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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marble Machine Goes Modular - Riser Blocks

In my previous post, I admitted to being sidetracked most of the week. I have gotten some work done on the marble machine, but it is a spot in the project where it is kind of pointless to post much because the work is kind of boring and mundane.
The parts I am working on are called riser blocks.
These are simply block, like children's building blocks, that stack on top of one another and interlock using marbles. It is upon this system of stacked blocks that track sections will later be made to sit on top of.
Here is the bulk of the higher blocks. I know it doesn't look like much, but this is extremely time consuming. There are a certain number of each style of block to accommodate building a variety of layouts. Some are just square blocks of different heights. Some are step blocks that are rectangular with one side higher than the other. However, every block has the same measured grid pattern holes drilled on top and bottom. This allows them to be interlocked using marbles.
All blocks have several things in common though. All are 3.2cm in width. This corresponds with the same measured grid pattern throughout the design, including the base plates. All holes are on the same 3.2cm spacing and 1.6cm from the edges to allow stacking and interlocking without interference. The height of the blocks are all set in units of 2cm. For example, one set of step blocks are two and three unit steps, which are 4cm on one step and 6cm on the other step. This will correspond with a 2cm height of the track pieces and allow easy transition of marbles through track systems.
I was able to get the flat stock cut, but my back made me call it a day before I started on the holes in them today.
In this photo though, you can see the tools I'm using to accomplish the accurate drilling of the holes. I use a marking gauge set at 1.6cm to mark lines on the pieces. The same gauge is then used from the ends to mark the holes closest to the edge. I use extra cut test pieces to get the depth of the holes, which have to be around 8mm to keep the marbles holding things tight enough. I mark and drill holes in my test pieces and check them with the depth gauge that is hard to see between the tape measure and marking gauges. To make sure I get the forstner bit drilling perfectly where I want it to, I punch a divot in each spot using the awl you see closest to the blocks in the photo.
When I finish these blocks, they will be single unit (2cm) planks that go from two hole strips, adding one hole at a time, all the way up to six hole strips. The large square you see are planks that will have twelve hole grid patterns on them.
If anyone doesn't understand how all these work together, don't fret. For now they just look like a bunch of wood with holes in them. When all is done though, it will make perfect sense. I promise a video at that time to demonstrate it all.

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