Anyone For ContraptionCamp?

I’ve long been a fan of Wallace & Gromit‘s mad contraptions – the sort of machine that makes life infinitely more complicate than it really should be, just to get a simple job done. Well I hadn’t realised until recently that these are in fact Rube Goldberg Machines.

I was reminded of this last week when a friend showed me a brilliant YouTube video called “How do you take your portraits?”

At the end of that, there were some other suggestions, which inlcuded:

The Cog – Honda

And my favourite has to be:

This Too Shall Pass – OK GO

There are loads of others if you just search for Rube Godlberg Machine.

My Own Feeble Attempt

These great examples set me thinking… maybe I could build one too? Well, I found a few bits and pieces and stuck some stuff together. Originally I had about 7 steps, but the first one was terribly unreliable and often I didn’t get beyond step 2. Here’s what wassupposed to happen:

The unreliable first version

The unreliable first version

  1. Marble starts at top right of the picture, travelling down two knitting needle tracks and into the red Lego jeep
  2. The Jeep heads off down the ruler and hits Babo’s Bird on the stack of DVDs
  3. Babo’s Bird jumps off the DVDs and onto one end of a see-saw
  4. At the other end, Wedgehead goes Up and pokes the CD balanced on top of the other DVDs
  5. This rattles another marble out of its resting hole in the long metal ruler and it rolls down and around the bendy corner into the cardboard tube
  6. Exiting the tube, the marble hits the space shuttle which fires into the dominos
  7. The dominos topple and eventually hit the light plastic pot tower at the end

Eventually, I gave up and did a simpler redesign giving us Dai & Leo’s Rube Goldberg Machine – which runs to a pathetic 9 seconds! But hey, I had a go!

Stuff I learned?

  • Keep the reliable stuff at the end – you don’t want to get all the way into it and then have a failure at the last step.
  • Heavy is better – light stuff just doesn’t have enough oomph to do things.
  • Get some knee pads – your poor knees are going to be grovelling around rather a lot!
  • Patience, Patience, Patience – if you haven’t got any, don’t bother making one of these.
  • Don’t to this on your own! You go slightly mad trying to kick off the machine and video it. And when it goes wrong (and it inevitably will, repeatedly), you’re the only one there to reset it all.

I can feel ContraptionCamp coming on – who would like to join me to build a bigger, sillier machine sometime?

This entry was posted in barCamps, geekery, hardware hacking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Anyone For ContraptionCamp?

  1. Bug says:

    That *does* look like fun!

Comments are closed.