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Jul 1, 2009

SPUDZOOKA!! Fun Around Camp With Combustion!

There's always those "down times" around camp when your not out riding, hunting, hiking or whatever we go outdoors to do. Here's an idea that a friend gave me that seemed like a fun way to enjoy some of that time at camp. It's a potato cannon, otherwise known as a "spudzooka" or spud gun or many other names. The principle is a combustion chamber with only one way out and block it with whatever you want to turn into the projectile. Fill the chamber with a combustible substance, find a way to light it and it will dismiss the blockage with great haste. Here's what you need to build one of these.

  • 3 feet of 2" ABS or PVC pipe
  • 18" of 4" ABS or PVC pipe
  • 4" to 2" adapter
  • 4" screw cap adapter aka "clean out plug"
  • 4" screw cap
  • Gas grill ignitor, or coleman stove ignitor....or other sutiable ignitor
  • 2 2.5" screws
  • electrical tape
  • ABS or PVC cement
Once you have all the materials, the rest is easy. Here's some pics of how to assemble it all together. The hardest part is finding the right ignitor and getting it to light consistently. We used a gas grill ignitor connected to two screws that are screwed into the ABS. You want about an 1/8" gap between the screws for the spark to travel across. I've also seen a automotive spark plug used here with a coil and a battery. This will give a bigger spark if you have this stuff available and/or want to spend the extra money. The coleman lighter may give better results too. We experimented with 3 kinds of fuel. Hairspray, starter fluid, and MAPP Gas. The MAPP gas was by far the best giving the easiest lighting and most power. Once the patato is in the barrel, We simply opened one end and held the valve of the MAPP torch open without igniting it for about 20 seconds, put the cap back on and pushed the ignitor.. BANG!! This seems to be fairly safe as long as you don't use any exotic fuels. If you get too much fuel, it won't light so experimentation is required. Sharpening the end of the barrel makes it easy to trim the potato to size as you shove it in. You'll also need a ramrod of some sort to get it down the barrel, about 2" from the combustion chamber.

Check out these still shots above from the first few tests! In the dark one you can see the blue flame coming out of the barrel. In the light one check out the potato! I aimed it at the fence about 20 yards away and hit the mark. It's got a little bit of a kick so it's really fun to shoot. We hope to get more footage of further testing this weekend when we can get out in the open. I also made a rocket to slide over the barrel so stay tuned to see the range..we are as curious as you all to see what this thing can do! Below is a quick vid of a launch..I got a little excited when it worked so well.


  1. This looks like great fun! Too bad you didn't post it like a week or so earlier, I would have tried to build one before my 4th of july family get together at the cabin this year. Maybe next year.

  2. Yea, we just kind of threw it together last minute for our 4th weekend:) I have a feeling this might grow into bigger and better..hope you have a great 4th!

  3. A friend of mine has one of those, lots of fun-be safe!

  4. Mom told me about your potato gun, sounds cool. I think I have seen one of those before a long time ago.

  5. I dont' get it.
    I would have thought too much fuel would have blown the thing to kingdom come not fail to ignite at all.

  6. I guess it probably depends. It's like trying to light a gas tank on fire in a has to be mixed with air first, can't burn without air. If it's compressed/better fuel, you'd probably blow yourself up. We've started using about a minutes worth of mapp gas now with good results, but the nozzle mixes it with air. Be smart, be safe. If you don't let the chamber vent between shots it won't have enough air. Starting fluid works pretty well too, just a couple quick sprays into the chamber.

  7. If anyone's going to blow themselves up with this stuff, it'll be me.

    Think I'll leave it to you professionals.