An Airbag Charge To Launch A Projectile

It’s not particularly easy to buy small explosive charges. At least, it’s not in the UK, from where [Turbo Conquering Mega Eagle] hails. But it is surprisingly easy to get your hands on one because most people drive around with one right in front of them in the form of their car airbag. In a burst of either genius or madness, we can’t decide which, he decided to use an airbag charge to launch a projectile.

As you can see in the video below, he launches straight into dismantling the centre of a Renault steering wheel before seemingly abandoning caution and taking a grinder to the charge inside. It’s a fascinating deconstruction though, because it reveals not one but two differently sized charges separated by a space which appears to contain some kind of wadding.

His projectile is a piece of steel tube with a turned steel point, spigot launched over a tube placed in front of a breech in which he places the charge. The launch tube has a piece of metal welded within it, he tells us to render it legal by being unable to launch a projectile from within it. Upon firing at a scrap jerry can it has enough energy to easily pass through both its steel walls, so it’s quite a formidable weapon.

He assures the viewer that with the spigot-launched design he’s not breaking the law, but we’re not sure we’d like to have to explain that one to a British policeman. He does make the point though that while it’s an impressive spectacle it’s also quite a dangerous device, so maybe don’t do this at home.

If ripping airbags to pieces isn’t your thing, how about making one from scratch?

49 thoughts on “An Airbag Charge To Launch A Projectile

    1. Firearms and explosives rules are really eccentric in UK and Europe. There is plenty of day and night shooting for game and for pest control. Everyone is expected to have a suppressor for noise, and hearing protection. In the US the same “silencer” is classed same as a machine gun, with extra background checks, a $200 ATF stamp, and an 8 month or longer wait – or simply illegal depending on State. I suspect it is from the Hollywood movies where they are nearly silent instead the reality of really loud but not quite deafening.

      1. I know all about that, I have 5 of them. ;) sadly we had a real shot at fixing that nonsense bundle of regulations back when the house, senate and executive were all Republican controlled and they didn’t do crap. Now that we have a split senate/house there is zero chance of it happening, especially with Democrats seemingly obsessed with gun control. Honestly I don’t really get politics most of the time. Both parties seem laser focused on the issues that are most divisive instead of focusing on the myriad of things their different groups would likely agree on. And sadly that seeming obsession with focusing on the most divisive issues that only causes endless political deadlock seems to be coming home to roost (ie, both left and right, globally, are getting more more divided and more and more violent).

        It’s just depressing.

        1. If they were release from ATF jail, they would be $100 or less instead of 10 times that – imports will be legal, which means the best from Switzerland, Russia, and China will compete.

      2. Edit: Sorry I wasn’t specific in my post, I was responding to the NFA, 200$ tax, and suppressors.

        Hackaday should do a article om homebrew suppressors (yes, they are legal, as long as your tax stamp is approved). Some of the fancy machine work and flow testing ive seen some of the homebrew guys do is downright amazing.

        1. “Hackaday should do a article om homebrew suppressors ”

          Personally, I’d like to see projects about decreasing engine/exhaust noise of small ICE’s.
          Even my shop vac could use a muffler…

    2. In the U.K. everything is illegal, fun or not. We’re like the new Singapore.
      Some guy got arrested last week for preaching on the street that god loves people… they claimed that was racist… he was black… the police here just arrest first and then work out what to charge you with.

    3. People love to moan but the UK is pretty permissive on a lot of stuff – cars especially we can get away with absolutely loads compared to the rest of Europe – kit cars, major modifications, etc.

      Also guns are allowed, almost anyone can have one, it’s just most people don’t feel any particular need and it’s not such a big deal compared to the US.

      1. Clearly your idea of “permissive” and my idea of “permissive” are vastly different. And I suspect you’d be surprised if you went and tried to just get one if you truely believe what you wrote. You need to be a member of an approved club, you need to be approved by the local police, you need training, you can only own specific (and very limited) guns, you have to store them in specifc police approved manners (including them inspecting your home!). You also can’t let your wife/spouse have access to the firearms or even know where the keys to the safe are located! Semi-auto guns are only legal if they are 22lr or smaller, pistols are illegal and self defense is not an approved reason to own a firearm.

        And I’m confused by your definition of “not a big deal”. When I go out I carry a glock on my hip. I go to the grocery store armed. Plenty of people have probably seen it (i just wear a tshirt over it in the summer) and in 15 years no one has ever even looked at me funny (its completely legal in my state). Im pretty sure if I tucked a glock into my waistband and went shopping in the UK it would be a very “big deal” ;)

        So no, most definitely not my definition of permissible.

        Actually to add to that, you guys are even restricted as to what knives you can have or carry. Most of the basic boring pocket knives I own would be illegal to carry there because they lock. Of course, carrying a knife for the sole purpose of self defense is illegal anyway, since carrying much of anything for the reason of self defense is illegal.

        1. “You need to be a member of an approved club, you need to be approved by the local police, you need training, you can only own specific (and very limited) guns, you have to store them in specifc police approved manners (including them inspecting your home!).” all sensible measures.

          If you want a gun in the UK you just have ask the police nicely and explain why you think you need one, then they come round to check that you have a safe place to keep it. Considering all those school shootings that we haven’t really had I’d say is seems to work better than most gun control systems.

          Also, just to say, my mate in the UK legally owns a couple of handguns plus a semi automatic rifle, the trick is that their ammo is classed as obsolete but in reality it’s fairly simple to find someone that will make the ammo for you.

  1. Awesome! If you ever get bored (again) – stick one in an old clothes dryer and detonate it (bag and all). It’s ummmm… impressive. 100ft+ blast radius protection required! :O

      1. Fun stuff!! :D
        The guy I watched blow up the dryer has had his channel removed (Daves Farm if anyone remembers). This more or less popped the door on the microwave. The dryer was near vaporized. ;)

    1. I worked as a systems engineer at a GE airbag plant in the 90s in Ohio. One of the union employees worked the nightshift the same time as me and was one building over. Id go over and watch him test the bags for a few hours every now and then. The drivers side airbags used actual explosives and caused enough overpressure to slam the outside door against its frame in the testing room. The room was probably 400-600sq feet. But what was really shocking was the shockwave from the passenger airbags. Those used noble gases in a compressed cylinder so no explosives. Yet they moved vastly more air and deployed just as quickly. If it was a upward firing one and you had your feet up on the dash it would end badly for your feet. It only took one demo to break me of doing that on roadtrips for the rest of my life. It would just turn your ankles into dust!

        1. Id advise not laying your face on the dash I guess? If your trying to say “its perfectly fine for your face so its fine for your feet” well, I’m not sure what to say. Your face where it should be many feet back from the source of the deployment and your feet sitting on the top of the bag as it deploys up into the windshield are two very seperate scenarios. But hey, maybe modern passenger side bags are safe for “feet into windshield scenarios”, be sure to give it a test and let us know.

        2. In a regular airbag deployment scenario – a crash – your face contacts the airbag “long” after it’s fully deployed. The seatbelt with its tightening system (which is mostly pyrotechnic aswell) helps with that.

        1. They teach something like 4 and 8 now instead of 10 and 2 to avoid the broken arm. I have been driving with thumbs outside since I was a kid and heard a NASCAR driver talk about it as a way to not get your thumbs broken in a crash. I figured it might be the same with air bags.

      1. I’m trying to parse this statement. Are you implying that he should have harvested the recoil energy for some purpose or do you think that if it was anchored the projectile would have had more energy?

        1. Conservation of momentum: Anchoring it to the ground makes the Earth the mass that moves backwards. If M is mass of Earth and m is mass of the projectile, Mv1 = mv2. As M get bigger, v2 gets bigger. Kinetic energy proportional to v squared.

      1. “Infernal machine?” What does that even mean? I suppose they must also outlaw blowfart assemblies. What’s that you ask? Well I guess it’s whatever the justice system decides it is once they’ve decided to charge you for posessing one.

  2. I have set off an airbag during a classroom exercise. (Outside of course.)
    It achieves quite a bit of altitude in the parking lot.
    You may ask, why? What class needs this?
    The answer is, fire and safety personnel need safety training on vehicle accidents.
    The power of your average airbag must be witnessed,
    Disabling certain functions ensure the safety of first responders,
    This class was a federal program, approved for firemen, police, and tow truck drivers.
    Also covered was simple things like alternative fuels, high voltage electric systems, and hydrogen fuel cell dangers.
    I enjoyed teaching that class. I covered most of California, reaching Eureka to the North and Lompoc, Ventura to the West, Los Angeles to the South, and Bakersfield to the East central.

    1. I would not call cars with high voltage electric systems simple dangers, especially if there still isn’t a mandated standard on a total HV power disconnect or where you can or can’t cut structural components (because there might be energized cables/components in them)…

      1. “Simple” was tongue in cheek..
        Low voltage battery potential starts around 144 volts, and some range 400 to 600 volts.
        Yes, some have high voltage battery pack disconnects, but the class covers all of the types and dangers.
        Bottom line, of the dash lights are on, the car is ready to move.
        The 12 volt system is for GPS, radio etc, and if the 12 volt ground is cut, “Most” of the time this will disable the higher voltage battery pack.
        As most here know, the electric motor is an A/C type, and the DC voltage battery pack is routed to an “Inverter” to supply the A/C.
        However, cutting a vehicle apart with the “Jaws of Life” is always an issue..
        Again, I did enjoy this class..

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