Picture of Tennis Ball Mortar

The tennis ball mortar is a great project for many reasons: all the materials are cheap and readily available, its construction is extremely simple, and it gives off a nice loud *pop* which the video doesn't do justice.

Quick and dirty explanation on how it works: The mortar is composed of three sections of Pringles cans duct taped together. The metal bottoms of the top two cans are cut to form baffles, which will focus the force of the expanding hot gas created by the burnt vaporized naptha, onto the center of the tennis ball. Thanks to the near exact match in diameter of the ball and can, the force of the compressed gases is trapped behind the tennis ball for the whole length of the top can.

As you can probably guess this design has room for improvements. For example, if the length of the top can were extended, the ball would have a longer time to accelerate and thus achieve a faster speed, but at what point does the downward air pressure on the ball overpower the structural integrity of cardboard and duct tape? How does increasing the volume of the cans affect overall performance? What effect would adding a few more baffled cans have? I'm sure the answer is only a simple math problem or two away, but you look bored and like your enjoying a few too many fingers. (More after the video)

Today (June 1st) I am beginning a contest (Shhh! Its not an official contest so don't tell my bosses Eric and Christy) to see who can come up with the best tennis ball mortar design. No one characteristic defines "best", it is a combination of performance, creativity, adn 1's aBiLiTy 2 not tlak LIEK Dis!!!1!1 I am judge and jury of this contest, and my decision is final.

How to enter: Join the group Tennis Ball Mortars (Its moderated) If you feel your design is truly innovative, and that you are making great advances in the field of tennis ball mortarology, write a new instructable and post it in the group. If you just have some pictures, or if the only difference between your mortar and someone else's is the color of the duct tape, post it in the forums, and then add it to the group.

Now for the good part *THE PRIZE*. I'm sure your dieing to know what sacrificing several fingers, gaining numerous pounds, and clogging all your arteries will win? ::Drum roll:: The ULTIMATE SUPER GRAND PRIZE is ...
a cookie, thats right you win a cookie (Specifically: (1) Entenmann's chocolate chip cookie mailed in plain white envelope to any address in the world ( Its internationally delicious!! )). I know what your thinking "Damn Tetranitrate you cheapskate, even Fred, the guy who sits in his van by the playground is more generous with sweets then you", to which all I reply is "After all those Pringles you don't need anymore junk food, and you should probably tell a trusted adult about Fred."

**DISCLAIMER: By entering this contest, thinking about entering this contest, or even just reading this, you retain all liability should you happen to blow up or injure yourself in an attempt to build this.

(edit: I ate the cookie)

thedog4587 years ago
hey really good Instructable. now this is gona be a really dumb question but do u have to use the lighter fluid?(coz where I live they don't sell it) :(
spray some butane in there
Gotta be careful of that stuff, it'll go without even needing the "perfect" air mixture. For my potato canon I usually use Starter Fluid because its strong as hell and if you get too much the chances of it blowing up without enough air are pretty slim. I haven't made one of these yet, but I'm going to try to make it out of PVC instead...Pringles cans seem more like a cardboard pipe bomb.
PVC potato cannon with starting fluid is a potential is pipe bomb held under your arm. Just to make a point that only hair spray is the safe propellant
why are you putting lighter fluid it that? I just use Axe, or Right Guard and that potato fly's damn far.
Same here, but we were discussing starting fluid, a VERY flammable liquid that can aerosolize by dripping down the inner surface of the spud gun.
oh I see. well based on my experience you better be using some really strong PVC; I built two spud guns in the past, both firing chambers cracked with in 15-20 uses.
Try talking to a contractor at the hard ware store high density pvc looks like the regular stuff
na dont use butane... last time i tried with it the whole thing just caught alight... the result was a 30inch candle and a flaming tennis ball rolling down my street..not cool
Tetranitrate (author)  thedog4587 years ago
Yeah, you kinda do need the lighter fluid. Where do you live that they don't sell it, North Korea?
I got a garage shop ballistics book, and it says that hairspray can work too, which makes sense. Would the whole thing just blow up?
Yes, you'll be amazed what hairspray and a lighter can do. Instant blowtorch.
This is an old wives tale,
Fire needs oxygen to burn, their is no oxygen inside aerosol cans or else they could spontaneously combust at anytime.
Therefore, flame has no way of getting into the can, no back-feed
There is an issue however. The flame can melt the regulator or nozzle and all the propellant can come out at once. But it won't go back in the can.
hmm everyone seems to think that. if i put a match near a deodorant can all my freinds go OMG IT WILL BLOW UP AAAAAAHHHHH. it never has although i was once near an almost empty butane canister when the gas blew back twas F*****g scary
wow. thank you. i never thought of it that way. i have always been terrified  to hold a flame for more than a second on an aerosol can. it makes a lot of sense. thanx. :D
lol no I live no coober pedy. but thanks any way.
 you seem to have the internet, anything can be got on the internet, including lighter fluid
Yes they do No matter where you live, they sell light fluid
are u serious?? where on earth do you live???
I want to use it for airsoft and I wanted to know if anyone knows how to make the tennis balls explode and shoot BBS everywhere.
Any ideas?
No explosives you go to jail for that one. But if you cut the ball in to six pieces sort of like an orange and barely enough paper tape to keep it together with extra at the bottom so you dont get an awesome shot toy but then again thats pretty cool
Maybe put a small explosive in the center of the tennis ball, and fill it with BBs. Then leave the fuse to the explosive trailing out of a hole in the tennis ball, and launch it from the mortar with the fuse on the back of the tennis ball so the action of firing it lights the fuse.
just wrap the BBs in aluminium foil or place a paper ball underneath it
what i did was put a hole in the tennis ball with a drill and add a fire cracker...filled it with bbs....but you need to take a knife and cut make the tennis ball a little thinner by cutting some of the stuff off it....also try other things that the fire cracker will explode easier like a ping pong ball with weights or something
dylancotton3 years ago
If you duct tape it horizontally to a skateboard, would it move the skateboard?
Not the way you want it will move you at best two meters because the energy is used in an instant and focused on the ball and not the base of the mortar
Yes, because newtons law number 3 says with every action theres a reaction, so if the tennis ball shoot out, the skateboard will be pushed back!
(7th grade science)
ErinM63 months ago
If you can find 2.70" pipe. that is the size of a tennis ball.
yashwanthg7 months ago

what is the material used for giving the force to push the ball ?

where can we get it?

ReneA212 months ago

try using automotive starting fluid! It has ether in it and is super explosive. Make the canon out of electrical conduit and cast iron pipe fittings. Use model rocketry electrical igniter plugs, which usually are 9 volt to set the fuel mixture in the base of the canon off. Make sure the tennis ball fits snugly into the barrel,but not too tight. It has to be able to escape without a lot of resistance. Oiling the barrel slightly with a WD 40 will help, plus it is also flammable, so when it goes off with one hell of a bang, a nice blue flame ejects with tennis ball. Originally, I made a ether canon out old coal stove piping about 8 feet in length, with an empty quart paint can as the projectile. The damned thing would send the can so high into the air, it disappeared from sight, only to come down somewhere in the neighborhood 30 or so seconds later. The BOOM that thing made rattled windows and made half a dozen dogs in the area begin to bark and go nuts. I finally stopped using it when the cops began "looking for some idiot setting off dynamite" as they told a neighbor they questioned. You can make a pretty good canon out of automotive exhaust pipe too. A straight length of it is cheap and it'll weld up nicely too. The whole trick to these canons is is getting air to fuel ratio just right, so that when ignited,it detonates all of the mixture with a good compressed explosion. It took me many tries and failures before I hit on the combinations. What I want to perfect is an all metal, lightweight, ether fired, golf ball canon, that will go through a car door, or house door every time. This thing would be lethal or extremely harmful to human beings. A head shot certainly would be the end of any one! Aren't you glad you're a nut job American and we've got the readily available resources at our fingertips to come up with stupid shit like this for the fun and hell of it? I am! ;)

But wouldn't that make the mortar explode? Like break?
jxmorris123 years ago
When I light my mortar, a small flame appears by the hole (nothing explodes). This is without lighter fluid. What is the reason for the lack of combustion?
When i was younger, we made ours out of a spray paint can and PVC pipe. Head to the hardware store with a tennis ball and find the right size PVC pipe. Get about a metre or so. Also buy a can of spray paint and some duct tape. You just carefully cut off the top section of the can(small ring at the top with the nozzle) and remove the nozzle - and paint if there is any - *might be safer to empty out the gas first. The larger ring of the can 'should' fit inside the end of the pipe. *might pay to try this before you buy it - they come in slightly different sizes. Then you duct tape the join. Drill a small hole(2 - 3mm) about 30-40mm or so up from the bottom of the can on the side. Cannon complete. All you need to do now is push a tennis ball down the tube until it sits on the top of the can(use a cut down broom handle or what ever you can find). Spray any aerosol - we used fly spray - into the small hole then light a cigarette lighter right next to the hole. Flame will 'suck in' through the hole and - BOOM! - tennis ball launched. If you point it straight up, you should almost lose sight of the ball. We later updated our model with an electric stove lighter so it became like a tennis ball bazooka!!! Unfortunately, here in Australia it is now illegal to make home made fire arms with a fine of around $40,000 if you are caught. Enjoy, and be safe as I claim no responsibility if any injuries are caused while using this design. We never had any issues but you never know.
Is it possible to use a PVC Pipe ?
xs0skill3dx4 years ago
how many shots will the mortar last for? and if i were to make one out of the metal tube that the tennis balls come in ( i think its made of a similar, but thicker material as the bottom of a pringles can, aluminum or whatever) how many shots would that last for?
the original one lasts about 5-6 shots depending on what you use as fuel
dtc-joey5 years ago
can it whit 2 cans???
yes you can put a hole in the top can
Achan204 years ago
hmm. slight modification and it could shoot golf balls......
ElQuirko5 years ago
Can you ditch the pringles and just use PVC piping?
 i tried making one with pvc, 2.5" is too small, and 3" is too big for tennis balls 
There is a spudgun site that sells 2.75" pvc. It's somewhat expensive, but the piping can be used for pneumatic tennis ball cannons as well as combustion.
Pringles work fine, but now I need a more explosive fuel. Hair spray is just not enough. Maybe hairspray and methylated spirits...?
TXTCLA554 years ago
I prefer my spud gun ;)
pyrofire5 years ago
No, you should leave about 1/4" on each side of the hole.
ElQuirko5 years ago
Doesn't work with hairspray - at least, not for me.
i had more sucsess the second time i built a tennis ball morter with using the metal tube the tennis balls came in, first time the bottom of the pringles tube blew out after a few tries...
another way to make a stand is using flat wood " / "peices that look like
l l
l l
l l

put a screw" T " at the bottom of the 2 wood peices n then duck tape" _ " the tops of the peices leaving around 5 inches of room, it shood look like this
                       5 in.
                  / /            / /
               / /                  / /
            / /                         / /
            T                             T
                       5 in.
                  / /            / /
               / /                  / /
            / /                         / /
            T                             T
You know theres another form of slash yes?
                        5 in.
                  / /            \ \
               / /                  \ \
            / /                        \ \
            T                          T
doesn't that look better? =P
of you use methalted spirits the vapors will burn alot better
gpequeno8185 years ago
Hey, how many cans of pringles are supposed to have the circle in the bottom?
And which ones?
Top, Middle, or Bottom?
top n middle
Alternative fuel source, propane and oxygen in small balloons. It requires that you use PVC because of the smooth inside of the barrel but its far more reliable than lighter fluid albeit a bit more expensive, and if you have leftover balloons you can scare the neighbors by turning them into loud explosions!
duct tape is like 8$ a roll
 Depending on the type you buy. The crummy kind is a lot cheaper and considering this type of project i don't think one needs the fancy kind.
According to my schools spanish teacher, yes duct tape is $8, but in real life it is only like $1- maybe $3 at the most.
Where? I can buy an oversized extra-large roll at the dollor store for (duh) $1.
Wait, are you talking about colored duct tape?
mage John Smith6 years ago
all colors of duct tape are created equal
spinxtre5 years ago
use european beer cans alot of them still use steel cans ,and work perfectly with tennis balls
caco caco5 years ago
i can make the mortar wiht pvc tube insted of pringles?
cost me about 20$ to make, where i live pringles are like 3.00$ a bottle because right now the only way to get in and out is by plane.
how far does this shot i wana make one
$3.00 a can? For good (un)healthy junk food. Bummer. Anywhere from $1.00 to $1.50 here.
where do you live?
In this far off land once thought to be just a legend, but after recent studies its concluded that this place is real, has a name as well as a population of about 500 people. St Paul's River, Quebec, Canada:).
hahaha, sweet
i am making one of these badasses 2dai n since i'm british i wanted 2 know if it can fire a crumpet
the crumpets my not fit in a chip tube but a large scone might fit in a small-ish one.
ben0801966 years ago
ok i finaly got it to work, but my tube cuaght on fire and i connot usa it any more the out side is ok but the inside is burnt
It's only obvious why. Picture 7 says Made in China.
mrkane msw1006 years ago
PikesPeak6 years ago
We used to make these with the old metal soda cans the same way. Cut the ends off of them, and tape them together.
amaxonor6 years ago
How come when I did this, it only ended up forming a small flame at the 1/4" hole at the bottom? I waited 2 minutes for it to vaporize but it still
Shake it up!
Kush_Slayer6 years ago
imagine this + tennis ball impact grenades(not from instructables from some zombie site)
You mean like a match head bomb? Because that would be cool if it worked but i think it might go off by the blast of the cannon.
Hahaha love the bulimia joke. Very tasteful. =] Also, try using this as an over-the-shoulder rocket launcher? =]
What would suck if the tennis ball somehow got jammed in there and the whole thing exploded next to YOUR FACE.
hey do u know if the t-ball shuld just sit in the lighter fluid
benz_z6 years ago
another great -ible soak the tennis ball in the lighter fluid too (the more fire the better) ;)
JAGleason116 years ago
So the hole shouldnt be big enough for the tennis ball to go through
does the hole have to be big enough so the ball can go through????
oh cool thanks man.
lemurpie6 years ago
btw for laughs. we named ours "The Stimulus Package". It was fast,cheap, went out with a bang, and in the end didn't do anything productive. don't bother responding to argue politics it is a joke.
lemurpie6 years ago
yeah engine starter fluid works alright. I haven't been able to get the distance or the consistency you seem to have in the video. are there any major problems anyone has run into that I might be doing? ex. approximate evap time for substances(varies) size of ignition hole? do you put the tennis ball in after the lighter fluid or do you build up vapor first and then put it in? is there a specific size of tennis ball(mine didn't seem flush)?
Is the ball supposed to go to the bottom of the cans? Or does it just sit on top and stuff? Thanks.
ben0801966 years ago
i did just as the instuctions say and i couldnt get it to worj except for 1 time and it went about 10 yards
elirocks6 years ago
it did not work when I made mine
dalartha6 years ago
Hi I would like to know approximately how far can this mortar shoot using all the items in the instructable? Thanks
i love this thing! i almost lit my neighbors house on fire with it though.... when i shot it the ball came out on fire and landed on their roof! (thank god it rolled off)
hey you can soak the ball in water and it'll still shoot
its better to soak it in petrol
your malice amuses me greatly
evil i love it
because you liked the pain Hmm?
lol thats hilarous. i made a mini one out of some small pvc pipe, (shoots mini marshmallows and marbels) and the bottom blew off of it and sent burning lighterfluid onto my pant leg. i almost didnt put it out,.
Kendallkip XI37 years ago
perfect for mini smores lol
vix2596 years ago
do you think I could get this to work with air pressure by using a pop bottle hooked up to the bottom and then a bike pump hooked up to the bottle to pressures it and a butterfly valve to hold in the air then turn the valve to let out the air pressure and fire the ball. I need to do this for a science project at school and they wont let me use any explosives?????
dietpoop6 years ago
im looking for some advice or even someone to tell me how to make a "semi-automatic non-pneumatic tennis ball launcher" without any pyrotechnics or flame or chemicals involved and u seem pretty smart in the area of "tennis ball artisanry" so, got any ideas- i was thinking a spring or maybe a pump action one where when u pump it it condenses the air?
i wonder if you could turn this into a shoulder mounted cannon?
gblax1236 years ago
You aren't on an airfield... are you???
FLairsoft6 years ago
looks like ive found my airsoft team a workable paint/vinegar and baking soda greande mortar. Would you be able to convert the combustion process into a air propellent?? (pyrotechices is discouraged becasue od one rather nasty incident) Co2 or a bike pump maybe??
dardy_76 years ago
make sure you ductape the bottom thoroughly or the bum will blow out
benbee6 years ago
should the tennis ball be able to hit the bottom of the shaft??? or should the cut out circles in the bottom of each Pringle can stop the tennis ball from sliding down the shaft??
you could put the lighter fluid into a spray can with and atomizer to speed up the process of vaporizing the fluid.
Crazy Kid6 years ago
i built one out of tennis ball cans and it blew up from all the pressure and caught of fire
I know someone that got pretty badly hurt from using one of these made out of metal cans. Besides, it's easier to do it with pringle cans anyway
i used to make something similiar to this with soda cans. if you know anything about these mortars, the more cans (to some extent) the more powerful it will be. sometimes if you go past 11 the cans will blow apart at the seams. well we worked it out and made a 36 beer can mortar. my friend lit it with a bic and and the thing totally exploded. the bic shot back and dented a wooden wall 10 feet behind it. you shoulda seen his hand
jaghk Crazy Kid6 years ago
guys can we use a metal tube? wdnt that be safer?
Crazy Kid jaghk6 years ago
no you have to have the holes so the pressure comes out fast it trys to find the fastest root
jaghk Crazy Kid6 years ago
Thanks! But if we drilled a holes in the metal? sorry if I am being too dogmatic on this...
Crazy Kid jaghk6 years ago
you would have to have chambers to drill the holes in
PVC, thats what you want.
benbee6 years ago
should the tennis ball be able to hit the bottom?? or should the cut out circles in the bottom of each Pringle can stop the tennis ball from sliding down the shaft??
monty756 years ago
how do lads and boys tell me have any of you made 1 of these useing 6in / 1in high presh water pipe ? i have and beleave me its much more fun you can fire those small footballs that you can get . the only thing is you have to use unleaded petrol or if in the usa 4star petrol it makes a right bang
Default1176 years ago
i made this into a RPG-7 out of this its sick as hell PS heres a real RPG-7
Dang, that thing looks fun to play w/!
that's what she said :)
no she didnt she would have told me first
ya totaly
Those things are nasty powerful too, I'd hate to get hit with one.
i saw a show about someone who was 15 feet away from one when it exploded and he lost his right arm and half of his right leg
tell me about it but its cool because he got some prosthetic limbs
Unless you're using some sort of high explosives like C4, nitroglycerin or black powder, salt peter, etc, you're not going to lose any limbs, especially from 15 feet away. The worst this might do is break your nose or a few teeth when the ball hits you.
i was talking about a REAL RPG-7
dang, but then again the kill radius on one of those is like 20 feet. Problem for terrorists but good for us is that the black powder has been submitted to high temperatures for a while in these second hand RPG's , so they don't work as well as they could
here it is rough model not quite done as of yet
Photo 1.jpgPhoto 3.jpg
what did you use for the grip?
an mm's tube
wt's XD stand for?
lol tilt your head to the left and look at it...
lol yup
can i enter it in to the contest when im done building it?
str8shootr6 years ago
Sorry I was too lazy to read all the comments for possible duplicates but we used Campbell's soup cans back in the day, held the pressure in nicely. I also loved the amazing *thwarp* sound.
i know how to make a rocket out of this that flies really far
cornflaker6 years ago
Would it work better if you completely cut out the bottom of the top can, so that you have a 2 can barrel and a 1 can explosive chamber? I'm not going to be able to use lighter fluid here because here where I live the only lighter fluid that actually is fluid (not butane) is the genuine zippo stuff and its a bit to expensive to be using on something like this... So anyway my point is does fluid require a larger chamber than aerosol gas? Because I have made an orange gun before and they need a smaller explosive chamber and much larger barrel...
bobbyeugene6 years ago
I made one of these as a kid from cutting the bottom and top from veggie cans and duct taping together
Pretty cool, but you don't want to put high-speed artillery and lighter fluid in my hands.
4. Tennis balls (edit: or aerosol hairspray) dang... you can shoot aerosol hairspray? just kidding I guess you meant to say: 3. Lighter fluid (edit: or aerosol hairspray)
pyro42266 years ago
where do you buy bottled lighter fluid???
try a gas station, or get some on the internet
twenglish16 years ago
be careful make sure you tape the sides real good cause i only taped at the joints(i got lazy, and i was low on tape) and when i fired it the bottom can exploded so make sure you tape good!!!
stramposch6 years ago
try using a bottle with like 2 tbs chlorie powder and rubbing achohal screw top on and place cap down in the barrel garente 10 times stronger than lighter fluid
Scythica7 years ago
i made this and fired it using a storm drain as a bunker i worked once but then the mortar court fire lol i tred it at a mates again but we re-enforced it and used a more power put propelent (Av gas (jet fuel) vapour)and we fired tennis balls filled with very fun stuff if you want to know what those fun stuff was email me and i'll be glad to share
How did you get into a storm drain?
message me with it, im intrigued
dciocoiu6 years ago
this also works with tow cans of pringles
xHatakeX6 years ago
i know this was a long time ago but i just tried it today on Halloween on my friends driveway and OMG IT"S LOUD at first it didn't work so i added a bit more fuel (Mix of Hair spray, Tag, and Rubbing Alcohol) and it was SO LOUD. I recomend Ear Plugs if you are the one lighting it but IT's SO COOL
andrew137 years ago
Ya think you can put airsoft BBs in it?
no, they would all fall down the hole thingy
ok... my friend and i made one, and we made somthing to carry the bbs, it only flew a few feet, but it ws a start!
Just use paper to cover the fount.
chloride6 years ago
What is the second baffle for exactly? I get the first baffle is to make sure the ball doesn't get to the bottom of the tube but what's the second one for and what would happen if I used more than two baffles?
Lighter fluid didn't work for me, it just hissed a little bit. Does anyone know why this is or how to fix it? Thanks!
You may have been using charcoal lighter fluid... it took me about 2-3 mortars to realize therew was a difference. Hair-spray can work if you spray down the barrel and in the hole that you light at.
you may not be using the correct fuel or tour combustion chamber is not sealed well.
make sure its naptha (naptholene) lighter fluid, as opposed to kerosene lighter fluid. I"m not sure what anyone uses naptha for any more, but you can buy it under the name 'ronsonol'. Kerosene lighter fluid is the common stuff used for lighting grills. it doesn't vaporise as easily and needs different parameters to burn.
beechy7 years ago
get a 500ml coke bottle take off the lid spray butane inside and then stick it in the mortar and fire it. it makes the botlle go further ! i tried it and it doubled the range on my weapen
gamerguy3147 years ago
whats the "Cut out a circle in the center of two of the cans metal bottoms. The diameter of the hole should be equal to the radius of the metal bottom." for? is it like a chamber for the evaporated lighter fluid?
if i were to fill about a quarter of the tennis ball with match heads and put in about 200 air soft bbs could i have an air soft mortar
read my comment above i could make an instructable about how to make an airsoft mortor/bazooka
Nah, that's not likely. The match heads would go as it leaves the tube thanks to the concussion from the gas exploding. Real mortars have timed fuzing for that.
greenupkid7 years ago
hey use pvc pipes and pipe glue it works better and shoots farther
Yeah, PVC pipes work better. They don't get obliterated after firing them a few times. I made one out of pringle cans, and after firing about 3-4 times, I had to throw it away.
Ya use pvc thats what i do SOOOO much better also try using a flicker thing that makes sparks i made a bazooka that u hold over ur shoulder and launch anything but my favorite ic putt ing a cup filled with airsoft bb's and using it like a shotgun
Metallurgy7 years ago
Ever thought about making a triple barreled cannon? Use 9 Pringles cans, tape them together real good and fire one at a time? Fire, rotate, fire rotate, fire, rotate, reload? When I first saw this, thats what I was going to do, but I'm underage, so I can't. Oh and one more thing, Could you use those tubes at those clubs that can hold up to 6 to 9 at once? Obviously can't fire that many at once, but the tube might work out..Allot tougher than those Pringles cans.
You could angle the hole on Step 2 part 6 so they all face the same direction, up. That way you don't need to rotate it.
rawdog337 years ago
I built this cannonthng and when fire it the cannon makes a shwoop type bang noise but the tennis ball wont leave the barrel. What am i doing wrong?
maby if you shacke the liquid it could makevapour easier too and if u head it up using blueice you can heat that up and then it will make it combustable hint: put the blue ice around the propelant cartage and let it head up awesome for shooting and if you play airsoft you can use it to make covering fire
lolz i have the stuff to make it my parents are strict though so i cant make one but i can make a modle
would it work better if you put the lid on the top can when the fuid was evaporating so the gas couldnt come out?
is there any way you can get it to shoot airsoft bb's or paintballs?!?!?!
can u shoot other stuff out of it like paintgrenades for example or will it explode in the barrel???
Probably explode in the barrel if it's just plastic. You'd probably have to have some kind of carrier for the paint grenade (like a sabot) to make it work. Just be sure to make said sabot out of a lightweight material that won't be likely to follow the projectile (paint grenade) for more than a few feet out of the barrel. As long as you're firing up (I hope you wouldn't fire this at anyone...), then any lightweight, durable plastic should suffice. Let us know how it turns out!
behonu7 years ago
Back in the day me and the boys built one of these out of six coffee cans. Chip cans are a little...er...cuter...
...ha ha ha...that video was great....
deth2all7 years ago
i looked up instructables address on google earth, this looks like twas filmed there huh.....
1200137 years ago
those thing will go through 7 sheets of steel (Rpg-7)
rennievater7 years ago
Tetranitrate (author)  rennievater7 years ago
I can hear you just fine, there is no need to yell.
Heywasup7 years ago
listning to ur comments and ideas is f***n awsome. Just read the comment and picture it in your mind!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =D
DaNerd117 years ago
I just tested mine today but it didnt go anywhere as high as yours, what kind of fuel did you use?
PYRO7217 years ago
i made one out of a 1 1/2 foot rigid cardboard tube and it makes the pop but im having trouble with shooting things. i have a pvc baffle in it and im using propane instead of lighter fluid. Any ideas?
PYRO7217 years ago
dude make shells out of paper or cardboard and put airsoft bbs in them and you have a morter, just dont kill your friends.
jcruz6207 years ago
question.. when it comes to combustion, how much does the strength of the container affect the amount of impact? like plastic vs metal

if for some reason the container were to combust and explode, which would more likely f* me up?
Blissyp7627 years ago
I have personally built and used this, power and noise are good but, I've never trid it long range
what is the aproximant distance?is accuracy good?
mine fired a bit upwards of 100'. I'm sure there's room for improvement, but regardless of how well this thing works, it is fun as bloody hell to fire :)
I wonder if you can stick a tennis ball bomb in it and fire it! >8:) >:) =I:)=
loss of range and possibility of the whole thing just blowing up or burning something you don't want :P I'm sure the fire dept. won't mind.
wait till you see my RPG-7 its basically this one but it is shoulder mounted and longer
Just wondering...How far does the tennis ball go?? I built one and im not sure where to test it out. I dont want it flying hundreds of yards and hitting something it shouldnt. I would just like an estimate so I can choose the optimum location for firing.
Uru Wolf7 years ago
You could have four of these together, pointing away from the center. Enter into each a ball with a rope attached, the ropes lead to the corners of a net.... Hmm...*runs off to make one*
Say, aren't your contest limitations risking accusations of discrimination against 1337's and other perpetrators of in-crowd foolery, as well as those too lazy to lurn 2 spl?
you can hold the contest in the desart.
what does this mean lol. i cant tell if i should be insulted or laughing...
I'm referring to the contest to win the cookie, described in the introduction, just below the video. I was just having a bit of fun, as I believe Tetranitrate was as well, on account of his eating of said cookie.
lol ok it didnt make sense to me untill you explained it lol. i was half asleep when i wrote you.
Don't worry about it. I'm 3/4 asleep most of the time.
XI37 years ago
oooo, ooooo, i just came up with an idea! what if you made it shoot throwies! it would be ausome to launch 100 bright lightbulbs 100 yards in the middle of the night lol. oooooooooo.... pretty....ow,ow, omg their attacking!!!
jakee1177 years ago
ilikebombs is ruining my egging parade! =+C
think it would work as paint ball mortar? or even a airsoft cannon?
what i was thinking would be to cut a tennis ball in half (to keep bb's/ pelets from falling all the wa in) and using it like padding right. then pour a bunch off bbs down the barrel and find out what happens lol. im thinking a giant shotgun.
air cannon first one i've made 6 now...
i love intructables like yours and Tetranitrate, simple but effective. these simple instructs do better that half the huge complicated air cannons out there. lol you have an instructable? send me a link if you do.
nice, that is a nice gun thing you got their... pvc, air tank; now it's a gun!!
XI37 years ago
oh yah i forgot lol...
heres a link...
mortars group
XI37 years ago
If you guys like this then come and join my group, its for all things like tennis ball mortars, rocket launchers, ext. also i think a RPG version would be sweet. i am currently trying to make the mortar semi auto, but some other ideas would be great, come join my group and cmmnt on blogs.
cool man 667 years ago
im made one with pvc pipe width 65 mm and i used hair spray and lighter fluid and it went 'BANG'
What do you mean bang? Did the PVC rupture or did it work properly, but was just very loud?
XI37 years ago
if you use somthing big like coffe cans then you might be able to shoot stuff like softballs and footballs lol.
XI37 years ago
i think this would be sick if you cut a tennis ball in half right, and fill it with airsoft pellets lol. it would be like an rpg/ shotgun lol.
fhfasi7 years ago
The can that is readily available today and works really well are tomato paste cans. They are made in a size that the tennis balls just squeeze into, and once most to the tennis ball fuzz is burnt off the fit just right. I use three, cut the top off of all three and use a can opener and cut about 4 to 6 holes in the bottom of the top two cans duct tape together and one hole for ignition in the bottom can. Add lighter fuel to taste, cram tennis ball and boom.
dougp59 fhfasi7 years ago
How about a history lesson! I grew up in the 60's. Back then, ALL pop cans were made of tin and were straight up and down. This it what we used to use to make these things. We called them cannons with no mention of tennis. The base of the cannon always had just the single hole in the top from using the pop can tool to put the triangle shaped hole so you could drink the pop! (Now I am really dating myself.) as well as a small hole punched into the base of the can using a phillips screw driver or ice pick. The top 2 cans would have both the top and bottoms cutout. We did not have Duct tape at the time, so we used electrical tape to tape the cannon together. BONUS tip; In those days, we would ALWAYS wrap the tennis ball in electrical tape to cause a tighter fit. At the moment of combustion (when you put the lighter to the hole in the bottom can), the tighter seal made by the wrapped ball (DO NOT overwrap) caused the ball to fly MUCH-MUCH higher. DOUBLE BONUS tip; We found that zippo lighter fluid worked MUCH better then some other lighter fluids (Ronsonol etc.) Not sure why. It just did. TRIPLE BONUS tip; Launch Prep!!! CAUTION!!! Squirt small amount of fluid into bottom hole, THEN squirt somewhat larger amount into top of cannon, shake cannon downward a 3-4 times then quickly insert ball in order to trap fumes. Set cannon down on FIRM FLAT surface with NO overhead obstructions!!! Put flame source to bottom hole and BOOM!!! Tennis ball goes flying HIGH!!! QUADRUPLE BONUS tip; We discovered that having a five can cannon resulted in SIGNIFICANTLY higher lift of the ball at the moment of combustion. Undoubtedly this was caused by more vapor being trapped between can 1 and the tennis ball stuck midway down the cannon at can 5. SAFTEY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY SAFETY!!!!! 1.) I always inspected the cans to see where the seems were on the side. I always lined those up together. If you are wrapping the cannon from top to bottom in a couple layers of duct tape, you should be much safer 2.) During launch, I always made sure the seams were pointed away from me. I figured in the event of a seam failure due to over-pressure, I'd be safe. 3.) NEVER EVER USE GASOLINE. Gasoline is several times more volatile and explosive then zippo lighter fluid. 4.) Please understand that you are in fact making a controlled explosion which causes the ball to launch skyward. The ball coming out of the top of the cannon will have sufficient kinetic energy to injure of kill in extreme situations. 5.) For your first launch, use a little fluid in the bottom and top. You do NOT need to 'pour it on' . Doing so in combination with TOO snug a fit by using too much tape on the tennis ball could cause an overpressure causing the cannon itself to explode like a bomb. Admittedly, I NEVER heard of such a thing happening when I was a kid, but you can't be to careful when your dealing with a controlled explostion!!! 6.) We did not have spud guns then, so we never experimented with hair spray in lieu of zippo lighter fluid. So proceed with CAUTION! 7.) NEVER EVER make this out of an aluminum can, they will explode because of their weaker design. I would also be cautious of using a 'pringles' can. I do not believe the walls are thick enough. The tomato paste can mentioned below seems safe as I know those are thicker and made of TIN and not ALUMINUM. 8.) I would NOT allow my child to use this without supervision until they get the hang of it. 9.) Sometimes when you put the flame to the bottom hole, nothing may happen or you may here a whoosh and see flame come out the bottom hole at the base. BE CAREFUL you do not lean over the top of the cannon now or at any time!!! 10.) Angled shot? Our designs were powerful enough that we dared not try an angled shot. It was always a straight up shot from pavement or cement. CAVEAT EMPTOR
that was quite possibly the longest comment on this site.
no I saw one that took 2 FULL pages of the screen to read.....it as some dude complaining about how "unsafe" the perfectly safe instructable was.
I mean the WHOLE thing was complaining and slamming the other guy and saying "kids dont do this at home!!! you might DIE!!!!!!!!!" basicaly.
wich instructable?
cant remember, but I've seen a few rants like this before.
dougp59 fhfasi7 years ago
ps. I meant to write half way down can 5, NOT half way down the cannon. pss. We used to get our baseball gloves and try to catch the ball on the way DOWN. psss. NEVER EVER point this thing at anybody or anything!!! The kinetic energy is sufficient to cause serious injury and or death in extreme situations. pssss. BE SUPER CAUTIOUS on windy day. You don't want to have the cannon starting to tip when you light it!!!
jakee1177 years ago
ultimate prank... egg ammo oh yeah next gen egging! i wouldnt egg someones house though... or would I >:D
lol that is awesome
if youd did though it would be cool, the besides noise the egg would probably exsplode form the force of the ignition of whatever.
llamafur7 years ago
my friend made one of these, but it shot the tennis ball some where around 1block (1/6 of a mile) he used mapp gas
actafool8 years ago
How old do you supposed to be to buy lighter fluid?
it says on the back "DO NOT DISTRIBUTE TO MINORS" even though a minor can buy gasoline which is MUCH more flammable.
anyage its really cheap aswell. i made one and it just went pop huge flame came out but no ball go flying any ideas?
moto_kid7 years ago
can u just use a 3" pvc pipe for the barel???
notker moto_kid7 years ago
Can anyone tell me what this " and this ' means?
well in measurements, >"< after a number means inches, and >'< means feet
Hey thank you. I'm from Austria that's why i don't know this " and that '. _ thanks one more time.
so 6'1" means 6 feet and 1 inch.
i used soda cans as my ammo
ilikebombs7 years ago
hey i just had another idea! besides putinng an airsoft shell in there (erikinchains's idea), you could fill it (tennis ball) with match heads and have a firecracker to detonate. Put it fuse down and ignite!Tennis ball goes high, goes BOOM, then it rains flaming match heads.
ilikebombs7 years ago
you should make seperate cartriges for the tennis balls so it could be semi-automatic.
receiver5457 years ago
dude all you need is a BBQ ignitor instead of what your using ( alot safer ) and a old fishing rods reel with string on it to connect you ball to your mortar so you never lose you ball unless it breaks and it probably wont !! but other than that is awesome!!
Mr. Deeds7 years ago
I built one of these a few days ago and tested it today at a friends house. Since I didn't have any lighter fluid or hairspray readily available, I just grabbed a can of Axe that was in my room. It actually worked pretty well, though it was nothing compared to the performance of your mortar. Then again, it was a little windy and rainy and a lot of the fumes did escape. Does anybody happen to know how well spray deoderant really works in a better situation?
simionrice7 years ago
any other substitution instead of pringle cans?
saffron7 years ago
i have made one of these mortars thanks to instructables and been deff for an hour when i first fired it in the house, it almost bernt down my house when the thing blew up! and the bottem chamber blew apart and flew out the door ON FIRE! so i did it out side from then on, i did it out side and the bottem flew off so i fixed it and it blew apart compleatly. now it is now hidden out of sight in the wardrobe :D sorry for the selling im not that good :(
sputnik33737 years ago
Could you make a metal variant of this with coke cans? It would be more durable and resistant to heat than cardboard
worzel7 years ago
i built one of these a while back...since i didn have 'fringles' tubes, i used 3 baked been cans and on the top i used sum old pvc pipe...they last so much longer+ insted of usin tennis balls i used coke bottles with the bottom cut off and a weight added in the cap...goes bout 300 metres
grue7 years ago
let's use gun powder!
jakee1177 years ago
baggins7 years ago
I used a 3 secon spray of hairspray, for a test shot without the tennis ball, and the boom was enormous.
i like it!
this thing sucks!!!!!!backyard ballistic has a better one. whered u get the idea any way????
dude i put gas in this thing and let it sit for like 10 min. without the ball in it and then put a piece of paper then a bunch of airsoft bbs and lit it with the ignitionfrom a grill and it was so loud my ears were ringing for like 20 min. SO COOL!!!
this looks awsome jst one question doesent the gas come out of the little hole
I am probably just really stupid, but... how do you load the tennis ball when the holes between the cans are smaller than the tennis ball? Thanks for reading.
you dont. only the first can is a barrel. the other two act as a firing chamber
For mine im going to try and use as a hand held and shoot every one haha
you just drop it in the top. it doesnt go all the way in.
Tetranitrate (author)  BurningApple8 years ago
You put the tennis ball in the top of the top can. It will slide down the tube and come to rest on the baffles. The tennis ball does not go all the way down to the bottom of the mortar, just sits in the first can.
Okay, just let me get this right. Lighter Fluid-Bottom of all cans Tennis Ball-Bottom of first can Correct?
Tetranitrate (author)  BurningApple8 years ago
Lighter fluid gets sprayed down the end of barrel where the tennis ball will eventually be loaded, but the goal is to aim the lighter fluid in the bottom two cans. Once the mortar is armed, drop the tennis ball into the top can.
lewigi7 years ago
so it works with hair spray hmmmmmm does it work with spray paint?
Simmy8 years ago
I built one of these about 2 months ago and I found that the tennis balls I was using didn't quite form a good seal in the barrel so I wrapped the balls in a couple of sheets of kitchen paper, it works a treat now. Though I'm still a little unsure about how much hairspray I can get away with using as I really don't wanna have a blowout
Timmy1018 years ago
what r the baffles for?
recipe for incendiary tennis balls for use with the tennis ball cannon materials ALOT of strike anywhere matches 1 tennis ball duct tape gasoline step 1: sit around with your friends and break the heads off of all the matches step 2: cut a hole (only about a half inch) into the tennis ball and fill the ball with match heads step 3: duct tape the hole closed step 4: coat in gasoline (or not, your choice) finally, load into the cannon and fire, the gas should ignite from the flame in the cannon, then when the ball hits, the match heads strike against each other, and boom, burning, sticky fire ball
yea dude tht kicks ass. did u ever put black powder in the tennis ball duct tape it and crap damn thts fun
Mr.Bean8 years ago
i did this project but when i lit it nothing happend besides it catching on fire. please give some tips.
Tetranitrate (author)  Mr.Bean8 years ago
Did you wait two minutes after pouring the lighter fluid down?
will aerosol deodeorant work
ummmmmmmmmmmmmm one of the times
bikerkid8 years ago
This instructable looks great, I cant wait until i try it!  
kpmwrestler8 years ago
i got it to work. IT'S GREAT! it lauhched really far and high. here are some things i did differently: waited only about 1 minute light it differently, here's how i did it: take a box of matches and put the box right up to the hole, then strike the match on the side of the box as it is going into the hole, so that the red part of the match is just lighting up as it is inside the hole.
Simon13248 years ago
i made one just like his but mine didnt shoot@!!!! It lit the tube on fire and it didnt lite the lighter fluid help...does hairspray work aswell??? NEED help tips please
i had this problem as well at first but if you wait longer for the fluid to evaporate (it works faster on hot days) it will work.and as for hair spray i tried that as well but all that happened was it caught fire and i had to build a new one
nd1083 sploge8 years ago
yeah i used lighter fluid too but ended up using hairspray which worked great
Tetranitrate (author)  nd10838 years ago
Ok, fine I'll put it in the instructable.
Thanks... But latert on that day when i posted my comment .i went to my garden and got some Bed head hairspary and sprayed 3 burst of it in my mortar... Mothing happend at first but the second attempt i sprayed it in the hole..i lit the hole and BOOM my tenniball went a whole soccer field and a bit....Thanks anyway splonge
kpmwrestler8 years ago
this didn't even light for me, (well, except for the outside of the tube) how do you get the flame inside the hole?
sploge8 years ago
this rocks i lit it and launched my tenis ball over a road from my back garden and into my neighbours garden 10/10 easily
Mr.Bean8 years ago
should the ball be able to fit through the hole (baffles)???
Tetranitrate (author)  Mr.Bean8 years ago
brad_y8 years ago
try using hair spray instead of lighter fluid, then u dont have to wait 2 mins, and it lights quicker
Chanmachine8 years ago
hey where did you film that video? because it looks like the same place where the mythbusters go, probably near san francisco.
i love the mythbusters!!!!!!ahhhhhhhhhh i even know tory!!!!!!! oh and by the way the mythbusters go to alameda to do that stuff
Tetranitrate (author)  Chanmachine8 years ago
It is the same place the mythbusters go. Its an old navy base in Alameda. Instructables headquarters is located in the air traffic control tower on the base.
wow cool, I thought it looked familier. do you ever see them?
Tetranitrate (author)  Chanmachine8 years ago
I haven't seen them yet, but I heard they booked the runway sometime soon. I definitely want to get some pictures of whatever they are doing
jmc10298 years ago
Fun instructable... Explosions and Flying objects ... What's not to like!
zumaeta8 years ago
could you use the cardbourd tubes in plastic wrap?
Tetranitrate (author)  zumaeta8 years ago
If you want to get us all killed ... actually that sounds kind of interesting, test it and report back with results.
OOooh! You know what you could do is make a tennis ball bomb and fire it out of the mortar. Just fill the tennis ball with match heads.
i meant tennis ball bomb match bombs r stupid=p
hey i said that!
Mr Ng8 years ago
seriously Tetranitrate great wokr on this instructable, i made one yesterday but had a few troubles trying to light it with one of thoes BBQ lighters so i just lit a match and stuck it in the bottom hole before it went out and all of a sudden bloody "BLANG" (the loudest noice at night). It still scares me whenever i want to light it again also im not sure if the metal part on the bottom of the pringles will hold mine looks like its about to explode. dont know how to put pictures with my comments.
egadsman8 years ago
hmmm im a bit of a psyco when it comes to these thing and just sitting here thinking of a way to make 1 whith a remote so all you have to do is press a button an tennis ball is gone. i mite just draw a design tho and submit it into the contest then i mite make it.
zofo3008 years ago
oh ya and i like your vid. ...izz niice
zofo3008 years ago
ahhh you know what would be nice use the match bomb for the mortar and make like a real (not as deadly)mortar.plus why dont u use a like tin or aluminum box like other ones so u can get the ball closer to the bottom and more power and accuracy
frdmrckr8 years ago
if you fill the ball with gas using a siringe(probably spelt wrong) and flre with siringe hole down towards fluid it will ignite and spray fire when flying
F-zero8 years ago
This is extremely fun to play with (and for shooting the annoying kids down the road). Sometimes, there is no launching off the tennis ball. What I found works best is if you wrap the tennis ball in a paper towel and put it in, giving it much more pressure to launch. I also added a piezo igniter from a grill lighter insteade of lighting it through the hole because most of the explosion came out of the hole I made. Also, it isn't necessary to waste your duct tape, as I did it with a few layers of packaging tape.
KentsOkay8 years ago
Dude, fricken awesome (this is why your the most viewed person).
John Smith8 years ago
You can also use denatured alcohol (available in the solvent section of wal-mart, or your local hardware store). From my experiences, I've found that the cannon works only if you air it out with a fan (quick) or wave it around in figure 8 patterns in the air (slow, and doesn't always work).
I just got 150' from regular denatured alcohol, in a mini soda can mortar. I propped it up against a short piece of 6" pvc pipe, shot it, and hit a big oak tree (where I was aiming) about 140' away! I just made one from two paint cans (actually a paint can and solvent can) and am now waiting for the for tomarrow to test it out (it's raining now).
TechShopJim8 years ago
Wow, Tetranitrate...this takes me back to 1972 when we used to make these in South San Jose with soda pop cans and duct tape. Back then, soda cans were steel and had steel ends that you could cut out with a standard can opener, although the can opener blade was just a tiny bit too shallow, so you had to really work at it to get the end to come out completely. We'd cut both ends out of 4 cans, then take a fifth can and poke a 1/8" hole in the bottom side opposite the pull-tab hole at the top of the can. Then we'd tape all 5 cans together with the intact can at the bottom. The intact can acted as a pre-ignition chamber. To fire it, we'd drizzle a very little bit (I think it was no more than 1/4 teaspoon) of naptha (Zippo lighter fluid) down the barrel and shoot a quick squirt into the hole at the bottom side, then holding it by the middle can with the open end up pointing into our armpit, we'd do our magic incantation and swing our arm around windmill-style to wave the can around exactly 10 times to aerate the fuel. Then quickly, we'd place it on the street with the open end straight up and drop a tennis ball down the top (the ball would usually drop down 2 or 3 cans and stop)...then we'd touch a match to the hole and BOOOOM! We used to get as much as 15 seconds of hang time out of these...adults were always amazed at how high the ball went....and so were we! I remember us all counting the seconds out loud and cheering when the ball finally hit the ground. After 10 shots, the adhesive on the tape would start to come loose from the solvent action of the naptha, so I soldered one together (the can ends were steel so it worked great) and my cannon never fell apart. I was 10 years old at the time...and already a Maker! If I can get some mid-1970's steel soda cans, I would love to make a vintage tennis ball cannon. I remember that one of our pals, Jesse Lewis, used gasoline in his tennis ball cannon and it exploded in shreds of steel...luckily he was not injured somehow. I also remember completely saturating the fuzz of the tennis balls in naptha and lighting the ball after it had been dropped down the barrel just before lighting the touch hole...we did these at night and got a lot of OOOOHs and AAAAAAHs! Thanks for taking me back in time!
Tetranitrate (author)  TechShopJim8 years ago
That sounds like it would make a great instructable. I just checked ebay and the prices of the steel soda cans wasn't that bad (3 cans for 10$), so its definitely plausible.
I just made a small one using regular aluminum cans. I cut the holes as usual, and used your average lighter fluid. It might not shoot as high as a normal one, but there is a greater chance of finding soda cans in your house, over pringles cans.
That's the boost I needed. I'll do it. Maybe I'll post a class at TechShop on how to make a basic tennis ball cannon...kids and geeks love stuff like that.
Sounds real fun that does. I'm gonna make one of these. And... Its gonna be big!! (just 'cause i can :P)
dwhicks018 years ago
If you would like the mortar to fly further, use a stronger cannon. My suggestion would be using soup cans, they are much sturdier than Pringles cans. Also, use a thin peice of wood as a stronghold to help keep the cans straight. Just use a canopener to make the hollow cylinder structure. Also, this requires less tape and people are more likely to have a few things of canned food than Pringles.
Your tennis ball cannon looks good! Tall aerosol cans work the best. I built one that uses two cans for the combustion chamber and used silver braising to put it together. It launches the tennis balls completely out of site!
maybe you could mod it to fire a popcan from it and maybe put a firecracker inside it, when the popcan shoots off, the firecracker's fuse ignites, and you have just made yourself a bottlerocket, or... can rocket or something like that.
rplatter8 years ago
When I made these, I used butane for the fuel. You can buy butane lighter refils the same place you get the Naptha. and No waiting for the fumes to accumulate. Just be carefull, if you get too much in the combustion chamber, it won't explode, but will just kinda burn at the edge. You won't be able to see the fire, but it is there, and as soon as you add extra oxygen to the mix, boom. Lost some eyebrows while trying to figure out why I couldn't get it to fire. Took the cannon appart and blew into the firing chamber to clear it out. Just as I exhaled, I remember thinking 'This is stupid' then boom, Fireball right in my face. Basic design of the cannon was 4 soda cans (Aluminium). The one with the almost same size top and side. not the ones with the stepped tops. The the outside diameter of top of the can is about the same size as the inside diameter of the middle of the can. The bottom can had the top cut out. (Can Opener) The next can up had the top cut open and the bottom cut off with a knife. (Smoothly) It fit over the top of the bottom can. The third can had the top and bottom cut off to make a tube. It fit over the top of the second can. The top can had the top cut out and the bottom cut off like the 2nd can. It was flipped over and its top fit into the top of the third can. Every thing was covered in duct tape, but the joints were not taped together. I did this so it could blow appart instead of up, but never did have either happen, so I don't know if it would have worked. A small hole in the side of the bottom can for charging and firing. A tennis ball would just fit in the top can and get stopped by the rim junction between the top and next can. A little butane in the bottom and a touch of a match and Boom. Tennis ball balistics. Made for an interesting time as we were on a military base at the time and the MP's don't like explosions they aren't in charge of.
Geoffrito8 years ago
Lol....nice instructable. and this contest is WAY FREAKING BETTER than that wannabe 'laser cutter contest'. psh.. who cares about a laser cutter? can you eat a laser cutter? didn't think so. I made one of these meself a while ago, but I never found any lighter fluid....maybe i'll ressurect it. My sister is gluttonous, she'll eat a few cans of pringles no problem..heh.
Lighter fluid is available from two common places: Walgreens or similar stores in the United States, and camping supply stores worldwide...look for the 1-gallon square cans of stove fuel, white gas, Coleman stove fuel, etc. Look on the can and make sure it says "naptha" or something close on the warning label...sometimes they use fancy terns, but it will have "napth" in it somewhere. Do NOT buy kerosene fuel, because that will not work...too thick and stable...kerosene, also called paraffin oil, is more like a thin oil like diesel fuel. Naptha is my favorite solvent for stickers and adhesive...try it, it works like nothing else!
K, thanks...I"ll look for that.
Loveofchaos8 years ago
well, schools out and its summer time so i think ill make one. however. I have an Dangerously-stupidly-awesome idea. put a tennis ball bomb down one of these, they take a few secs to explode so if u can get it out in time u should be alright. But i take no respondisibility if you do this. you can kill urself doing it im sure. if u do it, use electronic detonation and stay away from it. have fun
there's a book called backyard ballistics with this and loads more brilliant designs in it. i got it for christmas from my uncle a coupl of years ago (to the frowns of my parents as i was only 13) and have made almost everything in it, definately worth buying!! nice instructable by the way
will paint thinner/mineral spirits work, there the same right?
Paint thinner or mineral spirits will not work for this application at all because these solvents are not volatile enough. Test this by pouring a little paint thinner on the sidewalk and trying to ignite it with a spark (not flame) like the way a Zippo lighter ignites its fuel...it will not ignite. The tennis ball cannon's naptha fuel needs to be completely vaporized in order to fire effectively...mineral spirits evaporate very slowly.
Tetranitrate (author)  TheCheese99218 years ago
I don't know because I've never tried. In theory any hydrocarbon based petroleum spirits should work, but they might start to eat away the inner lining of the cans and kill performance.
and if youre too close after firing it on too many times, performance won't be the only thing..
I dig the bi pod but you neglected mention that you should replace the mortar if you see any signs of wear and tear and inspect it before firing it each time. Nice intructable with good mods from the one in Backyard Ballistics.
Hugo.B8 years ago
Very simple, but highly effective.

This may seem like an odd request but i dont have much free time to experiment. i want a scaled down version that is more portable but uses the same concepts and can possibly launch marshmallows or something like one. i still want lighter fluid though
forgot to mention when is the cutoff date for the contest
Tetranitrate (author)  master-of-chaos8 years ago
End of June is cookie time.
hell yes il get right on it oh and can u join the group before you submit your idea
sweet man
josh921768 years ago
Cool Instructible, it's going in my favorites. Did you get the idea from Brainiac: Science Abuse?
Tetranitrate (author)  josh921768 years ago
No, actually from Backyard Ballistics. Definitely worth a look if you've never read it before.
That's the best book ever.
Sgt.Waffles8 years ago
Ummm how do i say this...........Absofriggetloutly awesome? yea thats it. Thats cool. We just use PVC pic, and a bbq lighter and hold it on our shoulders like RPGs and have fights, but yours is what the people in oklahoma call it (im not trying to be offensive, dont pm me) negro enginnering. What it means is, you dont have much, but you can make something AWESOME out of what you do have. This is the definition of that. Im favoriting this. +
A more polictilly correct term would be "jerry rigging". It means the same thing, but people won't get mad at you for using it
Never heard of it.
cool!! i have been trying to make 1 of these but mine was...well crap so thanks. and how long have you worked at Squid Labs?
I'm interning there for the summer.
My uncle use to do something similar to this. He would just use the tube the tennis balls would come in, and it would last for as long as we could find the tennis balls afterwards
This will be fun for the last day of school. I'm adding this to my favorites. Thanks for the instructable.
UrgleDurgle8 years ago
and you can make the tennis ball it self into a bomb too by cutting off the heads off matches and putting them in to the tennis ball the initial explosion that should fire the bal into the air shouldnt be enough to make the ball explode but you will need some extra thrust in you mortar since the ball will be considerably heavier
Tetranitrate (author)  UrgleDurgle8 years ago
Congratulations, you know how to make a tennis ball bomb, but what exactly makes you so sure that the initial explosion wouldn't be enough to set off the match heads?
Anionis8 years ago
I love this idea, it looks great. how many fires is the pringles tube good for, before it begins to char or weaken? what kinda range does it get? Great instructable
RedGreen8 years ago
my only suggestion is with the stand. It looks like the barrel is resting on the clothes hangar wire. i would suggest duct taping that to the barrel as well to some degree.
lemonie8 years ago
I do like this. L
hixair8 years ago
what about addding a piezzo lighter and a swith to ignite the chamber? More convincing than a potato laucher in my opinion.