"New-Mattic" Vacuum Transport System [Glueless]




About: "Almost Toast"
Hi Insructabrarians,
Are you too hot and tired to move that cereal from your downstairs kitchen to your upstairs bedroom and wish there was an easier way?  Wish you had a faster method to transport your keys across your house?  Are you that lazy? I know I am!

Last month at Instructables Laboratories we held our monthly Build Day and I was looking for a fairly simple project to do after the Maker Faire. So, as part of one of our in house Home Décor contests, I decided to build my own domestic version Pneumatic Transport System.

Note: Special Thanks goes out to frenzy for helping me tape my final test video, Mikeasaurus for helping me create my main image, and Randofo for pushing me to build a large scale one for the office :)

Also, for anyone wondering about the title, my name is Matthew.

Step 1: Concept Law and Inspiration

For those of you who don’t know, a pneumatic transport system is an industrial system in which cylindrical containers are propelled through a series of connecting pvc pipes by high pressure vacuums. They are insanely fast and are used by giant warehouses and Costco.

My project is a lot simpler but the principle still holds. Instead of using industrial powerful vacuum, I instead used a domestic Shop Vac Vacuum Cleaner as my main source of propulsion and some acrylic tubing and pvc connectors and masking tape to build the frame. And it works!

Now, since this is moreover a concept, my main goal was just to prove how this method could theoretically work. If you would like to construct one for your own home to shoot, I don’t know, cereal across a room…that’d actually be really awesome.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

For anyone who's ever browsed Home Depot or Orchard Supply, all of these parts should be easy to find.
Materials Tools
Shop Vac Vacuum Cleaner (with nozzle) Masking Tape and Duct Tape
Clear Acrylic Tubing (non flexible) Hacksaw
PVC Pipe Mid & Screw On End Connectors Dremel Tool
Mesh Lining Measuring Tape
Ping Pong Balls/ Small Canister Sand Paper (for smoothing)

Note: Make sure the PVC Pipe Connectors fit tightly around the Clear Acrylic Tubing.  Additionally, if you want to use the system to send messages, ideally you want some kind of canister that's small enough so it can move smoothly across the angled pipe connectors.  I suggest using a Toy Quarter Machine or a Kinder Surprise Egg Capsule.

Step 3: Cutting and Measuring

Let's begin.  First, cutting several lengths of your Clear Acrylic Tubing for the transport frame.  Depending on where you want your transport system installed,  you'll probably want to cut different, longer lengths than I did.  However, just for this conceptual build, I made two 3 1/2' lengths and three 3' lengths (total original tube length 18' 6'').

Begin by taking some masking tape and wrapped it around the cutline of each acrylic tube. This creates a secure hold so your hacksaw won't move around too much when cutting.  Finally use the Sand Paper to flatten any rough edges.
Regardless of your frame, you'll also want to cut two 12 inch lengths for the Containment Chamber.

Note: Remember to mark how far into the PVC connector piece each pipe goes.  I measured 3 inches.  

Step 4: Dremeling Inside PVC Connector

Because I'm using PVC Pipe Connectors instead of actually bending the pipes, as professional ones are constructed, slight adjustments need to be made.

For the 90 degree angle connector piece, depending on what you use for your container (or even if you decide to use one at all- I at first used mine to transport raw cereal to a bowl), you might need to dremel the insides so it can travel in and out smoothly.  Since I opted out to use a ping pong ball for my tests, instead of a capsule, I used Instructables' 10 Speed Dremel (WOW) to hollow out the insides.

Step 5: Containment Chamber

In this next step, we will be constructing the pneumatic airlock chamber that will house the item you wish to transport, be it a ping pong ball, M&Ms, cereal etc.

Cut a small square from the Mesh Lining and wrap it around the bottom of the the 12 inch clear acrylic tubing we made in step 3.  Then cap it off using the PVC Scew On End Connector.   The final result will be a simplified air tight chamber with a mesh filter to prevent your objects from being sucked into the vacuum cleaner.

You'll be building two of these, one for the Beginning Chamber and an identical one for the End Chamber.

Step 6: Building the Frame

Now it's time to put everything together. Ever played with Tinker Toys when you were a kid?  This is a lot like that except less colorful, less pieces and it's not a toy.

The PVC Pipe Connectors should all fit tightly and evenly around the clear acrylic tubes, so you should have no trouble connecting them together to build your simple frame.  Attach the Containment Chambers at each end of your system frame, and then using Masking Tape, tape around the edge of your Shop Vac Nozzle Hose so that it can fit into the bottom of the chamber.  Lastly, you can use duct tape to secure your frame to the wall.

Step 7: Begin Testing!

"Like shooting Ping Pong balls through an Air Conduit."

Finished!  You now have a very efficient Pneumatic Transport System, perfect for rapid across deliveries or transports!  Go ahead and try transporting a bowl of cereal, M&M candies, jelly beans,, Mentos, anything you want across the room at lightning speed.

Well, good luck with the rest of your builds!


Step 8: Reference Videos

These are just some videos I used for reference when building:

TransLogic Pneumatic Tube

Pneumatic Tubes for Hospital Uses

Pneumatic Tube Basics



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    21 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I am trying to pull materials for the pneumatic system together to use in a science camp. I have 2.15" OD clear tubing with a thin wall. They look like they fit snuggly. I looked at 2" Schd 40 fittings, but they are all measure 2.3" ID. What are the fittings you used?Can you share the type of fitting?

    pastor babs

    2 years ago

    Please how do you fix the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner


    2 years ago

    How strong does the vacuum have to be?

    can you put a hopper and have it move things out of that and would this work for 3d printer pellets and how far can I have my send and receive end


    7 years ago on Introduction

    What you should do is make a door at the front and the end so it will be easier to put stuff in and take out,

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I really want a large one for packages and mailing envelopes, like an Incoming- Outgoing service. Think Futuristic Dumbwaiter.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Futuristic? Every department store in the 1930's had a system like this large enough to send their paperwork through. Most drive-in banks still use a similar system. Everything old is new again!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Well, I like to think of it as being "futuristic" as depicted in the 1940s. Think Art Deco with lots of chrome!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Well then you would have to bend the pipes instead of using connectors, the packages wont fit and they will get stuck


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong place in my Home De(s)pot. What department did you find clear pipes in?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    As soon as I'm get back to college, I'm routing one all throughout my dorm room.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Shift I love this ible! Nice touch! How about one that will go to the store for me! I hate that job.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks sunshiine! And I've got a better idea- how about an instant mail order delivery system that has a direct package route from your store to your house? Or one that transports you to the store, via Futurama :D


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Please create a tube termination point at my desk. I will be expecting my ping-pong ball filled with skittles shortly.