How to build the original hairspray powered potato cannon. Takes about an hour and $30. Shoots potatoes over 100 yards!!!

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Step 1: The Materials

Building Materials
-5 feet of 1.5" ABS (DWV) pipe
-2 feet of 3" ABS pipe
-A 3" to 1.5" reducer
-A 3" threaded adapter
-A 3" end cap
-A BBQ ignitor (+1 Screw)
-ABS cement

-Cheap aerosol hairspray
-Potatoes or similar legumes


Step 2: Assembly

-Cut the 3" pipe to about 13" or a size you prefer (the larger the combustion chamber; the more gas; the more boom)
-Make sure the reducer fits over the pipe
-Spread some ABS cement on the inside of the reducer and outside of one end of the pipe, slide the reducer onto the pipe with a twisting method
-Repeat this for the threaded adapter
-Repeat this for the barrel (5' of 1.5" pipe)

Make sure your gluing is done properly, you dont want it to explode.

Step 3: Install the ignitor

You probably saw in the last step a silver BBQ lighter attached to the side of the pipe, I tried using this, but it wasnt working, so I bought an $8 ignitor.

Drill a hole in the 3" pipe for the metal lead from the ignitor to fit, mount the ignitor using screws provided, you can slop some glue around the hole to make sure there wont be a gap where the flames will shoot out and burn your arm......

In order to create the arc (spark) to ignite the gas, there needs to be a metal contact between the lead from the ignitor and the metal chasis of the ignitor.

If you mounted the ignitor with bolts into the pipe, bend the metal lead to be within 1/4" of the bolt to make a spark,
I however put another screw in from the other side, but had to run a piece of wire from it to the metal chasis.
Both methods will work.
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what work better than an ignitor is a coleman lanturn sparker with flint

shawkins33 years ago
some one tell me what measurements this was taken in ?

inches I think

this is all imperial aka inches and such. the quote mark is the symbol for inch ( ' = foot, " = inch)
ng_231 year ago
I'm not to sure about the igniter part, could someone clarify

my stepdad made one. he to a thick wooden dowel and drilled a whole about where your pointing finger goes. he drill all the way through and put in a barbeque grill ignitor. He stapled the wires up the back of the handle and inserted them into the firing chamber. Then use glue or epoxy to seal the hole. oh, and make sure they are close enough to arc. hope this helps

federaljack10 months ago

what can you shoot out of it?

it's called a potato shoots potatoes

the simplicity of that burn was lovely

jdmolson7 months ago

Great instructable ... my buddy and I will be making one each over the Memorial day weekend ... I may even try to find some schedule 80 transparent PVC ... anyone tried that?

Jwr70788 months ago

I saw on a show that they used duck tape and it worked. Should I do that to save time or stick with the glue stuff?

Well the cement will last longer and also the duck tape may get blown off during the process soo.... yeah take a guess

katherley1 year ago
awesome must try with my kid
ng_231 year ago
Also what will any type if BBQ igniter work
Kitboga1 year ago
Pretty cool! I've been getting into building fireworks myself. Wrote some articles about it. Do you like fireworks or cannons better ?
Garrigus1 year ago
Use starter fluid. Unlike hairspray, which is sticky, starter fluid burns clean. The hairspray will gum up the threads on the end cap. Make sure you seal all the screw holes with jb weld.
ebaneser1 year ago
Hacksaws are used for metal pipes but work just as well on ABS
cbadger1 year ago
Super easy to make, loads of fun, quick construction. Great Instructable. I modified your instructions slightly. Instead of a grill spark igniter, I used a gas lamp spark spin wheel. A lot more low tech, but works like a charm. The advantage to your igniter, looks awesome when you shoot it! The advantage to mine, low cost.
jarredondo1 year ago
Sorry, but a potatoe is a Tuber not a legume. Beans and the like are legumes. Thanks,
taudet2 years ago
If i do this with a blow torch lighter do you still think it will work?
yeh, probaly melt the pipe though
Does any sort of aerosol work or just hairspray?
yeh use any flammable liqiud< e.g. petrol,haha, deodrant
harry4561 year ago
my end cap blows off, what can i do?
this is great for making a m18 recoilles rifle replica that even shoots! :D potatoes!
bcrylonitrile butadiene styrene. it is sold in hardware stores, and looks like black pvc
log633 years ago
Hey, great instructable. I can't figure out why mine isn't igniting, though. I can see a spark, too.
Rehon log632 years ago
Spark gap is too big. Decrease the distance between the two.
log63 log633 years ago
mrmerino2 years ago
Sorry, but potatoes aren't legumes. Great instructable though.
it didnt shoot a baseball but it worked axactly as advertized thanks
it didnt shoot a baseball but it worked axactly as advertized thanks
could it shoot a baseball with these measurements??
extreamly simple im doing this for a school contest nice ible
Cost?? total
skyhawk1272 years ago
whats the best size for the combustion chamber coz i want a big boom and i want the potato to absolutely fly
naruto5532 years ago
theoretically, you could do something similar to this with the ignitor from an extension lighter.

simply split the lighter, remove the ignitor, drill a hole in the pipe, put the ignitor in, test the ignitor, and seal the hole with epoxy. its cheaper and its easier for those of you out there who dont know how to modify an electrical circuit
DRH14692 years ago
It seems like my local hardware store is trying to make it impossible to make one.
But i found a way around it: Female screw on end cap, 50 mm tube, 50 to 110mm reducer glued together with the bbq lighter at the end

Well Done
vbennett22 years ago
We made our conbustion chamber longer and narrower than the plans The chamber is about 40" long. About how far along should we put the ignitor??? 1/2 way or more toward the front. Thanks
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