End of the year Blog

The last part of this year our group has created many projects: air pressure cork gun, lava lamps, pressurized bombs, magnets, electric door bell, and we launched rockets.  We ended the last semester trying to create a computer programed piano with infrared lights, the first part of this year went to finishing that, it is now a fully operational piano with 8 notes.  After that we decided to go back to a more violent set of experiments.  We began fairly tame with experimenting with creating magnets out of nails, copper wire, and a battery; we ended up making pretty weak magnets, but it did propel us into our next experiment which was messing with electrical currents.  Our big experiment with electric currents was creating a door bell that was electric powered, the bell was operated with a push button that opened and closed a current that would ring the bell.  Then we began to mess with air pressure, we started with the rocket launcher in the storage room, we made some fabrications (duct tape and a PVC pipe) to make the launcher longer and we found corks that would fit the PVC pipe, the result: a fully operational air pressure cork gun.   Then we decided to mess with pressurizing sealed containers like bottles until they exploded, we did this with vinegar and baking soda, or alka seltzer.   Finally, we ended by making lava lamps with water, food color, vegetable oil, and alka seltzer.  The lava lamps were created when the denser water that was dyed with food color produced bubbles due to the alka seltzer and passed through the less dense layer of oil on top.


This is what our lava lamp looked like



This is our air pressured cork gun.




This is us filling an empty bottle with baking soda and vinegar.

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These are pictures of our programmed piano.


My contribution to these projects was: I aided in the programming of the computer, I built the cork gun with duct tape and PVC,  I found the ideas for the lava lamps and gathered the materials and made them,  made the idea of making the pressurized bombs with baking soda, vinegar, and alka seltzer.









Circuits, magnets, and electronics

This week, since the piano stairs project seemed to come to a stand still, we have begun to mess around with electrical circuits and creating magnets using copper wire, nails, and batteries.  So far we have created a weak magnet, and we made a doorbell similar to the one on the door in Mr. Ludwig’s classroom.  Our next project is probably going to be a compressed air air soft gun that we are gonna make out of a plastic bottle. 


A Change in Plans

The air cannon has kind of been put on the back burner for this group, Cody will be joining Abby and Whitni’s project until the end of Christmas Break.  When we return I will pick up on the original blue prints of the cannon.  I’m not sure what the rest of the members in this cannon group will be doing until break.  Whitni and Abby’s group will be creating a form of “water rocket”, of course another project involving water after our last adventure with the duct tape boat in the pool, this seems like a project that we may be able to finish before the break; whereas the air cannon is a little ambitious to get finished in the amount of time we have in the quickly approaching end of semester.  I want to attempt this more short term project in order to try and raise my progress grade so far into a more desirable semester grade.   


Group plans…

So far our group has confirmed that we are going to attempt to create a Pneumatic Cannon.  This group consists of Me, Palmer, TJ, and Kaitlyn.  So far we have written out a list of materials and a rough blue print on the construction of our cannon. We have also taken a trip to Ace and have located all the materials and have a rough estimate of our project costing in the neighborhood of $100 to $150, hopefully less if possible. Along with this group I am also still helping finish the duct taping of Whitni and Abby’s boat, I will be filming their trial in the pool, and I am planning on bringing a paddle so they are able to row their boat.

These are our basic plans and materials for our cannon-


  1. 1″ pipe (short for use as nipples)
  2. 1 1/2″ pipe
  3. 1 1/2″ coupling
  4. 1 1/2″ x 1″ reducing bushing
  5. 2″ pipe
  6. 2″ street elbows (male and female connections)
  7. 2″ endcap
  8. 2″ x  1″ reducing bushing
  9. 1″ to male thread (2)
  10. Tire valve
  11. 1″ ball valve
  12. Large block of wood and tire strap for spacer
  13. PVC cement and primer
  14. Drill
  15. Saw
  16. Pressure gauge
  17. Air compresser
  • We need to make sure we buy pressure rated PVC
  • We need to make sure we let set at least 24 hours after gluing to make sure the glue sets
  • Our projectile possibilities at this point include: potato, baseball, or tennis ball
  • We still need to decide an air pressure to use for our cannon

This is what we are aiming for with our cannon design:




This week we “amped” up our mini 2″ speaker, the extra power made the speaker much louder, loud enough to get sufficient vibrations to our tube. We finally got the fire and sounds going at the same time. Although the wind still affected the flames and our PVC pipe got a little char broiled, you could still see the sound waves of the music in the flames. Overall the presentation wasn’t as clean as we hoped, but we are still tallying this as a success. We will now go back to the drawing board and consider our next experiment and have it updated in our next blog.

Here is the video of our success


Success, and failure…

This week we were finally able to give our new PVC pipe a trial with the fire, it was a success, sort of. There is no flaws in the flames aspect of the project, but we can’t find a music source loud enough to create the vibrations necessary to give us a decent wave. At first we thought perhaps it was our small 2″ speaker not producing a loud enough sound, so we modified a larger subwoofer to play from a 2.5mm headphone jack, this gave us the same outcome: not loud enough sound. We have come to the conclusion that the problem stems from the audio source and that our phones/ iPods weren’t driving enough power to our speaker or sub-woofer. Our group is going to go back and try and “fabricate” an adapter so we can connect the smallish 2″ speaker to a larger power source and see if that will produce a louder sound, if not we will attempt the same with the larger sub-woofer. Our group is hoping this change will let us post a post entitled simply “Success!” Next week.

Here is a video of our fire success!


Weekly progress ( PVC and self reinforcing structures)

This week we got a lot of work done, first and foremost we purchased another PVC pipe 6 foot long with a 4″ diameter and have begun to drill holes one inch apart, identical to the specifications of our original design, since our last one unfortunately caught fire. We think the quality of this new pipe will be more flame resistant, we also fire proofed our speaker by wrapping it in aluminum foil. Then on our “off day” we used the $107 worth of duct tape a fellow group purchased for their project to experiment with the physics of self-reinforcing structures. With the amount of work our group has completed lately we think we deserve an A. Hopefully the “fire tube” will be ready for a second debut, sometime early next week