So, every year many of my friends come out to participate in our annual ski-weekend, which has grown to include “The Experiment” as well as a snowball launching competition. My first entry into this competition was a variation on a potato launcher, modified slightly to accommodate snowballs without obliterating them. The initial design was roughly 7 feet long, and was mounted on a small turret that I made from an old bar-stool. The construction was almost entirely schedule 40 PVC plumbing, with an internal shuttle valve that I made from a toilet plunger and some rubber gasket material. Overall, it did quite well, and ended up being the winning machine. However, my fabrication method was a bit lacking, and the cold pretty much did her in, breaking most of the seals near the barrel end of the launcher.
Fortunately, I had a year to re-work this design, and using most of the original design, I was able to not only cut it down by almost 3 feet, but I also was able to more carefully seal all the joins of the PVC, making it much more efficient and lightweight in the process. I no longer needed the turret, or the original pump I had built, and could now rely on a standard bicycle pump to power it. Average range on a 8-10psi charge is about 100 yards, with a variable projectile speed of about 90mph.