Going Up Against the Big Guns: The Under $5 Shmooball Launcher (Award Winning!)

I guess a good pace to start is "What's a Shmooball?". A Shmooball a a baseball sized foam ball handed out to every attendee at Shmoocon every year. From Bruce's description, the purpose of said Shmooball is to peg the seeker with this foam ball when you believe they are full of *expletive deleted* (a quite satisfying feeling as you might imagine). The Shmooball launcher is more of an automated way of projecting the Shmooball.

The Inspiration: I guess it was mostly from carrying VERA-NG around the Con an constantly getting asked how it shot out Shmooballs. It felt like I had brought a knife to a gun fight with only my puny NERF darts against the mighty Shmooballs. So I decided I needed to build one on my own. For those of you who have been to Shmoocon you know there aren't exactly hardwares stores abounding in the area. I figured the CVS around the corner was my best bet. I set a personal goal of building it for under $5.

Building It: Since CVS doesn't carry PVS Pipe or matrice springs, I had to think a little more out-side-the-box. After wondering around CVS for about 20 min I decided that Arizona Green Tea was not only delicios, but also just a little large then a Shmooball in diameter.

So, now I have the tube, but what about the propulsion. I first thought about a large elastic hair tie to use as a slingshot. But I didn't know what to mount it on and they were like $5.95 for a pack, so just out of my set price range. Then I thought about using the water bottle I had back at the room. I ended up using a Mountian Dew bottle for the Beta version.

Materials Needed: 1 - Arizona Tea can, 1 - 2 liter soda bottle, 2 feet large tap (or bumper stickers), 1 - knife or metal cutting tool.

Step 1: Cutting the Can - I used the knife on my Leatherman to first cut the top of the can, which was a little more difficult then I expected. I trimmed up the frayed edges with the Leatherman scissors. I then moved to cutting the bottle top sized hole in the bottom, which was even more difficult to do and not destroy the can or my hand in the process

Shmooball Launcher

Step 2: Attaching the Bottle to the Can - Somehow, the hole in the bottom came out just write so I could screw in the bottle with very little gaps between the bottle and the can. I was now ready for a test run. Success!!! The Shmooball shot about 5 feet, which I am still considering a success for the Beta run.

Shmooball Launcher

Step 3: Moving from Beta to Version 1.0 - The system is still leaking a lot of air at this point. First, cut a slit down from the top of the can around least 3 inches. Next, slide a Shmooball into the can so that the outside edge of the ball it level with the top of the can. Then pull somewhat tight around the can so the can is flush against the Shmooball. Then place tape to hold the overlapping foil in place.

Shmooball Launcher

Last, tape around the area connecting the bottle and can. This tape dose not need to be form fitting or particularity close to the point of connection, just so long at it form an air tight seal around the point of connection.

Done! Now you are ready to launch. I recommend shooting from a sturdy table by aiming and slamming down on the bottle. Another (kinda awkward) method, is to hold the bottle between your knees and slam in on it with your knees.