Miniature Cannon Packs a Punch, Shows off Manual Machining Skills

CNC machine tools are getting ever more affordable for the amateur machinist, and they’re an enabling technology for many projects. But you’ve got to respect the old school approach to turning hunks of metal into finished parts with no computer control. [Ticktock34] shows off his skills on a WWII vintage manual lathe with a photo album of his .75 caliber miniature black powder cannon build. What starts as a 3″ diameter actuator from a front end loader ends up as a beautiful replica of a full-sized cannon, along with a half-filled barrel of nicely blued scrap metal. Particularly impressive is the nicely proportioned ball end, cut by hand with no more instrumentation than a set of calipers. [Ticktock34] also shares a few tips for getting the trunnions exactly squared and aligned.

Good looking, and functional – stay tuned after the break for a video with the impressive blast from a test firing – with only a quarter charge of powder, mind you.

Want something a little safer for the kiddies and less likely to result in a visit from the police? Perhaps this PVC pirate cannon is more your speed.

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Fail of the Week: [Chris] vs. The Gorn

This week, [Chris] tips the scales but ultimately fails. He’s on the road, hacking through the Great White North and improvising from a poorly-lit echo chamber that happens to have a vise.

Knowing nothing about firearms (do you believe that?), he decided to build a BB cannon out of pure scrap. Several kinds of sparks fly, starting with a Hitachi drill-as-lathe and ending with a tiny cupcake sparkler. [Chris] proceeds to bore out some redi-rod by eyeballing it and offers helpful tips for course correction should you attempt same. Having centered the cavity, he drills out a tiny hole for a fuse.

His first fuse is of the crushed up match head paste variety. It burns kind of slowly and does not launch the BB. Naturally, Plan B is to make napalm glue to adhere Pyrodex pistol powder to paper. As you might imagine, it worked quite well. The wadding was singed, but still no joy. After packing her full of propellant, it still didn’t explode and merely burned out the blowhole. So, what gives? Insufficient barrel length? Should have used bamboo instead of redi-rod? Didn’t want it badly enough? Give us your fodder below.

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Let the Bass Cannon Kick It!!

If you’ve ever found yourself immersed in the wild realm of electronic dance music, then chances are you’ve probably heard [Flux Pavilion]’s dubstep banger ‘Bass Cannon.’ The music video released for the track shows [Flux] and his minion [Doctor P] performing twisted audio experiments on unexpecting research candidates by blasting them in the face with strong waves of sound vibrations, which blew back the hair of the people strapped to the chair. The audio trials took place inside what looks to be a warehouse filled to the brim with speakers, heavy duty subs, and sound boards; making it more like a ‘room of bass’ rather than a bass cannon itself. Yet, it inspired one of Hackaday’s Alum to literally create a bass cannon himself. And as you can see in the video below, his device packs quite a punch.

Most of us know [Adam Munich] as the guy who built this portable x-ray machine that could look through just about anything. He’s also built a nuclear bomb detector and has documented several radiation safety techniques, but every once in a while he decides to make something utterly ridiculous like this! He describes his homemade bass cannon as having a variety of fun and exciting uses including a mobile party on one’s shoulders, a way to frizz your hair, or an electrifying method to scare the neighbors.

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Red Bull Creation: Giant Cannons Shooting Salt

Hackaday took a trip to Detroit last weekend for the Red Bull Creation Contest. It was a blast, we had a lot of fun, and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse at seven teams hacking, grinding, sawing, and soldering their way through the 72 hour buildoff.

Team Detroitus started their build with the idea of building a giant air cannon. The theme of the build was ‘reinventing the wheel’, but they apparently didn’t let that get in the way of building a giant double barrel air cannon, filling it with candy and stuffed animals, and shooting it, point blank, at children. I was wanged by a lemon Starburst, but that’s my favorite flavor anyway.

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The Face-Tracking Confectionery Cannon!

A team of mechanical and electrical engineering students at Olin College came up with a very fun semester project — a pneumatic powered marshmallow cannon that can track faces, and aim for the mouth!

The device — dubbed the Confectionery Canon — is an impressive mechanical build which required many of Olin College’s manufacturing resources such as the laser cutter, the mill, and the lathe. The majority of the device was made out of acrylic, which was chosen for easy laser cutting, and affordability. Specific aluminum pieces provide strength and were made using mostly scrap found in the shop.

Four servos, a webcam, a solenoid and an Arduino Uno make up the electrical system, which uses Python and OpenCV to track faces (GitHub). A PVC tank is used as the pneumatic reservoir, charged with a safety release valve at 30PSI. To fire the cannon, a sprinkler valve is controlled by a beefy solenoid. It currently only has a magazine capacity of 4 large marshmallows, but the team is planning on upgrading soon.

They have put together a great website with tons of information on the project, and following the break is a fun promo video they made for the project — they even got the VP of  the college to try it!

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A sublime PVC cannon


Not to be outdone with hair spray powered PVC cannons, [William] created an even cooler device: a cannon powered by dry ice.

Once dry ice is loaded into the pressure vessel, a burst disk is placed in the breech and the barrel is screwed on. The trigger isn’t very precise – the entire gun is powered by dry ice turning from a solid into a gas – but the resulting cloudy booms more than make up for any imperfections.

Despite building a cannon and using PVC as a pressure vessel, [Bill]’s project is actually quite safe. The ‘trigger’ is a burst valve made out of a disc of aluminum foil held between two sections of PVC. When the pressure rises, the aluminum foil inevitably tears, shooting whatever is in the barrel out and hopefully not into an eye. The ‘safety’ on the gun is a ball valve connected directly to the pressure vessel, and with a pressure gauge and a release valve. We’re more than confident in saying this is pretty darn safe as far as PVC cannons are concerned.

ShuttAVR can snap a pic or serve as an intervalometer


This project started as a simple microcontroller replacement on this IR camera remote control PCB. But the soldering job went rather badly for [Balthamos] so he changed things up and designed his own simple AVR remote shutter release and intervalometer.

The DIP chip seen with most of its legs bent backwards is the ATtiny25 which makes the system work. It’s patched into the traces for the battery connections, button (on the other side of the board) and the IR LED he’s pinching with his left hand. Point it at a Cannon camera and push the button to snap a photo. But as you can see in the clip after the break it also serves as an intervalometer; letting him take several pictures with a user-defined pause between each. That mode is selected by first pressing and holding the button. Once released the chip waits for a second button press to register the delay. The new circuit still fits in the original case after just a bit of alteration to it.

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