Introduction: 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

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).

Step 2: Make It

  • Attach the 3-way junction to the straight tube, using duct tape (you can glue the parts with PVC glue, of course, but there's no good reason to do so).
  • Wrap duct tape around the tip of the vacuum cleaners' hose, so that it fits snugly into the slanting tube. This fit should be as air-tight as possible.
  • Push the vacuum-cleaners' hose into the slanting tube of the pvc junction part.
  • Test whether the projectile can run smoothly through the assembles PVC tubes, when the vacuum-cleaner is attached.
  • That's it :D

Step 3: Lauch It and Tweak It

Launch it:
  • Power up the vacuum cleaner.
  • Cover the tubes' ending with the PVC-junction with the business card. The vacuum cleaner will now suck air from the other end of the PVC tube.
  • Hold the projectile firmly, and insert it in the air-sucking tip of the pvc tube.
  • Let go and enjoy!

Tweak it:
  • If you extend the straight pvc tube, the projectile will be accelerated over a longer period. And so the projectile's velocity will increase. So extend that piece of tube!
  • Add some weight to the projectile. We filled the capsule with rice, but sand might work better. Experiment to find the right weight for the projectile.

Again: Have fun! Don't shoot in the direction of living creatures, though. So be careful, too.


Comments

author
NightHawkInLight (author)2011-08-09

This is really awesome guys, way to go on winning the challenge!

author
ynze (author)NightHawkInLight2011-08-09

Thanks!!! We're having a ball here :D

author
bloomautomatic (author)2011-07-15

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!

Vince

SANY0081 (Large).JPGSANY0083 (Large).JPG
author

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.

author
ynze (author)bloomautomatic2011-07-16

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...

author
yoh-there (author)2015-05-24

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

author
yoh-there (author)2015-03-05

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.

author
ynze (author)yoh-there2015-03-05

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

author
yoh-there (author)2015-03-05

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

author
pyromaniac123456789 (author)2013-11-11

Do you need a vacuum that can blow ?

author
IVT (author)2012-12-15

Genious!

author
SGT. Desert (author)2012-08-18

aoswme i use supprize eggez and sand in it small and dirty ( my extra add a nail to the head of the egg )

author
Green Silver (author)2011-07-14

Just make it a condition, before the kids play with the vacuum they have to use it first!

author
ToolboxGuy (author)Green Silver2012-07-19

Perfect plan - clean the house, then you can use the vacuum to pelt the neighborhood!

author
marcintosh (author)2011-07-14

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.

author
ToolboxGuy (author)marcintosh2012-07-19

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!

author
neologik (author)2012-02-15

excelent!!! very good .. does this work with water baloons?

hehe

greets

author
thejevans (author)2011-09-12

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.

author
neil a downie (author)2011-09-04

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

author
Nachimir (author)2011-08-17

So lovely, and simple. Thanks :)

author
PS118 (author)2011-08-05

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!

author
dylankunaikennedy (author)2011-07-29

could i make it with a 90 degree elbow piece?

author
ynze (author)dylankunaikennedy2011-07-29

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.

author
dylankunaikennedy (author)ynze2011-08-02

instead of a 3 way connector?

author
ynze (author)dylankunaikennedy2011-08-02

Have a look at Bloomautomatic's comment (with pics). Is that what you mean with a 90 degree elbow piece? That version works!

author
Avatar_I_Am (author)2011-07-26

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!!!

author
Avatar_I_Am (author)Avatar_I_Am2011-07-26

I wonder what would happen if I used an old belt driven compressor with a 4" piston, weighing about 85 pounds...

MWWWAAAAHHAHAHAHAHA!

The Trouble I could get into is ENDLESS!!

author
evilmadcow (author)2011-07-22

suuuweeeett.

author
steveastrouk (author)2011-07-14

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.

author
evilmadcow (author)steveastrouk2011-07-22

good idea. I live in the U.S. so getting an egg like that would cost a fortune.

author
ynze (author)steveastrouk2011-07-14

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...

author
steveastrouk (author)ynze2011-07-14

Sorry, my bad, wrong book, its http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bazookas-Electric-Rainbow-Saturday-Projects/dp/0691009864

author
ynze (author)steveastrouk2011-07-21

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

Y.

author
steveastrouk (author)ynze2011-07-21

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

Steve

author
ynze (author)steveastrouk2011-07-21

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...

author
danielthomas72 (author)2011-07-22

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!

author
ynze (author)danielthomas722011-07-22

Thanks :D

author
astrong0 (author)2011-07-15

what if you used a shop vac....

author
steveastrouk (author)astrong02011-07-21

Range over 200 feet.

author
The nerdling (author)astrong02011-07-19

deadly

author
Shadetree Engineer (author)2011-07-15

https://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Vacuum-Powered-Paint-Marker/

So I think I can say that this is very cool! And if you add a hinge to the business card with a travel stop so it can't open any further than 90 degrees, the suction will pull it closed and you could have a rapid second shot.

I used 3/4 inch PVC pipe, with paintballs.

author
ynze (author)Shadetree Engineer2011-07-18

Yup, I like your automatic weapon a lot! I had a look at it before I entered my bazooka. The physics of our projects are the same, the construction is different.

Adding a travel stop to the card is a smart idea. If that works, a cartridge containing several projectiles can be added, too...

author
Shadetree Engineer (author)ynze2011-07-18

'weapon' is an overstatement, it had trouble breaking all the paint. But using a continuous flow of air to move projectiles looks promising. My goal is merely to get 300 FPS, all other serious research in a device like this was to get over 1000. 300 is the legal limit for playing fields.

A travel stop mod would be easy to add to your existing bazooka. A hinge can be a piece of duct tape. The stop itself, a piece of coat hanger wire bent into a U and taped to the side of the muzzle, right over the tape hinge.

But that would be the easy way. I would like to see a 6-inch section of 2 x 2 square tube hot-glued across the muzzle. Entry & exit holes right through the center and the hinge taped into place on the inside so that the tape is neatly out of sight and stuck firmly on a large flat area. This would have a much nicer appearance, like a Barret .50 rifle.

author
freakyqwerty (author)2011-07-17

Wow that looks awsome! How long does it take for Hoover to create a vacume in the pipe?

author
sitzikbs (author)2011-07-16

Great job guys! it looks awsome!
can it launch a small potato too?

author
ynze (author)sitzikbs2011-07-17

I never tried...

author
payman (author)2011-07-15

Thanks, this is very interesting...!

author
mrmath (author)2011-07-14

Kinder Eggs are illegal in the US :( I guess you'd have to substitute small water balloons :)

author
klindner (author)mrmath2011-07-15

I read the wiki link. . . and I still don't believe it, I juuust walked out of a VONS 10 minutes ago which carried them. There are also identical Korean and Japanese knock offs at Asian specialty stores all over.

THX for the awesome, and awesome-ly simple, 'ible!

author
bradhowes (author)mrmath2011-07-14

What?! We bought them all the time in Cambridge, MA. Are you serious?

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