Vacuum Cannon Powered Airplane




Introduction: Vacuum Cannon Powered Airplane

For this project I made a vacuum cannon powered airplane, this work is based on a lot of other vacuum cannons from instuctables. The airplane is made out of balsa, to make it as light as possible.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Airplane


All you need for the plane is some balsa wood (I used 1mm), scissors or something sharp to cut with, glue for wood, a ruler and a pencil.

Since the tube I'm going to use is 5 cm (+/- 1.97 inch)d, the plane can't be to broad. The length of the balsa is 19 cm (7.5 inch) and it's about 5 cm width.

Since the balsa had a width of 10 cm(4inch), you can cut it in half, be sure to keep the other 5cm, you'll need it later.

Step 2: Cutting

After you have your two pieces of wood, you can now cut some kind of arrow in it.
My plane is based on the farest flying paper plane but you could make it just the way you want but the problem will be that it can't be to broad.

The strip that you cut out should be about 5 cm on the left side and 2 cm on the right side, starting from the middle and thus drawing 1cm at each side.
Then you just draw a line from the one to the other and cut of the rest.

Step 3: Cutting

Now it should look like the picture above.
You now have to cut a triangle out of the wood.
The height of the triangle is 1.5 cm (0.6 inch) then you just cut this out starting from the corners.

Step 4: Glueing

Now you have to cut the strip you saved from before in 2 pieces like in the picture. You just have to draw a line where you have 0.7 mm starting from a different corner.
If you want to make multiple planes you can save the rest of the part.
After cutting of this piece you glue the part that is straigt to the center line of the previous made 'arrow'.

Step 5: Balance

To fly straight and far the top of the plane must be made more heavy than the rest of the plane
I used some rest of balsa that I cut of when I made the big triangle in the begin.
It should be about 4.5 cm (1.8 inch) long. You have to make sure that it matches the angle of the plane you made. You could just put it on the plane and cut of the piece you don't need.

Now you have to glue these parts to the plane, these parts serve as balance but are also usefull for making sure that the piece you glued on previously is perpendicular to the rest of the plane.

It would be usefull to put a circular form on the end of the plane, also glue it on with the same diameter (or a bit smaller) as the tube you are going to use.
The circular form takes care of some extra force to make sure the airplane flies out with a bigger velocity

Now let this dry out, most of the glue for wood takes about 24 h to dry.

Step 6: Make the Cannon

You could make a variaty of cannons but the easiest one to make is one based on a vacuum cleaner.
All you need is;

-a vacuum cleaner

-a PVC tube (mine was 3m long and 5 cm d)

-a PVC fitting (Y-shaped)

-some caps (it doesn't matter which ones you could just take a CD and put some duct tape over them as long as it's airtight)

-a rubber ring of some sort, you can just buy them in a lot of stores, make sure it fits on the ends of the PVC tube

-some duct tape

-the plane made before

Step 7: The Cannon

You put the Y-shaped tube on the end of the PVC-tube. Now you can tape the vacuum cleaner one end of the fitting. Place the rubber rings on both ends of the tube. Now you put the plane on one side of the tube (the one on the opposite side of the one with the vacuum cleaner) the you put the lids on both sides and you turn on the vacuum cleaner. After a while you remove the lid on the side where you put the plane, make sure you have room enough to launch it.


Launch It! Contest

Participated in the
Launch It! Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Finish It Already Speed Challenge

      Finish It Already Speed Challenge
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest

    2 Discussions

    I think it would launch the plane a lot better with some wadding. If it launches the plane at all without any, I'm surprised.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You're right, If you fire it with a ball for example it will fly way better, I'm still working on the plane