Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Mother of All Potato Cannons

My friend Christian Ristow was at Maker Faire with his giant pneumatically powered sculpture called Hand of Man. It’s great. It’s a highly interactive piece in which one puts on a glove with sensors and controls a multi-ton pneumatic hand capable of picking up and crushing a refrigerator.

photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

I've known Ristow for years, ever since I interviewed him for a book and we stayed in touch. About a year or so ago, I worked on a TV pilot for Discovery Channel starring my friend Christian. He is perhaps the most gifted mechanical artist I’ve ever met.

Ristow designed a machine gun potato cannon which was a true machine gun spud gun. It had a gravity fed magazine that fed spuds into the firing chamber. There were four air tanks with solenoid valves that could shoot potatoes continually and at high velocity at a target until the magazine was emptied. I dubbed it "the Quadra-tator."

The airtanks were massive and could hold plenty of compressed air. I calculated the muzzle velocity was well in excess of 85 mph. The rate of fire depended on the speed with which you turned a crank. The crank controlled five pneumatic solenoid valves, one for the magazine loader and one for each of the air tanks.

It worked absolutely great. We could get 20 or potatoes in the magazine and could empty the thing in much less than a minute. For the finale, the Quadratator, along with the gatling gun that Dave Mathews built, destroyed a car with it.


Anonymous said...

Video! We want video!

Sounds like an awesome toy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect gift for that special someone who has everything. Who needs Neiman-Marcus?

W Hector said...

Hi there. Would it be possible to get access to the plans for the potato gun. We are planning a similar build but less air and wondered whether the design for the magazines were similar.

Regards, Will