Make A Cheap (And Dangerous) Automated Flamethrower

Nothing lights up the night like a quick blast from a flamethrower, but there is a reason why you can’t buy them in the Halloween decoration aisle at Target. They are dangerous, for fairly obvious reasons. [Erco] seems to have no particular fear of death, though, and he shows how you can build a simple flamethrower with a small candle, a servo, Arduino and a can of hairspray. Tresemme Extra Strong Hold, in particular, although we don’t think the exact type matters that much. All he did was to mount the candle in front of the hairspray, then mount the servo so the arm presses the spray head down. The candle does the rest, lighting the highly flammable propellant in the hairspray to produce the flamethrower effect. [Erco] is using four of these, which are co-ordinated to fire in time with music.

This one seems a bit risky. Servos have a habit of locking, and there is nothing stopping these from locking in the open position, or sticking there if the Arduino crashes. A relay or other switch that reverts to an off position when the power is removed would have been more suitable here. Secondly, there is no emergency off switch. [Erco] has wired the Arduino up next to the flamethrower itself, so you are going to have to reach in to disconnect it. That is risky enough, but he also tried a 4-way configuration that would have been impossible to disable in the event of a problem (shown in the accompanying images). Thirdly, there is no fire protection between the can of hairspray and the open flame, so if the spray head melts or fails from the heat, it’s game over. Finally (and most importantly), where are the fire extinguishers? We’d like to hear how you’d build this with safety in mind. Let us know in the comments below.

We’re big fans of flames and explosions: we’ve have seen a couple of Survival Research Laboratory shows and were blown away by their destructive pyrotechnics. But, as SRL head Mark Pauline said in a recent talk, “when things blow up at an SRL show, it’s on purpose”.

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Mad Max Inspired Flamethrower Ukulele

The new Mad Max movie is getting a lot of buzz, and a few people are calling it a modern classic. There’s a flamethrower guitar in the movie, which means it’s time for cosplay accouterments. Our ‘ol buddy [Caleb] loves flamethrowers and poofers, so hacking together a Doof Warrior inspired flamethrowing ukulele was natural for him.

The fuel for this uke is a can of butane actuated with a caulking gun. This setup is actually pretty clever; by removing the locking tab on the caulking gun, butane is released when the gun’s trigger is squeezed, but stops when the trigger is released. The igniter is a simple grill igniter is used to light the gas.

[Caleb] is rather famous for his flamethrowing creations. His life-size fire-breathing piranha plant uses a similar setup to shoot fire.

Video below.

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A Wrist-Mounted Flamethrower? Sure, Why Not?

There are three types of booths at Maker Faire. The first is the strange corporate booth, like Pepsi ‘revolutionizing fluid intake’ or some such nonsense. That one had the longest line of any booth, in case you’re wondering. The second type of booth is the people you would expect to be there – Atmel, TI, and Makerbot all came out in full force.

The third type of booth were a little hard to find. They’re the ‘show and tell’ spirit of Maker Faire, and [Stephen Hawes] was one of the best. Why? Wrist-mounted flamethrower, that’s why.

The flamethrower is fueled with a propane bottle originally meant for a camping stove, with a microcontroller and pot setup taking care of the height of the flame. Buttons underneath [Stephen]’s thumb takes care of the propane flow and tazer-based ignitor. The wrist measurement sensor can rescale to adjust the height of the flame to how far the wearer can move their wrist.

All in all, a great project for the Faire, although we did feel a little sorry for the NYC fire marshal that was assigned to [Stephen] for the entire faire. As an aside, we’re applauding [Stephen] for not referencing whatever comic book character has fire shooting out of his hand.

FLAMEnco guitar


[John] says, “I noticed an unfortunate lack of many flamethrower guitars on the web so I filled the need. ” That’s just awesome by us.

This series of guitar-mounted flamethrowers started with a small build, able to shoot a six-foot flame for about 40 seconds. Yes, very theatrical, but not something you’d want to change out after every song. From there the builds progressed to systems with more barrels, more fuel tanks, and a huge system that shoots 18-foot long flames colored with standard pyrotechnic supplies.

It should go without saying that this stuff probably isn’t something you should try at home. That being said, you really have to admire the craftsmanship and tenacity to make a guitar mounted flamethrower. Just don’t bring it to an indoor gig.

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Before you throw out that pumpkin, make a dragon-o-lantern

Yes, it’s a little late for Halloween, but before you throw out that rotting gourd sitting outside your front door, how about planning for next year’s festivities with a dragon-o-lantern?

The first dragon-o-lantern that made its way into our tip line is a fire breathing dragon jack ‘o lantern built by [Aaron] for a pumpkin carving contest. The idea is simple; just carve a dragon head out of a pumpkin, insert candle, and spray the open flame with a can of Aquanet. Sure, it’s crude, but with a little engineering it could turn out to be a very, very cool build.

For a slightly more complex build, [Chris] built a fire-breathing jack ‘o lantern triggered by anyone saying the words, “trick or treat.” The key part of this build is a Microsoft Kinect, used for its voice recognition capabilities instead of its capacity to form a 3D depth cloud.

The fire portion of [Chris]’ build is controlled by an Arduino triggering a solenoid to dispense a small amount of fuel into the pumpkin shell. [Chris] doesn’t go over the construction of his ‘poofer,’ but any member of your local hackerspace should be able to show you how it’s done.

Videos after the break.

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Improvised weapons roundup

There’s something special about improvised weapons built for the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Whether it’s a Lousiville Decapitron or a shotgun revolver, we’re always fascinated by homemade weapons. Here’s a few that rolled into the tip line over the last few weeks:

You call that a knife?

[Joerg Sprave], a.k.a. that German guy on YouTube that has fun with slingshots, built a spinning steak knife saw thing. Basically, it’s eight steak knives attached to a wheel and driven with an electric drill. It’s not a terribly complex build, but it does give off a zombie apocalypse/first person shooter melee weapon vibe.

Battery cannon, because why not

Why use potatoes when you can use D-cell batteries? [CasterTown] on YouTube put together a small propane-powered spud gun that can put a battery through a car door. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen batteries used as ammo, but it’s still an extremely powerful build.

Oh man the 60s were cool.

Back in the 60s, safety wasn’t a huge concern. Any 10-year-old could walk into a dime store and buy Jarts – a game consisting of kids throwing sharp spikes at each other. Also, magazines had descriptions of how to build a freaking mortar in a backyard. Able to make a 20-foot grouping at 1900 feet, this would probably merit a visit from a SWAT team today. Needless to say, don’t try this at home.

Don’t do this. Please.

Last but not least is [Rocketlab] and [SadisticTheory]’s $15 flamethrower. It’s just a gas tank from a 2-stroke engine, a 12 volt battery and a pump. Common sense requires us to mention this build is very, very illegal (apparently it is legal)and extremely unsafe. Don’t replicate this build.

Actually, we take that back. You shouldn’t build any of these weapons because they’re very dangerous. Just think of these as a neat thing to look at. Let other people hurt themselves. You may complain about how unsafe these weapons are in the comments.

Pyrosphere at Burning Man 2010

What’s thirty-seven feet tall, has ninety-one flamethrowers, and is controlled by an Arduino? Why it’s Pyrosphere, an interactive art piece at this year’s Burning Man. It lights up the night along to the music in a way that makes us want to set up a lawn-chair and watch the show. You can see for yourself in the video after the break, but you really should have thrown on the LED fur coat and gone to see it in person.

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