What’s more fun, driving RC cars around on rugged terrain, or having a paintball battle? How about doing both at the same time by making an RC controlled, paintball firing tank? [Nate] from the King of Random YouTube channel did just that by mounting a modified paintball gun to a stripped-down RC car, adding an RC trigger to remotely fire the gun, and covering it all in EVA foam armor in the shape of a tank. And then he did it again so that he’d have someone to battle against.
He walks through the full build in the first video below, but here are some things that stood out for us. It took some fiddling to get a servo to pull the gun trigger but how could he remotely control the servo? For that, he took over the car’s RC receiver signal for controlling audio and made it turn on and off the servo instead. We also like his use of aluminum bar. This stuff is available in the hardware section at stores like Home Depot and is easy to cut and bend. You can see it used here for mounting Wimshurst machine parts to a bicycle, and in this hack, [Nate] used it to mount the paintball gun rigidly to the car frame. He did surprise us when he used rivets instead of nuts and bolts to hold the frame together. That’s not something you see often, and it worked great.
As we said, he made two of them. In the second video below, watch the tanks in action as [Nate] and fellow YouTuber [Stuart Edge] have a tank battle in the desert.
[Ben’s] big brother [Brian] has been slowly building up a respectable mini-machine shop in his garage over the past few years, collecting odds and ends off of Craigslist for cheap. Looking for a fun project to do together, they decided to try their hand at building a paintball gun — completely from scratch.
They have a Spyder paintball gun that they have taken apart many times — but it uses a stacked tube configuration for the firing mechanism — a bit too complex for a first project. After discovering ZDSPB.com (which is an awesome site that has animations of all the different styles of paintball guns) they settled on making a Tippman clone.
Trying to keep the budget as small as possible, [Brian] found a free 3D CAD program from the makers of Pro/E — it’s called Creo Elements/Direct Modeling Express 6.0, and with that they began designing the gun…
Once they had the mechanism down pat they just had to start machining. Here’s the highly anticipated first test fire — can you hear the joy in the success?
It seems as though [Nathan] has taken some serious inspiration from the Warthog. The iconic armored buggy from Halo video games has a turret mounted to the roof. Although [Nathan]’s buggy only shoots paintballs from its turret.
Mounting paintball markers (guns) to various objects such as vehicles, robots, or other machines isn’t quite as straightforward as it seems. Vibrations from anything can transfer through a clamping system and cause paintballs to break. This, of course, inhibits the functionality of the marker and is a messy cleanup to boot. Then there has to be a way to fire the paintballs, which is usually handled by soldering to the electrical connections in the marker. And the entire rig has to stand up to the normal jostling and sudden turns from the buggy.
[Nathan] has solved these problems first by creating a custom fast-change mount that allows any malfunctioning markers to be changed rapidly. The electronic firing mechanism is handled by an ATtiny microcontroller and there is a custom electrical connection that is automatically made when the marker is bolted to the mount.
The new system allows markers to be changed in about 30 seconds, much better than any other system. Maybe in the future [Nathan] can upgrade the buggy’s turret to accommodate a paintball minigun.
Remember Predator? Of course you do. This is [Corsae’s] personal paintball gun rendition of one of the guns from it, ‘Ol Painless.
It’s a beautiful piece of work with countless man-hours going into its creation. At the core is an off-the-shelf EGO 08 paintball gun with a 20″ barrel. The barrel spacers are made out of MDF, cut by hand using a jigsaw with a barrel guide. The guide itself was made on a CNC router — too bad he couldn’t use it for everything! Each barrel is a thick-walled aluminum tube, carefully fit into the guides, and spray painted matte black for a clean finish. Sadly, they are only for aesthetics, as the paint balls shoot out through the central barrel only.
Not to worry though — while the paint balls may not come out of the barrels, the whole thing spins menacingly, which brings us to our favorite part of the project — the electronics. With help from his friend he designed a custom Arduino shield to control the motor, status LEDs and solenoid trigger. It’s fairly basic, but cool nonetheless. It features some wire connectors, diodes, an LED and the motor driver. Since the PCB fabrication cost included screen printing, he even threw on a mini-gun logo.
He’s done great job documenting the entire project in a photo gallery, with lots of notes along the way — stick around after the break to see a video of it shredding up the field.
We’ve seen quite a few automated paintball marker systems over the years. Generally it’s the same story – a motion detection system used to target and fire upon the opposing team, prowlers, spouses, etc. [Waterloo Labs] decided to take a slightly different approach, and create a system that intentionally misses its target. Paintball Picasso uses a pair of Tippmann A-5 paintball markers to draw an outline around the person in its sights. This is a rather safe project for [Waterloo Labs], considering their previous adventures in car surfing.
The Paintball Picasso system uses a webcam to capture an image of a willing test subject. Picasso then processes the image. The human outline is plotted on a 50×50 grid of paintball pixels. Then the real fun begins. Paintball Picasso uses a National Instruments myRIO to command two paintball markers to simultaneously fire. The markers are fitted with high torque R/C style servos for pan and tilt. At 10 rounds per second the markers quickly draw the human outline. The test subject walks away slightly splattered, but otherwise unscathed. With a matrix of 2500 points, [Waterloo Labs] has enough resolution to draw some basic logos.
We liked the mounting system [Waterloo Labs] created for the markers. Using a mix of 3D printed parts, Lego Tetrix, 80/20 aluminum extrusion, and ball bearings, they fashioned a mount that moved smoothly enough for R/C servos to actuate, yet was strong enough to withstand the kick of firing. We’d love to see the servos swapped for stepper motors and belt drives. While open loop, stepper motors would afford more accuracy and a longer life than PWM driven R/C servos.
He started with the classic Tippman 98 Custom pistol , which is a tried and true industry standard when it comes to reliable paintball guns. Using Sketchup he designed a side loading hopper adapter, a fixed stock, a magazine adapter, various brackets, and even a bipod fore-grip. He then printed the parts out at his local hackerspace; Innovatrix Labs, which is in Northeastern Pennsylvania. A Portabee 3D printer was used for some of the first prototypes but the final parts were all printed on a large MendleMax2 which has a build area large enough for the entire fixed stock!
The best part? He’s only been using SketchUp for a few months. Once the design and build is completely finalized he might release it under a CC license.
It just goes to show that 3D printers are really breaking down various markets of overpriced plastic components — 3D printers only print trinkets? Pfft.
[Spider!]’s contribution to the pantheon of paintball markers is the SMAC: a unique revision to one of Airgun Design’s ever-popular Automags. We needed our tipster, [Russell] to provide some context on the Automag’s evolution, because the brand has served as a popular hacking platform for nearly 20 years. The most frequent is a “Pneumag” modification, which converts the original, fully-mechanical trigger pull into a version where the trigger actuates a pneumatic cylinder to fire the gun.
According to [Russell], the Pneumag’s trigger must completely release between each shot to properly recharge the firing chamber. Without a full release, the gun can load extra balls into the barrel and lead to gloppy consequences. Electronic controls solve this problem, but [Spider!] favored an analog solution that captured a “less is more” mentality over a pre-fab microcontroller board. He built the circuit around a 556 timer used as a delayed re-trigger, but with a few modifications.
Swing by [Spider!]’s forum post for additional details, a cluster of pictures and a bill of materials. Microcontroller alternatives? We’ve got you covered.