Introduction: Air Cannon With Adjustable Barrel Size. Bouncy Balls Shot Over 100yrds!

Picture of Air Cannon With Adjustable Barrel Size. Bouncy Balls Shot Over 100yrds!

This is my first Air cannon an Instructable i have done. This Air cannon uses compressed air. It is released by a electrical irrigation valve. The barrel is easy to change size. The barrel i used shoots bouncy balls over 100yrds at only 50-40psi. I have tested mine up to 100psi before it started to leak. This is a very easy an fun thing to build. I get a big kick out of seeing a rubber ball flying accross the sky.

My camera has just broke. I will try to post pics up asap. Sry for the horrible drawings an diagrams.

Also the hot glue gun is for making a holder for the 9volts an a mount for the buttons.

Video of it as of July 20th 2007

Step 1: Parts List!! Tools!!!

Picture of Parts List!! Tools!!!


pvc cleaner
pvc cement
Hack saw
Hot glue gun
Somthing to strip wire
Electrical tape.
Teflon tape


"Home Depot"

About 3ft of 2" schedule 40.
A long 1" schedule 20 pvc pipe.
2" slip cap.
2" slip cuppling.
2" x 3/4" Slip x Thread Bushings.
Three threaded reducing male adapters 3/4"x1".
A 3/4" irrigation valve

"Ace Hardware"

A theading tire valve. This took me a while to find. It is a metal stem valve, just as one on a bike. It will have threads on the end that gose into the pvc. Rumors are that there findable at autozones an auto suplies stores.

"Radio Shack"

Five 9 volt batterys.
Five 9v battery connecters.
One switch an one push button.

I will get pics up i tryed taking pics but my camera isnt working right now. How convenient!

Step 2: Building the Cannons Compresstion Chanber.

Picture of Building the Cannons Compresstion Chanber.

Tire valve to slip cap.

Once you have gotten evreything first you will want to start on the 2" slip cap an tire valve. It is important you do it like this. First find a drill bit that looks to be the same size as the valve. Then test it out on some of the 1" pvc. Drill the hole out an then screw the valve in to make sure the bit is a good size. You want the bit to make its own threads in the pvc. If its a good match then get the cap. Try to get as close to center of the cap as possible. Once the hole is drilled then rap the threads of the valve once or twice an screw it in.


Clean the inside of the slip cap an the 2" pvc. Glue the Slip cap to 2" pvc pipe about 3ft long. Now clean the other end of the 2" pipe, slip cupling, an the reducing bushing. Glue these together an try to keep them even so the 2" pvc pipe gose in an meets the reducing bushing in the middle as best as you can.

Step 3: Chamber an Valve Link.

Picture of Chamber an Valve Link.

The chamber an valve link will connect the compresstion chamber to the vavle. Cutt about 5inches of the 1" pvc pipe. Now clean both ends an glue the 3/4"x1 male addapter to the 1" pipe just cutt. Do the same with the second 3/4"x1" male addapter.

Step 4: Connecting Valve to Chamber.

Picture of Connecting Valve to Chamber.

Now using the link you just made Teflon tape one of the threaded 3/4"x1" addapters an screw it into the bushing of the compresstion chamber. Then teflon the other side an screw the valve on. So you have a cannon with out a barrel.

Step 5: Wireing the Valve.

Picture of Wireing the Valve.

The solenoid only takes 3 9 volts to push it but i like to use 5 so i dont run out of power that often. First run your push button to yor connector. then wire all the connections the same way to follow the pattern. an so the connector isnt turned the wrong way an stopping the circuit from working. Then run to the switch witch will act as a safety.

To test if its working turn the switch on an push the button. If you hear it click then it is working.

Step 6: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Now Clean an glue the 1" pvc pipe to the last 3/4"x1" addapter. Teflon tape it an screw it in the valve.

To test this i suggest putting a inch of water down the hatch an using a bike pump to pump it a good few times. Then release the button an watch it spray.

I tested mine with a compressor an it didnt give until 120psi. It gave in a connection witch it will always break first. The only time this will shatter is if the pvc has been out in the sun for a very long time an is brittle. I suggest using only new pvc. Also I shoot bouncy balls using only 40psi an it shoots them across the local football field an some.


uzmac (author)2011-02-03

Do you know of any other places that would have a threaded tire valve?

Hasersys (author)uzmac2011-02-17

I get them from Acehardware.

TheMadScientist (author)2010-08-06

if the solenoid takes 3.5 volts (it needs to stay pulled in, jerking in and out isnt correctly operating) then you need to take those 9volt batteries and put them in parallel. that'll keep the voltage the same, and extend the battery life.

programedfiles (author)2009-09-03

by any chance would you know the total price for everything?

Hasersys (author)programedfiles2010-01-10

No, I made this a long time ago. I would have to guess around $20-$40. It was just a fun toy to mess with. I some how missed your comment untill now sorry.

knexer1 (author)2007-06-17

Make a new one out of iron, it's much safer.

Hasersys (author)knexer12007-07-20

I would have the first time but i didn't have the proper tools where i was living at the time.

knexer1 (author)Hasersys2007-07-24

Proper tools?, iron pipe is threaded. Iron cannons are much more fun, you can put them up to 150 psi or more.

Charles IV (author)knexer12008-06-02

Ive gotten my pvc cannon up to 140 before. I only didn't go farther because thats all my hand pump could take. I think I could have gotten it up to 150 no problemo.

knexer1 (author)Charles IV2008-06-03

It doesn't matter how high you can get it, what matters is whether it is safe at the pressure you are using it at or not. I personally would never go above 125 PSI with PVC, but suit yourself.

Charles IV (author)knexer12008-06-10

The PSI rating is 280 so I think I'm safe half that.

Hasersys (author)knexer12007-07-30

Owe i wasn't paying attention. I though you were saying copper hah. Witch would have meant soldering.

frankinator (author)2008-01-27

you need to modify your sprinkler valve for pneumatic dump so you don't need the batteries or the solinoid

Hawaii00000 (author)2007-11-08

This is sooo much like mine the only difference is the valve mine is not as high tech.

casvandegoor (author)2007-07-13
I`ve built a potato cannon before. the design looks pretty the same.

Hasersys (author)casvandegoor2007-07-20


casvandegoor (author)Hasersys2007-10-02
I like to show these videos of shooting a broomstick, but if you want you can remove them.

littlewit (author)2007-08-26

when i do the wireing, i only need 3 nine volt batterys

FruitFly (author)2007-04-15

that's pretty sweet, mines the same idea but just without the high tech valve LOL i want to make a potato cannon with 2 of those in it though, how much did they cost exactly? awesome gun btw. :)

Hasersys (author)FruitFly2007-07-20

Sry for the long wait been traveling a bit. It was about 12$ for the valve then the rest of it was probably about 20$ so maybe around 304 i don't remember though.

bmlbytes (author)2007-05-17

I would say to be very careful with the PVC. PVC tends to explode, leaving sharp pieces of plastic all over the place (including your skin). I would recommend something made of metal. Perhaps a copper pipe. When it explodes all it will do is leave a big gash in the side of the pipe, but not shatter like PVC. All I'm saying is that a pressure gauge is a good idea. So is copper.

Hasersys (author)bmlbytes2007-07-20

Yes i know. I have had it for a year now an i am about to trash it. I dropped it once while under pressure. It broke in half. Nothing big. Rebuilt it in about 5secs. I am currently looking into building a new cannon using metal.

tonsofhoopla (author)2007-03-09

Very good design, i am currently working on something more diabolical! Moohahaha!!! But it was largely inspired with your project, Thank you!

Hasersys (author)tonsofhoopla2007-07-20

Oh sweet yea i haven't been on in a while. I painted it an made it look nice. I am probably going to trash it soon an make a new one.

tonsofhoopla (author)2007-03-06

Heres a clearer picture for all of you perfectionists

iman (author)2006-10-05

just wrap the "tank"with duct tape or electrical tape so if it does fail you dont lose your hand:P

SCrid2000 (author)iman2006-10-05

Unfortunatly, wrapping it in tape won't really make it much safer; it just appears to be. Because of the amount of pressure tha is built up, the tape just gets blown away along with the pipe.

trebuchet03 (author)SCrid20002006-10-06

yep yep... duct tape is strong axially -- not as strong against shearing.

0.775volts (author)trebuchet032006-10-06

then wrap the tank in both axes, or do what i do, and build a hardware cloth cage around it.(I also have the tank remote mounted on my road-sign backpack to be doubly sure.

Hasersys (author)0.775volts2006-10-07

What kinda of cloth did you use

0.775volts (author)Hasersys2006-10-26

Hardware cloth, it's like 1/4" mesh chicken wire. Just go to your local hardware/home depot/lowes and ask for hardware cloth.

Hasersys (author)iman2006-10-05

hhmm not a bad idea

VelvetElvis (author)2006-10-05

The solenoid takes 3.9 volts, yet you're running 45 volts through it? I suspect you meant to illustrate wiring the cells parallel, but instead, you have them in series.

Hasersys (author)VelvetElvis2006-10-05

I ran them in series to give me more length. I dont have it showed here but the batterys are in a holder. I didnt have any wire laying around an couldnt wait so i just ran them series to get them to reach in the holder.

Ian01 (author)Hasersys2006-10-09

The solenoid takes 24 volts to operate, and you are giving it 45. It will probably draw more current because of the extra voltage, which will heat up the solenoid and it will actually drain the batteries faster. To get twice the battery life, take 6 9V batteries and wire 2 sets of 3 in series. Then connect the sets of 3 in parallel.

Hasersys (author)Ian012006-10-11

The life i have gotten out of this is fine for me. but thatnks for the info. I use this often an it still has power. I have also since made sweet led bouncy balls that are amazing at night to shoot lol.

trialex (author)VelvetElvis2006-10-05

He means it required three 9V batteries.

Hasersys (author)trialex2006-10-06

lol yea i just had extra connectors laying around that would other wise never get used.

Hasersys (author)2006-10-06

HHHmmm welll just out of boredum im going to test the strengths an stuff. Maybe make some chambers an see if i cant get one to hold a great deal of psi an still be safe enuff to use. Such as a fail safe on it. On my cannon im not going to make changes im not to worried about this it seems safer then my older potatto guns i used to make when i was

trebuchet03 (author)2006-10-05

While it reduces flow efficiency, I personally would make a U bend in it for a more compact design. Also, be warned that PVC & CPVC fails catastrophically. When it does fail, there's shrapnel, sharp edges etc. An alternative is ABS - but it's a little more expensive - but there's a lot more colors available :D

Hasersys (author)trebuchet032006-10-05

Yea as for that with new pvc that hasnt been in the sun for a very long time its unlikly to do this. With pvc that is old though i have seen it do this. Also im only shooting it ataround 50psi. the bouncy balls dont seem to need anymore they go so far!. Also i have tested this up to 120psi an it gave at the 2" slip cuppling. I was very conserned about safty.

trebuchet03 (author)Hasersys2006-10-05

yes, the older it is, the less elastomers it will have - making it more brittle. But it is still possible to fail. The pressure might not do it, but should it take a drop (which you can't predict/prevent) - that's not going to end very well. If your coupling failed at 120psi, you're joints are cause for concern. If you used the proper adhesive AND applied it properly - your joints should be your strongest points. I'm not harping on you -- just passing experience ;) Building pneumatic and hybrid cannons are a hobby of mine when I have the time to play around with them :D

Hasersys (author)trebuchet032006-10-05

The cuppling that failed is one i didnt prep first with cleaner. I was first concerned about it so thats why i tested how much it could take. Lol its so funny im only using it at 40psi an the bouncy balls are so fun to shoot out of it.

Hasersys (author)trebuchet032006-10-05

OOh yea i have one for wiffle balls thats has two 90s making a u i just wanted something diffrent from that one.

theRIAA (author)2006-10-05

actualy, most of them take 24 volts, but this one might be 48

theRIAA (author)theRIAA2006-10-05

my bad, it takes 39 volts

Hasersys (author)theRIAA2006-10-05

It only takes 3 of them but i had the extra connectors an batterys so why not.

irwinner (author)2006-10-05

if you want to dramically improve the preformance pnuematically mod the sprinkler valve, then you wont need the the batterys either

Hasersys (author)irwinner2006-10-05

I gave it though im not sure how that is done but i dont belive it needs to be modded. It shoots so great an me an my freinds get such a good laf outa this.

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