In this Instructable I will be showing you how to make this really cool rocket cannon. The cannon is made up mostly of schedule 40 PVC and has a similar design to a potato gun. Not only does this cannon shoot rockets, but it will also shoot anything else that you can fit inside of the barrel.
This was my first time using Sketchup and a 3D printer as well as making a time lapse. The printer used in the video was a Makerbot Replicator 2. Also, a big thank you goes out to my friend Mike for filming me with his DJI Phantom drone. (This was not my drone)
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Step 1: Watch the Video!
Before you go through the rest of the steps for this project, you should definitely watch the video that I have posted above. The video will go through the entire project as well as show you some amazing clips of cannon launching rockets in an open field. Also, if you enjoy the video you should definitely hit the like button or even consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Most importantly don't forget to follow me here on my Instructables page so that you can see all of my future projects!
Step 2: Parts List!
- 1" Schedule 40 PVC (40" in length)
- 3" Schedule 40 PVC (9" in length)
- 1" Schedule 40 PVC (6" in length) x2
- 1" PVC Tee x2
- 3" to 2" PVC Reducer
- 2" to 1 1/4" Reducer
- 1 1/4" to 1" Reducer
- 3" Clean out Adapter with plug
- BBQ Igniter
- Hose Clamps x4
- PVC Primer and Cement
- Spray Paint
- Access to 3D Printer
Step 3: Building the Cannon
The first thing that I did was prime the inside of the 3” clean out adapter as well as one end of the 3” PVC and then glued them together using PVC cement. All of the fittings will need to be primed before they are glued together. This will ensure that all of the connections are strong. This is important because the 9" length of 3" PVC will be used as a combustion chamber and we wouldn't want any of the fittings flying off when the cannon gets fired!
After that I glued the 3” to 2” reducer onto the other end of the 3” PVC and then glued on the 2” to 1 ¼” reducer, followed by the 1 ¼” to 1” reducer, and then glued the length of 1” PVC inside.
To keep things nice and neat, it is a good idea to wipe off any excess glue with a rag.
Step 4: Making the Handles
In order to make this thing look similar to a rocket launcher I will need to make some handles. What I did was cut vertically down the middles of the 1” Tee fittings and then added the two 6" lengths of 1” PVC inside.
I will be drilling a hole directly through one of the handles. This is where the BBQ igniter will be fastened into place to be used as a trigger.
Step 5: Painting the Cannon/Preparing the Igniter
Before I go any further with this build, I am going to add a few coats of spray paint. This will make the cannon look much more presentable! It is also much easier to paint it before I add all of the other components.
After giving the cannon a fresh coat of paint I could go ahead and continue on with the build. I soldered a piece of wire onto the middle terminal of the BBQ igniter. I then connected the other wire that came with the igniter onto the other terminal and then wrapped the igniter in electrical tape. A push of the button should send an arc between the two wires when they are held about a ¼” away from each other.
Step 6: Finishing the Cannon
After preparing the BBQ igniter I attached the two handles onto the cannon using the 4 hose clamps and then stuck the igniter into place with a bit of hot glue.
All that was left for me to do was drill a couple of holes in the back of the combustion chamber. This is where the wires from the BBQ igniter will need to be fastened. I first made a hole for the terminal that was included with the BBQ igniter, and then I added a screw 1/4" away from the terminal with the other wire fastened beneath it. This gives me a nice arc inside of the combustion chamber each time the igniter is pressed.
And that’s it for the construction of the cannon! Now let's make some rockets.
Step 7: How to Fire the Cannon
Now lets go see how well this cannon can shoot! I quickly made this rocket out of foam board and duck tape that I will be using for my first shot. To make this somewhat crude rocket I simply wrapped a piece of paper around the barrel and then began wrapping around the paper with duck tape until the sides were about 1/4" thick. I then cut four fins out of a piece of foam board and hot glued them to the sides.
In order to fire the cannon, the rocket first needs to be pushed onto the barrel. After that some hairspray needs to be sprayed into the combustion chamber for about 3 seconds. Then the clean out plug can tightly get threaded on and a push of the igniter will send the rocket flying.
These quick and easy duck tape rockets can actually shoot pretty far, but I want to try and make something a little more interesting that will also be able to shoot farther.
Step 8: 3D Printing the Rocket
After giving it some though on what I should shoot next, I thought that it would be very interesting to design and print a rocket using a 3D printer. So I took some measurements of the 1” PVC pipe and then used Sketchup to design a rocket that would fit snugly onto the barrel of the cannon.
I don’t own a 3D printer so I went over to the library which believe it or not, has a MakerBot Replicator 2 which you can use for free! Although, the printer did have some issues feeding the filament and that is why I was left with these gaps which I ended up filling in with some hot glue. Let’s just hope it doesn’t break apart...
This rocket can shoot over 100 feet and I was very surprised to see that it didn’t break! I only printed this rocket with 16% fill and it holds up perfectly after every shot. Now you can get really creative with this and print some rockets that are all sorts of different sizes and see which ones shoot the furthest.
Download this rocket here:
I hope that you all enjoyed this Instructable! Don't for get to follow me here on Instructables and to Subscribe to my YouTube channel! Thanks for reading and watching :)