Pneumatic Water Balloon Cannon

Friday, July 10th, 2009 @ 11:02pm

I had this past Friday off due to the 4th of July, and I wanted to try something exciting just in time for summer. I set out to make a Pneumatic Water Balloon Cannon, and here’s the process I took.

The two sources I used to help me build my cannon were, “Backyard Ballistics“, a fantastic book on spud guns and more and “Havok“, which is ultimately the design I ended up closest to. Backyard Ballistics is just a good source of info, but their design for their Pneumatic Cannon was in a T shape, which I didn’t particularly like.

You can really be pretty flexible with the design, it just really depends on what parts you can find, or what you might have readily available. I had some difficult finding some of the parts, but you might have better luck. If you can’t find something you’re looking for, try to be flexible if possible. Also, when looking at PVC pipe be sure to check the pressure rating on the pipe as you don’t want anything exploding under pressure. Mine were rated at 280 PSI @ 70°F, but you shouldn’t have to ever worry about going that high.

Ultimately if you follow the instructions for the Havok, you should ultimate end up pretty close to what I have.


Above you can see the general layout of most everything. It may help if you match up your parts with this picture to be sure you have everything, and double check to see if it is in the right place. If you want to cut up the PVC pipes at the store, here’s the lengths I used for everything. Otherwise you can wait until you get home and use a hack saw or a table saw.

  • 1x 23″ – 2″ PVC pipe (this will be your compressed air chamber)
  • 1x 32″ – 2″ PVC pipe (this will be your barrel)
  • 4x 2″ – 1″ PVC pipe

I had some difficulty finding the parts. I looked nearly everywhere for a schrader valve, but no one had one. I eventually found one at Napa Auto Parts, so maybe you might have some luck. It looks like this if you want to be sure you get the correct thing. The 2″ to 1″ adapter was also difficult to find as neither Home Depot nor Lowes had the appropriate parts. I eventually ended up finding some adapters at Tractor Supply Company, so you might could try that.

Finished ProductSurprisingly enough, the gun works very well even at somewhat low PSI. I went out to a football field to do some range testing and was consistently getting 60-70 yards between 55-60 PSI. We tried to shoot even further at higher PSIs, but we were having some difficulty with the balloons bursting. Once I returned home, and with further testing I found out that I was using too small of a bag as a wadding and was able to shoot with a higher PSI once I used a larger bag as wadding.

I also had a lot of left over pipes, so I may experiment as well with some shorter cannons, or even a completely different design. Even though this one looks finished, I may have a few more things I want to do with it. I noticed that the barrel and the compressed air chamber were a little wobbly, so I may put a brace out on the end to help stabilize things.

While not the most impressive video, here’s a small demonstration of the cannon. I believe this particular shot was around 30-40 yards away, but I’ve been able to reach well over 100 yards with some shots.

Birmingham @ Night

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009 @ 11:04pm

While not quite a continuation of “favorite places in Birmingham“, I had an idea to go around and take some night shots of some of the surrounding areas of town. It let me know that my aging camera really needs an upgrade (Canon Powershot S2 IS), but in the meantime enjoy the photos!

The highway 280 corridor is one of the busiest areas of town, as well as the most congested. Even at around 9pm, traffic flow is pretty heavy:

Highway 280 2

The Vulcan tends to be a symbol of Birmingham (and also likes to bare some cheek over Homewood, as the saying goes, the moon is always full over Homewood). I wasn’t able to make it downtown before my battery died, but you can get a view of the skyline peeking over Red Mountain.

Birmingham - Vulcan

The zoom isn’t quite what I wanted, but I was able to still get a pretty decent shot of the moon atop Shades Crest.


These next two shots are my favorites, as both turned out pretty well. I was able to get a fantastic view of Samford University, which looks really beautiful at night.

Samford University - Hodges Chapel

Samford University - Seibert Stadium & Hodges Chapel

You can find larger pictures of these, plus additional ones I didn’t post on my flickr account.

Kickoff of Summer

Friday, June 19th, 2009 @ 9:35pm

Summer begins this weekend, so to help kickoff summer I wanted to show some of my favorite places around Birmingham. I was itching to ride my bike, and the weather this afternoon was the perfect time to do so. So I got on my bike with my iPhone and took a few pictures for two different spots I want to show you in this post.

Little Cahaba River/Cahaba Beach Road (33.439625,-86.699166)

Cahaba Beach RoadI found this by accident a few years back, and it has become of my favorite places to visit all year round. I was driving around after a long test trying to work off some stress, and decided to explore a few of the back roads I had never been on.

I eventually came upon this old one-lane truss bridge which has long since been shut off to traffic. Around the bridge there are several trails that are well hiked in addition to a rope swing that appears to get a lot of use during the summer.

Cahaba Beach Road BridgeWhile I haven’t done it at this particular spot, there are plenty of geocaching spots and treasures around here if you enjoy doing that sort of thing.

I like to visit this spot in summer and fall, especially as the leaves change into a wide array of colors. Summer is just as nice with plenty of lush green overhang to provide shade on those hot, humid summer days that are common around here. I have yet to go swimming here yet, but with the rope swing and hot days ahead, there’s a good chance I will do so.

Shades Crest (33.460244,-86.777147)

Shades Crest Road Sunset 1As Birmingham is located in the foothills of the Appalachian mountain range, there are plenty of vistas that are worthy of a Kodak moment. As this location was located close to Samford University, I made frequent visits here to enjoy the breeze or watch the sunset over Red Mountain.

Shades Crest Road Sunset 2I managed to time this trip just right to catch the sunset as the sky faded from deep blue to orange.

These photos don’t provide a high enough quality or daylight to really see it, but the coordinates I provided offer a nice view of Samford University’s east campus in addition to the Vulcan and parts of Birmingham through the Red Mountain expressway. Further east is Brookwood Medical Center and Brookwood mall, eventually fading into the Mountain Brook portion of Lakeshore Drive.

In the next week or so, I have a few other locations in mind that are great places to visit during the summer and offer plenty of fun things to do. I’ll just need to remember to take my actual camera with me so I can get better pictures.

Lazy Monday

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 @ 9:36pm

“Some tortures are physical
And some are mental,
But the one that is both
Is dental.”
~Ogden Nash

I had to go to the dentist today. I think the above poem accurately describes my experience.

School started today, and it was somewhat… refreshing I suppose. It doesn’t really feel like I got much accomplished though, even though I really did do a good bit today. It appears as if my two computer science courses with Toone won’t be too difficult, so that is certainly a blessing. The only one I really have to have any concern about is current topics with Donaldson. But that should be okay as well.

I had an amazing weekend however. Got to go to the beach for the first time in two years. Even though it was only for about a day, and the drive was long it was certainly well worth it. I guess I kind of needed the short break after the busy summer and two weeks of band camp.

I really need some way to end this, but I don’t really know what to say. I have things I want to say but don’t really know how to say them. I hate sometimes how I want to communicate something to someone, and I’m actually thinking it in my head, but I don’t know how to formulate it into words…

New Stuff 2.0

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 @ 7:13pm

Now that I have a little time to myself, I’ll make an update to the blog about what’s been going on in the past week or so…

These past few weeks have been a little crazy. I finished up work a few weeks ago only to jump right into band camp. There’s a lot of new freshmen in the band, which is a great thing and I’ve had a good time getting to know a lot of them. I do miss a lot of people though who graduated last year and it almost doesn’t seem the same without them. I’ve been playing the timpani, but have been at the tenor sax a time or two. I’m having a blast, and can’t wait for the whole season to get started.

Went to White Water (Six Flags) this past weekend with Dana, Deidre, Beth Ann, Amber, Brett, and some other friends of Deidre’s from Huntsville. It was my first visit to White Water, and I had a great time, even though it was cut a little short by a pretty nasty thunderstorm at the end of the day. But all went well!

Things for the next semester seem to finally be coming together. My schedule is almost finalized, and school is all paid for. The hardest part I guess is just trying to be patient with everything and not rush it all. I know I’m going to need lots of prayer as I take a lot of steps I haven’t before in this next year of school.

It’s amazing though as I think back on the past 3 years of school and how much it has changed and shaped me. The person I was 3 years ago was almost a completely different person. I’m still me, but I’ve broken out of my shell a lot more than before, which I think is a good thing. It’s just so amazing to think that if that much has happened in the past 3 years, what more there is to happen in the 3 years to come. I’m excited!

Summer Begins

Saturday, May 20th, 2006 @ 1:56am

SkidooLet the summer begin! So to start off my summer I went down to Jeremy’s lakehouse with Jeremy and Rick for the weekend. We left from home yesterday and stopped for lunch in Montgomery. Got to Dothan, and had an excellent dinner, then watched Whose Line is it Anyway then watched a really silly movie.

Today we went to the lake, as shown by the picture above. Obviously, we rode a couple of jetskis, and had some fun on the water and goofed off for the most of the day. And I got plenty of pictures, although Jeremy already posted most of them on his blog. But anyway, look at my comments to see a few more of the pictures that we took.

School’s Out!

Monday, May 15th, 2006 @ 9:12pm

Woohoo! Schools out for summer! Only one more year to go… I still have a few finals to go, it’s not really a big deal. Piano juries are over, and that’s honestly the worst part of finals.

On to other news. Summer is looking good so far. I finally got a job! It pays well, and it’s right in the computer science field too. I also recently got a letter from Samford letting me know they’re giving me a small scholarship! It’s not much but hey, it’s better than anything I’ve had before so I can’t really complain.

Also my parents said they would chip in for a Camera for my birthday. So I just recently ordered a Canon Powershot S2 IS off of So I’m waiting for that to come in… I’ll be sure to post some pictures once it comes in.

Also if you’re going to be in town this summer, let me know. I’ll probably be bored and looking for things to do (when I’m not working that is…)