Battleship Project By: Toby lauer

Creating anything from scratch is always a challenge. However, having a committed team that is willing to step outside their own comfort zone to get things done is the key to success. Through a long, five month journey we managed to create a working air cannon with its own specialized features. Our task was to plan, design, test, and build a working platform that could perform a series of tasks. The platform had to hold the air cannon which we also built. It had to have its own fire control system controlled by Arduino, adjustable pressure, Z-axis rotation, and elevation. We were to use the Shopbot to cut out the parts we had designed and build our creation. The completed air cannon with a base would then compete in a game of battleship, shooting tennis balls as far as possible and with accuracy. We had a relatively loose design perimeters of our project. The rubric that we followed is here.

The very first step of our journey was planning. We talked amongst out group of three to decide what we wanted our base to look like. The photos above are a few different ideas we had, and some measurements we needed.
We finally concluded what our design would look like. There would be a Lazy Susan base. With the larger circle on the bottom to fit any type of writing of degrees rotation. Then the two triangles would support a dowel rod that went through the center box. The center box is there to support the two PVC pipes so they stay parallel. For the rotation we wanted to use gears but decided that would be too complicated. Instead we used a pulley system.
Our first priority was to create a box support. This is to keep the two PVC pipes completely parallel to each other. At first we had to figure out the correct diameter of the PVC pipes so we could make the correct holes on the box support. We found the correct size by doing several hole tests. Then we used a website called and put in our dimensions. At first the box was the wrong size so we had to create it again. The second time it worked out. Then we added the holes on Onshape. We also had to add a smaller hole for a dowel rod. We did dowel rod hole tests for this as well. The dowel rod will go through the box support and connect to the base triangles on either side. This is what will hold the air cannon up.

Gluing the box support together

The final box support

We started working with the program Arduino. This would help us give fire control functions such as opening and closing the sprinkler valve, creating a status light, launch countdown, and other functions. All controlled automatically with Arduino. The first step was understanding the Arduino program. I created a journal with all of this information. Then we had to learn the individual circuits and how they worked. We went through the guide books to complete the circuits as recommended. This part was much more of a challenge. I don't know how to code so figuring this out on my own was difficult. I also had to create each individual circuit. For some of the coding the basics were already there just minor details had to be changed in order to get the circuit to perform its tasks in different ways. I also created a journal with each one of these completed circuit simulations. Then we began to create some of the actual codes we would need to use on our cannon. We had a lot of trouble with this part. Creating code from scratch is difficult. My partner Samaje was much better as figuring this step out then me. We managed some of the basics but didn't complete this step till later.

Putting together the air cannon was the next step. It took a few classes to complete because the glue had to dry. The first step was to cut the pipes to the correct sizes. Then we blew air in them to clear off the plastic shavings. Then we used primer and glue to seal the different pieces into place. We had to leave to cap off the end to get the box support on. We also had to make sure that the pressure valve was epoxied in place with no air leaks. Some problems we had were making sure we didn't use too much primer and glue. The other thing was making sure the sprinkler valve was on the right direction and the PVC pipes were the right length. We did a good job with this part and it all fit well.

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