Potato(e) Cannon ahoy!


July 29, 2005, 05:38 PM
Hey there, ev'rypeoples!

My family has a little bit of a history with PVC-built potato(e) cannons, so I've decided that I'd like to build a new one.

I figure at least some of y'all have built PVC spudguns before, and request your assistance in finding some online vendors that sell a wide variety of PVC pipes and fittings. Preferably, the vendor should have a -good- website that includes descriptions and pictures of their products.

That said, I'm gonna go ahead and exclude Homedepot.com and Lowes.com because the former has squat for selection and the latter's site restricts me to browsing local stores only.

If any of you are interested in giving me design suggestions, what I'm trying to do is create a "launcher" that uses quickly changeable "shells" that would consist of the potato on top of a chamber with the propellant and part of the ignition system in it that could quickly be connected to the barrel and the "trigger" of the ignition system and fired before being changed out.

I'm thinking like a bazooka or RPG type setup, load the shell in the back (either through threading it in, or with some kind of "lockup" system, like lugs on a bolt), connect the wires, and fire.

note: Parenthetical 'e' in honor of Dan Quayle :D

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July 29, 2005, 05:41 PM
E-mail me. I have a PDF you really need to read.

El Tejon
July 29, 2005, 05:45 PM
Reason #119 why I love THR. :evil: :D

You realize we simply MUST have pictures?

July 29, 2005, 05:51 PM
Ooh, hey, pdf?

July 29, 2005, 05:56 PM
PM me with an e-mail address if you want the PDF. Be advised, it's not quite a conventional potato cannon - uses a solid propellant, not gaseous.

July 29, 2005, 06:01 PM
I made one of those once, I think it's still in my garage somewhere. It had a 3" diameter 2' long chamber with a screw on cap on one end, and a reducer to 2" diameter 3' long at the other end (I think those are the right numbers). The ignition system was two screws in each side of the chamber hooked up to a grill ignitor, when you clicked the ignitor a spark would jump between the screws. Put the potato in the barrel and push it down with a broomstick or something, then spray some hair spray or something in the chamber, screw it shut and click the ignitor :D

July 29, 2005, 06:12 PM
post on these forums: www.spudtech.com...bet they can answer your question... in fact, i've been trying to do the same thing... the main problem is lining up the electrodes right so it can be ignited.

Third Rail, and all who are PMing him, be forewarned that spudcannons are no longer spudcannons if they use solid propellant! IIRC, they are now actual firearms.


July 29, 2005, 06:16 PM
TMM, actually the designation is drawn at if the item is intended to harm another or another's property. If not, it's covered under "sporting purposes". The propellant is irrelevant.

One last thing - the file is almost 3mb total. Don't PM asking for the PDF if your e-mail box can't handle it.

July 29, 2005, 06:18 PM
I got one of SP93xx jobs from Spudtech. Joel is great to deal with.

Great fun at the company picnics.

July 29, 2005, 06:24 PM
yeah, spudtech is the way to go

they sell rifled PVC pipe http://www.spudtech.com/detail.asp?id=32

July 29, 2005, 06:58 PM
thats funny you mentioned this. Ever heard of Make magazine? They had a section in it in the latest issue about a "potato cannon"

it shoots 200-300 yards, and uses a stun gun as an ignition agent! All of it can be made for under 50 bucks also. Very unique design IMHO compared to everything else i have seen.

i would suggest you pick up the latest copy (it's published 4 times a year) and read the whole thing!

July 29, 2005, 07:05 PM
Potato cannons are so popular now, they sell rifled PVC barrels on the Internet? :eek:

I used to build pneumatic (never combustion) PVC cannons back in the day. I still have my crowning achievement...a bolt action pneumatic rifle that shot entire 50BMG dummies in a plastic sabot. It usually did about three 3/4" pieces of 5-ply plywood. I don't know how that stacks against other pneumatics or combustion PVC toys.

I modified it off an existing design I found so I can't take the credit. I was into black rifles long before I could own one :D Here's a picture of it with a 50BMG dummy in the chamber with bolt open. It sits on a high shelf gathering dust in the garage otherwise.

July 29, 2005, 07:25 PM
I lean more towards the pneumatic cannons, myself. Here's a picture of my first one. The chamber is wrapped in denim (protect against UV which makes it brittle, could have just painted it) and hardware cloth (PVC can take the pressure, but if it takes a hit while pressurized and cracks, you've got instant shrapnel). Schrader valve on the end of the chamber, plain-jane electric sprinkler diaphragm valve on the other end. Not as fast as the valves they sell at www.spudtech.com, but fast enough for this one.

That's a battery pack hanging off that. Black box further up is two buttons and a switch wired in series, so that the switch must be on, and both buttons pressed simultaneously for it to fire. I usually fire it at 100PSI, and it gives some great distance for spuds and properly dimensioned ice cylinders. My next incarnation will likely have a valve more like the ones on spudtech, if not one of them, and perhaps a copper-pipe chamber (pricey, but not so shrapnel prone if it fails). The duct tape is just to cover up pointy parts from the wire stitching-together-of the hardware cloth.

July 29, 2005, 09:24 PM
so whats th recoil on a spud cannon? :D

July 29, 2005, 09:41 PM
Well, I'll be leaving for Virginia Tech here in less than three weeks, so my project might not come to fruition before I go away to live in a dormcell in Main Campbell on campus, with all my guns locked away in the police station *sniff*.

Though construction might have to wait 'till Thanksgiving or Christmas, I really wanna get started on plans for the 'Taterzooka sometimes soon..

As for recoil, just about squat. Our previous spud guns (using ether as propellant in a 4"x1.5' chambered, 2"x10' bbl cannon) would hurl a spud at about 200 MPH, and the recoil was about like a six year old giving your hip or arm a shove (depending on how you hold it)


July 29, 2005, 09:53 PM
I've had a completely different experience than that - first firing it felt much like a 12ga does firing a 1oz slug (now that I have that as a reference!)

Of course, this is with a solid-propellant fired tennis ball gun, not a potato gun using hairspray or similar.

July 29, 2005, 09:56 PM
they sell rifled PVC pipe

that is too awesome!
even in CA spudguns are legal! (as long as the potato isnt explosive)

Harry Tuttle
July 29, 2005, 10:58 PM
Thumper is getting a paintjob this week:

July 29, 2005, 11:15 PM
I use a two inch pipe for the barrel and four inch for the chamber. File down around the muzzel with a wood rasp to sharpen(inside of pipe is slightly longer than outside) so it will cut the potatos to size. Put two long screws in it at the end of the barrel near the chamber to keep the potatos from falling into the chamber when you load. Cover the outside of the chamber with old blue jeans or metal screening. I dispose of mine after a few months. DO NOT LEAVE IN SUNLIGHT!

It's cheaper to buy a propane latern sparker(~$4), drill a hole in the chamber, and install it. Just pull the sparker all the way out until it catches on the side of the chamber and twist to spark. Push it back in to transport. Use propane as a fuel because it is less messy than hair spray and such. A cheap propane soldering torch (~$15 with tank) will work great to spray it into the chamber for a few seconds.

Get a piece of decking, 2x6, or something similar and cut a square in it the same size as the square on the clean out cap. Us the piece of wood as a wrench on the clean out cap to open the chamber and to smack the potato into the barrel before pushing it the rest of the way.

I've found recoil to be fairly stout. I perfer a 2 foot long 2 inch barrel and a 12-16 inch long 4 inch chamber because they are easy to move/aim and still have plenty of power. Black walnuts work best for me.


July 30, 2005, 02:16 AM
I used to have one with onboard CO2, giving you portability and rapidfire capabilities for 20+ shots, as well as total velocity control. I originally intended to use it for scenario paintball games but it turned out too heavy to be practical and I dismantled it for the pneumatics.

so whats th recoil on a spud cannon?

On the order of a shotgun recoil.

July 30, 2005, 04:14 AM
On the order of a shotgun recoil.

When I was about 14 and my brother and I had built a spudgun, I discovered that my aluminum baseball bat would fit pretty well into the barrel. That increased recoil a bit past the shotgun level. It'd only throw the bat about 30 feet, but it sure was fun.

July 30, 2005, 10:22 AM
Old WD-40 used to use a flammable propellant (CO2 now) and it made a great propellant and about 3' of flame at night.

Brian Williams
July 30, 2005, 10:27 AM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.


July 30, 2005, 10:37 AM
Ether is a bit nasty, but many have used it without problems. Of course, ANY fuel like that is dangerous to use in a plastic pipe. I'm making a new spudgun out of 4130 DOM tubing. :D

July 30, 2005, 01:19 PM
Used to take mine camping to the delaware river gap. A tiki torch as a ramrod and a bunch of bags of potato's, 2 or 3 cans of aquanet hairspray. Fun shooting Pennsylvania from NY lol

July 30, 2005, 03:00 PM
you guys are just nuts! i cant believe these high tech potato guns!

so cool. what the heck do you shoot at with them though?

just looks like so much fun

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