Spud Gun

filed under | recreation


A potato cannon (a.k.a. spud gun) is a pipe-based cannon which uses air pressure, or combustion of a gaseous fuel, or both, to launch large projectiles at low speed. They are built to fire chunks of potato, as a hobby, or to fire other sorts of projectiles, for practical use. All spud guns propel projectiles down their barrels using pressurised gas in the same manner as a firearm (although at a much lower pressure). There are four basic ways that spud guns may achieve this: By the combustion of a gaseous fuel-air mixture; this is generally called a combustion launcher, and its pressure is limited primarily by the energy density of the fuel-air mixture (less than 100 psi (0.7 MPa) with all safe fuels). By the release of compressed gas (normally air) through a valve; such a launcher is typically referred to as a pneumatic launcher, and its power is limited primarily by the pressure of the air supply, be that from a compressor, manual pump or bottled gas. By the explosion of a dry ice bomb placed in the pipe before the projectile, generally referred to as a dry ice bomb cannon, these are limited in power by the materials and size of the dry ice bomb but firing pressures can be around 200300 psi (1.42.1 MPa). By the combustion of a pre-pressurised fuel-air mixture; this is called a hybrid launcher, and yields higher pressures than that of a normal combustion spud gun, limited only by the construction of the launcher (generally a few hundred pounds-force per square inch). It is rare for a spud gun to be powerful enough to break the sound barrier, although there are some cases of this happening using specialized designs. The spud guns used are typically hybrids; but some pneumatic cannons have achieved the feat, either by using a special low density gas, such as helium, or high pressures combined with a fast valve. There is also one reported case of a combustion design achieving super-sonic velocities. Spud guns by nature are hazardous and can present safety issues if poorly constructed or used. Users should follow the same rules as if handling a conventional firearm, but given the frequently improvised materials and construction used in spudguns, it is particularly important for the user to use basic ear and eye protection when operating a spudgun. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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