Backyard Ballistics and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Buy Used
$3.96
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Add to Cart
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Backyard Ballistics: Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets, Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars, and More Dynamite Devices Paperback – June 1, 2001


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, June 1, 2001
$2.99 $0.01

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Image
Looking for the Audiobook Edition?
Tell us that you'd like this title to be produced as an audiobook, and we'll alert our colleagues at Audible.com. If you are the author or rights holder, let Audible help you produce the audiobook: Learn more at ACX.com.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (June 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556523750
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556523755
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 6.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

If you'd like to launch a potato in a blazing fireball of combusting hairspray, this is your best source. -- Time Out New York

Your inner boy will get a bang out of these devices to build and shoot in your own back yard. -- DallasNews.com

About the Author

William Gurstelle is the author of Absinthe and FlamethrowersThe Art of the Catapult,  the bestselling Backyard BallisticsBuilding Bots, Whoosh, Boom, Splat, and Notes from the Technology Underground. He is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 30 years. He is a contributing editor at Make magazine and writes frequently for Wired, The Rake, and several other national magazines. He can be contacted at nfttu.blogspot.com.

More About the Author

In 2011, Popular Mechanics Magazine added five special editors to its masthead: William Gurstelle, Jay Leno, the Mythbusters' Adam Savage and Jaime Hyneman, and Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds. There's a reason Bill is there along side those luminaries: His views on risk taking, combined with his best selling books have put him in the spotlight.

Media Attention
Long features about Bill and his ideas have run in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, the London Daily Telegraph, National Public Radio, PBS, Radio Canada, and scores of other media outlets.

Best Selling Author
Now, because of his groundbreaking views and easy writing style, he's one of the most widely read science and technology authors in the world. His best sellers include Absinthe and Flamethrowers, Backyard Ballistics, Adventures from the Technology Underground, and The Practical Pyromaniac. More than a half million copies of his books have been sold, a truly amazing amount for a technology author.

National Magazine Columnist
In addition to his books, he writes frequently on culture and technology for national magazines including Popular Mechanics, Wired, the Atlantic, and Make. Online, he is a frequent contributor to BoingBoing, Makezine, and Wired.

Popular Speaker
Bill has given lectures to groups all over the world including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Select clients and their comments are available through the navigation panel to the left.

Customer Reviews

I recommended this book to anyone in need for a good project to work on or just for fun!
Cory A. McGuinness
It seems pretty well thought out, and I believe I will make some good projects from this book.
Drew
The highlight of this book is the chapter on the venerated potato cannon (a.k.a. spud gun).
Walter Reade

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

126 of 130 people found the following review helpful By Walter Reade on January 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a great resource book for pyromaniacs who want to expand their horizons.
The highlight of this book is the chapter on the venerated potato cannon (a.k.a. spud gun). The author presents a simple yet effective design and gives detailed instructions on how to construct it. I have seen a number of designs on the web, and I prefer this for it parsimonious design. I have "launched" a number of spuds with this cannon, and am perfectly pleased with its operation.
Other projects include back porch rocketry (the paper match rocket, the hydro pump rocket, and the pneumatic missile), the Cincinnati fire kite, the Greek fire and the catapult, the tennis ball mortar, the flinger, Pnewton's petard, the dry cleaning bag balloon, the carbide cannon, and the ballistic pendulum.
The book is clearly written and illustrated (with drawings and black and white photographis). It contains a number of history vignettes along with some illustrations of ancient weapons. The remaining chapter includes some ideas for further study.
While I highly recommend this book, please note that some of these projects (most notably the potato gun) are illegal in some states. In that case, this book would be for "reference" only.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By James Schoonmaker on April 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful resource for those boys who have graduated from Nerf and waterguns- and for those of us that never will. What struck me most was the sheer variety of projects in this book- from little rockets powered by a match(!) to monster potato guns, this book has everything. I built a potato gun similar to the one in this book several years ago, and have been looking for projects in the same vein. With this book, I've found them. I especially love the fact that he uses a variety of power sources- the traditional hair spray of the potato gun, air pressure, even chemical combustion.
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!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
74 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Elderbear VINE VOICE on March 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a wonderful boys book--boys from 9 to 90 will get a bang out of these projects. The author presents enough safety information to be reasonable, and mixes in scientific explanations, a bit of math, and interesting anectdotes that take us back into the history of ballistics. But most of all, he presents details plans and parts lists (including sources for hard to find parts) to build things that shoot up into the air, things that go "BOOM," and other cool stuff like fire kites.
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!
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
52 of 61 people found the following review helpful By David K. Wittenberg on March 17, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a lot of fun. The projects are things that you can do safely, and that kids really like. I just wish the author had put a little more work into it. Some of the history doesn't seem accurate, and the physics should be explained more clearly. More effort on content and less on strange facts would help.

Building the onager (torsion catapult), I had to change most of the dimensions. The book calls for 1"x1" wood, but that's hard to find. 1x2 (nominal) is easy to find, but is 3/4" by 1 1/2". A book for quick projects should use 1x2s, not some mythical 1" square lumber. The drawings were incomplete. Between the drawings and the photo it was possible to get the whole thing together, but I had to change most of the dimensions. Why he uses 1/8" dowel is beyond me. Even 3/16" broke too easily.

Overall, interesting and certainly fun, but I wish it were done more carefully.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Alicia on June 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be quite informative and helpful on building many fun ballistic devices. The chapters on the spud gun and back porch rocketry were probably my favorites. For anyone who grew up constructing innovative (but highly unsafe) projectile launchers and wants to create something the neighbors can appreciate, this book is for you!

I would also like to emphasize that GIRLS, as well as boys, can and will enjoy this book.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mark on September 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
By doing these projects with one's children one can teach them

engineering, mechanical, planning and fabrication skills as well as how to see through a project that may take a few days instead of 15 minutes. Their interest in the projects will

be maintained by the fascinating science as well as the impressive results.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search