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Water Balloon Launchers FAQ

Last updated on 2008-01-22


This website, like all other water gun sites, focuses primarily on water guns and the technology used in them. The goal of our water balloon launchers is to obtain decent ranges in a portable device that requires little pumping. Much more sophisticated and dangerous launchers have been built by other communities. While we do not deal with such weapons, other sites such as SpudFiles carry far more specialized information. Higher-level launching techniques are beyond the scope of Super Soaker Central.

Are water balloon launchers practical?

Not in their current forms. Current water balloon launchers use either air pressure or slingshots to propel water balloons. While range is increase dramatically, so is danger, and reload time. Most water balloon launchers take 30 seconds or more to reload and repressurize. Being able to use the range of several hundred feet is also a problem because aiming at those distances is difficult. These two factors make current water balloon launchers not practical by any means.

Do water balloon launchers have recoil?


How can I build a water balloon launcher?

Follow some of the guides on our website. Scroll down for the water balloon launcher pages.

How can I build a battle-practical launcher?

No one yet has made a launcher capable of loading quickly and aiming, so no truly practical launchers exist yet. However, some launchers are easier to operate, and are therefore more practical, than others.

How can I build an automatic, semi-automatic, multi-shot, or rapid-fire water balloon launcher?

No one has built a water balloon launcher with any sort of automation. A launcher with multiple barrels is possible, but it would be bulky and even harder to carry than water balloon launchers currently are. The only design to even include some type of automatic is Drenchenator's Test Launcher, which meters the air but does not reload the balloons.

How can I modify a solenoid/sprinkler valve?

Modification involves changing the actuation system from electric to pneumatic. Consult the sprinkler valve modification article at SpudFiles for instructions.

How can I pressurize a launcher quickly?

You could use an air compressor or larger air tank to pressurize. You also could practice using a pump quickly.

How could I build a snowball launcher?

While it is theoretically possible to fire a snowball directly from a water balloon launcher, it is generally unsafe. Water balloon launchers are designed with a singular purpose in mind: to lob deformable projectiles in mild weather. PVC pipe weakens drastically as temperatures stray from room temperature; PVC can crack even without any pressure if dropped in snowy weather.

If you are looking to build a snowball launcher, use metal pipe. In addition, especially if using hard-packed snowballs, do not aim and fire at a person from point-blank range. Our water balloon launchers are not designed for any use besides in water wars, so fire snowballs at your own risk.

How do pneumatic launchers work?

A chamber is pressurized; more air is put into it, forcing the pressure to increase. A valve, a device which allows or disallows flow, is closed while the gun is being pressurized. A water balloon rests in the barrel on the other side of the valve. Once the valve is opened, the extra air in the chamber wants to escape to equate to atmospheric pressure and pushes the water balloon out of the barrel rapidly.

How effective are water balloon slingshots?

Water balloon slingshots are capable of lobbing ordnance as far as most smaller water balloon launchers. However, the best ones require three operators for maximum range. Accuracy is also a problem, as aiming is not a simple matter of lining up a barrel.

How fast do water balloons leave the balloon of a launcher?

The muzzle velocity and muzzle energy depend entirely on the launcher. A rough estimation can be made using physics if you know the distance and firing angle. More sophisticated tools use computer spreadsheets or software such as the Gas Gun Design Tool.

How safe are water balloon launchers during battle?

Water balloon launchers are the least safe of any sort of blaster used in water wars. They can cause bruises at the very least, with the possibility of broken bones not being impossible at close range. Most water balloon launchers use a design not dissimilar to spud guns, so this can be expected.

How should I transport water balloons?

Water balloons are fragile. Accordingly, several forums members carry filled water balloons in PVC pipes, tennis ball cans, or Pringles cans. The idea behind these devices is to minimize the chances of breaking the balloons.

How small can a water balloon launcher be?

Water balloon launchers can be as small as most water guns, however, at that size the power would be decreased. A decrease in power may be a good thing if the smaller blaster can improve upon the problems in water balloon launchers.

What is the difference between an over-under design and a linear one in launchers?

Over-under designs put the chamber and barrel parallel to each other, saving length. Linear designs put the chamber and barrel in a line with each other, saving height. The popular Douchenator design is a linear one; Havoc is an over-under one.

What are some practical applications of pneumatic launchers other than in water fights?

Most pneumatic launchers are best for recreation only.

What is the best launcher for sniping?

Most pneumatic launchers of reasonable size will toss a water balloon as far as needed.

What is the best way to fill a water balloon?

Custom water balloon filling attachments for your hose work extremely well in filling many water balloons in a short amount of time.

What is the optimal barrel length for my launcher?

Although there are many variables that affect optimal barrel length, a good rule of thumb suggests using a barrel about the same length as the pressure chamber if they have the same diameter. However, near-optimal ranges can be achieved with longer barrels and shorter pressure chambers - often nearing a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio. In water wars, having such a ratio is optimal because incredible ranges are useless and because practicality calls for less air used per unit of distance.

Would a combustion-powered water balloon launcher work?

Yes, but they would be even more dangerous than regular water balloon launchers. In a battle they also would give your position away much more easily than air pressure launchers.

Also, even if constructed, it would likely be difficult to gain much advantage from a combustion-powered launcher. Basic combustion potato cannons are never more powerful than equivalent pneumatic cannons; they only produce more sound and are less practical. Combustion weapons are effective only when they can propel the projectile with more force and acceleration in the same distance (the length of the barrel). However, water balloons are quite weak and, even with a good sabot, would break if subject to large forces.

Would a solenoid/sprinkler valve work with a water balloon launcher?

Yes. However, the value of solenoid valves (in their relatively fast opening times, when properly modified) decreases as barrel width and length increase (due to flow bottlenecking). They work fine in this application.

Would a spring-powered water balloon launcher work well?

Possibly, but no one has built a spring powered launcher yet, so we do not know. Spring launchers may be more complex, especially with the mechanisms required to increase the force to a level that can propel a water balloon well. In the end, for rapid-fire performance and decent range, simply throwing the water balloon can be quite effective.

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