Tennis Ball Cannon - How to Make One
Tennis ball cannon are often referred to as a tennis ball launcher or a Polish cannon. Although tennis ball launchers are a little different when it comes to purpose, like launch and fetch with your favorite dog, they more or less have the same function, shooting tennis balls into the air. Tennis ball cannons can usually be made of home made materials or parts that can be found around the house. Most people use or build them for fun at the park or merely playing games with others who have them. However, a word of advice to those planning to build one, it can injure you. Whether you build a canon correctly and use it correctly, it can still injure you.
Here are some safety tips after you have built a tennis ball cannon:
? Use common sense. Do not do this if you're not an adult.
? Treat the completed cannon as if it were a gun, always point it in a safe direction.
? Be responsible.
Materials for a Tennis Ball Cannon:
Total dimensions of tennis ball cannon are 33 1/8' tall, and 2 5/8' diameter.
? 6 tin cans, 2 5/8' diameter, 5 ½' tall
? 1 tin can, 2 5/8' diameter, 3 1/8' tall
? can opener, one that can open the rounded ends of the can
? can opener, one that can put a hole on a can
? Duct tape
? Lighter fluid
? Tennis ball
? Lighter or matches
Getting the right tin cans for the tennis ball cannon is very important. The key factor is that the diameter of the cans must be 2 5/8', make sure you measure the cans to use before you buy them. A 15oz can of Green Giant Asparagus Spears that is 5 ½' tall and is exactly 2 5/8' in diameter is what you should be looking for. If you find shorter than 5 ½ tall that's fine but it is easier to use longer ones as you'll only need fewer cans. These cans must have flat bottom and top, and not rounded ones, so that you can remove them with a can opener.
How to do it:
1. Using the first type of can opener, open the top and the bottom of the six large cans, so that each one ends up looking like a small tube with no top or bottom.
2. Using the other type of can opener, take the small can and poke 6 holes in the top. The top will look kind of a grill with those little triangle shaped hole. This is the only way you have to open the can, so you have to shake the contents out really hard. Do not cut the bottom out.
3. On the side of the small can towards the bottom, just about an inch from the bottom, poke a hole about 1/8' in diameter. This hole will be used for pouring the lighter fluid through.
4. With the small can at the bottom and its grill-like end facing on top, use the duct tape to attach all the cans together end to end making a barrel, make sure that the grill-like end is inside the cannon and you'll only be able to see it when you look down the barrel of the cannon. The bottom must be solid and no cut out. Once all the cans have been joined and taped good, wrap two to three layers of duct tape starting from above the lighter fluid hole, going all the way to the end of the cannon but don't cover the hole. Don't be afraid of adding two or three extra layers more if you feel that your duct tape won't hold (will melt or get soft) the heat when you fire the cannon.
Instructions for using:
Before you proceed to fire the tennis ball cannon, make sure you read and understand all these instructions first.
1. Hold the tennis ball cannon upright, and then squirt about a ½ ounce of lighter fluid into the hole.
2. Grip the tennis ball cannon upside down with your right hand, waving it in large sweeping motion for about six or seven times to get the lighter fluid to spread throughout the tennis ball cannon. Don't worry if a few drops of fluid fly out to the end due to your waiving motion.
3. Put a tennis ball in the end of the cannon and push it down with your hand as far as the bottom of the top can.
4. Aim the tennis ball cannon in a safe direction, aiming straight up.
5. Hold a lighted lighter up to the small hole in the bottom can, this flame would cause the lighter fluid fumes to build up producing great pressure to shoot the ball out the end.
Again, tennis ball cannon should be used responsibly and wisely, whether it be for fun at the park or showing off some friends, make sure you play it safe.