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Monday, April 8, 2013

Marble Machine Goes Modular - The Pump

Today I started on a new marble machine. While doing the first three machines, I have gotten multiple questions through my email about what goes into these type machines. Well, so far, all of them I've done have been other's designs, the one I'm starting as well. However, I do tweak some things and do design changes as I see fit. That is all part of the fun.
Since I start getting questions after posting any of the machines though, I decided I wanted to do a daily blog on the build of this new one. I can't promise anything, but I will try my best to post every day that I work on it. In the case that I can't, I will take photos so I can catch up as soon as possible. So here we go.
The newest project is called a modular marble machine. It is a very interesting design because the elements of it are not fixed. After it is done, the final user can move pieces and build different designs by stacking blocks. It's much like a child's building block toys, but only cut and designed to allow marbles to move over, around, and through the pieces.
Before I get started, if anyone would like to read more about the machine, by the man who designed it, Matthius Wandell, here is a link the machine on his website. While you're there though, if you haven't seen his site before, check out some more of his designs. This will be the sixth project I have done based on his designs, and I must say, he designs some amazing things.
While working on something like this, I don't think it is written in stone to make the various parts in any particular order. So I usually work on whatever I feel like working on during a particular day. For this one, I decided I wanted to build the part of it that is most interesting to me, the pump.
As I said before, this machine is modular in design. You arrange the blocks to build any number of designs, limited only by ones imagination. To get the marbles started though, there is a hand crank operated pump that catches the marbles and "pumps" them up to the top, to be released upon the built tracks. I have now build machines with escapement mechanisms and gear lifts, but now something that operated like a pump, so this mechanism interested me greatly.
Here is the pump assembly. It is an open ended box. Inside is a crank shaft made from stiff wire that moved a slider back and forth, while at the same time moves a piston up and down. This grabs a marble from one hole, transfers it to the other hole, where it pushes up on the marble before it. Later, we will be building a shaft in which this pump will stack the marbles upwards for a steady stream of marbles on the tracks.
Here are photos of the actions of the pump.
There will be a feed trough that feeds a steady stream of marbles to the hole you see the marble in in this photo.
As you turn the crank, the piston will lower as the slider move towards the other hole, carrying the marble with it.
The marble comes out the other hole and the slider and piston move to catch the next marble from the first hole.
It catches the next marble same as the first.
Brings it under and over to the ejection hole.
And pushes the first marble upwards.
All of this will become more clear as we progress through the rest of the machine. If you're impatient and want to see a better idea of it now though, here is a video made by Mr. Wandell about the building of the pump. The video is close to twenty four minutes long, but it is worth watching if you are really interested in seeing exactly how the pump's inner workings operate. 

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