Squirrel Cannon

  AKA Spud Gun  

In spite of all the "funnin' around" this really is a serious article describing the design of a very effective method to get wire into the trees. If you ever considered building a spud gun to launch your antennas, this is for you. At the end of the article you will find a line drawing, a parts list, and easy-to-follow instructions.

Squirrel Cannon

First a confession: I am about to tarnish my reputation as a peace-loving, quiet, easy-to-live-with, next-door neighbor. Well… truth be told, I'm probably well past the "about to" phase! Let me start at the beginning. You be the judge after you hear my side of the story.

My back yard is host to a bunch of obnoxious, noisy, scolding red squirrels. Not only do they drive my cats nuts, but their refusal to acknowledge the finer aspects of property ownership - like the right to quiet enjoyment - finally got to the point that I HAD to do something. (Please bear in mind, I haven't even mentioned their most infuriating behavior -- digging up my expensive plants, stealing most of my fruits and nuts before I get a chance at them, planting mondo tap root pecan trees all over my property… the kind you have to rent a back-hoe to pull out, and worst of all… barking in my face… you know, trying to tell ME to get off MY property!) Well! I was not about to allow a bunch of gnarly-toothed disgusting little rodents drive me from my back yard!

My first attempt at offense (eradication) was to purchase some very lethal bait blocks. Alas, my wife's teary, "Oh those poor little things!" brought a halt to that stroke of brilliance. Squirrels - 1, WS6X - 0. Dang!

My next attempt was to run their furry little butts off the property every chance I got. I cut several bamboo sticks about 3 feet long and stacked them on the patio, so I could easily grab one as I charged out the back door in hot pursuit. Actually, this was a gratifyingly effective concept. The bamboo "spears" were quite accurate, and I honestly believe that the element of surprise initially had the little critters so confused that they froze in place. My first two sorties scored direct hits! Admittedly, I didn't permanently remove those two squirrels, but judging from the screams and panicky flight, I'm sure I put the fear of the beast in their little hearts!

Let's face it. I'm 65 years old and weigh 200 pounds. How long do you think I could sustain this campaign? Time to find a new fix. (Please bear in mind, I haven't mentioned that one of my spears came back to earth and harpooned my wife's prized Ambrosia lily. I'm also not mentioning that another errant hurl landed on my neighbors garage roof, and that I nearly lost the seat of my Huggies when I tried to retrieve it -- under the cover of darkness, of course -- when I thought their nasty little terrier had been put inside for the night!) Squirrels - 2, WS6X - 0. Dang!

My final attempt was to purchase a slingshot and a large, economy size pack of steel balls. You should have seen the evil glint in my eye as I left the sporting goods store! Those little beggars are history!! Well, you probably get the picture. I quickly decided that sneaking around in the backyard, aiming a slingshot up in the trees… You'd be surprised how "low" those 6-foot fences seem when you don't want your neighbors to see what's going on next door! (Please bear in mind, I haven't mentioned that those little rascals simply would NOT hold still! All I ever got was a mouthful of shredded leaves and dirt!) Squirrels - 3, WS6X - 0. Dang!

With Field Day fast approaching I put the squirrels out of mind and began a long overdue project. For years I had been meaning to "invent" a superior method of getting wire antennas into the trees. Sling shots were too inaccurate (see attempt #3, above) and crossbows would have had the neighbors calling the sheriff. When I stumbled across a spud gun design article, and then watched inventive hams adapt the design to create antenna launchers, I got excited!

After a lot of research, and for one reason or another, rejecting all the designs I could find, this spring I decided to roll my own. What you see in the photo below is the finished product - what I consider a superior design to anything I have seen published.

But wait - it gets better! One afternoon, as I was putting the finishing touches on my masterpiece, my wife joined me in the back yard. After quietly observing for a few minutes, she proudly exclaimed, "I know what you're building. A squirrel cannon!!"

Don't ya' have to love that little lady? Think about it - she just gave me super ammunition for Attempt # 4!!

Squirrel Cannon

In addition to the spud gun, the photo illustrates a complete, portable package for use in the field. This makes a great Field Day package! Note the (1) 7.5 Watt solar panel, which charges (2) a modified "JumpStart System", which powers (3) a 12 Vdc air compressor, which pressurizes the (4) spud gun.

Parts List and Assembly Instructions

1 - 10' piece 1 1/4" Schedule 40 PVC pipe
1 - Orbit, Model 57624 1" NPT jar type sprinkler valve
2 - 1 1/4" slip x 1" MPT fitting
2 - 1 1/4" slip x slip 90 degree "L"
2 - 1 1/4" slip x slip x slip "T"
1 - 1 1/4" end cap
1 - threaded tire valve (The rubber snap-in type won't work.)
2 - 9V batteries
1 - momentary contact pushbutton switch (trigger)
1 - small SPST toggle switch (Optional; used for safety trigger lock.)

1 - Battery Compartment - You will have enough pipe left over to make a battery compartment which can be glued between the barrel and the compression chamber. This compartment is where you will install the PB trigger switch and the toggle safety switch. You will need two end plugs. The one in the front can be glued in place. Install the PB trigger there. The rear plug can be fitted "snug" with tape, and will have to be removed to replace batteries. This plug will also have holes drilled for the solenoid wires.

Misc - High quality PVC primer and solvent, hookup wire, electrical tape, epoxy glue, paint (if desired)

Cut the 1 1/4" PVC pipe as follows: (See the drawing below.) 1 - A - 42" - barrel
3 - B - 6"
1 - C - 13"
2 - D - 18"
1 - approx. 3" brace for between the barrel and compression chamber.
1 - approx. 7" for the battery compartment. Described above.

Carefully glue the pieces together. Start with the compression chamber. To ensure a strong, airtight seal, be sure to push the pieces together fully.

Line Drawing

Squirrel Cannon

Copyright © 2006-2022, Jim Clymer, Jr.