How To: Make a Vacuum Cannon & High Volume Vacuum Pump

Make a Vacuum Cannon & High Volume Vacuum Pump

The following video demonstrates and explains a classic physics experiment called a vacuum cannon. Typically these cannons are made on a much smaller scale to fire ping pong balls, but I wanted to keep things interesting with this 4" diameter monster.

Since this cannon is so large, I had to come up with a good way to pull a vacuum in the chamber quickly so I wouldn't be waiting all day in-between shots. Most commercially available vacuum pumps are quite slow—and rather expensive. My solution was to build my own, as I demonstrate in the next video.

This pump design is very durable, and should last for many years of hard use.

A clear vacuum chamber such as the one seen in the video can be obtained by purchasing a bell jar and vacuum plate, easily available online.

I highly advise that only vessels made for handling vacuum pressure, such as bell jars, be used with this or any vacuum pump. If a vessel were to fail while under vacuum, the implosion could be powerful enough to cause injury.

Vacuum Pump Parts:

  • 16" of 2" PVC pipe
  • 20" of 1 1/4" PVC pipe
  • 2" end cap
  • 1/4"x1/8" brass hose fitting
  • 3' of 1/4" vacuum line
  • 1 1/4" end cap (x2)
  • 1 1/4" diameter O-ring
  • 2" coupling
  • 2" x 1 1/2" reducer
  • 3" x 2" adapter
  • 3" x 4" closet flange
  • 4" of 3" PVC pipe
  • 10" of 3/4" dowel
  • Self-tapping screws
  • Bearing grease

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