Introduction: Ballpoint Pen 'Flamethrower' Match Shooter - Gimmick

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Behind a desk long, long ago.. a mind wondered how to shoot sparks, make light in the distance with merely a ballpoint pen and matches. For all you macGyver-like minds, preppers, survivalists, wonderers, Instructablisers, playful dodgers, here is an Instructable on how to make a spring-loaded Ballpoint pen match 'Flamethrower' - a gimmick which takes 10 minutes to make.

All it takes is a regular 'clicking' ballpoint pen with unscrewable halfs. Best are old-fashioned ones which are easily disassembled. The inner diameter of the pen needs to be the right size to have 2 matches wedged in. The only tool you may need are small pliers.

Here is how I did it in 10 minutes (version 1.02)

CAUTION: even though this is a little gimmick, it is not intended as a toy, not for kids, not for indoor use, and not to be pointed at ANY living being or flammable object at any time.

Step 1: Open the Pen and Modify the Spring

Open the pen, typically by unscrewing the upper and lower halfs, take out the inner ballpoint rod, take the spring out of the pointy part of the pen. You may need to poke and fiddle a little to get it out. Stretch the spring by hand to roughly twice its original length.

To prevent the spring from ejecting itself during use, you need to fix the spring inside the pen tube. To do so, pull and straighten about 1.5 centimeter / half an inch of the spring wire on one end. Then stick the straightened wire all the way down through the ballpoint pen hole and bend outwards so it hooks itself.

note: on the photo you see that my ballpoint pen had a little black tip in the point, so I stuck my spring through that first. It is not an essential thing to use.

Step 2: Adjust Spring Force to Hold the Matches

Our 'ammunition' is a pair of matches with heads against each other. Wedge them into the pen and you should feel the spring pushing back. The match heads will keep themselfs in place because of the wedging. Only when the matches are lit they eject out as you'll see.

Therefore, find and adjust the force of the spring. If it's too strong, it won't keep loaded matches in place. If it's too weak, the matches won't come out or shoot a laughable distance. Stretch or compress the spring until it holds the matches wedged in.

Step 3: Make Your Pen Mightier Than the Sword

Load the pen with matches, take a matchbox, position yourself to strike it in an outward move, aim it at a target away from yourself or any other person or flammable object. Strike it then ! The matches should ignite and eject away.

If it doesn't work it is either because of too weak spring force, the matches rub against the inside of pen tube or perhaps they are stuck in the spring.

The video shows shooting matches across 6 meters far, followed by a shot at a smaller distance, then another shot at 6 meters.

Well... how did your match go, what's the score?

cheers, Qwertypat