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Halloween Pirate Cannon (and fog machine disguiser)

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Picture of Halloween Pirate Cannon (and fog machine disguiser)
This Instructable describes the cannon I built to disguise the fog machine I use for my pirate-themed Halloween setup. I was built primarily out of standard 2 x 4 lumber and PVC/ABS plumbing, all available at your local big box hardware store. I apologize for the lack of interim pictures, but I did this project a while ago before I discovered Instructables.

Anyway, The main purpose of the cannon was to hide the fog machine in some context that made sense within the Pirate theme we've had for the last few years. Having the fog come out the cannon as though it were firing seemed like the obvious choice.
 
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Step 1: Designing the Plumbing

Picture of Designing the Plumbing
For me, most of the fun is in the planning and research. I sketched out some ideas that could be very easily built using simple 2 x 4 lumber. I then went to the local Home Depot and Lowes to see what was available in the plumbing department that would provide the right scale. Once I had all the sizes determined, I started modeling a solution. I'm an Industrial Designer (www.eikedesign.com) so I used Solidworks to determine the plumbing method. I decided to plumb a path from the fog machine exit up thru the bottom of the cannon to exit out the front. I used a large diameter pipe for the cannon body, a smaller diameter for the fog path, and a reducer on the front of the cannon to mate the 2 and to simulate the thick wall of my cannon.

Step 2: Finalizing the Design

Picture of Finalizing the Design
Here you can see a Solidworks rendering of the proposed design.
lm451162 years ago
how do you refill the fog machine
markeike (author)  lm451162 years ago
The fog machine just sits on a shelf. The cannon with attached plumbing forms a lose fit over the exit hole of the fog machine so there are no hard attachments between the two (somewhat visible in the CAD drawing). You can just lift off the cannon to gain access to the fog machine fill hole.
Ok i get it thanks
cool whats the 3d programing software and iven the paint huh
markeike (author)  _biohazard_143 years ago
It's a high-end ($6,000+) 3D solids-based engineering program called Solidworks, which has a built-in rendering program called Photoworks. I'm an Industrial Design Consultant so I use it for work. For something as simple as this, you could use a free CAD package like Google Sketchup and get great results.
cablestein3 years ago
Hiya, any info on the paint you used?
markeike (author)  cablestein3 years ago
Just standard rattlecan paint - primer and semi gloss black. I really like Rustoleum "Painter's Touch" paint. It goes on and levels out really nicely and is pretty durable, but all major brand paints are pretty good. Cannons were cast metal and paint was slopped on to prevent rust, so a really smooth, run-free automotive paint job is not required. The only trick to rattlecan paint from my experience is to ignore what they say about it being "dry to the touch" in 24 hours. Let it cure for at least a week and you'll have a really durable paint job..
neilh3 years ago
Well done!
mcrfan333934 years ago
 what diameter is the inner pipe?
rbbiggs4 years ago
What size (diameter)  PVC pipe did you use, and how long of a piece?  Is the swivel made from 2 inch PVC?
Also, how wide and how long is the 2x4 base?

Thanks again for posting this, going to have some fun with my Kids !
markeike (author)  rbbiggs4 years ago
Sorry for the delay in responding, but I had already put the cannon away for the season. The cannon barrel was made from 4" irrigation pipe with 1.5" inch pipe for the cross piece. The base is 24" long by 10" wide and three 2x4s tall with 7.5" wheels. Thanks for your interest!
Cool, you could make it "shoot" candy.
Shoot candy with the smoke, now that would be cool !!
Yup.
rbbiggs4 years ago
Great Job, looks easy to make too !  Thanks for posting this.
zygomatic4 years ago
Very nice work!  What kind of fogger do you have and what kind of fog juice do you use?
markeike (author)  zygomatic4 years ago
Thanks! My first fogger was an American DJ Shadow II. It was a nice sturdy top level model, and I purchased a matching interval timer to go with it. Both were very expensive but operated well for many years (if not for many hours, since I only used them on Halloween). One year, I forgot to order fog juice from American DJ and bought some cheap junk at the local Halloween store which didn't perform well and I believe ultimately destroyed the fogger. I think it was loaded with coloring and perfume and who-knows-what-else and it gunked up the works.

After Halloween, I purchased a 700 watt fogger with interval timer on sale from Spencer's gifts for about 1/4 of the price of the American DJ model. It's not as sturdily built, but it works great. The trick is to buy good quality clear fog juice with no extra additives and fillers (I currently use fog juice from MBT Lighting and Sound), and to thoroughly clean your fogger by running distilled water thru it and letting it completely airdry before you store it away for the season.
 Did you add any kind of spacer between the pvc and the nozzle for the fog machine?  I've tried using pvc to route the fog from a machine before, but was uncomfortable with the heat of the nozzle and the proximity of the pvc...
markeike (author)  chrispaccord4 years ago
Nope, but you are right to worry. The instructions for my original  fog machine specifically warn about keeping a space of 2"-3" between the nozzle and any ducting. It had a large metal nozzle that dissapated the heat fairly well though so I wasn't too concerned about violating that as the PVC was okay up to 140 degrees. My new fog machine has a plastic guard over the nozzle that prevents any contact with the nozzle. If you are worried about your fog machine being too hot, you could add a pipe reducer that reduces from a large diameter that fits well over the nozzle down to your working pipe size so there is no chance of the nozzle making contact.
otoupalik4 years ago
 That is so cool! Great work!
DSalyer4 years ago

I was thinking of doing the same thing myself but did not know how the straight cannon barrel would look.  It looks fantastic!

As for the light and sound being synchronized with the fog machine, I think a simple solution might be to add a motion detector in the barrel. I think it might detect the fog and then could set off the light and sound feature.  Let me know if you try it and it works.

jamesjmg304 years ago
How long did it take you to make that on Solid Works? we use it a school and we never get to use all of the features like the rendering we just design and print the design sheet

markeike (author)  jamesjmg304 years ago
Not long, but I've been using Solidworks for many years in my work as an Industrial Design Consultant (www.eikedesign.com). I'd say it was a couple of hours but that includes design time and trying some different alternatives. If I had to recreate it from scratch knowing wht the end result would be, I could probably do it in less than 1/2 hour. The rendering component of Solidworks, called Photoworks, is not included in the basic version of Solidworks which I assume is what you are using in school.
Very nice
Bartboy4 years ago
Gives me an idea:
Cannon stereo!
The cannons could be speakers, and "shoot" sound!
~Sasquatch~4 years ago
What a 1st Class Idea, and Instructable! KUDOS!!

 That's a very good idea
like you said a bright red light flashing off would be good and maybe have that light go off and then the fog come out within split seconds. 
And another addition to make this seam like it is being shot off you could mount speakers inside the design and have a recording of a loud explosion go off 
I think that would be very cool!
Wowzer!  great project
Great stuff! Really nice finished look and I dig the Solidworks planning.
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