Monday, April 05, 2010

Wood and ball bearing version of classic karakuri

Check out Osamu Kanda's modern update to the classic tumbling karakuri figure. He has made the figure out of wood and loaded it with ball bearings to serve as the shifting internal weight.


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Monday, February 01, 2010

5 foot long working scale roller coaster model

5 foot long working scale roller coaster model
Shown here is a 1/48th scale working roller coaster model.

From the model description:
A rotating spring lifts the train up the first hill, then releases the train, where it dives and rises into its second turn. The second hill provides enough potential energy for the train to continue smoothly around the loop and power it through its corkscrew. The kit consists of 464 pieces made of durable ABS and POM plastic. When fully assembled, it spans 4' 9" long by 15" wide and stands 25" tall.

Here's a link to the working scale roller coaster.


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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sand-driven dancer automaton by Ron Fuller

Here is a nice example of gravity-powered automaton. Sand in the back of the piece, powers the dancing figure who performs some very expressive moves for such a simple mechanism.


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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania

Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania
This is a 420 piece marble track with a competitive twist (sorry for the pun). Two players release one marble each simultaneously with the press of a button. Each marble encounters spinning wheels, dips, a chicane, a corkscrew, a pachinko-like bumper course, a lane switching trigger, and a set of weighted levers. When a marble reaches the finish line, the clock stops and flashes "Winner" on the screen.

Here is a link to the Techno Gears Marble Raceway Mania.


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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Classic marble-lifter mechanism in wood

Here is a nice example of a common marble-lifting device sometimes used in marble track machines. It's cool to see how a few cams, sloped surfaces, and continuous rotary motion can be combined to make marbles climb stairs. This one was made and sent in by reader Richard Thorne.


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Destkop #51 - portable rolling ball sculpture

Here is a little something mechanical, brass, and hypnotic to start your week...um, yes...rolling.

See more insanely cool contraptions by Matthew Gaulden on his web site


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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Levitron - floating top supported by magnets

Levitron cherry wood floating top gizmo
The Levitron top floats in space -- supported only by magnetic waves and the balance imparted by the spinning top. This is the upscale version of the Levitron featuring a cherry wood housing and brass leveling legs. Very nice.

From the product description
Classiest Levitron Anti-Gravity Top - Elegant, wood housing with brass-tone leveling legs. Unique base design amazes onlookers as the high-flying top levitates mysteriously above the opening in the center! Strong magnetic forces hold the top and lifter plate securely in place for easy carrying and storage. A Self-Starter is highly recommended for purchase with Leviton Cherry Wood. Ease in setting the top is essential for not damaging the elegant cherry wood.

Here's the link to the Levitron in cherry wood and brass.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

K'Nex Motorized Madness Ball Machine

K'Nex Motorized Madness Ball Machine
Consisting of over 2000 pieces (OK...2,004 to be exact), the K'Nex Motorized Madness Ball Machine is a towering ball run contraption for the ambitious builder. A motorized ball lift continuously carries the 5 balls to the top of the tower, where they are dropped to find their way down 3 different ball runs.

From the product description:
The downward spiral sends balls down a dizzying ride to the bottom. The hammer drop transports the balls off the track and onto 2 swiveling elevators, and the funnel drop sends balls on an express ride straight to the bottom.

Appropriate for builders of 9 years and over, Amazon claims you can still order this with their Standard Shipping to get it by December 24th.

Here's the link to the K'Nex Motorized Madness Ball Machine.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sand-powered acrobat automaton

Sand-powered acrobat automaton
'ALFRED THE AMAZING' is a sand-powered acrobatic automaton currently available on eBay.

From the eBay description:
When the box is rotated and set down, the sand turns a wheel (axle) and the trapeze guy does his acrobatic wonders, and extremely dangerous feats of daring and thrill, and he doesn't use a net.

Here the eBay listing Alfred the Amazing sand-powered automaton


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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making Mobiles: a step-by-step instruction book

Making Mobiles: a step-by-step instruction book
Here is a book that provides practical step-by-step instructions for making horizontally balanced mobiles. Though only 80 page long, the book covers materials, tools, designing, fabricating, assembly, painting, and hanging of mobiles.

Product Description
...19 carefully written chapters and 190 color photographs let you see and understand all the stages toward creating your mobiles. He even shows you how to fix a mistake and pack it for shipping. By following Bruces steps and positive attitude, hours of fun and challenge will be rewarded with art you are proud of.


Here is the link for Making Mobiles


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Monday, July 06, 2009

How to make your own Rolling Ball Sculpture

Here is one of several nicely made all metal rolling ball track sculptures by Matthew Gaulden.

Check out his site to more of his rolling ball sculptures -- both large and small. Be sure to visit his page dedicated to How to make Rolling Ball Sculpture. It is very informative!


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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Hyper-beading nano-technology water fountain


It's not often that I get to point out mechanical toys that make interesting use of water. Well, here's one! The Aqua Dance creates an strange motion effect using a specially designed surface that causes water to "hyper-bead". And hey...no batteries!

From the ThinkGeek.com Description
Simply fill the tank on the top of the Aqua Dance with water then push the pump a few times to pressurize. Turn the lever beneath to control the size and speed of the water beads as they drop repeatedly out of the tank. With the reduced friction the natural surface tension of the water takes over to create some unusual liquid dynamics. You'll find beautiful patterns in the water that are different each time. The ridges and funnels on the surface scatter the water in unpredictable ways as it zooms like quicksilver to the bottom.

Here's where you can order or get more info on the Hyper-beading Nano-Technology Fountain.


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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex Building Toy

Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex
This affordable set allows you to build a large marble run. Called the Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex set, it features 220 pieces including 2 double entrance funnels, 3 spirals, extra long bridges, and a sturdy base. The set is adaptable, so your marble run can be reconfigured based on your own designs.

Check out the Quercetti Super Marble Run Vortex and other fun marble run construction toys at Kazoo Toys.



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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Unpowered Walkers and Hoppers

These clever devices, created by Peter Steinkamp, explore gravity-powered step-by-step locomotion.

There are eight videos on his site, showing a variety of inventive models that use this form of movement.

One of the creator's future goals is to incorporate what was learned from these working models into a passive bipedal robot.

Check out these fascinating gravity-powered walkers and hoppers.

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