Picture of Make a Vacuum-cleaner Bazooka
In five minutes, you can build an air-powered bazooka. The bazooka launches plastic capsules about 100 feet. And with some tweaking, you might stretch that distance quite a bit.

Although everything you need to know is in the pictures, the video tells the whole story just as well…

If the video is not playing, have a look at it here...

All you need to know to build this low-pressure kid's gun is described in the texts, as well as in the comments with the pictures. Have fun building and shooting! But please be careful, don't point your self made bazooka to living creatures.

Step 1: Stuff you need

Picture of Stuff you need
Stuff you need:
  • A vacuum cleaner. Any model will do.
  • Straight piece of PVC tube, at least 1 meter long. Longer is better (see the text on tweaking)!
  • Inner diameter 35 mm (1.4").
  • A PVC 3-way junction with an angle of 45°, that fits the straight PVC tube.
  • Duct tape.
  • A projectile: I used the plastic capsule that is inside "surprise-eggs" (see picture). Old school film containers work as well. Whatever you use, make sure that the projectile's diameter is just a little smaller than the PVC tubes'.
  • A small piece of cardboard (business cards are perfect).
1-40 of 99Next »
This is really awesome guys, way to go on winning the challenge!
ynze (author)  NightHawkInLight4 years ago
Thanks!!! We're having a ball here :D
Here's how I did mine. I used 1-1/4" sch 40 PVC pipe for the launch tube, and 3/4" sch 40 PVC pipe with caps for the projectiles. They fit perfect with no modifications.

Home Depot didn't carry a 45 degree 1-1/4" Y or T joint, so I went with a regular 90 degree Tee. I used a 1" elbow to get some angle on the inlet. The 1" elbow fit tight enough inside the 1-1/4" T. I didn't use cement on any of the joints.

I tried 2 different lengths for the projectiles (about 6" and about 3"), with and without sand for weight. They seemed to fly farther without the sand. I also tried a shorter launch tube - 2 ft instead of 3 feet. The longer tube launched them farther as well. I didn't measure, but it was probably in the 50-60' range, depending on the angle.

The ID of the 1" elbow was a good fit for my vacuum cleaner's hose, so I didn't need any tape there.

Thanks for posting a great instructable! Hope you win the contest!

SANY0081 (Large).JPGSANY0083 (Large).JPG
A good example of matching the energy level of your vacuum system to the weight of a projectile. If you wanted to find the ideal length of tubing to use for a projectile, you could try firing the tubes into a cardboard box that has a pillow inside. Then measure how far the box slides on each shot. I would add some packaging tape to the bottom of the box, because the amount of force to get the box to start moving needs to be both low and consistent over many shots.
ynze (author)  bloomautomatic4 years ago
Thanks! And thanks for your pictures, too! The pvc projectiles look impressive. Adding the sand makes them just too heavy for your vacuum cleaners' power, I guess. The Kinder egg capsules weigh almost nothing, compared to your projectiles...
yoh-there3 months ago

As it was a perfect day here, I pulled out this project again and shot a few shots with my 22 year old son, hehe. And there is stillthe hunt for perfect projectiles. As we use the Dutch 40mm white PVC pipe.......

1. Film canisters, which you need in huge quantities anyway for using with Alka Setlzers. These are a very tight fit so the closing edge might need a tiny bit of sanding.

2. A modification of the perfect Guhl caps (see below): fill with water and find the perfect champagne cork to close it **)

3. (for the pro's) D-size batteries. They weight about 135 grams. THIS IS DANGEROUS!!

**) I shot one of these straight up and it went way over the top of my house. My guestimate is 12 meters. Weighting 50 grams the potential energy at that point is h*g*m = 12 * 10 * 0.05 = 6 Joules. 6 Joules in kinetic energy is 6 = 0.5*m*v-squared, so v, the muzzle velocity > 15 m/s, > 55 km/h (35 mph) :-o :-o :-o

yoh-there6 months ago

Ynze, I found the surprize eggs just a fraction too big when the two halves are put together. If only the long half was used, all went fine. However I found a slightly more powerful but absolutely super snug fit protectile: the clear plastic caps on "Guhl" 125ml bottles. http://www.uwplein.nl/img/producten/300x300/952313.jpg They are an incredible tight fit in white 40mm PVC tubing. I haven't tried, but in the DIY shop the grey pipe seemed to have a slightly thicker 3 layer wall, middle part foamed, so it might not work.

ynze (author)  yoh-there6 months ago

Thanks! I'll give it a try...

yoh-there6 months ago

@erik.teichmann: I saw what you did there ;-) You are secretly thinking of an automatic. That would require a loader box too. Hmmmm!

Do you need a vacuum that can blow ?
IVT2 years ago
SGT. Desert3 years ago
aoswme i use supprize eggez and sand in it small and dirty ( my extra add a nail to the head of the egg )
Just make it a condition, before the kids play with the vacuum they have to use it first!
Perfect plan - clean the house, then you can use the vacuum to pelt the neighborhood!
marcintosh4 years ago
my large Ridgid brand shop vac, smaller hose and perhaps a few hard boiled eggs OH YEAH!
This'll be great at the annual family reunion. The kids and I will have a blast.
Hard boiled? Seems that it might hurt if things go badly, like idiots in front of the cannon....

The impact will be far more exciting with raw eggs splattering something 100 feet away!
neologik3 years ago
excelent!!! very good .. does this work with water baloons?


thejevans3 years ago
All I see is an unfinished Airsoft RPG Launcher. fill the egg with BBs and an m120. Stick the fuse out of the bottom of the egg. Light the fuse, and shoot the egg. Lots of experimenting with timing would be necessary, but I think the end result would be worth it.
The Vacuum Bazooka is indeed in my Vacuum Bazooka book- and the rapid fire multiple projectile version is in my soon to be published book-Ultimate Saturday Science. I have 2 other books - Ink Sandwiches and Exploding Disk Cannons. You can see other projects on you tube (try nddownie) and on the Eli Whitney Museum website.

Have fun! Neil A Downie
Nachimir4 years ago
So lovely, and simple. Thanks :)
PS1184 years ago
For whatever reason I can't reply to bloomautomatic's post, but...

I couldn't find the PVC Y fitting at Lowes either. BUT... they do have them in the black sewer pipe section!
could i make it with a 90 degree elbow piece?
ynze (author)  dylankunaikennedy4 years ago
Yes. The chance that your projectile will get stuck is slightly bigger, but if you choose projectiles that are a bit longer than the plastic eggs I use, it won't be a problem.
instead of a 3 way connector?
ynze (author)  dylankunaikennedy4 years ago
Have a look at Bloomautomatic's comment (with pics). Is that what you mean with a 90 degree elbow piece? That version works!
Avatar_I_Am4 years ago
That is completely incredible!

After reading this instructable, I made mine with leftover parts lying around the shop using: a BIG shop vac, a 4.5 foot long metal pipe, and Gorilla Tape.
I sent a 35mm film canister filled with flower about 140 feet on the first try.
The only [other?] thing I did differently was to put a small hinge on a very thin strip of brass to act as the "stopper" [?] on the muzzle end, so I did not need to have a pile of business cards, or scamper to find the last one that wsa shot off the end.
Man, whas that ever fun, but my Dogs hate me now!!!
I wonder what would happen if I used an old belt driven compressor with a 4" piston, weighing about 85 pounds...


The Trouble I could get into is ENDLESS!!
evilmadcow4 years ago
From Bill Gurstelle's book "Backyard Ballistics" ! An excellent instructable. We did it with water filled 35mm film cans- a really nice fit in standard pipe.
good idea. I live in the U.S. so getting an egg like that would cost a fortune.
ynze (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
I wasn't aware it was in Backyard Ballistics. I first made it in 2006, and was told about it by a colleague science teacher...
Sorry, my bad, wrong book, its http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bazookas-Electric-Rainbow-Saturday-Projects/dp/0691009864
ynze (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
What about this book:
"Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly and 27 other saturday science projects", by Neil A. Downie?

I think the vacuum cleaner bazooka just MIGHT be in there, too :D

ISBN 0-691 00986-4

That's the one in my link above your comment. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bazookas-Electric-Rainbow-Saturday-Projects/dp/0691009864
 Bold is ISBN number

ynze (author)  steveastrouk4 years ago
Ah, I see :) The book was on my shelf for AGES. I bought it because the physics behind the projects are very well written out...
Hey there, I made a version of this with the kids on the weekend!! Brilliant!! Thanks for posting, it was so simple that they were able to assist with most of the construction.... absolutely ingenious!! Cheeeers!
ynze (author)  danielthomas724 years ago
Thanks :D
astrong04 years ago
what if you used a shop vac....
Range over 200 feet.
1-40 of 99Next »