Making air cannons and potato guns can be a lot of fun, but it can also be dangerous. Always be safe and make the safety of others a top priority. If your air cannon or potato cannon doesn’t fire right away, you should never look down the barrel. You may take out an eye or even worse, possibly cause a severe injury to yourself or someone else.
Everyone loves to devour potatoes, but firing them out of a blaster can be just as amusing. Also known as a spudzooka, potato gun, potato cannon and Spud Gun, this is an amusing project that demonstrates the principles of physics. Part of the kicks and enjoyment of preparing a potato gun is to experiment with the basic configuration to tweak performance and learn useful engineering instruction. Here’s how to engineer your own potato blaster.
It is crucial to point out to persons that the aim of your spud gun is increased by the length of your barrel. You also need to note that the combustion chamber has to be enlarged if you are using a longer barrel or are looking for extended distance. The finest models I have seen so far have a shorter combustion socket with a wide diameter, an electric ignition off of a portable camping stove, a sharpened barrel edge (for faster loading of potatoes), a shoulder harness for easier aiming, and an under-barrel ram pole similar to those used on muskets and old guns. Never shoot a potato launcher from on top of your shoulder. A slip next to your face can kill you.
The real skill on a combustion based potato gun is finding the right firing source. Try finding a twist-type igniter for a camping stove or lamp. You can also buy a Barbeque manufacturer push-button igniter switch which is usually sold at hardware stores or anywhere that sells gas barbecues.
The internal launch spud gun is befitting, especially for portability purposes. However, a pneumatic spud gun greatly decreases reloading times, maintenance times, and mess. You may need a couple of diameters reduce to get down to the same size as the nipple depending on the size of the cylinder you start with.
The fuel sources that I have used in the past have been mainly Hairspray. I would not recommend anything more powerful. Experimenting with fuel sources can be very dangerous and result in harm or death to the person if proper precautions aren’t taken. A rule of thumb to follow in testing this would be to always start with baby amounts of whatever propellant you are using as a weaker explosion would merely send the potato out at a slow rate. Be warned about the distance that this blaster will go. Make sure you have the space to fire this without destroying anything and treat it like a firearm, not a toy. Also, remember to obey the law and check with your city’s local laws and codes before preparing.
Lastly…have fun with your new invention.