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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