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DIY Confetti Cannon or borrow: NO CO2 for DIY

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by bbentler, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. bbentler

    bbentler New Member

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    I'm looking to find a way to build an air cannon of some sort or perhaps something I can hang from the ceiling. I'm directing Cinderella as well as The Drowsy Chaperone and would like to find a way to create something that I can either use with an air compressor or perhaps a vacuum based cannon. Either way our theatre is not doing well financially and we cannot afford to buy or a machine or rent one for two productions. Any pictures, articles, or folks you could link me up with that would know how to do this would be very helpful or perhaps a philanthropist who'd like to loan a cannon out for cost of shipping. Thanks again!
  2. DuckJordan

    DuckJordan Well-Known Member

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    Removed for Safety Issues, as well as possible mis-leading advice.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
  3. bbentler

    bbentler New Member

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    I think this might work. For Cinderella I sort of want it to be magic dust over the entire stage that falls. This issue with our stage is we don't really have any way of hiding this device easily as we don't have a proscenium. Do you folks think a cannon like I suggested (and you gave me directions to build) would do the trick?
  4. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    We've used air powered confetti cannons before (Ultratec Air Cannons). They work pretty well and from the information above and the picture from Ultratec's website you could probably fashion something. The Air Cannon has a pretty good spread. But you still have to choose between seeing it come out so you can have it below the softgoods or shoot it above the softgoods to let if spread out of sight and then fall onto the stage. If you do have it spread above your softgoods you are going to have to give them some serious attention afterwards because pretty much all forms of confetti stick to EVERYTHING!!!!

    A few things to think about, first of all pretty much any "cannon" style effect is going to make a good amount of noise when you fire it. You might get around this by opening the airflow slowly and having someone feed the "magic dust" into it, but then it requires another stagehand to do and most likely they would have to be well over head. Lastly confetti can be a bit expensive, and sweeping up old confetti to reuse is a really good way to launch little rocks and other debris really fast at people so you really shouldn't do it.

    Here's a picture of the Ultratec version to give you some ideas:
    [​IMG]
  5. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    This is one of those, "OMG! What do I do?", moments in Life, as I choose wheter the respond or shut down this thread for safety reasons ..... As a Majorly important point. Be extremely careful with this type of SPFX. The pressures dealt with are not to be trifled with catastrophic failure can happen and if it does you are in for a world of hurt. As much as I am a big proponent of using PVC for many different things I believe the above statement that, "basicly [sic] you need the makings of a potato cannon without flammables and add two valves", is completely wrong and misleading. If you are to construct this yourself, you need to use schedule 40 steel gas pipe and approved fitting. You need to do some reading and make sure you understand the forces involved when an air gauge reads 60psi. Google some pictures and figure out the construction, it's not difficult and the parts are not expensive. If you or whomever is to be constructing this SPFX does not fully understand what you are doing then CUT THE GAG AND DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
  6. DuckJordan

    DuckJordan Well-Known Member

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  7. kiwitechgirl

    kiwitechgirl Active Member

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    If the effect you're after is one of falling confetti, rather than confetti being fired into the air and then falling, then there's a very cheap and simple (and safe!) way to do it....cut yourself a circular piece of MDF, about a foot in diameter; drill holes and attach two C-clamps to it. Get a small desk fan (or computer fan, or whatever you might have lying around) and attach it to the piece of MDF. Paint the board black and hang from the grid; simply load your confetti onto the board, plug the fan in somewhere where a stagehand can reach the switch (or put it on a dimmer with a ghost load, if you have a spare channel) and switch on when you want confetti to fall....we use this method all the time and it works pretty well. We mostly use it for snow, with potato flakes as the snow, but I've used it for confetti very successfully as well.
    DuckJordan and (deleted member) like this.
  8. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    With all due respect, not having a failure is NOT the same as a device being safe.
    Your DMX control box is a clear and flagrant violation of the DMX standard. The standard as I recall it explicitly prohibits the use of DMX in any application where the absence of error checking could lead to a hazard to human health. A cannon is a hazard to human health and all it takes is one bad packet of data to fire it.
    DO NOT USE DMX FOR A CANNON TRIGGER.
  9. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    To re-iterate Van’s point, PVC should not be used for compressed air systems. PVC pipe manufacturers provide this warning in their catalogues and product data sheets (see the Nibco example below, where the warning is on every page.) A link to a US OSHA site about this subject is also provided below.

    Compressed air systems often release small amounts of oil into the air stream which can degrade PVC, and the pipe bursts. When PVC pipe bursts, it shatters into shrapnel-like fragments, and that is the problem.

    http://www.nibco.com/assets/thermoplastic.pdf

    19880520 The Use of Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe in Above Ground Installations


    Joe
  10. DuckJordan

    DuckJordan Well-Known Member

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    I should have explained more, We had DMX control over the control box. The box could only be activated at certain times (with the DMX controlling the times it could be activated) we still had to have someone down in our pit controlling the actual box it just was a double safety feature on the control box for the cannons.
  11. photoatdv

    photoatdv Active Member

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    Hum, good to know on the oil degrading PVC. I've use PVC for compressed air in a lab before, however we were using highly filtered and pure air for that. I suppose that's why we could do it. The guy who built it was really competent in building just about anything, so I'm sure he looked into it.
  12. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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  13. mstaylor

    mstaylor Well-Known Member

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    Google the Punkin Chunkin in DE. There are guys involved that can explin exactly and safely how to do this. They shoot pumkins almost a mile so they are well aware of the forces involved and fail safe overrides. You have to be really careful, I saw a guy turn one up too high while shooting Tshirts and rolled a guy out of his chair at fifty feet.

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