Introduction: Paper Cup Air Cannon

Picture of Paper Cup Air Cannon
A DIY version of AirZooka. A simple air cannon that will shoot puffs of air in the shape of torus (AKA: Rings). Add smoke and you get smoke rings.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Materials List:
Paper Cup with lid
A latex glove or balloon

While I don't want to condone the consumption of awful food, McDonalds has cool lids for this. Try and get the lids that have the circle cut in the top (maybe McFlurries).
If you use a balloon, it is actually better to use an old one that you have carefully deflated. The streched latex works better than new.

Step 2: Punch Out the Bottom of the Cup.

Picture of Punch Out the Bottom of the Cup.

Use scissors to punch a hole in the bottom of the cup. Simply rip out the bottom using your thumb to punch out the bottom. It really doesn't have to be pretty, just make a tube.

Step 3: Attach Skin

Picture of Attach Skin

Cut balloon or glove to get a piece of latex large enough to cover the bottom of cup.
Use tape (or your favorite adhesive method) to tack down the latex to the cup. Then seal up the latex to make an air-tight membrane over the cup (basically - make a drum).

Step 4: Attach Lid and Annoy Others.

Picture of Attach Lid and Annoy Others.

Attach lid and fire away.
If you cut the hole, try and keep the hole to about half the total diameter of the lid (to make better rings).

To fire:
Pinch and strech latex. A puff of air will travel a meter or more. This puff is not incredibly powerful, but can be felt. The TWUNK sound as the cannon is fired will annoy parents/spouses/co-workers within three minutes.

Add smoke and you can make smoke rings. I imagine some creative type could come up with way of shooting smells...

Happy Building
The Hatter


thealeks (author)2012-05-04

shooting smells? now i want to fart in one...

the eldonsmith (author)2007-03-17

We made one in the office - its at and it's a medium sized one. Trebuchet03 is making a giant.
Giant, small & medium, but what is the smallest effective size possible? (challenge)

OK, maybe not the smallest, but this is really cool. What happens when you shoot a torus at a torus?
Torus Destruction
Dr. Lim has studied lots of effects:
Dr. Lim Australia

holy crap that video of the torus collision was awesome

Define "effective" :P I've done this with air while scuba diving. If you start it really deep, the ring becomes really big by the time it reaches the surface as the compressed air expands :P Really, these interaction happen all the time - but we have no medium to view them :P

MaddHatter (author)trebuchet032007-03-19

There is a guy whole builds water torus generators:
Dolphins do this to play...

trebuchet03 (author)MaddHatter2007-03-19

haha that's really funny :P I just use my mouth :P

AlexTheGreat (author)trebuchet032007-03-18

oh, you're making a giant one too. Are you going to use a tarp or material on the end or some sort of piston.

Frindledon3 (author)2009-03-28

I made one out of a quacker oats cylinder, a rubberband, and a balloon. it can shoot like a max. of 15 ft. my friend bought an airzooka and was shooting people from a 2 story balcony and messing up there hair If you were to make one 3x the size of an airzooka it would go like 50 ft.

Flash Gordon (author)Frindledon32009-04-16

Awesome use a garbage drum maybe...

Father Christmas (author)2009-02-14

Who needs a legit reason to burn things?

trebuchet03 (author)2007-03-17

Ah man, I'm totally in the middle of a giant sized version :) I really need to publish stuffs :P

bigfootduck (author)gotja2008-06-11

DUDE! That's crazy! Did you make that?!

MaddHatter (author)gotja2007-10-05

Yep, this is exactly what we built. I do have to say that I'm impressed with the smoke they produced in the video. We had problems making smoke that was not to noxious (hum, I guess we shouldn't use this indoors...). Ended up making smudge sticks out of paper soaked in Potassium Nitrate and left to dry. When lit they smoldered for 45 seconds and produced smoke. Anyone have ideas on how to make smoke without a fog machine?

gotja (author)MaddHatter2007-10-05

well you mix salt peter (potassium nitrate) with sugar (works better if you melt the 2 together) and you put a fuse on it when your moldint it wrap it in like paper or foil and light it it makes alot of smoke for a decent amount of time go to youtube and search it

bedbugg2 (author)trebuchet032007-10-21

with a giant one you can make extreme smoke rings!

crapflinger (author)trebuchet032007-03-19

i don't wanna spoil the giant is giant?

trebuchet03 (author)crapflinger2007-03-19

I'm shooting for a 3' diameter ring.... Pun totally intended :P Then, I'm going to chop the thing to see just how big a reservoir is needed to preserve the effect.

shadow90 (author)2008-06-08

in theory, couldn't you have just cut a circle into the bottom of the cup and attatched the rubber to the top?

wmdfound (author)2008-05-11

use a trash can or barrel, cut a small hole in the closed end, put a shower curtain over the open end, put a couple smoke bombs in, and you got big smoke ring thing

Deathly Servant (author)2008-03-07

i didn't build one yet but what happens if you put baby powder will it make smoke or not?by the way my mom works at Mcdonalds

da man (author)2007-05-19

i own the real thing its gud

InfamousKirch (author)2007-03-19

You can make a tiny smoke-ring device with just a pack of cigarettes... I'll post the instructable tonight

MaddHatter (author)2007-03-18

Yeah, sorry about the video format... YouTube will be up in a bit. I have made a larger version for my science club class. A plastic garbage can ~3 ft tall and 2 ft in diameter. Large pieces of latex are kinda hard to find, so I used rubber tubbing as rubber bands and plastic. Could shoot 8" rings 10 meters! I have found that creating good solid smoke tends to be difficult. Friend worked out paper soaked in potassium nitrate and dried makes a good smudge that produces smoke. Of course the pyro in us wants to try butane or propane for the "Burning Ring of Fire" thing. This would probably be an easy ticket into the Darwin Awards, but hey.

Tool Using Animal (author)2007-03-17

What the heck is an mswmm? My boss gave me an airzooka for xmas a couple of years ago, I was thrilled, but then he did hire me because I "relate well to children".

MicroSoft Windows Movie Maker

Obscure Proprietary Format

dbrew (author)2007-03-18

I built a giant one from a galvanized metal garbage can, some bungee cords, a blue plastic tarp and some rivets. The effect was huge! The only problem is that its hard for one person to hold, aim, draw back the bungees. Aim suffers.

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