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How to Make a CO2 Car Launcher

Making and racing CO2-powered dragsters is a hobby and a science experiment all in one. A CO2 car launcher is a simple tool that can be made to better time the launching of the dragsters into the race. CO2 car launchers can be purchased online or at a local hobby shop. However, the mechanics of a launcher are simple enough that almost anyone can one at home.

Cut a plywood board that is one-quarter-inch thick so that it is six inches long by three inches wide. Use a table saw to make the cut.

Place the board so that the top and bottom of the board are the six-inch-long edges of the board, and the sides of the board are the three-inch-long edges of the board.

Draw a vertical line from one six-inch edge of the board to the other, down the center of the board. Then draw two vertical lines, each three-quarters of an inch from the first vertical line on either side.

Draw a vertical line three-quarters of an inch from either three-inch edge of the board. Then draw two horizontal lines, each line a half-inch away from either six-inch edge of the board. The space between the lines should create two rectangles that are 1.5 inches by 2.5 inches each.

Draw an X at the center of each of the 1.5-inch by 2.5-inch rectangles. Each X should go from corner to corner within the rectangle.

Drive a one-inch nail through the center of each X so that each nail protrudes about three-quarters of an inch out of the board.

Place two CO2 cars so that the cap of the CO2 canisters and the sharp tip of the nails are touching. However, do not puncture the canister until you are ready to race. When you are ready to race, push the cars back into the nail so that the nail punctures the canister, and then release the cars. The cars will race off, powered by the escaping CO2 gas.

Things You'll Need:

  • One 6-inch x 3-inch x one-quarter-inch plywood board
  • Table saw
  • Two one-inch nails
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