Project Description

Please note that I cannot be held responsible for anything you do with this information.


Cannon is an open-source Android and Arduino project that allows a smartphone to fire objects from a PVC pneumatic cannon, released under a BSD license. The communication between the smartphone and the cannon takes place wirelessly via Bluetooth, allowing the phone to be up to about 30 feet from the cannon. The device is entirely battery-operated for true portability. It took us five days to finish the project, but a vast majority of the work was done over the weekend.

This project was developed in July 2011 by three Qualcomm employees from Virginia Tech. Qualcomm hosts a Battle of the Schoolscompetition in every summer. This year, entries were to be homemade contraptions, and they were judged according to how cool they were perceived to be. Virginia Tech’s Cannon tied the University of Michigan for first place.

The Cannon team includes:

  1. Doug DeCarme: Android developer
  2. Shaver Deyerle: Hardware developer
  3. Zach Rattner: Arduino developer

Special thanks to Virginia Tech student Likhitha Patha for the cosmetic work that made the cannon presentable.

If you’re interested in creating a cannon for yourself, here are the some parts you may need:

After completing this project, it has come to our attention that PVC is not the safest material to use for this application. If you plan on building your own cannon, we recommend the use of a tank designed to hold pressurized air. You can even buy one off Amazon.

If you’d like to build your own cannon, check out the Instructable for this project.

For more inspiration, take a look at what other people are doing with pneumatic cannons. If you’re the sort of person who likes to see electronic guts, head to the Picasa Web Album for some pictures.