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If You Can Build a Hail Cannon at Home from Scratch, You Can Use It Legally

This year has seen many turn to hobbies they probably never imagined entertaining, from baking (sourdough bread is perhaps the most 2020 thing ever), to growing their own vegetables, vehicle restoring, and fabricating all manners of stuff.
Homemade hail cannon in New Jersey 5 photos
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The silver lining to this horrible year was perhaps the fact that it pushed us so far out of our comfort zone, forcing us to adapt and discover new skills and talents. Take, for example, Rob Butkowski from Hammonton, New Jersey, who works in construction but also has his own vineyard. Wanting to protect his vineyard from bad weather and preying birds, he created his own hail cannon at home.

And it is the most amazing and terrifying thing. The New York Post reports that neighbors have been complaining about a mysterious booming sound that’s been terrorizing them, with the police finally getting to the bottom of the mystery: Butkowski’s homemade cannon.

He tells the publication that it’s made from scrap metal like street signs and “other objects,” more or less out of boredom during the lockdown. He uses it to shoot shock waves to the sky, up to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) on a 1.5-mile (2.4-km) radius, breaking up clouds and scaring off birds that might be otherwise tempted to eat his crop. You can see it in action in the video below.

“It sounds like a jet going by,” Butkowski says. “It’s like the loudest thing you’ve ever heard just blew through your chest – it’s amazing. You can see the split clouds apart. You can hear it rip.”

As much noise as this cannon makes, police say it’s perfectly legal because it doesn’t fire actual projectiles (just gas), so it’s neither weapon nor explosive. Neither can they fine him for a noise violation, because Butkowski makes sure to wrap it up before the 10 pm curfew.

Hilariously, that leaves the neighbors with just one alternative: pray that the cannon becomes defective. “Every time it goes off, I think there’s been an accident,” one says. “It scares the poop out of us.”


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