User Input

User Input: Productive Holidays

The Chicken Cannon.

Yes, yes, yes, happy Thanksgiving-a-month-late to our American friends. Now then, moving on, we have more important matters to discuss.

This is the Turkey Day holiday, meaning there will be an amazing number of over-cooked, under-cooked or just badly prepared turkeys all over the land. Some of these will likely get thrown out. There will also be those mutant-looking turkeys that aren’t quite awful enough to become a utility turkey, but still nobody wants to buy. And, of course, those stores that ordered three times as many as they actually need.

Potentially, this is food that could go to waste! Now, yes, we could use it to feed the homeless and starving, but this is America we’re talking about. That would be socialism, and that’s not the American way! So instead, we’re going to build a turkey cannon.

The Royal Canadian Air Farce had a chicken cannon. It used a huge high-pressure air tank with a dump valve to fire a raw chicken (or just about anything they wanted) at a target, usually a politician. It worked, and proved effective, but their limiting factor was that it was to be fired in a television studio, so it had to be exceptionally safe.

We have no such restrictions. Safe is only barely a part of our vocabulary. So, nerds, let’s get to it; how should we best design a turkey cannon? What’s the best propellant we can use — that won’t vapourize the turkey itself. (Keep in mind, raw turkeys fire much, much better than frozen ones, and don’t tend to be able to pass through entire planets unhindered.)

  • BlackIce_GTS

    (I'm going to try not to do any research)
    1) Driving bands: I think once you get up into the 30mm range, bullets start having rings around them called driving bands to aid in sealing the propellant energy behind them without increasing friction too much. When trying to launch a turkey at any appreciable velocity you're going to run into sealing problems, especially if they're not frozen for some unfathomable reason. Though a turkey might not remain frozen if you cast a copper cylinder around it, which is how I'd recommend fitting driving bands without just moving the failure point inward slightly.
    Or, more simply, something like the shot cup from a shotgun could work.
    2) Certain ridiculously long range artilleries have employed a system with multiple propellant charges injected at intervals along the barrel, giving the projectile a more progressive acceleration instead of one big impulse (this also makes it easier on the gun itself). I think there's trouble with balancing/timing this on real guns, but I think I've heard of pumpkin cannons using this method successfully, projectile integrity also being a problem for them.
    Actually, pumpkin cannons have already dealt with a lot of the problems of firing a fragile weird shaped thing, just steal their ideas.

    • Deartháir

      I believe some of the problems of sealing are easier with chicken cannons — and therefore likely a turkey cannon — because they're flexible. You can "squish" the bird a bit, and make it fit into a barrel that is just a little too small. This is very difficult to do with a punkin, as they tend to just collapse. I can't find a reference to it, but I remember reading once that the fat from the bird also provided a bit of a lubricant for the bullet — er… bird — as it moves up the barrel.

      I'm wondering if propane and a spark plug would work.

  • The Professor

    Hmm, if it was me (and it isn't, luckily), I would make a variation based on the light gas/powder gun used at the Ames Vertical Gun Range (AVGR). The AVGR is only .30 caliber but can launch projectiles from 1,600 feet per second to 23,000 fps and is quite simple in design.

    <img src="; style="border:2px solid black;" alt=" " border="2" width="400">

    "Ballistic technologies, utilizing a light-gas gun or a powder gun enable launching projectiles to velocities ranging from 1 to nearly 7 km/sec. The light-gas gun uses conventional smokeless powder to drive a polyethylene piston down a pump tube. This serves as a long, single-stroke compression of the hydrogen gas into a heavy-wall (conical converging) section called the "high pressure coupling." Here the gas is raised to extreme pressure and temperature. A rupture disk in the high-pressure coupling, which initially seals the launch tube from the pump tube, ruptures allowing the high pressure propellant gas (hydrogen) to drive the projectile down the launch tube. A powder gun, which uses the smokeless powder as the propellant to drive the projectile down the launch tube, is a simpler and less expensive means for attaining velocities up to 3 km/sec."

    The velocity of the AVGR is probably a bit too high for a turkey, but by scaling it up so that it will accept a turkey as a projectile you could lower the velocity probably by a factor of 10, which should keep the turkey from becoming a wad of goo. The velocity would still be respectable, as 2,300 fps is about the speed of a .30-06 bullet, which is fairly impressive for a turkey.

    • Deartháir

      Ah! Yes, I've seen that! it's used to simulate asteroid and comet impacts on various planetary surfaces. Pretty amazing stuff, since their target chamber has the ability to simulate the atmospheric conditions on pretty much any known terrestrial body.

  • RahRahRecords

    Insert rocket into turkey, insert turkey into tube. Light fuse.

  • CaptianNemo2001

    Use a bucket of water and fill it with water. Submerge turkey and freeze it in said bucket. One now has a bullet of solid Ice with a bit of turkey, Add in sawdust to the water with the turkey and well be got some heavy ordnance going on here…

    (Sawdust + Turkey + Water ) Bucket + Mortar (from which to launch it) = a flightless, if not frozen, bird from hell landing in a room near you.

  • mike england

    Has no one here heard the word sabot? Everyone is describing it but no one has said it.
    Other than that, good conversation.
    I agree, a national competition should center on who can throw an unwanted turkey-bird the farthest using explosive or non-explosive inovation. Maybe this would lead to some improved trebuchet launches!

    • “Four-hundred years ago, on the planet Earth, workers who felt their livelihood threatened by automation, flung their wooden shoes, called sabot, into the machines to stop them . . . hence the word: sabotage.”

      And for no good reason:

      Also, this. Always good to expand the vocabulary.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      The frozen water and bucket method will allow for more mass and a tight seal if done carefully and so, with a long enough barrel and steady thrust you should be able to get a hell of a long range.