Guide to the Standard Wye Hopper

Guide by Ryan McNumbers
Design by Beaver and DIY Nerf community.
Forum Threads:

Wyes are also now available on McMaster #4880K636

Hopper clips have recently emerged as the new leet loading mechanism. I've been getting a lot of emails from people who can't get them to work (I don't know why). This guide will show you the basics of how hopper clips work and how to make them feed properly (It's not hard). These are a few tricks I've learned to make your hopper clip awesome and reliable.

First of all, I give credit to Beaver for discovering hoppers. You can order them off of FlexPVC.com on this page or McMaster. Everything else can be obtained at your local hardware store. Also credit to Kane for a few of these tricks I've learned from him.

I use a variety of barrel materials to make hopper clips. You can use anything you fancy, or anything that you can nest inside of 1/2" Sch. 40 PVC. Generally you want a pretty tight fit for springer, and a looser fit for "airguns". Let's start with some CPVC, a great barrel material for springers.

Now the key to making a reliable hopper clip is you dart entry into the barrel. This is point where your hopper clip will jam if you've made it poorly. Start off with a section of 1/2" Sch. 40 PVC. Use a hand drill with a 5/8" spade bit to open up the ID of the PVC. Home Depot carries PVC in precut lengths that is very close to 5/8" ID, so props if you find that magic stuff.

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Cut your desired length of CPVC and jam/hammer it into the piece of PVC you just reamed out. A good rule of thumb is to use a barrel 3-5" inches less than what the optimal barrel length would be if the blaster was singled. You may have to make several hopper clips, each that work with a different blaster. The higher the air output, the better it's going to work with a hopper clip. Some blasters might not work with a hopper clip.

Anyway, I'm going with 12" here which is a nice, round number.

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Now the important part. The best tool to use here is a sharp pair of scissors. Ream out of inside of CPVC and the PVC until you get a nice, deep, smooth dart entry. It should look something like this.

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Here pictured, with a dart.

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Throw your barrel in the wye to check how well it feeds. An easy way to check this is the cover the part where the clip comes out, and blow through the back of the wye. The dart should feed into the barrel fairly easy.

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This is how the dart sits before you fire it. How it bends through the wye and magically goes through your barrel, I don't know, but it's awesome. 

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Generally you want to use darts between 1" and 1.5" with your hopper clips. I use darts that are about 1.25", which seems to work the best with hopper clips. Streamlines won't work, even if you've cut them down. The stem that runs through the dart prevents it from bending enough to feed into the barrel. It's a shame. I've yet to try to make a hopper clip for taggers, but I encourage you to try.


Add a small section of PVC to the back of the wye so you can plug this into any blaster with a PVC coupler. 

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Plug in the barrel and a clip (random length of PVC). For the end of the clip, you don't have many options. Dart doors take black magic to work (haven't seen one that doesn't fail), endcaps are generally terrble, which makes ball valves probably the best current option. You'll want to use one that's 3/4" so it's easy to feed the darts through. Make sure you ream the top of the clip where it connects to the ball valve so the darts don't get caught on the edge. You'll also need a 1/2" x 3/4" reducer, or it's possible to hammer in a 1/2" coupler in the ball valve.

Plug into your favorite springer, and enjoy.

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Hoppers work just as well with air guns. Here's the method for preparing a PETG barrel for your hopper.

Take something blunt, a pair of pliers, end of screwdriver, or anything slightly larger than the ID of the PETG. Smash your instrument into the end of the barrel and twist until you flare out the barrel.

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You'll also have to ream out the PVC a bit to keep the PETG flush with the end of the PVC sheath. Next add a layer or two of duct tape to the PETG to nest inside of the PVC. No need for glue if you did this correct. The PETG should be held in by the end of wye.

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sub-optimal dart feed

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And that's it really. Not too hard, eh? Sch. 80 is even easier...Just ream the shit out of it.

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So now all of you have no excuse to go make some hopper clips.

They are fun, they give any blaster a much higher rate of fire, and they are better than any loading mechanism I've seen yet.

Another cool thing, is that you can use this as an automatic blowgun if you have an "airgun" barrel on your hopper clip.

Enjoy.

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12/15/10 Update

Here's a minor update on a few improvements to make your hopper clips faster.

This is a special 5/8" spade bit Kane happened to stumble upon at Meyer's a couple weeks ago. On a traditional spade bit, there are cutters or spurs on the edges of the bit to give you a smoother bore when drilling stuff. For reaming PVC, we don't want this. This special bit has some strange dimples on the end, making it easier to initially get the bit going into the PVC. It'll also give you a much smoother ream. 

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Another big hassle for making hopper clips, is chamfering the PVC/CPVC combo for your dart feed. A countersink will help you out a lot. Typically the more flutes, the smoother the chamfer, but also more expensive. You'll need a 3/4" one, unless you can find one 7/8". After using the countersink, you'll still need to do some minor scissor work to make it perfect. It does save loads of time though.

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