DIY Air Cannon Snags Drones From The Sky

Who hasn’t had the experience of a pesky drone buzzing around that family picnic, or hovering over a suburban backyard where bikini-clad daughters are trying to sunbathe in peace? A shotgun used to suffice for such occasions, but with this compressed-air powered drone catcher, there’s no need to worry about illegally discharging a firearm to secure some privacy.

Before the comment line lights up with outrage, the above scenarios are presented entirely in jest. We do not condone the use of force on a drone, nor do we look favorably on those who use drones in a way that even hints at an invasion of privacy. We can all get along, and even though we hope [Make It Extreme]’s anti-drone gun will never be used in anger, it’s still a neat build that gives us lots of ideas. The rig is essentially four coaxial narrow-bore compressed-air cannons, each launching a slug attached to the corner of a lightweight net. A fairly complex set of linkages sets the spread of the barrels, and a pair of old oxygen tanks serve as reservoirs for the compressed air. A fast-acting dump valve is tripped by an interesting trigger mechanism mounted to a complicated stock and grip; we’d have liked to see more on the fabrication of that bit. The video below shows a test firing that results in a clean takedown of a drone, although we doubt the owner of the quad would characterize it as such.

This build is a bit of a departure from [Make It Extreme]’s usual fare of DIY tools like a shop-built vise or big belt sander, or their unusual vehicles like an off-road hoverboard. But it’s always great to watch a good fabrication video, no matter what the subject.

Thanks to [Itay Ramot] for the tip.

44 thoughts on “DIY Air Cannon Snags Drones From The Sky

    1. Better to have anti-drone drones. Cheap crap that hunts intruding drones and either crash into them or release a piece of string for the huntee to suck into its propeller/s.

    1. Where does your airspace begin? There are several commercial airliners and medical choppers flying over my house daily. Certain people would frown on me taking them down because they were “flying in my property.”

      1. I figure the tallest structure on my property that’s not required to have blinky lights to warn aircraft. If you’re below the treetops, I loose the falcon.

  1. When I first saw that my instinct was to start totaling up the cost of the stainless turnbuckles and fittings they used. That wasn’t a cheap build. Also, you can do the same thing with a roll of toilet paper if your aim is good.

    FWIW I love how [Make It Extreme] has started out making simple machine tools and progressed into more and more complex things – a true bootstrap operation.

    1. Brilliant! Keeping things simple and portable is a good maxim, although I do like seeing everything the Make It Extreme guys do. The streamer on a roll trick looks like something to explore further. Not a priority for me as I live under very controlled airspace, but if I didn’t I think I’d just use a cheap $20 drone that was trailing a long tangle line or ribbon.

  2. 18 U.S.C. 32, a law that in part expands “United States jurisdiction over aircraft sabotage to include destruction of any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.” The FAA, as the part of government that oversees that sky, has not made an exception when applying this law to small, unmanned aircraft.

    1. The deed to most houses includes the rights to all land below and air above the property unless exceptions. The law you quoted says “special” aircraft jurisdiction so I dont see that applying to the masses.

      1. Airspace below 500′ AGL is supposedly under the control of the land-owner. Of course the FAA has other rules for UAVs below 400 feet. If you take it out at 350 feet you’ll be first through the courts about sixteen different ways. If it’s a law enforcement device, add another ten dozen.

        Rule #1 of stuff like this: Don’t be first through the courts unless you have your own legal firm.

      1. People shooting done my quadcopter hovering in my backyard doesn’t seem like “progress” to me.

        Seems more like people trying to impose their own will on others, without any sort of democratic system.
        Anyone shooting down my quadcopter will be buying me a new one, and probably facing assault charges, trespassing charges, destruction of personal property charges, and reckless endangerment charges. I pay taxes and obey the law, and you have no authority over what I do in my backyard on weekends. All men are created equal, and you have no divine authority over me, or claim to my property.

        So kindly come and shoot at my toy quadcopter doing flips in my backyard, so that I can have you arrested and imprisoned so that there’ll be one less terrorist anarchist in the world.

  3. Awesome! That’s not an easy, spur-of-the-moment build, and I’d bet it’s not cheap either with all those pipe fittings and raw materials. It’s almost easier to train an eagle to take the drone out. (c:

    BTW, don’t law enforcement already have a similar non-lethal weapon that shoots a net to subdue a suspect? Has anybody try shooting it at a drone?

    1. Animal control and wildlife conservation groups have net guns to snag animals in urban areas or to grab some herd animal. There’s lots of videos out there of net guns in action. Military groups also have RF jammers or hijackers. HaD featured Batelle a while back with their RF gun that puts high-end quads into emergency land mode by jamming the control frequency. I presume it causes other drones to just crash.

  4. A great step toward a real anti-drone system. To be effective against a swarm it will need to be auto-loading, auto-targeting and have an increased range. That would be something that the military would be interested in.

  5. I thought of something like this for getting my son’s drone out of trees (which has happened all 15 times he’s flown it). The only issue is that my city considers it a “device capable of launching a projectile with or without a propellant.” Even slingshots and archery sets are banned. Most cops are pretty lenient about things like that, but there’s always that one overzealous guy who claims a claybeg is an illegally sized knife and that a katana in its scabbard is a “concealed weapon” who won’t let you get away with anything. But, that’s a different topic.

  6. Business model: confiscate delivery drones flying over you, indicate release upon payment for use of air space. The law is a little fuzzy over how high above you is “yours”, but 150m to 300m is a rule of thumb.

    1. I’m imagining drones towing a kite shaped like a whale shark with its mouth open. Possibly another drone following behind with speakers playing ominous music.

      1. The equivalent situation is if a business interest without an easement uses your property for purposes unrelated to you. You could negotiate an easement or other means of payment. Utilities have public easements, meaning they can go where they want. People doing business with you, e.g. Girl Scouts or Missionaries, don’t apply. Easements allowing travel in the air above you are not a thing, yet!

  7. I could totally see a 4″, butane powered Vortex Cannon with the turret tracking system that would just blow hot air rings at any drone that flew over your property. With no projectile, all damage can be blamed on Operator error.

  8. I have seen something similar already but it was using a GPS jammer in order to make the drone simply land after you point the gun at it. The thing you showed here with a net, might work in some cases, but what if the drone is too far away/high for the net to catch it?

    As the number of drones is rising fast, there will be for sure more and more anti-drone products that let you catch them which is a good idea in my opinion, if somebody is going with a drone to a private property without owners knowing it, they should be able to simply shoot it down.

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