Picture of How to Make Vortex Cannons
Here are two Instructables in one! Shoot rings of smoke across a room with the Tub Thumping Cannon and the Barking Tube Cannon. Watch me build them and the test results. From MAKE MAGAZINE Volume 15

Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Tub Thumping Cannon

Picture of Tub Thumping Cannon
This one is so easy to make and gives great results. You will need a fog machine to generate the rings for both of these projects.

What You Need...

1. 32 Gallon Plastic Trash Can
2. Heavy Duty Trash Bag
3. Golf Ball
4. 2 Bunjee Cords
5. Tape
6. Box cutter.

Step 2: Build it...

Picture of Build it...
1. Using the box cutter, cut out a 6" hole in the bottom of the trash can. Many trash cans have re-rounded circles you can use as guides.

2. Cut out a piece of trash bag a little bit larger than the top of the trash can. Roll up the golf ball in the middle of the bag and secure it with a small bunjee cord. Run a longer bungee cord through the smaller cord.

3. Secure the trash bag to the trash can using tape and attach the longer bunjee cord strap ends to the trash can handles.

Step 3: Use it...

Picture of Use it...
Fill your new Vortex Cannon with smoke, pull back on the bungee/ball handle and let it rip! You should get a nice ring of smoke that shoots across the room. Try a larger hole in the trash can for a larger ring. You've just built the Tub Thumping Cannon! Now on to the Barking Tub Cannon...

Step 4: The Barking Tube Cannon

Picture of The Barking Tube Cannon
This Vortex Cannon uses sound waves to generate the smoke rings. This concept was inspired by Bill Beatty.

What You Need...

1. 12" cardboard concrete form tube available at home improvement stores.
2. 12" Woofer/Speaker
3. Thin piece of plywood
4. Cutting tool to cut a circle and tape.
5. Audio amplifier and laptop
6. Tone Generating Software
1-40 of 105Next »
pyratenyte made it!5 months ago

Thanks tons for the effort. Here's couple of pics of my cannon, set out as part of my pirate-themed Halloween yard haunt. It's the same cannon, evolving over the last three years. A 12-inch speaker is at the end of a matching-sized concrete form tube. A fog machine on a timer is concealed in the gun carriage. The fog is blown into a 3" wide galvanized tin elbow mounted underneath the barrel. The speaker is hooked to my stereo. The "bark" is provided by a looping wav file of a howitzer being fired, followed by two minutes of silence. As you can see, it blows a pretty decent smoke ring. At night, a small sound-activated LED strobe is placed in front, facing the end of the barrel for extra effect. Enjoy!

DSCI0713.AVI(516x387) 11 KB
Taranach7 months ago

Step two part three about where the bungee cords go was extremely vague and yet has a major affect on how the cannon works. I expected better detail from you.

Creepapace2 years ago
nedim1554 years ago
im only reading coments of kipkay :)
ldhoover14 years ago
put a small speaker in bottom of coke can - add flour to coke can - speaker vibration will cause flour to disburse and then cannon will fire it out - if you pot a candle in front of cannon, the cannon will not only blow the candle out - but will ignite the flour in a ring of fire
nnandigala5 years ago
Can you please provide specifications of speaker and amplifier you used for Barking Tube Cannon
im gona sue you kip, you did say that we needed an exacto nife in the video, and the you go and wip one out like you were born with it.
panstar16 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Kipkay (author)  panstar16 years ago
It HAD to have been more than that. No one gets blocked just for asking a question. Possible mistake?
knektek Kipkay5 years ago
one of the first times i seen you reply.
(removed by author or community request)
why did you remove my comment?
(removed by author or community request)
(removed by author or community request)
wither5 years ago
 A smoke firework also works just fine also it adds a hint of colour. 
Davidl35 years ago
How do you get the smoke?
I believe one factor which is very important is the circularity and finish of the orifice. I'm not sure that you emphasised this sufficiently. If the orifice isn't sufficiently circular, the quality of the vortices and their range will suffer. You mentioned smoke, but other substances can be used. For instance rotten-egg gas (hydrogen sulphide from action of an acid on iron sulphide) makes an excellent but exceedingly smelly vortex (that is invisible). Possibly, one could use a combustible gas and aim the vortex at a source of ignition. PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH THIS ONE! Please do not try this one in your home or near flammable materials! If you burn your home down, don't blame me! I read some of the comments, but in case I missed one that mentioned this, I apologise..
I like the hydrogen sulphide idea! Maybe even a methyl mercaptan/hydrogen sulphide combo and it could be a "flatus" cannon! (In addition to the naturally occurring one...)
pengnatck6 years ago
this "candle Cannon" looks like it was built really well. makes me laugh everytime they blow them out.
(removed by author or community request)
better still hydrogen:-D
(removed by author or community request)
nitroglycerin vapor?
(removed by author or community request)
u could also spray some liquid detonator of some contact-detonating powder onto a concrete wall, fill cannon with the powder and kill the wall...
(removed by author or community request)
(sarcasm)NO!!! DONT AIM AT SCHOOL!!!:-D
because youll sit out at break
fwjs28 Derin6 years ago
Derin fwjs286 years ago
mechcem6 years ago
i just started to make an instructable on a similar thing i made two day before you published this. i have got to be faster this has happened 5 times now
fwjs28 mechcem6 years ago
hire a crack team of lamas or monkeys(not both tho, they fight eachother)....
BlueNinja6 years ago
Tru dat. Why make a huge one for $50+ when you can get a small one for under 20 bucks???
like they always say "the bigger teh better"
If you want USELESS, go to and you'll see useless. This is MY instructable so I'm not making fun of anyone. Trust me. This isn't the most useless thing on instructables.
Well a balloon cost a heck of a lot less then all the stuff you need to buy for this. I still stick with the general idea that this is one of the most useless thing ever.
not if you are doing it for a science fair project, then its worth extra credit, or first place or some such thing...
Kipkay (author)  BlueNinja6 years ago
It's just a fun project for the h**** of it. It does explain the concept of what a vortex is. I guess you don't like to have fun and are all serious about everything in life. Hence the total uselessness.
1-40 of 105Next »