My BSD Battleship Cannon Journey Alexis Cope


BDS Battleship Challenge

The point of this project was to design and build a tennis ball air cannon that would be able to shoot tennis balls across a field to test how different pressures and different angles can constantly hit the same points and random points. Creating a system where we could adjust the rotation, elevation and air pressure of our canon to hit both various and set targets. Setting this system on a base allows for precision and accuracy. We even learned how to use and create an Arduino system to be a part of the cannon and have automatic controls. Using this system, we would compete in a game of battleship.

Materials and Tools Used

10’ @ 2" PVC

1’ @ 1" PVC

2 @ 1" Threaded Adapters (male thread, female slip)

1 @ 2" Cap

2 @ 2" Coupler

2 @ 2":1" bushing

2 @ 1" Dia 90-Degree PVC Elbow

1 @ Sprinkler Valve

Epoxy/Construction Adhesive/Goop

Teflon Tape

PVC Cement & Primer

1/2" Plywood

Old Bicycle Tube

Miscelaneous Hardware

Pink String

CAD: Onshape

Rapid Prototyping Equipment: Laser, 3D Printer

Fabrication Lab Tools: ShopBot, Table Saw, Panel Saw, Miter Saw, Band Saw, Drill Press, Combination Sander and Hand Tools

Photo of Materials Used to Build our Battleship
Week 1

9/26/2016 - 9/30/2016

To start off my team and I created a design for our barrel support. Below is an image of my team's first design for the barrel support. Later that day we realized that the support was not very effective. We spent that day coming up with various ideas to try to figure out the best support system for our cannon.

Our Very First Barrel Support Prototype

We went through about 3-4 ideas until we settled on this one. This was the most sturdy idea out of them all.

Our Final Barrel Support Design

But we did run into a few problems getting to this point. One problem was that the notches on different sides of the box were not lining up with each other. The other problem was that the circles on the supports were kind of a tight fit on the barrels. With patience and teamwork we were able to solve these problem.

Barrel Support Failures

Learning About Circuits...

We took a break (about 1 month) to learn about circuits.

During this time we built many types of circuits on the Arduino One. It was important for us to learn this so that we would be able to incorporate circuits into future designs. This gave us ideas on the type of circuit we wanted for our Battleship canon.

Here is a link to the circuits I recreated online and videos of the ones my team recreated on the Arduino.

Week 2

11/15/2016 - 11/17/2016

On the first day, my team and I took about 30 minutes to understand the different parts that would be needed to build the canon. We watched videos that taught us how to prime and glue the pipes shown below. This was pretty helpful because no one in my group had done that before. We sketched our initial design for our canon for about 15 mins then went into the shop to measure and cut our pipes using the Miter Saw.

My main job was to take photographs and record the progress we made but I still assisted with the cutting of the pipes this day.

Photos of measuring and cutting of pipes

The next class we focused on putting the pipes together. Using what we learned from the videos, we primed and glued different pieces of pipes together. I primed and glued a few of those pieces of pipe and the barrel support and handled the photography. We also glued the barrels to the air valve.

Priming the barrel support
Working on priming and gluing the pipes and barrel to the valve
Week 3


This week we put our barrel support on to the barrel now that it dried. We made a rough sketch of how we wanted our base for our canon and how it would function.

First sketches of the bases for our canon

We did run into trouble with fitting our barrel support on the canon. The top piece did not fit correctly so we had to find the document and redesign and reprint it. Then we finally glued that piece on.

Finding the problem and reprinting the piece
Thanksgiving Break...
Week 4

11/28/16 - 12/2/16

The first day, we came up with our first full sketch of our "battleship". Trying out different ideas lead us to this design.

Initial Sketch

The next class, the team completed the base, completed gears from last class, started more parts for the "battleship", created the gear pinion and planned spacing on the 4ft by 4ft wood. During this process we did have trouble with figuring out what our gears should look like. I had the job of finalizing the base on Onshape.

Left: Creating the larger gear Right: Planning spacing on the 4ft x 4ft wood

On the Friday (12/2), we could not use the workshop because Mr. Twilley was absent so we all worked on one computer creating new parts and finalizing older parts. I caught up on the journals for our team.

My team working hard
Week 5

12/6/16 - 12/8/16

On the first day we sketched a few new parts and designed the connections between parts. We also double checked dimensions of parts. I helped contribute ideas for other parts and work on a few parts on Onshape.

Our goals of the day and a few sketches of parts
More pictures of sketches of various parts

The next class we with the idea to use a protractor for measuring angles. We also came up with a way to attached our pulley system to the cannon and worked on finalizing a few other parts.

Coming up with ideas for the pulley system and protractor to measure our angles
Week 6

12/12/16 - 12/16/16

This day everyone worked on finalizing parts for ShopBot and we also came up with a few items for the shopping list. I also worked on updating the team's daily journals.

Completing work of the day

The next class Sara, Charles, Tiara and I finalized pieces and sent them to be printed on the Shopbot. We came up with new ideas for missing/ messed up parts. I also worked on updating journals and photography.

Working on fixing/adding any wrong /missing pieces

The next class we focused on getting all parts ready for printing on the ShopBot. We fixed parts, created any new parts needed and doubled checked dimensions by fitting in pieces together on OnShape. I also continued updating the group's journal.

Final review to prepare for printing next class
Week 7

12/20/16 - 12/22/16

We did not get a chance to print our parts on the ShopBot as we planned but we did continue refining our parts on Onshape. Sara and I use a saw in the BSD Shop to cut a few pipes. I also drew a complete concept drawing of my team's "battleship" design.

Cutting pipes, Concept drawing and Refining parts

The next class we still did not have access to the ShopBot so we continued refining parts on OnShape and Elizabeth printed the pulley circle on the 3-D printer. This was our second try at designing a pulley circle because the first one did not fit well on our pipes. I also updated the group's daily journals.

Here is the final pulley circle
Winter Break...
Week 8

1/4/17 - 1/6/17

First we divided up the different parts that needed to be created or redone for our battleship. Everyone was assigned a part. I worked on all of the parts that involved the base of our battleship. We also had to redesigned the legs of our project because we neglected to account for how much our cannon actually weighed.

The division of assigned parts and Redesigning the legs

The next class we were finally able to and ready to print our parts on the ShopBot. All of our parts were printed. I worked on photography today. Next class we planned to put all part together.

Preparing for printing and the Shopbot cutting out our parts

Below is a 4 minute video of my team preparing and printing our parts on the ShopBot.

Week 9

1/10/17 - 1/12/17

Today the team worked on knocking out,sanding all parts, gluing some parts and redoing some parts. I worked on knocking out parts and photography. We also had a problem with the barrel supports for our pipes so we redid them.

Knocking out and sanding parts

The next class everyone worked on putting all of the parts together and we got majority of it done. I also did photography for this day.

Putting parts together
Week 10


We spent this day building the battleship and I did photography. This was also midterms week so we only had one class period.

Building our battleship
Week 11

1/23/17 - 1/27/17

This week we completed our battleship.

Finishing our battleship

We spent a day working on peer reviews. Giving feedback to each other on the team was helpful because allowed everyone to understand where they could improve. My responses can be found in the link below at the end of this portfolio. This day my team and I put final touches on our "battleship".

The last day of that week we were finally ready to go outside and start testing. It was pretty successful. Tiara handled the air pressure, Elizabeth, Charles and Sara worked on data and scoring and I did photography, retrieval and loading.

Our day testing
Week 12 & 13

1/31/17 - 2/8/17

This entire week consisted of testing. Everyone was assigned the different roles from the previous week. I received the same roles and continued with photography, retrieval and loading.

More testing
Week 13 cont.


Data Analysis: We spent this day analyzing our data and creating graphs. Below is a link to my team's data and the graphs I created for the data.

Evaluation of Data

From this data, I was able to conclude that our cannon system was the most efficient with hitting the targets at 60psi. We were the most accurate with 60psi and at our largest angle of 33°. At angle 33° with 75psi our Battleship was the least consistent at being accurate.


There are many ways that we could have made our project better. From our group evaluation I realized that we could have used thicker rope, more wood to support our design and thought about places where our cannon could not clear. I think we did well with designing a system that produce accurate and consistent shots. I do feel that I could have helped out more with OnShape designing. For the next assignment, I hope to get better with OnShape to be able to help my team out with designing and printing more complex parts.

Created By
Alexis Cope


Created with images by nigelhowe - "Sunset" • dakzxz - "sunset novovoronezh summer" • pmsanders65 - "sunset" • Pete Prodoehl - "Arduino Uno" • federicoag - "arduino diy microcontroller" • yourbartender - "arduino uno" • TMDaub - "sunrise sunset fern" • Moyan_Brenn - "Sunset" • Ian Sane - "Over The River And Through The Woods" • Moyan_Brenn - "Sunset" • ahisgett - "Sunset" • arnaud radigue - "Sunset" • miya-aki - "Sunset" • nitli - "firs nature forest" • AdinaVoicu - "sunset sky sun" • sommervr - "Sunset" • thiagomoraesp - "Sunset" • Pok_Rie - "sunset seascape water motion" • Pok_Rie - "motion cloud sunrise" • vieleineinerhuelle - "sunrise on the sea romantic mirroring" • DeltaWorks - "sunset japan sky"

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