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Old 06-12-2014, 05:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Making a pnuematic air cannon (For Confetti!!)

Hey MCB,

So I'm looking at making a multipurpose, multiuse Air Cannon for the upcoming University Orientation Week at York University. I've already been through all the channels, filled out all the paperwork and have the go-ahead from my bosses. My bases are covered as far as health and safety are concerned, so that's not an issue.

On to the matter at hand. I need to make some kind of CO2 or HPA powered cannon (similar to a havoc, but cheaper and dumbed down) that will fire confetti, glow sticks, sport smoke and other small objects a considerable distance, lets say about 40 ft. I'm no expert when it comes to the physics of air pressure and all that, so I was hoping some air smiths and tinkerers could offer their wisdom here, since MCB is full of them!

I was also wondering if there is anyway to do this with existing paintball parts, be it fittings, regs, ASA's hose, valves and most importantly, tanks. I've looked at few instructables, but they all suggest massive valves, big tanks and gauges and all that jazz. I do have a budget to keep, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 06-12-2014, 06:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Easiest way to do this would be to snag a 12 gram quick changer like the ones Rap4 sells, thread that into a 1"-to-3/4" reducer, use maybe 1' of 1" pipe for the air chamber, ball valve, small 1" threaded nipple to a PVC fitting to adapt it to your chosen barrel diameter.

I've build one of these before and while they're not great on efficiency (seriously, they go through 1x 12g per shot), they're simple and can shoot pretty much anything you fit down the barrel. I recommend wadding for anything that isn't a rolled up t-shirt.

There are more complicated options out there, but for something that's simple and cheap, you can't beat steel pipe.
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Old 06-12-2014, 07:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BillyTheKid View Post
... but they all suggest massive valves, big tanks and gauges and all that jazz.
This is probably for a PVC based air cannon type setup ("spud gun"). Safety with PVC is especially important as it's pressure rating is pretty low. As such, gauges are used to view pressure and hopefully an overpressure relief valve (or two) is installed. Air cannons of this type operate in the ~100 PSI range so obviously the input needs to be WELL controlled via a regulator or air source in the same PSI range (bike pump / air compressor). They should not be used with Co2 (~800PSI). Unless you really understand what you're doing should not be used with a HPA tank either.

The "spud gun" type setup works really well for a single shot configuration (pump it up with a bike pump) or if you could have an air compressor at the location.

The option posted above may be a decent alternative. That basic design has been used for PB launchers for quite a while but safety issues have always been debated. They're also not allowed anymore on any field that I'm aware of. The pipe and ball valves are not pressure rated for this (or rated lower than Co2 pressure). That said, I'm not aware of any actual safety incidents with this setup so who knows.

I've built several of both types of setups... mostly just for amusement and stuff outside of paintball. I broke it recently but had built a "spud gun" type setup for shooting rockets that the kids made from tubes. This was a lot of fun.

I can probably offer a lot of advice on what NOT to do but I won't promote or encourage any specific design. Spudfiles.com is a pretty good resource for the low pressure PVC setups.

Oh yeah, not sure on your budget but you could always just buy one.
https://tshirtgun.com/

An interesting tidbit on the guys above. They're "War Machine Inc" who were the makers of the Assault 80 (nova based paintball gun).
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I made a pair of confetti cannons for my town's circus summer camp. I used 3/4" metal pipe for the air chamber. It's just a threaded coupler on the end of big threaded nipple. The male end screws into a brass ball valve and the back end has adapters to get it down to a 1/8" fill nipple. I used some spare paintball parts to make a regulated fill set up with a CO2 tank. I set the pressure to a safe number and handed it off to one of the techs for the show. You can charge them quickly and cheaply and it's possible to make different diameter threaded PVC barrels for fitting different objects.

You can also use a shrader valve if you want to fill from a bike pump, but you will need a manual valve just before the shrader because a lot of the pressure leaks out when you disconnect the pump. It's like when you pull a pump off a bike tire and some of the air escapes.
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Old 06-12-2014, 09:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaD View Post
This is probably for a PVC based air cannon type setup ("spud gun"). Safety with PVC is especially important as it's pressure rating is pretty low. As such, gauges are used to view pressure and hopefully an overpressure relief valve (or two) is installed. Air cannons of this type operate in the ~100 PSI range so obviously the input needs to be WELL controlled via a regulator or air source in the same PSI range (bike pump / air compressor). They should not be used with Co2 (~800PSI). Unless you really understand what you're doing should not be used with a HPA tank either.

The "spud gun" type setup works really well for a single shot configuration (pump it up with a bike pump) or if you could have an air compressor at the location.

The option posted above may be a decent alternative. That basic design has been used for PB launchers for quite a while but safety issues have always been debated. They're also not allowed anymore on any field that I'm aware of. The pipe and ball valves are not pressure rated for this (or rated lower than Co2 pressure). That said, I'm not aware of any actual safety incidents with this setup so who knows.
The key is using 12 grams as it limits the amount of gas you use and thus the pressure that the PVC is subjected to. You calibrate the dump chamber volume so that the pressure of 12g's of co2 filling the chamber stays within the pressure rating of the pipe used. Once you start connecting HPA or CO2 tanks, it gets dangerous.
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Old 06-12-2014, 10:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Get an industrial pressure washer handle and adapt it with fittings to 2in PCV or a barrel.
Make sure to use air tool oil before airing up to keep the valve lubed and maintain a good seal on the valve
I've made a few this way, my handle is rated for 5000 psi
https://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-...79926633901988
Don't launch anything heavy or hard(glowsticks) or direct fire it at anyone
With a 800 psi output tank it will launch a 4oz(?) Nerf Vortex about 120ft @approx 120-150 fps
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hit up the spud gun forums, and Ipersonally llike the use of a coaxial style. Use 3/4 barrel nestled in 1 1/2 pipe. Keeps everything compact.
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Old 06-14-2014, 07:26 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You can make one of these in the homebrew variety with an air bubble and some fittings. It's geared more toward volume than psi.
https://www.mile-x.com/images/products/detail/ch5.2.jpg
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Be careful launching the smokes, I have been hit by one out of a launcher, it hurt, ALOT. So we don't do that anymore...
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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You'd be suprized how little it takes to launch a nerf rocket, even a smoke grenade.
I made a stacked tube one with some 2 inch pvc pipe and a modded sprinkler valve. Launches nerfs as fast as you can want at 100psi, 70 psi is more usable at below 200fps, and the dump chamber is only 24 inches long 2" pvc pipe. Also this thing will launch a smoke grenade sized water bottle farther than someone should ever need to launch one, I literally overshot our entire field shooting it at a 45 degree angle and landed 100 feet past in a cane field.
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