Introduction: Lithium--A Mini Ball Machine

Picture of Lithium--A Mini Ball Machine
This is my first Instructable. It shows how to build a ball machine. This one is relatively large--I think it has more pieces than any of the other ball machines on these forums. It is insanely difficult, and may require usage of certain pieces you may need multiples of.

But if you have 1,610 pieces, and want a challenge, then I give you...LITHIUM!

(sorry, I can't get the video up.)

Parts you will need:
146 green rods
116 white rods
303 blue rods
151 yellow rods
46 red rods
32 gray rods
1 black rod
7 flexi rods
4 tan connectors
94 dark gray connectors
1 blue hinge
2 green hinges
12 light gray connectors
37 orange connectors
72 red connectors
21 green connectors
118 yellow connectors
15 white connectors
162 purple 3D connectors
98 blue 3D connectors
38 orange track connectors
4 red gears
8 blue spacers
12 silver spacers
13 black Y connectors
1 square panel
94 chain links
1 motor
Total: 1,610

...and one ferret (Just kidding!)

Step 1: Step 1: the Base

Picture of Step 1: the Base

This may be the most boring part of the machine to build, but isn't too difficult. I have included pictures for you to see so you know where and what should be positioned.

Parts needed:
12 green rods
15 white rods
82 blue rods
32 yellow rods
2 red rods
1 black rod
4 tan locks
20 dark gray connectors
6 orange connectors
9 red connectors
2 green connectors
15 yellow connectors
3 white connectors
48 purple connectors
39 blue connectors
2 red gears
4 blue spacers
2 silver spacers
1 PowerPack motor
Total: 294

Step 2: Step 2: the Support Tower (middle Section)

Picture of Step 2: the Support Tower (middle Section)

This is the rest of the tower (minus the top), for which I have also included images from all angles.

The order of pics--Front, Back, what you should have so far.

Notice some of the spots on each side!

What pieces you need:
4 green rods
1 white rod
84 blue rods
42 yellow rods
1 dark gray connector
1 red connector
2 yellow connectors
48 purple connectors
26 blue connectors
2 black Y connectors
Total: 211

Step 3: Step 3: the Top

Picture of Step 3: the Top

This is the top of the tower. Obviously there isn't much to it, but I hope the picture shows you the info you need.

What you need:
11 green rods
4 white rods
38 blue rods
9 yellow rods
2 red rods
6 dark gray connectors
3 red connectors
2 green connectors
7 yellow connectors
20 purple connectors
10 blue connectors
2 red gears
4 blue spacers
1 square panel
Total: 119

Step 4: Step 4: the Other Supports

Picture of Step 4: the Other Supports

These supports are relatively convoluted to show, especially since a couple of them didn't load, but I'll tell you how it should work (hope I get through to you what to do).

Pictures 1 and 2 show the first attachments.

You will need (for those):
3 blue rods
4 yellow rods
8 red rods
4 gray rods
1 dark gray connector
10 purple connectors
1 blue connector
Total: 31

Note: for the second cubelet, on the left side, the gray rod should be replaced by a yellow connector connecting 3 yellow rods to the machine, and the side above should be a white connector with a blue rod connected to a red connector on the upper part, can look at the picture to get an idea as to how that part should be built.

This is the very top. The overview image, I believe, shows a more detailed description of how these sub-supports should be built.

Pieces for the rest of the supports minus the rails in the last pic (a rough guess):
1 green rod
4 blue rods
12 yellow rods
22 red rods
10 gray rods
1 red connector
4 yellow connectors
1 white connector
16 purple connectors
Total: 71

Again, I apologize if those are inaccurate, I couldn't get a good picture of the rest of the supports.

Step 5: Step 5: Path 1, Part 1

Picture of Step 5: Path 1, Part 1

This is probably the easiest part of the path. Here, the ball comes off the path separator and onto here. It only requires one pic to show you the whole thing.

Parts needed:
2 green rods
5 blue rods
6 yellow rods
1 red rod
3 light gray connectors
3 green connectors
1 yellow connector
4 purple connectors
1 blue connector
Total: 26

Step 6: Step 6: Path 1 Part 2

Picture of Step 6: Path 1 Part 2

Another easy part, but you need to look at the pics to know how to build it correctly.

You need:
8 blue rods
6 orange track connectors
2 black Y connectors
Total: 16

Step 7: Step 7: Path 1 Part 3

Picture of Step 7: Path 1 Part 3

The longest part of this path, although very minimal effort is needed.

Parts needed:
5 green rods
26 white rods
5 blue rods
16 yellow rods
3 gray rods
24 dark gray connectors
3 orange connectors
19 red connectors
11 yellow connectors
9 white connectors
Total: 121

BTW: remember the blue rod sticking out with the red connector there and the Y connector on the blue 3D connector? In the first picture, the yellow boxed area is where you connect it to that (loop the dark gray connector onto it--sorry there's no pic).

Step 8: Step 8: Path 1, Part 3

Picture of Step 8: Path 1, Part 3

This is the final part, the part you may or may not have been waiting for--the half loop all the way back into the track in step 1. There are a lot of pictures, because it can be hard to mount correctly without enough assistance.

Parts needed:
9 green rods
33 white rods
26 blue rods
15 yellow rods
9 red rods
5 gray rods
2 dark gray connectors
4 light gray connectors
1 orange connector
3 red connectors
12 green connectors
1 yellow connector
32 orange track connectors
13 purple connectors
8 blue connectors
2 silver spacers
Total: 165

Step 9: Step 9: Path 2, Part 1

Picture of Step 9: Path 2, Part 1

Finally, we've finished the grueling part of path 1. Are you ready for more grueling stuff?

This part, again, is fairly simple.

Parts needed:
5 green rods
10 white rods
3 blue rods
8 yellow rods
8 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
2 red connectors
9 yellow connectors
2 white connectors
4 blue connectors
Total: 55

Step 10: Step 10: Path 2, Part 3

Picture of Step 10: Path 2, Part 3

Yes, I'm skipping ahead to part 3 now, so it will be easier to attach part 2 when it's done.

These are the rails I didn't have you attach during step 4.

You will need:
8 green rods
4 blue rods
3 red rods
3 gray rods
3 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
5 red connectors
1 green connector
2 yellow connectors
3 blue connectors
7 black Y connectors
Total: 41

Step 11: Step 11: Path 2, Part 2

Picture of Step 11: Path 2, Part 2

And NOW, we get to build the part that relied on the previous rails being built first.

You will need:
5 green rods
2 white rods
2 blue rods
1 yellow rod
3 gray rods
1 dark gray connector
1 blue hinge
1 green/black hinge
2 orange connectors
2 red connectors
3 blue connectors
4 black Y connectors
Total: 27

Step 12: Step 12: Path 2, Part 4

Picture of Step 12: Path 2, Part 4

Okay, another short and easy part. Enjoy it while it IS easy...

Parts needed:
5 green rods
8 white rods
3 blue rods
4 gray rods
4 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
4 red connectors
1 green connector
5 yellow connectors
2 purple connectors
2 blue connectors

Step 13: Step 13: Path 2, Part 5

Picture of Step 13: Path 2, Part 5

Aye, the final part of this machine--or the positioning of the last, most difficult, and most grueling part. I will post chunks of it in individual steps, and then show you how to connect them.

Are you ready to build this thing, which uses:
69 green rods
12 white rods
21 blue rods
6 yellow rods
3 red rods
7 green/purple/periwinkle/fluorescent yellow flexi rods
1 green/black hinge piece
11 dark gray connectors
4 orange connectors
24 red connectors
65 yellow connectors
1 purple connector
1 blue connector
Total: 223

Step 14: Step 14: Path 2, Part 5A

Picture of Step 14: Path 2, Part 5A

The first part of it, which uses:
10 green rods
5 blue rods
3 yellow rods
2 red rods
1 orange connector
4 red connectors
12 yellow connectors
Total: 37

It should be placed where you see it, just below the previous track. Note where it says.

Step 15: Step 15: Path 2, Part 5B

Picture of Step 15: Path 2, Part 5B

The second part, which connects directly to the first, and only needs one place to be mounted.

It uses:
34 green rods
7 white rods
9 blue rods
3 yellow rods
1 red rod
5 flexi rods
8 dark gray connectors
1 orange connector
13 red connectors
32 yellow connectors
1 purple connector
1 blue connector
Total: 115

Step 16: Step 16: Path 2, Part 5C

Picture of Step 16: Path 2, Part 5C

Okay, let's finish this grueling track already. The final curve that leads back to the beginning of the machine.

You will need:
18 green rods
5 white rods
7 blue rods
2 flexi rods
1 green hinge
3 dark gray connectors
2 orange connectors
8 red connectors
21 yellow connectors
Total: 67

YAY! We've finished both paths. Now what? Onward we go!

Step 17: Step 17: the Chain

Picture of Step 17: the Chain

Finally, we're on the last two things for the machine. First, the chain. Start by making 4 sets of 19 chain links, and a ball grabber at the start of each one. Next, make a fifth, with only 18 links, and attach a fifth grabber in the same place you would the others. Connect them together into one long chain, and string it over the top gears. Connect it all once they're all over the other gear.

What you will need:
10 green rods
5 white rods
5 blue rods
10 dark gray connectors
15 orange connectors
5 light gray connectors
10 silver spacers
94 chain links
Total: 154

And now, there's just one more thing to do. Can you guess what it is?

Step 18: Adding the Balls

Picture of Adding the Balls

You can use up to six balls here. Four fit on the base track, and two on the chain.

Step 19: Troubleshooting

These are any questions you may want answers to.

Q: The chain bounces around. What's going on?
A: Sometimes the weight of a K'Nex ball may make it simulate bouncing around. This should not in any way affect the balls journey through the machine.

Q: The ball falls off the track at Path 1 just before the loop! What shall I do?
A: There is never a time you can't add guard rails to objects. If you place the red connector (remember that?) above the gray connector, this shouldn't be an issue. If it's below, you may want guard rails at certain parts.

Q: Can you post instructions for Dynamo or your pinball machine?
A: NO! Do not PM me asking to make instructions for anything I build that has more than 2000 pieces.


thekster14 (author)2010-07-08

For the yellow tracks... can i just use yellows seperates by green rods and for the loop can i use purple flexible rods?

Yellow path: If you mean steps 13-16, then yes, that's primarily what I used. I should point out, though, that the way you support the rest of the path would have to be changed. Loop: It's very hard to make it without tubing, because: 1) Tubing is a lot smoother than just using yellow connectors 2) The connectors you attach to the rods are going to make the path rougher and the balls will lose speed a lot more quickly.

cupcake43 (author)2010-02-22

can u use rippen rocket tubing and rr crossties cuz i don't have dat yellow connetor with teh thing on teh top?

If you mean on the loop, you'd need to reconfigure the supports, but it's probably something that can be worked out (I have yet to try it myself, though).

You'd also need to cut the tubing into three pieces; the speed drops a lot when there's no middle rail.

did u find out dat u kan do dat yet

Not yet.  I probably never will either, since K'Nex is dying a slow death for me, and I'm only building on weekends when I'm not at college.

Again, try it out yourself.  I'm sure you can come up with a configuration that works just by using a bit of trial and error.

well ummmmmm u can make a loop with crossties but i kant do it cuz how da ball machine is shaped wrong oh well

Ah, well.  You could use a different path format instead.  It doesn't necessarily need to use a loop.

so ur sayin i need ta buy a strip of tubing. or else it will slow down.

If you don't already have RR tubing, yes.  If you do, just cut one of the strands into three pieces and string them over.

But yeah, the speed plummets when you don't have the middle rail there.

oh thx 4 teh tip man. i will tri it out after my latest coaster:)

p.s ur a great knex builder. also do u no where i can buy old knex sets???????????

Thanks, and you can find the older sets on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, and sometimes garage sales if you're lucky.

~KGB~ (author)2009-08-29

is the yellow tubing the same size as the big ball air tower red tubing?

Jesus. (author)~KGB~2009-11-04

can you use screamin serpent tubing??

The KNex Weasel (author)Jesus.2009-11-05

You can, but you might need to cut it to fit the track (or so the added weight of extra tubing doesn't tip the thing over).

Jesus. (author)The KNex Weasel2009-11-05

oh ok i was thinking of building it, and i dont have much yellow tubing.

~KGB~ (author)Jesus.2009-11-05

i dont have it, so i dont really know...

The KNex Weasel (author)~KGB~2009-08-29

No, the BABT tubing isn't long enough. It needs to be 5 feet long. The BABT tubing is only 4.

~KGB~ (author)The KNex Weasel2009-08-30

thanks fur yur help

I_am_Canadian (author)2008-07-26

Im going to post my ball machine. Yay!

Can you make one like, micro-sized for me? Pleeeeez?

Try project box. Mine is.. About two feet high.

If is doesn't fit the following standards, then I won't be able to build it. 1. Uses no tabbed yellow connectors. 2. Uses no roller coaster track or tubing. 3. Either uses only one ball or uses marbles. 4. Uses a limited amount of 3d connectors. sorry.

That'll be hard. the 3d connectors are a main part in K'nex structures...

not knex guns, that's why they are my main build.

I can tell. On average, from what I've seen and done with full-size ball towers, the main support rod takes up 15% of the number of pieces, followed by the secondary support rod (11.6%), purple or silver 3D connectors (9.8%), yellow connectors/green rods (each 9.2%), and then blue 3D connectors (8.7%). Of course, there are quite a few exceptions to this (this very ball machine being one), but this tends to be the generic method with full-size machines anyway. Alas, 3D connectors are a staple element with ball machines (which suits me well since I have about 1200 3D connectors (no offense)).

Yea, well I'm just searching for an unusual gun to convert to knex (not just another m16 or ak) and I was gonna do the Famas G2, but I had trouble getting the trigger system the way I wanted it, so it's back to scratch for me...

GeekBeam (author)Oompa-Loompa2009-11-03

i had that thought at the begining('scuse my bad spelling) of the day i was looking up some semi autos and a golf ball shooter came up maybe you can use that

I thought you were trying to build a ball machine.

i have ~800

You could still try building your own, though. It's better to do that than to follow instructions all the time. I'm building a new one right now. It won't be posted here, though, because I'm betting it's going to be even bigger than Enigma (my last ball tower).

I've tried and failed at least like ten times. But I'll try just one more time...

Smart plan. But my suggestion is that you take a lift idea you've already seen--you can use the one for this machine, for instance--and then just adjust it to your preferences.

OK, I've got half a marble machine that uses limited parts, so I could make it. It is about a foot high, but I don't know what I want the marbles to do. Any good track ideas for like, a 1ft. by 1ft. space.

Most I can think of are these: -A "centipede": take a rod and clip a bunch of blue 3D connectors onto it opposite the 3D connection, all facing the same way. Put a white rod in each slot on both edges of it, and put it on the machine. But if you're trying not to use a lot of 3D connectors, that might not work so well for your purpose. -A "rail helix": take a bunch of yellow connectors and green, white, and blue rods, and string them around the machine in a spiral following the particular pattern you're after (see steps 13-16 of this machine to show you how to do this).

Ok, I've finally got a loading mech that actually worx with marbles. I just need to figure out what I want them to do.

Hmm... 1: I made it so that ut uses none of them. 2: No tubing whatsoever. 3: uses balls... one will work but more is better... 4: It does not use a ton, but it has a few.

1. That's great 2. Dose it have roller coaster rails? cuz I don't. 3. I only have one ball 4. I'd say no more than like 20 blue 3ds and 20 purples?

1: Yay. 2: No roller coaster rails either. 3: You can make that work. 4: Hmm. That might not cut it, but we will see. it uses no chain links, its a new lift system, thats the main reason Im posting.

Doesn't matter anyway. I'm working on my own, and I have the lift system finished, and have no idea how to make trax for it.

Look at Darth trainmans 'ible on how to make a ball amchine,.

Yeah, that really only goes through the basic steps that I know. I just wanted an idea of what I should make the ball do once i get it to the top.

Oops, have a looks at his Ultimate guide to ball machine elements.

That's all for balls. I'm using marbles, and I'm also working within a smaller space than any of those elements will fit into. I am trying to figure out a way to get spiral steps into the mix tho.

Oh yeah and it can't use any more than 37 chain linx.

Cool. I'll build it if I can.

wham39837 (author)2009-10-26

you have realy poor pics so i did not make it.Put better pics on.(but good ball machin)

gingernutsjonny (author)2009-10-06

Built it :D *4 though because of the poor quality images and badly made steps, great build though, post more.

ajleece (author)2009-01-28

do you have a weasel living under your ball machine?

builder968 (author)ajleece2009-01-31

lol its a ferret

About This Instructable




Bio: I am currently a Jazz Studies major at NIU. I am a working pianist, and on my spare time I build ball machines out of ... More »
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