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Cannons

In gun-starved Australia, cannons are a cheap and easy alternative if you like to shoot things. Which I do.

(I wrote this page in 2006. I live in the city now, so sadly I've had to give up this particular hobby.)

Big cannon

Big cannon

This is my first cannon. I don't use it much but when I do I usually shoot apples or, of course, potatoes. It is made from a metre of 50 mm PVC pipe, a 100 mm to 50 mm reducer, a 100 mm threaded adaptor and a 100 mm threaded end-cap with a piezo ignitor (for a barbeque) mounted in it. Load projectile, spray in some hairspray, close endcap, press button. Bang.

Small cannon

Small cannon

This is a small cannon that I use more frequently, because it is quieter and won't freak out the neighbours. I tend to shoot paper darts, with wax and occasionally nails in them. It is made from about 60 cm of 15 mm PVC pipe (which is really about 17.5 mm), a 40 mm push-on endcap, about 7 cm of 40 mm PVC pipe, a 40 mm threaded adaptor and a 40 mm threaded end-cap. The piezo (from a lighter) is mounted through a small hole in the front end-cap (and held in place by a ton of epoxy), so it's like a trigger. The barrel goes through a large hole in the front end-cap and sticks about 6 cm into the chamber for strength and easy loading. Here is a picture showing the inside of the chamber, with the barrel and piezo visible.

Pocket cannon

Pocket cannon

My original idea for this was for my and my friends to have one each and have dart wars at school and stuff. Then I realised that bringing illegal firearms to school isn't the smartest thing to do. It's cool anyway. Dispite appearances, the barrel is very much longer than the chamber, but the pipes overlap for strength. The chamber only extends to about where the second P is in the photo.

Stationery cannon

Stationery cannon

This is the next logical step in my progression of ever-smaller cannons. It is made from an empty gluestick, an old ballpoint pen, some epoxy and a piezo. The end of the pen was able to unscrew, so I unscrewed it and drilled a hole through it, then drilled another hole through the part of the gluestick you turn to make the glue come out. I glued the pen-end thingie into the glue-screw thingie so that the pen can screw into the end of the glue stick. (See picture) I also cut the other end off the pen so it is a straight tube. Finally, I mounted a piezo in the glue stick's lid. The result is a very similar structure to a conventional cannon, just scaled down a lot. Here is a blurry photo of the cannon in a disassembled state.

Seven barrelled cannon

Seven barelled cannon

I like to come up with unique designs so I decided to make a seven barrelled cannon. It shoots seven darts at a time and also looks awesome.

The first step was to glue the barrels together. They are all 15 mm PVC pipe, about a metre long. The barrels stick into a section of 65 mm pipe (about 15 cm long) which is mounted to the chamber. It was a tight squeeze so I had to taper the ends to get the pipe over the barrels. I also put another ring of 65 mm pipe at the other end for strength, and to look cool. I used silicone sealant to seal between the barrels where they are mounted to the chamber (slightly visible when you look inside the chamber). After leaving the silicone a few days to cure, I glued the chamber together (100 mm to 65 mm reducer and 100 mm threaded adaptor) and glued the barrels in place. You can see the finished product here, here, here and here.

Initial testing revealed that this is a fucking poweful weapon. For an idea of what seven nail darts fired from this cannon will do to the bottom of an ammo box (17 mm plywood), see here. One of the darts became detached from the nail and can't be seen in that photo, but the nail itself got lodged all the way into the board and can be seen from the other side. Later I tried shooting nails through corrugated iron and it worked well. They reliably went through two sheets and some even got through three.