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Seeking Freefall

Post questions and info about pneumatic (compressed gas) powered cannons here. This includes discussion about valves, pipe types, compressors, alternate gas setups, and anything else relevant.
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Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: Nav7 » Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:03 pm

I'm Nav7 the owner of Waterdawg. This cannon was an prototype experiment for fire fighting cannon idea long ago.
This dream has tortured me for years.
I've fired 1000's and 1000's of experiments failing with all.


I'm looking for a member who used to be on Joel's old forum named "Freefall".

We are located in the geographic center of Washington State's worst wildlands fire.
This idea is in direct response to my experience with wildlands fire.
After nearly losing our home, our town and hundreds of thousands of acres, I'm compelled to make a little noise.
I need help.
I envison legions of cannons manned by science majors seeking summer employemment
firing multiple purpose projectiles roughly a half mile with great accuracy.
Among these would be:
fire retardant projectiles,
Incendaries
and Grass Re-Seed projectiles.

I envison truck mounted (big trucks at least 24' bed) hydraulically aimed. 225 CFM Rotary screwed compressors would power a three barreled cannon spinning much like a gattling gun.
Delivery would be about 60 GPM or 3600 GPH.
This armada would be complete with an on site projectile making machine, tenders and supply trucks containing the secret ingredients.

For years...the stumbling block has been a projectile that can withstand a pnematic launch but still break on impact and not fill the wildlands with trash.
I may have stumbled upon a solution.

Freefall is the only guy I know who may get it.
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Last edited by jrrdw on Sun Sep 06, 2015 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fixed video link.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:56 am

You'd be surprised what some people here would get. Why not just throw your ideas out there?
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: Nav7 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 1:43 pm

Thanks Mark F.
I'm trying to fly liquid.
I've been stuck for over 10 years trying to come up with a suitable projectile to make this happen.
I've hit on something recently which will remain proprietary ... for a while.

For my Megah style cannon prototype, the 24 Oz Gatorade bottle is the perfect size for this cannon.
However, the bottles tumble immediately out of the barrel. Gatorade bottles are tougher than the hubs of hull. If launched at the perfect elevation for distance, I get about 400 yards @ 100 PSI.
They bounce. I don't want the bounce. I want splooosh! You can hear the drag on the bottles tearing their way through the sky. They curve and bob affecting consistent accuracy. No idea what I'd get if they were streamlined. I get 1000 yards with a golfball and a duplex nail pounded in.
1000 yards is an effective real life working distance.
60 gallons a minute would compete effectively with any chopper which drops 300 gallons per drop with a cycle time of 5 minutes to ½ an hour or more depending on acces to a water source and fire location.

Upsizing the barrel is a problem.
With a 6" barrel, solid objects fly fine but the air jets holes right through anything liquid.
The Chunkers say "Pumpkin Pie!"

Back to the fires.....
You may recall last year, Washington State had the biggest fire in its history.
This year we beat that record again...right outside my house to the West, East and South.
Our town is currently working on how to remediate the flood of water, rocks and mud that will flow out of the hills in spring. My town, bridges, roads, power and phone lines, plus many many homes will be wiped off the map.

When it comes to Spudders "Getting It", I'd like to think every member here can imagine a rapid fire cannon shooting projectiles loaded with seed at very hard to reach places ... which also means areas most affected by erosion. (We are extremely rocky and hilly here with steep vulnerable slopes)

I'm too old to have gone through the Paint Ball era or the Cloud Style pnematic gun that fires BB's from a chamber.

I'm looking for a rapidfire mechanism that could adequately supply a cannon with a round per second or less without a lot of montonous fiddle farting creating crew fatigue.

I know all this sounds strange as hell...but I see the idea working.
Here's why:
1. With fire comes smoke. This grounds air support. We were two weeks with no viz and huge fires blazing. All types of aircraft were grounded.
2. Air support attempts to save high values targets like homes. Me thinks because it causes bad press when too many homes burn. Air support also uses land features like roads, rocks, cliffs, grazed fields,topography and dozer lines to create fire lines. We hade 737's and DC-10's dumping borate like it was Dulles Airport..
I've no ideas what these things cost. Choppers are paid about $6000.00 per hour. Aircraft quit at night. If you could provide a 24/7 service including working in high winds, low viz in steep rugged terrion and still put the same amount of product on the slopes for $1000/hr, wouldn't you?
3. Low value targets like unpopulated, steep slopes burn like slow fuses into the next valley, into the next valley, into the next valley. You can't get to them! The steepness is a killing field for crew. Falling rock, bees, burning trees, snakes, falling burning trees...you just can't force guys into these places into places and expect results.
They are forced to fight the fire as it burns down to them.
I know a cannon targeting hot spots in rough terrain can create a fire line.
4. The system would be mobile, set up fast, breakdown fast and ready to go in minutes.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Sun Sep 06, 2015 2:49 pm

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When life gives you lemons...throw them back they suck!
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: CS » Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:29 pm

When comparing combustion and pneumatic launchers I have always considered combustion to be more portable. A combustion produces 40-80 psi with .2 psi of propane. A pneumatic uses 200-400 times the amount of compressed gas?

What projectile are you proposing for water distribution? Maybe a hint?

Perhaps overly simple but an ice encased water shell would save from thrashing the place.

As jsr said a internal combustion engine is a automatic combustion. An 6 cylinder engine at 3000 rpm is producing 4500 combustions per minute. A piston is a projectile that happens to be connected to a crankshaft which keeps on bringing the projectile back.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: mrfoo » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:13 am

Might be worth talking to the avalauncher people.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: Nav7 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:18 am

LOL...I love irony, CS!

The novelty of shooting stuff by cannon for fun has long passed for me.
My goal is to do something nobody else does, create something out of nothing, off the shelf, that performs a needed task and rewards me for the effort.
(Never mind that it would be funniest thing ever!) ;-)

I've dealt with the ideology of people in the forest service and the DNR over other paradigm shifting methods. Its like cutting a steak with a Walmart plastic spoon. Not fun.
Driving a 3000 gal propane truck into a wildlands fire area is going to be a hard sell. Yet...as you point out, explosions are taking place everywhere on every rig fighting the fire...diesel or not.!

My projectile solution is something I've worked on every day for over 10 years.
With all due respect...keeping water behind my dam is important to me right now.

Rube Goldberg made things that worked only they worked in the most inefficient and humerous way.
The Waterdawg™ as I call it, would be so efficient it would naturally become the tool of choice.
There is no replacing hand crews, dozers, tenders, choppers and aircraft. It just becomes another tool.
I'm not opposed to combustion but my head thinks pneumatically.
A combustion cannon firing as required will become unusable in a short period.

jrrdw's link sent me to mythbusters...but I happend to have the boob tube on listening to the same show. I was stunned to see them firing ice cannon balls from a real black powder cannon.
A round cannon ball projectile is out for me unless a tail or bump or feature is added to keep these things flying in the target area.

Ice will go a helleuva lot further, projectiles could be moulded into productive shapes, larger projectiles and have the same effects as my chemical projectiles.
I'm not so sure dealing with pond water and contaminants would be that easy quick freezing???
This is yet another paradigm shift in thinking.
I can visualize an projectile ice machine on the back of HD flat bed truck popping out projectiles into a carrier like machine gun belts. So...then....the issue is: Can ice projectiles be manufactures onsite as fast or faster than a cannon can shoot them?
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Re: Seeking Freefall

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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: Nav7 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:21 am

MrFoo,
I have!
Know all about them. They are blessed with sending solid, projectiles on a one-off mission using pressures up to 2500 PSI.

Who is it that said: "Having more fun than a human being has a right to!"?
;-)
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Last edited by jrrdw on Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Edited for content.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: mark.f » Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:34 pm

Not on the water or fire retardant projectile line of conversation, but:

Couldn't you use something like a PVA plastic projectile to launch seed (can we also get over the snickering provoked by typing "launch" and "seed" after each other?), which would disintegrate upon exposure to the elements, and allow the seed to be spread by wind/animals/water/etc.? It wouldn't exactly be a speedy solution, but one which could possibly use a little more research as to which agents could spread it from the point of impact, etc., etc.

Good luck with your endeavours Nav. I remember you from Spudtech as well, sorry to hear about your current situation.
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Re: Seeking Freefall

Unread postAuthor: Nav7 » Mon Sep 07, 2015 6:40 pm

Absolutely, MarkF.
The disintegration part of that idea is great!
But you'd have to make the projectiles onsite.
Of all the vices in my life, not waiting for glue to dry is one of the worst! ;-)
Just a curious simple math thingy...
If the goal is to put out a round per second, or 3600 rounds per hour or 86,000+ rounds in a 24 hour stretch.....
Lets just say the weapon of choice was 24 OZ Gatorade bottles?
Thats about 16,200 Gallons on a 24 hours period.
I'd be pleased with that!
The downside is 3600 cases of Gatorade bottles are now in the woods. :(

By contrast:
Using observations over about 12 years...a DNR helo works about a 12 hour day. Sun up to sundown.
Subtracted from that time comes travel to and from a safe zone, endless meetings and briefings, crew changes, crew transport, first aid, refueling, mandated rest breaks and normal maintenace.
I'd guess a chopper working a fire gets 20 to 40 drops per day x 300 Gals per drop or 12,000/gals tops.
And...they don't always get a full bucket!
Often the choppers won't wotk at all if the fire is contained.

I've not considered PVA but I have considered rolled products. I know nothing about the quality of PVA yet.
Your comment rolls directly into what I'm doing! I envison two rolls (Miles and miles of projectile film) being heat sealed into the projectile shape, filled with liquid asap on a non stop route into the cannon. My secret sause fills void making endless projectile shaped sausages which feed directly into the cannon.

Filling the woods with trash definately stops the project. If PVA lasted 30 minutes, responds to heat sealing and decomposes ...we got something!
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