Thursday, July 3, 2014

Paper Marble Run - something different no electronics

I'm a big fan of encouraging creativity with low cost resources. I previously hacked a £6.00 remote control car to control it from a Raspberry Pi using Scratch and used a low cost eBay robot vehicle deck and wheels with a clone Arduino Pro Mini (all in for <£15.00).

Well some people aren't that into electronics and programming but are still looking for creative solutions.

I came across Marble Runs/Roller Coasters that you can buy and did a search online and found you can make you own from copper wire and also from stiff paper (200gsm). Never one to miss a chance to try something new I looked at the videos and made up templates for the paper marble run sections and began construction


After a fair few iterations and a lot of really small pieces of tape to put the bits together I finally had a set of templates that can be used to make a paper marble run.

This is the first video of the marble run. I really like the funnel and also that the marble comes off the end just below the funnel and because the moment is right it drops into the next channel/track section.


There is a fair bit of work in getting it stable and modifying the length of the straights and the curves so they work.  This is real tinkerer construction as the parts are not perfect and the design is evolving so regularly pieces need to be shortened, or bits added or the angle of the track needs to be modified to make it work.
Great fun going through all of this and learning about the properties of the paper, how strong the tape is and how to keep the marble going.

I then extended the run another bit. I like this view. There is something pleasing to me about the curves on the left section.


Finally I added a bumpy track and also a 'ladder' (no idea if that's it's name but it's the name I use) and more curves. This made the whole think a lot taller and works well. It does kind of unbalance the look and style of the overall marble run, so I think it is less pleasing to the eye than the earlier version.  Feels like when a skyscraper adds a large antenna to the top to officially be taller.

Here's the final video of the current Marble Run.




Overall I'm happy with the results and plan to make more runs.  A nice way to spend an afternoon/evening being creative.

Getting back to electronics I'm trying to design a simple marble lift using mainly paper (will need a motor). Onward and upward.


NOTE: If you want a copy of the templates (UK A4) just leave a comment and I'll message back a link.  They were done with Inkscape and my skills aren't the best, so they are a bit rough.