Tuesday, January 1, 2013

PADT Pumpkin Launch 2012

The last few years at work we've had a tradition of destroying more pumpkins than we carve for Halloween.  I think I've somehow been designated the unofficial master of ceremonies (not sure how that happened.)  And after the disappointment of last year's attempt, I was determined to put a little more thought into it this year.  So as has also become tradition, I didn't start preparing until the weekend before.

A trip to Davis Salvage, some last minute welding by Campbell Enterprises (check out what they normally build!), a paint job, and I had a new pumpkin mortar.  New on the left, old on the right.

After a few back parking lot tests, we had a new and fairly reliable detonation system.  Still used 2 liter bottles, but instead of the traditional try ice, we came up with a nitrogen system.  Fitting in the cap, and a nitrogen bottle from the lab capable of several hundred psi does the trick.  Turns out that a 2 liter can withstand about 150 psi before failing.  It also means we can preload everything, bottle and projectile, and then add pressure, so no more worries about losing appendages for some fun at work.
I also came up with a few non-traditional projectiles.  Carving down pumpkins to fit nicely in the barrel has always been annoying, imperfect, and time consuming.  So this year I found some inflatable balls that fit perfectly in the barrel.  I filled several with varying masses of water.  A few were filled completely and frozen solid.  I attempted to build a few acorn squash with expanding foam sabot (not very successful.)  I also built up a giant foam bullet to carry a camera.  After we completely destroyed one of my kid's digital cameras in it, we opted not to put the more expenisve GoPro in there.
Set up in the parking lot at work.

Melting one of the ice balls to get it to drop into the barrel.

Video of the launches.

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