Of Mortars and Men By nick Suiter

The Beginnings of the Process

Our Initial Sketches

This is a summary of what occurred during the first week of the project. We sketched up some ideas of what we wanted. Our initial plan was a tripod base and a quarter circle machine gun like design in the back for angle control. Neither one of these ideas would make the final design


Initial barrel support, plus a few other objects
Simplified barrel support on top, other part of the cannon on the bottom
Prototype cut out
Making sure the barrel support is level
Making sure the cannon can fire at a 45 degree angle by fitting the pieces

September was mostly focused on the barrel support, along with a couple of other pieces. We decided to use ball bearings for our rotation piece, and it proved to be a great choice. One problem we had throughout the month is that we were trying to do everything at once, and had to narrow our focus to the barrel support. The initial idea was to have one or two pieces to connect the two parts of the cannon, and a box around each part to ensure stability. We had to abandon the boxes, as they had issues fitting and we realized we didn't need them. We decided to stick with the connecting piece for now.


Ball bearings first printing
What an Arduino is
Parts of an Arduino UNO board

The first week of October was mostly focused on making the finishing touches to the barrel support and finishing the ball bearings. We finally got the first print of the ball bearing completed before we had to move on to the Arduino. The Arduino was meant to be used for firing our cannon. We would code it to warn people the cannon was going to be fired, and have it fire the cannon. This idea was abandoned a few months later, but we put a lot of work into it. The circuits we had to build were challenging, especially the coding. A lot of tiny errors in the codes had to be fixed, but eventually all 12 were completed. We then had to do the Arduino for the cannon, which is something Shi and I worked on for a couple of months before learning we would not use it.


Beginning to assemble the cannon
Finished part of the cannon
Adding the pressure valve
Completing the first cannon "arm"

The first half of November was finishing up the Arduino exercises, continuing what we did in October. When the Arduino lessons were finished, we moved on to building the cannon. A couple of classes were dedicated to building it. We made a mistake right off the bat when we cut our pipe at the wrong spot. Luckily, the error could be resolved without getting a new pipe. Everything else went smoothly until the end when we glued our cap on, which we weren't supposed to. In January, we cut it off and glued a new one on so that we could get our barrel support on. The last week of November we continued to design and work through the flaws on our design on Onshape.


Calculating the size we would need our cutouts to be
A rough sketch of one of our ideas

In December, our group broke off and focused a lot on their own individual objectives, which means not a lot of pictures exist from this month. Shi and I worked on the Arduino, as we felt like we were not contributing enough to the main design, which Darren, Stefan, and Myreon were working on. We looked at some new ideas/redesigns for our project as we continued to find a lot of flaws. Shi and I had some issues with the Arduino. I was able to get the buzzer to play and the lights to light up in line, but could not connect it to the relay. Shi worked off of my design, and looked at what other people did online, and was successfully able to hook up the relay to the rest of the Arduino. Unfortunately, we would not end up using the Arduino. By the end of December, we had our design 95% completed, and were almost ready to use the Shopbot


Group photo after first Shop Bot cutout
Trying to fit the barrel support on the cannon
Finished cannon

The first week of January was us thinking we were ready to cut, only to find an error and have to make slight adjustments to the whole project. Finally, we were ready to cut. We did, but we had some issues still. We made our barrel support the exact size of the pipe, so our initial idea was to sand the whole thing slowly and eventually make it fit. We ran into other issues too. One of our pieces was sucked into the vacuum when we were cleaning up, and another broke off. We tried to fix it all manually, but ended up just using the Shop Bot again. This time, everything was pretty good, except now the barrel support was too big, so Darren ended up gluing a plastic ring to get it to fit. We then had to slowly push the barrel support onto the cannon, but it eventually worked, and the cannon was finally ready. The only thing left was firing the cannon

Cannon Firing

One of our cannon shots that we missed. We overshot our target, the tarp/bucket

This was our first cannon shot that hit the target. We went on to hit the next 3 shots, and got the most points out of anyone in our class

Wrap Up

Despite all the struggles we went through as a group, this really was a fun project, and seeing it all come together in the end made it worth it. I would work with everybody in my group again, and while I understand if they wouldn't, I hope they say the same about me. I would recommend this class and this project to anybody interested in taking engineering. It is a truly unique class that lets the students teach themselves and work on their own.

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