Instructables

The Ping Pong Ball Mauler

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Today, I have the great pleasure of introducing to you the Ping Pong Ball Mauler, the only fully automatic, large capacity, ping pong ball launcher.  This is the first do it yourself project I have undertaken with my new company, Outsmarting Technologies LLC .  Please visit the website to see other recent creations or check out my construction blog here or here .

      Back to the Ping Pong Ball Mauler.  This creation is unlike any other pneumatic launcher created. Traditional pneumatic launchers utilize a low volume, high pressure system and are usually only capable of launching a barrel loaded projectile (commonly a potato) and then can launch this object far, but at a very slow rate, often taking more than a minute before a follow up launch is possible and would be very dangerous to hit someone with.

     However, the Ping Pong Ball Mauler is completely different.  By utilizing a high volume, low pressure system provided by a standard shop vacuum, The Ping Pong Ball Mauler can launch hundreds of balls a minute, continuously, without having to reload!  By utilizing a 55 gallon poly drum to hold over 2500 ping pong balls, the user can sustain a rapid rate of fire so long as there is ammo left.  It has a maximum firing capacity of 300 balls per minute (as long as nothing jams).  The best part is, the balls are so light and harmless that they can readily be used to attack and unsuspecting friend with (be sure not to aim for the face as one to the eye may cause damage). 

        I have organized each step of this Instructable into 5 sections to try and make it as clear and easy to follow as possible:
1) Step Aim: where I discuss what we will accomplish/create in this step.
2) Tools: which tools will be required to perform this step.
3) Materials: what materials from the part list will you need in this step.
4) Directions: step by step directions for this particular component's construction.
5) Tips: where I make note of any problems I ran into and ways to avoid them during your building process.
      Of course, there will be countless photos, diagrams, drawing, and links to supplement each step and avoid any confusion (you may need to view full size to see all the dimensions and notes properly).

     The best part of all of this is its simplicity to make.  Anyone can build this as there are no particularly difficult skills to learn and all of the parts are readily available at any home improvement store.  This is a great weekend project and is an absolute blast to use.  So what are you waiting for, let us get started!  

I recommend reading through all of the steps before attempting to build it and ask any questions before you start.  Also, feel free to be creative and make whatever changes you would like, there are plenty of ways to make this and customize it to your needs. 

Again my name is Christian Reed (going to be a junior at MIT this year in Mechanical Engineering) and feel free to  look at my company, personal, or blog websites.  Of course, feel free to message me or otherwise contact me with any questions or problems you have and I would be happy to help.


 
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Seriously, where do you get all those ping pong balls!
Bowtie411 year ago
Bet kids would love to have you use it to launch candy at a parade!
Bowtie411 year ago
If you use a Convert-A-Ball,where the ball iteslf is swappable between 1-7/8",2",etc.,you can eliminate this step,as the fitting can slip over the taper that holds the ball,and the ball then put back on,thus not relying on epoxy to hold to pvc,because unless it is roughened up,it always seems to let loose on me.Hope this helps!
iamXray1 year ago
could you imagine playing beerpong with that lol
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
mr.pizza1 year ago
could i perhaps use a few 9vlt batteries ,a small electric motor ,a pen case ,and bb's instead? that way it would be much smaller
Foxtrot701 year ago
WOW!!! This could be modified for Paint Ball use and add some RC robotics...AWSOME!
Sadi7891 year ago
Now this is awesome. I wish I had the materials to make one... is there any way to make a mini version (maybe backpack sized.. heck, maybe you could give it straps and make it a backpack...)? It's the coolest shooter I've ever seen. Keep it up!
lapeyrouse1 year ago
Good try but it seems like a lot of work to get the majority of the balls to miss a very close (and very big) target.

What was the point of saving money on the balls and making a project that just didn't work?

Spend the money and go for regulation ping-pong balls and a closer fitting barrel as there should be no trouble with them jamming if you drop down to just a couple of millimeters clearance.

Finally a spray of PTFE down the barrel would stop them "chattering" as they were fired.

These mods should increase both the range and the accuracy.
crreed (author)  lapeyrouse1 year ago
Until you've tried building one, I do not think you have any right to say this "didn't work." It wasnt meant to be accurate or I would have created a smaller, sniper rifle type gun. I wanted this to be loud and make a big mess because I thought that would be fun. Again, I understand there are countless other ways to do this, all I wanted to do was create a fun and cheap cannon, with the parts all available at home depot. I could have built an "ultra cannon" and used the multi axis waterjet and 5 axis CNC Hurco Milling machine I have ready access too and made a perfect cannon. However, most people do not have this kind of access to such advanced CNC machining. As for PTFE, that would be an unwise choice as it would eventually gum up and become sticky due to humidity and foreign matter that may stick to the ball. So in response to your question, my machine worked perfectly fine for what I wanted it to do.
grt57 crreed1 year ago
Right on!

(somebody needs a pingpongrectalectomy)

TeslaBoy1 year ago
Thanks for the idea however I think I'll make this a bit smaller by changeing the tank to a milk jug and I have a ring compressor the kind that pushes stuff around in tubes. This should be fun I will post a instructable of it.
EPIC - someone made a smaller version of this here on instructables that shoots air soft pellets in the same manner. This is that machine on CRACK, love it. Going to start ebaying bags of ping pong balls stat. Excellent job on the instructable itself!
crreed (author)  iminthebathroom2 years ago
Thanks! And if you are interested, I bought my ping pong balls from amazon
Looks awesome. :)
Hmm, this can go further though; maybe get an old container truck and convert it to fill someone's office with play-pit balls...
Can't, really, unless you want an entire convoy just to fire plastic balls at people.
lol i had the same idea a while back but coldent build it because of cost
swilchek31 year ago
crreed,

Looking at your grappling hook launcher and this "cloud" style ping pong ball launcher, did you get any inspiration from some of the projects on spudfiles.com? If not - you should take some time and look through the vast assortment of projects there!

- I can think of a few developements members have come up with (On spudfiles.com) to alleviate your suspicous looking belt level jostling that is involved with unjamming the balls for this launcher (Namely the vortex block, which you could easily fabricate out of laminated XPS foam from your local big box store)! The same developments would also aid in consistancy and therfore increase the average velocity of your balls so it would be more like a garden hose stream and not a chaotic sprinkler!

Awesome initiative none the less! It's always nice to see a Do'er and not a talker!
crreed (author)  swilchek31 year ago
Yeah, I tried to create the most basic device possible using only parts I found at home depot and lowes. There are several improvements (see featured comment at top) that are possible but I created a basic version. Feel free to try other ways to unjam the balls, I would love to see some other builds and how they come out.
I can't figure out how you use the compressed Air blower. where do you blow this to clear clogs?
crreed (author)  Squeaky.Hinge1 year ago
Honestly you do not really need it, I thought it would work well but it does not so you could probably just leave it out
jim_lewis11 year ago
I don't think you mention it, but I presume the vacuum is actually being used as a blower. Is this a standard option on a shop vac? I don't think mine will do this, maybe I can rewire the motor?
crreed (author)  jim_lewis11 year ago
Yeah most shop vacuums have two ports on opposite sides, I just used the one that blows out air.
Niiiice ! … 

And who's gonna gather the balls from the ground ???
Quick! Reverse the polarity!
Why didn't I think of it ???… LOL
Hmm... golf balls have nearly the same diameter as ping pong balls, right?
The probelm golf balls would have in this case is their mass. They would need an industrial high pressure (100psi at least) high flow rate (lots and lots of CFM's) to achieve anythign impressive. I'd be surpised if they went even 20 feet with this design due to it's air supply. Given the requirements of air supply - that would nullify the use of a plastic 55 gallon drum as the feed chamber (as it may balloon if not burst). You'd be better off using a small 5 gallon or less air chamber rated for an air compressor and a SCUBA air tank with a super high flow regulator to make something along the lines of what your thinking. With the SCUBA tank's volume you'd only get less than a minute of quality shooting though!

If your content with a lower firing rate of say a few rounds per second like 2 or 3, there are many other proven solutions for that such as two spinning wheels (ala baseball launcher) or piston actuated pneumatic launcher.
Ouch, though...!
Dr. dB1 year ago
Great project, great build, but the paint-job and decals are really what "make" the whole thing... hilarious!
I'm not clear what the compressed air tank is used for? How does it clear clogs? I see you have a air blower with trigger, but could not figure out where you would blow it?
carfur1 year ago
Is it just me or it sounds a little like a Battle Droid from Star Wars? :))
Hilarious.
Wonderful.
Inventive.
Useless.
Useful.
Great.
Thanks.
r
clawmentor1 year ago
Too Cool

From my steam locomotive days, I saw solutions to the jamming up problem.

1 thing to try is blowing in the air below the outlet line to keep the balls stirred up. I might also try injecting more air, (another vacuum motor?) directly into the outlet line after it leaves the tank. use a y shaped attachement to do this. This will add a lot more pressure and will keep the balls from jamming perhaps.

There are industrial engineers out there who know how to get the balls all jogged up and falling to neat little lines so they can jump like gungho little soldiers into the line.

stahlsau1 year ago
mh..what exactly is the sense of this thing? Is it for training pingpong or something?
Otherwise you could just throw a bunch of balls with a bucket...i don't understand it ;-)
crreed (author)  stahlsau1 year ago
Pretty much anything you want it to be. It definetly is not for ping pong haha. I thought it was more of a fun way to ambush friends or just create an attraction/suprise at a party. Use your imagination I guess
weesuzi1 year ago
Sir you are a God among men.

Made a single shot vacuum cannon after seeing an instructable here. I worked for Guinness and had an inexhaustible supply of can widgets. In case you are not familiar the widget is a very tough plastic ping pong ball in the can that causes the nitrogen to agitate and give Can Draught Guinness its creamy nitrogen head. It will easily support a mans body weight if stood on.

A widget is approx 31mm OD and standard inch and a half pvc pipe from B&Q here in the UK is 32mm ID.

My dyson shot it across the living room (about 8 meteres) and took a chip of paint from the wall.

Anyway collecting up 2500 of those from Guinness is a project in itself liver permitting.

Once again brilliant invention
ZoeM1 year ago
This is awesome! I also love the fact you've set up your own company to help people out with their projects... being stuck in an office right now I am very envious