Guys, today we’re taking
a look at how to build a very simple tennis ball cannon made almost entirely out of soup cans. [Captions by Judy V. at Y Translator]
[Music] We’ll show you how
to construct the CANnon… Get it? Can– It’s not that funny. And then, we’ll try out
a few different types of fuel to see what works best. All we need to get started
is eight or nine cans, a little bit of electrical tape, and of course, a can opener. Here’s the basic idea. Several of these cans lined up
together will create a chamber, where pressure can be
built up when our fuel explodes. A tennis ball suspended
about halfway down the barrel will be launched out the front,
flying up to 100 feet. Of course, you need to get
cans that are the right size. The tennis ball should be
able to fit down in, but not have a lot
of extra space on the sides. More importantly though,
is that a lot of cans nowadays have a modified bottom that’s designed
to make stacking the cans easier. While the modified shape of the bottom
does make it a lot easier to stack the cans, it makes it harder to open
the bottom with a can opener. So, what you’re looking for
is a can that’s the same on the top and the bottom. If you go through cans regularly,
you can just save them up as you use them. [Music] Our last two cans,
let’s cut off the tops, but not the bottoms. With one of these two cans,
we’ll leave the bottom fully attached. With the other one,
we want to do a special cutting job where we leave two connection points, one sort of at the top,
and one at the bottom. Then we’re going to try
and fold that bottom in on itself, so it can act as a support
that still lets a lot of air through. With the last can,
we’ll leave the bottom attached, but let’s drill a small hole into it. [Music] After rinsing and
drying all of our cans, it’s now time to attach them together. The one with the hole in the bottom
is the bottom of our cannon, and the support should go
a little over halfway up the cannon. Now, using some electrical tape, we’re tightly going
to wrap a couple of layers around the seam where two cans meet. [Music] I like to make the folded support
at the top of the fifth can. That way there are four cans
above the tennis ball, and five below. Nine soup cans taped together
is giving us a pretty good barrel, and our tennis ball rests right
at the bottom of the fourth can. Let’s give this bad boy
a little bit of decoration so it doesn’t just look like
a bunch of cans taped together. [Music] Our soup can cannon
is now all constructed. Hello. Let’s see if we can’t fire
tennis ball out of this bad boy. When I first started
researching this project, I was told that the best fuel
to use is Zippo lighter fluid, although I’ve had some problems
getting it to work consistently. So, let’s give it a few tries,
and then if that doesn’t work, well, we might move on to something else. Now, the fuel itself is just
going to burn if we light it on fire. So, the goal is to get it
to spread out inside the cans, and then just start evaporating so, we have fuel fumes
filling the chamber at hopefully just the right ratios
that a flame near the hole at the back will ignite all of it, and will create a lot of pressure
launching our tennis ball out of front. [Music] I’m gonna use my little torch. Any barbecue lighter
or regular lighter, even a match should
work just as well. I’m not going to be pushing
the flame inside the cannon, I’m just going to try
and ignite out the back. [Music] So, the Zippo lighter fluid
maybe can work really well, and I just don’t know the right secret. There’s probably just
the right amount of fuel, just the right way
to spread it around, and just the right amount of time
to wait as it turns into fumes. I think I have an idea for something
that will work a little bit simpler. This is methanol, and I’ve done some
experiments with it before, and discovered that it
is pretty good at igniting almost no matter what the mix ratio is. So, I’m just going to try
putting about a capful of this down into our cannon,
we’ll see how that works. [Music] Well, we got better distance. The ball actually
left the cannon that time, although not very quickly. [Music] That sounded pretty good. [Music] Using the methanol,
we’re getting pretty decent distance. The balls are launching 40 or 50 feet, but I think we can do better. You can see that the balls in
these cans are not a perfect fit. This is the closest size
of cans that I was able to find. If somewhere near you sells a can
that holds the tennis ball even better than that, you’re almost certain
to get a lot more distance. Since we don’t have cans that size, I have two different stop-gap
measures we’re going to take to sort of improvised
shrinking these cans down. First, let’s try just
using a wad of paper towels, and pushing that down into the barrel. That should completely
closed off all of the air supply, and we should get a lot
more pressure in the chamber, throwing the tennis ball out a lot harder. [Music] Ah, yeah. Using paper towels as wadding
clearly works pretty well. The other thing we want to try
is restricting the barrel down to a slightly smaller size. This sheet of craft foam is about a dollar, and when cut to the right size, should provide several
successful high-powered launches. The inside of the cans that I’m using
have an 8 and 1/2 inch radius. So, I’ve cut my sheet
to 8 and 1/2 inches, and now will fit this down
as a tube inside the cannon. You can see that the foam nicely fills
the gaps around the tennis ball, and now it just barely fits in. Let’s add a little bit of fuel, and see how much of
a difference the foam makes. [Music] It makes a difference. It makes a huge difference. Oh my gosh.>>Where did it go?>>It hit the tree about
40 feet up and bounced. Oh my gosh. [Music] Boom! [Music] That is a cannon. The heat seems to have warped
the foam by just a little bit, but I’m pretty sure we can
still get some more shots out of it. [Music] Remember to check your
local laws and ordinances before building and
using something like this. Depending on where you live,
it may not be legal to fire one. And of course, always be sure
you’re doing it in a safe environment, and make sure you’re
not pointing the barrel at anything that could ever break or be injured. Guys, that’s not all. There’s more for you to see. That little box up at the top
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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “Tennis Ball CANNON from Soup Cans”

  1. Built one of those when I was a kid (1970's, with the old style pop cans). We used lighter fluid, into the bottom can, then swung the "cannon" like a base ball bat a couple times to vaporize the lighter fluid, then immediately lit it. BOOM!

  2. Thanks for the fuel idea. My tennis ball had a great tight fit using asparagus cans but I was struggling with distance using lighter fluid…maxing out at about 20 feet. As soon as I changed the fuel I immediately got two nearly identical 120 foot launches. Awesome!!

  3. This is awesome! I’m in the process of making my own cannon for New Year and Independence Day but will be using ABS/ PVC and Calcium Carbide. Can you make a video with the same ideas, I might learn a thing or two.

  4. I’m from hawaii we do this all the time not to launch a tennis ball but for a loud boom during 4th of July and New Years

  5. Years ago we did this with just three cans and rubbing alcohol. Works great, shoots tennis balls with a lot of force.

  6. I really enjoy watching this new guy Nate. He is making some really entertaining videos. I stopped watching for awhile but have started watching again since Nate has been making the videos. Hopefully he continues to make awesome videos.

  7. this is not how its done, you need to cut the can tops and bottoms in half and then arrange them so the hole between them is only 1/4 the circumference, each hole must be offset to the previous one to create a circular flow of air to make a vortex. the vortex will require at least four levels to create more power, the longer the vortex the more power a drop of lighter fluid will create, but 4 cans cut and three cans as a barrel should allow you to get between 250 to 300 ft shots. also this way you don't need a bar to hold the tennis ball, we use to make them from pop can as they are exactly the right size, but the newer cans don't work.

  8. Look ma, the soup CAN CANon is made.let's see if it CAN shoot. Do you think it will, maybe it CAN.
    I CAN make bad jokes.

  9. I used to make mine different, I believe it helped the air fuel mixture a lot better then your design, and also take masking tape and wrap the ball slightly to make it tighter. If I could post pics of what i'm talking about with the can difference I think you'll agree. I only used light fluid and these things were super loud, super strong, super fun lol. Granted it's been 20+years since I made one but i'm gonna soon to show my kids lol

  10. The addition of gloves makes it appear as a possible criminal activity… :^) I used soda cans as a kid, and duct tape to hold them together. Most of the time we just lit it up — nice big booms on July 4th–didn't even fire a tennis ball.

  11. I use to make these when I was a kid. Campbell’s tomato soup cans work the best. They’re a nice snug fit. And you only need 4 cans. Yours was way too long, but still entertaining!

  12. In the mid 1970's, Coca cola cans were steel. They also were a snug fit for tennis balls. We used naptha or coleman white gas for propellant. Distances of 80 yards was easy. Also a used vehicle driveshaft worked great. Oxy and acetylene, for range over 150 yards. It would knock you down at 20 yards and leave a welt!

  13. Theres one slight problem,
    I want the projectile to have a lot more velocity and i want it to explode

    No, questions, asked.

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