there are two types of potato cannons. combustion and air.

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also, these things can kill you


 The first type the combustion cannon.
it uses a gas, an ignition source, and a compressed area to launch projectiles


 there are three main parts to the combustion cannon
1. the compression chamber
2. the barrel
3. the ignition source

for the chamber, you have to put a screw off cap at one end, and a reducer at the other. you need the cap to be removable so that you can fill the cannon. you need the reducer to give the cannon more power, because a 1:1 ratio will not give you the needed power. i also chose to add a male screw adapter, so that i could have different barrels, also if the barrel clogs, you can get it out.

the barrels is a simple pvc pipe attached to the combustion chamber, that you can load from the front, or the rear, depending if you have a removable barrel which i highly recommend.

the ignition source can be almost anything. i recommend a grill ignitor since they are made to produce a spark. you should attach high gauge wires to the metal tabs on the side and bottom, instead of using the supplied wire, the wire given is not too good for making the spark needed, also it is a pain to cut. also, you should solder the end with tin, to protect it from erosion. one last thing, make sure that the ignitor and chamber are one, because is there is a leak, then the gas will come out and hit you. not fun. i just used some marine goop, to seal off the end of mine, just enough to keep gas from coming out.


 the next type is the air cannon


 again, an air cannon has three main parts
1. compression chamber
2. barrel
3. release mekanism 

the compression chamber MUST be air tight. is it is not your cannon will leak and it is hard if not impossible to fix. i double glued everything and even added a nice coat of epoxy on the inside and out to make it perfect. it once help 60 psi for 2 hrs! 

 again, barrel is a pvc pipe attached to the chamber in some way, i recommend a removable barrel.

this is where i got creative. you can use a standard ball valve as a release, but it was slow and lost a lot of power, so i decided to go electronic. i used a sprinkler valve, and instead of cutting it open, drilling, glueing, and carefully assembling a blow gun trigger into it, i just put a battery bank on top, added a switch, hocked up to the solenoid, added a box to keep it neat, and had a lightning fast trigger.

WARNING!!! the electric trigger method has more power, but also is extremely load. mainly because i have a 5:1 compression ratio( i now know that that is not good, and am working on a 2:1 cannon) which makes it very load. so load that my neighbors said that if i shoot it one more time they will call the police since it vibrates there entire house( believe me it is that damn load!!)
so i recommend either a ball valve or a 2:1 ratio for the sprinkler valve to barrel ratio.



decent power
easy to fire

a little short on power
can be dangerous is back blast hits you


has varying power depending on how much air you give it
can have a lot of power
can shoot almost anything

can be very load
takes long to load
harder to build

i say that both cannons are equal. 
If you live in a highly populated area or in an apartment, i say don't make one
if you live in a narea with a large back yard, but have neighbors, i say combustion
in you live in an area with a large back yard and few to no neighbors within 30 ft of your house, i say go for air

either way, they both are fun to use

again, these are not toys and can kill you if not used in a proper manner


i made a silencer for my cannons. I forgot to take pictures, but type silencer in the search box and you can find the instructions for how to make one.



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    32 Discussions

    There's 3 types of cannons, and each has two or three significantly different 'cousins'

    2 things.
    electric actuation is not more powerful. Blowgun is because it opens MUCH faster and has higher flow.

    Also, you forgot hybrids. Other than that, great instructable

    It doesnt matter usually about the chamber size unless you have a really long barrel, the bigger chambers just take longer to fill up

    17 replies

     true, but this one is more powerful then i can imagine, i made a massive silencer for it that turns my shotgun combustion cannon into a clap. but this still is so loud my neighbors complained!!

    I have one that launches water filled 700mL pop bottles over 400 feet, its not loud and has a chamber almost twice as big as yours, your neighbors must have their hearing aids up too loud.

    LOL you have any pictures or better any instructables?? also i figured out the sound problem. having the air go from 5-1 inch was bad, but going from 1- a pinhead via the solenoid was what gave it the elephant noise, i wanna make a mechanical trigger, but now i have school and electronic projects,if i do do i till be sure to post it

    Yea here is my instrucable:
    Ok, I also wondered about the small valve causing performance loss, so if you make it bigger it will help. I didn't realize you had a 5 inch tank, I though it was 3, mine is 4 inch so I guess they are about the same size.
    I also realized my 3/4inch paint-ball barrel is really loud.

    Yea it took me... I dunno 2 years to figure it out, but it was right in front of me all along, and Thanks and our cannons use the same kind of switching which is cool, but I also made mine modular, so I have a barrel, trigger, and chamber.
    I have
    2 chambers
    1 trigger
    3 barrels

    Thats only the air guns lol

    I guessed so. Your lucky for your combustion gun, I am not allowed to have one.

    It's my preferred one, it's much quieter, all thanks to the silencer, it sounds so funny

    Thats hard to imagine, what do you use for fuel, I am thinking propane

    believe it or not, the only thing that I got to work, is lysol. Yea i know, I've tried butane,propane, gasoline, starter fluid, AXE, every thing. but the only thing that worked was lysol. I can't explain it..... it's dam weird.
    But yea it's the silencer
    Check out, dudes got a suppressed shotgun.... I WANT ONE!!!!!
    Btw what movie was that from again?? i've herd of it but i forgot

    I am not sure on the movie, when you say doesn't work, does it just not ignite, or does it not have enough power. Propane, and butane are both heavier than air so getting it to mix in the chamber can be hard without a fan. Gasoline and starter fluid you would have to vigorously shake the gun for about a minute and only use like a half tablespoon of it. For AXE and Lysol, if you hold them both upside down then one probably is full of gas, and the other liquid. One dispense the liquid, which would most likely be the AXE, and the other would dispense the gas aerosol mix. If your holding them right-side up, then they probably have straws, I have used Lysol for a flame throwing setup, both the aerosol and air freshener air combustible because if you spray it on a paper towel it burns up almost instantly.

    They just wont ignite. I've tried lighting them in a petri dish with the bare igniter, after letting them vaporize a little, and still nothing. I just don't get it...
    I'll prob make another one to replace this one, plus this one is a pain to push, so i'll make one from scratch

    Try finding some canned oxygen, it will give your combustion a huge boost, they are at sports stores and I actually saw some this weekend at a ski rental store. You can also try nitrous oxide canisters for whipped cream. I wonder if you just don't have a large enough spark, you could try a butane lighter to start it.

    Yea, im using a BBQ igniter now and the spark is small. I'll try that O2, that will def give my cannon a huge boost.

    I don't know if you care anymore but I found out why Lysol works. It is a germ killer which means it probably contains alcohol which is very flammable and easy to ignite.

    Still why wont butane or AXE or other flamable things work?