Customizable Marble Machine

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Introduction: Customizable Marble Machine

About: From Arduino to Rube Goldberg follow along as we explore engineering together. With a focus on electronics come see projects based on 3d printing, physics, and fun. Mod your toys, upgrade your tools, and cus...

Get the ball rolling with the newest maker design toy: your own custom marble machine. I created a set of 3d printed parts that allow you to build the marble machine(s) of your dreams as big or small as you want. With crossovers, loops, switches, and curves its a bottle of Instant Roller Coaster Engineer! (Warning, side-effects may include: Increased Success in the future and swelling of Awesomeness in areas of STEM.) Inspired by the marble machine in the Maker Bot Retail Store. I just had to have my own. And now you can, too!

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Step 1: Materials to 3d Print:

To 3d Print:

Download all the parts you need from thingiverse.com

Print out as many of each as you need to turn your imagination into a reality.

  • Large and small curves
  • Half circles
  • Straights
  • Crossovers
  • Switches / Spliters
  • Angle and T connectors
  • A funnel to drop your marbles in
  • Stands and connectors for the upright rods
  • Three styles of clips to connect the individual tracks

I used 3d printing filaments from 3dxtech.com they have great products and even better prices.

Step 2: Hardware

Hardware:

  • Marbles (1/2" round) I used these from amazon
  • Dowel Rods (3/8" round)
  • Zip ties
  • Super glue
  • Screws to hold the parts to the dowel rods I used these from Fastenal
  • Screws to mount to a display board

Step 3: 3d Part Assembly

The individual track parts will need assembled. All you have to do is put one drop of supper glue in each hole of the rings and slip in the track rails. For the curves I also used a small spacer block to help hold the shape until everything dried.

Step 4: Build Your Coaster

Layout all the parts you printed and start imagining your design.

Insert the dowel rods into the stands and secure with two screws.

Set your stands on your work surface and slid on a rod connector onto the dowel rod.

Attach a clip onto the end of the dowel in the rod connector.

Then start attaching your track.

Join each track with a clip and secure with a zip tie for added strength.

Repeat and adjust until you have built your epic roller coaster.

Secure the stands to your display board and enjoy the marble madness.

Step 5: Clips and Rods

You can create any combination of rods and clips in order to support the track right where you need to. The rod connector can be used to make right angles and attach those hard to reach spots.

Step 6: Design and Redesign

There are many configurations possible. Use your imagination to create the fastest or slowest coaster you can. Do you have enough momentum to create a loop? Will the marbles collide on the crossover? How many different tracks do you want to make? Just one long track or maybe multiple tracks and splits. Is there a part I still need to invent to make your dream a reality? Just leave a comment and I will try to make your wish come true.

Step 7: In Remberance of the Errors

There were many errors and failures along the way. The first track design was to weak to hold the marble without the track flexing and dropping the ball so to speak. The second was so strong you could hardly see the marble. After many revisions and tests I came up with what I hope to be a fair balance. You have to love 3d printers for there ability to create fail and recreate until you have just the right design.

Step 8: What the Future Holds

I will be displaying this project at the 2015 Maker Faire Detroit in the Henry Ford museum. Please come by and see it in person. I would love to meet you. I will bring some of my other projects as well.

Any project worth doing is never complete. I hope to create a automatic ball lifter to keep the machine working without my help. Stay tuned if I get it working I will post it right here on Instructables! Let me know if you have any ideas for other track parts I could add to the collection in the comments.

What would you have done different? How can I make it even better? Let me know.

Step 9: Files

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    14 Comments

    Thanks for such a great Idea and for sharing it, I'm in the prosses of printing out all the parts but would like to know if there is a file for the small spacer block so I can be sure that upon glue up nothing gets out of alignment. Thanks so much for a Great Project Idea.

    Really nice Instructables! I need to get a 3-D printer for sure! Thanks for sharing!

    This is awesome- I would love to see a video of the machine in action!

    2 replies

    The video is posted. Thanks.

    Working on that. Hope to have it edited and up on YouTube this weekend.

    Looks great! I look forward to seeing the video!

    Just a question why take the time to print the parts separated when you could jut prim them together and not have to deal with glueing them

    1 reply

    Probably because that would waste a lot of support material.

    Now here's a kid using a 3d printer wisely! Cool project but not my thing hahaha I dont want to waste my 3d noodles. Anyways keep it up ;)

    love it, I remember this costs a lot, and coundnt afford it when I was a kid. this is going to be fun to build one myself with less cost like that.

    1 reply

    3d printers the machine that makes dreams come true!