Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Ping Pong Machine Gun!

One Day Build time! Using some materials left from a previous ping pong-related build, Adam makes a ping pong machine gun that he’s wanted to make since he was a teenager. This rapid-fire prop was used in Adam and Michael Steven’s touring show Brain Candy Live!

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli
Music by Jinglepunks

Comments (46)

46 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Ping Pong Machine Gun!

  1. With the magazine being air-powered, rather than purely gravity-powered, I guess it doesn’t need to be tall and vertical. You could do a helical Calico-style one for kicks 🙂

  2. This build is GREAT! It would be really interesting if Adam worked the narrative of this build into the show as a skit or something if he is going to use it for BrainCandy. The part when the balls fly out the top was such natural comedy, and Adams constant fascination and curiosity while observing and problem solving is a joy to watch. So disappointed I missed the opportunity to purchase BrainCandy VIP tickets in N.C., I am desperate to sit and see this close up.

    Have you all considered adding another tour stop to the tour? I was thinking of driving further but most VIP tickets are sold.

  3. I spent many of my formative years operating CNC mills at my father’s plastic fabrication shop; fun to see someone else with plastic on a mill. There were lots of pneumatic actuators and widgets that were used to hold parts in place, and I remember my dad telling me about one where you could blow air in one part, and get suction on the other without the use of valves or anything – seems like it might be useful in an application like this.

    I did some Googling, and, it looks like he was talking about the Venturi effect, where you can get a pipe with negative pressure on one end (to suck in projectiles) and positive pressure on the other (to push them out). Might be helpful for any other makers out there who want to build something of their own.

    This guy has some cool demos:

  4. Hey Guys, this was great to see. I wanted to call out the time-lapse that the end, I think that was great! I love seeing not only what you guys make, but how you make it, and that goes for how Adam makes his wonderful machines, boxes, and props, but also the production of these videos. So thank you very much for including that. And as always, great job!

  5. Google Venturi effect… it sucks. Also looking forward to seeing it go full scale with jet engines and basketballs 🙂

  6. Oh, and re: PVC glue. That looks like PVC primer, which does indeed soften the PVC, and can alone make a joint between two pieces of PVC. Typically you’d use a combination of PVC primer and cement to make a stronger bond.

  7. After seeing the problem with the balls flying out the top, maybe try angling the magazine tube backwards for a next version.

  8. Small valve in the magazine air feed line would allow you to prevent the balls from coming out too quickly and hitting each other as seen in the slow mo.

  9. Adam. There is actually an even better method of fine control on the Bridgeport. It does involve throwing a couple of levers. It offers the advantage of being able to have fine quill feed without moving the knee. There should be a hand wheel on the left side of the head next to the quill. Looking at your video on the mill it looks like you may be missing this. The shaft that is there should have a knob. Pull the knob all the way out, pull the handle directly under the hand wheel shaft and use the hand wheel to control the quill movement. At the end disengage the handle so the quill can be controlled by the main quill feed on the right hand side. A word of caution make sure that the handle that is on the right hand side directly below the drive pulleys is in the disengage position.

  10. 12:55 – “In think that was important. I think something important just happened there.”

    Haha, the whole time until this point I was wondering, “How is he planning to prevent the gun from blowing all his balls out of the top of the magazine? It’ll have to be closed, of course, and maybe need to lock in place, to prevent the whole magazine from possibly popping out of its socket. I’m excited to see what he has planned for that.”

    And then I reached this point and thought, “…or maybe he hasn’t thought about that possibility at all until now. That’s also plausible, and just as fun to watch.” 😀 😀

    I also really loved the time-lapse overview of the entire build process at the end. That’s a great idea.

  11. Yay! One day builds are back 😀 Now we just need still untitled back and tested is awesome again 😀

    After seeing the problem with the balls flying out the top, maybe try angling the magazine tube backwards for a next version.

    My thought as well 🙂

  12. From the moment you started this build I was thinking, this would be really cool with a bleed into a dustbin on your back full of balls, attached by 2 or 3 hoses to the gun, you could come on stage like Vulcan Raven from Metal Gear or to a lesser extent Cooper from Predator.

  13. What was the name of the protective face shield – I am in need of one and that looked perfect.

    RayGear X-Shield

  14. After a long weary day, got home, saw the title of this piece and just thought “Oh, YES.”
    Brilliant, well done, thanks!

  15. To alleviate some of the verticality of the gun I think leaving the leaf blower in its original configuration would work. A curved magazine or a hopper would also help in that regard (although a hopper would probably introduce some new feed problems of its own). Throw on a foregrip and mow down the targets with your shoulder-slung ping pong minigun!

  16. I bet the ammo loading could be improved by switching the pipe for a container like a water fountain jug and add a hinged lid to it.

  17. Please keep doing the time-lapse at the end of the One Day Builds. It looks amazing and is a fantastic way for us makers to see the stages you take from station to station in your shop. Plus there is something great about getting to see you reset your work space back after a long build and a million shavings later.

  18. One of the best one-day builds. Excellent video Joey.

    It is good to know that ping pong balls do not have an expiration date.

    – thanks for the raygear url.

  19. Adam, if you are buying offcuts on eBay, you could also sell them – “1 big bag of white Delrin shavings: perfect for… um, something”

  20. Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to use a reducing coupling? Faster, cheaper, easier and you get to keep that awesome blank for a few other projects, seemed like you had fun doing it but just so much waste from the milling aka lots a clean up..

  21. Man this was awesome! Specifically that process of not always thinking about something obvious, now I feel less stupid. 🙂

  22. Great video! I also love the time-lapse at the end.

    I had a thought when Adam was having the issue with the air coming out of the “ball holding hitch pin” holes – the air exiting those holes was keeping the balls from falling down (so the pin isn’t needed), but what if you rotated the magazine to cover the holes? It looks like the pipes fit together pretty tightly, so rotating the magazine would plug the holes, allowing the balls to fire. That would also allow you to open the holes again to stop firing, so you wouldn’t automatically empty the magazine every time.

    I don’t know how it would work now that there’s the positive pressure line pushing down the balls, but… might be a cool thing to play with.

  23. Adam…. I’m surprised you are wearing a wedding ring while working on that type of equipment. I have come dangerously close to catching mine. I would suggest a silicon wedding ring… just sayin.

  24. Marvelous. My childhood fantasy as well. Canister vacuum, 3 pound of dried peas, a couple of feet of tubing and a modified plastic box for a magazine. They stung and it could sandblast the paint off drywall. I was twelve. Mom put a stop to that before the sound of the thing stopped echoing.

  25. I was thinking putting a flap/one-way valve on the top instead of the side-shunt. Also, you could zig-zag the magazine all the way to the front of the barrel and back to make it larger. The Ellen video is awesome too!

  26. I like your V-Sauce… cadence?, … Inflection?… Either way, it was like a V-Sauce video at the beginning.

  27. Question for Adam:

    You always talk about lathe safety and the importance of removing the chuck before operating the machine. Would it be possible to make a holder for the chuck that doubles as a kill switch? That way the motor could never come on without the chuck in place. You could use a relay actuated via a normally open magnetic switch or even use the metal chuck to close the control circuit. Thoughts from anyone else?

  28. I love this!

    The one thing I noticed is that it seems to feed the balls in at a too high rate sometimes putting multiple balls in the barrel at a time. At least that is my take on the reason the balls hit each other in the final firing.

    Maybe there is some way to control the magasine air flow to slow down the feeding into the barrel?

  29. Ha! Beat to the punch by Ellen. I love that. I also love that the basic design is pretty much exactly the same. So given a challenge… Is there only one way to do this? Or is there one typical way?

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