How to make an air lottery ball machine

Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to make an air lottery ball machine

Need an air lottery ball machine? In this episode I show how I approached the task of making a homemade lottery machine including what I did and why.

Other homemade lottery machines on YouTube:
Video this lottery machine was built for: Super-Minilypse Utah, USA (iStock drawing)

Playlist of other project overviews.

Music under Creative Commons License.
Intro/Exit: "Hot Swing" by Kevin MacLeod at
Incidental: "Awesome Call" by Kevin MacLeod at


Today at the House of Hacks we're going to look at making a lottery machine.


Hi Makers, Builders and Do-It-Yourselfers. Harley here.

One Thursday a while ago, my buddy Rich gave me a call. He asked if I could build him a lottery machine. I told him, "yeah, I thought we probably could do something." Then he asked if he could have it by Monday. It turns out he was responsible for organizing an event that had a limited number of slots. Of course they had more people interested in attending than they had slots available and he needed to some sort of drawing. He thought a corny, 70s style video would kind of spice it up. Make it a bit more interesting than just pulling names out of a hat and reading them. So I asked for a budget and told him I'd get back to him.

I first went online to search for places where I could rent something like this. That would have been the easiest, most straight-forward thing to do, particularly given the time constraints. But I didn't find anything so the next thing I looked for was something where somebody had done something similar. I did find one YouTube video and that's all I found. It was a pretty simple build and didn't really work too well. Since then I've actually found another one that worked very, very well. It was a little complex probably, particularly for the time frame I had; it looked like it was microprocessor controlled. Links to both of those are in the description below.

So this is what I came up with. I found a couple punch bowls the right size at Walmart; they're just plastic bowls in the party section.

For the output side where the balls come out, I found that the shielding tube that you get for fluorescent tubes that's designed to keep the glass from showering down on top of you if you shatter the glass, those tubes are the perfect diameter for ping pong balls. And so I just cut a hole in the top and hot glued this in.

For causing all the air to blow around inside I decided to use the blower side of my shop vac. Because the shop vac is so loud, we decided we probably didn't want it on set right next to this while we were filming so we got twenty foot piece of dryer duct; the exhaust vent stuff. And that stretches out and like I said I think it's twenty foot long if I recall correctly.

I cut a piece of wood and drilled a hole in it with a piece of screen over it that would fit in the bottom of the punch bowl where we also drilled a hole. And then I attached -- this is a union that's designed to connect two of these together. I just cut slits on one side and folded those tabs down and hot glued it to the wood.

Then on the other side where the vacuum blower connector has to go in I went to the plumbing aisle and found a rubber drain piece. I don't know exactly what it's used for but the inside diameter was perfect for the vacuum hose and the outside diameter perfectly fit inside a three inch PVC coupler. So I got a reducer that's the three inch to four inch reducer thing and hot glued the rubber part inside here. And then this fit perfectly in the four inch dryer duct.

I hooked everything together and all the balls bounced around very nicely. We were really pleased with the way it turned out in the end. We did have to drill some holes in here and also in here to relieve some of the pressure. We found it was over pressurizing this and it tended to want to blow the assembly apart. But once we put enough holes in here it reduced the pressure enough that the balls bounced around perfectly and came out without any problem but we didn't have problems with it wanting to burst apart.

So, I'll put everything together and we'll take a look at how it works.


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So, until next time, go make something. It doesn't have to be perfect, just have fun!