This Instructable will teach you how to make a motorized ping pong ball gun.  These ping pong ball guns are a lot of fun to build, but more fun to shoot.  I made this as a Christmas present for my son.

UV LED lights are mounted inside the gun to charge glow-in-the-dark ping pong balls for great night time shoot outs.  The UV LEDs also add a cool glow to the barrel of the gun as well.

A red laser with a crosshair pattern is mounted on the front of the gun under the barrel.

The gun is powered by two packs of four "AA" batteries so you can use rechargeable batteries and stay green.  One pack runs the motors that fire the ping pong balls.  The other pack powers the flashlight head on the top front of the gun, the UV LEDs that charge up  glow in the dark ping pong balls, and the laser on the bottom front of the gun.

This video shows the ping pong gun in action and then has a walk through of the gun components.

I think this type of project would be a great candidate for 3D printed parts or parts cut with a CNC or laser cutter.  It would be great to have those options for this type of project.  I think it would help a great deal with accuracy of the individual parts.

Step 1: Materials and Tools Needed

A lot of the parts I used to build this were items that I already had or had left over from other projects. I recommend that you customize this or other projects to use up some of your existing materials. For me it's a great feeling to use up left over materials instead of storing them for years or throwing them away. Also, it saves you money and you make room for the next big project.


Motor and Wheel Assemblies
I purchased my motor assemblies several years ago from a surplus site and then couldn't find them again. Recently I found more of what look like the exact same assembly at the surpluscenter.com web site for $4.00 each. Here is the link. They are listed as "3 VOLT DC 1000 RPM MOTOR PAIR". The ones I have were listed as 6 volts DC. I can not be sure these are the same as I don't have any to compare against the ones I used for this project.

UV LEDs - Technical Specifications

  • Wavelength/Color Emitted: UV/Purple (400-405nm)
  • Lens Color: Water Clear
  • View Angle: 25 Degrees
  • Forward Voltage: 3.0-3.8v
  • Current: 20mA
  • Size: 5mm
  • Luminosity: 7,000 mcd
  • Used 150 ohm resistors for 6 volt dc power

Other Materials

  • 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch, and 1/2 inch thick baltic birch plywood
  • Wood Screws - mostly #4 and #8
  • 20 gauge stranded electric wire for wiring
  • Pushbutton switch from Radio Shack - Catalog #: 275-009
  • Rolling lever switches from Radio Shack - Catalog #: 275-017
  • AA Battery Box from Radio Shack - Catalog #: 270-409
  • Machine screws
  • Metal Hinge
  • Aluminum spacers (for triggers) from Home Depot.
  • Glow in the dark paint for ping pong balls. - I decided to not use this paint on the ping pong balls and instead buy glow in the dark ping pong balls I found at KMart.
  • GOGO 3 Star 40mm Blank White Ping Pong Balls from Amazon
  • Aluminum multifunction LED flashlights


The tools I used on the project were as follows:

  1. Table saw
  2. Band saw
  3. Oscillating spindle and belt sander
  4. Cordless drill
  5. Drill press
  6. Scroll saw
  7. Hacksaw or cutoff saw
  8. Sanding block with sandpaper
  9. Screwdrivers and wrenches
  10. Soldering iron
  11. Hot glue gun
  12. Wire cutters
  13. Multimeter

Not all of the tools in this list are required, but will make the construction much easier.

NOTE: If you plan on using any tool for a project please make sure you are familiar with the tool and all of the dangers associated with it. If you are not familiar with a tool then you should ask someone who is to show you the proper way to use it. A lot of communities have classes at local colleges on the proper use of tools and machinery. There are also local woodworking clubs that offer classes at very reasonable rates for beginners. I highly recommend using these resources for your safety and for the most efficient use of the tool.

Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Always work safe with the proper safety equipment and guards on your tools.

<p>is it for sale</p>
Sorry. No. It's was built for my son. My chain clock is currently for sale.
xcellent project ...brilliant
Thank You Stevemoseley for the instructable and the link to getting the motors. I have a few questions though; I&rsquo;m still learning electronics. I went ahead and purchased the motors from the website you listed. Even though they say 3V they did take 6 Volts to run (may each is considered 3V?). (Note: The shipping was more than the motor pair so I purchased two pairs plus some solenoids to get my money&rsquo;s worth. I can now also dissect one pair.) A couple things: 1. I&rsquo;ve never seen a diode soldered directly to a switch before. 2. I didn&rsquo;t realize both motors would spin in the same directions and one had to be flipped until I went back and looked closer at you pictures. I was wondering though, do you think it would work if I cut out one of one of the motors and switched the wires- is there a way to get it to go in the opposite direction? Is the diode really necessary if I put in my own switch? I want to do something different and mount the pair of motors directly on top of a board. Also did you use their &ldquo;battery holder book ends&rdquo; or did you put in your own battery box? I wasn&rsquo;t sure. Hope this all made sense. Thanks again.
Here are your questions with my responses.<br> <br> Do you think it would work if I cut out one of one of the motors and switched the wires- is there a way to get it to go in the opposite direction? <div style="margin-left: 40.0px;"> <br> Not sure if it would work to run one of the motors backwards. &nbsp;I didn't want to take a chance on burning one up. &nbsp;I didn't know where to get more at the time.</div> <div> <br> Is the diode really necessary if I put in my own switch?</div> <div style="margin-left: 40.0px;"> <br> Not sure if the diode is necessary. &nbsp;That is past my electronics knowledge.</div> <div> <br> Did you use their &ldquo;battery holder book ends&rdquo; or did you put in your own battery box?&nbsp;</div> <div style="margin-left: 40.0px;"> <br> I didn't use the battery terminals that came on the motor assemblies. &nbsp;See step 12 about adding the battery holders.<br> &nbsp;</div>
Thanks for replying. I going to experiment with one over the couple weeks when I can. I'll post what I find. Thanks again.
You sir are my hero! im in the process of obtaining a 3d printer (solidoodle 3). though i wont get to play with it till i get back to the U.S. in september, i would love to try to print one of these out. if u are able to make plans for a printable version i would be more than happy to send you the parts when the time comes. they just cant be any bigger than 8x8x8. let me know what you think. <br>
That is a very generous offer on your part. I have a few things I need to finish before I could work on 3D printer parts for this. I will get back in touch with you if I am able to create the parts. <br> <br>if you are up for the challenge you could download the files in Step 2 of this Instructable and give it a go. Let me know if you move forward with it.
well as i said i dont have the printer yet but, my wife is ordering it in july so that it arrives at the house about the same time i get back from afghanistan. i will most certainly try to print what i can of your designs. this is a project that my sons will certainly enjoy. i was serious though, if u design one specifically for print, i will print and send it to you in exchange for using the design as well.
Very nice job sir, supreme fit on all,, say, I was wondering on the laser?? would it work if you used a focused LED into a plastic lens?? might not get the distance, however?? <br> <br>good looking project, fit and finish is superb..
I thought about making a floating dot display by shining a red led onto a piece of plexiglass with a slightly scuffed area in the middle that would reflect the LED light. I ran out of time before I could try it.
nice work. hit vote as soon as i saw the plans layout and the design. i hope you win the 3D printer because its projects like this that they were meant for.
Thanks. I would love to win a 3D printer. I have multiple projects lined up if I ever had access to one.
This is awesome, but ... <br> <br>I hate to be &quot;that guy&quot;, but a laser pointer on a kid's toy makes me nervous. Eye damage and all ...
I was waiting for that comment. Never be afraid to the &quot;that guy&quot; when safety is involved. <br> <br>It was a huge concern for me as well. My boys have been lectured on the dangers of lasers and understand that if they point these at each other with the laser on just once then the laser will be disconnected so it will not happen again. They know it is not an idle threat. That is also the reason for the pushbutton switch that controls the laser separately from the other electronic parts of the gun. <br> <br>One other thing I did was to use the lowest power laser module I could find. It's just 5milliwatts. That's the same rating as most cheapo laser pointers. On top of that the laser module has a power requirement of 3.2 volts dc and I am only powering it with 3 volts. <br> <br>Even with those considerations I understand it is still a danger. I almost didn't put the laser on the gun. That was one of the reasons I wanted to make the laser a part of an attachment system where different attachments could be added to or removed from the front of the gun easily. I discuss this a little in Step 7. <br> <br>Thanks for your comment.
Great job! :-)
Bow Bow Bow - we are not worthy. This is an amazing Instructable! I have often thought about a hand pump ping pong ball gun but not a motorized one. How amazing would this be for a Christmas gift. Was your son stoked or what? If there are any Mattel trolls out there, I am sure they going to knock this off (minus the laser site, 4 mode LED flashlight and rare earth magnets) :) Nice work!
Thanks for your comments. My son really likes it. His little brother does too and keeps asking on when his is going to be finished.
Wow. This is one of the coolest 'ibles I've seen. I'll be building this one over the weekend.
You might want to give yourself a little more time than one weekend. Please post a picture if you build one.
You should have the switch turn on the LEDs, not waiting for the trigger. Same with the motors, because otherwise it becomes sort of useless; any time you want to start shooting, you have to wait around for several seconds while the motors spin up and the balls charge. Perhaps you could put a time delay switch, where it can turn itself off after not being used for like 10 minutes, if you are worried about battery usage. <br> <br>One other idea: Put a spring in the ping-pong ball storage, and adjust the mechanism so that the ball is in a sort of loose grip by a pair of wire holder things (flexible so they don't stop the wheels from throwing the ball, but stopping the ball from rolling forward, or from being pushed out prematurely)
Great ideas. I am working on a spring to force the balls to the shooting chamber. Using light stainless steel tig welding filler wire. Still working on the details of that.
SUPER! <br>Can't wait for the golf-ball mod.
Wow, great work !!! <br>
Awesome.....you must be one of the coolest fathers on the planet. When my son gets a little bit older, I may try my hand at making this.
This is so cool. I've always wanted to make something like this! Thanks for all the great ideas.
Great job - love the engineering
Outstanding as usual! Very well done sir!
Thank you very much!

About This Instructable




Bio: Just a guy who likes building things for my family.
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