Baseball Cannon

Project Type: Directed Energy

Project Information

Project Description:

The task is to design and build a transportable compressed-air cannon that will launch a baseball far enough to be a homerun over the center fence at Coors Field (415 feet).  A ballistic model will be used to calculate the muzzle velocity needed to achieve a homerun with plenty of clearance.  The optimum values for tank size, pressure, and barrel length can be calculated from the ballistic model.  Initially, the cannon will be fired by a manual valve.  Later, the valve will be replaced with an aluminum rupture disk that is disintegrated by an electromagnetic pulse to become an ultra-high-speed valve.  The baseball is pushed out of the muzzle by a low-friction sabot.  A commercial trailer will be modified to transport the cannon plus all the extra equipment needed to demonstrate the machine at remote locations.

Level of Difficulty: High


sabot, rupture disk, ideal gas law, adiabatic process, acceleration, range, ballistic trajectory, magnetic induction, eddy current, Lenz’s law, skin effect


Steve Rousseau, “The Machine that Shatters Baseball Myths,” Popular Mechanics, July 5, 2011,

General Ballistic Trajectory Calculator

Data on the standard baseball

“The Physics of Cheating in Baseball,” by Christopher Solomon,

Team Roles

Electrical Engineer (3) – The Electrical Engineers on the project are responsible for the design and construction of an induction coil that will induce about 50,000 amps on the surface of a high-pressure rupture disk.  The surface current destroys the rupture disk in a fraction of a second, allowing the pressurized air to propel the baseball and sabot to high speed without the slow opening of a mechanical valve.  This project may be done in conjunction with the ELECTROMAGNETIC DISK LAUNCHER Project.

Mechanical Engineer (3) – The Mechanical Engineers on the project are responsible for the design and construction of the compressed-air cannon and sabot.  The design includes hydro testing the welded assembly for leaks and establishing clear safety margins for maximum operating pressure.  Calculations will predict the ball’s muzzle velocity and range vs. launch angle for an initial pressure.  Integrating the electromagnetic valve will be a major Team issue.

Computer Scientist (2) – Computer Scientists on the project are responsible for gun targeting and control.  Further, the Computer Scientists prepare and install diagnostic devices that measure the tank pressure, electric valve current and exit velocity of the sabot and baseball.  Safe operating procedures and interlocks will be part of the safety system.

Designer (2) – Designers on the project are responsible for integrating the entire machine into a road-legal trailer that allows the unit to be transported to demonstration sites, set up quickly, and securely repackaged against wind and road vibration.  Designers will work closely with the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers to make reloading the cannon with a new rupture disk a quick and safe operation.  Designers also validate system designs via CAD illustrations, supervise component manufacturing, and resolve operational problems that require modifications.

Journalist (1) – The Journalist documents the project’s progress on the website, communicates with the local media, and is responsible for a final report to the principal sponsors and Power Mountain Engineering.  The Journalist also works closely with the Multimedia Artist to provide video and graphic art displays for demonstrations that explain the project to the public.  The whole project is your project.

Multimedia Artist (1) – The Artist also documents the project’s progress on the website and works with the Journalist to maintain the project’s presence on social media.  Additionally, the Artist designs and organizes all public relations events to assure spectator safety and to enhance the community’s awareness of science and technology.  The whole project is your project.

Business Manager (1) – The Business Manager is responsible for reporting the project’s progress against a predetermined schedule, determines critical path items to completion, and tracks project spending to assure that costs remain within a fixed budget.  The Manager works with all team members to identify problems early and resolve them quickly.  The whole project is your project.

Rate This Project

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Back to Projects Page