle rockets. More than ~40psi tears ketchup packets before they get out the barrel.

also, why dont u make a differnet desighn to make it easier to hold?
Hey now, don't knock it until you've tried it. It's not only easy to hold, it's intuitive to new people. One hand on the valve solenoid (easy access to the trigger) and the other on one of the back.



All that said... I published this in mid 2006 - I build the first one in early 2006 and the second one shortly before publishing. Since then, both have fired literally hundreds of water bottle rockets (and the occasional ketchup packet). It's been highly successful, reliable and aesthetically pleasing. And since it's got more than just PVC pipe, police officers have either liked it or taken no interest (both good for questionably legal devices).
smithn6 years ago
How exactly did you attach the bottle? just glue or some threaded piece? and how exactly does a pvc one fail, is it for safety or it just holds poorly?
yeah it is not funny!!! I was trying to be careful when I pumped up the pressure in a bigger pvc cannon but the gauge I used was broken (I found this out afterwards) when it blew it does not 'split' or blows it to hundreds of sharp fragments!!! I had several pieces of pvc embedded in my arm and my leg!!!! not nice!!! I now use steel...because if it blows it will usually split...and the pressure required to break steel is far more than I can easily create!!!
It fails by exploding and sending PVC all over the place at very high speeds
Then screw this thing, lets make a PIPE BOMB! : :-) :D :> ☺
how i attched mine was i heated it up and screwed it in and repeated the cycle till it fit a 3/4 inch female fitting
Just use an 1 inch female threaded addapter
trebuchet03 (author)  smithn6 years ago
A lot a lot of glue ;) PET (soda bottle) and PVC are not compatible and won't solvent weld.... But lather on a lot of glue and it should be fine (just pressure test to ensure it's a good seal)... For failure.... It breaks into shards - due to it's brittle nature... Throw a bit of pvc under a towel - then smack it with a hammer until it breaks... That's what failure looks like... Virgin PVC really isn't an issue - it's just as it ages and as it gets dropped, scraped, dinged and hit that you start tempting failure :/ But if your weld joints are good - it will hold pressure.
but if your using a Pet bottle that will fail first.
baheuwill5 years ago
We can get the ball valve to work with ours but not the sprinkler valve. Too much pressure going through even with 3 9V batteries. Do you have any advice?
trebuchet03 (author)  baheuwill5 years ago
Are those 9V batteries in series, or parallel? How much pressure are we talking about? In another canon of mine, a single 9V battery wouldn't open the valve when the pressure was above ~50psi - which is plenty enough to launch T-shirts and other such items we were loading. If the valve is oriented the wrong way - it won't work... Assuming it's a diaphragm type valve.
Deathcapt5 years ago
I was thinking the same thing, it's basically the muzzle loading, musket version of a paint ball gun. You should get one of those battery powered bicycle pumps and you'd have a much faster reload, maybe if you got a bunch of people with similar weapons, you could play some civil war style Paintball
volquete5 years ago
i am going to make a movie!!! do you think i could attach a rubber hose to the end,fill it with blood(fake blood) and it would shoot the blood out? what kind of hose? how to attach it?
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