Application Note

High Speed Infrared Imaging And The Ballistics Of 'Punkin Chunkin'

In an effort to improve the performance of their massive 120 foot pneumatic air cannon at the 2012 World Punkin Chunkin Championship (WCPC), American Chunker team captain Brian Labrie invited FLIR Systems’ infrared experts David Bursell and Ron Lucier to join his diverse crew of chunkin’-crazed engineers, scientists, and fabricators. With the addition of a high speed, high resolution MWIR infrared camera, the team was able to use thermal analysis of pumpkin ballistics to improve design and performance as they prepared for the event.

Simply put, ballistics is the study of the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles as well as the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles to achieve a desired performance. So, when you think about it, the science of launching a pumpkin out of an oversized air cannon just to see how far it can go is a prime candidate for ballistic study.

By definition, a ballistic body moves and behaves freely, with changes in appearance, contour, or texture triggered by ambient conditions, substances, or forces, i.e., the pressure of gases in a gun, rifling in a barrel, by gravity, by temperature, or by air particles. In this case, the ballistic body in question just happens to be a large vegetable propelled out of cannon by the force of released compressed air.

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FLIR Systems, Inc - Research & Science