Maker Workshop – Burrito Blaster on MAKE: television

Need to launch hot dogs, brats, and other stadium snacks into the upper bleachers at your local ballpark? Then build a Burrito Blaster with John Park. Based on the classic combustion-powered “spud gun” project, this cannon instead relies on an air power. Made with everyday objects like a sprinkler solenoid, PVC, and simple circuitry, this project is great for picnics, games, and other outside fun.

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46 thoughts on “Maker Workshop – Burrito Blaster on MAKE: television

  1. Chris H says:

    seriously? duct tape? if the tank shatters, that stuff is going to make about as much difference as a tissue around a hand grenade. However, wrapping the tank IS a good idea, but to protect it from UV light, which degrades PVC, making it brittle. If you want shatter protection, try fiberglassing it.

  2. Phillip Torrone says:

    @chris… thanks for the tip, since you brought this up… a note that we have one our site and magazine…

    Please Note

    Technology, the laws, and limitations imposed by manufacturers and content owners are constantly changing. Thus, some of the projects described may not work, may be inconsistent with current laws or user agreements, or may damage or adversely affect some equipment.

    Your safety is your own responsibility, including proper use of equipment and safety gear, and determining whether you have adequate skill and experience. Power tools, electricity, and other resources used for these projects are dangerous, unless used properly and with adequate precautions, including safety gear. Some illustrative photos do not depict safety precautions or equipment, in order to show the project steps more clearly. These projects are not intended for use by children.

    Use of the instructions and suggestions in MAKE is at your own risk. O’Reilly Media, Inc., disclaims all responsibility for any resulting damage, injury, or expense. It is your responsibility to make sure that your activities comply with applicable laws, including copyright.

    Always check the page associated with each project before you get started. There may be important updates or corrections.

  3. paolo- says:

    Right on, Chris, mind you I think the point of the duck tape was to prevent sharp shrapnel to hit to hit you rather than give the tank strength. And I think would do a good job at it, at 40 psi.

  4. carlos says:

    “putting a thread into a hole” is called tapping a hole by the way…

  5. Grant says:

    When pressurizing it too 40PSI, how many short bursts do you get or is it a one shot deal and then you have to hook it up to a compressor again?

  6. Make: television says:

    @Grant, your second guess is right– it’s a one shot deal. You will need to re-compress in between each shot.

  7. Jamie says:

    So I have two things. The first, I heard polythylene would be a better material to use instead PVC for the air chamber.

    The second and most important. I have never done something like this before. How do I wire the trigger system. is it possible to refer me to a link with pictures. If not, could you dumb it down for me. I am not electronically inclined but I am very excited to get this thing going. thank you.

  8. splttingatms says:

    Hello fellow makers,
    I just built a t-shirt cannon using this design for my school pep assemblies. I’m trying to come up with a design that can shoot multiple t-shirts with one pump of the tank. I had a multi-tank system with a ball valve for each tank, but system would be complicated to explain to officials who would use it. Anyone have ideas?

  9. cool dude says:

    check out the comments on this link for a wiring Jamie

  10. David says:

    Anyone have the issue of not being able to open the electric sprinkler valve using 3 9V batteries wired in series? I hear the solenoid click but it doesn’t fully open – I checked the ratings for the valve and it requires approx 0.3 Amps to open the valve. The 9V batteries from what I can tell have enough Voltage but NOT enough Amps…..any solutions out there?

    1. John Park says:

      David, I’ve never had a problem like that, but it probably varies by valve. Sounds like you should confirm this by getting a regulated power supply (from an old laptop or other device) and testing it. If that’s the case you may need to track down a beefier battery. Anyone have ideas on a circuit that could boost the current?

      1. David says:


        I am still having electrical issues – I have tried multiple valves and multiple wiring schemes but alas nothing seems to work. I can hear the valve engage when I apply the voltage but it doesn’t open up enough to let me blow air through (I have not installed the valve yet – simply hook the valve up and attempting to blow air through). What Brand valve did you use? Any other suggestions?


  11. Rob says:


    Hello, I saw the episode featuring this project as it re-aired on the local public carrier. As an engineer with experience in the construction of plastic pressure vessels, I’d like to raise a few issues:

    1) Using the D.W.V. (drain, waste, vent) rated PVC reducers and clean-out fittings is rather dangerous. These fittings are intended for use in near atmospheric pressure applications only, the quality of these varies greatly from piece to piece, they do not have to meet any schedule test requirements. A better option would be to use schedule 40 or 80 pipe and fitting. The schedule rated parts must all meet certain minimum requirements for pressure and quality of fit.

    2) The force exerted on the burrito is actually less than the force exerted on the clean-out and the reducer for that matter. The law governing this is simply (Force = Pressure * Area). The formula for area of a circular section involves squaring the diameter or radius, as such the 4″ pipe fittings must withstand almost four times the force that the 2″ burrito will see initially. Perhaps this is why the other t-shirt cannon uses several smaller diameter tanks.

    3) The pipe compound used to seal the threads is an absolute ‘No-No’. The solvents in this compound will attack the PVC and the internal parts of the valve. (read the precautions on the container). Teflon thread tape or a minimal amount of PVC glue are the only options for creating a leak free seal with PVC threads.

    4.) The duct tape around the outside of the pressure tank is a good idea, it would keep the chunks together long enough for the air to discharge, at least in the case of a rupture due to hoop stress. However, having pressure tested several products with these types of fittings, I can tell you that the failure of this tank would not be due to hoop stress. The failure mode would be the end-cap blowing off or the reducer giving way due to axial stress. The real damage would be to the ear drums of the people nearby. It would be like having an M-80 go off within 10 feet of your ears.

    I am not intending to discourage your efforts, I applaud the many great projects you’ve illustrated. The nature of this particular project is such that the makers should know the risks involved and have at least a basic idea of the forces at play.

    Using the great free Frink calculator I’ve calculated this:

    40 psi*(pi*((4.03 in)^2)/4) -> lbf
    510.22292127686473 lbf

    40 psi*(pi*((2.07 in)^2)/4) -> lbf
    134.61410361366905046 lbf

    So the plastic pressure tank is under more than 510 pounds of force axially. The burrito sees about 135 pounds of force when the valve is opened.

  12. Kevin says:

    I created the cannon which i must add took quite a bit more time then we anticipated. But when I pressurize it up to 40PSI It lauches the burrito about 6 feet and makes a loud goose noice.

    1. Make: television says:

      Nice job Kevin! Congrats on the new cannon.

  13. Renee says:

    I tried to make the Weenie Blaster per the directions on the show, “Make Magazine.” I’m filling it to 40/50 PSI, but all I can get is a 3 foot dribble of weenie, followed by a loud honking sound which sends every Canadian goose within the 5 mile radius into off-season mating.

    See the sad-blast here. (Silver tube is the hot dog.)

    Any ideas to help? Please. I’d like to have it done before the summer is officially over.

  14. John Park says:

    For people having trouble with their valves: I’m not saying to abandon hope getting yours to work, just wanted to let you know the exact one I’ve got on the blaster I built on the show. It’s a Lawn Genie 1″ in-line valve, model # 54004. I’m sure there are many others that work, that just happens to be the one sitting on the cannon in my garage.

    Keving and Renee, I’d open up the valve (unscrew the black cylindrical solenoid) and make sure there isn’t anything like grit or dirt in there. Honking may mean a fluttering pilot valve that isn’t entirely open when it should be. For TONS more info, check out the forums at

    1. Renee says:

      I had the valve on backwards. I hacked off the valve, flipped it around, and glued in a few more pieces of PVC ***and*** it works!!! I can get my hot dog to launch over garage and clear it with at least 30 feet to spare! (Although my garage is now covered with shredded weenie bits.)

      Thanks again for everything.


      P.S. Kevin, check and see if this helps yours too. The arrows on the valve need to point away from you, towards the direction you are shooting. Best luck.

      1. John Park says:

        Yoinks! Yes, you can pressurize either side of these valves, but as you’ve now shown us, they only let air out quickly in one direction. Thanks for helping countless others by posting your experience. Renee, please send video of this in action, particularly the “shredded weenie bits”!

  15. john wayand says:

    hi, i have been trying to download the .pdf file for the burrito blaster project, but each time it begins to download, the site locks up and I have to Task manager out of it.

    Could you have the system checked so I can download the plans an build it?

    john w

    1. John Park says:

      Sorry to hear that John, sounds like your machine is trying to launch the .pdf into the reader and failing. If you haven’t tried this yet, here’s my advice: download the latest Acrobat Reader or an alternative such as Foxit. Then right-click the PDF link (below) and choose Save Link As… Once it’s saved to your hard drive try opening it in your new reader.

  16. Connor Simutis says:

    question: could i get specifics as to what tank valve model you used and where i may purchase it?
    would models 8063K31, or 8063K41 work?

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