Articles, Blog

Tennis Ball CANNON from Soup Cans

December 3, 2019

Guys, today we’re taking
a look at how to build a very simple tennis ball cannon made almost entirely out of soup cans. [Captions by Judy V. at Y Translator]
[Music] We’ll show you how
to construct the CANnon… Get it? Can– It’s not that funny. And then, we’ll try out
a few different types of fuel to see what works best. All we need to get started
is eight or nine cans, a little bit of electrical tape, and of course, a can opener. Here’s the basic idea. Several of these cans lined up
together will create a chamber, where pressure can be
built up when our fuel explodes. A tennis ball suspended
about halfway down the barrel will be launched out the front,
flying up to 100 feet. Of course, you need to get
cans that are the right size. The tennis ball should be
able to fit down in, but not have a lot
of extra space on the sides. More importantly though,
is that a lot of cans nowadays have a modified bottom that’s designed
to make stacking the cans easier. While the modified shape of the bottom
does make it a lot easier to stack the cans, it makes it harder to open
the bottom with a can opener. So, what you’re looking for
is a can that’s the same on the top and the bottom. If you go through cans regularly,
you can just save them up as you use them. [Music] Our last two cans,
let’s cut off the tops, but not the bottoms. With one of these two cans,
we’ll leave the bottom fully attached. With the other one,
we want to do a special cutting job where we leave two connection points, one sort of at the top,
and one at the bottom. Then we’re going to try
and fold that bottom in on itself, so it can act as a support
that still lets a lot of air through. With the last can,
we’ll leave the bottom attached, but let’s drill a small hole into it. [Music] After rinsing and
drying all of our cans, it’s now time to attach them together. The one with the hole in the bottom
is the bottom of our cannon, and the support should go
a little over halfway up the cannon. Now, using some electrical tape, we’re tightly going
to wrap a couple of layers around the seam where two cans meet. [Music] I like to make the folded support
at the top of the fifth can. That way there are four cans
above the tennis ball, and five below. Nine soup cans taped together
is giving us a pretty good barrel, and our tennis ball rests right
at the bottom of the fourth can. Let’s give this bad boy
a little bit of decoration so it doesn’t just look like
a bunch of cans taped together. [Music] Our soup can cannon
is now all constructed. Hello. Let’s see if we can’t fire
tennis ball out of this bad boy. When I first started
researching this project, I was told that the best fuel
to use is Zippo lighter fluid, although I’ve had some problems
getting it to work consistently. So, let’s give it a few tries,
and then if that doesn’t work, well, we might move on to something else. Now, the fuel itself is just
going to burn if we light it on fire. So, the goal is to get it
to spread out inside the cans, and then just start evaporating so, we have fuel fumes
filling the chamber at hopefully just the right ratios
that a flame near the hole at the back will ignite all of it, and will create a lot of pressure
launching our tennis ball out of front. [Music] I’m gonna use my little torch. Any barbecue lighter
or regular lighter, even a match should
work just as well. I’m not going to be pushing
the flame inside the cannon, I’m just going to try
and ignite out the back. [Music] So, the Zippo lighter fluid
maybe can work really well, and I just don’t know the right secret. There’s probably just
the right amount of fuel, just the right way
to spread it around, and just the right amount of time
to wait as it turns into fumes. I think I have an idea for something
that will work a little bit simpler. This is methanol, and I’ve done some
experiments with it before, and discovered that it
is pretty good at igniting almost no matter what the mix ratio is. So, I’m just going to try
putting about a capful of this down into our cannon,
we’ll see how that works. [Music] Well, we got better distance. The ball actually
left the cannon that time, although not very quickly. [Music] That sounded pretty good. [Music] Using the methanol,
we’re getting pretty decent distance. The balls are launching 40 or 50 feet, but I think we can do better. You can see that the balls in
these cans are not a perfect fit. This is the closest size
of cans that I was able to find. If somewhere near you sells a can
that holds the tennis ball even better than that, you’re almost certain
to get a lot more distance. Since we don’t have cans that size, I have two different stop-gap
measures we’re going to take to sort of improvised
shrinking these cans down. First, let’s try just
using a wad of paper towels, and pushing that down into the barrel. That should completely
closed off all of the air supply, and we should get a lot
more pressure in the chamber, throwing the tennis ball out a lot harder. [Music] Ah, yeah. Using paper towels as wadding
clearly works pretty well. The other thing we want to try
is restricting the barrel down to a slightly smaller size. This sheet of craft foam is about a dollar, and when cut to the right size, should provide several
successful high-powered launches. The inside of the cans that I’m using
have an 8 and 1/2 inch radius. So, I’ve cut my sheet
to 8 and 1/2 inches, and now will fit this down
as a tube inside the cannon. You can see that the foam nicely fills
the gaps around the tennis ball, and now it just barely fits in. Let’s add a little bit of fuel, and see how much of
a difference the foam makes. [Music] It makes a difference. It makes a huge difference. Oh my gosh.>>Where did it go?>>It hit the tree about
40 feet up and bounced. Oh my gosh. [Music] Boom! [Music] That is a cannon. The heat seems to have warped
the foam by just a little bit, but I’m pretty sure we can
still get some more shots out of it. [Music] Remember to check your
local laws and ordinances before building and
using something like this. Depending on where you live,
it may not be legal to fire one. And of course, always be sure
you’re doing it in a safe environment, and make sure you’re
not pointing the barrel at anything that could ever break or be injured. Guys, that’s not all. There’s more for you to see. That little box up at the top
will transport you directly to our last video and
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and we will see you in the next one. Talk to you then.


  • Reply Sairam Niranjan September 8, 2018 at 6:19 pm


  • Reply Eric Choi September 19, 2018 at 6:00 am

    Try shooting sky balls using the tennis ball cannon.

  • Reply Irena Todorova September 20, 2018 at 1:36 am

    you can do it. get it? 🙂

  • Reply Bsnnfuzbun Squiggleroot September 22, 2018 at 3:12 am

    Use PVC pipe

  • Reply karenscott3512 September 27, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Hair spray

  • Reply karenscott3512 September 27, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    I made a ping pong ball launcher with a wrapping paper tube

  • Reply Tankkiukko 125 October 4, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Make tank with this

  • Reply Akbearguide 85 October 6, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Arosol spray makes great fuel. Have made many PVC potatoes guns. Hair spray usually works best.

  • Reply JPVG- JustinPlaysVideoGames October 13, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    Look ma, the soup CAN CANon is made.let's see if it CAN shoot. Do you think it will, maybe it CAN.
    I CAN make bad jokes.

  • Reply Daniel Cambria October 15, 2018 at 5:56 am

    I used to make mine different, I believe it helped the air fuel mixture a lot better then your design, and also take masking tape and wrap the ball slightly to make it tighter. If I could post pics of what i'm talking about with the can difference I think you'll agree. I only used light fluid and these things were super loud, super strong, super fun lol. Granted it's been 20+years since I made one but i'm gonna soon to show my kids lol

  • Reply Super Sender October 16, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Give the tennisball backspin like its done in an airsoftgun the ball will travel a lot more distance

  • Reply Victor Ram October 17, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    hi king u try to bat the ball

  • Reply Cheeky Nham October 25, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Much easier and cheaper to use a cheap tennis racket and hit the ball hard.

  • Reply andy k November 1, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    can you build a mechanism that lights the torch for you

  • Reply Sebastian Mayer November 3, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    love this building videos i have build the T shirt kanon i stuff my tennis balls into it xD

  • Reply Eduardo Hoy November 6, 2018 at 3:02 am

    Im using a match,should I light it in the inside or outside of the can?

  • Reply cameron G November 10, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Do a tennis ball filled to the brim with match heads light the fuse and shoot it through the cannons

  • Reply Jenniferlpirtle2 November 15, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    hey Nate, you should combine the paper towel and the craft foam too see how far it will go.

  • Reply Damon Cross November 17, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Can you use a PVC pipe instead of cans?

  • Reply gachatuber vandad I love gacha life November 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm

    Put gopro in tennis ball

  • Reply Black Neko November 20, 2018 at 6:41 am

    In Philippines we call that Boga

  • Reply [XZ] KILLA November 26, 2018 at 7:37 am

    Mario is the tennis ball and the tube is a sewage pipe like if u get it

  • Reply Ethan Rumti December 2, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    you coght a ghost on camera

  • Reply Joel Allgaier December 5, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    Duct tape!!!!!! Smaller cans/diameter

  • Reply Run-da-cops December 6, 2018 at 5:28 am

    Africans could have ate that food

  • Reply Iboo Muhammad December 22, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    Can you make a air tense canyon

  • Reply fish bowl December 31, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    Boga it's name in the Phil.

  • Reply Adrian Manuel January 8, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Maybe you should put igniter from lighter

  • Reply daniel van essen January 13, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Try carbid thats Made for that

  • Reply online gamer January 14, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    Its easy we call it in the Philippines boga

  • Reply tgames tgames January 14, 2019 at 7:45 pm

    where did it go ? ooops

  • Reply Trash2Treasure 2000 January 20, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Hair spray for fuel

  • Reply MrToTortoise GD January 20, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I’m late but that really is a “CAN”non

  • Reply Brodie Birr January 22, 2019 at 5:25 am

    I have that same can opener.

  • Reply Spicy Games February 15, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    I guess you really souped that one up.

  • Reply Onedread806 Brown February 26, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    Yall read the munitions handbook too much

  • Reply 2thePtBassTuT March 2, 2019 at 5:02 am

    The addition of gloves makes it appear as a possible criminal activity… :^) I used soda cans as a kid, and duct tape to hold them together. Most of the time we just lit it up — nice big booms on July 4th–didn't even fire a tennis ball.

  • Reply Evezmil Millabane March 2, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    A we build those every christmas seasons try shaking it before agniting it

  • Reply Aiden Herold March 6, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    use deodorant as fuel next time

  • Reply Jared Smith March 7, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Can you use a tennis ball holder? They normally come in a tube of three balls.

  • Reply Robert Mcpherson March 8, 2019 at 2:01 am

    The cannon pun was realy funny nate just fyi

  • Reply Nash Gaming March 9, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    It would be cheaper and more effective with a pvc Pipe from the Hardware Store…

  • Reply Tim Oliver March 28, 2019 at 12:34 am

    use pull tab tin beer cans which is uncommon now days

  • Reply RilBitz April 20, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Tangina boga yan eh

  • Reply Johnniel Cabaraca April 20, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    In PHL its called boga

  • Reply shon hopkins April 20, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Put a stand on it

  • Reply Do For Love MADCOWVELI April 25, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    That’s why u use beer cans!!

  • Reply 35/40 Crew May 2, 2019 at 1:53 am

    Best cans are the 8 oz tomato sauce cans. Made multiple of these growing ☝

  • Reply Jacob Ewy May 4, 2019 at 4:08 am

    5:55 his reaction is great

  • Reply Robin Hood May 29, 2019 at 3:02 am

    Am I the only one thinking that this would be great for my dog?

  • Reply joeegucci June 10, 2019 at 6:57 am

    This is like the dragon missile from Mulan

  • Reply Matt Buck June 23, 2019 at 3:31 am

    I use to make these when I was a kid. Campbell’s tomato soup cans work the best. They’re a nice snug fit. And you only need 4 cans. Yours was way too long, but still entertaining!

  • Reply Casa Del Amo June 29, 2019 at 4:50 am

    starter fluid, my favorite is acetaline oxy mix

  • Reply Aye Bee July 6, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    In the mid 1970's, Coca cola cans were steel. They also were a snug fit for tennis balls. We used naptha or coleman white gas for propellant. Distances of 80 yards was easy. Also a used vehicle driveshaft worked great. Oxy and acetylene, for range over 150 yards. It would knock you down at 20 yards and leave a welt!

  • Reply Jack Rutledge July 12, 2019 at 2:04 am

    hair spray best it work well with spudgun-esque things

  • Reply Hi kids! July 20, 2019 at 1:21 am

    what size drill bit did you use?

  • Reply Britain Petersen July 29, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    rubbing alcohol works way better

  • Reply sised August 1, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Theres one slight problem,
    I want the projectile to have a lot more velocity and i want it to explode

    No, questions, asked.

  • Reply ghytgb August 8, 2019 at 1:15 am

    Use Campbell’s Soup Cans

  • Reply JoeTheCommunist August 17, 2019 at 8:01 pm


  • Reply frinaldi 412 August 18, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    I made one of these and manage to clear a house with it

  • Reply Jim Jones August 25, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    The King of Random
    … R.I.P.

  • Reply Planetugm September 2, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    RIP Brother x

  • Reply Jon Gregory September 19, 2019 at 2:48 am

    Aquanet hairspray, your welcome.

  • Reply Jackaloopt September 20, 2019 at 8:41 am

    Campbell soup cans and model airplane fuel always worked great when I built them.

  • Reply Simon Ratilla September 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

    We make that every Christmas in the Philippines

  • Reply Simon Ratilla September 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

    We make that every Christmas in the Philippines

  • Reply ITStechy October 4, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    When we made them years ago, 4 Gatorade 12oz steel cans, metal taped together with the last one punched on the top with many smaller holes. 90% ethyl alcohol launched them sky high!

  • Reply Clyde Disney October 8, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    i learned to make a 'polish canon' in collegem We used soda cans.

    Your main problem is that you are not properly airiating the fuel.

    You need to make large pendulum motions. Done right you will hear a whoosh sound.

    How about using the tennis ball cans they come in?

  • Reply John A November 19, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Alternate design ive used when i was a kid.
    Limit is aproximately 6 cans or it tends to explode at can connections.
    Small hole on side of bottom can at at top oppisite side of its top opening of half cut open. Continue with each can half cut open alternating from side to side.
    Top can is for the tennis ball.
    Powerfull recoil even without a ball, easily throws ball 300+ feet and at high velocity.
    Fuel is Ronsonol lighter fluid (or equivalent). Squirt aprox 10 cc of fluid into bottom hole, wave bazooka to vaporize fluid, toss in ball and light. Can be held like a cannon but watch out for recoil.

  • Reply IntelOutsidePentium November 19, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    i found that filling it with gasses from your butane torch (like a big one) works even way better

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