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.

xcellent project ...brilliant
forge352 years ago
Thank You Stevemoseley for the instructable and the link to getting the motors. I have a few questions though; I’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’s worth. I can now also dissect one pair.) A couple things: 1. I’ve never seen a diode soldered directly to a switch before. 2. I didn’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 “battery holder book ends” or did you put in your own battery box? I wasn’t sure. Hope this all made sense. Thanks again.
stevemoseley (author)  forge352 years ago
Here are your questions with my responses.

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?

Not sure if it would work to run one of the motors backwards.  I didn't want to take a chance on burning one up.  I didn't know where to get more at the time.

Is the diode really necessary if I put in my own switch?

Not sure if the diode is necessary.  That is past my electronics knowledge.

Did you use their “battery holder book ends” or did you put in your own battery box? 

I didn't use the battery terminals that came on the motor assemblies.  See step 12 about adding the battery holders.
Thanks for replying. I going to experiment with one over the couple weeks when I can. I'll post what I find. Thanks again.
st5k2 years ago
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.
stevemoseley (author)  st5k2 years ago
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.

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.
hohum2 years ago
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??

good looking project, fit and finish is superb..
stevemoseley (author)  hohum2 years ago
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.
lurin2 years ago
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.
stevemoseley (author)  lurin2 years ago
Thanks. I would love to win a 3D printer. I have multiple projects lined up if I ever had access to one.
sisyphus3212 years ago
This is awesome, but ...

I hate to be "that guy", but a laser pointer on a kid's toy makes me nervous. Eye damage and all ...
stevemoseley (author)  sisyphus3212 years ago
I was waiting for that comment. Never be afraid to the "that guy" when safety is involved.

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.

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.

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.

Thanks for your comment.
M.C. Langer2 years ago
Great job! :-)
bgepp12 years ago
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!
stevemoseley (author)  bgepp12 years ago
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.
Rob O2 years ago
Wow. This is one of the coolest 'ibles I've seen. I'll be building this one over the weekend.
stevemoseley (author)  Rob O2 years ago
You might want to give yourself a little more time than one weekend. Please post a picture if you build one.
AJMansfield2 years ago
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.

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)
stevemoseley (author)  AJMansfield2 years ago
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.
davepet2 years ago
Can't wait for the golf-ball mod.
stevemoseley (author)  davepet2 years ago
killer6462 years ago
Wow, great work !!!
General Zod2 years ago
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.
seamster2 years ago
This is so cool. I've always wanted to make something like this! Thanks for all the great ideas.
Great job - love the engineering
stevemoseley (author)  lonesoulsurfer2 years ago
kooth2 years ago
Outstanding as usual! Very well done sir!
stevemoseley (author)  kooth2 years ago
Thank you very much!