In this instructable, you'll learn how to make a potato cannon out of PVC tube parts. It's low cost and easy to make, if you just follow these quick steps. Here's what you'll need.
- 1.5” PVC pipe, 5’ long
- 3” solid core PVC, 2’ long
- 3” to 1.5” PVC Reducer
- 3” PVC Screw cap
- 3” PVC Threaded Adaptor
- Electric Grill Ignitor
- PVC Cement
- 2 1 ½”, ¼” Bolts
- 2 ¼” Nuts
- 2 Ring Terminals
- Electrical Tape
- Wire Strippers
- Power Drill
- Safety Glasses
Fuels & Ammo:
- Hairspray or Aerosol Deodorant
Warning: This project uses pressurized combustion and electricity. There is danger of electric shock and/or explosion due to over-pressurization, possibly leading to flying objects which could cause harm to skin, eyes, extremities, or personal property. It is recommended that the user wears eye protection at all times while building and operating this cannon. Use with caution.
Step 1: Install Bolts for Igniter
Using the power drill, make two ¼” holes halfway (or at arms length) down the length of the combustion chamber (the 3” tube). Make these holes perpendicular to each other, so that the bolt ends, once inserted, will be angled towards each other.
Insert the bolts first through the terminal rings, then into the tube so that the threads are on the inside of the tube. Secure both bolts with nuts.
Step 2: Glue the Body Together
In this step, we’re going to glue the PVC pieces together. To use the PVC cement, apply the cement liberally to the outside of the end of the tubes, and lightly to the inside of the adapters where they will meet.
Glue the 3” to 1.5” reducer on one end of the 3” tube, and the threaded adapter on the other end.
DO NOT glue the screw cap into the adapter, we’ll need to open and close this so we can refuel our cannon.
Glue the barrel (the 1.5” tube) into the reducer.
Step 3: Wait for It....
Follow the drying directions on the cement. My cement took two hours to dry, but check yours. Drying times may vary
Step 4: Install Grill Ignitor
In this step, we’ll be installing the grill igniter onto the bolts that we drilled earlier.
First make sure that the two wires of the grill igniter are connected to the terminals of the push-button apparatus. If not, you'll have to attach them by crimping them to the terminals.
Next, use wire strippers to cut and strip the end of the grill igniter wires, and crimp them into the terminal rings. You should use electrical tape to heavily cover the outside of the bolts and the igniter terminals so that there aren’t any short-circuits, and so you don’t electrocute yourself!
Check to make sure it sparks- when you press the button on the igniter, a spark should jump between the bolts on the inside of the tube.
I used a hose clamp to fasten my igniter button to my cannon, but this step isn’t required.
Step 5: Find an Empty Area and Have Fun
Find a big empty space, like an unused field. Make sure no person or damageable property is in the vicinity, as these potatoes can launch upwards of 100 yards!
Insert a potato into the barrel of the cannon. You may have to use a knife to cut away portions of the potato so it fits better. It won’t go down easy, so you may have to use a broom handle to push it down farther. Push the potato 4’ to 5’ into the barrel, but be careful not to get it into the combustion chamber.
Spray hairspray or deodorant into the back of the combustion chamber for about 3 seconds, then replace the screw cap securely.
Point the barrel away from anyone or anything, and press the ignition switch.
Watch the spuds fly!