Pneumatic cannon

Idea Generation

What is this project about?

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Creating a pneumatic air cannon to launch something

What do you want to get out of this project?

A better understanding of how to construct and use a pressure vessel

where did the skills go? we are taking skills out of the idea generation process, in an attempt to make projects more career-focused. If you want to get leveled-up for a project, share it with the appropriate guide or faculty member for feedback upon completion.

Guiding Question

Turn your idea above into a guiding question.

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Can I create a pneumatic air cannon which can launch a projectile Tier 1: Learn how air cannons work and how to make them more efficient Tier 2: Build an air cannon that can launch a projectile (nerf dart) (with electric irrigation valve) Tier 3: Modify cannon to use no electricity (change solenoid)


Use this space to take notes, keep track of your sources, or conversations you have with people about this project.

3/10/21: I watched several videos on YouTube about pneumatic cannons and found two key elements to protect our velocity is psi in the storage tank and how fast the valve can open. Tooth is a fact I intend to use an electric irrigation valve instead of a manually operated ball valve increase the speed at which it can open.

3/11/21: I've done more research into the irrigation valve and I have discovered that I may not even need to use the 24V AC solenoid to open the valve. I may be able to use a mechanical pressure release to open it. I intend to run this system by my dad who is a chemical engineer.

3/13/21: I have acquired all the parts that I will need for the air cannon however due to lack of availability instead of using a 4 inch piece of pipe for the tank I will instead be using 2 inch pipe.

3/14/21: I have run several tests to see if the solenoid it will open with 18 V DC instead of its intended 24 V AC and I am pleased to report that it indeed works. This should let me be able to fire the cannon without modifying the valve.

3/18/21: I have watched several videos explaining how to augment the air cannon to be more efficient via modifying the valve to release air from the top of the diaphragm more quickly. All of these would require drilling a hole in the top of the valve. I still have one big question regarding the cannon which is how am I going to fill it?

3/20/21: to incorporate some of the design elements shown in the videos that I watched. To the Senate and I have gone to a different store to procure pieces to create a manual valve opening release (Jumping straight to Tier three). Well I was there I have also procured a 4 inch pipe which I intend to use instead of my 2 inch pipe.

3/21/21: I have completed assembly of the pressure chamber and barrel. I have also started the construction of the manual valve release.



3/22/21: I have dry fitted all of the major components together and this is what it looks like:


3/23/21: I have applied thread lock tape onto the threads for the barrel the pressure container and the firing mechanism. However as As I was tightening the phone mechanism onto the valve the Apoxsee which held the fitting onto the irrigation valve Slipped and lost most of its structural integrity. I intend to fix this with MORE GLUE.

3/24/21: I have encountered several issues the first of which being that the Schrader valve which I use to pressurize the canon appears to not be working. Specifically it requires you to pressurize the interior of the other valve to 80 psi but before any air will get through. I'm not sure what's causing this and I have no clue how to fix it (I am willing to live with it however). The other issue is that while attempting to pressurize the tank I managed to snap the firing mechanism off. I intend to use a lot more glue and also rough up the surface of the valve when I re-glue it. However even with these setbacks I still have managed to pressurized the chamber and fire the cannon. IT'S AWESOME!

3/27/21: I have re-glued the fine mechanism and it is currently drying this time I was taking no chances either used a trimmed down paper towel tube To contain the glue and I used Play -Dough to stop the glue from leaking out.


3/28/21: Completed the first successful live firing tests and I think you should see for yourself:


What will it take for you to complete this project?

Use the table below to set your own timeline for deliverables, keep in mind when your final work product is due at the end of the cycle.

Work Product Deliverables

Order materials
March 12, 2021
Make pressure vessel
March 18, 2021
Make rest of canon
March 21, 2021
Work Product due
March 26, 2021

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Add a short description and cover photo

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Work Product

Was your project deep?


Reflect on this project cycle by answering the questions below.

The act of reflecting allows you to highlight the accomplishments and applications of your project. (questions courtesy of Powderhouse Studios)

Was your project meaningful?

Did this project matter? In what ways did it further your knowledge, force you to grow, or provide something useful?

Was your project ambitious?

Given what you already know, did this project challenge you in meaningful ways?

Was your project deep?

Did you project engage with powerful ideas or tools? Additionally, did you engage with the material in a deep sense (i.e. did you develop ownership over the ideas or tools)? Can you utilize these skills independently now?


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