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Paint Ball Turret

This project has been in the works for over two years, making it the longest project we have done to date. When I originally started this project it was more or less a typical brain dump style invent geek project. Through the last two years of research this paintball turret has evolved through many different versions to arrive at the refined version it is today. This paintball turret system has the ability to be configured as a wired or wireless platform and we have even built it in a way to be portable for rapid backpack style deployments controlled with heads up displays up to a half mile away with a firing rate of up to 34 paintballs per second.

This project will include full plans and material lists for project building and we will continually add information to this project in the form of how to videos and even a limited number of kits. Look for us soon at paintballturret.com for a dedicated site.

The Paintball Gun (marker) :
For this project I chose to use the Icon-E Marker for a couple reasons. Most importantly it’s an electronic paintball gun. The system uses a solenoid to fire the gun. Secondly is the price for this marker. At about 110.00 each it’s a bargain for a fairly reliable gun that we will be cutting up. This doesn’t have to be the exclusive marker for this project. In principle any paintball gun that is electronic will work out well. This just happens to be what we used. A couple Tippmann A5’s would be fun to use as well but you will have some custom fab work to work with them.

RC Switches :
Team Delta offers some really neat specialty RC Relays that have battle hardened in the robot combat arena for some years. We used the RCE200(A) RC Switch they offer for about 22.00 for the main firing interface of this system. This little circuit allows both guns to fire at the same time with the addition of a secondary relay board. I highly recommend Team Deltas products and I have used them with great success for years.

For this project we will be using .220 – .250 thick acrylic. Acrylic is ideal for this project due to its durability and ease of working with. Some acrylic bonding glue makes a very strong and structural piece. If you wanted to you could use wood, but it would likely need to be thicker to be as strong, and the joints become more difficult to make strong.

For this project we will be using two bipods. This model is usually used in firearms. They are easy to mount and have extendable legs to allow you to place it on uneven terrain and raise and lower it for concealment.

Co2 Tanks :
For this project we used two co2 tanks to keep the look uniform with side mounting them. The original plan was for a single 20oz tank to be placed under the turret, but through trial and error in the desired final result we side mounted two 9oz tanks. Either scenario will work well depending on the arrangement of the bipods

Air Fittings :
To accommodate the desired outcome for our project we had to get a bunch of custom air fittings and plumb the turret. This is a tedious process but gives a very nice look to the turret. An alternative method of supplying air to the turret is to simply use two coiled remotes, but this can become a tangled mess easily. A complete list of parts will be at the end of this article.

Radio equipment:
For this project we are using a three channel Radio with a very long range. The futaba ss3 is a good radio due to its range and low price. While its possible this is not appropriate to use for ground use it still should be considered.

Wireless Camera (optional):
To add another wow feature to our system we chose to add a wireless camera to provide real-time video feedback of the turret. This is great for controlling pinch points from a range and also give a more realistic engineering class to scenario paintball as well. The camera is low cost and available from countless online retailers. It operates at 2.4 GHZ (the same as wireless internet access points) so extending its range with an antenna upgrade is very simple.

Misc Hardware:
For this project we will be using a lot of miscellaneous parts that I just didn’t want to include in a full list here… we have sprockets, axels, screws, bolts, switches, wires… etc… we will have a full list a the end of the article.

Relay Board:
The key to the firing control on this turret project is the relay board. This simple board provides a simple way for our RC switch to trigger both guns at the same time. The total cost to produce this board is about 6.00 and we will offer some kits and preassembled versions on the site soon.

Motor controller:
For the turrets rotation and elevation control we looked into several options and finally settled on the Saber tooth dual 5A motor driver for R/C by Dimension Engineering. Normally used in combat robotics for motion control, this controller really delivers performance for this project. We will post a cheaper motor control concept in the future, but for 60.00 it was a no brainer for this paintball turret.

Lazy Susan:
Honestly I haven’t met a Susan that deserved to have a lazy device named after her… in fact this highly useful device provides both the drive method for rotation on our turret as well as a strong durable union between control base and turret. The plans are designed with both 6” and 8” Lazy Susan compatibility.

The drive shaft and Barings:
This is the important key to smooth movement on the elevation control for the paintball guns. We are using ¾ OD ¼ ID ( that’s .750 OD and .250) skate bearings because of how easy they are to find. We also are using a 11-14” precision .250 (1/4”) shaft to connect the drive sprocket to the upper turret elevator assembly. The shafts are inexpensively available from robot market place… however use them at your own risk, I have personally had some bad experiences with their fulfillment methodologies…

Drive Moters:
The motors we will be using are GHM-02 or a ML-50 50:1 Geared Motor for the elevation drive motor and a COPAL 30:1 Gear motor for the turret rotation. These will run about 25.00 each typically, however you are welcome to use any motor you want, and the designs are fairly flexible with regards to motor choice.

Matt Trossen of www.trossenrobotics.com is an excellent provider of motors and other robotic equipment and I highly recommend him as a vendor both from personal experience but also as a favor to a long time supporter of inventgeek. If you’re a fan of inventgeek, support Matt for helping us grow and do projects during tough times.

Battery Packs:
We picked up these battery packs up from Digikey for about 2.00 each to provide power to our motor controller to drive the motors in the project. One of the nice features about the Saber tooth is an onboard BEC (battery elimination circuit) that reduces the battery requirements by one pack in this system.

Noise reducing capacitors:
To reduce the electrical noise from the solenoids and motors in this system (thusly improving its controllable range and predictability) we will be using Monolothic ceramic X7R series capacitors from Panasonic. 0.1uF at 100 volts.

One note on power tools: use them at your own risk. Be sure to read and understand any and all documentation on the tools you use. No amount of documentation can make up for experience, but there are many people with serious eye injuries from the school of hard knocks. If you don’t know what you are doing, don’t do it, and find someone that can help.

The first step in assembly is the lower controller box. This houses all the core electronics and power systems for the paintball turret. One trick I learned while building several prototypes is that electrical tape does not stick to the acrylic bonding agent (IPS Weld on #3 ) Allowing for very tight joints if you slightly stretch the tape as you adhere it.

Next we mounted the bi-pods to the turret base. This is simply achieved by removing the screws and discarding the upper half of the barrel mount and aligning the holes for the bolts. While collapsed they provide a very sturdy base for further assembly. The bonding agent used in the paintball turrets base will require at least 24 hours to fully cure before you should start machining it.

The next step is to start the assembly the turret upper half. It is very important to pre cut and pre drill all the components before you assemble them. I have had very frustrating nights after gluing and bonding the pieces, waiting a day or two in the curing and assembly process to realize I need a hole and in the process of drilling it the piece breaks…

Here we have the main components of the turret upper portion taped up and curing. This is done so that the side hopper mounts can be added next with greater ease and precision by laying the cured piece on its side.

Here we have a completed turret upper frame with the hopper quick change arms in place. Fair warning… I will bounce between dark and light backgrounds through this walk through to help with visibility of the item in question…

Here we have the inner cradle of the paintball turret curing. While it is important to build this project as precisely as possible it has been designed overall to be mildly forgiving utilizing tab and slot style construction. However the inner cradle must be absolutely square in its joints due to the proximity to the chain drive and the spacing for the guns it holds.

Here we have the finished main components of the paintball turret displayed for your viewing pleasure. This is a great time to apply your paint job to the turret. For our how to article we will swap between clear and blue turrets for visibility and illustration of features.

Here we have a test fitting assembly of the key components of the paintball turret joined by the lazy Susan and the main axle at the top to verify correct assembly of the project. And to kind of show it off…

So here we take a closer look at the gun we will be modifying. Key points are the circuit board, trigger solenoid, the triggers electrical switch, and most importantly the aluminum handles frame its self.

Here we have removed the handle from the paintball gun and we have removed the electrical components from that as well in preparation for cutting.

Here we have the modified handles. We cut the trigger guard and over half of the paintballs grip off while leaving all the material around the solenoid as was practical for structural support.

Now we have freed the electronics and wiring from the handle grips we will now put them to work. We simply cut the switches off of the ends of the wires from the plug harness and attached them to the sides of the triggering relay board as shown here.

Now we will start the installation into the frame by adding the two paintball controller board to the chassis. I used some motherboard brass standoffs that are used in computer cases to make a simple and easy to use mount for the components as depicted here. Note the two holes allowing access to the charger jacks for the batterys at the back of the case.

Next we installed the electrical system, motor controller, RC Switch and RC receiver into the base of the paintball turret. These we attached with hot glue for a simple yet rugged and removable bond. The battery pack is attached with zipties through holes in the bottom of the chassis.

Here we can see the electrical systems switches. From left to right we have a hole for internal C02, The main system power switch, a test fire button, a SPDT Switch to turn on and off the paintball electronics and the two holes for the wall warts that charge the batteries for the paintball guns.

Once the internal electronics are installed and we have made any further modifications we needed we will attach the CO2 tanks mounting brackets. This is again a tab in slot construction and it is recommended to do one side at a time to insure they are straight as they cure. Yep… 2 more days of waiting for glue… but you can move onto the other parts while that happens.

Here is a shot of the overall electronic layout. If things are still as clear as mud for you we will have an electrical diagram at the end of the article with details that will help clarify things.

Here we have the motor and motor mount for the motor we used. The hole pattern is unique to each motor out on the market it seems, but the general shape of this mount should accommodate most all motors of this class as well as provide clearance for the sprocket.

Here we have the barring mount for one side of the turret upper assembly. It consists of three pieces to incase the barring and hold it steady in the frame. The unique component of this is we used 1/8th” or .125 acrylic for the center retainer ring to prevent the barring from having too much lateral play.

Here we have a fuzzy picture of the motor mounts holding the motor (front and rear) with the attached chain and sprockets. You can see the bolt we used to attach the lazy Susan to the upper part of the paintball turret was just short enough not to interfere with the chain…

Here we have the barring sandwich that is created by the mounting that we made. The bearing is able to move freely but cannot wiggle. It is worth noting though that you will need to file the end of the axle rod to insure its smooth after cutting so that the constant motion wont scratch a possibly cut a hole through the mount.

Here we have mounted the motor to the lid of the lower portion of the paintball turret. The screws need to be tightened into the top of the motor and still allow slight play so the drive wheel will be able to break free if the turrets rotation is stopped.

Here we see the lazy Susan installed with the drive shaft next to it. We used a small scale model aircraft wheel we picked up at a local hobby shop as the drive wheel and a spring to tension the motors drive wheel.

This shot is just to help paint the picture of the upper section of the turret. You can clearly see the motor mounts and drive sprocket freshly painted.

Here we have installed the paintball guns replacing the original bolts that attached the handle grips to the gun body with longer bolts so we could also go through the cradle as well. The cradle has a slightly elongated hole for the bolts in the front holes to allow for minor alignment modification of the guns allowing for straight firing patterns or a cross pattern at about 60 feet.

Here we have the two Q-loaders installed. It is important to note that this is a total frill, it allows for a slightly more rapid firing rate and a hell of a cool look, but two top mounted hoppers would work just as well at a major cost savings.

Here we can see the electrical system connected to the paintball turrets solenoids as well as a sneak peek at the wireless camera.

The QLoaders come with a couple adapters that connect the feeders tubes to the paintball guns at an angel that fit our application perfectly.

Here we have the mount and wireless camera installed. The range of the camera stock outdoors is about 200 feet. With modification to the antenna we can get about half a mile in ideal conditions.

Here is a shot of the completed project in a clear chassis. You can see we used a wire loom computer cable management system to protect the wires coming from the control porting to the upper turret.

Here we get into our glamour shots of the project. We have the radio transmitter with video screen mounted in front of the completed paintball turret at a side angle.

Here we can see the CO2 lines run and a much clear picture of the back panel of the turret with controls.

This is the aggressive stance picture of the turret… do you feel as intimidated as I do?

Yet another view of the completed paintball turret.

And yet another view of the completed paintball turret. But thats the last one on this page.

Due to an overwhelming interest, we now have a full kit available from Ponoko.com. This kit includes all the parts you will need to assemble the main frame of the turret project. The only down side is this is a band aid until we get some manufacturing in place. Ponoko is very expensive for the service they provide. We hope to have a cost effective alternative soon.

This project is “experimental” and sold AS IS. You will have some customization work to build your project. The kits and plans we are providing are for educational use only and it is your responsibility to use good judgment when purchasing it. Machining and tool use skills are a must.

This is the diagram for the upper portion of the Paintball turrets main frame. This has been laid out on a 12” X 24” space and is to scale. Download coming soon, or donate below to receive via email.

This is the diagram for the lower portion of the Paintball turrets main frame. This has been laid out on a 12” X 24” space and is to scale. Download coming soon, or donate below to receive via email.

This is the diagram for the cradle portion of the Paintball turrets main frame. This has been laid out on a 12” X 24” space and is to scale. Download coming soon, or donate below to receive via email.

This is the electrical diagram for the paintball turret. The system has 4 battery packs in this design but we will simplify this in the near future.

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Test Fire One

Test Fire Two

Test Fire Three

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