Looking for advice on turreted potato cannon.

I signed up to take a microprocessor class for college in the fall, but I'd like to get started on this project now. This area has been an interest of mine for a while, but havent pulled the trigger on it.

The idea: Making a semi-auto revolver style potato cannon that will be mounted to a remote controlled turret controlled with a basic computer joystick. The cannon will be mounted to a truck bed rack and will be powered by onboard inverter (115v/400W) and propulsion will be compressed air.

What I think I need: 2 servos for for turret control, 1 servo for revolver drum rotation, and a push-pull for moving the air connection in and out of a firing position, electro-actuated valve for compressed air release. Then a microcontroller to control all the functions.

Advice I need: I have no clue what to look for in any of these components, which is what brought me here. I dont have weight specifications on the turret or the PVC potato cannon, but I have to take into account the size and mounting application of the servos that will be a part of design. If anyone can give me recommendations or point me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it.

The project you just described is more a mechanical/robotics kind of project than microcontroller - the latter is just a minor part of it.

To select a servo, you need to know how strong they have to be, specifically the amount of torque they have to provide. For that, you'll have to know how heavy and big everything is and how fast you want it to move. Then you can do some calculations, buy a servo, try it out, redo your calculations, and based on that experience buy another one that is closer to what you really need.

For your air gun, you need some kind of solenoid valve, suitable to pass through enough air to launch your projectile. So again you have to design the overall project so you know how much air you need, and you can size your solenoid valve to match.

Find a suitable mechanism for your air hose attachment - something that's powerful enough to do this.

When you have those parts, you know the power rating, and you can start looking for suitable drivers and a power supply for it all.

See how you're still not even got to the microcontroller? That's really the easy part. Count the number of inputs and outputs you need, if it's less than about 20 get an Uno/Micro/Pro Mini; if it's more get a Mega.

Thanks for your answer. I'm one of those buy all of it and make it work people, but I see now that I'm going to have to take it step by step.

Indeed. Way too complicated a project, especially as a first project. It'll have to be done in stages/parts.

You can start with a regular Arduino (Uno or Nano), good chance it'll do, at least those are cheap and can always be used for something else.