This is our tutorial on how to make K'nex Ball Machines. It covers all parts of making and designing a ball machine, from the first sketches and ideas, to lifts, to the most advanced elements. Good luck with building yours, and post a picture of your ball machine!
Before starting, please take a look at these guides, to get an idea what you can do. Looking at ball machines from other users also helps a lot.
Step 1: Planning
Planning the ball machine
Before you're gonna draw a ball machine on graph or normal paper, you must think about the following:
- Do you want a big or a small ball machine?
- What lift(s) are you going to use? See this guide for all lifts!
- Do you want 1 or multiple Networks? (a network is a group of lifts in succession, one after the other)
- Are there elements that you absolutely want? (see the guides listed at the intro page for links!)
- Invent new parts to make it original.
- Will your ball machine have a certain theme? (see Step 2 for more.)
- Plan a scheme that shows which path start at which network and at which one it ends: you don't want 3 separate machines, so there must be paths leading to other networks!
Now design the ball tower in your head, and write/draw some stuff down. The first thing you'll want to plan for a ball machine will be the main tower structure. These are the main towers that give the ball machine its height and mass. You don't have to plan all of the towers; just the main ones.
Make sure that the lifts fit in on they way that they have to fit in! If you have a small ball machine, we suggest having towers with blue rods as boxes, and yellow rods for diagonal support. If you want a big one, we suggest towers with red and gray rods, unless you have enough pieces to make a blue rod tower.
Now you're going to draw your ball machine on graph paper. You can also draw it on normal paper, but graph paper is neater. A rough sketch can be drawn on normal paper. We suggest taking 1 square for each blue rod. It's the most useful to draw it in top view.
You don't have to design all of it before you build. You can write it down on paper as you go. But it is best to plan at least the tower structure on paper. Planning tracks and elements on paper first can be hard, because the ball machine is 3D, and your paper is 2D. Even if you draw it from all sides, it can get hard. Drawing big elements first, such as Ferris wheels, is useful, so you know where you'll place the big elements. The same goes for lifts and networks of lifts. But that can be planned out after you've got the main tower structure down.