A ball-pickup tube saves a lot of time and effort. You can make a dozen for the cost of a commercial one or a hopper.
Time Required: 20 minutes
- Get a 40" or so length of 3" or 4" i.d. (internal diameter) plastic pipe. 3" is ideal, but it's hard to find 3" pipe that's not the very heavy Schedule 40. 4" is readily available in the less expensive, lighter weight.
- If you get a 10' length of pipe, you can cut it into three 40" pieces.
- Hold the pipe so that you're looking straight down at the circle formed by its top edge.
- Mark the point at each end of a diameter of that circle.
- Hold a ruler across the inside of that circle so that the 6" mark points toward one of the diameter points (eyeballing it is good enough), and the 5" and 7" marks touch the outside edge of the circle.
- Mark each end of the 2" chord you just created.
- Repeat Steps 5-6 on the other diameter point.
- Put on eye protection.
- Drill a 1/8" hole centered 5/8" below each of the four chord-end marks.
- Run a long, nylon cable tie in through any of the holes, then out through the nearer of the two holes opposite it on the other 2" chord.
- Run the tie back in again through the unused hole nearest the one from which you just emerged, then back out again through the last unused hole.
- Check to make sure that the tie forms two parallel lines, 2" apart, inside the pipe.
- Secure the tie on the outside of the pipe, drawing the inner parallel lines fairly tight.
- Test your pickup tube by pressing it onto one tennis ball after another until the tube is full.
- Leave the excess tie in place so that you can tighten it if needed.
- If balls fall out when the tube gets nearly full, tighten the tie, but be careful not to over-tighten, because you won't be able to loosen it easily.