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VINE VOICEon 7 November 2001
A handbook for bored, thirty-something children (like myself) on how to make potato cannons, tennis ball mortars, catapults and the like from the comfort of their garden shed.
Twelve projects from the ridiculously easy to the fairly time consuming, packed into 169 pages of juvenile playhem. Good instructions, clear pictures and photos, and all done with the emphasis on safety.
There is also a fair amount of explanation concerning the actual physics behind the projects and a look at historical figures such as Newton and Archimedes.
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on 19 January 2005
Unlike most books like it this is a manual is genuinely full of easy to do projects. If you looking for something special in coimbination with this I reccommend "Home Workshop Explosives" by Uncle Fester. This combination is not for the faint of heart! Overall an excellent addition to my collection.
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on 30 July 2004
A superb, but sadly probably marginally legal in my jurisdiction, introduction to the destructive delights of the hairspray powered potato gun amongst many, beautifully detailed little projects.
For all of us who watch "junkyard wars", or as we have it "Scrapheap Challenge", this book is a rallying call to visit the plumbers supply house and detonate some spuds.
The book is strong on details, suggestions for further "research" and lots of pertinent history.
Highly recommended.
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on 6 October 2016
Have only used it for a few cannons and found the American measures a pain. Having to convert every material used in the descriptions to metric, then buying the nearest metric equivalent not knowing whether that will mess up your funal cannon or not, is a barrier to using it on more occasions. Of the 3 tried none have worked as well as it says in the book. This I guess, is as much to do with my total lack of engineering and hands on experience than the book itself. Would have given more stars if they'd bothered to "translate" it into British English and measures.
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on 16 March 2006
This is a really fascinating read.
Strong emphasis is placed on safety and is ideal for Parental supervision of all the projects.The story of the atomic spud gun is worth buying the book on it's own.
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on 2 May 2014
If you want to build simple or complex devices to launch stuff this is a book for you. The more complex kit is all sized in imperial measures but some things are universal like pringle cans.

We have built a couple of the devices listed in here but don't underestimate the complexity and time it could take you to build the more complex stuff. Even the pringle tennis ball mortar is something that takes a while, and copious amounts of duck tape, to build. I think the results can be a little hit and miss for things fuelled by spray or lighter fuel but when it works well it is glorious, even if you can't find your tennis ball again.

The book is well written with clear explanations of the physics, and the compromises needed when building devices to shoot things and decent diagrams. There are warnings in the right places about safety which are worth heeding.

The big question is whether a pneumatic potato cannon or lighter fuel tennis ball mortar is legal under UK law. If you live in a big city then making loud bangs might draw some unwelcome attention so we obviously haven't made any of those devices in this country. Plenty of more permissive places exist though. :-)
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on 18 August 2013
I purchased the original copy and again I have not been disappointed. There are lots of tips for the DIY enthusiast, and you do need to adapt bits and search a little harder for some parts in the UK. If you hadn't gathered by now this is an American publication, though the safety aspects and the science behind the many different projects are generally universal.
Take special note to the amount of area required and the environment we are in, especially as there is much more space available in the US in which to launch your project.
There is something for everyone but I would suggest this is very much for the adult audience with enthusiastic support from you teenager!
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on 15 January 2010
I went through a phase of interest in this type of "boys toys/science experiments" book and I think I bought 3 or 4 on the trot for toilet seat reading (puns unintentional). I can testify that of the 3 or 4 this was the best. Far less "politically correct" and more interesting than the others and definitely compelling in terms of the history of ballistics and the "sciencey bits" included. Worth a read, though I have yet to build any of the devices hence haven't managed to blow up my shed yet.
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on 24 January 2014
My son devoured this book the instant he opened it on Christmas day and spent the rest of the holidays finding bits of drain pipe and other oddments. Thank goodness he is back at university now, so any experimenting can happen there! Definitely an inspiring read for a budding engineer!
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on 5 November 2011
This bookibrought just to fill in a bit of time. I found it quite well explained with scope to improve the projects. Overall a fun book that will amaze you kids with your building ability although these projects should always be supervised by a adult while being operated
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