The Potato Gatling Gun


Fact sheet

We have what has become a holiday tradition in our family. Just before the holidays we decide on a project that can be completed in about a week. A couple of years ago we settled on the potato cannon from the book “Backyard Ballistics”.

The design calls for a PVC barrel and combustion chamber. You ram a piece of potato down the barrel, fill the combustion chamber with hairspray, and fire.

We actually built two cannons to experiment with various design parameters such as barrel length and diameter, and combustion chamber volume.


Christmas 2008 we decided to up it a notch and settled on designing and building a Gatling gun version.

The movie below is a chronicle of what we came up with. When we showed this at the Maker Faire, the nice folks at Make picked it for a Weekend Project. You can see the video they produced on YouTube. The project was also invited to the Gizmodo Gallery in New York.

More details on the build...

This year’s challenge