This vortex cannon was built as a Halloween effect, I wanted it to be self filling hence the attached smoke machine. It sends out long distance smoke rings.
Step 1: The Bits
There are not a lot of parts for this build, the most expensive part is the smoke machine, having said that I managed to get 2 of this type for £5 from ebay, bargains are there for the looking!.
You will also need:
A large plastic bucket
A sheet of reinforced plastic tarpaulin
Some 3mm plastic sheet (just needs to be rigid)
A bungee cord
A 1L bleach bottle
Nuts and bolts
Step 2: Cut the Bucket
Mark out and cut a largish hole in the bottom of the bucket, I just chose a size at random and it worked...there may be some science that will work out the optimum size hole for bucket volume but I feel any hole will do.
Try to keep the hole as round and tidily cut as possible as it will shape the smoke rings.
Step 3: The Smoke Manifold
With a sharp craft knife cut the neck off the bleach bottle, the hole to be a good fit over the plastic ring around the smoke outlet of the smoke machine.
Follow this by cutting a pair of flaps out into the main body of the bottle.
Step 4: Attach Manifold to Cannon
Cut flaps in the bucket that match the size of the hole in the manifold.
The flaps in the bucket go up into the manifold, the manifold flaps bend round the cannon and the whole lot is pop riveted together.
I used a waste strip of plastic through the bottle handle, pop riveted in place for added strength.
I then sealed up the gaps between the two parts with gaffer tape from inside the bucket, more of this later.
Step 5: The Diaphragm Made and Fitted
The diaphragm is a large circle of tarpaulin.
There are a pair of plastic rings (one of them is the piece of bucket bottom that was cut out), sandwiching the tarpaulin, bolted through the middle of the ring with a handle on the outside and loop on the inside that the bungee cord goes through. Three small nuts and bolts keep it all rigid and reduce the chance of tearing the diaphragm.
The assembly is attached to the rim of the bucket with loose material so that it goes down inside the rim, it will not work if the diaphragm is too tight. it is held in place with a ring made of tie wraps, the edge is sealed off with gaffer tape.
Two pairs of holes were drilled in the bottom of the bucket to hold the hooks of the bungee cord, the cord should pull all the slack out of the diaphragm.
Step 6: First Try Out
The cannon was now tested, Pull the handle in the middle of the diaphragm back as far as it will go then let go!
It was found to be a bit leaky, with smoke finding its way out around the manifold/cannon join, so after this movie was filmed I got the gaffer tape out and sealed up around the outside of the join which made sure that all the smoke went the right way.
At the start of the video there was not enough smoke being produced as I was a bit previous giving it a go :)
Later on you can see the perfectly formed rings, sadly on the nights I used this I did not get the chance to film it but the rings stayed in good shape over a great distance.