High Speed Photography with an Air Canon

SAFETY: This is a dangerous device and if you don’t understand why then don’t try building a similar one. I basically built a high powered air gun that can fire a steel ball bearing at high velocity. To make things more risky, it doesn’t have the safety features of modern guns. If you want a gun to shoot stuff, buy a riffle (it’s easier to aim, safer, and more accurate). I am using this as a photography tool since it has a lower projectile velocity than a riffle. When loading this I would always make sure that the last thing I did was pressurize the system, and then I’d go behind a protective cement wall before firing the gun remotely. The maximum pressure I used was 100 PSI. I am not an expert on this subject so you must do your own calculations to verify any similar device is safe. I am not responsible in any way if you decide to build a similar device based on this rough description.

1/2″ x 36″ Threaded Steel Pipe (Sch 80) $16.05
1/2″ to 3/4″ Threaded Steel Adapter $4.98
3/4″ to 1″ Threaded Steel Adapter $6.75
1″ Ball Valve $23.12
1″ x 18″ Threaded Steel Pipe $6.55
1″ Threaded Steel Cap $4.02
1/8″ Brass Air Tank Valve $2.50
Total $63.97

After I ordered these parts, the assembly took less than half an hour. The only assembly required besides screwing together the pipes (don’t forget pipe sealant from your local hardware store) was to drill and tap (1/8″ NPT Tap) a hole in the 1″ Threaded Steel Cap for the air valve. I also had to get some steel ball bearing to shoot. The best size ball bearing for the barrel above is 17/32″.

Below are a few photos I took with this device. To capture the images I used a Camera Axe with the microphone attachment. (Click here for the full test shoot gallery.)

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