Giant Marble Run

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Martin
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Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:25 pm

Hi folks,

So, last weekend the dorkbot crew went on a road trip to Newcastle for the Maker Faire.

One of the many cool people we met there builds lovely little ball bearing roller coasters from copper wire.

About the same time, Chris asked us if we could make something awesome for Forest X.

So we started thinking: how about a giant building-sized marble run?

It could run from the balcony level right down to the basement, in the staircase areas which are largely unused and unloved, but which people go by all the time.

It would be a big project, but loads of people could participate. We could run it as a workshop over a weekend; people come and build their own little section, and then they all get joined together into one continuous run.

Almost any old scrap material can be used - you can use wire and solder to make rails, or use tubes, or bits of wood, or pretty much anything. And it doesn't have to be just a thing to roll down, it could be a real maze of Rube Goldberg marble-driven contraptions.

Dorkbot would co-ordinate, and build the one key component: a lift that can transport marbles all the way to the roof.

What do you think?
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milk
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby milk » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:29 pm

fekin a!
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ChaoticReality
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby ChaoticReality » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:30 pm

Hell yeah!
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chris
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Sun Mar 21, 2010 12:41 pm

sounds essential!!
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby martinmckenna » Sun Mar 21, 2010 2:17 pm

super

martin
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Jane
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Jane » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:11 am

I love you guys!
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Lynne » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:56 am

Wow!!!
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dan
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby dan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:48 pm

can it use bowling balls?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby scoutwinter » Mon Mar 22, 2010 3:51 pm

bowling balls,
or.....
mirror balls
and where will the lasers be?

sounds great
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby swithun » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:05 pm

How much would it cost to hire Heinz Wolf for a day?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Shannon » Mon Mar 22, 2010 6:46 pm

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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:47 am

OK, cool.

Dorkbot are meeting tonight, we'll talk out some more of the technical details, in particular the lift design.

I'm thinking of starting at the bottom in the basement, in the space surrounded by the stairs, going up through a small hole somewhere to the space by the stairs / above the doors in the lobby, then up past the landing outside the hall, to the ceiling level just there. Probably not going all the way up to the balcony level as this would give dickheads an excuse for going up there "to look at it". Does that sound good? Any other plans for those spaces that this would conflict with?

Who is up for helping with this project? We'll need to gather materials, organise it as a workshop (say a weekly thing for a month, plus one off weekend to put it all together?), recruit people to come and build sections... dorkbot probably can't take on all of that very effectively.
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dan
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby dan » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:00 pm

wouldn't it be great it if also did something useful, I'm not sure what, but it could be a nice addition. Otherwise I am still totally into it as it is and as art for arts sake, it was just an idea. bagel run perhaps?
d xxx
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:07 pm

on a tedius note. the firebrigaed won't be up for it going through a hole anywhere, as those doors on the ground floor connect two fire exclusion zones, so holes are not allowed...

but it could go above peoples heads in the hall?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby lucky » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:04 pm

I HEART DORKBOT.

How about a giant one of these.

Go penguins!

A*
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby ken » Tue Mar 23, 2010 7:19 pm

maybe an intumescent collar would allow penetration? K x
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby jamiec » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:15 am

i really love this idea and want in...

on the elevation - a single vertical auger or zigzag up?

on the drop - integrate modules that do extra stuff - can we make the marble a large ball bearing so it can easily connect circuits?

Jamie
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:21 am

the flat area to the right half way up the stairs (above the fire doors) would allow for a large section of crazy bits.

Chris xx
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:46 pm

Okay, so we met and talked a bit more about it.

There is some debate about the best lift design. But I think that's okay, since I think we're going to need three separate lift sections anyway.

LIFT ONE: from the basement floor level to the ceiling level just outside the admin office. I think this one will be a magnetic lift - which means we want metal marbles, yes Jamie.

From there, we have a downhill section to move the marbles out past the double doors - would need a small hole made somewhere.

LIFT TWO: from by the pigeonholes up to the flat space by the stairs. This is a short one. I think we could do an Archimedes screw lift for this.

Another short downhill run, across onto the flat space.

LIFT THREE: bucket lift to the top.

From there, it's a continuous downhill run all the way to the basement again, through umpteen contraptions on the way.
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:52 pm

chris wrote:on a tedius note. the firebrigaed won't be up for it going through a hole anywhere, as those doors on the ground floor connect two fire exclusion zones, so holes are not allowed...


Arse, just saw this. Fucknuts.

Must be some way to sneak it through somewhere.

Or is this a good excuse to scale down the project to just the top or bottom half of the building? It's pretty ambitious as it is.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby nix » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:36 pm

one think that I thought ..

there will be an issue of noise.

We will have to switch it off for a lot of the while. disturb the theatre.
- possibly to two wee ones one at the top one at the bottom?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby amelia » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:56 am

Wow you guys, I got so excitied when I read the first bit of this, I could feel the energy rising and I continued to get more and more impressed and into the scale of it. But yeah, firedoors and noise.
It is such a fabulous, and I agree 'essential" project, that really it is just as fabulous no matter what the size. We just got excited and wanted it to be bigger & grander but it was already fantastic.
Can it have set times that it is 'on' & 'not operational" so it is more fun for people visiting the cafe? Everyone will understand it has to fit in with performances/workshops etc.

I can't wait to set it off...and see it in action :!: 8) :D
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:31 am

yknow what? i kinda think do it from the basement and itll just be fine yknow, we'll get away with it... as for noise, that will only be an issue in the hall, and we can build it so that the hall bit can be switched off if needed, while the rest can keep running..

Chris xx
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Jane » Thu Mar 25, 2010 7:43 am

yeah, chris, wtf? firebrigade worries? it'll all be fine, you know.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Huw » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:24 pm

Just had a chat with a friendly guy in the fire brigade (didn't disclose any details about where we were from etc) and he reckoned the only problem we might face would be the ball bearing heating up in a fire and transferring heat downstairs.
I don't think this is a major problem, but we need to make sure we have proper fire detection downstairs. I think we do though, yes?
We should come up with a plan, very much along the lines of Martin's suggestion, and then check with the fire brigade to make sure they think it's ok to go ahead. Let's not allow fire, noise etc to get in our way just yet. From the point of view of noise anyway, it may be best to just run this thing every half hour, like those features they have in shopping centres etc. Not really worth doing it constantly anyway.

Martin, would you be able to draft up where the lifts might go and what they might involve? How would they be run? Do they need to go around corners or can we find some straight lines someplace? Perhaps if we ran this off a series of vertical archimedes screws and short connecting downhill runs it'd be tidyer and easier to maintain.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby ken » Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:48 pm

how big are these ball bearings going to be? 'Cos they get very heavy very quickly as they get big. How many of them will there be on the circuit? K x
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby milk » Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:22 pm

*imagines flaming ball bearings flying around and down the stairwell of The Forest*
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby amelia » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:47 am

What keeps coming to mind, in now a rather irritating fashion, is a vague incomplete memory: :? Wasn't there a kid's show or sciency show on telly that began with ballbearings/marbles going along a route, before somehow making out the name of the show :?: Anyone?
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:30 am

Huw wrote:Martin, would you be able to draft up where the lifts might go and what they might involve? How would they be run? Do they need to go around corners or can we find some straight lines someplace? Perhaps if we ran this off a series of vertical archimedes screws and short connecting downhill runs it'd be tidyer and easier to maintain.


That's pretty much what I tried to cover above in this post. All three lifts should be straight.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby amelia » Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:44 am

I think it was a curiosity/sciencey kids show, with individual letters to the name of the show all arriving separately to join the others, while a camera followed each letter on it's journey. Perhaps the final letter only arrived via marbles...whatever it was really cool.

Maybe the marbles could move around inside a wire 'forest' name structure that hung dangling a litter from the ceiling, before journeying down the other side?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby amelia » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:55 pm

Got it! (I think) It was an amazing time filler-in, back when they used to do that, that used to come on around the taime of the kid's afternoon shows.
It was fantastic & fascinating. Lots of cog work and little working bits that interconnected and part of it was playing cards stacked and falling on one another and dominoes lined up falling on oneanother, then balls rolling and activating other parts. It was somehow all joined together. Metal bits and coloured blocks and small maze-like coridors. I loved it.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Huw » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:00 pm

Anyone free for a meeting about this sometime soon? It'd be great to get it kicked off! :-)
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Thu May 13, 2010 2:39 pm

We've been discussing this project at dorkbot for a while.

We've simplified things somewhat - now planning on just going from the exhibition space above the double doors in the lobby, up to the ceiling of the landing outside the hall. That's a straight line for a single lift and still gives lots of space. We have a plan for a magnetic lift. See this sketch by Ruan for the latest thinking on it, and this thread on the dorkbot list for other recent discussion.

Sounds like the One Man's Junk workshop are up for building bits of the run.

The next dorkbot meeting is May 27th. We might try to build something then. If you want to be involved in all this, say so.


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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Thu May 13, 2010 2:47 pm

Also - would Forest be interested in funding this project at all? We can build most of it from junk, but to make a reliable mechanism in a reasonable timescale it would be a huge help if we could buy some materials. We're looking at things like £18 for 50 steel ball bearings (the marbles), £8 for magnets for the lift, £12 for webbing to go round the pulleys, some tubing for balls to run between sections on - £50 budget all up? Or a bit more would also let us buy basic useful stuff for people to build bits of marble run out of at a workshop - tubing, wire, etc.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby swithun » Thu May 13, 2010 2:52 pm

If it doesn't get trashed on the first day, this would really get the punters in. 50 quid is a bargain.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby ChaoticReality » Thu May 13, 2010 2:55 pm

I don't see a problem with funding this.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby ravanwin » Thu May 13, 2010 3:27 pm

i say yes to monies, honeys.

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chris
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Thu May 13, 2010 6:20 pm

yes to the money. this is clearly essential. xxxxxxx
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby nix » Sat May 15, 2010 5:05 pm

yes yes.

Or a bit more would also let us buy basic useful stuff for people to build bits of marble run out of at a workshop

and a workshop would be fantastic!
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Thu May 20, 2010 3:56 pm

OK - I have ordered just over £50 of stuff to build the lift with. Hopefully it should all arrive in time for Tuesday's dorkbot meeting, when we will try to put something together! All welcome.
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Tue May 25, 2010 10:12 am

I've got all the stuff - we'll be trying to build the lift tonight, from 8pm on the stairs / in the Action Room. Come along.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby swithun » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:58 pm

I saw this in action on Saturday evening. Hot damn.
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chris
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby chris » Mon Aug 16, 2010 6:20 pm

yeah! its amazing! but it needs to be ON! ON! ON!

why is it awlays off?
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:14 pm

it loses balls.

it needs love and tweaking.
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Huw » Thu Sep 09, 2010 7:24 pm

I've had an interesting idea for jazzing this up a bit. The run is made up of loads of 2L bottles at the moment, but there's nothing in these. Why not put some creative mazes etc in bottles and replace those currently there? I'm going to have a mess with one and see what I can come up with.
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Martin
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Re: Giant Marble Run

Postby Martin » Thu Sep 09, 2010 9:13 pm

Go for it!

The bottles were only meant to be temporary, the whole idea was for people to build their own interesting bits for the marbles to run down and to put all these together.
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