Build your own automatic tennis ball
launcher for dogs.
By Dean Segovis
Several years ago I watched a viral YouTube video that starred
Jerry the Dachshund, whose engineer owner had built him his
very own automated ball launcher. I had two dogs at the time,
and was also unemployed with some time on my hands, so
I decided to try my hand at building one.
After a few days rummaging through some
junk boxes, I hacked together a slingshot-style
automatic ball launcher that actually worked!
It was pretty busy with parts though, and
nearly 5 feet long. I wanted to go simpler.
Then on Discovery Channel’s Prototype
This I saw a small spring mechanism that I
just knew would work in larger form for my
launcher. It was based on a gearmotor that
rotated an offset peg on a wheel. The peg
pushed a whacker rod around the wheel and
against a spring, until it reached a point where
the rod could spring back freely the other
way, whacking the ball. I had to build it, and
build it I did. Now you can too.
The Fetch-O-Matic is the third and best
version yet of this configuration. It will launch
a tennis ball through the air about 25 feet
with enough velocity to bounce and roll on
for another 20–30 feet. It runs on 12–18 volts
DC, so cordless drill batteries are an ideal
rechargeable power source.
Dean “Dino” Segovis is a lifelong hacker, tinkerer, inventor, and
mentor who enjoys taking things apart and repurposing them.
Many jobs over the years have enabled Dino to become a jack-of-all-trades with a wide variety of skills. He currently makes
a living as a European automotive technician, and in his spare
time documents his weekly projects at
SET UP: p. 101
MAKE IT: p. 102
USE IT: p. 110
98 Make: makezine.com/31