Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices Paperback – Jun 1 2001
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"13 projects engineered to be safe yet exciting and able to be built with household and hardware-store supplies" -- St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Fun and thrilling" -- Journal of Chemical Education
"Offers a safe, cheap, and legal, labor-intensive and intellectually challenging to the 'oops I blew off my fingers' debacle." -- Burt Constable, Arlington Heights Daily Herald
"To inspire kids to spend more time exploring science" -- The Plain Dealer
"Would-be rocketeers, take note: Engineer William Gurstelle has written a book for you." -- Chicago Tribune
...shows the safe way to amaze and annoy your neighbors with amateur science projects. -- The Daily Oklahoman
Your inner boy will get a bang out of these devices to build and shoot in your own back yard. -- DallasNews.com
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Top Customer Reviews
From the perspective of an adult or adolesent this book is still great. Fun projects and lots of information make for a fun read, and an even more fun summer project. Science teachers and the like will love this book as some of these projects could prove wonderful classroom demonstrations to aid in teaching and more importantly, in getting kids' attention and perhaps sparking an interest.
Great book. more stuff like this might help the curb effects of all the negative stuff out there like the Anarchist's Cookbook and all those [explosive] websites.
A big five stars!
Many of the projects described here are also well documented on the internet. But most internet postings have little to say about safety, science, or history. Using this book as a starting point, and the internet as a resource to expand the ideas, could lead one to develop a truly interesting ballistic arsenal indeed!!
Before we had homeland security to worry about, this might have been a good source book for a science fair. Now, it just might be a great way to spend a lifetime behind bars. But, if you're in touch with your inner Goddard, von Braun, or just love the idea of a tennis ball mortar ... then this is the book for you!
In addition to all the projects, the author does a fine job of providing a little education on the fine points of the history of many of these devices, and on some of the most important inventors in history. There are briref but very readable articles on Archimedes, Robert H. Goddard (the "father of rocketry"), Alfred Nobel, and others.
A particularly interesting section is the one on the history of the catapult. The author details its use from 400 B.C. to the 15th century. For example, we learn that last successful use of the catapult (before it was replaced by canon) was at the Battle of Rhodes in 1480, and that 500 A.D. is the earliest recorded use of gravity-powered catapults or trebouchets in the Middle East. In 1191 Richard I (the "Lion-Hearted") participated in a hard-fought battle between the Franks and the Turks in which they battered each other with 300 catapults. And torsion engines were in widespread use in the Roman army by 50 A.D. In 1450, the canon supplanted the catapult throughout Europe and its long use in warfare came to an end.
There are also interesting articles on The Roman Candle, the Medieval Crossbow, and Secret Weapons (such as missiles and rockets).Read more ›
One of the unique things about this book, as compared to other similar books, is the emphasis on both safety and history. Safety is important for obvious reasons. But most readers are enthusiasts about this sort of stuff, and the history lessons are exciting.
My only complaint is that there is no room in this book for any sort of modification to the designs. For example, there are formulas that can be used to determine the maximum chamber size for a PVC-constructed potato gun, and with this, you can design your own potato gun in relative safety. Unfortunately, the author insists that you stick strictly to his designs. This appears to be an effort to ensure that all of the "toys" created with his book are safe, so that's only a minor complaint.
Can't wait to start lobbing tennis balls!
Most recent customer reviews
Good ideas, but a bit too ballistic for our grandchildren, which is why we got it. Otherwise, it was good.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
If you want to amaze your children, then this is the book to buy as it will guide you through step by step on how to build cool ballistics. Read morePublished on March 13 2013 by Hostile
I've had this book a while and have read it multiple times. With four growing boys in the house this is an amazing way to spend innumerable Saturdays and be the hero all at the... Read morePublished on Sept. 9 2006 by Pete G. Rambo
Definitely fun projects for guys! If you feel like blowing something up, but still want to be safe, this is for you!Published on March 4 2004
Being an avid potato gunner, I picked this book up at the local library, and after reading it over, I just had to to get it. Read morePublished on Dec 1 2003 by Cory A. McGuinness
My son and I built the potato cannon. We modified the plans to use 4 inch PVC instead of 3 inch. With the lantern sparker (from Walmart) and using Right Guard deodorant, you can... Read morePublished on Nov. 9 2003 by Jay Schmitt