Introduction: Build a Paintball Mine

Picture of Build a Paintball Mine
My friends and I enjoy playing paintball out in the Arizona desert on occasion. It’s great fun, but sometimes pelting someone with a couple hundred paintballs traveling at 300 feet per second just isn’t enough. Sometimes you just need something extra…. So I built the paintball mine that you will see in this instructable!

Step 1: Concept

Picture of Concept
This paintball mine is based (i.e. ripped-off) from a patent I found online. (US # 6,688,234 B2) Browsing patents online is a great way to come up with cool ideas for your own projects! The mine is a small canister that you bury in the ground, filled with liquid paint. A standard 12 gram CO2 cartridge is inserted upside down into the canister. A top with a plunger centered over the cartridge is screwed on. When someone steps on the plunger the cartridge is pierced, pressurizing the canister and expelling the paint. I feel the original patent has a simple, but serious design flaw. Look at Diagram #1 below.  When the CO2 is released it follows the path of least resistance, and blasts directly out of the holes, carrying some, but not all, of the paint with it. It also tends to create more of a thin “aerosol spray” with the paint. Diagram #2 shows my design, which adds tubes/nozzles in the holes with a small gap beneath them. When the CO2 is released, it cannot travel down to the tubes, so instead it pressurizes the canister, forcing almost all of the paint out before it can escape out through the tubes. This results in more of the paint being expelled in a thicker and more forceful stream. 

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials
(1)        3” ABS Cap
(1)        3” ABS Threaded Adpater
(1)        3” ABS Threaded Plug
(1)        ½” PVC Cap
(1)        ½” PVC Union
(1)        ½” schedule 40 PVC pipe (appx 6” long needed)
(1)        ¾” schedule 40 PVC pipe (appx 4” long needed)
(1)        5/32” x ½” Metal Screw
(1)        ¼” Pex tubing (appx. 20” long needed)
All of these items should be easily found at your local Home Improvement store. The Pex tubing can be found near the heating and cooling supplies, or near where they have the stuff you use to hook up a fridge to a waterline. The diameter of the screw isn’t really important, but the length is. I wouldn’t go too small with the screw though, you want it to hold up to some abuse.

Step 3: Tools

Picture of Tools
3/32 drill bit
3/8 drill bit
¾ drill bit
PVC Pipe cutters
Measurement Device
EMPTY 12gram CO2 cartridge
PVC Glue
ABS Cement
All Purpose Permanent Adhesive or Epoxy
Hacksaw & Miter box (Optional/Not shown)
Dremel with sanding wheel (Optional/Not shown)
Straight Edge (Optional/Not Shown)

Step 4: Base of Mine

Picture of Base of Mine
Take the ABS Cap and locate the EXACT center of it. It is very important that you take the time to get this as close as possible. My method is to take a straight edge and strike a line through the middle of the cap. Rotate the cap about 45 degrees and repeat. Do this a few times and you will end up with a bunch of lines whose intersection is almost exactly the center of the cap. Drill a 3/32 hole through the center. Put the screw into the hole so that the tip of the screw penetrates the inside of the cap. Tighten the screw down, but be careful not to strip the cap. It’s also important to keep this screw as straight as possible.

Step 5: Cartridge Support

Picture of Cartridge Support
Cut a piece of  ¾” PVC to 2 ½” long. This will be our CO2 cartridge support. One end of this piece will have to be perfectly straight. If you are using the end off from a new pipe, it should be good. But in my case I was using an old leftover section. I grabbed my hacksaw and mitre box and made a nice straight cut on one end. You can use pvc cutters for this, but they generally tend not to make perfectly straight cuts. The pvc cutters will work fine for the other cuts we will be making. 
Next, drill three 3/8” holes at ½” from the good end of the PVC pipe. This is where the CO2 will escape from when the cartridge is pierced. It’s always helpful to drill pilot holes first.
Cover part of the inside of the ABS cap with PVC glue, circling the area around the screw. Put some glue on the “good end” of the PVC piece and center it DIRECTLY over the screw. It is critical this is located correctly. Once it looks good, drop the empty CO2 cartridge into the support and ensure it aligns correctly. It should fall so that the point of the screw rests in the hole of the cartridge. Adjust as necessary and set aside. The screw head underneath the cap may cause it to wobble, so I set the cap on top of a fat rubber band to keep it stable.

Step 6: Plunger

Picture of Plunger
Cut a 4” piece of the ½” PVC. Cut 5/8” off from one end of the ½” union. Glue the 5/8” piece of the union on to the 4” piece of PVC, so that about ¼” of it sticks out past the end of the pipe. (in the photo I only have about 1/8” sticking out since I cut the union a little too small) This small piece is what cups the top of the CO2 cartridge.

Step 7: Mine Top

Picture of Mine Top
Drill a pilot hole in the exact center of the threaded plug.. Then drill a ¾” hole through the plug. Our plunger will be going through this hole, but unfortunately the ½” PVC has an outside diameter that’s a little bit more than ¾”  You will have to enlarge the hole just enough so that the plunger will slide through it freely, but not too loose that it wobbles. I used a dremel with a sanding wheel. You could also try a large rasp, or heavy grit sanding paper wrapped around a dowel. 

Step 8: Nozzles

Picture of Nozzles
We will next begin working on the paint nozzles that protrude from the top of the mine.
This area is open for a little experimentation. What works better, straight up or angled nozzles? Four nozzles or eight?   Larger nozzles? Try some different variations and let me know what you find! 
Remove the plunger and drill four 3/8” holes around the top of the threaded plug. (Pilot holes!) 
The ¼” Pex Tubing should fit snugly in these holes. Cut four 4½” long pieces of the tubing. Put a mark at 1¼” from one end of the tubes. Using the all purpose permanent adhesive or epoxy, glue the nozzles to the plug with 1 ¼” projecting out of the top. This should allow a small gap beneath the tubes when the plug is screwed onto the mine. Make sure you have plenty of glue around the tube on the inside of the plug. You don’t want these shooting out unexpectedly!!

Step 9: Complete the Mine Base

Picture of Complete the Mine Base
Using the ABS Cement glue the 3” ABS adapter into the 3” ABS cap. Coat both the cap and adapter uniformly. Then quickly twist and press the two pieces together. The adapter should fit all the way into the cap.

Step 10: Complete the Top of Mine.

Picture of Complete the Top of Mine.
Place the CO2 cartridge back inside of mine. Place plunger in cap and screw cap on. DO NOT over tighten!   Mark the plunger at 7/8” to 1” above top of cap. Cut the top of plunger off at the mark and then glue on the ½” cap.  

Step 11: Final Notes

Picture of Final Notes
You’re done! Let all the glue and cement set up for 24 hours and the mine is complete!
There are a couple options for the paint. I boiled down some paintballs and used that. It worked great, except boiling them down was a lot more work than I expected. I had to fish out all the gelatin shells that wouldn’t dissolve. You can also use watered down, non-toxic washable kids paint. Or, you could always go and purchase a gallon of paint -mine paint, but where’s the fun in that!?
Also, PLEASE use this with common sense and safety.  This is a fun thing to play with, but it can be dangerous if not used properly and while wearing the proper gear.  I'm not responsible if you act like an idiot and lose an eye, so BE CAREFUL!
Be sure to check out the video below. It was the first field test I did on my prototype two years ago. It actually worked a little better than I expected.


King_of_Creepers101 (author)2017-01-26


RichardP28 (author)2015-08-15

Also a way to remotely set this thing off.allmost forgot.or a delay of sorts so i can have time to place it under my trailer and get back.maby a bakeing soda/vinegar mod?please hot me up on this,emails

not a good idea to post ur email

don't worry i wont use it

DwightL2 (author)RichardP282016-09-14

I think this is an old post but you can get an idea for remote detonation from the following youtube channel. NightHawKInLight has a lot of awesome DIY videos.

DwightL2 (author)2016-09-14

Thanks for the awesome instructable! I made one very similar and it worked without any major effort. You can check out my version here:

dvdvija (author)2016-08-06

I like your idea of using ballon. It will works. I will try this.

CalebJ16 (author)2016-08-04

this sounds like it would get expensive. i wonder if instead of co2 canisters you could use a balloon under some paint instead. (the balloon would pop splattering paint up.) the design would have to be altered but if it worked it would be cheaper. (no clue if this actually works just an idea i came up with.

ColinS48 (author)2016-04-15

Our neighbourhood had a string of break-ins and it was my intention to catch the thieves red handed or red faced. I used the concept but with a twist. I attached it on a wall out facing, chest height and used a spring trip wire which I ran down the wall and across the path. I also used a red acrylic paint which would probably not wash out so easily. I also use a square washer on the inside and outside of the plunger cap so that the plastic would not tear with the spring action. Also I needed to plug the nozzles with some tape so the paint would not run out. It has since gone off and some of the paint was on the opposite boundary wall, so I presume the rest is in some guys waist basket on his hopefully expensive jacket. Thank you again for a great concept.

kaptaink_cg (author)ColinS482016-04-15

That's terrible about the break-ins, but that's an AMAZING use for this design! Man, I wish I could have seen the person's face when it went off! haha!

creatalot94 (author)2016-02-18

This concept would be awesome if you had modified it so it would by double the size and had 3 or 4 CO2 cartridges in it

LlewellynH1 (author)2015-08-25

Hi, I have a question around the 2 pins/ nail like things at the top holding the pressure switch up. Do they have a purpose or can I build the mine without hem. Will this not obstruct the preasure switch from pushing down properly?

kaptaink_cg (author)LlewellynH12015-08-25

Hello! You'll notice that the two screws at the top only appear on the patent, and not in my design. I'm really not sure why they showed them.

LlewellynH1 (author)kaptaink_cg2015-09-09

I figured out what the're used for... So when you build your unit and the whole thing is airtight the canister tends to shoot up with great force. The're there to keep that from happening.

RichardP28 (author)2015-08-15

And over look the typos.i gave up correcting my phones auto correct long time ago

RichardP28 (author)2015-08-15

Im considering an option like this to make a diy bug bomb.all you need to 86 a bug is cooking like to tweek this in a way that allows for a slower and longer dispersal.if yall could send a diagram or idea to my email,,id be most greatfull.i am in the middle of the bigest black widow infestation i have ever seen in my 30 years of this point i can say i could be in some level of danger.i smoke,get bit,i take out the trash,get bit,i look funny at the grass,get bit.this can happen at any momant.this was drove home today as i watered my gardan and felt something on my toe.look down,black widow.i have had it with these punk ass spiders and i plan on declareing oil may sound wierd but it kills every bug on earth on contact.smothers them.and they cant build emunity to a lack of oxygen.and i got a last resort should that fail but it is bad stuff.not safe at all like oil.kills people ans flys both.i dont want to go that please help if possible thanks.
Ps,to anser why i dont spray,thats as bad as my last asthma would totaly go off the deep end.dust is allready killing me.pluss i have seen bugs walk away from the meanest sprays.and im a diy guy thats also why im allways here,lol

Kronicbrawlr (author)2015-03-06

What's the cost for materials ?

bgregory5 (author)2014-12-18

that barrel is somewhat rare, it's a really nicely made j&j .

fordchick (author)2014-08-25

awesome you have to dig deep

WarriorStudio (author)2014-06-17

Very nice build, but I will suggest a larger activation point, such as a "plate" drilled with countless holes that let the marking paint pass through. Other than that, It looks great.

lguarnieri (author)2014-01-25

great idea

the computer no1 (author)2014-01-04

Dude that is awesome

alex jaiden (author)2013-07-23

U r smart is it ok if I make 1 for a vid on YouTube I will give u all credit

NinjaBoy12 (author)2013-03-29

Any chance this works witth airsoft bb's

mattbeowulf (author)NinjaBoy122013-05-09

Dude- why not try it, and report back to us? kaptaink_cg went to the trouble of writing this 'ible; he probably would have mentioned bb's if he tried them... but that is where you can help out. For Science!
And because now I'm curious too :-)

necro forums (author)2013-03-08

love it,work's great go to my profile if u want a paintball game mode

RC Guy (author)2012-08-23

Hey i tried the out works great
i had a mod that i made i used thin membraned balloon fixed on each of the outflow pipes and then i just incresed the canister size for 12 to 50gms and ta da
the pressure filled in the balloons and the exploded spreading the paint over a larger area

The Sensei (author)2012-08-11

to modify this to use it with a trip wire, you could replace the plunger with a solid piece holding a spring compressed and held by a safety pin. wire is tied to the pin, wire gets tripped, pin pulls out releasing the spring to drive it into the cartridge. super simple and effective

deobomb (author)2011-10-12

its adapter not adpater lolollol

ilpug (author)deobomb2011-11-24

It's "LOL" not "lolollol."

Kindhamster (author)ilpug2012-07-16

Nicely done, m'sieur

thatoneguy112233 (author)2010-10-06

i think that it would be better without the 4 spray tubes because without thhem you could get a wider range and possibly get more people, just my thoughts

Without the 4 tubes, you can't truly "pressurize" the chamber. You'll probably get a bigger spray radius, but the CO2 will take the path of least resistance out, meaning it will just go straight for the holes and will leave at least half the paint behind.

hamolton (author)kaptaink_cg2012-07-15

What if you used cones or something?

Vulcanator (author)2009-11-21

Please tell me what website i can go to so i can look at patents.

kaptaink_cg (author)Vulcanator2009-11-21


There are others as well.. Just google "Patent search"

edfel01 (author)2010-11-12

made this and i worked awesome the only problem was since their foot covered all the tubes thats all the paint hit. Good Instructable though

lime3D (author)edfel012012-06-04

You could modify this so that instead of shooting straight up, is shot out through a side pipe (maybe a foot or so) before turning up with an elbow.

karatedude43 (author)2010-06-12

ok, im not 100% clear on what the union is, i looked for it on home depot website, and even on google but none of those look like the union you have

just go 2 a local hardware store and you should be able to find one... and if you dont know what a union is you probably shouldn't be doing this because you have never worked with any of these materials.

a union is also called a coupler

lime3D (author)stuffman3662012-06-04

Technically, a union is a coupler that comes apart in the center with a threaded joint. This allows you to weld or solder (in the case of steel and copper pipe) or glue (PVC) sections of pipe together, and still be able to disassemble them. This is sometimes necessary when you have several threaded connections, each one of them needed to be threaded in the same direction!

Redgerr (author)pufferfish91082010-07-08

everyone starts somewhere :)

pufferfish9108 (author)Redgerr2010-07-08

ya true

spottydodz (author)karatedude432011-02-06

go to you hardware store and ask for a schedule 40 pvc coupler

the piece of pvc that allows you to connect two picese of pvc the same size together

jonrempel (author)karatedude432010-08-28

i found it under pvc connecter

kaptaink_cg (author)karatedude432010-07-30

The union is also called a coupler. It joins two pieces of pipe together. On the Home Depot website it's called "1/2 In. PVC Coupling Model # 429-005HC"

KontaKt (author)2012-04-26

How are you supposed to bury this thing without any of it showing but not have the spraying tubes underground?

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