Picture of Motorized Marble Roller Coaster
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This is a roller coaster for marbles. It's made from lots of cardboard and hot glue, some stuff out of an old broken printer, and a few other odds and ends I had laying around.

I played around with cardboard, tape, glue and marbles a lot as a kid, making tracks and ramps and such just for fun.

I had been wanting to make one of these for years, just to see what I could come up with now that I'm a little older. The main thing I'd been wondering about was how I could get the marbles back to the top with some sort of mechanism made from simple, available items.

The whole thing turned out pretty well, and surprisingly, the motor/conveyor belt system I came up with works perfectly, although the initial version was really fast (see the video in step 6).

I made a few changes to slow down the conveyor, and the final painted version is shown here.

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies
I gathered up quite a bit of craft cardboard for this project, along with a few old boxes from the trash.

I used lots hot glue, along with some wood glue and white glue in a few places.

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powerfool5 years ago
So you didn't actually bend the cardboard to make the track, you have created the tracks by joining two stips of cardboard. Right? Also, some other question, how do you make the cardboard so "glossy" as it appears in the video? Is it just the paint? (spray paint?) Thanks! It's wonderful, I've been dreaming for a long time to make something like that but I hadn't got to it... now it's time! :)
seamster (author)  powerfool5 years ago
Yes--the track is made from two adjacent pieces of cardboard.

Each side of the track is about 3/4 inch tall. I would draw out each new section of track on a sheet of cardboard, cut it out, and then match it up to an existing piece to see if it would fit on the track the way I wanted. These were like "trial" pieces. If the new piece worked well, and took the ball where I wanted it to go, I'd add the new piece permanently to the track, thus extending the track little by little.

If the new trial pieces didn't fit, which was the case most of the time, at least I could see specifically what shape the new pieces needed to be. Many times I would just try something--knowing that it probably wasn't going to work--but that it would show me what would.

Certain sections (like the loop) were completely made off of the the base, and then added as a finished unit.

This project took lots of trial and error, practice, and patience!

As for the paint, I brush painted everything with basic acrylic craft paints. The paint seemed to slow down the track somewhat, so I gave it a coat of lacquer spray, which helped speed things up, and gave it that glossy look you see.
kdisaster5 months ago
How was the motor made from the printer?
seamster (author)  kdisaster5 months ago

The motor was just pulled from an old printer. I mounted it to a couple brackets and used some of the belts out the printer as well. This was several years ago, and I no longer have it... so I can't really tell any more details than that. :)

dj_ross7 months ago
Do u know wat exacally what i would need to make the roller coaster and how many peices of each i would need
FyreHawk189 months ago
Is it just me or did the marble skip the loop-the-loop?

How did you make your track so smooth? Because when you bend cardboard it usually gets all bumpy and rigid? Did you cut a certain shape to make the turns? And how did you make the loop with it keeping its smoothness?

seamster (author)  cathy.bouvier.59 months ago

I used thin non-corrugated cardboard--the kind of stuff cereal boxes are made out of. So it was more like thick paper, which you can bend more easily than the corrugated box-type cardboard.

philesra9 months ago

Amazing! Love it.

seamster (author)  philesra9 months ago

Hey, thanks!

I'm actually working on another marble coaster right now. Only it will be all wood, and from a single 2 by 4!

. . . We'll see if I ever get it done though, as it's proven quite a challenge thus far!

philesra seamster9 months ago
Whoa, sounds like a serious escalation. I hope you'll post it up to this thread somehow so I get a notification to come check it out. I love these rube goldberg roller coaster mouse trap thingies.
JoshK211 months ago


DIYDougS1 year ago

This is just fantastic.

HollyMann3 years ago
This is awesome. Great work - my son used to watch videos on youtube (from Japan) of rolling ball machines all the time. Love them all!
osh1143 years ago
How much does it cost for all the track materials?
you should make a vid of you demonstrating the marble rollercoaster
seamster (author)  john123456789103 years ago
See steps 6 & 8.
oh that is awesome youve got a good future ahead of you
the poodleo3 years ago
thats a great idea,using nylon webbing for the belt. whenever I think of a chain lift that I would use for a project like thsi, I always think of something more complicated, like the ones that are in the Knex rollercoasters. but I love that this is just scratch built iwth such simple, working items. It would certainately make it easier to build.
Musicman413 years ago
It would be nice to know exactly how you constructed the v-shaped tracks.
fkhalsa4 years ago
Nice job!
I agree it would be cool to see how many marbles you could load this with.
We also have this project for our Physics, and we used cheapboard. I tried forming the V shapes, but we cant manage to form a loop out of it.
logrithims4 years ago
hi great work .Just wondering how to make the loop
nathanlow4 years ago
hello, great setup you have here, currently building one of my own for a project for school.... i understood that you made the loop off the board i am just wondering how you cut it out on the carboard. thank you so much
jess.jsli4 years ago
oh my god! what a good idea!
FrozenIce5 years ago
man that is grate is it for sale? lol
is that like the strap of a school bag
comsa425 years ago
what is mdf?
mdf means medium density fiber. got it ?
seamster (author)  comsa425 years ago
MDF stand for "medium density fiberboard." It's a manufactured wood product sold in sheets of varying thicknesses similar to plywood and particle board. It's nice stuff to work with for certain types of projects.
i think ill try tomake amodel of a coster i was one it shoud be cool cound you make it all with card bord ?
flopina5 years ago
Cool I wonder if that would be a real roler coaster
This is quite nice - reminds me of the sets we used to play with, and the sliding penguins toy that was my favorite (same principle).  I have about 50 steel bearings roughly marble-sized - I might try to make one of these someday when I get free time to put them to some good use!
novakfor35 years ago
Wow, I'm amazed. I'm fascinated with projects like this. Bravo.

I have a question. So did you just make the whole track first, then add it onto the structure, or build it as you went?

Thanks, this project looks awesome, I'm going to take it on soon.
seamster (author)  novakfor35 years ago
I built as I went, and was constantly modifying and tweaking things along the way.  I mention the process in step 5.  I'd love to see a picture of yours if you make one.  Good luck! 
simon.leigh5 years ago
Way Cool instructable! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Brings to mind my early (pre PC) days in the computer industry, when mice were a real novelty. IBM would only ever supply replacement mouse balls in pairs. I still haven't quite figured that one out....
Cool. I'm thinking of using a conveyor belt similar to this for a ball return for a pachinko machine. This gave me that idea, so thanks!
Ha, I have that exact motor that you used, I got out of an old Lexmark printer. I absolutely love the coaster and have considered many times automating the small marble coasters I've made over the years. I never would of thought of cardboard as an ideal material for track, but it worked brilliantly! Great job
daniel!5 years ago
This is awesome! Congratulations on getting first place! It would be awesome to add a circuit with IR LEDS and lights under the tracks so the light follows the ball. Or to somehow have a clear ball with a LED inside it.
Javin0075 years ago
Sweet Jesus this is entirely too much fun. Plain and simple, I have no choice but to make one.
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