Question 1: Who makes spark friction
ignitors for the potato cannon?
Two companies that I know of—Coghlan
and Coleman. You should be able to
find one or the other in stores that
sell lanterns for camping. If you
can’t find any local
suppliers, you can get one online.
Go to a
search engine and type in “Coleman
spark igniter”, and you’ll
find several suppliers.
Question 2: I can’t
find any stores that sell Calcium
chips for the Calcium Carbide Cannon.
Can I get it mail order?
It’s illegal to transport calcium
carbide chips throught the mail.
You can, however, legally obtain
a powdered calcium carbide product
called Bangsite. Order it at 1-800-BANGSITE.
Question 3: Where can I purchase the XYZ part you described? It is not at my hardware store.
McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) and Grainger (grainger.com) carry just about every type of material imaginable. Give them a try. If that doesn't work, use your search engine skills!
Question 4: What kind of hair spray
works best in potato cannons?
I’m partial to White Rain,
but almost any aerosol spray should
work. Look for volatile stuff like alcohol or butane on the label. But don’t get carried away.
Things like starting
ether or acetylene are too volatile,
and very dangerous.
Question 5: Where do I get a tank valve for the Pnewton Petard?
Ask for it at a good hardware store, or go online and search on Tru-flate 38900
Question 6: Do all matches work equally
well in match rockets?
It might be obvious, but look for
paper matches with the biggest match
heads. Also, it seems to me that
white match heads seem to work the
best, but I can’t back that
up with scientific proof.
Question 7: I have some cool ideas
for backyard ballistics type projects.
Want to hear about them?
Sure. Use the email link below. And
we’re much obliged for good
ideas. But, please, do not suggest a sock full of matchheads, anything involving gasoline or similar dangerous stuff. We want you to stay safe!
Question 8: I want to modify the
big ballistic pendulum project to
measure the how fast I can pitch
a baseball. Why do we need all the
wadded up newspaper inside the Ballistic
Because there must be no bounce or
recoil inside the pendulum when the
projectile hits. The paper makes
a non-bouncing environment. Physicists
would term this “an inelastic
collision”, and the equations
used to determine velocity assume
the collision is inelastic.
9: I’m having trouble
with the Cincy Fire Kite. Any suggestions?
It is a tricky one, all right. Luckily
newspaper is cheap, so keep trying.
Remember, cool nights work best.
Also, the bigger sheet of newspaper
is, the better. Make the folds such
that the gaps at the seams are as
small as possible. Finally, a physically
works better than smaller-sized newspapers
Question 10: What kind of detergent
bottle works best for the Pneumatic
Use as big a HDPE plastic bottle
as you can find. Any bottle with
a spout that you can fit the plastic
tubing over should work fine.
Question 11: Can I have a free book for me or my school or my charity?
I wish I could help, but I don't have many books at home. You could try your local bookstore, or visit your library.
Question 12: How about using gasoline
in the potato cannon?
No. This is way too dangerous. Leave
flammable liquids alone.
Question 13: What’s
the biggest vegetable shooter out
Probably the Aludium Q-36 Pumpkin
Modulator. Its a big pnuematic cannon
that can heave a pumpkin about a
mile. A team of people in Illinois
made it for the annual pumpkin
chunkin festival in Delaware.
Question 14: Will there be a second
book of more Backyard Ballistics
The new version of Backyard Ballistics is on sale as of September 2012!