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Build a Potato Cannon

A great experiment for a kid to try is learning how to build a potato cannon. Potato cannons can be a lot of fun but you also need to remember to take safety precautions when using a potato cannon. A potato cannon is also referred to as a spudzooka and it can launch potatoes at around 200 feet per second. It is a propellant cannon that uses propane based aerosol such as a hair spray can as a propellant. It works as the propellant gets injected into the chamber and ignited with an independent spark, when the gas expands it forces the potato through the barrel and out of the cannon.

To build a potato cannon is pretty simple and some basic tools are available. The easiest potato cannon to build is made of three components including a chamber, a barrel, and the ignitor. The chamber and the barrel are usually made out of pressure rated PVC piping and the ignitor can be any type of spark, but most potato cannon's builders like to use something like a BBQ ignitor, since they create a big and effective spark.

You need around two feet of two inch round PVC and one foot of three inch round PVC. Also need is a screw on end for three inch pipe, a slip to threaded three inch fitting, a three inch reducer, a BBQ ignitor or some other form of ignitor, a couple of screws, a bottle of hairspray and a bunch of potatoes. Just remember when you build a potato cannon be sure to take safety precautions. Now cut the pipes to the correct lengths with a saw and glued the barrel and chamber to the reducer. The next step is to close off the end chamber with the end fitting and the screw on end. Then when you build a potato cannon you need to use the screws and pout them through the sides of the combustion chamber so there is a quarter inch gap. Now connect the sparker to the screw and make sure the sparker fires correctly. Next you need to angle the barrel so when you load the potato it helps sculpt the potato for a perfect fit. Now you can load the gun by putting around a half of a potato in, use a stick to push the potato down near the combustion chamber and then unscrew the back and fill it with the hair spray. The trickiest part of all is getting the proper mixture of gas to air so the gun will fire. Experimenting with this is the best way to get it just right.

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