Introduction: T-shirt Cannon

Picture of T-shirt Cannon

Everybody has wanted to build a B.F.G. This time it was my turn, so i built a T-shirt cannon to blow the minds of crazed fans and students

Step 1: Research

Picture of Research
for my cannon I would like to use it at rallys and school football games so it had to:

-shoot multiple shirts on one charge

-have enough power to project the shirts a good distance

-be reasonably priced and portable

so after a bit of research i found this video

It had everything i needed, so instead of buying his modestly priced gun of $560 dollars, I set out to build my own for less than $100.

Step 2: Parts List

Picture of Parts List


- 4" diameter PVC 2 foot length
- 3" diameter PVC 2 feet total cut into foot long sections
- 4" PVC caps x2
- 3" PVC cap

next set of parts is to reduce from 3" to 1". if you find a cheaper way ignore my parts list
- 3"coupler x2
- 3" to 1.25" reducer x2
- 1.25" to 1" recucer x2
- foot length of 1" PVC
- 1" slip to 1" threaded adapter x2

- 1" sprinkler valve
- foot length of 1/4" hose (get one that is properly rated)
- 1/4" hose adapter (hose barb) to 1/8" threaded x2
- 1/8" nipple x2
- 1/8" elbow
- 1/8" valve
- small hose clamp x2
- Teflon tape
- bike pump valve (can be replaced with a air compressor adapter)
- Epoxy
- PSI gauge

- Drill
- various drill bits
- PVC cement and primer
- Popsicle stick
- Duct tape (optional)

Step 3: Drilling and Epoxy

Picture of Drilling and Epoxy

1. Take one of the 4" caps and drill a hole just big enough to insert the bike valve
2. take the other 4" cap and drill a hole that is just big enough to screw in a nipple
(screw the nipple into the elbow to make it easier to screw into the PVC, use Teflon tape)
3. take the 3" cap and drill a hole that is just big enough to screw in the hose adapter
3. once they are inserted add epoxy to the inside to seal any un-seen leaks
4. once dried do the same to the outside

Step 4: Firing Tank and Barrel

Picture of Firing Tank and Barrel

1. take the 1' section of the 3" diameter PVC and solvent weld the coupler to the pipe
2. solvent weld the 3" to 1.25" reducer to the coupler
3. solvent weld the 1.25" to 1" reducer to the other reducer
4. cut about a 5" section of the 1" pipe and solvent weld it to the reducer
5. solvent weld the 1" slip to 1" threaded adapter to the 1" diameter pipe

repeat twice

1. choose which one you want to be the barrel and which to be the firing tank
(as a personal preference I chose to cut the tank a couple inches so that the bulk length would be about a foot)
2. the barrel is done, take your firing tank and drill a hole for the PSI gauge, use the same technique for the nipple and adapter, screw in and epoxy
(measure out were it will be so that the gauge is on the appropriate side of the gun by screwing the firing tank into the valve)
3. once the epoxy has set, solvent weld the 3" cap to the firing tank

Step 5: Main Tank

Picture of Main Tank

1. Solvent weld the 4" caps to the 4" pipe

Step 6: Firing Mechanism

Picture of Firing Mechanism

there are two ways to fire your gun you can use the electrical solenoid built into the valve or use the technique displayed by crispyjones

I will provide instructions for the electrical side
- 9V battery clip x3
- 9V battery x3
- shrink tubing
- wire
- switches, one that stays on and one that is momentary
- solder according to the diagram
- position the switches on the gun so that it is most comfortable for you
- use epoxy or glue to secure the buttons

Step 7: Plumbing

Picture of Plumbing

1. screw the barrel and firing tank into the sprinkler valve, use Teflon tape on the threading
2. complete the valve assembly by screwing the other nipple to the elbow, the valve to the nipple, and the hose adapter to the valve, use Teflon tape.
3. insert the hose onto the adapters, tighten using the hose clamps.

Step 8: Attaching the Two Halfs

Picture of Attaching the Two Halfs

you can use what ever you want, I used what i had on hand DUCT TAPE!!!

Step 9: DONE!!!

Picture of DONE!!!

To check for air leaks fill the main tank with compressed air via bike pump or compressor. Seal any leaks with epoxy.

also the barrel can be screwed off to change the size and shoot other projectiles such a s potatoes, golf balls, tennis balls ect.

For shooting t-shirts I load the main tank with 100 PSI and then fill the firing tank with 40 PSI and this seems to work fine for me and can get about 6 shots in one fill.



the modder (author)2017-09-16

cool man whats the psi on this gun

ive made one but with a fire extinguisher though goes up to 125 psi

CaptainAwwsum made it! (author)2016-04-03

I know that I posted the pics before, but wanted to add it under the "I made it!" feature. Out of safety, it's since been retired after 300+ shots and may turn into a cosplay weapon.

hacker3455 (author)CaptainAwwsum2016-04-05

Awesome to see again! Glad you are still finding use out of it.

kiwicalibra (author)2015-09-09

Ive built a cnnon but the air just goes through the cannon. Do i have to remove the small white tab on the valve diaphram

HarrisL1 (author)kiwicalibra2016-02-03

I'm having the same problem. Did you figure it out?

hacker3455 (author)kiwicalibra2015-09-10

Since I do not know your exact configuration, I can't offer much advice. Sorry.

JoeB74 made it! (author)2015-10-12

why do you have 2 tanks and a barrel? is that to get more then 1 shot? I built a cannon very similar except i have one reservoir tank and a interchangeable barrel, but when I use the 3inch T-shirt barrel its a big flop even at 100 psi. it only goes maybe 20 feet. please advise

hacker3455 (author)JoeB742015-10-21

Some alternatives would be to shorten the existing barrel, or use a different valve that opens wider and faster allowing for better airflow.

hacker3455 (author)JoeB742015-10-21

Yes, I have 2 tanks so that I can shoot multiple times. The larger tank acts as a reservoir to refill the firing tank. As the barrel size is increased, the air pushing the projectile is spread across a wider surface area, therefore decreasing the force pushing against the projectile. Try using a smaller barrel to shoot the t-shirts, this should improve the distance.

Melisa Mitzi SmithH (author)2015-09-07

can you list the parts for me please. going to make one this weekend for a mud ride! thanks in advance!

The parts are listed in step 2 of the insturctions.

GamerDudecnr (author)2015-03-08

I can't wait to build this

chance.kuehnel (author)2014-11-19

how much does this cost from start to finish for all the parts? thanks

I don't remember the exact cost, but it was around $90. However, money could be saved for different parts that serve the same purpose.

awangler (author)2013-12-18

Hey man. I'm building a pop bottle launcher for my nephew for Christmas and I'm using the same concept of the sprinkler valve. However, I cannot get my solenoid to open the valve enough to release the pressurized air all at once. It just slowly releases a little air over a long duration. It's more than likely a power problem, but I'm out of ideas on what to try. Suggestions?

turtledrake (author)awangler2014-09-28

I know this is way too late, but for others with this problem, I have a suggestion. The valve has a knob that controls the airflow. Loosen the knob as much as possible to allow for maximum air output.

hacker3455 (author)awangler2014-01-06

Sorry I didn't get back to you in time for Christmas. The problem you're having might be due to the valve itself, perhaps try a different brand. For my gun, (if memory serves me correctly) if the firing tank's pressure was too low, then the air would just "flow" out rather than dumping the full contents. Of course fill to a pressure that you are confident with.

quinn.porzio (author)2014-09-21

I am having the same problem as, firstson11, and i tried every thing you suggested, but it still goes maybe 15-20 ft with 40 psi, and with 100 psi it goes maybe 35-40. Help, my school is paying for the parts and they want results.

hacker3455 (author)quinn.porzio2014-09-24

Consider the variables I stated in the reply to firstson11. Also consider that the valve used in the application and how it may inhibit air flow.

firstson11 (author)2014-09-10

I'm having issues with mine it's barly lobbing the t shirt out and it's at 40psi in the tank and suggestions

hacker3455 (author)firstson112014-09-13

When rolling up the t-shirt, make sure that the fit within the barrel it isn't too tight. But also keep in mind that a t-shirt rolled up to tightly will allow air to escape around the shirt and will not launch the shirt. Also consider your connections from your tank to your barrel. Small diameter connections will limit the rate at which the air can vacate the tank.

did you use electrical?

Kataze (author)2014-06-04

What kind of epoxy did you use and how did you apply it? Just dab it around the threads, or what?

hacker3455 (author)Kataze2014-06-08

I don't remember exactly what type of epoxy it was. I do remember that it was clear and could be handled after about 2 hours. Check the packaging for application surfaces to make sure you are getting the right stuff. And yes I would apply some to the threading, and a bit on both sides of the hole to seal inside and outside.

Masher007 (author)2014-04-28

Danger: See link: This is not spam, but a warning. PVC will fail suddenly after a while. This was band member that hurt badly by a T-Shirt launcher explosion.

See the pictures and never use PVC to hold air, Please.

Masher007 (author)2014-04-28

This is not spam, but a warning. PVC will fail suddenly after a while. This was band member that hurt badly by a T-Shirt launcher explosion.

TraciAG (author)2014-04-07

Thanks for the instructions on the electrical part.

My team in robotics needed me to build a release for our shooting mechanism, this worked easy!

hacker3455 (author)TraciAG2014-04-09

Great to hear that things worked out!

TraciAG (author)hacker34552014-04-14

It worked but I do have a question about it:

I'm not electrical savvy, so I'm wondering why there was a need for a momentary and non-momentary switch?

I just used the momentary in mine, what did the "safety switch" do?

hacker3455 (author)TraciAG2014-04-27

The non-momentary switch interrupts the circuit acting like a safety. Therefore, unless the non-momentary switch is pressed, the gun cannot misfire.

aschurger (author)2012-12-14

Wanted to say thanks for the instructable. I'm a physics teacher and we used this to launch eggs instead of the tired egg drop experiment. Kids loved it and it was a success.

hacker3455 (author)aschurger2013-03-29

Projectiles, the perfect way to captivate physics students

CaptainAwwsum (author)2013-02-04

Absolutely fantastic. A couple of friends of mine own a minor league basketball team and mentioned a t-shirt cannon. So in the same spirit of this post, I offered to build one. I took the plans here and added a toy gun handle with a safety and trigger switch. Overall build time was about four hours not including cure time. So far it's been shot over 100 times (including a snowball fight) and is still going strong.

hacker3455 (author)CaptainAwwsum2013-03-29

Glad to hear you like the design!

HIRULE (author)2011-11-14

quick question did you do any math in order to build this gun. im having a bet with my friend

hacker3455 (author)HIRULE2011-12-21

What do you mean by math?

rocketman217 (author)hacker34552011-12-28

I think he means calculations

distortyourPOV (author)2011-10-02

How far does everyone else's shoot? Mine only shoots about 20 meters.

ilpug (author)2011-03-19

Very nice! i might modify this whole system and mount it on something for some kind of airsoft monster gun.

ftball999 (author)2010-12-12

I am currently building a nerf gun using that sprinkler valve, I am assuming that I will need multiple batteries but what is the purpose of the two switches? Thanks,

hacker3455 (author)ftball9992010-12-12

the non-momentary switch acts as a safety, therefore if it is not in the on position, the gun cannot be fired

ftball999 (author)hacker34552010-12-13

Ah, thanks. I will be adding a second switch to my gun for that!

Pizzapie500 (author)2010-11-27

What if my sprinkler valve runs on AC?

hacker3455 (author)Pizzapie5002010-11-28

Have you tried applying a DC current to the valve? If you still don't hear the clicking sound of the solenoid, look online for a DC to AC circuit design, thats all I can really suggest. Or find a valve that runs on DC.

Pizzapie500 (author)hacker34552010-11-29

Thank You! It runs perfectly on DC. I will probably do this on my anti siphon valve. 5*

knex_mepalm (author)2010-08-05

You might wanna make a hopper and tell everyone to looka t you then shoot them rapidly with t-shirts.

waterboyf5 (author)2010-07-21

you should so add a rotating chamber to it so you can load 6 at once.. but there might be a problem when you need to keep all the air centralized

hacker3455 (author)waterboyf52010-07-25

If I were to add a rotating barrel system I would keep the initial design but just unscrew the firing barrel and replace it with the multi-barrel attachment

waterboyf5 (author)hacker34552010-07-26

that actually sounds a bit simpler than what i was going for. i just figured you could add a rotating chamber as a quick click on attachment but if your going for a permanent solution you should probably go with the rotating barrel system

waterboyf5 (author)waterboyf52010-07-21

idea on that. if you add it at the end to where the shirt just drops into the chamber wouldn't it work? although in the building process you would have to add a full circular backing to it so it doesn't just drop to the ground

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