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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marble Machine Goes Modular - Base Plates

Yesterday I built the base. Inside the base there will be plates with holes in a grid patterns. With this grid of holes on these plates, it will be possible to place marbles in the holes, place pieces with holes in the bottom of them on top of the marbles, locking things together so nothing moves. It is with this type of system upon which everything else will be possible to build.
First thing today I had to place corner pieces and a tab on the inside of the front for the plates to sit on.
Next I built the feed ramp. This is just an angled ramp that feeds into the top of the marble pump. When building different scenarios with the building block like pieces, the end paths will have to always end feed into the marble feed ramp in the center.
Then pieces of plywood are cut to fit on each side of the feed ramp.
I used plywood here for flatness. Anything other than flat here will cause problems later as the pieces are built up in height.
I had to test all the marbles. The marbles are supposed to be five eighths an inch in diameter. However, not all the marbles are the exact correct size. So, to weed out the larger, misshaped, and otherwise unusable marbles, you test them. I drill a five eighths inch hole through a piece of wood. If a marble fits, even snugly like you see in this photo, then it will work in the machine without causing problems.
Here is an example of a marble that is unusable. It is too large to fit through the hole. Therefore, it will be too large for the machine parts and will hang up in places, causing inevitable jams.
With the marbles tested, and the bad ones weeded out, that gave me my first opportunity to truly test the whole feed and pump assembly as a complete unit. So far, everything seems to be working as it should.
Then for those holes I talked about earlier. Using light pencil lines that can be sanded off later, I marked off a grid for the holes. Then I bored them deep enough into the plates that a marble will sit just a hair over halfway down in the hole. The roughly half of the marble that will stick above the plate will interlock with parts that will go on top of this. 

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