Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vortex Cannon

This is totally not NXT, Lego, or even remotely mechanically related. It’s just plain cool.

You know how it’s rather challenging to get Lego to shoot anything. The little cannons couldn’t harm an amoeba. I haven’t messed is the Zamor Sphere shooter, but I am guessing that it doesn’t have much of a punch.

Enter the Vortex Cannon. A vortex cannon is simply a cylinder with a hole in one end that is smaller than the cylinder diameter and a flexible cover over the other. When you thump the flexible “drum” end, a vortex exits the other end.  If the cannon is built properly, that vortex can carry a little bit of a punch that will travel some distance. It can be filled with smoke to create vortex smoke rings, or it can be used without smoke, which will create invisible vortex rings.

Here is the challenge: Build a robot that searches out an enemy robot with a target mounted on top such as a candle or something light, aim at the target and blow the target off. What’s cool is that the vortex cannon can shoot quite a distance as shown in this video. And no, I don’t expect you to build a nine foot diameter cannon and mount it on a robot. Eight foot should suffice.

Here a a video from Make Magazine how to build a large cannon.

I know that my kids would love to be shot by a vortex cannon, so this is yet another project on my To Do list.


  1. You might like the explosive vortex cannon built for the BBC TV programme "Bang Goes The Theory":

  2. That cannon is pretty cool. I watched that one too while I was selecting videos for this post.

    I think stuff like that brings out the boy in all of us.