How To: Build a PVC Ball Valve Air Cannon for $30

Build a PVC Ball Valve Air Cannon for $30

How to Build a PVC Ball Valve Air Cannon for $30

Step 1 Planning the Cannon Design

Before you get your supplies, you're going to want to draw out plans for the design of the PVC cannon.  In this guide, I'll show you how to build a stationary ball valve cannon that is tilted at 45 degrees, but it is just as good to make it your own.  You can do this by making the cannon something you can hoist onto your shoulder and fire from there, or even attach an electric air pump onto the side so pumping is quick.  All the planning must be completed and finalized so no last minute changes will ruin the whole cannon.

Tips

  • Watch the provided video tutorial for a better guide.
  • Make the PVC cannon straighter so the air has a place to go faster.

Warnings

  • Don't make too many turns or the air pressure will not fire the projectile very well.

Step 2 Getting the Supplies

Once you're done drawing up the cannon, you can start to buy the parts at stores.  Now, in this guide, the cannon only cost me $30 because of the design, so if you're tweaking it, it might cost more.  The best places to get PVC parts are at plumbing stores and hardware stores.  Some people have asked me where their local construction store is.  Just type in on Google "Construction Store" and have the Maps show the stores in your current location.  At a lot of these places, they will have PVC and pumps.

Tips

  • The PVC must be NSF-PW (written on the side); this means the PVC is pressure rated.
  • If you're building the same PVC cannon, please watch the provided video to get the list of supplies.

Step 3 Cutting (and Measuring) the Pieces of PVC

Cutting PVC can be either really easy or extremely hard.  To do it the easy way would be with an electric saw, though this can be dangerous.  If you're not willing to attempt the saw or don't own one, construction stores have PVC cutters that take a while to cut the PVC.  Manual hand saws work as well, but the PVC must be firmly clamped down as it is a tube.  Please watch the provided video to learn where to cut the parts.

Tips

  • The video will show you where to make the cuts.  The pictures up top will also show how.

Warnings

  • Clamp down the PVC if you're using a manual hand saw.  Clamp it down when using an electric saw if you can.

Step 4 Putting it all Together

Do not pull out the glue just yet.  Put all of the pieces together and measure them to make sure they fit.  If a piece doesn't, then go and cut it again till it fits.  Look at the images in this guide or watch the video to know where to put them (if you're building the same cannon).

Step 5 Gluing it all Together

The final step is gluing everything together.  Remember to use primer before using the actual glue and wait for the primer to fully dry.  Glue each piece one at a time.  Hold it for 30 seconds and do the next piece.  Priming can be done on multiple pieces.  Please watch the provided video for more detailed gluing instructions.

Tips

  • Let the primer fully dry before adding the glue
  • Holding the PVC for 30 seconds after gluing will prevent it from sliding out when drying.
  • Some PVC gurus suggest to give the PVC a "half turn" when gluing for a stronger bond.

Step 6 Firing

Okay, firing is not actually a step, but it is a necessity when trying to be safe.  The only real safety information here is to where ear plugs if the sound is too loud for you.  Don't pump it past 100 PSI. 

Tips

  • Use a shoe to hit the ball valve; it will release the air faster.

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