Once I came up with a device that would light a match by dropping a weight, I couldn't just stop there. I wanted to make it better. I decided that making the weight drop by remote control would be cooler than just dropping the weight myself.
At this point, I'm probably not going to use this in a Rube Goldberg machine, mostly because now that I have fire, I don't know what to do with it. But oh well... it looks really cool!
Answers to questions for Make to Learn Youth contest
What did I make?
I made a device that will light a match when I flip a switch on my remote control. The radio receiver turns on a motor that pulls a small weight over the edge of my workbench, which in turn pulls off a larger weight. This weight pulls a match along a striker, igniting it.
How did I make it?
I was originally trying to make it for a Rube Goldberg machine, so it needed to be easily started. A falling weight works well for this. I originally ran into problems with the match not staying in contact with the striker, but I solve that by using rubber bands and a ball chain. The rubber bands keep pressure on the match head, and the chain allows the pivot to move.
Where did I make it?
I made it in my Dad's workroom. I have been borrowing his tools and make random stuff for as long as I can remember. Sometimes doing this is useful, especially for science classes. I helps me understand how things work.
What did I learn?
I realized how complex a simple task can be. I don't think anything of lighting a match... hold the box in one hand, strike the match against it with the other. Trying to get a machine to do the same thing was very challenging. It really helps me appreciate how amazing the human body is, that we can do such complex things without much work.
Step 1: Materials
A piece of scrap 2x4
A small plywood scrap
An old matchbox with a striker in good condition
Metal coat hanger (or other metal rod)
Small weight (you could use string, but it breaks every time you drop the weight, and is a pain to retie)
Small ball chain
If you want to make it radio controlled like I did, you'll need a few more things, which I'll list later.
Step 2: The Base
How the igniter works is it pulls a match along a striker when a weight is dropped. Things get tricky when one end of the match is held stationary, because then the matchtip will follow a curved path and not stay in contact with the striker. Using the ball chain and rubber bands allows the match to remain in contact with the striker.
The piece of 2x4 is what everything is attached to. The first thing that needs to be attached is the striker. Cut the striker off an old matchbox, and tape it to a scrap of plywood. Then nail the plywood to the 2x4, near the end, with the striker facing away from the edge (Look at the picture).
Step 3: The Match Holder
Step 4: Putting It Together
Make a loop with the ball chain and attach in to the hanger. Put a nail in the 2x4 to hook the chain on, so that the hanger is just touching the striker at its furthest point (an edge).
Step 5: Using the Igniter
Before dropping the weight, check to make sure it's safe. If the tape doesn't hold, the match might will start swinging around on the string. So make sure nothing in the area will catch on fire if a match goes by. Also, be careful where you put your feet. It would really hurt to drop a weight on them.
Now that you've checked for safety, go ahead and drop the weight.
Step 6: Remote Control
A small weight (I used a eye bolt)
A small motor
Another piece of 2x4
A radio control remote and receiver. I scavenged mine a while ago from an old RC truck. If you have on lying around, save yourself the trouble and just tie the weight to the truck.