A giant hairdryer, or something more?

How does this work?


They suggest there’s something more to it than just being a big air blower. Does it really fire “balls of air”, and if so, how?? What’s the physics?

A Wham-O Air blaster shot balls of air which could extinguish a candle at 20 feet. The Airzooka probably works along similar, but less cool looking, lines.

It’s not like a hairdryer at all - the back of the device has an elastic membrane across it like a drum skin; there’s a pull cord attached to the centre of the membrane; you pull it back and release it, causing the device to emit an abrupt ‘puff’ or air; because of the turned-in lip of the open end of the device, this puff exits in the form of a ring vortex, which is quite a stable entity and will travel for some distance.

It’s about what it looks like – a big barrel with a springy diaphragm on one end that punches a blast of air across the room. One thing that they don’t tell you in the ads (but is obvious in hindsight) is that it’s effectively a giant drum and is shockingly loud. So someone playing with one in an office is not going to be popular.

I saw one demonstrated at a variety merchanise show: the demonstrator put a smoke bomb inside and shot big, high-velocity smoke rings at passers-by.

I got hit by one, and thought someone threw a bean-bag at my chest at first.

Heh. My boyfriend got one of those at the State Fair last year. It was cool. Really freaked out the cats…

We have one of these in our office; I’m looking at it right now.

It’s not that loud in operation. It has a range of about 30ft at best. If you have a rather feeble office plant you can knock leaves off it from about that distance. When aimed at co-workers, mild hair ruffling is about all you can hope for. Alternatively, aim slightly to the side of them- they can hear the ball of air pass by, which is quite eerie.

It’s a vortex cannon. It doesn’t fire “balls” of air but moving “donuts”. Smoke rings are the same thing.

You can make your own from Pringles tubes. Put a lit cigarette inside them and they blow smoke rings.

From the excellent site of Bill Beaty:


Allegedly if you fill them with flammable gas and fire them at candles, they make rings of fire. Please note that this has hazards associated with it, and if you try it and are hurt, killed and/or burn your house down, it is your fault. You have been warned!

Same idea on a smaller scale. I have one of the raygun-style Zeroblasters and it is the coolest toy gun ever. Cooler, even, than the Johnny Seven One Man Army Rifle. The Zeroblaster fires perfect smoke rings as fast as you can pull the trigger. If only they made patchouli-scented smoke fluid…

:eek: I HAVE to have one of those!

These went around the office for a while, were the rage for birthday presents for the guys. The dogs hate them. You can blow ciggie smoke it in to make a ball of smoke. Up close, it really does pop you one!

I have a small one I made at work. I like to put a couple pieces of dry ice in it and shoot shots of cold air at folks. It is wierd to be blasted by a breeze of cold air on a warm sunny day.

Presumably other gaseous additions perform similarly?

Fart grenades.

It is most amusing to fire an Airzooka at lightning bugs.

      • One of my relative’s kids has one of those (the big ones). If someone comes up say 15 feet behind you and fires it at your back, it does feel like you’ve been hit by something solid, like a pillow. Just looking at it (and not having been shot at with one) you might imagine it to be something like a garden hose squirting out water, but it ain’t.

You bad man!

First time I learnt about these things was on one of Adam Hart-Davis’s programmes, probably Local Heroes. One of the heroes (name sounded like “Boys”. Bois? Boyes?) had a giant vortex cannon made from a beer keg, which he used to send whiffs of hydrogen sulphide out the window at people in the street. That wasn’t why he was one of the heroes, but it’s the only thing about him that stuck in my mind!

Thanks to all for the replies.

I thought that the advertising copy sounded just a bit over the top, and couldn’t envisage how they could possibly work. But now it seems they do.

I want one. :cool:

Someone got me one of the big Airzookas for my birthday. I spent six hours attempting to assemble the damn thing and failed miserably. The cheap-ass plastic crap its made out of did not match up and the instructions were written by a coked-up orangutan with a cyrillic typewriter.

Well, maybe not that loud, but when you see a demonstrator model in a mall store and give it a try…let’s just say that I felt conspicuous :slight_smile:

These things are cool. I’ve got one, and it’s a neat novelty for about 15 minutes, then…meh.

Far as the rings of fire go, I doubt it. The problems are, that;

a) you would need to have the flammable gas in the proper concentration
b) which means that there would be a vapor trail leading right back to the 'zooka
c) which means you too, will be a ring of fire, only with your hands full molten plastic. ow.

Plus, I’m not sure the velocity would allow for the proper concentration to remain, I think the velocity would force the gas to go below its’ LEL or lower explosive limit, at is mixes with ambient air.

Now fart rings…that’s another matter altogether!