Introduction: Fireball Shooter!

Picture of Fireball Shooter!
Make a flaming fireball shooter just like magicians use. Save $$ and MAKE your own! Awesome pyrotechnics effect! Safe to use indoors and out!

Step 1: What You Need...

Picture of What You Need...

1. 3/8-1/2" aluminum or copper rod. I used aluminum and got it at Home Depot. Cut to 3"
2. 1/4 X 28 nut - I had one in my parts bin
3. 1/2" Heatshrink tubing
4. 1.5v Glo-plug - Theater Effects
5. Flash cotton and flash paper.
6. JB Weld
7. Small zip ties
8. SPST Momentary Switch - Radio Shack
9. Butt splice
10. AA Battery holder and battery

Step 2: Build the Shooter Body

Picture of Build the Shooter Body

Mix up the JB Weld and apply some to the rod and the nut and center the nut on the rod. Let it sit overnight to set. Thread the glo-plug into the nut. I used the heatshrink tubing just because it made the rod easier to handle plus it looks better.

Step 3: Build the Controls

Picture of Build the Controls

1. Cut the black end of the AA battery holder and strip the end. 2. Solder a short black wire to one end of the switch.
3. Solder the short end from the holder to the other end of the switch.
4. Hot glue the switch on the negative end of the AA battery holder.
5. Run the zip ties through the battery holder. I cut an additional hole so they would loop through.
6. Attach the holder to the assembled rod.
7. Trim the ends of the butt splice and if you got the right size, it should snap on the end of the glo-plug.
8. Trim the red (positive) wire from the battery holder and put it in the end of the butt splice. Use pliers to squeeze the end of the butt splice and make a solid contact with the red wire.

Step 4: Prepare Your Ammo...

Picture of Prepare Your Ammo...

The flash paper and flash cotton has to sit overnight because it is shipped wet per DOT requirements. When it is ready, pull a small 1/2" square of cotton and fluff it up. Then tear off a small approximately 5" square of flash paper and roll it up in a ball. Push the flash cotton in the rod and then the flash paper. I used the eraser end of a pencil to push it to the bottom of the rod. Careful not to push too hard or you could damage the glo-plug. Press the button on the switch and FIRE AWAY! Experimenting with different siezes of paper will result in different effects! Have fun, be safe!


mapgene76 (author)2008-11-22

Does anyone know where i can find the 1/4x28 nut. I tried home depot but the closest size they have is 1/4x 20

Red49 (author)mapgene762009-03-03

Lowes has everything

JeffC110 (author)Red492016-11-23

Lowes does not have 1/4-32 nuts. I bought a glow plug thinking they were all the same, but mine is an ODO99 and it requires a 1/4-32.

ArthurF15 (author)2016-10-20

I made a pair of these using 1/2" copper tubing and they work like a champ! Had to first JB Weld a washer onto the end because the opening is too big to stick a 1/4" nut on a 1/2" tube. I also just skipped the heatshrink tubing entirely, and soldered the connection to the glow plug instead of using a butt splice.

I found it works best with a very very small amount of flash cotton followed by a decent size wad of flash paper crumpled not too tightly and stuffed down the barrel. It's important to stuff it down to the end of the barrel pretty good too. If you use too much flash cotton, it will eject the flash paper before the paper has a chance to ignite. If you use just flash paper without the flash cotton, you get more of a flamethrower effect instead of a projectile.

xeveous (author)2015-07-11

So I made this.. the glo-plug works.. but I am find it hard to get the right combo of flash cotton and flash paper... If I ball the flash paper it doesn't ignite.. any advice?

So far the best thing I have found is small fluffed up piece of cotton.. a tiny, tiny bit of paper and rolling a piece of flash paper like a cigarette and sliding it in the tube.

gianni leake (author)2014-04-24

To Fkhalsa, i done it for 21.32 in English money which is only 35.81 in US Dollars, so if your paying $65 then your buying it all from the wrong places, kipkay, i have watched nearly all your youtube videos, hopefully ill be like you in the future:DD keep up the great work:)))))

slynaugh (author)2012-04-08

Do you have to use a butt splice? If you don't, what do you have to do to not use it? (I've got all the stuff, except the butt splice, and I wanna know if I can just do it as is, or if I have to use the splice)

spittingisfun (author)2011-04-02

do not Use a 1/2 copper or aluminum rod 1/2 shrink tubing will not fit ps someone thine telll me what the right size is no jokes please!!!

fkhalsa (author)spittingisfun2011-04-03

I think he said he used 1/2" in the video. I used 7/16" brass, though I'd recommend going with a larger tube if you can, as the effect is much nicer.

Before I had my tube I used a plastic thing that some toothpicks came in, which was closer to 3/4" on one end, though it narrowed slightly towards the back. The difference I noticed was that the wider tube creates much larger, nicer looking fireballs, but doesn't shoot them as far. On the other hand, the smaller brass tube still makes pretty nice looking fireballs, shoots them farther, and is pretty much necessary if you intend on using this for magic tricks (the bigger tube would be too visible from behind your hand).

Overall, I think 1/2" is probably a pretty good size, and I'm pretty sure it is what is used in the ones you can buy in magic shops and online:
5/8" would probably also work pretty well. Just decide which size you need based on whether you want to be able to conceal it or not, and then based on what type of effect you'd like to produce (farther shooting or bigger fireballs).

As for the shrink wrap, that's really not necessary, it's just for looks. As you can see in the pictures above, the commercially produced ones prefer just the tube. This is probably because the brass blends with your skin better than black shrink tube, and they're normally made for magic tricks, so you want to keep them hidden.
If you want to use the shrink tubing anyways, keep this in mind: shrink tubing is normally measured at it's un-shrunk size, so you will need a piece that is larger than your tube by a fair amount, which you can then shrink down over it using a hair dryer or lighter.
It looks to me like (in the video) he happened to have a piece that was just large enough to slip snugly over his tube, and therefore didn't need to be shrunk, but it's more likely that a piece of the same diameter will not fit, and therefore you'd do better by shrinking a large one down. Keep in mind also that it will shrink slightly in length too, so cut it a little long at first.

spittingisfun (author)fkhalsa2011-04-06

1/2 outside diameter or inside

fkhalsa (author)spittingisfun2011-04-06

I have no idea what he used (I don't think he mentions it that accurately). I used 7/16" OD, but once again, the size isn't precisely important. Just choose your size depending on what sort of effect you want:
larger = less distance, larger fireballs (and more cotton and paper needed)
smaller = shoots farther, smaller fireballs, easier to conceal.

To be specific, I used a thin walled tube, so the ID was only 1/16" smaller than the OD. However based on my experience I'd recommend using a larger tube than i used - at least 1/2" ID in my opinion.

One other fact to consider: at some point, you will get an inverse effect with a smaller tube - it will not shoot farther. This is because at some point, if the tube is too small, you can only use very little flash cotton, or else you'll just shoot the paper out without it igniting. And of course with less flash cotton, it won't shoot as far. That's the advantage of a particularly wide tube (think 5/8") - the large area lets you still use a lot of flash cotton while still igniting the paper, and using more cotton will shoot it farther, so it's generally a more optimum configuration, barring any size/concealment issues.

I noticed this effect after using a pen tube to shoot fireballs - it won't shoot as far because anything more than a teeny amount of flash cotton will just shoot the paper out un-ignited.On the other hand, a pen tube loaded with flash cotton is great for shooting other stuff out :) - it's really powerful!

Sorry about going on and on. I try to make sure I answer the question in the first line before I go on and on about other stuff I've noticed, so you can ignore the rest if you like.

Majafero (author)2009-02-04

i just love asking this question........ how much does this cost???

fkhalsa (author)Majafero2011-03-04

As of March 2011:
(even though this is an old question, I'm posting it in case anyone still wants to know the answer now)
Just go through and add up the things you don't already have:
Tube - $10
Nut - $5
Glo Plug - $4-5
Switch - $4-5
Battery Holder $1
Wire Ties (you could use a lot of other things) - $5
Butt Splice (optional if you just solder it) - $4
Heat shrink (kinda optional) - $4

JB Weld - $4
Soldering Iron Kit - $7

Flash Paper (2"x3" 20 pcs) - $4
Flash Cotton - $10
AA Battery - $2

Min Cost (if you already own the tools and consumables, skip the optionals, and find a nut laying around) - $19
Max Cost - $65

fkhalsa (author)fkhalsa2011-03-04

Oops, forgot Hack Saw for the tools section. Add $10 for that if you don't have one. That makes the max cost $75.

spittingisfun (author)fkhalsa2011-04-02

you are wrong it cost10-20 bucks

fkhalsa (author)spittingisfun2011-04-02

Notice I put a max and min cost. The min cost I could find was $19, but if you already have the tube, or are able to find some of the other parts for cheaper, it could be as low as $9. If you look through the list you can see the justification for the price. Maybe you found something for cheaper than I could, or already had several of the parts?

spittingisfun (author)fkhalsa2011-04-03

do u know what size nut the fox Glow Plug, Standard Long, 1.5V needs?

fkhalsa (author)spittingisfun2011-04-03

It's a 1/4" by 32, which is pretty much impossible to find (I tried). Your best bet would probably be an online specialty hardware store.

I ended up taking a piece of 1/4" plywood, drilling a hole in it, and then threading the glow plug in to make threads. I then fitted this into the end of the tube, slightly recessed, and soldered the washer that came with the glow plug onto the end, filling all the gaps with solder. I was then able to solder the negative lead right onto the end of the tube, and then thread the glow plug through the washer and solder (making contact), right into the plywood.

Sorry about the quality of the pic, though I think you can see the basic idea. You of course can't see the plywood because it's under the solder.

This is of course just what I did. If you can find a nut that would be much easier, but I got impatient and just kinda made it up.

spittingisfun (author)fkhalsa2011-04-03

thank you soooooo much

fkhalsa (author)spittingisfun2011-04-03

Your welcome!

Mgillila25 (author)2009-01-07

Yea I don't know if you knew, but they have the EXACT same thing in Makezine. If you thought it up by your-self, Nice... But if not... Give make a little credit. thanks.

Kipkay (author)Mgillila252009-01-07

LOL! Did you even watch the video?

spittingisfun (author)Kipkay2011-04-02

i have the tube u said on the video but the shrink tubing cant fit what size did u use please reply kipkay thank you

Mgillila25 (author)Kipkay2009-01-07

Lol, I didn't sorry about that. My bad. That's a little ironic...

cyrozap (author)Mgillila252009-01-17

LOL: lol.

Red49 (author)Mgillila252009-03-03

lol incase you didnt notice he works for MAKE

spittingisfun (author)2011-04-02

kipkay if u see this please tell what size of tube u exactly used!

thebboy (author)2008-05-02

um, Kipkay, this is the funky thing with mine. We built it and it works alright, but the switch DISCONNECTS the circuit when it's pushed. Other than that it works fine. Do the switchs have a negative and positive side?

fkhalsa (author)thebboy2011-03-04

There are two kinds of momentary switches: N.C and N.O.
When you buy it you want to look for N.O. (normally open), not what you have: N.C. (normally closed).
Normally open means the circuit is open until you press the switch, then it closes the circuit.
Normally closed means the circuit is closed until you press the switch, then it opens the circuit.
An open circuit is disconnected.

No switches don't have a positive and negative side, so it dosent matter how its attached. There may be some switches with positive and negative, but I havent seen any yet so I doubt it.

i wonder what happened

hmmm you might have the type of switch that turns off when you push it, and turns on when its not pushed. Thats really all I can think of right now unless one of your connections isn't on properly.

probably, i don't know. i sorta know about electrical stuff, but not enough. it all works, just the switch's reversed

patricksanford (author)thebboy2008-05-09

you could also have a short in the wiring. if the wires are touching someplace they're not supposed to, then pushing the switch could just be diverting the electricity back to the batter, and "turning it off"

thebboy (author)patricksanford2008-05-10

no, the wires are all fine. i think i just have a different kind of switch

Nirjuana (author)thebboy2008-05-08

Yeah, I think you have a wrong type of switch, usually they connect the circuit when pressed but this seems that you have you one those bit rarer ones that disconnect when pressed, try to find a another kind of push switch and try again

thebboy (author)Nirjuana2008-05-09

okay, thanks

Pierce 93 (author)2010-06-30

If I were to build a near-exact replica of this fireball shooter, would I also be able to ignite small model rocket engines with this?

fkhalsa (author)Pierce 932011-03-04

1. NOT a good idea. Not so close to your hands.
2. Most model rocket engines i've seen have a narrow hole that an igniter needs to be stuck into. The end is just a ceramic cap. So your glo-plug would never actually make contact with the propellant, which is what is needed for it to ignite.

You Could make something like this, but wired to a model rocket igniter instead of a glo plug, but once again, only try that if you don't care too much about having hands. Seriously.

If you are thinking of trying to get the flash paper fireball to shoot and ignite the engine, the hole in the ceramic cap is too small, so it is VERY unlikely you'd actually get a flame to contact the propellant. The engines are designed to ignite only in very specific circumstances, almost to the point where pretty much only the provided igniters would work. I actually think in most cases open flame won't even do it.

PyroTechno (author)2011-02-01

could i use a 1.5 glo-plug from nitro rc cars?

fkhalsa (author)PyroTechno2011-03-04

Yes. The Fox 1.5V glo-plug is about $4, and I think thats the exact one he's using. I actually don't think they make glo-plugs for much else. They just happen to be convenient for stuff like this.

glassgiant (author)2010-12-12

Awesome tutorial, thanks.  I made one concealable with a tilt switch for a friend's Xmas present!

pyro=fire (author)2010-08-20

how do u hold the fire ball in your hand? im also shppen for the stuf now

chrisdinishak (author)2010-03-11

pretty cool i used fire cracker stuff b/c i found no flach cotton lots of smoke did not work

imgeek1337 (author)2010-02-26

can you make a  glo plug from nichrome wire?

UltraMagnus (author)2009-11-29

how much current does one of these glow plugs draw when triggered?  I want to mount something like this on a robot, so I need to know how much the transistor/relay/IGBT will have to be rated for.

steampirate (author)2009-08-07

how hot is the fireball? I am going to make a wizards staff that shoots fireballs using this concept but I need to know if it will catch the staff on fire!

_Scratch_ (author)steampirate2009-08-26

I have a suggestion, you could use a metal pipe for the launch tube and cover the top inch of staff with aluminum foil. then paint the foil. if u want you could use a stain after painting.

Greg Westwood (author)2009-07-20

hi i made one of these and i cant seem to get hold of any flash cotton or paper is there anything else i could use i tried cotton wool/ paper dipped in white spirits and left to dry to i doesn't really work.

dasdew2 (author)Greg Westwood2009-08-08

if you find out where to get flash paper and flash coton can you tell me?

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer, hackster and prankster. Hit me up on Facebook: Thanks for checking out my Instructables!
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