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The Gauntlet of Clara Ann

Built a combustion cannon? Then post it here! This section is for completed, finished cannons that you have built. Please include pictures and information.
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The Gauntlet of Clara Ann

Unread postAuthor: Radiation » Thu Dec 11, 2008 7:46 pm

Or just The Gauntlet for short. This project has been a long time coming. This is the result of many months of building, rebuilding, obsessive thought, and tinkering.

The purpose of this gun is to show that a combustion based “spudgun” can be respectably accurate and powerful over medium to long ranges. It is also to demonstrate that BIGGER is not always better. The power of this medium sized gun is down right frightening (as will be shown in the videos). I wanted to have a portable gun capable of multiple barrel sizes and therefore ammunition types. I was trying to create something that neither form or function were more important, but both were the result of purpose.

The Gauntlet of Clara Ann
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The name is a throwback to the design language I used for this gun. It is heavily influenced by steam-punk, which if you didn’t know is sort of a Neo-Victorian design language. In the pictures are things that have influenced the look and function of this gun. “The Gauntlet” because of it’s presence and power, “Clara Ann” because I like the name, it’s elegant and it fits the whole Neo-Victorian theme.

The Gauntlet of Clara Ann is my final design of a previous project that has been revamped several times to include new features and a vast improvement of performance. Here are the specs:

- Dart based ammunition
- Capable of firing several calibers including .40 (secondary usage), .50, .625 (main usage), .75, and 1.00 caliber (for oversized marbles :o and I guess potatoes theoritically)
- 3” X 14” chamber (ever build a ship in a bottle? That’s what this chamber size is like to deal with in an advanced setup. My hands are too big to fit in there so I’ve become an expert with tweezers and needle nose pliers)
- Over-under design to both shorten the length and allow for rail system.
- 100,000 volt 4 spark gap miniaturized hidden stun gun ignition system
- 2” high powered chamber fan
- Metal barrels for long range accuracy
- Leather handles for grip and style
- .75” ball valve air inlet
- .75” over sized neck exhaust for quicker exhaust for smaller caliber (such as .40 caliber)
- Propane metering system capable of operating temperature down to 30 degrees.
- Custom rechargeable 9.6 volt 1400 mAh nickel metal hydride easy access battery that powers both the stun gun and fan at extraordinarily high power.
- Rail system for scope or any number of standard firearm add-ons.
- 3x-9x Bushnell scope
- Scope system that allows easy conversion to other barrels
- Safety switch
- universal breech loading system to allow multiple barrel sizes with minimal setup changes
- Semi hidden electronics
- c:b ratio of… I don’t know or care because with this small of a barrel I would need a barrel that’s about 300 feet long to have a 1:1 ratio… so no that’s not something this design takes into account. ☺

Ok to help stem questions that I’m sure are going to come up: No there is no copper in the design (other than the wiring) what you are seeing is copper paint, even the metal barrel is steel, not copper. No this is not a “sniper rifle” I realize it has a scope and I realize it has respectable medium to long range accuracy and power, but first off it is not rifled so it is not a “rifle” and second calling any spudgun a “sniper” (any that I’ve seen to date) is not only inaccurate, but it demonstrates a lack of respect as to what the term means. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sniper

All right onward to The Gauntlet!

Lets start with the breech load. This setup is made to accommodate many barrel sizes. The brass interface screw is actually a ¼” to ½” NPT reducer that has been modified to be screwed into the chamber and bolted in from the inside. It has been filled with ultra hard epoxy and can handle a lot of weight without putting undue stress on the chamber while maintaining air-tightness of the chamber with the NPT threaded hole.
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It couples to a snap on T joint in .5”, .75”, and 1” barrels (PVC)
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On the barrel coupler side the U joint is threaded on both ends to allow a reducer to be screwed on to accommodate the different barrel sizes. The U joint can be removed entirely for chamber maintenance. On the neck of the U is an oversized .75” ball valve, which I modified to fit on a .5” connection. This allows the quickest possible venting as you cannot rely on a .4” opening to vent air respectably thus drastically reducing time between shots.
(note, the neck hole is pictured next to the old neck as you can see the new neck hole has a larger opening.)
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Right now I have 3 barrels, 2 that I actually use (one for oversized marbles + burst disc which I have yet to perfect). The first is a .40 caliber 4 foot standard blow-dart barrel. It is quite literally off of a store bought aluminum blow dart gun. The barrel has been reinforced with PVC there is also a T-handle to give more leverage for the friction lock breech loading. I choose friction lock breech loading for ease of use. I am currently looking into and designing a bolt locking breech system.

The second is a .625 caliber 6 foot long over sized blow-dart barrel of my own design. Again is uses a metal design for the barrel. It is very light, thin, and straight conduit steel that has been coupled to standard PVC and again a friction locking breech system. This barrel is just plain mean when it comes to power! You will see in the videos below what I mean. (spoiler alert it can nail 3 2x10 boards together)

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Now on to the chamber:
.75” ball valve air inlet has been epoxied to a clean out cap. It is on super tight and is quite a pain to remove. Your standard fare propane metering setup 2 ball valves etc etc. I increased the size of the meter to allow 60 psi for temperature down in the 30 degree zone. The meter is nickel chromed.
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Found this small psi gauge at a checkers auto store of all places. I like it because it’s small and unlike other small gauges with a built in regulator this regulator actually works! The entire setup doesn’t leak any psi ever. It took a lot of trial and error to get it that way so needless to say, I ain’t changin’ it. :P
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I would love to show you the insides of my chamber but it’s just too tight and literally takes hours to disassemble so we won’t be doing that. :) Instead here is the identical fan that is in the chamber

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The 4 gap setup up consists of 8 screws that are attached to a cut piece of half inch PVC which couples to the side wall of the chamber. The 8 screws all have 2 nuts sandwiching a washer, which can be adjusted forward and backward to allow maximum distance between them. Also there is nothing obstructing any of the gaps, which are located in the center of the chamber. This allows for the most unobstructed combustion of the mixture possible. Why 4 spark gaps in such a small chamber? Well I tried 2 and the power was amazing. I tried 3 it was even more impressive. I tried 4 and WOW! I tried 5 and I couldn’t get the sparks to work consistently. At 4 gaps the spark gaps are a mere 5 millimeter space. So 4 gaps it is. (sorry no pic of the inside, but just imagine a screw with a washer sandwiched between two nuts and you've got the basic idea)

For the battery I had been using 2 9 volt batteries, one for the stun gun one for the fan. At $10 for 2 9 volts cost was eating me alive (especially since I apparently enjoy leaving the fan on over night) So I needed something cheaper and easier. If you remember one of my batteries was located inside the chamber, which proved to be too cumbersome. FYI the battery never leaked or had any problems though I would not suggest doing your battery this way.

Any way I wanted to simplify this setup with a rechargeable battery. My entire setup now runs off of one battery! The battery is a modified airsoft gun battery chosen for its dimensions. It fits right inside the scope mount interface of my gun adding no extra size to the gun. It is a 9.6 volt 1400 mAh battery that packs a punch. The computer fan loves this battery and whirs a very fast rate, much better than a standard 9 volt. The stun gun sounds and fires very aggressively with this battery. Both last almost 3-4x longer than with the 2 9 volts. Plus since it's 9.6 volt there is no need for voltage regulation! Also since I bought 2 of these babies. I’ll never have to worry about running low on juice. Of course if I did manage to run down both I designed the stun gun system to still accommodate a standard 9 volt battery if necessary. More on that next
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with charger
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Ok the miniaturized stun gun setup. I basically gutted a small 100,000 volt stun gun de-soldered then re-soldered on shorter cables from the chip to the capacitor and arranged it so it could fit into a 3” cap. The whole setup is electronically isolated so as to not shock the user due to it’s close proximity to the propane tank. I modified the battery interface so that all I have to do to connect it to the new battery is connect an adapter. This makes it so that in a worst case scenario, I’m out in a field with no more juice in my standard battery I can still use a standard 9 volt battery to power my stun gun. 8)
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Note in this pic the 9 volt standard battery adapter pulled out for you to see.
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One of my favorite parts of this gun are the handles. I came up with this idea because I’ve always loved anything leather clad and I was looking at my Katana and thought “wouldn’t it be cool if I had handles like that on The Gauntlet?” Well I took a trip to the leather store and bought 30-40 feet of strap leather and spent and entire afternoon devising a method of wrapping the leather. This is the final result of no less than 8 hours worth of self taught leatherwork training. On the left handle is the safety switch. The switch must be in the “live” position otherwise the stun gun won’t fire at all. The right handle is of course the trigger.

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Finally the scope, I needed it to be capable of working with my multi-barrel system. This meant that it had to be attached to the body not the barrel yet still be accurate enough that changing one barrel for another didn’t mean I had to re-calibrate the scope. The breech load setup and the scope setup work nearly flawlessly to this goal. And of course I couldn’t let it look like I just slapped on a scope! Copper paint has been added to the mount and windage caps.
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Down the scope, note the offset barrel to accommodate the scope without getting in the way.
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As far as accuracy goes, it’s a tough game. When wind is not a problem the grouping at 50 yards can be very tight, about 3-4” grouping. With medium to strong wind grouping can be wildly different as in 10”- 20”. In other words wind is not this guns friend! I will post range shots later next week if weather permits. As of today every ranged testing I have done (except for one I didn’t record) went relatively bad because it has been extraordinarily windy for some reason here in Colorado the last few weeks.

Last but certainly not least is the ammunition. Same as my last project, but I’ve added one that takes the cake.
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This is my favorite ammo right now. It is a 4” long slightly spear tipped dart. It is highly accurate and maintains a good amount of power over distance.
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And now on to the videos!

Garage test consists of .625 caliber long barrel for best performance. The ammo is the spear tipped 4” darts in all test unless specified otherwise.

First test is 3 2x10 boards stacked together
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZu1kLlnVNk[/youtube]

Last test is two 1mm thin sheet metal and the 3-4 mm steel and boards. Certainly doesn’t appear to be “sheet metal” but I don’t know anything about this sort of thing.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLuZxEzQ92c[/youtube]
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(3rd youtube vid coming soon for range testing)

So that’s it. I want to say thanks to everyone on spudfiles for info and discussions that helped me and everyone else make better guns. In particular I would like to thank Starman for A. Allowing me to bounce ideas off of him as well as giving me advice B. giving all of us mere machine-shopless mortals a reference to strive to (I’m talking about the Triple Thunder baby!) As always I am open to criticism, suggestions and yes even upside the head slaps for stupidity.

Just for the shear kick ass factor The Gauntlet with my custom Dragonfly Katana and Oakley Leather Mars limited edition Sunglasses (they look cooler off of my face than on. :P )

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Last edited by Radiation on Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:31 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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The Gauntlet of Clara Ann
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Unread postAuthor: skyjive » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:08 pm

Looks great! I don't know much about combustions but I can recognize attention to detail and a high-performance gun for serious shooting when I see it. I like those darts in particular, I have had a devil of a time coming up wih effective darts.
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Unread postAuthor: Fnord » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:38 pm

I can tell you used microsoft word on that freaking 2300 word essay.

I can't really say much when it comes to looks, you've got everything as clean and polished as anything I've ever seen.
You could use a slightly bigger vent valve and maybe a 1.25" barrel to take advantage of that large chamber volume.

By the way, using a higher meter pressure at lower temperatures will make your mix rich. Your best bet is to make a meter that gives a perfect mix at ~ 120 psi, so you don't need to worry about manually measuring the pressure.

It looks slightly awkward to hold. It is?
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Unread postAuthor: Hotwired » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:43 pm

I almost thought you had made some massive copper beast there :P

It does make it look very nice however.

Looks like a lot of work went into it, good stuff :)
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Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Thu Dec 11, 2008 8:51 pm

I can't really say much about this cannon. It looks as if you've got nearly every conceivable detail nailed down pretty tight.

Good job on a quality cannon! I especially like the paint work, but also appreciate the amount of engineering that went into the electronics and overall aesthetics.

Good job!
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Unread postAuthor: VH_man » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:05 pm

Oh.... My..... God...... I want your Cannons Babies

:notworthy: I bow down to you :notworthy:

Nice idea of using the Airsoft Battery for everything. As you said, It adds an extremem sense of coolness to the gun.

That and, How do you look down the scope? i dont see any stock like thing. A picture of you firing it would be cool.

That and steampunk.... Ive never been a fan. But now I am. And how exactly does one make grips like thou has Created? A how-to would be AWSOME, because I want to do that to my gun..... :D

All in All.... Wow.
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Unread postAuthor: FishBoy » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:06 pm

*fap fap fap fap fap* ... "crap, now I gotta clean the keyboard."

:D

Apart from that there's not much more for me to say, you obviously put a rediculous amount of time into this, and it seems to have payed off. I can't wait for the videos to load, I wanna see this thing fire.
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Unread postAuthor: starman » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:16 pm

Ahhhh there she is. Just one of the sweetest cannons overall on the site is all... :wink: I would consider this thing a keepsake and find a way to mount it in your den, your living room or mancave when you aren't shooting it....seriously.

Tons of detail here...I love the leather grips, breech loading system, and the nasty ammo and the fact that it's a combustion... 8) ..of course....and a very well configured one at that.

Beautiful work and craftsmanship Radiation!!....superb, crystal clear photos. The steam punk theme is carried out very well and the usage of Victorian naming fits it perfectly...A+!!
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Last edited by starman on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postAuthor: SP00K » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:18 pm

*Drool**sluuuurp*

Good lord, that thing is B E A utiful. I must say, I'm not really a fan of combustion launchers in general (mostly because I spend my time building stuff for paintball and airsoft where noone wants to play with a guy usnig explosive force) but this thing really blows my mind.

Excellent job! :D
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Unread postAuthor: the tater ninja » Thu Dec 11, 2008 9:23 pm

That cannon is soooo ridiculously epic...
But is it mounted? Or handheld? Because it seems like it would be very awkward to fire while holding...
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Unread postAuthor: rp181 » Thu Dec 11, 2008 11:58 pm

Best gun ive seen so far :shock:

Any idea what speeds this is reaching?
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Unread postAuthor: Moonbogg » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:31 am

Thats incredible! Talk about a lot of work :shock: You could totally go hunting with that thing!
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Unread postAuthor: Radiation » Fri Dec 12, 2008 12:40 am

Wow! Thank you all for your very nice responses! I started working on this post since 10 am and "finished" (still trying to get the damn videos I shot to work) at about 5:30 pm. :shock: So this feedback makes all of that work worth the time and effort. :)

I am still frustratingly working out how to post videos to youtube (anyone using OSX I would love some help getting these videos on youtube, compressing an almost 300 mb video getting it on line etc etc. nothing I've done is working, please pm me if you have any sage advice)

Any way I appologize fnord for the extensively long post. It's very verbose as I see this as my dissertation into spudophilia. I wanted my professors (all of you) to take me seriously and like any post grad I erred on the side of too much content. :D

As far as how it mounts it is hand held. Honestly it is slightly awkward, but does not interfere with ones ability to shoot it. two main ways, put it on something sight in and shoot, or hold it up to where the hose touches your cheek sight in your target and push the thumb trigger. It's not hard at all, and because of the light nature of the ammo the kick back is very manageable especially for how powerful the shot is. I'm not sure I quite understand why, but this thing is a lot more powerful than the kick back would have you believe, probably because of the weight. (15 lbs I believe, but I will now have to check) Plus I balanced the weight very precisely so that if you hold the handles the gun doesn't lean forward or back it balances very well. I have thought about putting some sort of stock on it so I can shoulder it, but I haven't come up with a logical way to integrate one. It can't add too much to the size and it must be removable for portability sake.

Like any advanced spudgun the real pain in the rear is reloading, even with the breech setup it's not that easy, but it can be done without putting the gun down. I'm thinking of adding a strap somehow.

As far as the speed, I couldn't even venture a guess. I don't have access to a chrony. :(

Any way, hang in there videos are on their way (I hope)
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Unread postAuthor: Pyro Ninja » Fri Dec 12, 2008 1:41 am

What a lovely cannon, your hard work has definitely paid off.
Good job :)
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Unread postAuthor: Carlman » Fri Dec 12, 2008 3:43 am

nice dedication to detail mate! ill say more once i see it in action :wink:
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